We cannot stress this enough: irritation and inflammation are bad for 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 skin's repair process becomes faulty and the surface of the skin becomes weaker.
Often skin irritation involves more than just redness or itching. Collagen and elastin can break down, the outer layer (skin barrier) can become weakened and 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 that cause irritation, which damages 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.
The main causes of irritated skin 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 of skin irritation. They usually smell lovely, but the scent comes from a volatile reaction, which can irritate skin.
Anything you can do to treat skin gently is a very good thing, as this encourages normal collagen production, keeps it smooth and radiant, helps skin protect itself from environmental damage, reduces oil production, and makes pores smaller. If your skin is prone to irritation, avoiding irritating products and learning to be more gentle will cause dramatic improvements.
Check product labels and ingredients lists to avoid these common irritants in skincare products:
These skin irritants tend to be most problematic when they appear at the beginning of an ingredients list.
The delicate skin around your eyes can be especially prone to irritation, so it’s vital to always treat it gently and only use fragrance-free eye creams and skincare products here. If skin around the eyes is red or irritated, it’s best to avoid wearing eye makeup or excessively touching the skin. If you’re looking to address puffiness and dark circles, try our C5 SUPER BOOST Eye Cream.
Everyone’s skin is sensitive to some extent and the reaction is not always visible. In many cases, this is a subcutaneous process. 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.
To help protect skin from irritation, choose gentle, fragrance-free skincare and remember to use a broad-spectrum sunscreen every single day.
All Paula’s Choice products have been specially formulated not to irritate the skin. Here are five of our favourites to reduce skin irritation and sensitivity:
Suitable for all skin types. Immediately calms irritated skin and reduces redness with mild yet highly effective ingredients, such as antioxidants.
A gentle exfoliant lotion with a concentration of 1% BHA (salicylic acid) for all skin types. Helps reduce redness and inflammation. Cleanses pores on the inside and improves the appearance of a rough, pimply skin.
A light cleansing gel that gently cleans sensitive skin. Suited for all skin types, especially easily irritated ones.
Gentle, moisturising cream containing only mineral sunscreens. Offers protection against the sun and contains antioxidants to prevent skin ageing and to limit the damage caused by free radicals. Consider using CALM Moisturiser SPF 30 – combination to oily skin if you have oily or combination skin.
Specialised, rich cream for very dry skin. Helps strengthen the skin’s protective barrier and protect it against moisture loss for up to 12 hours.
Take a look at the full range of Paula’s Choice products to find more skincare for sensitive skin types.
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