What is Sensitive Skin?

If you’ve ever had a reaction after applying a new foundation, moisturizer, setting powder or SPF, you may have wondered if you have sensitive skin.

What is “sensitive skin”?

“Sensitive skin” isn’t a medical term, but more of a blanket term that encompasses a lot of different things for different people. Sensitive skin is categorized based on the reactions and sensations the person experiences. Often debated if sensitive skin  is a true skin type, a skin condition or a temporary skin reaction brought on by harsh ingredients, environmental factors, or a stressed immune system, I’m here to share what I know based on my experience along with facts from the interwebs. I’m not a medical professional – please use this as information to help you make more informed decisions for your own skincare choices.

At its core function, our skin is a barrier made up of multiple complex systems and processes to ensure optimum health and protection (pH regulation, hydration regulation, etc). All of these processes are dependent on enzyme activity. In sensitive skin, this activity can become inhibited, compromising the natural barrier function, and reducing lipid synthesis. As a result, water loss increases and irritants are able to penetrate skin.1 Translation: sensitive skin may have a compromised barrier function leading to moisture loss and may be more prone to reactions.

Unfortunately, there are a few of us who are more predisposed to sensitive skin based on our genetics. A number of the skin diseases and conditions linked to sensitive skin are known or believed to run in families. They include acne, eczema, psoriasis, and rosacea.3

How can skin become sensitive over time?

Great question!

I’ve had what my mother always referred to as “sensitive skin” from as far back as I can remember. Granted, I’ve had problematic skin since puberty started at the ripe age of 10, so I’m sure somewhere along the way the intertwining of my genetic predisposition to sensitivities and multiple dermatologist prescriptions, combined with minor social anxiety and working high-stress jobs…things progressively got worse for me over time. Don’t forget: your skin reacts to what’s going on in your life, and life as an adult is a whole hell of a lot more stressful than when we were in middle school.

Your skin comes into contact with external factors that can make skin more sensitive just as much as internal factors. The biggest part that has helped me on my clear-skin journey? Taking the time and effort to understand my internal health better and making necessary changes to have my outside reflect my inside efforts as much as possible. We’re on this journey together 🖤 I’m here to help you along the way to better understand to the best of my ability. For starters, take a look at the factors listed out below – do any of these sound familiar to you?

Internal Factors

  • Stress
  • Hormonal changes (ovulation, pregnancy, menopause)
  • Lack of sleep
  • Existing skin conditions

External Factors

  • Excessive cold
  • Excessive heat
  • Dry climates
  • Environmental pollutants
  • Products’ ingredients (cleansing agents, fragrance, alcohol, etc)

Maybe you’ve noticed your skin is more reactive when you’re on your period (here, here!), you’re stressed out about a big presentation or dreadfully, maybe you work in a toxic work environment (I feels you because I know how my skin + mental state were after that)… or maybe the whipping winter winds have your skin reacting to one ingredient whereas in the summer months your skin can’t handle something else. (I can’t handle acidic ingredients after walking home in the brutally cold city winds in the winter down where I am on the southernmost tip of Manhattan, whereas anything too heavy in the summer will guarantee a same-day pimple for my face and a potential rash on my body). We’re constantly coming into contact with internal and external stressors that impact our skin, more than we realize!

Common sensitive skin reactions

My sensitivities may not be your sensitivities, and our reactions may look nothing alike. We both may be experiencing sensitive skin and should still keep our respective sensitivities in mind when buying new products, seeing a new facialist, or swatching new eyeshadows.

The following are various sensitive skin reactions you may have experienced from products – typically these will happen in and around the area of application. I’ve included an asterisk next to those that are my common reactions:

  • Stinging sensation*
  • Burning, watery eyes*
  • Itchy rash
  • Raised rash
  • Hives
  • Acne of varying degree*
  • Red blotchy skin*
  • Skin discoloration
  • Flakey skin
  • Scaly skin*
  • General irritation or sensitivity to touch

However, looking at the most common reactions for people who claim to have sensitive skin: “Typically, these are people with more easily irritated skin, either with inflammation, redness, itching, or stinging sensations,” says Annie Chiu, MD, a dermatologist at The Derm Institute in Redondo Beach, CA.3

In case you’re still unsure if you have sensitive skin or not, I encourage you to consult Dermstore’s “10 Signs You Have Sensitive Skin” roundup, because I could not say it better myself. Please know this is not a bonafide way to determine your condition, but it may certainly shed some light for you 💖🤘

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Sources 1, 2, 3

Photo via

7 Glitzy Beauty Products to Ring in the New Year

As a self-described glitter-obsessed, it’s only fair I do a product roundup of my favorite glitter items of the moment. Each of these are perfect to put a pep in your step for the new year…or at least on your way to your New Year’s Eve parties 😉 . Personally, I’d rock many of these products together with an LBD -OR- high-waisted wide leg pants and a cami top, but you can absolutely rock some of these with sparkly attire — mix it up and have fun!

  • HAIR: IGK Preparty Hair Strobing Glitter spray – Microfine glitter spray, perfect for hair (and body). Comes in two colors, but I honestly didn’t notice a big difference between the two.
  • NAILS: Morgan Taylor Diamonds Are My BFF – no joke, this is the most opaque glitter polish I’ve ever used. It’s limited edition as part of their Marilyn Monroe collection – snag one while you can!
  • BODY: Jeffree Star Liquid Frost – mixed with body lotion or oil, you’ll be glistening for days. I opted for the Frostbite shade b/c I’m so damn fair, but shade selection is on point to match your mood
  • EYES: Stila Glitter & Glow Liquid Eye Shadow – I’m in love with Diamond Dust, but there are so many shades and twinkles to compliment anyone’s style
  • CHEEKS: There are a few different schools of thought when it comes to highlighter: some like a subtle glowy look and others like it blinding. I’m not one for glitter in my highlight – we’re not going to a rave…unless you are, then, you may not love my recommendations. I’m obsessed with Ofra’s highlighters – they melt into skin like a dream. My first highlight love that I can’t go through a list and not recommend: Jeffree Star Skin Frost is legendary. If you’re going for a highlight pop versus a dewy glow, this is the one to get.
  • LIPS: Glossier Balm Dot Com in Birthday Cake – the only scent / flavor that has shimmer to it — just try and tell me it doesn’t smell delicious with a serious face
  • MULTI: Who doesn’t love a multi-use product? NYX loose glitters + NYX glitter primer are phenomenal (and phenomenally affordable!)

Photo via | see another @katiejanehughes look using my favorite Stila shade – Diamond Dust

How to Create a Universally Flattering Smokey Eye with Charlotte Tilbury

As we’re entering into the season of nighttime looks, I need to share the perfect smokey eye how-to. As you may be able to tell, I don’t work on video content, but I’m sharing a tutorial from the goddess who practically patented the “feline flick,” Charlotte Tilbury. As much as I don’t enjoy sharing content I haven’t created, Refinery29 had this exclusive how-to with British makeup artist, Charlotte Tilbury. This one isn’t even on Miss Tilbury’s YouTube channel! I apologize in advance: you will be subjected to watch a sponsored ad at first and you will see R29’s logo, then the tutorial will begin. Enjoy! 🖤

2018 Halloween Makeup Looks: Mermaid + Glam Zombie

I love Halloween, but hate the thick, sticky, face-paint so many stores sell for costumes. Those options don’t let your skin breathe, are a mess to take off, and why buy something you will only use once? Unless you have kids who will use it for school plays, why subject your adult skin to the potential of pore-clogging and an acne aftermath?

It’s no secret I’m a makeup junkie. I try drugstore, specialty, online exclusives, department store, Sephora, Ulta, you name it! My biggest caveat: I hate spending $$$$$ and I hate having products go to waste. That’s why I invested in an arsenal of NYX loose pigments and glitters: multi-purpose and impactful! (And often found on special at Ulta – most of mine were purchased on a BOGO promo).

My first trial-and-error with the loose powders started this past summer when getting ready for the Coney Island Mermaid Parade in June. It was my first attempt at using the pigments and I used them for subtle contouring/shading all over – it did the trick on a budget and in a pinch with just pigments and brushes. I used these products to create the rest of my look:

Fast-forward to earlier this month, I went out with a group of friends to House of Yes in BK and the theme was Dead as Disco / Studio 54 Zombies. For those who don’t know, House of Yes  is an epic nightclub out in Brooklyn with an ultra-inclusive club policy where people of all shapes and kinds can be themselves. Costumes/glitter/theatrics are highly encouraged.

To get my overall zombie-skin look, I used the NYX pigments combined with a new discovery: MAC’s Mixing Medium fluid (check out the full MAC range of Mixing Mediums). Combining the two on a plate, and applying to my skin using a beautyblender, it was super easy to get the color and coverage I wanted on my face, chest, and shoulders. The high-impact look was created using these products:

Have fun with your Halloween looks, babes! I can’t wait to see your looks and share my own. Tag me on IG or send them my way – I’ll feature the top looks on my IG 😘🖤

Little Self Care Luxuries for the Transitioning Seasons: Summer to Fall

I don’t know about you babes, but my skin and scalp don’t exactly cooperate during the changing seasons, especially Summer >> Fall. My shins get a little scalier, my scalp gets a little drier and eczema creeps in. My skin gets a little tighter and more susceptible to redness; acne flare-ups start thanks to the sweat-freeze cycle from indoors to outdoors in the city.

Oils
I’m known to slather oils on my face, hair and body. From store-bought blends to my own concoctions, these are my go-to picks season after season.

  • Youth To The People Superberry Hydrate + Glow Oil
  • Zum Face Undereye Butter
  • Homemade body oil concoction: Pumpkin Seed Oil + Flaxseed Oil + Jojoba Oil, put it in a clean pump bottle and slather on post-shower before toweling off. Super soft skin afterwards 🖤 can be applied to body + face, but I opt for body application only out of paranoia lol.

Chamomile + Honey
A known skin-soother, chamomile is wonderful for soothing anything from skin flare-ups to upset tummies. When the whipping NYC winds irritate my skin just a wee bit too much, I slather (or sip!) on these must-haves to calm it down.

Rose
Known to have anti-bacterial and soothing properties, I use rose products on areas where I have skin conditions such as acne or scaly skin.

I know you’ve established your own go-to’s over the years – share them down below! Would love to see what some of you use to soothe and soften from head to toe ⚡️

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