What’s Causing Your Skin To Flare Up?
Written by Marcia Kilgore
1 Jan 2020
As someone who gets asked for skincare advice a thousand times a week - my approach to tackling new, unexpected or even recurring skin complaints has evolved to incorporate a Swiss level of precision. Here’s how I systematically tackle the quest for the perfect complexion.
First, if you have a skincare issue that is temporary, a flareup, or it comes and goes... I’ll start by going through a litany of questions, trying to find the root of the problem while eliminating any out-of-the-box causality. From practical experience as a beauty expert, the sorts of questions you should be asking are... Any lifestyle changes? Leave-on hair products or new conditioners? Hormone shifts? Are you or have you recently been breastfeeding? Staph infections? New nail polishes or cuticle creams (which interestingly are often the culprit when it comes to unexplained red patches on your eyelids)?
Any lifestyle changes? Leave-on hair products or new conditioners? Hormone shifts? Are you or have you recently been breastfeeding?
And if the problem is on your hands or your body, is there any new furniture in your house? New rugs, anything recently delivered with a protective finish? Any recent vaccinations? Do your hands itch when you fill the gas tank in your car? And then WHERE is the issue most pronounced? Of course, if there is anything causing you any concerns, consider consulting a medical professional.
When Breakouts Happen to Good People
The large majority of people’s skincare worries related to clogging, breakouts, pustules, pimples, and blackheads are the result of hair - coated in some kind of comedogenic styling or conditioning product - sweeping against your face. If you’re clogging up, try introducing a twice-weekly AHA treatment to see if that’s an easy fix. Once ‘hair products’ have been eliminated as potential culprits, Chinese face mapping may help identify whether an under or overactive system in the body is to blame.
Chinese face mapping may help identify whether an under or overactive system in the body is to blame.
For followers of Chinese face mapping, the chin, jawline and neck may indicate issues with hormones, sugar or candida. The cheeks represent your lungs. Puffy undereyes could be your kidneys telling you something. And the big vertical line between your eyebrows indicates your liver. Constant inflammation, acne or redness on any of these areas CAN BE a signpost to the state of your internal health.
The second biggest category of questions I get are related to sensitive skin and redness. Redness and sensitivity can be caused by skin disorders like eczema or rosacea, or skin that is very dry. It may be that you’re using a combination of products that don’t work together, for exmaple if you are using multiple skincare steps that contain acids or exfoliators. Maybe you’re using a Retinol product at night but not using SPF in the morning (Retinol can make skin more sensitive to UV). There could be other factors, too - and if you can’t get on top of it, you should see a doctor or dermatologist.
Newly sensitive skin could be caused by using a combination of products that don't work together
If you want to revisit your skincare routine to ensure it’s as gentle as possible, using a mild but effective, fragrance-free cleanser is a good place to start. Use warm water to rinse - never too hot or too cold.
When it comes to moisturisers, look for one that’s loaded with soothing ingredients. Centella Asiatica is a botanical extract known for its soothing properties that works wonders for dry, sensitive and irritated complexions. (We’ve created a daily moisturiser with Centella Asiatica - or Cica as it’s sometimes referred to - as the star ingredient)
The Flare-Up Cheat Sheet
The most effective skincare ingredients do the same jobs, in slightly different ways. And 99% of the time, skin issues can be solved by combinations of the same 4 categories of ingredients:
Breakouts caused by clogged pores
Look for Keratolytics (for exfoliating and regenerating, smoothing, unclogging). These include Retinols, Retinoids, exfoliating peptides, fruit acids, alpha and beta hydroxy acids, lactic acid, smoothing enzymes, and mechanical scrub particles.
Breakouts caused by bacteria
You’ll need antimicrobials/Bacteria fighters (for breakouts caused by bacteria) like tea tree oil, biosurfactants, sulphates, stearates, oleic acids, and plant soaps, clays, and salicylic acid.
Dryness and Sensitivity
Ensure there are moisturisers/Hydration Enhancers (to hydrate, soothe and for barrier support) in each of your skincare steps. These include nut and fruit oils and butters, glycerine, squalane and squalene, lanolin, hyaluronic acids, moisture peptides, Vitamin E acetate, Sodium PCA, seaweeds, Centella Asiatica and any number of oil-in-water or water-in-oil combinations.
Dullness and Age Spots
Seek out skincare containing vitamins (for nourishing and brightening, softening pigmentation, boosting collagen and elastin, and as antioxidants). Like Vitamin E, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Vitamin A, and Grapeseed extract.