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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!