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  • 5 signs that your skincare is not “working” but irritating your skin

    I often see beauty bloggers (as well) happily announcing that so cool, their skin is tingling which means the cream (or mask or whatever) they are using is obviously doing it’s job. The truth is, however, that this is a huge misconception!

    On the contrary, it is very likely that the product is irritating their skin. Because it can cause a lot of harm, I wanted to write a blog post on this topic. So let’s look at the possible symptoms that tell you that your cosmetic is hurting your skin.

    And unfortunately, the fact that a product is NATURAL does not mean that such things can not happen!

    1. Redness + Burning sensation

    The two, not always, but often coincide. If you notice that after applying a cream, a serum or a mask, part of your face or your whole face turns red, and you have this warm feeling or even burning sensation all over, you can be sure that the actual product is very irritating for your skin.

    Although it can be caused by many things (fragrance, essential oils, plant extracts, chemicals or individual sensitivity), DO NOT think that this reaction is normal! Because it is NOT. Even if your beauty product cost a fortune or everyone seems to love it, the best you can do is to throw it in the garbage. I am serious. It’s just not worth it.

    2. Stinging, Twinging, Tingling

    The most typical symptoms that many people find are good signs, as they only show the product actively working. Huge misconception! ALL TYPES of tingling or stinging sensation indicate irritation. 

    Do not put up on commercials, nor even if after your discomfort has passed, and your skin is actually nice, glowy and soft. Your skin does not forget, so if you keep irritating it, you will become more and more sensitive to basically everything. Oh, and of course, if something stings your eyes, it’s also an obvious sign of irritation!

    EXCEPTIONS: AHA and vitamin C in cosmetics may also cause some kind of mild tingling and/or redness. I don’t say that this is normal, but it may be if the unpleasant feeling is really „light”. And the reason is that these active ingredients are quite strong, so more people react to them. If the symptoms pass away in a few minutes, there is no problem, but if they don’t, stop using them! Retinol can also bring on similar symptoms – in this case, unfortunately, the stuff is not for you, but it might be enough if you change to a slightly lighter type (with less retinol).

    3. Itching

    It’s a clear sign that your skin does not like the beauty product that you just used. It’s often the case with shampoos, dry shampoos, hair dyes or other hair care products that start to irritate the scalp. After a while it can also begin to flake. If you find out what triggered it, stop using the product.

    4. Dryness

    It is a less obvious symptom, as dry skin may develop due to cold, windy weather, but it could also be a sign that your cosmetic is irritating you. For example, alcohol content can definitely cause dryness and although it is used as a preservative in many natural cosmetics, I still recommend you to avoid it entirely. And if your skin suddenly becomes very dry, start suspecting that one of your products is causing it.


    These are pretty annoying symptoms so most people turn to a dermatologist after noticing them. Which is actually the best you can do: go to a specialist who can help you to figure out what exactly is irritating your skin. Eczema, psoriasis can also be in the background, which are also “allergic reactions” of the skin. Further infections (that you can experience if you don’t get it checked) are not a game.


    If you constantly put your skin out to these irritations, it weakens the skins self-healing ability and the barrier layer, ie its protecting power.  As a result your skin will become very very reactive. In fact, you can catch other skin infections and diseases more easily. Not fun.


    If any of the symptoms have already appeared, the first and most important thing is soothing the skin. Minimize your skincare routine to a total of 2-3 products (gentle face wash + thermal spray + moisturizer) free of fragrance*, sulfates, mineral oils and alcohol (!!) but ideally containing some soothing ingredients (eg. aloe, chamomile, panthenol) and wait until the irritation disappears.

    *Fragrance is not just perfume! It can also be natural essential oils and things like eugenol, geranium, linalool, limonene, etc. So if you see these in the ingredient list, do not buy it/use it!

    Do not forget about using a physical sunscreen for the day either (physical is best, because chemical filters can also be irritating). Opt for a minimum of 30 SPF or moresince UV- radiation further damages the skin barrier.

    My favourite skin soothers are oats. There is also an oatmeal face wash DIY recipe on the blog which I highly recommend you to try. It’s amazing! In case of irritation, I use it as a mask, which only means that I leave it on a little longer (for about 10-15-20 minutes, depending on how much time I have) and then wash it off. Every time I do it, my skin immediately calms down, becomes soft and glowy. I love it! 😊


    I wish you a beautiful and irritation-free skin! 😊

    Peonilla xx


    Fotó: Unsplash, Pinterest



    1. Rebecca Munhoz
      2018-03-31 / 14:42

      This was so helpful! I had a mask that I loved but it always caused my skin to burn and turn red afterwards. It’s safe to say that I will be tossing that! Thank you!

    2. peonilla
      2018-03-31 / 15:19

      I am so glad it was helpful! <3 πŸ™‚ I hope you will find a better mask to replace the irritating one! πŸ˜‰

    3. Charmelyn
      2023-08-20 / 18:34

      Thank you very much and I was enlightened by your explanations about the redness that caused on my face and neck because of my use of collagen toner, serum and day and night cream.. When I first used it, my pimples disappeared. and my face really turned white and after 2 weeks of using it when I woke up my face was RED and itchy. I’m worried about what I ate in the past such as sweets and in restaurants. Now I am enlightened that we think the skincare products we want to make our face smooth, that is also the reason why our skin will be damaged if we use too many different brands of skincare.

      • peonilla
        2023-08-24 / 11:11

        Yes, I agree, unfortunately most people use too many skincare products and those can cause issues… I hope your skin is feeling better now! πŸ™‚

    4. Erika Lynn Garcia
      2023-10-26 / 07:34

      Thank you for this information. About a week ago I noticed itching on my neck – I recently bought Olay retinal max 24 and using it at night with my gua sha routine. I also started taking D3 with K2 supplements because my D was deficient and I read that K2 helps absorption of D. Anyways, last night it turned from itching to burning and rash on my neck and now I can’t put anything on my neck without irritating it. I also bought a daytime light moisturizer from Ponds. I’m not sure which is the culprit but I’ve stopped using taking the supplement and using both retinol and ponds for now until I can figure out what is wrong.. I’ve used retinol before but it was more of a serum and regular nor the max… have you heard of K2 causing this reaction… it is a collagen supplement. Could that be interfering with the retinol? Thanks so much

      • peonilla
        2023-10-27 / 14:15

        Hi Erika! I don’t think that the K2 supplement is causing the reaction. I never heard of anything like K2 interfering with retinol either. I rather think it is one of your new moisturizers or the Olay retinal! So you have done well that you have stopped using them for a while! In general it is not a good idea to start using more than 1 product at once. You should wait at least 2 weeks before starting the next new product. πŸ™‚ Hope this helps!

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