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What Causes Sensitive Skin and How Redheads Can Care for It

Everything You Need to Know!

sensitive redhead skin

You’ve probably heard, and even read here on that redheads have sensitive skin. We talk a lot about sensitive skin when it comes to makeup and skincare products, but what does it really mean to have sensitive skin, why do redheads in particular have sensitive skin and how can we treat it? Here’s everything you need to know:

What actually is sensitive skin? 

Sensitive skin isn’t necessarily just one skin condition or skin issue. It is an umbrella term that is used to describe a skin type that can be caused by a number of factors like eczema, rosacea, or contact dermatitis. Sensitive skin can also be in your genetics, thin skin, or a weakened skin barrier. People with sensitive skin are often more prone to irritation, redness, and breakouts caused by products, environmental factors, or skin conditions. 

Symptoms of sensitive skin may include redness, itching, burning, or stinging sensations. People with sensitive skin often need to choose gentle, fragrance-free products and avoid harsh chemicals or irritants to prevent reactions.

How does sensitive skin impact daily life? 

Those with sensitive skin often find certain skincare, makeup, and even household items irritating to the skin. These products often have harsh chemicals in them, and/or ingredients like alcohol and heavy fragrances. There are also some skincare products like retinol or certain acids that may be too strong for sensitive skin. This means you have to be careful when choosing your skincare, makeup and household items. Thankfully these days most things are marked, and you can look for sensitive skin safe, hypoallergenic and clean products. 

Sensitive skin can impact daily life in several ways:

1. Skincare routine: Individuals with sensitive skin may need to spend more time and effort researching and selecting suitable skincare products to avoid irritation. They may also need to be cautious about the ingredients in cosmetics and personal care products.

2. Daily discomfort: Sensations like itching, burning, or stinging can cause discomfort throughout the day, making it difficult to focus on tasks or enjoy activities.

3. Lifestyle adjustments: People with sensitive skin may need to make lifestyle adjustments, such as avoiding certain fabrics or environmental triggers, to prevent flare-ups.

4. Social interactions: Skin sensitivity can affect confidence and self-esteem, particularly if visible symptoms like redness or inflammation occur. This may impact social interactions and willingness to participate in certain activities.

5. Emotional well-being: Dealing with chronic skin sensitivity can be emotionally draining, leading to stress, anxiety, or frustration over the constant management and uncertainty of how their skin will react.

Overall, sensitive skin can significantly impact daily life, requiring careful attention and management to minimize discomfort and maintain skin health.

Why do redheads have sensitive skin? 

Yes, the MC1R gene (the gene mutation that gives us red hair) is believed to play a role in why redheads tend to have more sensitive skin compared to individuals with other hair colors. The MC1R gene, which produces a protein involved in determining hair and skin color, is responsible for the production of melanin, the pigment that gives skin its color and provides some protection against UV radiation.

Redheads typically have a variation or mutation in the MC1R gene that leads to the production of a different type of melanin called pheomelanin, which is less effective at protecting the skin from UV damage compared to the melanin produced in individuals with darker hair colors. This may result in fairer, more sensitive skin that is prone to sunburn and irritation. The gene also leads to redheads having thinner skin which is one of the many causes of sensitive skin. On top of having thinner skin, many redheads suffer from skin issues like eczema, rosacea and contact dermatitis, all of which lead to redhead being more likely to have sensitive skin. 

Additionally, individuals with red hair often have lighter skin and fewer melanocytes (cells that produce melanin) overall, contributing to increased sensitivity to environmental factors such as temperature changes, skincare products, and irritants. However, the exact mechanisms behind the sensitivity of redheads’ skin are still not fully understood and may involve other genetic and environmental factors as well.

There are a few rules to follow if you have sensitive skin: 

If you think you have sensitive skin, there are a few rules you should follow. These will help to reduce your risk of inflammation, breakouts and irritation. These tips are good for anyone, not just redheads, who are suffering from sensitive skin.

  • Look for sensitive skin safe products.
  • Avoid ingredients like alcohol, fragrance, sulfates, glycolic acid, lactic acid, and benzoyl peroxide.
  • Patch test new products before application.
  • Keep your routine simple, avoid unnecessary products.
  • Opt for products with soothing properties like aloe, ceramides, hyaluronic acid, chamomile, and licorice root. 

To go into more detail:

1. Choose gentle skincare products: Opt for skincare products labeled as hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, and formulated for sensitive skin. Avoid harsh ingredients like alcohol, fragrances, and sulfates, which can trigger irritation.

2. Perform patch tests: Before using a new skincare product, perform a patch test on a small area of your skin to check for any adverse reactions or sensitivity.

3. Protect your skin from the sun: Redheads tend to have fairer skin that is more susceptible to sunburn and damage. Wear broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 daily, even on cloudy days, and reapply every two hours when outdoors.

4. Cover up: Wear protective clothing, hats, and sunglasses to shield your skin and eyes from harmful UV rays, especially during peak sun hours.

5. Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated from the inside out, which can help maintain its barrier function and reduce sensitivity.

6. Avoid extreme temperatures: Exposure to hot or cold temperatures can exacerbate sensitive skin. Use lukewarm water when washing your face or showering, and avoid prolonged exposure to extreme weather conditions.

7. Be cautious with exfoliation: Limit the frequency of exfoliation to prevent over-exfoliation, which can strip the skin of its natural oils and exacerbate sensitivity.

How redheads can care for their sensitive skin: 

Redheads with sensitive skin should follow a gentle skincare routine tailored to their specific needs. Here are some tips for caring for sensitive skin:

1. Choose gentle cleansers: Opt for mild, fragrance-free cleansers that are formulated for sensitive skin. Avoid harsh ingredients like alcohol and sulfates, which can strip the skin of its natural oils and exacerbate sensitivity.

2. Moisturize regularly: Use a gentle, hydrating moisturizer to help soothe and protect your skin. Look for products with ingredients like hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and glycerin, which help to lock in moisture and strengthen the skin barrier.

3. Avoid harsh ingredients: Steer clear of skincare products that contain potential irritants such as fragrances, dyes, alcohol, and certain preservatives. These ingredients can trigger inflammation and worsen sensitivity.

4. Protect from the sun: Redheads are often more prone to sunburn and skin damage due to their fair skin and lack of melanin. Wear broad-spectrum sunscreen with at least SPF 30 every day, and reapply every two hours when outdoors. Additionally, seek shade, wear protective clothing, and use hats and sunglasses to shield your skin from the sun’s harmful UV rays.

5. Perform patch tests: Before trying out new skincare products, perform patch tests on a small area of your skin to check for any adverse reactions or sensitivity. This can help you identify potential triggers and avoid unnecessary irritation.

6. Stay hydrated: Drink plenty of water to keep your skin hydrated from the inside out. Proper hydration helps maintain the skin’s natural moisture balance and can reduce the likelihood of irritation and flare-ups.

7. Be gentle with exfoliation: Limit the frequency of exfoliation to avoid aggravating sensitive skin. Choose gentle exfoliants with smooth, round particles and avoid abrasive scrubs that can cause micro-tears in the skin.

8. Manage stress: Stress can exacerbate skin sensitivity and trigger flare-ups. Practice stress-reducing activities such as yoga, meditation, or deep breathing exercises to help keep stress levels in check.

9. **Consult a dermatologist: If you’re struggling to manage your sensitive skin, consider seeking advice from a dermatologist. They can provide personalized recommendations and treatment options to help alleviate your symptoms and improve the health of your skin.

By following these tips and being mindful of your skin’s needs, you can effectively care for your sensitive redhead skin and minimize irritation and discomfort.

Rock it like a Redhead! 


READ: 5 Redhead Makeup Tips If You Have Sensitive Eyes

READ: 12 Hydrating Products for Sensitive Skin and Red Hair