No, Your Skin Care Shouldn’t Hurt

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
Plenty of people have a tendency to think that if a skin-care product makes your face feel like it's on fire, then it's working. And if it leaves a tingling feeling afterwards and a flushed, irritated face, then it must be really working. Because we love you and care about your skin, we're here to tell you that that's wrong, and that your skin care really shouldn't be leaving you will full-blown lobster face.
“No pain, no gain is a terrible motto when dealing with your face,” says Lucile White, MD, a dermatologist in Houston, Texas. Skin care should not sting, tingle, or burn on a daily basis. If it does, you’ll get redness, peeling, and flaking. “Those are signs of chronic inflammation,” says Karyn Grossman, MD, a dermatologist who practices in New York and Santa Monica. In other words, your skin ain’t happy, and inflamed skin will develop a cascade of other issues — dryness, tightness, and increased sensitivity.
But here is what’s confusing: Many proven skin-care ingredients, like acids and retinoids, might in fact sting, and in that particular case, they're supposed to. For products like those, tingling can be okay if it is short (three seconds or less) and intermittent (not daily).
So, how do you know if feeling the burn is the good kind or the bad? Ahead, the pros explain how to keep from getting burned by your skin care, and we offer you some recommendations for gentle products that won't leave your face super irritated.
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