Beware! Here’s How to Avoid Unwanted Product Reactions

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When it comes to our faces, we don’t rely on just anyone to tell us what our skin needs to get that ever-elusive glow. Instead, we turn to skin-care veteran (and celebrity fave!) Renée Rouleau, who knows it takes more than the right products to get radiant. Each week, she’ll be serving up her expert tips to keep your complexion in tip-top shape.

We can probably all identify with being excited to try a new product we found, only to discover after using it that your skin is intolerant to it. Sometimes you may feel an immediate burning sensation. Other times, in the days that follow, your skin becomes red, irritated, or breaks out. Alas, the life of a beauty product junkie that’s always on the hunt for the latest and greatest find! Fear not, you can have your new and enjoy it, too, with my expert tips to avoid a negative reaction to new skin care products.

Consult an experienced skin-care professional.
First things first. It’s important to consult a skin-care professional, and not self-diagnose your own skin when it comes to knowing which products are right for your skin type. I often see clients who are using the wrong products because they don’t know their true skin type. To see beneficial results and to find out what products and ingredients are right for you (and won’t irritate your skin), consult a trusted professional with years of skin experience. Let them help you find the right products. Be sure to always communicate thoroughly what your concerns and skin goals are.

Perform a patch test.
Once you know your skin type and you’re ready to try a new product, I suggest doing a patch test first. I recommend everyone patch test new products, but especially if you have sensitive skin (read: prone to getting rashes, hives, itchiness, or breakouts from products). This is important because should you determine a product is not the right fit for your skin, you can try to determine what types of products or ingredients are causing you to have a negative reaction — in order to avoid them.

When patch-testing a new product on your skin, use as directed, but apply a small amount to the side of the neck (not the face) and wait for 24 hours. If the skin looks and feels good after this time, then this should indicate that it's safe to use on the entire face. The reason why I suggest testing products on the neck rather than the face (where it ultimately will end up) is because the neck is far more sensitive, so if your neck can tolerate it, then the skin on the face certainly should, too. If the product you are testing contains glycolic acid, lactic acid, salicylic acid or other alpha hydroxy acids, they might leave a little red mark on the neck simply because these generally aren’t meant for use on the neck. In this case, you may want to do a second patch test to a small area on the face.
Should you experience a reaction to a product, apply milk of magnesia or cold plain yogurt to the affected area. Leave it on for 15 minutes, rinse, and repeat every three hours. Then pass on using the product.

Use only one product at a time.
Trying new products can be fun, especially for beauty junkies, but introduce new products slowly and not all at the same time. When using new products, even if you have patch-tested and experienced no negative reaction, I still believe it is best to only introduce one new product every three to five days. This way, if you do experience a reaction that occurs after multiple uses, you can pinpoint which product it may be. This can also be helpful knowledge for future skin care purchases.

Avoid sensitizing skin care ingredients.
While I have a list of ingredients I suggest my clients not to use, there are a few that are particularly known for causing irritation and therefore should be avoided. The number-one ingredient likely to cause an allergic reaction is synthetic fragrance. Avoid products with synthetic fragrance, which will be listed as "fragrance" or "parfum" (All Renée Rouleau products do not use synthetic fragrance). I also recommend avoiding products that contain sodium lauryl sulfate, ammonium lauryl sulfate, sodium laureth sulfate, or ammonium laureth sulfate, which are common drying agents founds in skin cleansers. You’ll also want to be careful of scrubs that contain apricot kernels or seed/shell powders, which can scratch and bother sensitive skin.

Simply paying attention to ingredients and sticking with what you know works, can keep skin calm and gorgeous. After all, the only flush you want is a natural one!

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