As people who are really passionate about skin care, it’s natural that the more we learn about it, the more questions we have! In Skin Care FAQ, our new ongoing series, we’ll be taking every week one of the top-searched skin care questions and bringing it to top dermatologists, aestheticians, and skin care specialists to give you the most complete and accurate answer. This week’s theme is: How do you reduce redness and inflammation?
Fact: It’s easy for your skin to get red and inflamed. It could happen if you test too many skin care products at once (guilty). It could also happen if you just have really sensitive skin and a new skin care product has irritated it. Or it could be happening right now because it’s winter and this season has no chill when it comes to icy cold winds blasting your cheeks. Either way, skin redness is a drag and it can be quite confusing to know how to get rid of it.
Thankfully, we tracked down two top derms to give us the answers on what to do to calm your angry skin. The first thing you need to do is figure out exactly why your skin is red. Annie Chiu, a dermatologist in Hermosa Beach, breaks redness down to five causes: acne, contact dermatitis, eczema, over exfoliation, and rosacea. Here’s how she suggests treating each one:
Acne: If you’re red because of acne, Chiu says you should “work with your dermatologist to develop a treatment plan that’s appropriate for your type of acne.”
Contact dermatitis: This is temporary irritation that’s usually caused by a new skin care product that your skin doesn’t react to the right way. “If you have sensitive skin, do a spot test to determine if you will become irritated by something new,” says Chiu. “If you have an allergic reaction to something and it is not dramatic, try some hydrocortisone cream and apply a cold compress.”
Eczema: “It’s hard to know if you have eczema, but a dermatologist can help,” says Chiu. “Mild eczema can easily be treated by changing some of your daily habits, but more severe eczema may need a prescription.’ Either way, Chiu says it’s best to use mild soaps that won’t dry out your skin, and make sure you don’t take long hot showers. “This is true for everyone; hot water dries out your skin,” says Chiu.
Over exfoliation: Chiu says the first thing to remember is that you should never be exfoliating every day. “I prefer chemical exfoliators to physical exfoliators, and don’t use several products that exfoliate in your regime–stick to one,” she says.
Rosacea: Rosacea is chronic redness and it’s probably one of the most common reasons for tomato-colored skin. “There is no cure for rosacea, but the redness can be decreased by creams and serums,” says Chiu. Additionally, “you want to make sure to use the appropriate skin cleansers and moisturizers to hydrate and calm it,” says Joshua Zeichner, the director of clinical and cosmetic dermatology at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City. “Stick to hydrating cleansers that won’t disrupt the skin barrier.” Look for cleansers that contain ingredients like hyaluronic acid (Klavuu’s Pure Pearlsation Revitalizing Facial Cleansing Foam is a great option), such as to improve hydration, as well as ceramides to help repair the outer skin layer.”
Hyaluronic acid is a super hydrating ingredient found in a bunch of products, and adding moisture to your inflamed skin will help it heal faster. You can also give the COSRX Hyaluronic Acid Intensive Cream a try. This cream is basically a godsend for red skin. It supremely quenches dry skin, as well as repairing the skin’s barrier with sea buckthorn oil.
Ceramides, on the other hand, are a natural oily wax that already exists in your skin that help your skin keep water in and regulate cells. They can also help retain your natural skin barrier, which is super important when you’re dealing with redness. One of our favorite cleansers is the Benton Honest Cleansing Foam, which has ceramide-3 and botanical extracts like rose extract olive fruit oil to seriously calm skin.
Both Chiu and Zeichner recommend products with licorice root extract and niacinamide (a vitamin B3 component) to further calm inflammation. Here’s a great cure to super-irritated skin: Slap on the Klairs Rich Moist Soothing Mask—a sheet mask infused with licorice root extract and made with pure organic cotton to relieve all sensitive skin types. Then, give your skin an extra dosage of hydration by spritzing it with the Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence. One of it’s main ingredients in niacinamide and it contains 80% fermented yeast concentrate. All you need to know about that is that this means this essence is super good at repairing your skin’s barrier (which, if you remember, is really important to reducing your redness).
So, the key to quelling your red skin (as long as it’s not from acne or eczema) is to give it some soothing loving with ingredients that moisturize and help build the skin’s barrier back to tip-top shape.