What Sensitises Your Skin? Avoid These Ingredients

Do you have sensitive skin? If your skin is red or irritated when you use certain products, you may think you have sensitive skin. In reality, it may be due to the products you use. How can you tell the difference?

To be clear, sensitive skin is a very real skin concern. However, in many cases, the ingredients in the products we use daily sensitise our skin, making it feel red and irritated. What are the biggest culprits? Parabens, Sodium Lauryl Sulfate and other harsh chemicals.


These are preservatives that have long been used in the cosmetics industry to keep bacteria out of skincare products. However, recent research shows that parabens mimic the hormone estrogen and may interfere with your natural hormone levels. Since parabens are easily absorbed into the skin, they may increase the chance of cancer.   In regards to skin, parabens may increase redness and irritation, even if the product is intended to treat those very concerns. So, what do you do if you still have redness and irritation? If you’re like most people, you apply more of the product, which just makes your skin even redder and more irritated! The more irritated your skin gets, the more you think you just have sensitive skin. However, if you were to stop using the product and replace it with a paraben-free product designed to treat your primary skin concerns, you'll notice your skin isn’t as sensitive as you had thought.

How to identify a paraben?

Look for the suffix “-paraben” in the ingredient. Do your products include parabens? Stop using them and watch your skin recover.

Sodium Lauryl Sulfate (SLS)

Also known as SLS, this is a cleansing detergent commonly found in many cleansers. If you notice a lather in your cleanser when you add water, it's likely due to SLS in the product. It was included in products in the 1930s and marketed as an alternative to bar soap. SLS is thought to thin the top layer of skin and cause dryness and irritation. Dry skin may be more vulnerable to bacteria and irritation. Also, in some circumstances, SLS may become carcinogenic, especially when combined with other chemicals.

Harsh chemicals

Skincare products are formulated with many ingredients: some directly benefit the skin, others improve the effectiveness of the active ingredients. Some ingredients help the other ingredients mix together or improve the smell or texture of the product. These ingredients can include synthetic colors, fragrance, phthalates, triclosan, formaldehyde, propylene glycol, and toluene. All of these may increase skin sensitivity and may even impact your overall health.

So, what should you do?

Consult a professional! If you feel your skin is sensitive and you notice these ingredients listed on the labels of the products you use, contact us! We can help you find healthier alternatives, like Cosmedix, that address your skin concerns without increasing your skin’s sensitivity.

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