When you and your skin aren't speaking the same language, it's bad news for your complexion. But the beauty of skin is that it's a super intelligent organ on the frontline of our immune system and thus, has some pretty exemplary communication skills. You just need to understand the Rosetta-Stone-level basics.
Here, dermatologist Rachel Nazarian breaks down four telltale signs your skin doesn't like whatever you're slathering on it (yes, even if the package is really pretty or Gwyneth Paltrow swears by it) to avoid a lifetime of discomfort and skin damage.
1. Itching. The most basic of signals, it can even be indicative of an allergy before there's any visual changes. "If you feel your skin itching as soon as you apply a product, immediately discontinue and speak to your dermatologist about possible patch-testing to check for contact allergy," advises Nazarian.
2. Pain. "If you're feeling stinging, this is your body telling you that there's a lot of inflammation—possibly even broken skin or infection," she explains. "Many people with underlying conditions, such as eczema or rosacea, may feel pain when applying a product."
However, pain doesn't mean you automatically halt use of a product—and that's where things get tricky. While often discomfort is a signal that an ingredient is too harsh for your skin, there are exceptions. "Occasionally when the skin barrier is repaired, and the baseline condition is calmed, you may be able to continue using the product," she says. "Discuss with your dermatologist to clarify and treat the situation."
3. Redness. Inflammation will often follow with pain or itching, but sometimes it can indicate a serious isolated issue. "It can be the aftermath of prolonged use of products that are inducing inflammatory markers in the skin, leading to broken blood vessels," explains Nazarian. "Stay away from any products or skincare habits that make your skin too flushed and red."
4. Bumps. Needless to say, all bumps are not created equal. Some are just plan bumps, while others are major red flags that your skin is unhappy. "If a product is causing acne bumps, triggering allergic blisters, or getting so inflamed it's producing pustules, stop immediately," she advises.
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