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Is Your Skin Sensitive or Sensitized? | Ambrosia | Hong Kong

Is Your Skin Sensitive or Sensitized?

October 14, 2020

For those who think or suspect their skin is sensitive, let’s first ask you a question —— why do you think your skin is sensitive? Is it because it feels dry? Or because it gets red easily?

Have you ever wondered, why is your skin sensitive? Or the better question is, is your skin actually sensitive or is it just sensitized?

Yes, there actually is a different. Sensitive skin is a skin type, and sensitized skin is a skin condition.


What is Sensitive Skin?

First and foremost, sensitive skin is a skin type, and it deeply rooted in one’s genetics. This means, if you truly have sensitive skin, you would have noticed from your childhood, as certain fabrics, foods, the sun, ingredients, or factors including asthma and allergic rhinitis, will make your skin red, swell, or breakout in a rash consistently throughout your life. 

Sensitive skin types also tend to have less pigment in their skin, which means their protective barrier is naturally weaker, making it more easily affected by environmental factors.


What is Sensitized Skin?

Sensitized skin, although very similar in appearance to sensitive skin, is actually a skin condition, triggered by exposure to a potential irritant, such as pollutants, skincare ingredients, as well as how you treat your skin, that results in a damaged lipid barrier. When this thin, protective barrier designed to keep irritants and pathogens out and moisture in is damaged, the skin loses its ability in defending itself against aggressors.

Think about it this way. Experiencing redness, breakouts, or a rash after using washing your face, staying in a dust-filled room, or picking your skin, doesn’t mean your skin has issues —— it points to an issue with the ingredient, the pollutant in the air, or you, who can’t keep your fingers off your face!

What’s more, sometimes you may not even be sensitive to a skincare ingredient, but only to a certain ingredient in a particular product. For instance, one of our customers have no issues using any of our products that contain AHAs or BHA, yet her skin always break out in rashes immediately the next day using acid-based products from The Ordinary. This is why even with same types of ingredients, their quality and origin, and the actual formulation of the product, are extremely important.

The good news is, if you can sensitize your skin, you can also de-sensitize it. So how do you reduce the chance of sensitizing your skin?



Completely Avoid Certain Skincare Ingredients

Even if you have normal, healthy skin to begin with, some ingredients, such as sulfates in cleansers, physical scrubs, benzoyl peroxide in acne products, and drying alcohol in all skincare products will naturally irritate or dry skin out, as they degrade the skin’s lipid barrier.

So choose a non-foaming cleanser, stop using cleansing gadgets, use a gentle acid exfoliator instead of a physical scrub, and avoid products that contain non-fatty alcohol (they will appear in the ingredient list as alcohol and alcohol denat.). This way, the lipid barrier can build itself up again without further damage.

La Bella Figura Gentle Enzyme Cleanser | Ambrosia | Hong Kong

Gentle Enzyme Cleanser  <- Click to shop

With pineapple, papaya and pumpkin enzymes, which are gentle enough for even the most sensitive skin, it gently exfoliates and improves enlarged pores, blemishes and dullness. Whilst, ingredients such as including Reishi, Damascus Rose and Lavender Hydrosol, Carrot Seed Oil, Marshmallow Root, and Aloe Vera help to balance skin, promote skin cell regeneration and collagen synthesis, fight free radicals, enhance skin's defense system, as well as hydrate and brighten.


Take Extra Care in Certain Skincare Ingredients

Certain ingredients, including glycolic acid and L’Ascorbic acid (an unstable form of vitamin C), can also be irritating if used everyday. In fact, the latter is known to cause acne in many skins.

The solution is, choose ingredients that work in a similar yet gentler way. For instance, instead of glycolic acid, choose lactic acid, mandelic acid, or lactobionic acid. As for vitamin C, use sodium ascorbyl phosphate or ascorbyl glucoside rather than L’Ascorbic acid.

Agent Nateur holi(c) The C Duo | Ambrosia | Hong Kong

holi(c) The C Duo  <- Click to shop

A highly concentrated product consisting of only two ingredients. Besides Calcium Ketogluconate that has been shown to have incredible clinical results, that formula's other ingredient, Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate, protects cells against free radicals, as well as clinically proven to reduce acne. It also acts on melanin formation process in the skin and prevents hyperpigmentation process.



Repair The Lipid Barrier With Oils

It is called lipid barrier for a reason——the barrier is made up of lipids, and a damaged barrier needs lipids for restoration, period. By replacing depleted skin lipids with oils that are rich in essential fatty acids, omega-6 (aka linoleic acid) in particular, you are giving the skin what it needs to repair itself.

ANFISA Skin LILOU Radiant Hydra Balm | Ambrosia | Hong Kong

LILOU Radiant Hydra Balm  <- Click to shop

Highly anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and soothing, the organic formula rich in organic Blue Tansy, Helichrysum, Hemp Seed oil, Carrot Seed Oil, Green Tea, White Tea and Matcha, etc., helps to relieve sensitivity, redness, dryness and swelling, promote skin regeneration, strengthen the skin lipid barrier, restore water-oil balance, soothe acne, while inhibiting elastin breakdown and slowing down the aging process.



Strengthen The Barrier With Skin-Loving Ingredients

Besides oils, the skin also needs a wide range of nutrients to keep the skin barrier healthy. Phytosterols, phytonutrients, antioxidants, anti-inflammatories, minerals, allantoin, and vitamins such as niacinamide (vitamin B3), and panthenol (vitamin B5), are all excellent in improving the barrier function and soothing sensitized skin.

Twelve Beauty Ultra Revitalising Elixir | Ambrosia | Hong Kong

Ultra Revitalising Elixir  <- Click to shop

With a base of rare distilled Mallow, Niacinamide and Panthenol, and ingredients including Saccharide Hydrolysate, Sodium PCA, Saccharide Isomerate, Allantoin, Rice Starch, as well as precious botanicals, this powerful yet gentle formula provides long-lasting hydration, soothes irritations, improves the skin's natural barrier and water retention function, reduces inflammations, fights free radicals, pollution and allergens, whilst brightening and repairing the skin.



Use Products That Creates a Protective Film On The Skin

By creating a physical, breathable barrier between the skin and daily exposure to pollution, free radicals and irritants, and boosting the skin’s resilience to oxidation and environmental stressors, the skin will be less susceptible to their assault, and will be much less reactive.

This is why you often find those who wear foundation all the time, for example Japanese and Koreans, actually tend to have better skin in the long-term, because contrary to popular believe, makeup does not suffocate the skin and prevent it from “breathing” (the skin does not respirate), it actually provides a physical barrier between the skin and the environment, as long as you are cleansing properly.

KLUR Symmetry Fluid Anti-Pollution Serum | Ambrosia | Hong Kong

Symmetry Fluid  <- Click to shop

Rich in rare ingredients Astaxanthin and Fulvic Acid, as well as resveratrol-rich Cranberry, Green Tea, White Tea Extract, Red Algae, Dandelion, Gotu Kola and Ginkgo, etc., Symmetry Fluid fights off inflammations and free radicals, detoxifies, removes heavy metals in the skin, brightens, reduces acne, promotes skin cell regeneration, strengthens and repairs the skin, and increases skin elasticity, whilst creating a breathable barrier on the skin surface.


 Add Probiotics To Your Skincare Routine

Many researches have demonstrated that probiotic live bacteria cultures have the remarkable ability in promoting recovery and maintenance of the skin barrier. They also boost the skin’s natural defense mechanisms, decrease inflammation, strengthen the skin’s water retention function, and calm the natural immune triggers in the skin which can become easily overstimulated by stress and pollution. Studies have also shown that they are proven extremely effective in treating acne.

Do note however, that not all probiotic skincare is created equal. Just like your probiotic supplement, the more strains and count of live probiotic culture a product has, the better it is in targeting different issues, as opposed to ones that only contain lactobacillus or lactobacillus ferment and in limited quantities.

Marie Reynolds London Restore | Ambrosia | Hong Kong

Restore  <- Click to shop

In addition to the only 8-strain probiotic live culture technology on the market, the formula is also fortified with 2 kinds of prebiotic, vitamin D-rich Alfalfa, antioxidant superfood Açaí Berry, soothing and anti-inflammatory Hemp Protein, vitamin C-rich Acerola Berry, as well as detoxifying Chlorella, Dandelion and Spirulina, to effectively relieve and improve inflammation, balance skin, promote skin cell repair and regeneration, and restore skin health. Especially suitable for various skin inflammation problems such as rosacea, eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, sensitivity and acne.



Stress has been proven to weaken our immune system, as well as slow down the skin healing process. Which means, if you fail to destress and get enough sleep, the skin barrier will be permanently in a weakened state. So sleep more, exercise, and do whatever you love to bring that stress level down!


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