If you’re a true beauty enthusiast and love trying out the latest new formulas in skin care, most likely you’ve run into the occasional glitch, which resulted in a negative skin reaction, and not the “glow” you were promised. When your skin doesn’t agree with a product, it may become red or inflamed, peel, or break out in a rash or bumps. If this happens to you, follow these tips to heal quickly.
When dealing with redness, the goal is to calm skin. Look for products described as “gentle,” “soothing,” “calming,“ or "anti-redness.” Also, be sure they contain ingredients such as chamomile extract, azulene, bisabolol, aloe, green tea, and white tea. These ingredients can counteract inflammation and promote a healing effect. For added comfort, put products in the refrigerator prior to use - this will help reduce heat-induced redness and irritation, and feel refreshing on stressed skin.
Red, flaky, or peeling skin usually signifies a damaged moisture barrier, which causes invisible cracks in the skin. Moisture can then more easily escape, and irritants can better permeate the skin. If a product has worked well for you in the past, and suddenly starts to irritate you, a break in your moisture barrier is to blame. Specific ingredients in moisturizers can help to repair this lipid barrier, and lessen redness and irritation.
The remedy is to find moisturizers or treatment oils containing rose hip seed oil, borage oil, jojoba oil and sweet almond oil. Ingredients like shea butter, ceramides, squalane and phospholipids also soothe the skin, and can help repair a damaged moisture barrier. My preference is a cream, mask, or oil. With continued use, redness may be repaired, and skin will be less sensitive and reactive.
Skin rashes and tiny bumps are also reaction manifestations. Synthetic fragrances, in particular, can be the culprit — as can irritation from facial waxing. To reduce irritation and calm a skin rash, I’ve recommended this little trick to clients for years, and it works well. Apply a thin coat of Milk of Magnesia (a stomach medication found at drugstores) to the area, and leave on for 15 minutes. Repeat three times daily until the rash dissipates. Milk of Magnesia contains magnesium hydroxide, which is an excellent anti-inflammatory.
For all types of skin, and especially those with sensitive skin, watch out for products that are inherently irritating, such as vitamin C. Go for formulas that are stable (like those with magnesium ascorbyl phosphate versus pure l-ascorbic acid) for a more positive response and less irritation.
Retinol is another ingredient known to irritate skin. Instead of daily use, I suggest a time-release formula that you’ve tested on your skin. When you find one that works of you, only use it every third night to avoid any irritation, and opt for a night serum and an exfoliating serum for the rest of the week.
With any new product, it’s a good idea to do a patch test for compatibility, especially if you have sensitive skin that’s prone to allergic reactions. Make sure to introduce only one new product to your skin a day, and test it out on a small area of your face or neck. You may be super excited to dive right in and try an entire new line of products, but if you have a negative reaction, you’ll never know which one it was.
Above all, listen to your skin - if something irritates it, discontinue use.