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If a cream burns, does it mean that it works?

Every day we take care of our skin with many products, some of which contain very effective but above all powerful active ingredients that can make us feel a tingling or burning sensation on our face when we apply them. But is it right to feel these sensations? Does that mean the products are working effectively or are they attacking our skin?

In this article we will try to clarify and explain how to understand if the feeling you get after applying your skincare product is normal or not.

What sensations are considered ok? How much is "too much" for our skin?

What sensations are considered ok? How much is "too much" for our skin?

Let's start by saying that a tingling or burning sensation occurs due to an inflammatory reaction to a skin care product. In fact, the face has nerve fibers that are close to the surface of the skin and, when certain ingredients are applied, they can "activate" causing the tingling or burning sensation that we have all experienced at least once during our skincare. Also, since blood vessels are also close to the skin's surface, the response to this inflammation process can lead to redness or a feeling of warmth in the affected area.

In some cases this is considered normal, but in others it means that a product does not get along with our skin and that the latter signals us to stop using it.

But now how do you know what's good and what's not? You can try, every time you feel this sensation, to assign it a value on a scale from 1 to 10 even if, since we are talking about very subjective sensations, it is still good to make a distinction into three basic categories: tingling, stinging and burning.

1 - Tingling

    The tingling is the mildest of the sensations and resolves rather quickly (usually within a minute of application) with no visible redness.

    If this is the feeling you feel, it is likely that there are no problems with your skincare. In fact, some ingredients can cause tingling, especially if your skin is particularly delicate at that precise moment.

    2 - Pinching

      The tingling is a more intense sensation than tingling and because steps are very likely to take up to two minutes. In this case, the skin may appear red or you may feel a slight sensation of warmth.

      Also in this case, if you feel a itch your skincare probably has no problems but you should still take stock before going ahead with using the product in question. If this sensation lasts longer and you feel it often, it could mean that your skin barrier is compromised and needs moisturizing and soothing products that are more delicate on the skin. People with sensitive skin, in particular, should pay close attention to stinging as this could be a red flag that a particular product is not working for you or that you should switch to a product with a higher concentration of active ingredient. inferior.

      3 - Burning

      This is the most intense level of "annoyance" and usually continues for a long time. When skin care products burn you hardly forget it also because it is often accompanied by a redness of the affected area and a feeling of heat. When a product for home use causes this reaction, it is a clear sign that the product must be removed immediately. The only exceptions are products with specific instructions for use prescribed by professionals in the sector or if you are carrying out a professional treatment, such as a chemical peel performed by an esthetician or dermatologist, as the latter usually act on the deeper layers of the skin. skin than homemade products, tending to cause more intense sensations and sometimes formulated to cause a small amount of damage to the skin in order to stimulate a healing response.

      When is it right to feel tingling or prickling?

      When is it right to feel tingling or prickling?

      Whether or not you should experience a sensation ultimately depends on the type of product you are using. It's normal to feel something if the cosmetic you use contains ingredients that lower the pH of the skin; includes stimulating and energizing ingredients; or common ingredients that can cause tingling or stinging such as exfoliating acids and enzymes as well as different forms of vitamin C.

      1 - Exfoliating acids

        Exfoliating acids include AHA acids, such as glycolic, lactic and mandelic acids; BHA, such as salicylic acid and even PHA. Some acids, such as glycolic acid, have a very small molecule size, which can penetrate deeper into the skin and be more likely to cause tingling.

        2 - Exfoliating enzymes

          Exfoliating enzymes, although they don't work by altering the pH of the skin, can also cause this sensation as they contain ingredients like bromelain and papain.

          3 - L-ascorbic acid

            This is one of the most common forms of vitamin C and can cause tingling or stinging due to its low pH. Remember that there are more delicate but equally effective formulas of vitamin C!

            4 - Citric acid

              Like L-ascorbic acid, it also has a low pH and can cause a tingling sensation.

              5 - Stimulating ingredients

                These ingredients, thought to stimulate blood flow and revive dull skin, include peppermint, menthol, ginseng and vitamin B12.

                Please note: if you use a product with one of these ingredients and you don't feel any sensation it does not mean that the product is not working! Because everyone's skin is different, everyone experiences these ingredients differently.

                When is it bad to feel tingling or prickling?

                When is it bad to feel tingling or prickling?

                Most people, if they are not using a product containing the ingredients listed above, should not experience any discomfort. However, a slight tingling could indicate that a product is not suitable for us or that our skin barrier is compromised. This means that there are "cracks" in our protective barrier that expose our nerve endings making our skin super sensitive. If your skin is so sensitized avoid the ingredients that bother you until you have restored your skin barrier and at this point try adding them one at a time, perhaps following the rules of skin cycling .

                In addition to a damaged skin barrier, other likely reasons for your discomfort may be that the product includes irritants, such as high amounts of perfume or essential oils; of drying alcohols or ingredients you have an allergy to.

                If it doesn't burn anymore, does that mean it's stopped working?

                Many people, as we have said, experience a burning or stinging sensation when they start using exfoliating acids. This sensation is usually expected for this type of product but after a while these effects may cease. How come? Because exfoliating acids actually improve the production of lipids to repair the skin barrier and, as it gets stronger, it allows you to feel much less of the initial discomfort.

                We must also say that some people associate the burning with effectiveness, almost as if they were following the saying "whoever looks beautiful must suffer a little" but, if you continue to switch to higher percentages of exfoliating acids because you no longer feel annoying sensations, you could cause damage to your skin by creating a real state of inflammation. Don't forget that the goal is not to experience any discomfort during your beauty routine but, on the contrary, to associate this ritual with a moment of complete relaxation!

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