10 Warning Signs You're Using the Wrong Beauty Products

It’s totally tempting to get your hands on the latest beauty release that everyone has been buzzing about. But, even with a glowing reputation among press and celebs alike, your skin might not see what the hype is all about.

Using the wrong products happens more often than you think, so if you are seeing more setbacks than results, perhaps it’s time to rethink the products you are currently using. Not sure when it’s time to call it quits with your go-to essentials? Here’s some warning signs to look out for.

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1/10

You're Experiencing Rashes

Rashes can definitely be caused by a variety of factors, but they’re also a big indicator of allergic reactions in response to using certain cosmetic products. Makeup and skin care formulas can contain allergenic inactive ingredients, which usually contribute to the product’s overall look and smell. However, it’s usually these same ingredients that can lead to those irritating rashes you’ve noticed on your skin.

“Rashes can be caused by preservatives, fragrances or acrylates found inside cosmetic products,” says Beverly Hills, CA, dermatologist Tsippora Shainhouse, MD. “Consider getting allergy patch testing at your dermatologist’s office to determine the offending agent and then you'll know which ingredients to look out for in the future.”


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You've Been Getting Hives 

Like rashes, hives are another warning sign that you may be potentially using the wrong products. Often looking like red welts, hives can be the result of your body reacting to ingredients found in cosmetic formulas.

And while hives tend to go away after some time, it may be a larger concern if your condition hasn’t improved in a few days. To see if your hives are a result of using the wrong products, certified aesthetician and director of brand development at InstaNatural Heather Wilson recommends to stop using your products completely, and then seek out the help of your dermatologist.

“People can be allergic to ingredients in a skin care product, so hives can definitely occur,” explains Wilson. “Unfortunately, this doesn’t mean the product is wrong for your skin type or concern, but that the reaction is a sign that you should discontinue the use of the product, most likely due to an allergen."

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Your Skin Itches

Fragrance is one of the key aggressors inside some beauty products, and it can trigger skin itching and irritation. If your skin is severely red and itchy after using that new cream or face wash, talk to your dermatologist about potential allergens.

“If your skin is itching and red, you might be having an allergic reaction to an ingredient,” explains New York dermatologist Debra Jaliman, MD. “Look to see if there's fragrance in your products, and try to avoid them, as fragrance usually is the number-one cause of an allergic reaction.”


4/10

You're Noticing Breakouts 

Breakouts can form in response to using the wrong products, especially because small, red bumps may show that your skin is reacting to something negatively. But, to determine if your products are actually the source of your breakouts, it’s best to allow time for your skin to adjust to them, and be very observant of any changes you may notice before your next dermatologist visit.

“Try to allow two or three weeks for your skin to adjust to a new routine, as breakouts happen when you incorporate a new product,” says aesthetician Heather Wilson. “Evaluate each product you use and make one change at a time. It might take time to find the cause of your breakouts, so try to be patient.”


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Your Skin Feels Tight 

Tightness can also be an indication that your new miracle product just isn’t right for you. Using the wrong cleansers in particular, can strip your skin of its natural protective oils, causing dehydration, irritation and dryness. To overcome tight skin with ease, Wilson recommends looking for pH balanced products to help gently treat your skin.

“Don’t ignore tightness, as it is can impair skin health and cause increased oil production, large pores and wrinkles,” she says. “If your skin feels tight after cleansing, look for products that are pH balanced and contain gentle and natural-based surfactants.”


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Your Skin Has Become Oily 

Oily skin may be the norm for some, but if oil usually isn’t a concern for you, then perhaps your product formulas are affecting your skin.

Our skin contains a natural layer of oil that acts as a protective barrier, so when harsh cleansers and creams strip this layer, the skin immediately goes into a repair mode and produces excess oil to compensate for the damage. This usually causes oil production to increase, making your skin feel like a grease trap.

To combat this issue, Wilson recommends looking for products that provide hydration without adding excess water. And, to keep the greasiness down, she strongly urges trying a weekly charcoal mask, which will help absorb any excess oil.

“If you’re experiencing more oil than usual, try to decrease the amount of oil-absorbing skin care products within your routine,” says Wilson. “Look for serums and gel-cream moisturizers that are infused with hyaluronic acid, which provides hydration (water) without adding oil."

7/10

Your Face Burns or Stings 

While some cleansers and facial masks deliver a tingling sensation, it’s important to understand that there is a big difference between a slight tingly feeling and a painful burning sensation.

Certain chemicals inside products can be too strong for delicate skin types, as sensitive skin in particular can experience an unwanted burning sensation upon using some skin care essentials.

“If your skin feels like it is on fire, do not suffer in the name of beauty—wash it off,” suggests Dr. Shainhouse. “It is likely that your skin is too sensitive for the product you are using.”

When selecting products, Dr. Jaliman recommends being extra cautious. Some anti-aging products for example, can be too strong for sensitive skin types, especially because retinoids contain strong ingredients that can sting. “If your skin is burning on application of a retinol, talk to your dermatologist about changing to a gentler anti-aging ingredient like Vitamin C or resveratrol,” says Dr. Jaliman.

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Your Complexion Is Dry and Peeling

Dry skin can be normal, but if you find that your complexion is rough and peeling, it’s time to make changes. Products like peels and face washes often contain strong acids that can be harsh on your skin, so trying scaling back on these ingredients if you notice your skin is looking a bit battered and tough.

“If your skin is peeling too much, you're probably using too many acids,” adds Dr. Jaliman. “Don't combine alphahydroxy acids with salicylic acids and retinol. One acid may be enough.”


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You Have Bumps

If bumps are repeatedly popping up on your skin, chances are you’re using products that are weighing down your skin. Some ingredients like oxybenzone (found in many sunscreens) can clog pores, making it a bad idea for those who suffer from acne.

To avoid the unwanted weight, New York dermatologist Joshua Zeichner, MD, urges his patients to check all their product labels to make sure their cosmetics are non-comedogenic.

“Bumps are usually caused by a sensitivity to an ingredient or using skin care products that clog your pores,” says Dr. Zeichner. “Ingredients like oxybenzone are possible allergens that can cause a reaction similar to eczema, and they're bad for people with acne-prone skin.”


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Brown Spots are Becoming an Issue 

Brown spots are usually caused by long-term sun exposure, but if they are still a problem, even with the aid of a sunscreen product, perhaps it’s time to rethink your sunscreen formula altogether.

“If you're getting brown spots on your face and uneven pigment, maybe your sunscreen isn't giving you broad-spectrum protection,” explains Dr. Jaliman. “Choose SPF 30 or above with zinc oxide or titanium dioxide.”


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