Skincare for irritated skin: how to soothe your skin

We cannot stress this enough: irritation and inflammation are bad for the skin – really, really bad. Daily assaults such as unprotected sun exposure, hot water and applying skincare products that contain irritating ingredients generate an irritant response. The result? The repair process becomes faulty and the surface of the skin becomes weaker.

What is skin irritation?

Often skin irritation involves more than just redness or itching. Collagen and elastin can break down and the skin barrier can become weaker. As a result, the skin recovers less easily. Irritated skin also has a higher chance of developing wrinkles, brown spots and other signs of skin ageing. Plus, for those with oily skin, irritation triggers nerve endings in the pore that activate hormones and increase oil production, leading to enlarged pores.

Skin inflammation is usually related to external factors, which damage the skin barrier in numerous ways, whether you see the reaction or not. When the skin’s surface is irritated, it activates neuropeptides in the brain which regulate the body’s hormonal system. As a result, inflammatory chemicals trigger an increase in oil production that can enlarge pore size and heighten the likelihood of acne. The more inflammation occurs, the worse the risk becomes.

How long does irritated skin take to heal?

Everyone’s skin is sensitive to some extent and the reaction is not always visible. In many cases, this is a subcutaneous process (takes place under the skin). But the reaction can also build up and cause a rash or redness. Most visible skin irritation disappears within 48 hours of having the reaction, but as everyone is different it can sometimes last longer. The notion of healing irritated skin from further irritation may include repairing you skin barrier and making sure you abstain from common skin irritants.

What causes irritated skin?

The main causes of skin irritation are sun damage, environmental factors, the weather and fragrances (even aromatic plant oils / essential oils). Scents, whether synthetic or natural, are perhaps the least obvious cause. They usually smell lovely, but the scent comes from a volatile reaction which can irritate the skin.

Skin irritants

Common skin irritants

Check product labels and ingredient lists to see whether your existing routine includes any of the following common irritants in skincare:

  • Overly abrasive scrubs (such as those that contain aluminum oxide crystals, walnut shells or pumice)
  • Astringents containing irritating ingredients (alcohol and menthol are prime offenders)
  • Toners containing irritating ingredients (alcohol and menthol being the prime offenders)
  • Scrub mitts
  • Cold or hot water
  • Steaming or icing the skin
  • Facial masks containing irritating ingredients (watch out for fragrant essential oils and polyvinyl alcohol)
  • Loofahs
  • Bar soaps and bar cleansers

What not to put on inflamed skin

Really, everyone should avoid these skin irritants – regardless of sensitivity. Keep in mind that these skin irritants tend to be most problematic when they appear at the beginning of an ingredient list.

Irritating Ingredients

How to soothe irritated skin

Anything you can do to gently care for your skin helps, as this encourages normal collagen production, keeps it smooth and radiant, helps the skin to protect itself from environmental damage, reduces oil production and makes pores smaller. If your skin is prone to irritation, avoiding skin irritants in skincare and learning to be more gentle will help you see improvements.

Skincare that helps prevent irritation

Our CALM collection is specifically formulated with super-soothing skin ingredients and is clinically proven to reduce inflammation and redness. In theory, there's no need for inflamed skin when you use gentle, fragrance-free skincare and broad spectrum sun cream every single day. The Advanced Sun Protection Daily Moisturiser SPF 50 is less likely to provoke a sensitised response due to the integrated filters' larger molecular size, making it the perfect option for sensitive skin.

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