• Inflammation
  • Skin biology

Sensitive skin explained

How to take care of sensitive skin

Sensitive skin – A phenomenon on the rise

Skin sensitivity is an increasing issue worldwide. According to a study published in 2020, 71% of the global adult population has self-declared sensitive skin syndrome. The searches for “sensitive skin cream” more than doubled between 2015 and 2020 and Google searches on “how to strengthen the skin barrier” rose by 120% between October 2021 and October 2022.

China is a good example of sensitive skincare on the rise. 34% of Chinese female consumers say they have sensitive skin, and 48% of sensitive skincare product users consider repairing the stratum corneum to be the most important claim for sensitive skincare products3. We know that the skin barrier function and the state of the stratum corneum are closely linked to skin sensitivity.

As consumers are looking for more cosmetics adapted to sensitive skin, the market is growing. Globally, the sensitive skin products market generated 1.36 billion dollars in 2022 and is expected to grow by 43% in 2028, to reach 1.94 billion dollars4. This data highlights the opportunities of offering sensitive skin products.

What is sensitive skin?

Sensitive skin is a condition of subjective cutaneous hyper-reactivity to environmental, lifestyle, or physiological factors, exhibiting symptoms of skin tightness, stinging, tingling, burning, pain, and redness. Subjects reported that these sensations are exacerbated when they use cosmetics, soaps, and sunscreens, or when exposed to drier and colder climates.

Sensitive skin can be caused by various factors, including genetics, a weakened skin barrier, and environmental factors like sun exposure or pollution. Some medical conditions, such as eczema, rosacea, or psoriasis, can also cause sensitive skin.

Ultimately, all skin types can be sensitive.

How does it work?

Several factors are involved in tissue impairment and skin sensitivity. Amongst them, inflammatory reactions and barrier function impairment are central. Not to mention, inflammatory reactions weaken the barrier function and prevent proper repair, which only induces a vicious cycle. 

Healthy skin retains water and prevents pathogen and allergen penetration. This barrier function is ensured by the first layers of our skin, the stratum corneum, covered by surface cutaneous lipids. When altered, we observe an increase in TEWL, and irritants and allergens penetrate more easily. Nerve endings are also more exposed, leading to unpleasant, if not painful, sensations. 

Gattefossé solution

So, how can one soothe sensitive skin? 

Emulium® Dermolea MB, our new O/W emulsifier, reduces skin stress and brings long-term soothing thanks to its unique lipidic composition rich in sterols and triterpenes. Highly moisturizing and protective, this ingredient is shown to reinforce the skin barrier function. Used at up to 4%, it is suitable for all skin types, in both humid and dry climates, and is adapted to skin care, sun care, makeup and scalp care, from fluid sprays to thick balms.

It also boasts a short, minimalistic INCI: polyglyceryl-6 distearate, for its emulsifying properties, and candelilla/jojoba/rice bran polyglyceryl-3 esters, which offer sensory, efficacy, and stability. 

1. W. Chen and al, The prevalence of self-declared sensitive skin: a systematic review and meta-analysis, J Eur Acad Dermatol Venereol, 2020, 34 (8) 1779-1788
2. Google Trend analysis
3. Mintel, 2023, “Mintel reveals China beauty trends for 2023 at Cosme Week Tokyo”
4. Global Sensitive Skin Product Market Report 2022, HTF Marketing Intelligence