What Causes Hypersensitive Skin and How to Take Care of It?

For most people, taking care of their skin is a routine part of their daily self-care routine. But for those with hypersensitive skin, it can be a constant struggle to find products that won’t cause irritation or discomfort.


If you’re one of the many people who have hypersensitive skin, you know all too well the struggle of finding the right skincare products that won’t aggravate your skin. But fear not, there are ways to soothe and protect your skin, and help prevent future reactions.


In this article, we’ll take a closer look at the symptoms, causes, and solutions for hypersensitive skin, so you can feel confident and comfortable in your own skin. Whether you’re dealing with redness, itching, burning, or dryness, this guide is here to help you find relief and the perfect skincare regimen for your sensitive skin.

Table of Contents

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What Is Hypersensitive Skin?

Although skin hypersensitivity isn’t an official diagnosis, we can define it as a condition in which the skin is easily irritated by external stimuli that would not normally cause a reaction in most people. This can include things like fragrances, dyes, harsh skincare ingredients, certain fabrics, and even changes in temperature or humidity. 

People with hypersensitive skin may experience a range of symptoms, including redness, itching, burning, and dryness. In severe cases, the skin may become so sensitive that it can be painful to touch or even to wear clothing. 

Fast Fact:

People with hypersensitive skin may experience a range of symptoms, including redness, itching, burning, and dryness. In severe cases, the skin may become so sensitive that it can be painful to touch or even to wear clothing. 

Symptoms of Hypersensitive Skin

The first thing we want to mention here is that all hypersensitive skin types won’t react the same to different stimuli. There are degrees or types of sensitivity (we’ll read more about this below) which are closely related to the symptoms. 

However, these are the most common signs and symptoms of hypersensitive skin:


  • Dry skin, skin cracks, blisters, or even skin bleeding
  • Redness, swelling, or itching
  • Skin stinging or a burning sensation
  • Rashes, hives, or breakouts
  • Dry, hard, and leathery skin patches
  • An immediate reaction to a harsher product

What Causes Hypersensitivity of the Skin?

Regardless of the underlying cause, skin sensitivities are mostly a result of a disrupted skin barrier. But, several different factors might cause damage to your skin barrier:

Environmental Factors Leading to Hypersensitivity

Last but not least, sensitive and hypersensitive skin types can also react to environmental factors, such as:


  • Extreme temperatures or sudden changes in temperature
  • Windy, dry, and cold weather
  • Exposure to UV rays
  • Pollutants and free radicals

Internal Factors Leading to Hypersensitivity

Genetically speaking, some people are more prone to sensitive skin than others. For instance:


  • A naturally weaker skincare barrier
  • A naturally dry skin
  • Skin conditions (eczema, contact dermatitis, rosacea)
  • Allergies (to food or products)
  • Psychological problems (anger, stress, tension, etc.)
  • Hormonal changes

External Factors Leading to Hypersensitivity

Now, let’s look at the external factors that can trigger skin hypersensitivity:


  • Skincare products containing harsh or toxic ingredients
  • Harsh makeup, cosmetics, or household products
  • Alcohol, caffeine, and spicy food consumption
  • Dehydration and not drinking enough water
  • Swimming pools, saunas, and other facilities where your skin gets exposed to germs
  • Using harsh exfoliants or scrubs (or using them too often)
  • Irritating fabrics or clothing
  • Fragrances that cause skin reactivity 
  • Taking too long or too hot baths or showers
  • Excessive use of acids like AHAs, BHAs, retinol, etc. (or using highly concentrated products containing these actives)

How to Treat Hypersensitive Skin?

Taking care of hypersensitive skin can be challenging, especially if you haven’t figured out your triggers yet. However, there are some general guidelines:

1. Give your skin a break and stick to the basics

Sensitive and hypersensitive skin types should always follow a minimalist skincare routine. What does that mean? It simply refers to using fewer products but of high quality. 

Hypersensitive skin has a damaged skin barrier. So, the last thing it needs is more exposure to toxic and harsh ingredients that strip down the oil barrier. That’s why trends like skin fasting and deinfluencing popped up –  people want science-backed products that work for the skin, not against it. 

The solution? A simplified skincare routine that’s multi-purpose and easy to follow:

  • A cleanser (twice a day, morning and evening)
  • A moisturizer (twice a day, or more if necessary)
  • SPF (apply regularly throughout the day)
  • A gentle exfoliator (start with once a week and increase if necessary)

No matter the type of product, we always recommend applying it to a small test patch area first and waiting to see how your skin reacts.

simplified skincare routine numelab

2. Use clean beauty skincare with no harmful ingredients

It’s not just the quantity, but also the quality of your products that matter. Even if you use just one product, it has to be one without chemicals and harsh toxins. Otherwise, your skin will react. 


To avoid this, we recommend using clean beauty skincare products free of parabens, alcohols, phthalates, sulfates, mineral oils, formaldehyde, DEA, TEA, MEA, Methylisothiazolinone, Alumina, or derivatives.


Fragrances are also an irritant, both in your facial skincare and body products. Even natural fragrances can be a problem for people with hypersensitive skin, so we would definitely recommend that you choose a fragrance-free product. 

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3. Beware of “all-natural” products

Note that in the second point above, we didn’t say “all-natural” products but “clean beauty” products. Why is that?

Remember: Natural doesn’t equal safe. And lab-made doesn’t equal unsafe. 

For instance, essential oils are natural but they may cause skin irritation. Plus, these ingredients are not clean and are often contaminated. And, lastly, sourcing ingredients that deplete our Earth’s natural resources goes against the principles of sustainability in skincare

On the other hand, using methods like Swiss Biotechnology, scientists can produce a much safer alternative ingredient with the same properties, and even superior qualities like a smaller molecule size that penetrates the skin better. 

Compared to its natural equivalent, the lab-made ingredient will be clean, with zero contamination, and its efficiency and side effects can actually be measured (which is often not the case with the potency of natural ingredients). 

So, for sensitive skin, lab-made ingredients can be safer than natural ingredients. 

4. Use barrier-protecting ingredients

As we’ve mentioned above, the number one reason for hypersensitive skin is a damaged skin barrier. This gives us an idea of how to solve the problem at the root – applying ingredients that protect and repair the skin barrier

For example:

5. Don’t use harsh exfoliators


Firstly, never use physical or mechanical scrubs on hypersensitive skin! They’re too harsh and can damage your skin barrier even more. Instead, opt for gentle chemical exfoliators that contain low concentrations of BHAs or AHAs. A great example of a product like this is the NUME-Lab Switzerland Resurfacing Night Peel Serum

Secondly, even when it comes to gentle chemical peels, start using them slowly, once a week, or even once every two weeks if you feel their effect is too strong for your skin.

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6. Avoid using hot water and shorten your shower times

Next, it’s time to get used to using lukewarm water (or cold) for your face! If you have sensitive skin, hot water will strip your skin from that little natural oil barrier that’s left, and make it even more exposed to external factors. 

The same goes for your showers. Make 5-minute showers a habit, and avoid using hot water (yes, no matter how good it feels). 

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7. Eat well and stay hydrated

Last but not least, all the products in this world will be useless until you start eating healthy and drinking plenty of water. Remember that our bodies are mostly water and our skin is our biggest organ. So, it’s no wonder that there’s such a huge correlation between skin dehydration and skin health. 

For the best results, we recommend eating a clean diet full of fruits, vegetables, healthy fats, and lean proteins, in combination with plenty of water. 

Additionally, in summers and winters, when the air inside is dry from central heating and cooling, you could use a humidifier to maintain your skin moisturized.


  • Hypersensitive skin is skin that’s easily reactive to external or internal factors
  • Signs of hypersensitive skin are redness, rashes, dry skin, reactions after products, skin flaking, peeling, cracks, etc.
  • Use clean beauty products that are gentle and don’t contain any harsh or toxic ingredients
  • Be careful with hot water and exfoliants which might overdry your skin
  • Use barrier-protecting ingredients to nourish your natural skin barrier
  • Natural ingredients can often be more damaging than controlled, lab-made ingredients
  • A minimalistic, clean, and multi-purpose routine is best for hypersensitive skin

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