It may be a common expression, but does pain really equal beauty? Let's set this myth straight: Your beauty products and skin care should never be painful. If your skin care leaves you with stinging skin, you're using the wrong products. Keep reading to see what causes stinging skin and how to prevent it.
Why do I have stinging skin?
We live in a "more is better" culture, but the idea that skin care products should burn or sting in order to work is an antiquated, outdated view. A strong stinging skin sensation is actually your skin's response to irritation – it's telling you that it has been injured. Products that cause painful or tender skin can damage the skin, and hamper its natural healing process.
"Stinging skin is often an indication of severe dehydration (Trans Epidermal Water Loss), or irritation. When this happens, it is crucial to soothe the skin and add moisture back," says Teresa Stenzel, Bioelements Director of Education. "In a professional facial, the same rule holds true. Treatments should not be painful. If your skin is already compromised due to dehydration, or a skin disorder such as rosacea, eczema, etc. then it's up to the esthetician to perform a Bioelements SkinReading to choose the right facial to rehydrate, soothe, gently cleanse, exfoliate and feed the skin."
Sting vs. Tingle
While stinging skin should be avoided, there are specific ingredients that can cause the skin to "tingle" slightly even though they are working correctly. Certain acids and retinol can tingle, especially if they're prescription strength, but they should never cause actual pain. The tingling can be okay as long as it is very mild, goes away quickly, and does not occur daily.
In the spa, certain professional treatments, like chemical peels, can cause tingling, tightness, or a change in temperature, but they should never be painful. Make sure to report the sensations to your esthetician throughout the treatment. They will know if what you experience is normal, or if they need to switch to a gentler product.
What to look for in your skin care
Avoid any daily products, like facial cleansers, toners, or moisturizers that cause the skin to tingle with each use. Most people think toners should sting, but any toner that hurts uses an outdated, alcohol-based formula that will do nothing but cause dehydration and irritation.
If your daily skin care routine causes you pain, you need to switch products. First, identify your skin type and make sure you use products designed for you. Using products for the wrong type can cause stinging. If you still experience stinging or pain, switch to products designed specifically for sensitive skin, like these.
Absolutely no eye products should sting or burn. The skin under your eyes is the thinnest and most sensitive skin on your body. Wash off immediately if you experience stinging. Try Sensitive Eye Smoother if you have particularly sensitive skin.
Certain ingredients are especially likely to cause your skin to sting, like artificial fragrances and dyes. These skin irritants can cause breakouts, irritation and excessive dryness as well. This is why it is critical to read your skin care labels closely before purchasing to avoid these ingredients.
The bottom line
Pain does not equal beauty. Listen to your skin and don't use any products that cause your skin to burn, sting, or cause you pain. If you still experience these symptoms even with products designed for sensitive skin, see a dermatologist.
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