Spring means beautiful wildflowers and waking up to sunnier and longer days, but for many of us, it also means a change in how our skin looks and feels. Many people experience an increase in skin irritation and inflammation during the spring due to the rise in humidity, sun exposure, and allergens. Here are five tips you can use to calm inflamed and irritated skin.
1. Switch to a gentle cleanser
No matter what the season, a gentle cleanser should always be a staple in your skincare routine. The purpose of a face wash is to remove dirt, allergens, and excess oil from your skin. The keyword here, though, is “excess.” Some oil is a good thing! Your body produces oil to protect and lock in hydration for your skin. (1) Removing all of the oil with a harsh cleanser will only disrupt the skin barrier, lead to irritation, and signal your body to produce even more oil.
So, how do you choose a gentle cleanser? A good, gentle cleanser should have a pH closer to the pH of your skin (~5.5). Your skin maintains a slightly acidic pH to prevent harmful bacteria from growing and improve your skin barrier function. (2) If you wash your skin and it’s left feeling tight and tingling, then your cleanser is too harsh.
2. Exfoliate using salicylic acid
The best way to stop irritation and inflammation is to prevent it from starting in the first place. Humidity causes pores to enlarge, making them more susceptible to filling with dirt, oil, and allergens. This can lead to the formation of acne, which can cause both redness and inflammation if the lesions become infected with bacteria.
Salicylic acid is an exfoliant that can penetrate oil deep into pores and break apart dead skin cells. (3) Consistently incorporating a salicylic acid treatment into your skincare routine, will help to maintain open pores and prevent future breakouts, even during the most humid of months.
3. Use a moisturizer
When your skin is red and irritated, it’s usually because your skin barrier is compromised. This can be from exposure to an allergen, a condition like acne, rosacea, or eczema, or damage caused by external factors like the sun. To help restore your skin barrier, it’s essential to apply a moisturizer every morning and night after washing and exfoliating your skin. Look for a moisturizer that contains hyaluronic acid, which is both light and hydrating and won’t clog pores.
4. Double-check your products
If your skin is experiencing irritation, you’ll want to go through the ingredient list of your products to make sure they don’t contain any common skin sensitizers like some preservatives and fragrances. An increase in sun exposure during the spring and summer months leads to damage of your skin barrier. This damage can make it harder for our skin to withstand some skincare ingredients that it was able to handle in the past.
Instead, look for products that contain soothing ingredients like colloidal oatmeal and Aloe vera. Both colloidal oatmeal and Aloe vera have been used for hundreds of years as topical treatments to soothe the skin and calm inflammation. (4,5)
5. Avoid the sun (use SPF!)
If you’ve ever been out in the sun too long, then you’re probably well aware that too much sun can lead to an abundance of redness and pain. Applying an SPF is not just for when you’re sitting on the beach for hours on end. Sun damage can occur any time you’re exposed to the sun, whether it’s a little walk with your dog or even checking your mail. These short exposures to the sun add up over time. To prevent sun damage, make it a habit to apply an SPF every morning as the last step to your skincare routine.