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Are You Using the Wrong Products for Your Skin?

By: Kristin Bugden

We totally get the excitement that comes along with trying out a trendy new skincare product that everyone is raving about, but it’s important to remember that just because it feels like the masses are touting its amazing benefits, the product might not necessarily agree with your skin. We recently spoke with two dermatologists about when to know if it’s time to call it quits and when to give it a bit of time. See what they had to say below.

Big Signs the Product Might Not Be Right for You

While it’s normal for some skincare products to cause a tingling sensation, it isn’t if the product results in painful burning. “If your skin is irritated, red, burning, itchy or inflamed, you might be using the wrong products for your skin,” says Dr. Debra Jaliman, a board-certified dermatologist and the Assistant Professor of Dermatology at Mount Sinai’s Icahn School of Medicine. Dr. Joshua Zeichner, Director of Cosmetic and Clinical Research at Mount Sinai Hospital's Department of Dermatology, seconds this and adds that these types of reactions to a product might be due to an allergy or sensitivity to certain ingredients.

Which Ingredients Normally Cause Tingling or Burning?

When it comes to specific ingredients in skincare products where it isnormal to feel a bit of tingling and irritation, retinol is a big one. “Retinol can cause some flaking of the skin when you start using it—this is normal of the skin exfoliation process,” Dr. Jaliman tells Lively.Another ingredient that can cause tingling and burning is glycolic acid. “Glycolic acid is an exfoliating acid found in many anti-aging products and it may too harsh for some people. It can burn and cause redness and peeling if you have very sensitive skin and should be avoided altogether if you have rosacea.”

Ingredients like salicylic acid and benzoyl peroxide, which are commonly used to treat acne, can also cause a bit of irritation and dryness.

The takeaway here is to be aware of products on your beauty shelf that might contain certain ingredients where it can be typical to feel a tingling or slight burning sensation (but not if they lead to serious discomfort or something more serious) and make sure you’re using them appropriately.

Are You Using the Wrong Products for Your Skin?

How Long Should You Give a New Product?

Dr. Jaliman notes that consistency is key in order to achieve improvement from a new skincare routine. “Stick with the products you choose and give them enough time to work—do this in conjunction with a healthy balanced diet rich in greens and low in sugar and processed foods,” she says. “Give yourself at least four weeks to see a change, however, discontinue using the product sooner if your skin is irritated from it—you don’t want to have discomfort for too long.”

Dr. Zeichner adds that if you’re not seeing improvements in your skin condition after a couple of weeks of continuous use of a product, it might be time to change your skincare routine. “For example, if you have acne and your skin is not improving after two to four weeks, it is important to get a professional opinion or at least switch up the products you’re using,” he explains. He also adds that when it comes to something like retinol, you’ll want to give it even longer (several months) to see improvements start to kick in. “This is an exception to the rule—even if you’re not seeing significant improvements in the first few weeks, it is important to stick to the regimen,” he says. “Using retinol is a marathon, not a sprint.”

Determine Your Skin Type

One of the best things you can do to ensure you’re using the right products is to accurately determine your skin type. Of course, one of the optimal ways to do this is to speak with your dermatologist, but there are a few tips we have to help you figure it out. “Start by washing your face and avoid applying any moisturizer for a couple of hours to help establish which type of skin you have,” says Dr. Jaliman.

She notes that you’ll typically feel a tightness to your skin if you have the dry skin type. “Wherever you have oil glands and there is less sebum being produced, you’ll notice that your skin feels dry and tight. Severely dry skin has none to very little sebum being naturally produced, leaving the skin lacking in moisture. It can be identified by rough, tight, itchy or flaking skin. Someone with very dry skin will wash their face and quickly feel the need to moisturize,” she shares.

Dr. Jaliman adds that people with oily skin may also have acne-prone skin. Other signs include “a shiny face, large pores and makeup that has a hard time staying on your face.” With normal skin, you won’t feel the need to constantly moisturize or blot oil from your face.

We hope these tips will help you know a product isn’t right for you and when to keep going. And of course, consider making an appointment with your dermatologist to discuss what skincare journey is best for your skin type.

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