Signs Your Skin Is Freaking Out + The Calming Products To Help
A gorgeous and glowy complexion is the ultimate skincare goal, but TBH it’s not always easy to get there. Not to mention, the journey is full of ups and downs along the way. Unsure whether your skin is freaking out? We spoke with two board-certified dermatologists about common signs your skin isn’t thriving. Get ready for some juicy insights and recommendations for the best calming skincare products.
4 Common Signs of Unhappy Skin
Be on the lookout for the following signs that your skin needs some TLC.
1. Redness & Peeling
As a baseline, your skin should feel smooth and hydrated. It also should be a pretty neutral color – not sallow and not red. When skin looks red, dry, or peel-y, that’s a sign it’s not doing so great. “This usually happens when introducing a new product that either causes stripping of the skin barrier, or it’s a local irritating or inflammatory reaction due to using chemicals that may be too strong for the skin,” says Dr. Mamina Turegano, a triple board-certified dermatologist, internist, and dermatopathologist and co-founder of Skintap.
Dr. Debra Jaliman, a board-certified NYC dermatologist, adds that redness can also occur if you’re using too many aggressive products at one time. (For example, using a face scrub followed by an acid peel and/or serum).
Basically, redness and peeling mean it’s time to re-evaluate your skincare routine. Put down the aggressive products and switch over to a super gentle skincare regimen. Once your skin is calmer, you can re-introduce exfoliating agents slowly. “As long as you don’t have acne-prone skin, I’m a fan of slugging, which is layering on petroleum-based products like Vaseline [$5] or Aquaphor Healing Ointment [$7],” notes Dr. Turegano. “If the notable redness and irritation doesn’t go away, I would try to see a derm.”
2. Itchy Skin
Itchy skin is your body’s way of saying, “Girl, something isn’t right here.” It’s often the result of an allergic reaction or extreme dryness. Also, Dr. Turegano says that if you’re prone to skin conditions that affect the barrier – such as eczema or psoriasis – that could be another possible cause.
“If you have any form of visible rash, I would stop all your current skincare and assess all the products that you have been using on your skin, including all cleansers, skincare, and makeup,” says Dr. Turegano. “Determine if any of them are new or correlated with your itching. Also, check to see if any of them are expired.”
Again, switch over to an ultra-gentle regimen and make sure you’re giving your skin the moisture it needs both inside and out. If the itchiness doesn’t resolve, hit up a dermatologist.
3. Sudden Acne Breakouts
Sudden breakouts often occur due to two reasons: a product you’re using is triggering acne, or you’ve begun a new regimen that results in “purging.” Let’s talk about the former first.
“I see many people using an excellent acne regimen, but they continue to break out because they are using a concealer or tinted sunscreen with shea butter or another acne-causing ingredient,” says Dr. Jaliman. “Choose all products carefully and check all the ingredients. Always look for the term ‘non-comedogenic’ on the label.”
As for purging, this can occur when you start a new exfoliating regimen. Retinoids, benzoyl peroxide, and exfoliating ingredients such as AHAs and BHAs can trigger a purge. “These ingredients bring out the contents of the pore, and they can manifest as sudden breakouts,” notes Dr. Turegano. “I would continue using the products because the breakouts are usually just a phase that lasts between two to four weeks. However, you can cut back to using them less frequently.”
One thing to note about treating acne is that you should always take a gentle approach. Use the recommended amount of product and make sure the rest of your regimen is soothing and nourishing versus abrasive.
Posts You'll Love:
4. Uneven Pigmentation
Dark spots and uneven color can be a more subtle sign that your skin’s none too pleased. Interestingly, Dr. Jaliman says that people with hyperpigmentation issues tend to use brightening products a lot. This is great, but not if you’re foregoing proper sunscreen. Without SPF, your plans for an even complexion can actually backfire when using these products.
“I see people using all these brightening products, but then they use the wrong sunscreen and undo all their hard work,” says Dr. Jaliman. “Choose a sunscreen carefully. If you’re prone to pigment problems or melasma, I recommend using a physical sunscreen with an SPF 50 or above with a high concentration of zinc oxide above 12.”
These 6 Calming Skincare Products Are Legit:
Does your skincare routine need an intervention? These calming products can help.
Loaded up with plant-based antioxidants, this lightweight and calming serum helps nix redness while soothing sensitive skin. It has some anti-aging benefits, too!
Yep, we’re telling you to slather snail secretions on your face. (And you’ll thank us later!) This powerful but oh-so-gentle repair cream from K-Beauty brand Neogen Dermalogy is formulated with snail mucin and antioxidant-rich plant extracts. It helps soothe sensitive skin and provides deep hydration.
Dealing with eczema? We gotchu. Bodewell’s Eczema Daily Calming Cream, $30, is made with colloidal oatmeal and botanical blends to help repair the skin barrier, nourish your skin, and relieve irritation. When used consistently, you’ll notice stronger skin, less sensitivity, and a healthier glow.
4. EltaMD Skin Recovery Night Mask, $50
Let’s give it up for dermatologist favorite, EltaMD. The brand’s overnight recovery mask is infused with amino acids and antioxidants to help target redness caused by skin irritants and environmental stress. The result is a softer, stronger, revitalized complexion.
5. Sonäge Skincare Soothing Mist, $24
Need a mid–day pick-me-up? Say aloe to this soothing mist from Sonäge Skincare. Crafted with aloe vera and a bouquet of 15+ botanical extracts, this calming mist hydrates, tones, and soothes the skin’s surface while lending a nice, hydrated glow.
6. Repechage Red Out Serum, $89
If you’re dealing with red skin, let Repechage’s Red Out Serum, $89, come to the rescue. The lightweight formula is infused with marine botanicals to help soothe redness, seriously hydrate, and boost radiance.
Do you have oily, dry, AND irritated skin? This is probably the issue.
Disclaimer: Every product we review has been independently selected and tested without bias by our editorial team. Although some brands allow affiliate links, we never take payment to review products, so we may earn a commission if you purchase a product by clicking on one of our links.