Skin Irritation: Causes and Prevention

by Gio
How to prevent skin irritations

No one wants to deal with irritated skin. But, sometimes it happens… and you have no idea why.

What made your skin so red? How can you treat it? And, most importantly, how to prevent it from happening again?

Let’s find out:

What Causes Skin Irritations?

Lots of things can irritate your skin. But, here are the main culprits:

  • Freezing cold or torrid hot weather
  • Overexfoliation
  • Sharing unsanitized makeup with others
  • Skincare products with irritating ingredients
  • Unprotected sun exposure

Related: 5 Skincare Treatments That Can Irritate Skin If Abused

What Happens When Skin Is Irritated?

Irritations suck, but do they do any serious damage to your skin? Here’s what happens when your skin is irritated:

Don’t worry, this damage won’t last forever. You can reverse most of it. But wouldn’t it be better if your skin weren’t irritated in the first place?

Related: 8 Ways To Rebuild Lost Collagen For Younger, Firmer Skin

Not sure what skincare ingredients can irritate your skin? Click on the image below to sign up ton my newsletter and receive the โ€œSkincare Ingredients To Avoidโ€ cheat sheet with the most irritating ingredients lurking in your cosmetics:

How Can I Tell When MY Skin Is Irritated?

Wait. The answer to this question isn’t as easy as it may seem at first. True, if skin is red, itchy, flaking, and stinging, you know that something’s wrong, and you’re very likely dealing with an irritation.

But, did you know that irritation and inflammation can also occur in the deeper layers of the skin? And, this inflammation NEVER shows up on the surface. So, yes, your skin can be irritated this very moment, and you don’t even know it.

This is usually caused by stress, fear, anxiety, or a diet high in sugar and processed foods. But using irritating skincare products doesn’t help…

In this post, I’m talking about the irritation you can see, the one caused by skincare products, harsh weather, etc – cos that’s my jam.

P.S. If you’re under a lot of stress or are dealing with severe anxiety, please seek help. Consult a doctor, try meditation or mindfulness, take some me-time to recharge and relax… Do whatever you need to find balance again.

P.P.S. If you’re looking for a diet that lowers inflammation without depriving you of your fave, not-so-healthy foods (pizza, anyone?), check out the Low Glycemic Diet. It’s the one I follow, too.

Related: I Went On The Low Glycemic Diet And It Transformed My Skin

How Do You Prevent Skin Irritations?

The key to preventing skin irritations is to treat your skin gently:

  • Avoid the trigger, including beauty products with irritating ingredients (more on this below)
  • Don’t use scrubs
  • Wash your face/bath/shower with lukewarm water (hot water feels good, but can irritate it)
  • Wear sunscreen every day – UV rays are the MAIN cause of inflammation (and that causes the irritation you CAN’T see)

Related: 7 Irritating Natural Ingredients You Should Ban From Your Skincare Routine

citrus acid in skincare

So, What Skincare Ingredients Should You Avoid?

Here’s a short list (which is by no means comprehensive) of the most common irritants found in skincare products:

PRO TIP: These ingredients are problematic only when used in large amounts. If you find the ingredient listed towards the end of the label, there’s nothing to worry about. Even if it’s at the top, if you limit its use to only once in a while, no harm done. But high amounts used regularly? Please, don’t do that!
  • Alcohol Denat
  • Cinnamon
  • Citrus fruits
  • Coriander
  • Ethanol
  • Eugenol
  • Fragrance
  • Lavender
  • Linalool
  • Menthol
  • Mint
  • Peppermint
  • Sodium lauryl sulfate
  • Tea lauryl sulfate
  • Witch hazel

Afraid you won’t remember them all? I’ve got you covered. Click on the image below to subscribe to my newsletter and receive the “Skincare Ingredients To Avoid” with the most irritating ingredients lurking in your cosmetics:

Do you know any other tip to avoid skin irritation? Share your thoughts in the comments below.



vonnie April 26, 2011 - 1:39 pm

awesome and useful post indeed! i need to get my skin in order and this was a wonderful read

beautifulwithbrains April 26, 2011 - 3:00 pm

Vonnie, thank you! I’m glad you found it interesting and hope this info helps you and your skin. ๐Ÿ™‚

Trisha April 26, 2011 - 6:47 pm

My skin gets hella irritated with most fragrances. So, super perfumed lotion, body wash or soap is a big no-no for me. My face gets all inflamed. ๐Ÿ™

beautifulwithbrains April 26, 2011 - 7:39 pm

Trisha, that’s awful! Fragrances can be very irritating indeed. But at least you know what to avoid.

Vonvon April 26, 2011 - 6:54 pm

Very informative, gio! When I have any form of skin irritation which thankfully, is extremely rare, I will stop using any skincare or cosmetic. And I clean my face with warm water only, and spritz on loads of Avene Thermal Water. Normally it would go away in 2-3 days. But occasionally I do pop an antihistamine tablet if I find the rash is not subsiding.

beautifulwithbrains April 26, 2011 - 7:42 pm

Vonvon, thanks. And I’m glad to hear your skin is rarely irritated. Stop wearing makeup and using skincare is always good when you have a reaction and I’m pleased the Avene Thermal Water helps your skin heal too. I have heard several people recommend it to soothe irritated skin, I’ll have to try it one day. ๐Ÿ™‚

Tammy April 27, 2011 - 2:59 am

This was so helpful, gio! I try to avoid the ingredients you listed, too.

beautifulwithbrains April 27, 2011 - 9:06 am

Tammy, I’m glad you found it useful. ๐Ÿ™‚

Makeup Morsels April 28, 2011 - 2:35 am

I’m so confused…why is it that toners which contain witch hazel label themselves as “alcohol free?”

beautifulwithbrains April 28, 2011 - 8:03 am

Makeup Morsels, because even if witch hazel contains alcohol, it isn’t alcohol. It is just a technicality really. Most of the claims companies make are nonsense really. It’s appalling to know what they can get away with.

Jeni April 28, 2011 - 5:41 am

I try to avoid most of the things on your list (although I haven’t heard about coriander being bad, or even being in skin care products). I have a list of ingredients on my site that I try to reference before I buy new products. I rarely get any irritation from products (just acne) but I try to avoid irritating ingredients just in case. Lately I’ve been having problems with hair dye irritating me, so I’m nervous about that if the problem gets worse!

beautifulwithbrains April 28, 2011 - 8:07 am

Jeni, that’s good that you try to avoid irritating ingredients. Even if they seem to work well, they can still damage the deeper layers of the skin and sadly we don’t notice that until it is too late. So prevention is the key. Hair dyes can be very irritating too and I’m sorry to hear you have problems with them. I hope it won’t get worse.

ideedee October 26, 2013 - 1:34 pm

What of using a Toner that has 40% Alcohol Denat in it? Is it advisable to use such product?

beautifulwithbrains October 27, 2013 - 10:10 pm

Ideedee, no, it isn’t. Alcohol Denat is drying and irritating.

Comments are closed.