Sensitive skin? Everything you need to know about how to care for it

Sensitive skin also known as intolerant, reactive, hyperreactive or irritable skin is a common syndrome in Europe. Its prevalence is estimated at 50% among women and 30% among men. A study carried out in Spain in 2009 found that more than 11 million people claimed to have sensitive skin. More specifically, 35.4% of women and 27.9% of men consider their skin to be sensitive or very sensitive.

What is sensitive skin?

Sensitive skin overreacts to stimuli such as wind, UV rays, cold, cosmetics and daily hygiene products, pollution, stress and hormonal fluctuations. It is classified as a syndrome and not a disease because it is a set of symptoms and signs, whereas a disease is defined as an alteration of health conditions.

Diagnosing sensitive skin is fundamentally subjective and based on a patient’s unpleasant feelings which may or may not be accompanied by objective clinical symptoms. Identifiable objective signs are: telangiectasias, dryness, flaking, erythema, oedema. However, the subjective signs described by patients are itching, tightness, sensation of heat on the skin, stinging, severe irritation.  People with very high skin sensitivity may experience these symptoms on an ongoing basis, especially in the facial area. Sometimes sensitive skin is associated with other skin diseases such as eczema, atopic dermatitis, rosacea, psoriasis and seborrhoeic dermatitis.

The number of people with skin hypersensitivity has increased over the years. It has become a very common problem in industrialised countries and has an impact on the quality of life of those who suffer from this syndrome.

Defining sensitive skin and performing a diagnosis continue to be problematic as little is known about the underlying bio-physical changes that are involved. The most accepted hypothesis is that the symptoms of sensitive skin are caused by an abnormal penetration of irritating substances into the epidermis due to an insufficient barrier function. In the epidermis, alterations to the intercellular lipids are observed which hinder the proper compaction of cell layers. The stratum corneum is more fragile and protection against the external environment is reduced. Transepidermal water loss also increases which is why sensitive skin tends to be dehydrated.

How does the bio10 shock treatment for sensitive skin work?

bio10 sensitive skin is specifically formulated with the needs of this skin type in mind. It comprises active ingredients with four repair mechanisms for sensitive skin: strengthening of the barrier function, anti-inflammatory action, blockage of hypersensitivity and reduction of visible capillaries.

  1. Repairing the barrier function

In order to have a proper barrier function, the stratum corneum must have a certain structure and composition. Lipids must be piled in multiple layers so as to form a resistant lipid lamellar structure between the extracellular spaces between corneocytes.

If this structure, known as the brick and mortar structure, suffers from impaired compaction, the barrier function will be insufficient and more permeable to irritating substances and external aggressions.

The combination of soy phytosterols, phospholipids and Babassu oil improves the lipid component (the mortar from the structure mentioned above) and repairs the barrier function. Phospholipids, the structural components of the lipid lamellae, repair the lamellar structure by filling the holes in the defective lipid bilayers. Soy phytosterols and Babassu oil improve the quality of the remaining lipid components of the barrier and repair it.

  1. Reducing inflammation
    Symptoms of rubor, heat, erythema and irritation which patients with sensitive skin syndrome describe are caused by inflammation in the epidermis. Harmful stimuli, which penetrate more easily when the barrier function is insufficient, cause in keratinocytes an increased synthesis of inflammatory mediators.   Inflammation has a ripple effect: Inflammatory mediators such as interleukines and prostaglandins, synthesised by keratinocytes, stimulate other keratinocytes in nearby areas to synthesise more mediators, thus increasing the inflammatory signal.
    Both Arabian Cotton stem cells and Hydrolysate of “five-flavour” berry exert action on keratinocytes to decrease the synthesis of inflammatory mediators and control rampant inflammation. A soothing effect is produced on the skin with a reduction in redness and heat.
  2. Blocking hypersensitivity

The epidermis, as a sensory tissue, is capable of perceiving different stimuli thanks to the fibres of the sensory neurons and to cell types such as Merkel cells or “touch cells”. On their outer layer, keratinocytes have a type of nociceptor (pain receptor) called TRPV-1. These nociceptors are activated by the presence of chemical (for example, inflammatory mediators or prostaglandins), mechanical and temperature stimuli to synthesise various molecules that transmit the signal to free nerve endings in the epidermis. The latter will then send the information to the central nervous system to generate the feeling of pain.

This system for the perception of sensations enables us to react to harmful stimuli in the environment. However, problems arise when the tolerance level decreases and stimuli that are not harmful are perceived as harmful. In sensitive skin, the TRPV-1 receptor is overexpressed. In other words, there is a greater number of TRPV-1 receptors on the outer layer of keratinocytes. As there are more connection points for harmful substances, the pain signal that reaches the sensory endings increases and this in turn increases the sensation of pain. The tolerance threshold is said to decrease. Hydrolysate of the “five-flavour berry” acts on keratinocytes to reduce the expression of the TRPV-1 receptor. As there are fewer connection points for harmful stimuli, the signal that reaches the central system is less intense. The tolerance threshold increases and we do not perceive sensations such as tightness, heat, itching or any other bothersome symptoms of sensitive skin.

  1. Reducing visible capillaries
    Various stimuli cause skin capillaries to dilate and increase in number and length which makes them visible on the surface as so-called telangiectasia or spider veins. Furthermore, skin tone appears redder as the density of capillaries and the concentration of haemoglobin, the red pigment present in our blood, increase.
    The cause of angiogenesis, or the formation process of blood capillaries, is the VEGF or vascular endothelial growth factor. This protein is synthesised in keratinocytes when they come into contact with inflammatory mediators. VEGF has a specific effect on capillaries as it increases their size and length.
    Hydrolysate of the “five-flavour berry” reduces the synthesis of VEGF in keratinocytes in the epidermis so that the stimulus does not reach the capillaries, thus preventing their excessive proliferation. Telangiectasia and the red tone of sensitive skin are attenuated.

Piel sensible


Pampering your sensitive skin is one of Bella Aurora’s priorities and that is why its laboratories have created a version of its highly effective depigmenting product, bio10 shock treatment, to treat dark spots while soothing your skin.