Understanding Negative Reactions to Products: Why Does Your Skin Get Irritated?

A woman scratching her irritated skin

Every girl knows the feeling of disappointment that occurs when a new expensive skincare product you’ve just bought causes irritation instead of the promised result. Sometimes, this reaction takes some time to appear and the first few days the product seems to be working wonderfully. But then, you wake up to see your face covered with scaly reddish patches or tiny inflamed bumps. At this point, the disappointment that comes from wasting money on a cream that turned out to be the cause of your problem won’t be so keen because you will have a more pressing issue to worry about, namely, treating the damage it caused.

We are sure you’ve wondered why exactly things like this happen and whether anything can be done to prevent them. Answering the first question won’t be easy as there are many reasons that can lead to such an unfortunate result. However, there is a solution to almost every case.

Five most common causes of skin irritation from cosmetic products are:

1. Bad formula.
Some ingredients are more likely to cause a negative reaction, like alcohol, fragrant plant extracts, fragrance. The reaction to them may not be immediate, especially with fragrances, as their amount on your skin will need to reach a critical point to trigger an allergy.
Solution: study the list of ingredients and avoid possible irritants.

2. Allergic reaction to a specific ingredient.
If such a reaction is common for you, consult a professional and take the tests necessary to determine what you are allergic to. 
Solution: avoid products that contain the specified ingredient.

3. Using too many products at a time.
Sometimes irritation appears because you “overstimulate” your skin with “active” products. This problem is especially common for those who use potent anti-acne and anti-aging treatments. These overtly potent combinations usually work at first but end up causing a severe reaction in a week or two. 
Solution: revise your skin care routine and make sure you use only one potent treatment at a time and mild products to support it.

4. Using the wrong kind of products.
This issue occurs when you are using skincare treatments developed for a different skin type. If you don’t know your type, click here to learn how to determine it.
Solution: understand the needs of your skin and buy only suitable products.

5. Overtly sensitive skin.
Some girls just have more sensitive than average skin. This may be caused by your genes, medical conditions, or some other health-related issues. 
Solution: use only the products designed for extra-sensitive skin and develop the right sensitive skin beauty routine.

Become a Skin Detective

In order to successfully solve the problem caused by a negative reaction to some cosmetic product you will need to understand what the exact cause it. This won’t be easy, but it’s imperative that you succeed. Understanding the root of the problem will help you avoid such negative reactions in the future.

Here is how you do it:

1. Examine the list on ingredients on all your skin care products and remove the ones that can cause irritation.

2. Check your skin type and make sure all your current products are right for you.
Note that sometimes skin type may change over the course of your life. This change is usually caused by hormonal imbalance or medications.

3. Consider how often you use “active” products and cut down on the frequency. 
Use scrubs twice a week instead of every other day and serums only in the evening. You can alternate using a single active product at a time (one in the morning and one in the evening). Test different kinds of combinations until you find the one that works best. You can record your reactions in a notebook to make sure you don’t forget anything important. 

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