Navigating the complex world of skincare is no mean feat. Whether you consider yourself a skincare novice or aficionado, creating a perfectly tailored skincare routine that gives your skin the complex and ever-changing concoction of ingredients that it needs to say healthy takes a lot of work. In fact, if you ask me, I’d go as far to say it’s impossible.
You see, even skin experts and dermatologists, who work with skin every single day and know all there is to know about the way that it functions, admit that nailing your skincare routine is a process. More often than not, it requires ongoing trial and error. A product that works for your skin one day might not deliver the same results the next. And one skin issue we’re all likely to face is that of irritation.
Irritated skin can present in a number of different ways. “Affected areas may present as itchy, dry or have localised redness,” says aesthetic practitioner, Natali Kelly. “Skin irritation should not be confused with an allergy. Irritation is caused by an irritant, which is any substance that is otherwise harmless, but slowly damages the skin’s barrier function and triggers inflammation at the point of contact,” she adds.
When it comes to the causes of irritated skin, clinical aesthetician and co-founder of Mortar & Milk, Pamela Marshall reveals there are plenty of daily irritants around. “Pollution can take its toll on the skin, I have many clients that really struggle in London—the skin can only handle so much. Irritated skin can also just come down to having dirty sheets, so wash them weekly in hot water,” she says.
Very commonly, however, irritated skin can just come down to overusing actives—something I can be very guilty of. In my job, I try countless skincare products a year for research purposes, and you better believe a whole bunch of them will irritate my skin. “The number of times I’ve had to completely hone down someone’s routine and it’s solved the problem is uncountable,” says Marshall. “Remember the directions on the box are not the boss of you. Pull back on your actives if you’re feeling a bit inflamed. Underlying redness is a sure sign of inflammation,” she adds.
It is for this exact reason that some of my most cherished skincare products are ones that aim to reduce irritation. “The best way to treat it is to remove the irritant and your exposure to it. You can then use emollients to moisturise the irritated area and barrier creams to help restore some of the skin’s barrier function until the skin heals,” reveals Kelly. So, whenever my skin is feeling a little irritated, whether that be as a result of friction, overuse of actives or just London-living, these are the products I always reach for…