Picked at your skin? Popped some pimples? Overdid it with retinol or chemical peels?
So in hindsight, maybe these weren’t the best decisions. If your skin is breaking out/ stinging/ peeling/ utterly unhappy with your life decisions here is our foolproof guide to repairing and calming your skin.
What causes skin irritation?
While there are a large number of factors that can irritate the skin, irritation is most commonly linked to the state of your skin barrier. Your skin barrier serves many purposes: it maintains moisture, helps to protect the skin against environmental stressors, and acts as a defence against harmful bacteria.
If the skin barrier is damaged, it may not be able to perform all of these functions properly and is much more susceptible to environmental stressors like harsh topical ingredients, chemicals, pollution and weather. Think redness, itchiness, tightness, flaking. No thanks.
The problem: you picked at your face
So… we find ourselves here again. You know that you really, really shouldn’t touch that spot on your face but have 0% self-restraint. Picking, popping and touching your face can cause a myriad of skin disturbances including swollen bumps, bleeding spots, oozing patches, scabs and scarring.
Start a damage control process of gently cleansing your face with a hydrating and not-stripping face wash. You should avoid anything that might disrupt your skin further (foaming face washes, harsh scrubs etc) and also give your hands a good wash to get rid of any bacteria.
To help your skin heal and reduce the chances of scarring, lather on a nourishing moisturiser after you clean your face. Then, step away from the mirror and Don’t. Touch. Your. Face. Ever. Again.
If you’ve gone to town on a cystic pimple (those painful lumps under the skin) and now have a giant inflamed bump on your skin, ice the spot for 10 minutes to reduce the inflammation.
The problem: your skin is reacting badly to new products
Using a bunch of new products and constantly changing up your skincare routine can trigger an inflammatory reaction on your skin. The reaction comes from the chemical irritants found in these new products and can materialise on the skin as patches of tiny red slightly itchy bumps.
The safest thing to do is completely strip back your skincare routine. Opt for really gentle and natural products and only use the basics: cleanser, toner, moisturiser. If you’d like to start introducing new products into your skincare routine you can try spot testing them for a few days to see if they irritate your skin.
The problem: you’ve used too many harsh products
If you’ve used a little more than your fair share of retinol, peels, and chemical treatments your skin may be repaying you with rawness, burning sensations and severe flaking.
Stop using anything harsh. Seriously. Strip back your routine to just a gentle cleanser and good quality moisturiser. Your skin usually takes 28 days to regenerate so don’t rush anything. For at least 28 days lay off any harsh products and allow your skin to naturally repair itself.
If you’re experiencing flaking skin (usually from applying too much retinol) make sure you don’t pull or scratch off the flakes. This can lead to scarring and prevent the skin's natural healing process. Try using hydrating serums, nourishing face masks and thick moisturisers for some reprieve.