From time to time, even if you take care of your skin and treat it like the sensitive little baby it is, something can flare up. And when skin gets angry, it can seem like everything you do just aggravates the situation. But there are some tips that can help you calm the stormy waters of an angry complexion and help you return to normality once more.
Oh, and just a disclaimer—this doesn’t refer to an actual allergic reaction, which can be dangerous and require necessary medical attention. What we mean when we talk of a reaction is that annoying (but manageable) red, burning, painful affect your skin can take on when it’s simply been overworked. We aren’t doctors (in case you hadn’t gathered).
Clean & Cool
The first thing you want to do when your skin is flaring up is make sure it’s free of debris, makeup, and dirt. Any impurities on the skin can only exacerbate the situation, so getting that stuff off ASAP is key. The problem is that many cleansers are simply too harsh for skin that’s already feeling irritated. But there are some specific formulas on the market that are designed for such situations.
Kiehl’s Centella Cleanser and Clarins Extra Comfort Anti-Pollution Cleansing Cream are among the best for these painful times. They’re very simple, non-aggravating formulas, which remove dirt, oil, makeup, and grime, but don’t strip the skin. They also don’t have classically irritating ingredients like fragrance.
With these, it’s a really good idea to use a soft and non-abrasive washcloth. Something made of microfiber like the Makeup Eraser (or one of its many dupes) feels delightfully fluffy and smooth, while also supercharging your cleanser to ensure you’re squeaky clean. Soak it in cool water and apply over irritated areas over longer periods of time if skin is hot to the touch—it will feel amazing.
A classic in the category is the Heritage Rosewater & Glycerin. Of all the many hydrating facial sprays I’ve tried, this one packs the biggest punch in terms of moisture. It also smells like total heaven, and the minimal ingredient list means there are no nasty (potentially irritating) surprises.
Another great spray, particularly if you’re feeling super reactive, is the S.W. Basics Lavender Hydrosol. Lavender is known for its calming properties, and this spray is perfect for soothing an angry complexion back to its former chilled out glory. It also smells fabulous.
Oatmeal is well known for its soothing properties. In fact, many doctors recommend an oat bath for skin that’s undergoing a painful eczema flare-up. But if that sounds too messy and annoying for you (and let’s face it, it does) then a great alternative is the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Oatmeal Mask. This delivers a soothing dose of oatmeal to angry skin, plus does the work of repairing and protecting your complexion from future issues.
In a total pinch, it can also be useful to take an oral antihistamine. If you believe your skin is reacting to something you’ve eaten or applied (rather than just flaring up out of nowhere) they can act as a first defense against any further symptoms down the line.
But there are two which are ideal for this exact situation. The first is the Purito Centella Green Level Safe Sun SPF. It’s super emollient and hydrating, feeling almost like a moisturizing primer, but has a super high SPF. It’s super cooling and calming, and frankly a joy to apply.
The other great option is the Dr. Jart Cicapair Color-Correcting Treatment. This one looks green, but turns a light peach upon application, helping to minimize any redness in the complexion—which is perfect if you’re feeling a little self-conscious. But even better than this is the fact that it contains SPF 30, so you’re both perfected and protected.
The final stage of any skin reaction journey is reflection. Look back and try to pinpoint the cause of all this drama. Did you introduce a new product, or overdo it with an old one? Knowing exactly what went wrong can help you make sure it doesn’t happen again. And if you do have a product you suspect is the culprit? Well, before reintroducing it to your precious face, make sure to do a patch test on the delicate skin on the inside of your elbow. This can help prevent your next flare-up—or at least make sure it’s better hidden!
By Annie Walton Doyle