Why Do Some Products Sting?

3 Reasons Why Your Skincare Products Sting

Skincare products are designed to soothe and calm your skin, so why do some products sting when you apply them? Here are the three most common reasons that skincare products sting:

1. Your Skin

If your skin is extremely dry, itchy and irritated, products will sting because your skin’s protective barrier is compromised. Healthy skin is protected by an outer layer known as the stratum corneum that protects the sensitive inner layers. These inner layers, typically shielded from the outside world, have more nerve endings and are by nature more sensitive. When the stratum corneum is damaged, the ingredients in the products reach the inner layers that are more sensitive and prone to detecting pain signals, such as stinging.

2. Product Ingredients

Skincare formulated for sensitive skin is just a small segment of the overall beauty and skincare industries. Even cosmetic products formulated to hydrate and rejuvenate skin may not be formulated specifically for sensitive skin. Mainstream and premium products often prioritize scent and appearance and contain ingredients that are known irritants and common allergens for people with sensitive skin. Skincare formulated for sensitive skin should not contain fragrances or dyes and careful attention must be made to the types of preservatives used. Preservatives extend the lifetime of a product and help create a more sterile environment, but they must be carefully selected in formulations for those with sensitive skin. Other common irritants and allergens include lanolin, formaldehyde, menthol, camphor, and cannabis-derived terpenes pinene and limonene.

3. “Wet” Topicals

When skin is so dry that it is cracked, even water can sting. This ingredient is often overlooked when considering products for sensitive skin as nothing seems safer than water. Moisturizers are classified based on the amount of oil and water they contain. For very dry, cracked skin, consider using products with less water and more oil. Thick moisturizing creams contain less water than a lotion and are more likely to soothe very dry skin. Oil-based balms and ointments typically contain no water and are the least likely to sting. Moisturizers are most effective when the skin is a little damp, when the cells are plump with water. It can be time consuming, but for best results, always moisturize immediately after your bath or shower when your skin is slightly moist.

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