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How to treat irritation following a skin reaction

Have you ever wished you could press CTRL-ALT-DELETE on your skin? Dreamed of giving it a complete reboot following a meltdown?

I'm talking about those moments of extreme skin irritation when you've broken out in bumps, burning, dry flaky patches, redness or irritation – and nothing seems to resolve it...

These are all signs of a skin reaction – something even the most balanced and resilient complexions can experience from time to time.

So what should you do when this happens? And is there any way to prevent it? Here's the expert guide to pressing 'refresh.'

By Sarah Hero Facial Oil

"Beautiful facial oil, sinks in to skin well and creates a lovely base for makeup. Great for dry sensitive skin that is also acne prone. Light and lovely mild scent." - Fiona M., customer review

What is the difference between irritation and an allergic reaction?

The majority of reactions are simply skin irritation but in some cases, you may be suffering from a skin allergy.

Irritation is caused by contact with an 'irritant' and involves inflammation at the skin's surface. An allergy, on the other hand, is an abnormal reaction by the immune system. Both can result in swelling, itching and redness.

If you suspect you are allergic to something, you can contact your GP or a dermatologist who can help diagnose it using a patch test. And if you ever experience any serious symptoms such as trouble breathing or swelling in your throat, you should always call 999.

What causes a skin reaction?

The main culprits behind skin reactions tend to be too much exfoliation, potent active ingredients, such as glycolic acid or retinol, over-cleansing the skin or the use of fragranced products and essential oils.

The reason? All of these things can give our skin's important protective barrier function a beating. Once this wall has been weakened – whether immediately or over time – it becomes less able to keep irritants out and water in; resulting in those tell-tale 'freakout' signs like dehydration, dryness and itching.

Another cause of irritation can be medical treatment – something our co-founder, Lauren, experienced first-hand. Following her treatment for leukaemia, her previously resilient and healthy complexion began shedding like a snake, reacting to anything that came in contact with it.

It was this very battle that led to the creation of By Sarah. Now, these very skincare formulas make up our best-selling natural skincare range.

By Sarah natural skincare

How to prevent skin irritation

It's not just sensitive skin that needs to be mindful of irritation. Everyone's skin has a tolerance limit – it's just that some of us have a higher threshold than others.

The best way to prevent this from happening is by keeping your skincare routine gentle, consistent and streamlined:

1. Be gentle

Look for products free from potent active ingredients and resist the urge to over-exfoliate your skin. That includes manual exfoliation (such as facial brushes and scrubs) as well as chemical exfoliation via alpha hydroxy acids, such as glycolic acid.

Our Balancer Cream Cleanser melts away makeup instead of stripping it using sulphates. While our prebiotic Reviver Hydrating Mist nurtures the skin's precious microbiome.

"A gentle, restorative and refreshing spray which I use AM and PM before the Facial Oil. it definitely aids hydration." - Feefo customer review 

2. Be consistent

Our skin ADORES consistency and predictability. Yes, it's tempting to experiment with countless new products and treatments, but in the long run, you'll probably find your complexion's worse off. Give things a chance to work and resist the urge to constantly chop and change your products. In general, skincare can take six to 12 weeks to show results although you'll notice an immediate nourishing, soothing and radiance-boosting effect following the use of our natural, soothing skincare.

3. Be streamlined

According to research by the Environmental Working Group (EWG), the average woman uses 12 products containing a whopping 168 unique ingredients every day. The more ingredients we use, the more risk there is of our skin disagreeing with something. You'll find a meticulous list of curated ingredients in each By Sarah formulation, chosen to deeply nourish and hydrate, day after day.

What should I do if my skin suffers a reaction?

When you do experience skin irritation, it can be tricky to know what to do. Piling on further products in a bid to quell things is a bit like fighting fire with fire. Instead, opt for a curated daily skincare routine, with a focus on nourishing, restorative skincare.

By Sarah Balancer Cream Cleanser

"This is such a pleasant way to cleanse the face every morning and evening and leaves my sensitive skin feeling good." - Feefo customer review

Keep towels fluffy, showers tepid and skip makeup, too, if you can. Within days, you'll notice the reaction subside while dry flaky patches, redness and itching will instantly be calmed.

Your skin's 'factory' setting? Consider it restored.

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