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5 Sneaky Reasons Why Skin Sensitivity is On the Rise

There used to be five different go-to skin types: dry, oily, combination, normal, and mature. But recently, a new skin type joined the club and it’s quickly gaining steam. We’re talking, of course, about sensitive skin. So what’s going on here? Turns out, there are some sneaky reasons behind the rise in skin sensitivity. Read on to learn what they are, plus what you can do about it.

What is sensitive skin?

Sensitive skins have recently gone from rare to mainstream. Hear this: in 2009, 15% of skincare users had sensitive skin. By 2014, that number jumped to 25%. To be clear, that’s a 66% increase over just 5 years. But what exactly is sensitive skin? In short, common symptoms include:

  • redness
  • irritation
  • inflammation
  • dryness
  • flaky patches
  • discomfort

People living with sensitive skin find their triggers can include anything from sun exposure, to dust, and even stress. But the question is: why is sensitive skin on the rise?


The sneaky factors behind sensitive skin

  • Pollution


According to recent research, air pollution speeds up skin aging and boosts conditions linked with skin sensitivity, like random eruptions and eczema-like rashes. What exactly is to blame? Organic pollutants like fossil fuels, car exhaust, and ozone are top players.


What can you do?

Fight pollution by taking these proven steps:

-Cut back on car trips when possible (by carpooling, or active transportation like cycling)

-Conserve energy in your home (heat and electricity)

-If you heat with wood, switch to a high efficiency woodstove


Fight the effects of pollution on your skin by doing these:

-Work a sauna into your self-care routine to sweat out the toxins

-Try dry-brushing daily to renew skin cells

-Lower oxidative stress on your skin by exfoliating regularly (try this exfoliant for face, and this one for body)


  • Artificial fragrance & Preservatives

Research by the Environmental Working Group shows evidence that fragrance is irritating to the skin. Common preservatives, such as parabens, can irritate the skin as well and feed the growth of skin sensitivity.


What can you do?

-Read labels. Ditch the skincare products that contain these ingredients (fragrance, perfume, parabens, etc.)

-Replace fragrance with essential oils or better yet: go fragrance-free

-Detox your skin with clay body masques to draw out residue from chemicals (try this purifying masque with seaweed and glacial clay)


  • Poor skin microbiome

We’ve been hearing lots about the gut microbiome in recent years, but did you know your skin has a balanced microbiome, too? What we’re talking about here is good bacteria, yeast, and parasites that live on your skin and keep it healthy. When these are stripped out, your skin suffers and can become more sensitive to common triggers.


What can you do?

-Kick your antibacterial habit and just say no to antibacterial soap (cleanse with this magnificent, hyaluronic acid-boosted cleansing concentrate instead)

-Use pH balanced skincare products (essential for healthy skin bacteria and enzymes, try this pH balanced cleanser)

-Try probiotic-rich skin treatments, either localized or whole body (think yogurt or kefir)


  • Stress

Yup, stress is at the root of most health issues, and skin sensitivity is no exception. So how exactly does stress contribute to sensitive skin? Through pumping out stress hormones like cortisol and adrenaline, through chronic inflammation, collagen breakdown… Convinced yet?


What can you do?

Tips on reducing your stress load are obviously easier said than done, but here are a few proven ways:

-Learn to relax (try breathing techniques, mindfulness, meditation, or sound healing)

-Move your body. Exercise is one of the best stress-busters

-Try herbal support. Herbs like passionflower, oats, and hops have great relaxing properties

Lower the effects of stress on your skin with a solid skincare ritual. Cleanse with a gentle, vitamin and mineral-rich cleansing lotion. Polish away dead skin cells to renew radiance. Prep for better treatment absorption by splashing the skin with revitalizing toner. Apply a nutrient-rich serum to boost elasticity and increase collagen production. Moisturize with a strategically formulated hydrator to stimulate cellular repair.


  • Food sensitivities

Unfortunately, food sensitivities and skin sensitivity do feed into one another for some people. What this means is that your food allergy/sensitivity might make your skin rashes worse, and that your skin rashes might make you more prone to developing food allergies (this is basically a twisted loop of hell).


What can you do?

-If you suffer from sensitive skin, you might want to steer clear of common allergens at least some of the time. Try the elimination diet and see if your skin feels better

-Heal your gut with probiotics, FOS, and plant extracts like licorice and slippery elm powder

-Get enough Vitamin D: research shows that vitamin D deficiency plays a role in both food sensitivities and skin health

The rise in skin sensitivity has forced the skincare industry to change and offer more wholesome alternatives, like organic and non-toxic product lines. But still, for people with sensitive skin, the condition is less than ideal. With the right approach, we might be able to stop, or at least slow down, the rise in skin sensitivity. Even if you already suffer from sensitive skin now, you can keep it under control with the right self-care habits and lifestyle. Heal your skin and unlock your glow!