While skin issues can be linked to all manner of reasons—hormones, diet, stress, etc.—sometimes all it takes to set things straight is a shakeup in your skin care routine. Take a look at the following signs your repertoire needs a reboot to see if your skin is a prime candidate for a product transition.
1. Your breakouts worsen after treatment.
If you’ve recently started a topical course of acne treatment and your actually skin gets worse, the active ingredient in your product may be too active—for now. “If you have never used a product with glycolic acid, vitamin A or vitamin C before, the skin in most cases needs to acclimate to the extra strength,” says Nancy Reagan, licensed aesthetician and founder of Bella Reina Spa in Delray Beach, Florida. “Once it detoxifies the skin, the skin will calm down.” Reducing the use of the active product to every other night will usually help this, she says, allowing your skin to adjust more gradually.
Avene TriAcneal – acne spot treatment for sensitive skin
Glytone Mild Cream Wash – glycolic acid-based cleanser that won’t irritate sensitive skin
Obagi Professional-C Serum 10% – features a lower concentration of vitamin C
2. Your dry skin is excessively dry.
If you’re cleansing your dry skin with a creamy cleanser, but it’s getting worse instead of better, you could have a “double” drying issue. “The problem with some creamy cleansers is that they’re not exfoliating, nor do they contain natural oils to help replenish dry skin with lipids,” says Nancy. “Switch to a cleanser that contains more oil, or add a pre-wash that contains argan oil, lipid oil or nut oil.”
DHC Deep Cleansing Oil – olive oil-based cleanser
Dermalogica Precleanse – fortified with olive and kukui nut oils
Vichy Purete Thermale Beautifying Cleansing Micellar Oil – melts impurities with micelles and camellia oil
3. Your oily skin is excessively dry.
It may sound like an oxymoron, but oily skin that flakes and feels tight and dry is actually a pretty common occurrence. “People with oily skin tend to use cleansers and toners that are overstripping to the skin,” says Nancy, causing the acid mantle to become unbalanced. “This causes the body to produce even more oil to balance things out,” she says, perpetuating both problems. “Switch to a cleanser that is less drying,” Nancy recommends, “preferably one with glycolic acid to exfoliate the skin and remove the oil.” A hydrating serum should help see you through the transition.
DERMAdoctor Wrinkle Revenge Antioxidant Enhanced Glycolic Acid Facial Cleanser – exfoliates as it infuses your skin with wrinkle-fighting antioxidants
PCA Skin Hydrating Serum – hydrates skin with hyaluronic acid
Eminence Organics Stone Crop Gel Wash – a gentle hydrating cleanser
4. You have new “freckles.”
Newly minted dark spots are actually hyperpigmentation due to sun damage, and the issue may be your sunscreen (or lack thereof). “Many patients underestimate the importance of using a daily sunscreen that protects against UVA and UVB rays,” says Rose Laudisio, licensed medical aesthetician and owner of RL Advanced Laser and Skin Care Center. Switch to a formula that covers both types of rays, or increase the SPF if the product you use now already protects against both. To work on brown spots during your product transition, Rose recommends incorporating products that have higher concentrations of peptides and/or kojic acid ingredients.
EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 – protects against both UVA and UVB
SkinCeuticals Phyto Plus – a hydroquinone-free, botanical based skin-lightening serum
SkinMedica TNS Essential Serum – peptide-rich anti-aging serum
5. Your skin is super red.
While the occasional natural blush may be becoming, skin that’s an angry shade of red is “often an indication that something in your product ingredient list may be too harsh for your skin,” says Nancy. Cleansers that contain sulfates or benzoyl peroxide are common culprits, so review the list of ingredients and switch to one that is free of both. To calm residual flushing while your skin adjusts to your new cleanser, “apply straight aloe to calm, or calamine lotion as a soothing mask,” says Nancy.
Koh Gen Do All In One Refresh Spa Aloe Gel – calming moisturizer with aloe
Peter Thomas Roth Cucumber Gel Mask – brings immediate relief after waxing, shaving or peels
California Baby Calming Cream – soothes and relieves dry, inflamed or sunburned skin
6. Your skin stings or itches.
If your formerly normal skin begins to sting, itch or appear blotchy, it may be the victim of overexfoliation. “These days there are so many exfoliation products that are used daily as opposed to weekly,” says Rose. “When you strip the acid mantle, you remove the protective layer of your skin, which makes you more prone to photosensitization.” Switch to a product that is gentler on the skin, and follow the directions religiously—if it says use once a week, then once a week is all it will take to achieve the best results.
Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant – an exfoliating powder gentle enough for everyday use
Eminence Organics Calm Skin Chamomile Exfoliating Peel – an exfoliating facial peel for sensitive skin types
Yon-Ka Gommage 305 Exfoliator – exfoliates as it reduces redness
7. Your skin has tiny bumps.
Do you have small, white bumps on the surface of your skin? “This is the No. 1 indication of an allergic reaction,” says Nancy, who stresses that these types of bumps are very tiny, do not resemble whiteheads and may be accompanied by redness. For the first step, “try using [products] without so many chemicals in them,” she advises. Look for products that have natural ingredients and are fragrance-free. To ease the transition, apply calming ingredients such as the aforementioned aloe or honey.
suki Rescue Exfoliate Foaming Cleanser – restores youthful radiance with natural sugar crystals and botanicals
Dr.Hauschka Rose Day Cream – hydrates your skin with avocado and rose hip oil
RMS Beauty Raw Coconut Cream – repairs skin with 100% pure, raw, organic coconut cream
READERS—Was this article helpful? Do you think your skin care routine could use a makeover? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below.