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Principes actifs peaux sensibles.

Which Are the Best Active Ingredients for Sensitive Skin?

A source of daily discomfort, sensitive skin is a skin condition characterized by the presence of redness, tingling, heating or itching, warning signals sent by the aggressed epidermis. Hard water, the use of unsuitable skin care products, stress, hormonal changes, climatic variations… are common causes of the appearance of these marks. However, you should know that there are active ingredients for sensitive skin to relieve and improve this fragility. Discover them in this article so that you can choose the right products adapted to the needs of your fragile skin.

How to Know if You Have Sensitive Skin?

A skin is said to be sensitive when it reacts disproportionately and easily. Itching, heat or even burning sensation, tingling, tightness… are the daily life of a sensitive skin. In addition to being uncomfortable, reactive skin can also be unsightly. Indeed, it can sometimes be accompanied by visible symptoms of skin alteration, including redness, dryness, inflammation, the formation of patches or flaking. Sensitive skin does not necessarily have easy to identify clinical symptoms. Redness and irritation are only inevitable consequences of the discomfort felt by the subject.

These symptoms can be punctual, appearing intermittently, or permanent, causing almost constant reactivity. On the other hand, they can affect all skin types at some point in their lives, whether oily, combination or dry, and concern all skin colors. However, those most commonly targeted tend to have dry and fair skin.

According to a study published in 2008 in the British Journal of Dermatology on women around 40 years old, even if the skin of the face is the most affected area (85% of the cases), the hands (58%), the scalp (36%), the feet (34%), the neck (27%), the chest (23%) or the back (21%) are also concerned.

Why Is Your Skin Sensitive?

This hyper-sensitivity of the skin results from a decrease in its tolerance threshold. The more sensitive the skin is, the lower its irritability threshold. Thus, it reacts quickly to different environmental stimuli or to direct exposure to a substance. This drop in the tolerance threshold is explained by:

  • A weakening of the barrier function of the epidermis, which is supposed to protect the skin from various external aggressions and the penetration of potentially irritating agents, and to retain water in order to avoid dehydration;

  • Excessive secretion of certain neurotransmitters by the superficial nerve endings and the release of pro-inflammatory cytokines, causing itching, redness and irritation.

Under the influence of emotion, stress, climatic variations (hot/cold), direct contact with irritating chemical substances present in skin care products, the sun, hormonal disorders (menstrual cycle, menopause…) or pollution, blood vessels dilate, body temperature rises and redness appears. All these factors have no effect on other skin types.

Softness, Comfort, Soothing: The Needs of Sensitive Skin.

The first objective is to restore the skin's hydrolipidic film in order to ensure an optimal supply of moisture. Indeed, a sensitive skin has a great need of hydration and lipids. It is therefore essential to use repairing agents, such as fatty acids, combined with moisturizing agents (glycerin, hyaluronic acid, etc.) and film-forming agents to limit the evaporation of skin water. 

Sensitive skin also requires skincare products formulated with soothing ingredients that combat inflammatory reactions (panthenol, bisabolol, allantoin, etc.) to comfort the skin and calm irritation and redness.

The Best Ingredients for Sensitive Skin: Their Benefits and Virtues.

To instantly soothe feelings of discomfort and irritation and intensely nourish sensitive skin, the use of skincare products formulated with softening, nourishing and moisturizing active ingredients is essential:

  • Hyaluronic acid (INCI name: Sodium Hyaluronate) hydrating serum, cream with 9 ingredients

  • Polyglutamic acid. Plumping serum helps strengthen the skin's barrier function to keep skin hydrated.

  • Aloe vera (INCI name: Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Juice) has soothing effects.

  • Beta-glucane, derived from bacteria, is a natural polysaccharide (long molecule of sugars) entirely made up of glucose units. It regulates at the source the factors responsible for the unpleasant cutaneous reactions and reactivates the blood microcirculation. It also reduces skin hypersensitivity by stimulating the skin barrier's self-defense capacities and accelerating the skin's repair process, while possessing a strong hydrating power. 

  • To soothe skin prone to temporary and diffuse redness and put an end to discomfort and stinging, we have developed the soothing serum, a real ally for reactive and fragile skin. Non-smoked, its formulation, elaborated around the soothing properties of beta-glucane, is 99% of natural origin and does not include any substance that is aggressive to reactive skin. Although it makes it possible to calm immediately and durably the feelings of heating and tugging of the sensitive skins, the risk of zero allergy does not exist. However, everything has been done to minimize the risk of skin reactions. 

  • Bisabolol is an active plant extract isolated from German chamomile essential oil, which is said to have anti-inflammatory, healing and skin-soothing properties. It improves the appearance of damaged skin and restores suppleness.

  • Centella asiatica (INCI name: Centella Asiatica Leaf Cell Extract)

  • Ceramides

  • Aqueous licorice extract enriched in glabridine (INCI name: Glycyrrhiza Glabra Root Extract), one of the isoflavonoids, is endowed with an anti-inflammatory potential, both in vitro and in vivo, exercised among others by the inhibition of the activation of MAPKs (protein kinases that lead to the activation of several transcription factors that themselves activate the transcription of various inflammatory genes) and the translocation of NF-kB in the nucleus (main transcription factor involved in the inflammatory response), as well as the modulation of the expression of various pro-inflammatory mediators (TNF-α, IL-1β, IL-6). 

    Licorice extract also contains a significant amount of glycyrrhizic acid (saponin), which also contributes to its anti-inflammatory action. Indeed, a study has proven that the effects of glycyrrhizic acid were close to deoxycorticosterone, a molecule known for its anti-inflammatory action in pharmacy, that it is even qualified as natural cortisone. Thus, licorice extract relieves irritated skin, redness, and itching.

  • Niacinamide is one of the active ingredients for sensitive skin that is distinguished by its anti-inflammatory properties. It also promotes the production of healthy skin cells, collagen repair and optimization of skin hydration.

  • Squalane. Nourishing serum.

Sources :

  • MORTON J. F. Major medicinal plants : botany, culture, and uses (1977).

  • CARMICHAEL M. D. & al. Immune modulating effects of β-glucan. Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care (2010).

  • PRAKOESWA C. R. S. & al. Role of Centella asiatica and ceramide in skin barrier improvement: a double blind clinical trial of Indonesian batik workers. Journal of Basic and Clinical Physiology and Pharmacology (2012).

  • CHEN S-M. & al. Phytochemistry and biological properties of glabridin. Fitoterapia (2013).

  • MAIBACH H. & al. Sensitive skin: an overview. International Journal of Cosmetic Science (2013).

  • BAWANKULE D. U. & al. α-(-)-bisabolol reduces pro-inflammatory cytokine production and ameliorates skin inflammation. Current Pharmaceutical Biotechnology (2014).

  • XU B. & al. Skin health promotion effects of natural beta-glucan derived from cereals and microorganisms: a review. Phytotherapy Research (2014).

  • PYTKOWSKA K. & al. Moisturizing and anti-inflammatory properties of cosmetic formulations containing Centella asiatica extract. Indian Journal of Pharmaceutical Sciences (2016).

  • FRATTARUOLO L. & al. Antioxidant and anti-inflammatory activities of flavanones from Glycyrrhiza glabra L. (licorice) leaf phytocomplexes: identification of licoflavanone as a modulator of NF-kB/MAPK pathway. Antioxidants (Basel) (2019).


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