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February 22, 2022
We have all been there——skin getting red, itchy, blotchy and angry out of the blue. It can be due to one or a combination of a million reasons, such as damaged skin barrier, stress, bacteria accumulated under constant use of protective mask, pollution and dust, in contact with little insects, diet, weather change, clothing, medication, using skincare products wrongly, using products that the skin needs time to get used to, using skincare and hair products your skin doesn’t like, dirty pillowcases, blanket, bedsheet or towel, detergent, or even fumes from spraying cleaning and hair products… and truth be told, it is very hard to pinpoint the exact cause, particularly because irritations can occur due to an immediate reaction, or accumulative exposure to the cause. Which also means, sometimes you may think you’re having a reaction to a new product you just introduced to your skin routine, but the reality is, it could be completely coincidental and have nothing to do with the product entirely.
In fact, sometimes skin irritation is a result of mastocytosis. People affected by it are susceptible to itching, hives, and anaphylactic shock, caused by the release of histamine from the abundant mast cells. This is entirely a medical condition, and must be dealt with by doctors.
Now, although we cannot help you determine the exact reason why your skin is acting up, we can share with you some tips on how to quickly calm sensitive and irritated skin.
The first thing to do is take everything back to basics for a minimum of two days. When your skin is in angry mode, all those anti-acne, exfoliating, brightening, anti-aging, products won’t perform well anyway, so there’s really no point to go through your usual routine. During these two days, switch to a gentle cleanser, hydrating and soothing toner and serum, and a face oil. If signs of irritation persist, stick to the simplified routine for a couple more days.
While we always recommend a non-foaming cleanser, when the skin is irritated, you may want to go one step further and stick to a cleansing oil, cream or lotion. This is because the lipid barrier is already fragile when the skin is irritated, and the last thing you want is washing away more of the skin’s natural oil. A cleansing oil, cream or lotion can nourish and cushion the skin while cleansing, so the skin can stay as protected as possible.
A hydrating cleansing gel would also work, but make sure it does not foam, and your skin does not feel tight after cleansing.
holi(cleanse) Cleansing Face Oil <- Click to shop
Enriched with a nutrient-dense base of luxury oils, including Jojoba Oil, Argan Oil, Sunflower Seed Oil, Rice Bran Oil, and Rosehip Seed Oil, it completely emulsifies and removes dirt, oil, and makeup in the most nurturing manner. The gentle formula is also rich in calming botanical extracts to alleviate sensitivity, ease redness, and protect the skin during cleansing.
Purifying Cleansing Beauty Cream <- Click to shop
This mild yet effective creamy milk formula contains a high dose of squalane, as well as prized organic botanicals, including Mallow, Butterfly Bush, White Genepì and Masterwort, to renew and repair the skin, fight free radicals, soothe inflammations and remove impurities simultaneously, leaving the skin revitalized, super soft and hydrated.
If you are not using a clean, dry face towel every time after cleansing, then you should really consider doing that. The reason is, 1) the bathroom is usually already full of bacteria so your face towel won’t be clean after a day even if left unused; 2) the humidity in the bathroom and the damp towel after use breed bacteria; 3) after washing the face, you may be leaving bacteria on the towel, so when you pat the face dry next time you wash the face with the same towel, you might transfer bacteria back to the skin.
Of course, not everyone can use a freshly-washed face towel every time they wash their face. An alternative is to use a paper towel. This way, it is always new and clean.
When the skin is irritated, it is essentially inflamed with a weakened barrier. While using a hydrating mask is okay (we do however suggest to skip paper mask), it is more beneficial to use a face mask that can calm inflammations or nourish the skin so the barrier can repair itself. The key here is to use it consecutively and for a few more days even after your irritation calms down.
This is because, just like sore throat, the last of the bad bacteria may still be hanging out there trying to recoup even after the main symptoms subside, and you want to make sure every last one of these invaders is properly dealt with, otherwise there is a chance of them coming back, leading to a relapse in inflammation. You also want to give ample time for the barrier to completely repair itself, as eased symptoms does not mean the barrier is strong enough to deal with daily aggressors yet.
MARIE REYNOLDS LONDON
Restore <- Click to shop
In addition to the only 8-strain probiotic live culture technology on the market, the formula is also fortified with 2 kinds of prebiotic, vitamin D-rich Alfalfa, antioxidant superfood Açaí Berry, soothing and anti-inflammatory Hemp Protein, vitamin C-rich Acerola Berry, as well as detoxifying and antioxidant-rich Chlorella, Dandelion and Spirulina, to effectively relieve and improve inflammation, balance skin, promote skin cell repair and regeneration, and restore skin health. Especially suitable for various skin inflammation problems such as rosacea, eczema, dermatitis, psoriasis, sensitivity and acne.
MARIE REYNOLDS LONDON
Butter Balm <- Click to shop
Enriched with a blend of butters and oils abundant in vitamins, prebiotic, antioxidants and essential fatty acids (omegas 3, 6 and 9), it strengthens the microbiome and lipid barrier function, nourishes and soothes dry and senstive skin, fights free radicals and bacteria, whilst calming and improving inflammations.
Irritated skin has a lowered water retention function due to a fragile lipid barrier, meaning it cannot hold in enough hydration and water tends to evaporate quicker, resulting in dehydration. It is therefore essential to replenish the skin with hydration within 60 seconds of cleansing. Rather than simply patting a light layer of toner on, try a 5-min toner pack. All you have to do is soak some thin pieces of cotton (those that can easily peel into 5 pieces for instance) with a hydrating and soothing toner, then place it on both cheeks, forehead, nose, and chin, and wait 5 minutes before removing.
This way, not only does the physical barrier of the cotton forces the skin to soak up more of the hydration better than when using fingers to apply, it also stops evaporation during application.
The key here is to 1) choose a hydrating and soothing toner without any drying alcohol; 2) make sure the cotton is completely soaked with enough toner; 3) leave the cotton on for no more than 5 minutes; and 4) make sure the full face is covered rather than only spot treat those irritated areas so no dehydration will occur for those untreated areas.
holi(water) Hyaluronic Pearl & Rose Essence <- Click to shop
Fortified with Bulgarian Rose Water, Lavender Water, Pitaya, Cucumber, Pearl Powder, Jasmine Oil, Honey, Sandalwood Oil and Sodium Hyaluronate, this ultra hydrating toner intensely hydrates, softens, soothes, plumps, tightens and brightens the skin. Its rich content of antioxidants and phytonutrients also provide anti-inflammation and anti-bacterial benefits, thereby reducing and improving acne and redness.
Wise Awakening Advanced Nourishing Toner <- Click to shop
Besides the brand's patented core brightening complex Face Reactor™ to visibly brighten, even skin tone, and lighten hyperpigmentation, this ultra hydrating Korean medicine-based formula instantly hydrates the skin to help restore skin balance, elasticity, and skin health after cleansing, Whilst, organic ingredients such as Niacinamide, Gotu Kola, Adenosine, Purslane, Houttuynia Cordata, Cynanchum Atratum, Goji Berry, Squalane, and Panthenol etc., provides soothing, calming, detoxing, antioxidant, anti-inflammatory, and antibacterial actions to the skin, as well as stimulates collagen synthesis to slow signs of aging and smoothes wrinkles.
When the skin is irritated, actives like retinol, acids (except lactic acid) and even niacinamide that your skin is used to can potentially exacerbate the symptoms. Rather than wrinkles and acne, what you want to focus on, is hydrating the skin, and calming inflammations. A simply yet efficacious hydrating and soothing serum will be your best ally to target both hydration, irritation and inflammation.
Ideal Moisture Level Serum <- Click to shop
Formulated with various hydrating ingredients, such as Saccharide Isomerate, Panthenol and long-chain Sodium Hyaluronate, as well as prized organic botanicals like White Genepì and Mallow, it helps to provide long-lasting hydration while forming a protective layer on the skin surface to lock in moisture. It also improves the skin's barrier function, soothes irritations, fights free radicals, reduces inflammations, protects against UV rays, and repairs the skin.
Immersion Serum Concentrate <- Click to shop
Besides having a wide range of ultra hydrating ingredients, including Green Tea Water, Aloe Vera Leaf Juice, Glycerin, Sodium PCA, Sodium Hyaluronate, the serum is also packed with 3 forms of Peptides to stimulate collagen synthesis and micro-circulation, improve skin barrier and hydration, reduce wrinkles and inflammation, regenerate collagen fibers, and rejuvenate skin. Whilst, Niacinamide, Reishi, Gotu Kola, White Tea and Chamomile etc. are added to brighten, fight free radicals, hydrate and soothe.
Most irritated skin have one thing in common——a damaged lipid barrier. When the barrier is damaged, the skin’s water retention function and its ability to resist bacteria and other external factors will decline, resulting in skin that is prone to sensitivity, and other issues like acne, inflammations, and aging. As the barrier is made up of ceramides, cholesterol and saturated fatty acids, and our level of sebum inevitably declines with age, it is vital to replenish the skin with lipids so that it can fortify and repair the barrier.
Why a face oil and not a moisturizer? A face oil is better than a moisturizer in the sense that it doesn’t contain occlusives ingredients such as lanolin, shea butter, beeswax or mineral oil. These ingredients essentially create a physical layer on the skin to seal it off to prevent water loss, but they will also trap sweat, excess sebum, dirt, bacteria, allergens, etc. in the skin, and create an oxygen-free environment that bacteria love, and kill off ‘friendly’ bacteria that keep skin healthy, resulting in prolonged irritations, clogged pores and acne.
Unseasonal Kind Lipid Replenishment Oil <- Click to shop
An antioxidant blend of Squalane, Coenzyme Q10 (CoQ10), oil-soluble Vitamin C and E, and botanical oils including Sea Buckthorn, Prickly Pear Seed, Carrot Seed and Jojoba, that work in synergy to form a bio-identical support system that mimicks the skin’s natural protective, regenerative mechanisms, whilst reinforcing the lipid barrier, promoting cell rejuvenation and collagen synthesis, reducing signs of aging such as fine lines and wrinkles, fighting free radicals and UV damages, and replenishing an environmentally depleted complexion.
Serum Bioluminelle™ <- Click to shop
Combining Carrot Seed Oil, Prickly Pear Seed Oil, Green Coffee Oil and Black Seed Oil, which are known to have superior anti-inflammatory and regenerative properties, as well as Ursolic Acid, Beta-Glucan, Elastin Protein, Ginseng, Reishi, and Turmeric etc., it promotes collagen and elastin synthesis, improves wrinkles and hyperpigmentation, hydrates, soothes, reduces acne, fights free radicals and slows aging.
If you really can't bring yourself to use an oil, then choose a soothing, lightweight hydrator that contains ingredients such as squalane, and without essential oils or heavy occlusives. But why squalane?
As it is a component of our natural sebum, squalane penetrates the upper layers of the skin easily, whilst pulling other ingredients in the formula with it deep into the skin for higher performance and absorption. It is also therefore suitable for all skin types, including sensitive and acne prone skin.
Studies have found that squalane contains antibacterial, anti-inflammatory and anti-irritation properties, which helps relieve redness and inflammation and protects the skin against allergens and pollutants, and therefore it is particularly suitable for various inflammatory skin conditions, such as eczema, psoriasis, dermatitis, rosacea, and inflammatory acne.
In addition to effectively nourishing the skin, squalane also helps to strengthen the skin's natural lipid barrier to reduce moisture loss caused by evaporation, thus reducing dryness and cracking skin.
MARIE REYNOLDS LONDON
Skin Quencher <- Click to shop
Enriched with 16% olive-derived Squalane, Palmitoyl Oligopeptide and Palmitoyl Tetrapeptide-7, Glycerin, Sodium Hyaluronate, as well as Aloe Vera, this serum / lightweight moisturizer hydrates, soothes inflammations, and calms, whilst sending signals to cells to produce more collagen, plump skin, and smooth wrinkles, thus restoring and maintaining the skin’s youthful appearance.
We understand how frustrating it is when the skin is blotchy with some rough spots and dead skin, especially if you have to put on makeup everyday. Still, do not attempt to scrub, scratch, pick or use cleansing brushes, as you would essentially be damaging the skin and causing more inflammation, which can lead to pigmentation, scars, or prolonging the irritation process (in fact, we don’t recommend to use any scrub or cleansing brush to begin with).
What if you have a meeting or date, and you absolutely can’t afford to have your foundation look patchy? Here is a trick. While your skin is still warm and damp after cleansing (warm is key here), massage in a few drops of face oil and wait for 5 minutes, then soak a super soft face towel or mitt in warm water, and gently massage in circles. The dead skin on the skin surface that is ready to shed will come off easily this way without irritating the skin. If the skin still feels rough afterwards, it means the skin is still going through its renewal process. Do not force it, otherwise you risk damaging the skin. Instead, just keep on massage in a drop of face oil, then the dry patch will not look as blotchy under foundation.
Marie Reynolds London
Microfibre Mitt <- Click to shop
The MRL facial microfibre cleansing mitt is non-irritating with a surface area that has a dense pile made of millions of tiny threads (about one-third the diameter of a cotton fibre). These microfibres can lift, attract and pull dirt, grease, grime, liquids and bacteria off the skin better and gentler than any other material.
LILOU Radiant Hydra Balm <- Click to shop
Highly anti-inflammatory, antibacterial and soothing, the organic formula rich in organic Blue Tansy, Helichrysum, Hemp Seed oil, Carrot Seed Oil, Green Tea, White Tea and Matcha, etc., contains 80 different antioxidants to help relieve sensitivity, redness, dryness and swelling, promote skin regeneration, strengthen the skin lipid barrier, restore water-oil balance, soothe acne, while inhibiting elastin breakdown and slowing down the aging process.
Pillowcases, duvet cover, and bedsheet are covered with bacteria, and possibly mites that are pretty much invisible to our naked eyes. When your skin suddenly becomes irritated when you wake up, there is a possibly that these littles guys have said hi during the night. It is therefore a good idea to immediately change your pillowcases, duvet cover, and bedsheet, just in case.
As mentioned above, a lot of skin irritation does not actually have anything to do with your skincare products. It is therefore beneficial to go back a few days, and ask yourself whether anything has changed. For instance, did the weather change suddenly? Did you use a new detergent, hair product, or towel? Did you wear a new piece of clothing? Did you eat something in excess or something you don’t usually eat? Did you turn on the air-con or heater? Did you go to places you usually don’t go or feel more polluted than usual? Have you been feeling unwell, not sleeping well, or stressed? Did you take any medication?
All of these can be the reason of your skin irritation, and doing this exercise can help you eliminate potential causes moving forward.
If your skin keep having irritations, it might be beneficial to keep a diary and mark down things like weather changes, sleep patterns, stress level, products you have used (not limited to skincare), food you have eaten and places you have been, etc., as well as your skin condition. It may not be apparent at first, and is quite a pain in the butt, but doing this may help you find a pattern and eventually pinpoint what causes your skin to act up.
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