Picture the scene: you’re about to head out for the first time in ages, and you want to look your best, so you use that new makeup or face cream. The worst case scenario happens, and you come out with an allergic reaction and a rash. Nightmare!
Knowing what does and doesn’t affect your skin in a negative way can be a minefield sometimes, but knowing more about where skin allergies come from will help you combat them and have you looking your best.
What is a skin allergy?
The problem that arises from skin conditions is that they can be triggered by any number of issues; be it an allergy to a cosmetic product, a bad reaction to something your skin isn’t used to, or something as simple as your skin’s sensitivity to the sun.
Some products can bring on a number of bad reactions, including rashes, allergies and irritation – the key is finding out which ones are right for your skin.
What happens to your skin when it has a reaction?
The most common skin reaction that a person can have is known by doctors as ‘irritant contact dermatitis’, or irritation. This can bring on symptoms such as redness, itchiness, stinging or even a burning sensation around the area where the product was applied.
Allergies are simply another form of reaction, which cause symptoms similar to irritation, but can also include swelling or blisters of the skin.
Know your products
When looking for the main offenders, products such as fragrances and preservatives are more often than not to blame. If you’re in doubt about such products, keep an eye out for anything marked ‘without perfume’ or ‘fragrance-free’.
Preservatives are a little trickier, unfortunately, because they are in the majority of products containing water. What’s difficult to predict is whether your skin will have a reaction to them or not.
Be aware as well that although a product can be listed as ‘unscented’ it may contain a ‘masking agent,’ which is just another fragrance that is meant to cover up any chemical scents. You may not be able to smell it, but the risk is still there.
How to avoid them
Keep in mind that it’s not just the obvious things like creams and gels that could cause skin reactions, as products such as hair dyes, nail polish (as well as fingernail glues) and bath soaps can all bring on negative effects to your beauty regime.
A top tip to tackle irritation is to keep your skin fresh and moisturized – when skin is dry or injured there is a loss of its natural protection, causing worse reactions more regularly. Keep yourself feeling fresh and this will help your skin in a big way.
Choosing skin-friendly products
There are a number of simple, straightforward methods that you can use to make sure you avoid those unwanted skin irritations. Just stick to this step-by-step guide to picking your products:
- Double check the ingredients: Probably the most obvious one on this list, it’s important that you know exactly what it is that you’re putting into your mud mask and onto your skin. Taking a look down the packaging will give you a clear insight into just what’s in the product. Remember that phrases such as ‘dermatologist tested,’ ‘sensitivity tested,’ or ‘non-irritating’ are a guideline only, and aren’t accurate 100% of the time.
- Patch testing: This should be a set rule you have before using any new makeup or beauty product. You want to test out a small amount to see how your skin will react to being in contact with it. Gently rub a small helping of the product (no need for much more than the size of a pea) on the inside of you elbow. If you do have a reaction, it will happen within 48 to 72 hours after you have applied it. If you don’t notice any of the signs of a bad reaction, the product is safe to use.
- Spray the smart way: If you’re using a fragrance or perfume, there is a smarter way to spray that will seriously help prevent any bad reactions: you should make sure you spritz onto your clothes, as opposed to directly onto your skin. Not only will this counteract any direct contact between your skin and the spray, but it also means you cut down the possibility of the fragrance having a bad reaction to any of the other products you may be using.
How to treat skin allergies
Inflammation can be taken care of in a number of different ways. Symptoms such as swelling or redness will usually go away when left alone for a week or two, saving any further treatment.
To help the healing process along, avoid contact with whatever it is you think that caused the reaction, as well as anything that may provoke it (tight clothing, itchy knitwear, exposure to harsh weather, etc).
Another option would be to soak it in a cool bath or shower; after soaking, gently pat the area with a clean, dry towel, followed by a thin layer of moisturizer.
If the signs continue then you should consider the use of an over-the-counter hydrocortisone cream or calamine lotion. Should the reaction be more severe, it is important to consult a doctor to get a prescription-strength cream and further advice.
Home made mud masks mean peace of mind
The advantage of sourcing your own products to go into a home made mud mask is obvious: the peace of mind you receive when you know you’ve double checked everything going into your creation is much better than simply buying a product off the shelves.
Building a mud mask up from scratch keeps you safe in the knowledge that no matter what the purpose of the final product is, you will know exactly what went into it.
Should you be looking for any further help regarding skin care or skin reactions, seek the advice of a dermatologist.