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If you have intolerant skin, it might not always be a good idea to use products designed for sensitive skin. If you’re wondering if intolerant skin and sensitive skin are the same, read on (And thanks to Effortless Skin for the explanation!). On the surface, sensitive and intolerant skin might look the same but the way they respond to external substances and ingredients can vary greatly. All skin types can experience moments of sensitivity but when does this turn into a full blown condition and how can you separate the two? Here’s how to determine which category your skin falls into…
Symptoms of Sensitive Skin
In general terms, sensitive skin reacts to irritants that it comes into contact with. These can range from certain ingredients in topical products like washing up liquid and facial cleansers to strong sunlight and synthetic fabrics. When sensitive skin reacts it tends to become inflamed and tight, with some people also experiencing breakouts and flaky skin, but the overall response tends to come and go relatively swiftly or can be quickly subdued with the right products. There are of course varying degrees of sensitivity, with some people experiencing very mild reactions and others experiencing more prolonged bouts but sensitive skin is a lot easier to manage than intolerant skin.
To treat a flare up, look for gentle skin care products that contain water-based ingredients to reduce inflammation and irritation on contact. If redness is your skin’s main response then look to products that treat conditions like rosacea to improve the way the cells react to external stressors.
Symptoms of Intolerant, Reactive Skin
Intolerant, reactive and hypersensitive skin can react to irritants but it tends to respond more dramatically to allergens like fragrance, parabens, pollen and certain metals like nickel. Unlike sensitive skin, when these allergens come into contact with intolerant skin the body issues a full blown immune response, releasing antibodies to attack the offending substance which results in visible reddening of the skin. Intolerant skin can also suffer from a burning or stinging sensation, extreme dehydration and painful pimples following a reaction, with most people experiencing some form of discomfort within minutes of the allergen touching the skin. These reactions often take a while to calm down, leaving the skin weakened and prone to damage as the epidermal barrier struggles to rebuild itself.
To manage intolerant skin, identify the key substances and allergens that your skin dislikes and remove them from your daily life. Keep skin hydrated and use products that support a weak epidermal barrier to limit the damage that allergens can inflict on the skin. It is best to use products that contain minimal ingredients to limit the risk of aggravation and be patient, as intolerant skin requires daily care to remain healthy.