Reactive Routine

Understanding and treating a disruption of the barrier function


Reactive skin can sometimes be confused for “sensitive skin”. Dermatologists debate that “sensitive skin” is a true condition and not just a symptom of a larger issue. The skin is the source of one of our largest senses – touch. Being the largest exposed organ – its job is to not only prevent irritants and bacteria from entering the body it is also to be sensitive and react to irritants. When skin reacts, it can appear in many different forms – stinging, redness, itchiness, acne, rosacea, or eczema. All these things are symptoms that signify that an ingredient, environment, or allergen has been sensed by the skin.


Skin Types and Reactivity

Reactive skin is typically found in your skin type. For example, skin type I are those who are very fair, have light eyes and have red or blonde hair. Clients with this skin type typically have “thinner skin” that leaves nerves and blood vessels closer to the surface of the epidermis. That is not to say that the darker skin types V and VI are not prone to reactive skin – it can just be harder to see physical indications outside of hyperpigmentation.  Some medical conditions or treatments can cause the skin to be more reactive. For example, autoimmune disorders (lupus, psoriasis), fibromyalgia, rosacea, chemotherapy, and certain medications. These can cause the skin to become thinner, dehydrated, and the nerves to be overstimulated.

The skin’s barrier function is key in preventing reactivity and the treatment protocol for reactive skin is restoring this barrier.


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Kara McLucas-Mark

Kara McLucas-Mark is a licensed esthetician with a medical focus. She has worked with multiple modalities including non-ablative lasers, microcurrent, ultrasound skin tightening, and radiofrequency machines. She lives with her husband and two dogs outside of Annapolis, MD. She loves learning about new skin developments, her LED light, and jade roller!