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Supporting claims for sensitive skin
Subjective and objective approaches


Gunja Springmann*, Stephan Bielfeldt,
Klaus-Peter Wilhelm

*Corresponding author
proDERM GmbH, Hamburg, Germany


Hard to define and quantify, sensitive skin tends to be a self-diagnosed very descriptive yet subjective phenomenon. Effects of the environment, lifestyle habits and physiological factors all contribute to the sensitive skin condition. Developing skincare for sensitive skin is challenging not least because of reactive skin, but also in building a solid weight of evidence to support product claims. Combining both subjective and objective analysis when testing these types of products has clear advantages. They provide a strong basis for claims development, especially given that heightened subjective parameters for sensitive skin are themselves subjectively sensitive and therefore susceptible to faults.


One of the most sensitive issues concerning the cosmetics industry as regards product claims is the generation of evidence to support so-called “sensitive skin” claims. Sensitive skin is a genuine concern for many consumers, with reports that at least 50% of a given population will indicate some kind of “sensitivity” when it comes to their skin (1). Despite the fact that skin itself is amongst other characteristics an organ of “sense,” it is not surprising that  many consumers are faced with sensitive skin.

In Europe sensitive skin is reportedly high with approximately 39% of the population affected and with more women claiming a sensitive skin compared to men (2). Its occurrence appears to increase during the summer with the observation that exposure to UV-radiation might play a role since fair-skinned individuals prone to sunburn report increased discomfort as compared to darker skinned individuals (3). Environmental conditions (including air pollution, pollen, heat, cold and wind), lifestyle choices (such as cosmetic usage, age, diet and alcohol consumption), and physiological factors (e.g., stress, or endogenous horm ...

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