Dealing with skin concerns that seem to have appeared out of nowhere? Your skin is giving you clues that something isn’t right. Here are 5 reasons your skin might be acting up and what to do about them.
Change In Weather
Skin concerns: Dryness, sensitivity, and breakouts
A change in the weather - especially a drop to colder temperatures - can spark a host of skin concerns.
In cold weather, the skin has to work harder to maintain hydration. Low humidity and cold days coupled with heated indoor spaces can damage the skin’s barrier.
Cracks begin to form in the outer layer of skin which causes a loss of hydration and inflammation.
On the flip side, warm, humid temperatures can also exacerbate skin concerns for oily skin types such as breakouts and blocked pores.
Customise your skincare routine depending on the season to target the specific skin care concerns for that time of year. During the colder months, focus on treatments like masks and serums that add hydration.
In summer, rich and creamy moisturisers may feel too heavy. Try lighter oils or moisturisers and choose a cleanser that gently exfoliates the skin - preventing clogged pores and breakouts.
Skin concerns: Irritation, breakouts, and sensitivity
When sensitive skin is exposed to certain household and laundry cleaning products a red, swollen, itchy rash called contact dermatitis can develop.
While cleaning products are usually the most common culprit, they’re not the only thing that can trigger common skin conditions. Certain synthetic fabrics, fragrances, cosmetics, metals, and even organic materials like plants can be the cause.
Other signs of an allergic skin irritation can be sudden breakouts or skin that isn’t normally reactive becoming overly sensitive.
If you’re experiencing skin problems, check any new products (household or beauty products) you’ve introduced to your routine or your home. Stop using them and see if your skin concerns continue.
Sensitive skin types should avoid products with synthetic fragrances and in most cases stick with natural, fragrance free products and fabrics made of natural fibres.
Health (Sleep, Stress, and Diet)
Skin concerns: Breakouts, dryness, dehydration, and under-eye circles
Are you stressed or sleep deprived? Both can lead to skin that is acting up - and so can your diet.
Let’s start with stress. Your body produces an increased amount of the hormone cortisol when you’re under pressure.
A spike in cortisol in turn leads to the skin creating more sebum which can trigger breakouts. Stress can also cause existing skin issues like eczema and psoriasis to flare up.
Another side effect of increased cortisol is restless sleep. Not getting enough quality rest leads to more skin concerns, including under eye circles, dehydration, and dry skin conditions.
Hydration is key for healthy skin function and your body’s hydration levels are impacted by the amount of sleep you get.
When your skin is dehydrated, wrinkles and fine lines become more pronounced and the chances of triggering eczema and psoriasis or skin discolouration increase.
Then there’s your diet. If your skin has suddenly begun to act up it may be due to eating more of a certain kind of food.
We all react differently to foods so what triggers skin concerns for a friend may not trigger them for you, however, some of the usual suspects include:
- Refined sugars
- High fat, fried foods
These types of foods are especially common in triggering acne breakouts. Not drinking enough water and drinking too much alcohol will also cause skin dehydration.
No matter how good your skincare routine is, it can only do so much to address the skin concerns caused by poor sleep, diet, and stress.
Take a close look at each of these lifestyle areas and experiment by making changes for better sleep, lower stress levels, and eating right for your skin.
Using The Wrong Skincare
Skin concerns: Irritation, breakouts, dryness, and sensitivity
Your skin will send a message loud and clear if the skincare products you’re using aren’t compatible.
Breakouts, irritation, dryness and sensitivity can all be signs you're using the wrong products for your skin type.
For example, a frequent skincare mistake made by oily, breakout-prone skin types is using a cleanser that is too harsh for the skin.
Using a harsh cleanser (many cleansers aimed at teenage acne are extremely strong) risks stripping your face of its natural oils and disrupts the skin’s pH balance.
This triggers the skin to create even more oil which results in more breakouts.
Or, if your skin is reacting to a particular ingredient - either natural or synthetic - you might experience redness and irritation. Even if you’re using great quality products, you can still experience an adverse reaction.
The first step is knowing your skin type so you can choose the right products.
If you’re still experiencing skin complaints, it may be a reaction to a certain ingredient.
A few ingredients that commonly trigger rashes, irritation and breakouts include -
- Sodium lauryl sulfate (SLS) - This is a chemical known to cause rashes, blemishes, and eye irritation.
- Salicylic acid - Can be extremely strong on skin. Stick with gentler acids like lactic and glycolic which are less likely to cause irritation.
- Emollients - While these can be very beneficial, they can cause breakouts for some skin types.
Remember to always do a patch test on your wrist or the area of skin behind your ear before trying a new product.
Skin concerns: Irritation, dryness, scaly skin, and sensitivity
Known as “drug hypersensitivity” signs your body is having an overly sensitive response to medication can include breaking out in hives, dryness, itchy rashes, and swelling, and general sensitivity.
Always seek medical advice and if possible, stop taking the medication. Symptoms may persist for a few days or weeks after stopping the medication but most people will recover without permanent damage to skin.
During the recovery period, treat your skin with extra care. Switch to gentler products and stick to a more minimalist routine so you don’t overwhelm your skin while it heals.