BASF logo 'We create chemistry'
URL Successfully Copied!

You can now paste the url to easily share it

Calm the itch for sensitive skin products

Sensitive skin care is a win-win for consumers and brands, so what’s with the lack of new product launches?

Published On: 09/09/19

Sensitive Skin 101

Like a perfect date or the secret ingredient in grandma's pie, sensitive skin is hard to define.

Often, it's a subjective sensation that we self-report, because we know our bodies better than any clinical test. Some people are more prone to it if they suffer from a condition like rosacea or dermatitis.

Since we rely so much on self-diagnosis, rather than something objectively measurable, it’s difficult for skincare product formulators to meet our needs. Sensitive skin is now accepted as a major dermatological problem with physiological origins — and we're still totally mystified by it.

50%

More than 50% of the Western population has issues with sensitive skin (Farage and Maibach, 2010).

It’s prevalent in the United States as well, according to a study of 495 men and 499 women.

44%

44.6% of subjects in a U.S. study declared they had sensitive or very sensitive skin (Misery, Sibaud, Merial-Kieny, & Taieb, 2011).

If you really want to nail down the definition of sensitive skin, BASF’s Annette Mehling describes it as unpleasant sensations or reactions — whether it's a mild tingle, dryness, redness or even tightness — because your skin reacts more acutely to your products, lifestyle choices or external stressors (2011). This definition is shared by dermatologists (Misery et al., 2011).


 Couple in park

Sensitive skin is more commonly found in the face, but it also crops up in the hands, scalp and body in varying degrees. It often reacts more strongly to cosmetics and environmental factors like cold, sun, wind and pollution.

A study on a representative sample of the American population found little relation to geographic location, age or ethnicity, but subjects with sensitive skin were more likely to have fair skin phototypes — a term referring to the amount of melanin pigment in the skin — and dermatological disorders (Misery et al., 2011).

Can you guess what skin types they are more likely to have?

Quiz
Rank It:

What are the most common skin types in people with sensitive skin?

Drag and drop answers to order the list from the most common skin type to the least common skin type in subjects with sensitive skin.

Source: (Misery et al., 2011)

03 Normal Skin 04 Oily Skin 01 Combination Skin 02 Dry Skin

Combination Skin (35.7%)

Dry Skin (34.5%)

Normal Skin (22.6%)

Oily Skin (7.2%)

Thanks to all those intertwining factors, a sensitive skin claim for one person looks completely different on another.​​
 Nola

Nola

Nola works in a city where smog, stress and oversized cups of coffee are synonymous with everyday life. Environment and lifestyle have sensitized her skin in different ways: one day it could be a dry, itchy scalp from a hot shower, the next it could be redness from over-exfoliating.

She's not about to pack up and head for the country, so Nola needs products that protect and condition her skin from head to toe.

 Helga

Helga

Helga admits to being picky about skincare products. That's because her skin reacts more sensitively to chemicals most people can tolerate; the wrong products make her skin sting, tingle or burn.

When Helga shops, she wants more choices — products free of fragrances, preservatives and other ingredients her sensitive skin doesn't love. Soothing and anti-redness formulas are icing on the cake.

 Carlton

Carlton

Carlton’s hands started itching as a teenager. Owing to a problem with his skin's outer barrier function, it’s hard for his skin to retain water, leaving it dehydrated and overly sensitive.

Carlton needs mild, gentle soaps and moisturizers to hydrate his skin, restore barrier function and avoid irritating his condition.

 Sophia

Sophia

Sophia’s products fend off lines and dark circles, but aging causes a range of skin troubles from micro-inflammation to sensitive skin in her face. Her products don’t always take that into account.

To stay fresh-faced, Sophia needs a mild, soothing approach to her anti-aging products that tackle the many nuances of aging sensitive skin.

The sensitive skin products gap

Where are all the sensitive skin products?

A huge chunk of the population has sensitive skin. It manifests in so many ways for so many different reasons — but we have such limited choices when it comes to finding the right skin care products.

Hello, formulators!

This is where you come in. Sensitive skin products are in high demand. Reports are showing more and more consumer requests for products that address claims related to sensitive skin.

49%

49% of U.S. women aged 18–34 think it is important that bodycare products are soothing (Lightspeed/Mintel).

A Google Trends analysis by BASF shows that in the last five years, interest for the term “sensitive skin cream” more than doubled.

51% in the U.S. 56% in Japan. 59% in France.

Women across the globe live with sensitive skin.

What's a girl to do? Despite all the buzz about sensitive skin, there has been a distinct lack of launches for products making that claim.

Check out the graph:

Of all the products launched in the U.S. in 2018, fewer than 10 percent of those have specific sensitive skin or redness claims.

Source: Mintel 2019

Are we missing something? It sure seems like we are, but formulators are in a good position to fill in the gaps.

Pricing out sensitive skin claims

It's all about the money, honey

How do you know sensitive skin claims really matter to us as consumers? Here's a little secret: we're willing to pay more for them.

See this next graph? An analysis by BASF shows the price a specific product application can fetch when it has sensitive skin claims associated with it. Serums with sensitive skin claims top the list at around $100, followed by treatments, eye care and face moisturizers, which all sell for more than $50.

Those are higher than average prices compared to other claims (i.e. those unrelated to sensitive skin) in the same applications.

Quiz
Rank It:

Which sensitive skin claims command the highest prices across all segments?

Drag and drop to order the list starting from the highest-priced to the lowest-priced product claims.

Source: BASF big data analytics

01 Non-sensitizing 04 Dermatological 03 Rosacea 02 Anti-inflammatory 05 Safe for sensitive skin 06 Anti-redness
​Want to dig in even deeper?

Check out the top sensitive skin claims under each application and the prices they command in the marketplace.

Source: BASF big data analytics, 2018

Formulating for sensitive skin

Make your formulations werk, werk, werk

Now that you know what we consumers want (and the prices we'll pay to get it), here's the real challenge: formulating products that soothe, repair and protect sensitive skin.

It starts with fabulous ingredients. Your supplier should be an expert in selecting and sourcing gentle, high-quality ingredients that offer the benefits your customers crave — and they should know which ones to avoid.

Because sensitive skin problems are so subjective, it's important to choose the right test methods for each product. You should also keep an eye on new science and changes in your industry — just like you're doing now (keep up the good work)!

In case you're wondering, BASF Care Creations is here for all that. Our portfolio is a big, beautiful rainbow of products that help you formulate for sensitive skin claims in whatever fun and quirky formats you need.

Inolixir™ for anti-redness

Boy, is my face red! It doesn’t have to be: Inolixir™ uses a mushroom extract with anti-inflammatory properties to combat redness.

Cetiol® CC for sensory performance

Consumers want an enjoyable skinfeel coupled with environmental responsibility in all their personal care products. Cetiol® CC creates a pleasantly dry and velvety sensation in applications as diverse as skincare products, sunscreens, antiperspirants or hair care products.

Myritol® 331 for moisturization

Do you suffer from dry skin? Myritol® 331 provides immediate skin moisturization, immediate skin barrier recovery and lasting moisturization for 24 hours.

We've got your back, babe.

As your partners in the formulating process, we're serving up the hot industry tea and technical advice you need to brew up gorgeous new sensitive skin products.

Click through our catalogue of sensitive skin products or have a chat with our friendly team to learn more.

Want to download the full product list?

Hook me up

Access Locked Join us to keep reading

We share this information with the best of our friends. To keep reading, please login or register to the site.

+ Login

Browse sensitive skin products by category

Anasensyl™ LS 9322

Sensitive Skin Claim: Skin soothing, Anti-redness, Not developing redness, Non-irritating, Clinical tested, Calming or anti-irritation (in vitro), Soothing - reduction in discomfort (in vivo)

INCI: Mannitol (and) Ammonium Glycyrrhizate (and) Caffeine (and) Zinc Gluconate (and) Aesculus Hippocastanum Seed Extract

Biophytex® LS 9832

Sensitive Skin Claim: Suitable for sensitive skin, Anti-redness, Not developing redness, Non-irritating, Clinical tested, Soothing - reduction in discomfort (in vivo)

INCI: Water (and) Butylene Glycol (and) Panthenol (and) Escin (and) Glycerin (and) Ruscus Aculeatus Root Extract (and) Ammonium Glycyrrhizate (and) Centella Asiatica Leaf Extract (and) Hydrolyzed Yeast Protein (and) Calendula Officinalis Flower Extract

Eperuline® PW LS 9627

Sensitive Skin Claim: Skin soothing, Not developing redness, Non-irritating, Clinical tested, Calming or anti-irritation (in vitro)

INCI: Maltodextrin (and) Eperua falcata Bark Extract

Inhiphase®

Sensitive Skin Claim: Skin soothing, Anti-redness, Not developing redness, Non-irritating, Clinical tested, Calming or anti-irritation (in vitro), Calming or anti-irritation (in vivo)

INCI: Water (and) Butylene Glycol (and) Pentylene Glycol (and) Pueraria Lobata Root Extract

Sanicapyl®

Sensitive Skin Claim: Skin soothing, Not developing redness, Non-irritating, Clinical tested, Calming or anti-irritation (in vitro), Calming or anti-irritation (in vivo)

INCI: Sodium Lauroyl Lactylate (and) Sodium Caproyl Lactylate (and) Butylene Glycol (and) Piper Nigrum Fruit Extract (and) Inga Alba Bark Extract

Skinasensyl® LS 9749

Sensitive Skin Claim: Not developing redness, Non-irritating, Clinical tested, Soothing - reduction in discomfort (in vivo)

INCI: Water (and) Glycerin (and) Coco-Glucoside (and) Acetyl Tetrapeptide-15

Symbiocell® BC10015

Sensitive Skin Claim: Skin soothing, Anti-redness, Not developing redness, Non-irritating, Clinical tested, Calming or anti-irritation (in vitro), Calming or anti-irritation (in vivo), Soothing - reduction in discomfort (in vivo)

INCI: Water (and) Butylene Glycol (and) Cestrum Latifolium Leaf Extract (and) Xanthan Gum (and) Propandiol and Caprylyl Glycol

Phytosoothe® LS 9766

Sensitive Skin Claim: Skin soothing, Not developing redness, Non-irritating, Clinical tested, Calming or anti-irritation (in vitro), Calming or anti-irritation (in vivo)

INCI: Brassica Campestris (Rapeseed) Sterols, Cetearyl Alcohol

Generol™ R

Sensitive Skin Claim: Skin soothing, Not developing redness, Non-irritating, Clinical tested, Calming or anti-irritation (in vitro), Calming or anti-irritation (in vivo)

INCI: Brassica Campestris (Rapeseed) Sterols

Inolixir™

Sensitive Skin Claim: Skin soothing, Anti-redness, Not developing redness, Non-irritating, Dermatological tested, Clinical tested, Calming or anti-irritation (in vitro), Calming or anti-irritation (in vivo)

INCI: Glycerin (and) Water (and) Inonotus Obliquus (Mushroom) Extract