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There are times we intentionally irritate our skin to get a favorable reaction. I mean, hello? Exfoliation? These are the times when we expect a certain level of irritation on the skin in the form of redness, maybe a little sensitivity, or some level of itchiness. However, it’s super easy to cross over to the other side where tingling becomes “burning” or red skin becomes “skin on fire”. If that’s what you’re dealing with, keep reading to find out how to calm irritated skin.
First of all, if you’ve been too experimental with your skincare, it’s no surprise that your skin’s irritated, red, and inflamed. Retinoids, hydroxy acids, over-cleansing, and over-exfoliation can each cause irritation, inflammation, redness, and sensitivity.
These steps can mess up normal skin let alone an already sensitive one. Obviously, lay off the active ingredients until your skin has fully recovered.
And to speed up the healing process, below are the best ways to calm irritated skin on your face.
How To Calm Irritated Skin On the Face
1. Try Cold Compress
First of all, if you’ve recently tried popping a pimple on your face, things can go wrong super fast. I don’t know what a successful pimple-popping looks like, but I know what an unsuccessful one looks like!
It looks like a pimple that’s even redder than before. And in some cases, you may even have to deal with a swollen face. I’m guilty of this myself, which resulted in a swollen right cheek as if I’ve had some dental work done.
If that’s you, the first thing you should do is apply a cold compress around that pimple. The swelling goes away once you sleep it off. However, the cold compress speeds things up and also reduces the redness.
Apply the cold press for about 10 minutes and take a break for 10 minutes. Do this a few times and leave the pimple alone!
2. Wash Your Face Only Once a Day
Try washing your face once a day as opposed to twice a day. Facial cleansing can remove unwanted oil from the face as well as wanted oil. The latter is crucial to maintaining a healthy skin barrier.
Normally, your skin can quickly recover from cleansing. But when your skin is irritated, it takes longer to heal and too much cleansing doesn’t help.
So, learn how to properly cleanse your skin and minimize cleansing until it no longer feels tight. Also, to be able to skip cleansing, you’re going to have to go easy on makeup until the coast is clear.
The only scenario where you need to wash your face to calm irritation is when that irritation is caused by something you put on your skin. For example, if you have rosacea or sensitive skin, you might be dealing with contact dermatitis.
It’s when your skin reacts to something and when you remove that something from the equation, the skin goes back to normal.
So maybe you’ve put on some product with essential oils or tried something that your skin didn’t like and now it looks red. Wash your face with a generous amount of water. The remaining redness goes away quickly.
Moisturize to help repair your damaged skin barrier. No matter the cause, a damaged skin barrier makes things worse and makes the skin more prone to further irritation.
And irritation causes sensitivity, which causes redness and itching. Before you know it, you’re scratching your face and creating micro-tears where germs can easily find their way into the skin.
To repair your skin barrier, use hypoallergenic and oil-based moisturizers. They will prevent dryness and form a protective layer on the skin. That way, your skin can start the regeneration process and rebuild its barrier.
There are barrier repair moisturizers and they’re called so for a reason. They contain restorative ingredients like ceramides, squalane, panthenol, and niacinamide to strengthen the skin barrier.
4. Soothe the Skin with Anti-Inflammatories
Aloe, green tea, and oatmeal are the most common skin soothers you can find in skincare products. Each of them has additional benefits for the skin.
For our purposes, they’re non-sensitizing ingredients that soothe irritation and redness. Oat is incredibly anti-inflammatory and reduces redness even on rosacea skin.
Aloe forms a film on the skin and just works as a topical soother for the skin and is the best natural moisturizer. Similarly, green tea is chock full of antioxidants and has additional benefits like reducing inflammation, redness, and swelling.
There’s a reason why we teabag ourselves on the eyes with green tea whenever we get puffy. Try these ingredients in the form of sheet masks, toners, and moisturizers.
5. Find the Underlying Cause
Last but not least, the cause of your irritation may not even have anything to do with skincare. Stress, sleep deprivation, the temperature can all contribute to irritation on the face.
Calming irritation is one thing. But you need to be aware of the cause to avoid further irritation. For example, my skin turns red if I ever put toner or serum on my wet face.
Otherwise non-irritating products become incredibly irritating when you apply them on a wet face. It’s because water increases skin penetration. So it’s important to consider these too.
If your irritation hasn’t improved after you stopped using active ingredients and did the steps above, you might want to see a dermatologist. They can find if there’s a skin condition that causes irritation and can offer medication to remedy the situation.
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