If you look at almost any skincare product label, there is typically some sort of warning that advises discontinuing use if skin becomes irritated. These kinds of warning labels are more prominent on “abrasive products” like chemical and manual exfoliants, or depilatory creams like Nair, to help users avoid potential discomfort and harm after applying the product. Because I like to live dangerously, I often ignore these labels and go right to slathering whatever new product has graced my bathroom shelf all over my face within 24 hours of purchasing. Normally, this daring practice doesn’t result in anything too bad, except for maybe disappointment that a product didn’t work out until I purchased an off-brand micellar water from the dollar store. As soon as this product touched my face, my skin became red and hot and felt like it was stinging. My skin had become irritated, and I was right there with it. Why was my skin freaking out like this? What should I do next? Skin irritation on the face may be common, but it can get quite complicated. Let’s take a look at what irritated skin is, and what you can do to help calm it down.
What is Irritated Skin?
So, technically, “irritated skin” is an umbrella term for the visible and physical symptoms of skin damage, and is also referred to as a rash. Irritated skin on the face can take shape in a couple of different ways, the most common being redness, itching, burning, chapping, peeling, and swelling. These symptoms occur as our red blood cells, armed with oxygen and immune cells, come to the surface of our skin to repair the damage, or what our body is interpreting as damage. Irritation can look and feel different, varying by person, skin type, and the cause of the damage.
What Causes Irritated Skin?
Irritated skin on the face can be caused by almost anything! Allergies, product ingredients, hormones, stress, environment – you name it, there’s a chance that it can irritate your skin. That being said, there are some common causes to skin irritation, and one clue to figuring out what’s causing yours is to evaluate what kind of skin irritation you have. Check out these common skin conditions and the kind of irritation they may cause, which one sounds like you?
Extra Sensitive Skin – Your skin will appear red, with both raw and dry patches. This is often caused by sun or windburn, but can also be a result of overwashing, over-exfoliating, or the overuse of a harsh ingredient in your routine, like a retinoid.
Seborrheic Dermatitis (Dandruff) – In addition to having a flaky scalp (which isn’t present in every case), you’ll experience redness and flaky patches around the nose, eyebrows, and behind the ears. Dandruff is caused by a naturally occurring skin fungus called Malassezia globosa that breaks down sebum on the face, but those with oily skin, dry skin, and/or an increased cell turnover rate, experience dandruff more often.
Contact Dermatitis – Your skin has itchy, pink splotches or blisters, usually as a result of coming in contact with something you’re allergic to. Common ingredients that may cause irritation include parabens, fragrances, essential oils, and nickel.
It’s vital to note the importance of maintaining a healthy skin barrier when talking about irritation as well. Our skin barrier helps protect our face and our bodies from outside stressors like pollution and bacteria while helping to maintain our skin’s moisture balance by reducing Transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Whenever our skin barrier is compromised or weakened, the chances that irritation will occur increase.
Here’s What You Can Do
Don’t be irritated with your irritated skin! Here are some tips to help relieve and heal your angry skin based:
- Quit being so harsh – Cut out any harsh exfoliants (chemical and manual) and skincare ingredients until your skin has the chance to heal. Once healed, slowly introduce ingredients back into your routine. Remember to only exfoliate two to three times a week!
- Add some aloe – Aloe is great for mild irritation from sun or wind burns! Try the Soothe My Skin Mask for cooling relief.
- 1% hydrocortisone cream – Hydrocortisone helps to relieve itching, while also helping to tone down redness by constricting the blood vessels and reducing the number of inflammatory cells near the skin surface. Use twice a day for up to two weeks. Contact your doctor or dermatologist if the redness/irritation does not subside, as long-term use can actually have the opposite effect.
- Fight flakes with salicylic acid – Help your skin rid itself of dead skin with a gentle salicylic acid cleanser (look for 0.5% concentration for gentle exfoliation). Always follow up with a moisturizer!
- Try a fungal cream – If your irritated skin is rooted in dandruff, or rather the fungus that causes dandruff, try looking for products made to tackle fungus! Apply twice a day for up to five days. If you’re struggling to keep your dandruff under control, contact your doctor or dermatologist for other prescription-grade options.
6. Use barrier-preserving and healing ingredients – Help your skin barrier stay healthy, and it will help keep irritation at bay! Try adding ceramides, niacinamide, panthenol, and fatty acids such as oleic acid and Omega-3 to your skincare routine. Check out the Bomb, made with skin barrier healing ingredients such as jojoba and grapeseed oil!
7. Grab some milk – If your irritated skin is feeling especially angry, try using a cool milk compress on the affected area for about 10 minutes. Milk contains proteins (whey and casein), fat, amino acids, lactic acid, and vitamins A and D, which all help relieve skin irritation.
8. Benadryl – Benadryl can help relieve some of the itching and swelling associated with irritated skin, especially if it’s being caused by allergies. Just make sure to take it at night so you aren’t drowsy during the day!
9. CBD may help – There are claims that CBD not only has anti-inflammatory properties, but can also help reduce oil production, bring moisture to the skin, and relieve itching and pain. Try our very own CBD Skin Savior, developed by a Certified Medical Cannabis Expert with over 30 years of experience, and made in the USA with organically grown hemp.
At Gourgues Glow, we believe that everyone deserves beautiful, healthy, and happy skin! Our professional-grade skincare products were brought to life by Michelle Gourgues Lucas, a Licensed Esthetician, Certified Aesthetic Laser Technician, Certified PCA Skin Professional, spa owner, and serial entrepreneur, who is passionate about finding the right skincare for you.
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