Just like good hair days, good skin days can add both confidence to your walk and perkiness to your mood. However, sometimes—without warning—your skin can randomly switch gears into total freak-out mode, providing you with painful pimples, itchy rashes, or just generally splotchy skin.
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Thankfully, your skin—being the reactive tissue that it is—most likely has a specific cause for the sudden freak-out, meaning it’s possible to get rid of it just as quickly as it appeared. So, here we tapped two top dermatologists for the most common reasons your skin is acting out and exactly how to reverse it.
Reason #1: Your Products Are Too Harsh
“The common conditions I see contributing to inflamed skin are the use of products that are too harsh and thereby strip too much of the natural oils from the skin, which causes increased dryness, redness and flaking,” says Chicago dermatologist Dr. Quenby Erickson. “For dry irritated skin, I often recommend backing off the foaming cleansers and going with a very gentle emollient option such as Neocutis Neo-Cleanse Gentle Skin Cleanser ($38). This product is powered by glycerin and leaves the skin very hydrated.”
Reason #2: You’re Too Stressed (Breathe!)
“It is so common for people to break out with a deep ‘underground’ pimple right before a major event,” Dr. Erickson continues. “The best way to address this is with a small dose of steroid injected right into the pimple, which often has the effect of diminishing it overnight.”
Reason #3: Seasonal Changes Are Wreaking Havoc on Your Skin
“Overly dry skin from weather issues is one of the most common complaints we see in the office,” says New York dermatologist Arash Akhavan, MD. “Very dry skin can sometimes lead to severely inflamed skin, worsening issues such as acne and eczema. Luckily, the solution is simple—increase your use of moisturizers.” Interestingly enough, Dr. Akhavan’s go-to product recommendation for those suffering from seasonal skin issues is none other than hyaluronic acid products. “My favorite is a serum from my own company, Mod Skin NYC, called Revolution Serum ($106),” he adds. “This hyaluronic acid serum draws moisture content from the environment into your skin quickly reversing skin inflammation and providing a soft and dewy appearance to the skin.”
Reason #4: Poor Diet and an Abnormal Sleep Schedule
Emotional stress isn’t the only thing that can rev up stress hormones and cause breakouts; poor sleep and diet can have the same reaction within the body. “Stress hormones become elevated when you are experiencing psychological stress, not sleeping well, or even with a poor diet,” says Dr. Akhavan. “Elevation of these stress hormones cause inflammation throughout your body, including your skin.” In order to combat this specific skin woe, Dr. Akhavan recommends exercising regularly, going to sleep on time and engaging in activities that decrease stress levels, like meditation.
Reason #5: Your New Products Are Doing More Harm Than Good
“When patients come in complaining of sudden onset of skin issues, one of the first questions we ask is if they have started using any new products within the last few months,” says Dr. Akhavan. “What may be a great product for one person may not work well for others because we all have different genetic makeup, oil content and pore sizes.” To avoid a bad reaction from products, Dr. Akhavan suggests testing the product on a small area before applying it to the rest of your skin. If the damage is already done and you’re experiencing breakouts, Dr. Akhavan says the quickest fixes for clogged pores are procedures such as chemical peels and HydraFacial—both of which you can get at your derm’s office.
Reason #6: You’re Sweat is Mixing With Your Skin Care Products
“Sudden breakouts on the face, chest and back can also be related to sweat,” Dr. Akhavan explains. “Sweat can mix with ingredients in makeup, sunscreen and moisturizers, forming firm buildup in the pores, causing rashes and acne breakouts.” To prevent this, simply wash off sweat as soon possible and avoid excess moisturizers on skin prior to working out.