Why sensitive skin is the next key issue worldwide?

Why sensitive skin is the next key issue worldwide ?

“Sensitive skin” isn’t really a clinical term but an expression for skin that’s easy to irritate. It is known that about 50% of the population is concerned. Sensitive skin has always been a regular topic in cosmetics. But today, this issue is becoming crucial. Why ? Because our skin is subject to many inner and external factors that influence its condition. With our way of life, especially in developed countries - but also in emerging countries - the skin quality is directly and indirectly linked to molecules, leading to biological and chemical reactions. That irritation usually manifests with symptoms like redness, stinging, burning, itchiness, and general discomfort after the skin comes into contact with a particular ingredient or environmental trigger. What dermatologists look for when diagnosing sensitive skin are skin reactions such as pustules, skin bumps, or skin erosion, very dry skin which doesn't properly protect nerve endings in the skin, and a tendency toward blushing. Anyone’s skin can react to certain irritants, but if it is frequent, it could be a sign of an underlying condition. Causes of sensitive skin reactions include skin disorders or allergic skin reactions such as eczema, rosacea, or allergic contact dermatitis, overly dry or injured skin, and excessive exposure to skin-damaging environmental factors. Genetic factors, age, gender, and ethnic differences in skin sensitivity are less well-defined but still may play a role in causing skin reactions.


Skin is subject to harmful factors

The lipid barrier performs two main jobs: keeping water in, and keeping potentially damaging things, like UV rays, wind, heat, and harsh chemicals, out. In people with sensitive skin, this barrier is typically weaker, thinner, and more easily damaged, making it easier for irritants to penetrate the skin and cause inflammation. Besides chemicals (i.e detergents), the main external factor our skin is facing is pollution. Especially in cities, megalopolis and polluted areas, very fine particles or chemical pollutants may be found in the air. The air we breathe, the air in contact with the epidermis : even if we don’t see it, it triggers biological reactions. Our defense system is not prepared to regulate and detoxify this kind of poisoning effect. In emerging countries, pollution is a huge problem too. Recently, we saw Indonesia sending tons of wastes (547 containers) back to occidental countries such as France. Pictures of air pollution in Beijing have been shared on social media, so that people around the world become more and more aware of what we are in contact with.

We could also mention environmental aspects due to climate change, even it is not so obvious yet. When the meteorological conditions are becoming more extreme, heat waves will have consequences on the air quality and dryness, that will decrease skin moisture.

At least, inner factors such as stress, anxiety, tiredness or illness help to increase skin sensitivity. And these are more and more observed in our societies.


Allergies are increasing

As we saw it during the last decades, allergic reactions are more and more observed in the population. These manifestations of the deregulated immune system are also a testimony of the way the human body is reacting to an overwhelming environment. This is the reason why regulation are becoming more strict with allergenic compounds, in fragrances for example. What is important to understand is that the skin reflects the body general condition and the way it  reacts on its most external layer, at the interface with the environment.

Cumulative effect may be observed when we consider all the chemicals that are in contact with the skin or the human body in general (including food, medication and textile). Cross-allergies may also at the origin of dysfunctions that increase skin sensitivity. These mechanisms are still not well-known and research works are managed to define more precisely the biological pathways.


Cosmetic products and services of the future will be dedicated to sensitive skin

Urban and stressful environments represent skin sensitivity triggers. Besides new lifestyles based on meditation and holistic approach, new products and services dedicated to beauty and wellness will focus on sensitivity. Specific guidelines are lacking, but more “skin-friendly” products contain few ingredients and little or no fragrance. Ingredients such as antibacterial or deodorant ingredients, alcohol an retinoids or alpha-hydroxy acids are blacklisted. There are some tips for sensitive skin cares like using soap-free cleansers such as mild cleansing bars and sensitive-skin bars along with most liquid facial cleansers have less potential for facial skin irritation than soaps. Moisturizing products help skin hold on to moisture so it resists drying and abrasion.

Cosmetic brands are turning sensitivity-centered, like Eucerin, Aveeno or Horace. By representing 50% of the population this market will grow effectively.


If you want to discover more about the future of sensitive skin, come and visit the Cosmetic 360 show, 16-17 October 2019 in Paris.

The Cosmetic 360 Team.