How to Know If You Have Sensitive Skin

Skin sensitivity is a common condition that occurs when nerve endings in the top layer of the skin become irritated or inflamed.

If you notice redness, itching, or dryness on your skin, especially after using cosmetic products, you might have sensitive skin.

This condition affects around 60-70% of women and 50-60% of men due to harsh environments, the skin care products they use, and other potential irritants.

Figuring out if you have sensitive skin is the first step to taking better care of it. 

Afterward, you can start picking out gentler skincare products that are more suitable for your skin type, like Kinship’s Kinskin Ceramide Barrier Repair Oil!

What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Sensitive Skin?

The signs and symptoms of sensitive skin typically include redness, itching, tightness, and dryness.

1.) Redness

Sensitive skin often appears flushed or red and can be caused by irritants like skin care products not made for sensitive skin or exposure to extreme temperatures.

This redness can show up as a consistent flush or as sporadic patches.

It indicates the skin's reactivity to external irritants or internal stressors, such as hormonal changes, certain medications, and emotional stress.

2.) Irritation

Irritation manifests as itchiness, burning, or stinging sensations, which can occur immediately after applying a product that does not agree with your skin type.

The skin may also become itchy or tingly in response to natural elements like wind or extreme temperatures.

Regular skin irritation is thus a clear sign of skin sensitivity.

3.) Dryness

If your skin frequently looks flaky or rough, it indicates a compromised moisture barrier.

Dry skin is prone to cracking, which allows irritants to penetrate the skin more easily. This worsens skin sensitivity and any feelings of discomfort you may experience.

Excessively dry skin can also stress nerve endings in the skin.

This can lead to the development of other skin conditions due to irritation and itching, according to the American Academy of Dermatology Association.

NOTE: Dry skin is a symptom of eczema, so ensure your dry skin is not linked to atopic dermatitis and utilize products that are approved by the National Eczema Association, such as Kinship’s Supermello Moisturizer.

4.) Tightness

Sensitive skin can feel tight or taut, especially after washing or exposure to harsh environmental conditions.

This tightness often indicates that the natural oils of the skin have been stripped away. Once this happens, your dermis loses protection against irritants and can become more sensitive.

A proper skincare routine is essential to hydrate and protect sensitive skin from potential irritants. Add our irritant-free Dreamwave Overnight Serum to your skincare routine for the best results!

Common Triggers

Identifying common triggers can help pinpoint the specific root of your skin reactions. It also helps people with sensitive skin take proactive steps to avoid them.

Here are 5 common factors that can trigger reactions in sensitive skin.

1.) Chemical Irritants

Ingredients such as fragrances, preservatives, and harsh laundry detergents can irritate sensitive skin.

These chemicals strip the skin of its natural oils and weaken the protective barrier, which leads to redness and irritation. 

At Kinship, our products, like Supermello Moisturizer, are scented with natural ingredients like vanilla, and our formulations are always synthetic and fragrance-free.

2.) Environmental Factors

The sun's UV rays, pollution, dry winter air and cold weather can all worsen skin sensitivity.

These environmental irritants can dry out and break your skin's protective barrier. This will result in discomfort and visible reactions on your skin. 

NOTE: You can restore your skin barrier with Kinskin Barrier Repair Oil.

3.) Physical Irritants

Rough textures from clothing, bedding, towels, and other household products can physically irritate the skin.

Friction from these materials can lead to chafing and irritation, making delicate skin more susceptible to other irritants.

4.) Allergens

Common allergens, such as pollen, poison ivy, pet dander, and certain foods, can trigger allergic reactions in people with sensitive skin.

These reactions are often caused by the immune system responding to substances that are perceived as threats.

Manifestations of these allergic responses can include symptoms like itching or swelling on the skin.

5.) Stress

Emotional stress can impact the barrier function of the skin and worsen skin sensitivity.

Stress hormones like cortisol can thus increase inflammation and disrupt the skin's ability to regulate moisture and protect itself from environmental irritants.

How to Identify Triggers

Since skin types vary between individuals, and what causes sensitive skin for one person may be different for others.

Follow the tips below to better understand and identify irritants that trigger your sensitive skin.

1.) Keep a Skincare Journal

Start by tracking all the skincare products you use, along with any reactions you may notice. This can help you identify patterns and specific products that are causing issues. 

For example, say you started using a new fragrance-free moisturizer and noticed your skin becoming red and itchy. 

By keeping a skincare journal, you can track every instance you apply this new moisturizer and the reactions you experience each time.

2.) Patch Testing

Before fully integrating a new product into your daily regimen, apply a small amount to a discreet area of your skin—commonly around the wrist area or the back of your hand. 

Wait a few days to see if there is any reaction. If so, one of the product's ingredients may be a skin irritant.

This method can prevent adverse reactions over larger skin areas and is recommended by dermatologists to minimize any potential issues.

3.) Elimination Diet

If you suspect food allergies might be affecting your skin, temporarily remove common allergens like dairy, gluten, or nuts from your diet.

Monitor any changes in your skin condition in response to these dietary adjustments. 

This approach is very useful in identifying underlying medical conditions, especially if you are experiencing other symptoms alongside the sensitive skin.

4.) Observe Environmental Factors

Pay attention to how your skin reacts to different environmental conditions, including the following.

  • Weather changes
  • Pollution levels
  • Chemicals in your laundry detergent
  • Indoor heating or cooling

Environmental or external factors can significantly impact sensitive skin, and noting which factors cause reactions can help you take preventive measures and protect your skin.

5.) Consult a Dermatologist

Seeking professional advice from a dermatologist is the most effective way to manage sensitive skin. 

A healthcare provider can accurately diagnose your skin condition and its triggers and recommend targeted treatments or skincare products. 

For instance, your skin sensitivity may be more than an allergic reaction. It may indicate conditions like atopic dermatitis (eczema), allergic contact dermatitis, or worse, skin cancer. 

A dermatologist can diagnose skin diseases and prescribe stronger creams and medications that are not available over the counter to help manage them effectively.

Tips to Manage Sensitive Skin


Sensitive skin symptoms can cause discomfort and even pain at times. Therefore, it is important to know how to treat sensitive skin.

Here are a few tips to help you achieve that healthy-looking skin that is protected and resilient!

1.) Choose Gentle Skincare Products

Opt for beauty products specifically labeled as suitable for sensitive skin, such as those made by Kinship! These are usually fragrance-free and do not contain any skin irritants.

When searching for new skincare and cosmetic products, consider getting plant-based products. These are gentler on your skin and contain fewer or even no irritants.

2.) Patch Test New Products

Before fully incorporating a new product into your routine, apply a small amount to a discreet area of your skin and wait a few days to see if there is any allergic response.

This can prevent potential adverse reactions when applied over larger skin areas.

3.) Keep Your Skincare Routine Simple

Using fewer products can help minimize the likelihood of skin dryness. Stick to skincare essentials like a gentle cleanser, moisturizer, and broad-spectrum sunscreen.

4.) Protect Your Skin

Shield your skin from environmental triggers like the sun and wind by wearing appropriate clothing and using a broad-spectrum sunscreen.

If you have an underlying condition like eczema, choose fragrance-free products with active ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide. 

For mild eczema, over-the-counter creams can help. However, persistent flare-ups may require a topical steroid to provide relief and reduce redness.

5.) Practice Gentle Cleansing

Use a mild, soap-free cleanser that does not strip your skin of its natural oils and trigger acne breakouts.

When cleansing, gently pat the cleanser onto your skin using fingertips or a soft, clean cloth.

Avoid roughly scrubbing yourself or using coarse tools. You must also note that it is better to use lukewarm water instead of hot water for cleansing.

6.) Hydrate and Moisturize

Apply moisturizer regularly to strengthen the skin barrier.

To hydrate your skin, you can apply humectants like hyaluronic acid to help draw in moisture and then follow up with an occlusive such as plant oils to lock it in.

Alternatively, you can use a product that both moisturizes and hydrates your skin.

7.) Manage Stress

Stress can worsen skin conditions.

To reduce its impact, practice stress-reduction techniques like yoga, meditation, or regular exercise to further complement your skincare practices. 

This is essential even if you have normal skin.

8.) Consult a Dermatologist

If you notice persistent flushing, flaking, or reactive skin that does not improve with topical steroids or anti-itch creams, it is time to see a dermatologist.

They can perform tests and provide prescription creams that help relieve itching.

Most importantly, they offer tailored advice specific to your skin needs—be it for broken capillaries, irritant contact dermatitis, or other more serious conditions.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Is There a Difference Between Dry Skin and Sensitive Skin?

Dry skin typically feels more sensitive. Similarly, sensitive skin is commonly dry, regardless of irritants.

Both often occur together, which makes it tricky to identify the underlying cause and proper treatment.

When Should I Seek Professional Help for Sensitive Skin?

If you notice any of the signs listed below, you should seek professional help. 

  • Symptoms persist or worsen
  • New or unusual symptoms
  • Development of skin infections
  • Severe discomfort or pain
  • Possibility of underlying health conditions
  • Persistent skin reactions 
  • Need for allergy testing
  • Skin suddenly becomes sensitive to the touch

Key Takeaways for How to Know If You Have Sensitive Skin

Understanding whether you have sensitive skin is crucial for crafting a skincare routine that prevents irritation and promotes overall skin health.

If you have sensitive skin, here is a quick recap of what to look out for, potential irritants and triggers, and how to treat it.

  • Signs: Redness, itching, dryness, tightness - these could mean sensitive skin.
  • Triggers: Harsh products, sun, stress - figure out what upsets your skin.
  • Calming Tips: Gentle cleansers, moisturizer, sunscreen - a simpler routine is key.

Most importantly, consult a healthcare provider when your symptoms become severe or persistent.


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