Sensitive Skin Types

The term sensitive skin is often used incorrectly and many people think they have sensitive skin when they do not. In the Baumann Skin Typing System, there are 4 different types of sensitive skin. All 4 sensitive skin subtypes are reactive and prone to inflammation. To choose the best skin care products and build a skin care routine for sensitive skin, you need to know which type of sensitive skin you have.

It is possible, and even common, to have more than one subtype of sensitive skin which makes shopping for sensitive skin care products challenging. 

If you have sensitive skin, you know how upsetting it is when you have a bad skin day. Using the wrong skin care ingredients can cause and worsen sensitive skin!

Understanding what subtypes of sensitive skin you have will help you find the best products to reduce inflammation and keep your skin calm.

The best way to find out if you have sensitive skin and what type of sensitive skin you have is to take our Baumann Skin Type Quiz. Eight of the 16 Baumann Skin Types have sensitive skin.  Are you one of them? Find out now!

8 Baumann Skin Types have sensitive skin

Types of Sensitive Skin

How to know if you have sensitive skin?

All types of sensitive skin have signs of inflammation. Inflammation is caused by many different things.

There is so much confusion about what sensitive skin is, that if you want to know if you have sensitive skin, the best thing to do is take our skin type test.  It will help you know if you have sensitive skin, what is causing it, and what to do about it.

acne, rosacea, stinging and allergic are 4 sensitive skin types

There are 4 Subtypes of Sensitive Skin:

  1. Acne
  2. Rosacea
  3. Stinging
  4. Allergic

Sensitive Skin Type 1 - Acne / Pimples

pimples are caused by bacteria, clogged pores, and hormones

Acne Type Sensitive Skin has red bumps called papules, or pus bumps called pimples or pustules, and clogged pores called comedones.  Severe acne will have acne cysts.

Acne is caused by the bacteria Cutibacterium acnes (C. acnes), hormones, and / or clogged pores,

Acne bacteria causes:

clogged pores,


papules, and pustules called pimples

acne cysts

acne scars

dark spots (caused by inflammation)

Using the wrong skin care products or products with acne causing ingredients can cause you to suddenly develop the acne sensitive skin type.

Sensitive Skin Type 2- Rosacea / Redness

skin redness is caused by dilated blood vessels

Rosacea occurs when blood vessels dilate and lose the ability to shrink back down. This makes the skin look pink or red from the increased blood flow. The enlarged blood vessels cause facial flushing, a red face, and a sensation of warmth that comes and goes.

You may have triggers that make the face more sensitive.  Your face may get red when you exercise, eat spicy or hot food, experience strong emotion, or drink alcohol.

Rosacea is progressive and gets worse over time so you need to add anti-inflammatory ingredients in your skin care routine.

Look for rosacea cleansers and creams that soothe and calm the skin.

Sensitive Skin Type 3- Stinging and Burning Skin

stinging sensitive skin is caused by sensory receptors

Stinging skin hurts when you put anything on it- even water. People who feel an uncomfortable burning and stinging feeling on their skin are called “stingers”. 

Acids, preservatives, and fragrances can cause stinging. Not all skin types sting when they come into contact with a low acidic pH, but most stingers do.

It is unknown why some people are more likely than others to feel their face sting when applying skin care products, but it has to do with sensory receptors in the skin.

Rosacea sensitive skin types are often also stinging skin types.

When you begin a retinoid skin care product, you may become a sensitive skin type for a few weeks because retinoid users may experience stinging as a temporary side effect of retinoids.

Sensitive Skin Type 4 - Allergic or Easily Irritated Skin

Sensitive allergic skin is caused by the immune system

Allergic skin reacts when exposed to an allergen.  Irritated skin has a weak barrier that allows irritating substances into the skin.

This sensitive skin subtype is more likely to react to things it encounters such as:



Sunscreen ingredients

Irritant chemicals like benzoyl peroxide and Low pH ingredients like hydroxyacids and Vitamin C

Here is a list of the most common skin care ingredients that cause an allergic reaction.

Allergens and irritants trigger the immune system to release inflammatory factors to cause a rash known as contact dermatitis.

The only way to avoid allergic contact dermatitis is to avoid the ingredient you are allergic to.


Can I Have More Than One Type of Sensitive Skin?

It is possible to have more than one type of sensitive skin- in fact, many people do. For example- rosacea skin types often have pimples, redness and stinging and are more likely to get irritated by ingredients in skin care products.

The best skincare products for your sensitive skin type depends upon which type or types of sensitive skin you have.

There are 8 different sensitive skin types, and each of them has slightly different skin care ingredient needs. 

If you are concerned that you have sensitive skin, be sure to take our quiz, identify your skin type, and follow our regimen suggestions. Once you take the quiz, watch for emails with personalized advice on how to treat your sensitive skin type.

All sensitive skin types should use products with anti-inflammatory soothing and calming ingredients.

Which Baumann Skin Types Have Sensitive Skin?

The 8 Sensitive Skin Types

Eight Baumann Skin Types have sensitive skin.

Each of these can have a combination of 4 sensitive skin subtypes.

For example- Baumann Skin Type 1 can have any combination of the 4 subtypes.

Sensitive skin type symptoms are acne, rosacea, stinging and rashes

If Skin Type 1 has acne it is called Baumann Skin Type 1 Acne Subtype.

If Skin Type 1 has redness it is called Baumann Skin Type 1 Rosacea Subtype.

If Skin Type 1 has acne and redness it is called Baumann Skin Type 1 Acne and Rosacea Subtype.

If Skin Type 1 has acne, redness, stinging and allergic rashes it is called Baumann Skin Type 1 Acne, Rosacea, Stinging, and Allergic Subtypes.

Although all of these are Baumann Skin type 1, they each need a different skin care routine.  This is why you need to take the quiz to get the best advice on how to treat your sensitive skin type.

List of Sensitive Skin Signs and Symptoms

 Do I Have Sensitive Skin? Yes you do if you have symptoms on this list.

You must have one or more of these sensitive skin signs and symptoms at least every 2 months to have sensitive skin:

  • Bumps on skin (Papules, pustules, or pimples)
  • Burning Face
  • Burning Skin
  • Facial Flushing
  • Itching Skin
  • Pimples And Pustules
  • Pink Skin
  • Pink Skin With Scale
  • Prickly Skin
  • Red Face
  • Red Skin
  • Redness
  • Stinging Face
  • Stinging Skin
  • Sunburn With No Sun Exposure
  • Unpleasant skin sensations

Why Do I Need To Know Which Type of Sensitive Skin I Have?

The different types of sensitive skin have different needs and require different ingredients.

We need to know which type of sensitive skin you have to give you skin care advice because the treatment for one skin type can make another skin type worse.

For example- if you have acne and redness, acne treatments can make your redness worse.

If you have redness and are allergic- some natural cosmetic ingredients might irritate your skin and cause a skin allergy.

Once we know what type or types you have- we can design a step-by-step skin care routine that targets all the sensitive skin types without making any of them react.

Baumann Skin Types with Sensitive Skin

There are 8 Sensitive Baumann Skin Types - Which one are you?

We can divide sensitive skin into two main categories: Oily or Dry?

There are 4 oily, sensitive types and 4 dry, sensitive types.

Oily, Sensitive Skin Types

Oily Sensitive Skin Types

The oily sensitive skin types 5  (OSPT) and 6 (OSNT) usually suffer from acne, but less commonly have rosacea, stinging and skin allergies.

Skin Type 7 (OSPW) and Skin Type 8 (OSNW) usually suffer from rosacea but may have some acne, stinging and allergies.

All oily sensitive skin types will do well with anti-inflammatory ingredients.

Some of our favorite soothing skincare ingredients for oily sensitive skin are salicylic acid, argan oil, green tea, Centella Asiatica Extract, chamomile, aloe, allantoin and panthenol.

Dry, Sensitive Skin Types

Dry Sensitive Skin types 1,2,3 and 4

Dry, sensitive skin types are trickier to treat than oily, sensitive skin types because dry skin is much more susceptible to inflammation due to a disrupted skin barrier.

The goal of a skincare routine for dry sensitive skin is to hydrate the skin and repair the skin barrier with soothing fatty acids while calming the skin with soothing skincare ingredients.

There are 4 dry sensitive skin types in the Baumann Skin Typing System. Notice that they are all designated by a pink or red color to illustrate the fact that the wrong skincare products will cause the skin to react and turn red.

Dry sensitive skin types are at a high risk of reacting to a new skincare product and may wake up with pimples, an itchy rash or a red face after trying a new product.

Sensitive Skin on The Neck

The skin on the neck is different than the skin on your face because it has fewer hair follicles. It tends to be more reactive and sensitive than face skin. The neck heals slower than the face and is more likely to scar after laser treatments.

The neck area has more side effects and gets easily irritated to:

  • antiaging creams
  • retinol
  • hydroxy acids

When you are beginning a strong antiaging cream with retinol on the neck- start every 4th day so your skin can adjust.

If your neck gets red and irritated, use a soothing oil such as Argan oil to calm the skin.

Sensitive Skin Subtypes Research and References:

  1. Baumann L Chapters 13,16, 17, 18 and 19 in Baumann's Cosmetic Dermatology (McGraw Hill 2022)
  2. Baumann L. Chapters 64-75. Cosmeceuticals and Cosmetic Ingredients (McGraw Hill 2015)

Updated: 12/20/2022

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