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How to Treat Sensitive Skin

Updated: Sep 22, 2020

Don’t let sensitive skin get in the way of your skincare routine. Choosing the right products for your skin type can feel a little nerve-wrecking, because one misstep can take weeks to recover from. However, knowing what triggers your skin is necessary, and this is why having a skincare specialist examine your skin will help in finding the right products just for you.

At Pretty Please, we have highly experienced Skin Experts that will examine, and offer professional advice on the best products for your skin type. But just in case you can’t make it to us in New York City, here is everything you need to know about sensitive skin, as well as our tips for keeping it calm, cool and collected.

What Is Sensitive Skin?

Sensitive skin comes with a wide variety of symptoms, and it doesn’t look the same way for everyone. It can range from moderate discomfort to severe reactions -- our founder, Jennifer Rasa, says:

“sensitive skin is common and about half of our clients tell us they suffer from it. It is described as skin that endures daily unpleasant sensations such as stinging, burning, redness, and tingling caused by forms of stimulation.”

If you find your skin is easily triggered by environmental stressors like the sun, wind and pollution, and/or topical products like lotions or fragrances, you may have sensitive skin.

Sensitive Skin Vs. Sensitized Skin

There is a key distinction to be made between each one -- sensitive skin is a genetic trait, while sensitized skin is an issue caused by increased exposure to pollution, stress and chemicals. While these two share the same symptoms, the cause of this skin concern is different.

Sensitive skin is a skin type which is caused by a genetic predisposition to skin sensitivity and irritation. It is also a common symptom of genetic conditions like psoriasis, eczema and rosacea. You cannot change your skin type, but you can adjust your daily habits and skin care routine to manage its symptoms.

On the other hand, sensitized skin is a skin condition. It is characterized by skin irritation that builds over time due to environmental influences and lifestyle choices. Unlike sensitive skin, the symptoms of sensitized skin can be “fixed” over time with targeted skin care products and lifestyle changes.

Signs & Symptoms

Again signs of sensitive skin can vary, so here are a few telltale signs that you may have sensitive skin:


If you experience redness after cleansing your skin, chances are you suffer from sensitive skin. This redness is due to an inflammatory response from your immune system, which rushes blood to the surface of your skin in an attempt to heal it.

Prone To Rashes & Bumps

When sensitive skin is exposed to a trigger, it will often react with a red, flaky or bumpy rash. This usually occurs when topical products are applied like facial serums and moisturizers that are meant to be left on the skin rather than rinsed off.

Burning Sensation

Another sign of sensitive skin is when your skin reacts to products being applied. Sensitive skin has a broken lipid barrier, so fragrances and active ingredients can penetrate more easily and deeply, which causes a stinging, or burning sensation.

Reacts To Fragrance

Jennifer Rasa says, “fragrance is one of the most notorious causes of skin irritation and sensitivity.” From laundry detergents to personal care products, many consumer goods contain synthetic fragrances that can cause a reaction in sensitive skin. Jennifer would suggest using products that are fragrance-free.

Tips For Sensitive Skin

You may not be able to change your sensitive skin type, but there are several tips you can follow to keep your symptoms under control.

Be Aware Of Triggers

One of the best ways to manage your symptoms is to be aware of the environmental and lifestyle triggers that cause your skin to react. The more you know, the better you can identify them. Triggers differ from person to person, but often include, change in weather, stress, and dehydration.

Choose Calming Ingredients

When shopping for skincare products, treat your skin to items that contain calming ingredients. Here are a few superstar ingredients, chosen for their anti-inflammatory properties and ability to enhance your skin’s lipid barrier. Reach for chamomile, hyaluronic acid, rosehip oil, olive oil, shea butter and sunflower seed oil.

Perform A Patch Test

At our Manhattan location, we always recommend trying a patch test to our clients - especially when trying new products. Wait at least 24 hours for signs of irritation, redness, or other skin freak-outs.


One of the best ways to maintain a healthy lipid barrier is to moisturize - day and night. An effective moisturizer will replenish skin’s outer layer and prevent water loss, helping to prevent penetration by potential irritants. When choosing a moisturizer, we recommend looking for ingredients that are high in fatty acids, like shea butter, jojoba oil and coconut oil, as well as serums with hyaluronic acid to increase hydration and lock in moisture.

Less is More

Sensitive skin is easily overwhelmed by an abundance of products, so it’s best to simplify your routine and stick to a basic regimen of gentle cleansers, toners, and moisturizers that are fragrance-free.

Sensitive Skin Care Routine

Essential Routine

When it comes to sensitive skin, less is more. We recommend starting simple with these essential skin care steps.


Use a gentle facial cleanser, either a cream or milk-based cleanser to provide the skin with nourishment.

Exfoliate (once or twice per week)

Yes, sensitive skin can still be exfoliated, but only gentle exfoliation. Limiting exfoliation to once or twice per week is ideal. It can help remove dead skin cells and refresh your skin, but overdoing it can make your skin feel irritated. Skip harsh scrubs and opt instead for gentle peels like glycolic acid.


Say goodbye to alcohol-based, astringent toners that can leave your face feeling tight and itchy. Instead, use a hydrating toner or facial mist with skin-soothing ingredients like rose water, that will help improve the appearance of redness and inflammation.


For sensitive skin, look for moisturizers that not only replenish your skin’s moisture barrier but also contain soothing ingredients like rosehip oil which will calm and comfort your skin.


Face masks are one of the best ways to soothe sensitive skin. They not only offer the ultimate pampering experience but also deliver calming ingredients to the skin. Facial masks are a great way to target your sensitive areas and treat them for 10-20 minutes during a session.


Using serums and oils will provide the ultimate comfort to reactive skin and help alleviate dry patches, redness and strengthen skin to create a barrier against outside irritants.

You now have all the tips and tools you need to treat and combat sensitive skin. However, if you would like an in-depth breakdown on products you can use, schedule an appointment at our Flatiron location. Allow one of our skin experts to offer professional tips as well as pamper your skin to our Keep Calm Facial, created for sensitive skin.


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