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The Basics

  • Your skin goes through a lot.
  • On a daily basis, it is put to the test. It’s exposed to weather conditions. The environment.
  • When you think of your skin as an organ, you can start to see how hard it works!
  • Every individual person’s skin is fundamentally delicate.
  • Your skin is a defensive organ after all - it’s constantly working to keep the good stuff in, and stop the bad stuff getting in. That’s a pretty epic job your skin has!
  • So it’s only natural that at times your skin might struggle and feel sensitive. This happens to some of us more often than others.
  • We all know what it’s like to have sensitised skin but few of us really know how to best treat our sensitive skin.
  • We want to go back to the basics of sensitive skin to fully understand what’s going on when we have flare ups so we can best know what our skin really needs.
  • At JBC we aren't interested in quick fix cover ups for sensitive skin. Too often we’ve seen beauty companies heaping shame and stigma on people with sensitive skin, that might look sore or painful, telling them how they can make their skin look normal again. We want your skin to be healthy.
  • That means understanding the root cause of the sensitivity and how to treat your skin for lasting skin health. So you can be the happy, healthy, remarkable you, and love the skin you’re in!
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What is sensitive skin?

You are more complex that marketers would have you believe. Sensitive skin is not straightforward, to be honest it’s not really a skin ‘type!’ it doesn’t fit neatly into a box. You don’t fit neatly into a box! Although every skin is unique and different, we can see some common features. As you start to understand how your skin works, and what might make it sensitive, you can see what the right treatment is for you. 

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Sensitive Skin v Sensitised Skin

First off, you might have seen the words sensitive skin and sensitised skin used a lot in skin care. Although they are often used like they are interchangeable, actually, they are two very different things. And the main difference in genetics. It’s like the inside versus the outside cause.

Sensitive skin

The cause of sensitive skin is on the inside - in your genes. Your skin is inherently sensitive. Truly sensitive skin is a genetic condition - you will have been born with sensitive skin, maybe with a lower amount of pigment, a thin epidermis, and blood vessels close to the skin surface, which is what causes a redness in appearance. Your epidermal lipid barrier, the outer layer of your skin that does the protecting job we talked about earlier, will have a defect and so will allow allergens and chemicals in, irritating the skin.

Sensitised Skin

Sensitised Skin is what most of us who say we have sensitive skin actually have, and if the cause of sensitive skin is on the inside, then the cause of sensitised skin is on the outside - the result of lifestyle, environment and products. Sensitised skin reacts to changes in lifestyle - stress, lack of sleep; the environment - pollutants, cigarette smoke, weather conditions such as sun exposure; and the use of certain products - some fragrances, essential oils and natural products can cause a reaction.

The Science Behind Sensitive Skin

Your skin is pretty incredible.

It is made up of layers, each having their own job. When it comes to explaining sensitivity, there are two we are interested in:

  • The Hydrolipid Film - your skin is covered with a protective film, called the ‘acid mantle’ or ‘hydro lipid film’, which is made up of secretion from the major sweat glands. The film is made up of lactic and amino acids, fatty acids from sebum and water. It’s slightly acidic. Its job is to protect your skin from allergens, bacteria, wind and pollutants, as well as helping it retain moisture. Sensitivity happens when the hydrolipid film layer is impaired and allows these bad things to get in and irritate your skin.
  • The stratum corneum - your outermost layer of skin, underneath the hydrolipid film. If your allergens are pushed through this layer of skin, that’s when you’ll notice deeper reddening and when your skin might need a bit more help to recover.

What about the other layers of your skin? Well, sensitivity in deeper layers of the skin is more commonly recognised as medical skin conditions like eczema and so would need medical advice and treatment.

Psoriasis – this is a skin condition where the epidermis produces too many cells, which leads to a condition that feels scaly but is really like having too much skin. It is the result of a struggling immune system and you should seek medical advice for this condition.

Eczema – patches of skin become red, itchy, inflamed – not really known why – usually connected to dermatitis.

Dermatitis – this is a skin condition that is itchy, red skin that can be caused by eczema or contact.

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What Does Sensitive Skin Look And Feel Like?

Signs of Skin Sensitivity

  • Reddened areas
  • Hot to touch
  • Itchy
  • Burns fast in the sun
  • Reacts to changes of temperature
  • Looks flushed
  • Dry, flaky skin
  • Breakouts that are sore
  • Reactions to products
  • Rosacea

A Simple Test

  • Smooth your thumbs, gently, over your complexion.
  • Look out for areas that radiate heat, or feel hot and itchy to touch.
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Why Do I Have Sensitive or Sensitised Skin?

You are unique. Your skin is a unique organ that reacts in its own way to the world around you. So although we perhaps can’t answer the question of why you have skin sensitivity, we can give you some common causes so you can understand what might make your skin sensitive.

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It’s In Your Genes

For some people it is a hereditary thing. Maybe your mum or dad has a skin condition, like eczema and so do you. It’s really common for sensitive skin to be passed down through the family.

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Weak Immune System

If you have a pre-existing medical condition that affects your immune system you may find that your skin is prone to sensitivity and reaction. The medications we may be taking for other conditions can also make our skin more susceptible to sensitivity.

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When our hormone levels change our skin can react and become more sensitive. We can see this during pregnancy and menopause.

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Life is busy. It can feel like a juggling act at times just to get through the day. Prolonged stress, even when it’s in a job we enjoy, takes it toll on our skin. Whether it’s caring for children, a dependent or starting a new job, lifestyle changes also affect our skin and can result in sensitivity.

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Changes in the weather (and depending where you live that can be varied) have an affect on our skin. Sensitivity often is triggered when you are going from the heat of outside to an air conditioned building, or from a windy cold street to a heated office.

What You Eat Really Matters!

It’s true, what you put into your body will show on your skin. Eat a rubbish diet and expect to see the results. But eat a healthy, balanced diet and expect to reap the rewards!

Why? Because your skin is an organ. And just like we understand that organs like the heart is affected by diet, we should expect the same from the skin.

So what are you saying… count the calories? No. Not necessarily. At JBC we want you to feel confident and comfortable in the skin you’re in, whatever your dress size, height or weight.

But there are some essential vitamins and minerals we need for our skin to be healthy, we’re saying make sure you have a healthy balanced diet packed full of goodness… there’s room for cake alongside the vitamins!

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Don’t Wait for The Triggers and Flare-Ups

When we talk about triggers, we’re talking about the thing that sparks a flare-up.

Now this is important -

If you only freak out about your skin when your skin freaks out and has a flare-up, that is a problem. Skin care is an everyday thing.

Neglecting your skin will cause it to flare up. So get ahead of the game with a skin care regime that repairs and protects the hydrolipid barrier.

What is a flare-up?

Your body is amazing - did you know that? It produces a natural inflammatory response to protect and heal itself. Which is pretty incredible! Damage to tissue, like wounds or infections would never heal without inflammation - it would just become more and more damaged.

There are two types of inflammatory responses your body produces - acute and chronic.

Chronic inflammation is a more serious response your body has to an underlying condition. This can last for months and needs treatment from a medical professional. This is when your body hasn’t been able to heal the problem with acute inflammation.

Acute inflammation is the response that we are most interested in when it comes to sensitive skin. That is what we mean by a flare-up.

Think back to the last time you scratched your arm. What happened? Chances are a red mark appeared near enough straight away. That is a sign that blood has been redirected to the site to help it heal. There’s a complicated scientific process to this that we don’t need to go into in detail, we just need to know that the reddening is a sign of increased blood in the area.

The same is true when your skin flares up and becomes reddened. Rather than trying to cover up the process, we should be marvelling at our amazing body that knows how to help us heal and be healthy!

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The Most Sensitive Skin On Your Face is…?

Well if it were a competition it might be a draw - between the two areas that have a different make-up than the rest of your face. Your eyes and your lip area have a thinner outer layer, which gives the skin in those areas a more transparent look.

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Sensitivity & Puffiness Around the Eyes

We don’t always associate puffy eyes with skin sensitivity. But a lack of proper nutrition and increased consumption of processed foods can result in excess salt intake, generating puffiness under the eyes. Capillaries can also stretch and leak, further contributing to puffiness. This can happen with age: the body retains more fluid than usual, which places increased pressure on skin around your eyes.

Dermalogica Stress Eye Positive is a great product for combatting puffy, reddened eyes, and is great for sensitised and sensitive skin.

Download the guide to find out more:


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Sensitivity Around the Lips

Your lovely lips lack the protective outer layer (stratum corneum) that facial skin has? In fact, skin on your lips has fewer layers overall (3-5 layers versus 16 across the face.) Lips also lack the same composition of oil and sweat glands that provide moisture to other areas of your face. At the same time, saliva dries out lips natural oils. All of this can make your lips prone to sensitivity.

Dermalogica Nightly Lip Treatment is a great product for sensitive lips, to repair and protect the layers of skin around your lips.

Download the guide to find out more about your skin around your lips:


Calming Skin Sensitivity

Before we move on to skincare for sensitive and sensitised skin, and start to look at the many amazing products that JBC have found across the market specifically developed for those experiencing skin sensitivity, like yours, it’s worth just touching on some of the other ways people calm and control their sensitive skin.

  • Elimination - if you think your sensitivity is related to a particular food or drink try eliminating the suspected culprit! You’ll need to give it a few weeks to see if it really is making a difference.
  • Food Journal - some people use a food journal to jot down everything they eat and drink to try and work out what they might need to eliminate.
  • Dermatologist - you might want to visit a dermatologist who can advise you on a specific skin condition you might have.
  • Skin Products - you might want to change skin products, try new ones or reduce the number of different brands you use.

However you choose to try to calm skin sensitivity, keep one thing in the front of your mind -

Your goal is to build back up the hydrolipid layer (the acid mantle).

That’s the protective film that covers your outer layer of skin.

How you do that will be unique to your unique skin and lifestyle. Maybe it will be cutting back on potent products, or maybe it will buying your first ever bottle of cleanser!

So that brings us on nicely to looking at skincare for sensitive skin.

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Skincare for Sensitive Skin

So at JBC, we’re passionate about skincare! We know that great skin is the result of a great skin care routine. We also know that it’s not a one-size-fits-all solution. Your skin is far more complex than that! Our aim at JBC is to help you to choose the right skincare for your skin, so you can be the happy remarkable you!

At the start we said we’d go back to the basics, so we think it’s only right to go back to the basics of skincare too.

So cleanse, tone, moisturise… right?! Well, kind of. At JBC we like the double-cleanse mantra.

So Double-Cleanse, Tone, Moisturise…. Oh and throw in exfoliate and add a serum!

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The Double-Cleanse - How To Clean Sensitive Skin

Two common issues we come across when chatting to those of you who have a history of sensitive and sensitised skin is:

  • Too much cleansing

There are those of you we chat to who have prolonged sensitivity but continue to use cleansers with potent ingredients, maybe because you have breakouts and so want to get rid of the dirt and grime. But this actually has a negative effect! You don’t need harsh cleansers - your skin cleans itself to some degree. So STOP! No, don't stop reading - just stop using harsh cleansers!

  • Not enough cleansing

The second thing is those of you we chat to who have sensitive skin who don’t use cleanser. But you just said your skin cleans itself to some extent… well yes, but it still needs some help! Just in the right way!

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So what is the answer for sensitive and sensitised skin?

Use a cleanser developed with skin sensitivity in mind.

And there’s plenty to choose from!

Whether you like a foaming face wash, like Guinot Bioxygene Soft Cleansing Foam, a cream based cleanser like Guinot Hydra Lait Confort or a gel cleanser like Mary Cohr Perfect Gel Cleanser

If you’re worried about breakouts, you can try Dermaolgica Breakout Clearing Foamwash

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So what was that about Double-Cleanse?

Now this might sound a bit strange when we’ve just talked about people over-cleaning their skin, but double-cleanse is perfect for sensitive skin, and in fact, all skin types.

So double-cleanse… cleanse twice? Yep. Well, kind of. It all about thorough cleansing. The first time you cleanse you are removing make-up, the real surface level dirt and grime. The second cleanse is treating your individual skin further and removing excess oil, dead skin or any other specific cleansing needs your skin has.

But won’t that irritate my skin?

No. It will actually help. If you have sensitised skin it might be just what your skin is craving, and if you have truly sensitive skin, it won’t be an irritant if you use products developed with sensitive skin in mind.

Try a pre-cleanse followed by a cleanser to protect the skin barrier.

A pre-cleanse like Dermalogica Pre-Cleanse or Ark Skincare Pro remove Pre Skin Cleanse is a great place to start.

Maybe try following it with Dermalogica Ultracalming Cleanser, which works to rebuild the hydrolipid layer.

This two step process ensures your skin is free from impurities and has a helping hand in sealing the hydrolipid layer.

Micellar Water

Ditch The Makeup Wipes for Micellar Water

Another common misconception we find at JBC is that make-up wipes are somehow better for sensitive skin. This is categorically not true!

Our advice - ditch them!

A solution that is just as quick and convenient is a miscellar water like Mary Cohr Soothing Micellar Water and cotton pads.

What is it? Water?! No, don’t be fooled by the name… and the consistency. Hidden in there are tiny microscopic oil molecules called micelles that dissolve dirt and makeup.

Whereas makeup wipes work by stripping your complexion of bad stuff (and also a lot of good stuff normally!) micellar water dissolves the bad stuff while leaving the good stuff intact! Which is great for sensitive skin.

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To Tone Or Not To Tone - The Sensitivity Question

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​What can a toner do for my sensitive skin?

As well as soothing your skin, toners like Dermalogica Ultra-Calming Mist also prepare your skin for moisturising, opening the pores so your skin can drink in maximum benefit! This is great for sensitised skin.

We can also recommend: 

Dermalogica Multi Active Toner

Ark Skincare Hydrating Toner

Dermalogica Antioxidant Hydramist

Guinot Lotion Hydra Confort

Guinot Lotion Hydra Fraicher

Guinot Microbiotic Lotion

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Moisturisers for Sensitive Skin

It’s really important you get the right moisturiser for your skin. A lot of people don’t use moisturiser on sensitive skin because they think it’s better to go without. Or they go to the other extreme and pile it on when they want to soothe flare-ups. Neither way is the right way to go when you moisturise sensitive and sensitised skin.

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What we need is a regular skin care routine that includes a moisturiser that can help rebuild the hydrolipid layer. That’s the goal remember, when it comes to skin sensitivity. To repair that hydrolipid layer so our skin is protected from outside pollutants and irritants.

Our advice? Choose a moisturiser specifically developed for sensitive skin.

There are some fabulous choices on JBC. Like Guniot Creme Pur Confort, Dermalogica Barrier Repair or Ark Skincare Age Defend Replenishing Moisuriser.

So that’s double-cleanse, tone and moisturise… the foundations of a skin care regime… well not quite all of them! We just want to throw in exfoliate and serum… oh and phyto replenish oil!

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Phyto Replenish Oil

Alongside your moisturiser, a product that is fantastic for sensitive skin is Phyto Replenish Oil.

What is

Phyto Replenish Oil?

Simply put, it is a plant-based oil for your skin. But don’t let that put you off. Oils are clever. If you want a dewy glow, you will need oil in your skincare routine. Plant-based oils like Dermalogica Phyto Replenish Oil can repair your skin on a deep level where other products cannot go and strengthen your skin’s natural defences like no other. Oils are actually the most active part of your skincare routine, so you must add one if you want to see a change in your complexion for good.

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What Does Phyto Replenish Oil Do?

Remember that hydro-lipid film we keep going on about - that film on top of the top layer of your skin that keeps nasty pollutants out and lock good skin products in?

Well, oils are highly effective at restoring your skin’s lipid content, as well as repairing your skin’s natural barrier. Your lipid content constitutes all of the nutrients, amino acids and natural good oils that make skin’s structure supple and makes your skin smooth to touch and not rough. If you have lost a little weight or enjoyed a few too many cocktails over summer you might notice that your skin feels dry, not dewy. That’s because everyday things like stress, alcohol, weight loss and UV sunlight exposure can deplete your skin’s lipid content over time. Oils can put back lost lipids fast.

Find out more by downloading our free guide about Dermalogica Phyto Replenish Oil: