A dermatologist told us why our skin is so sensitive and it's... confronting.

Bet you feel like a real bloody goose, huh? Cause we do. We all do.

Turns out a lot of us have been ploughing away at our skin with approximately *way* too many chemical-laden scrubs, toners and actives, literally giving ourselves long-term sensitivity.

FKN WHOOPS. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

Watch: Here are 7 ways to improve your skin while you sleep. Post continues below.

Video via Mamamia

It sounds like we're being a touch dramatic, but it's true you guys.

We were talking to dermatologist Dr Katherine Armour from Bespoke Skin Technology, and we started ranting about how sensitive and s**t our skin was, when she brought up this whole 'man-made' sensitivity thing.

And while the symptoms and causes of sensitive skin obviously differ between individuals (underlying issues like eczema and such can trigger sensitive skin), skin experts are now noticing a HELLUVA lot of 'man-made' sensitivity going on.

Listen: Leigh takes us on the road to recovery and shows us how using too many actives can lead to a chemical burn. Post continues below.

And it's all due to people simply overusing certain ingredients and products.


Sheesh. How unbelievably awks for us!

To find out exactly what we're doing wrong and how to stop it, we asked Dr Armour what she recommends. 

Is it possible for your skincare routine to make your skin sensitive?

Yes. One hundred and fifty per cent, yes. The main culprits? Physical exfoliation, foaming cleansers and toners.

"We have become obsessed with exfoliation as if it is something that we need to do to avoid all the perceived evils that could befall our skin (dullness, dryness, congestion)," said Dr Armour.

"I believe physical exfoliants are completely unnecessary. They temporarily smooth the skin by removing the dead upper layer which will slough away on its own. In doing so, physical exfoliants, particularly if used too often, will disrupt the skin barrier, leading to irritation and sensitivity."

If you already have sensitive skin and you're scrubbing your face with a physical scrub every day in order to make your face bright and smooth, this is a terrible idea and you should put that scrub down immediately. 

We're so mad at you, Carol.

"In terms of harsh skincare, foaming cleansers and toners are the main culprits. When used over-zealously they too upset the epidermal barrier, stripping precious lipids and leading to 'man-made' skin sensitivity."

Here's the thing. We know you're all about doing WHADEVAITTAKES to nab that glowing, radiant complexion, but you don't *have* to scrub and chemically burn the s**t outta your skin. You really don't.


"The main way to ensure a glowing complexion is by supporting your skin's precious barrier with nourishing moisturisers, B3 and B5 topically, and by targeting brown spots and pigmentation with appropriate cosmeceutical ingredients," she said.

Armour said chemical exfoliants (AHAs, PHAs) are appropriate in those without sensitive skin to smooth and decongest, but these kinds of ingredients are to be used with care (one to two products a day, max).

What kind of impact does this have on the skin?

"For those with oily skin, constantly stripping the skin barrier and trying to 'over-clean' the skin leads to a reflexive increase in oil production, which is counterproductive."

Meaning? Stop it. You're only making your oily skin more oily.

"For the rest of us, constantly stripping the skin barrier will often lead to issues with sensitivity to skincare products and makeup, redness and peeling. Not the look we're after!"  

It really isn't. 

"In some chronic inflammatory skin conditions (think acne, rosacea, eczema), some skin bacteria may be commensal organisms (happy, healthy bugs) or pathogenic (disease exacerbating)," explains Dr Armour. 

Basically, over-cleansing and changing your skin’s pH can lead to an imbalance between good and bad bugs on our skin, which can make existing skin conditions a whole lot worse.

"This is something that dermatologists frequently see in acne where there is a tendency to over-cleanse. The result is dry, red, peeling skin in between pimples," said Dr Armour.


We feel seen.

"This can be avoided by using gentle cleansers and avoiding physical exfoliants and harsh foaming cleansers," she said.

Sounds pretty simple.

But, wait. Why has the beauty industry been pushing all this stuff if it's so damaging to our skin?

If it's so bad for our skin, then why is the skincare industry peddling things like physical exfoliation, foaming cleansers, toners and such?

"I think that this is partly because of the historical focus on 'anti-ageing', rather than 'skin health', which is now becoming more of a focus," said Dr Armour.

Oh! Interesting.

"We were previously obsessed with rejuvenation (which is still important!) and creating a smooth skin surface. I think that until very recently, there was a lack of understanding that our skin is actually really good at doing its job, which is protecting our body from the outside world."

According to Dr Armour, what we actually need to focus on is nourishing and supporting our skin barrier rather than tearing it apart and constantly asking it to repair itself. 

Goodness. Who do we think we are? What a d**k head.

So, is less actually best when it comes to skincare?

When it comes to skincare, more is not more, sweet babes. 

While we advocate those hard-hitting active ingredients like AHAs, BHAs and retinol, we recommend that you always tread gently. Ask for advice. And limit what you're putting on your skin.

"You don't need to apply 10 different active products per day to achieve glowing skin. Choose multi-tasking ingredients (e.g. niacinamide, ferulic acid, resveratrol, bakuchiol, liquorice root extract) which will combat many skin concerns."  


Keep in mind that the more things you apply to your skin, the more of a chance that you’ll cause skin irritation, said Dr Armour.

"Research what ingredients are appropriate for your skin concerns, or get some advice from your dermal therapist or dermatologist. Skip the toner and remember that your day and night cream are perfectly adequate to use in the eye area."

Good one, Dr A.

Is dry and sensitive skin only becoming an issue now?

According to the experts, this whole endemic around dry and sensitive skin has been an issue for quite some time (*stares intensely at St Ives Apricot Scrub*) - it's just become a little more prevalent.

"The increase in sensitive skin-specific formulations is more a recognition that providing appropriate products for this group is an unmet need."

"Skincare companies have previously focused on 'sexier' skin problems such as preventing wrinkles and pigmentation. But, they can target another whole market if they address the large group of the population who tend to have dry and/or sensitive skin."

So, bottom line is - keep it simple. For the love of Zac Efron, keep it simple.

Feature image: Getty

Do you suffer from dry and sensitive skin? What are your thoughts? Share with us in the comment section below.