Reactions to skin care

Reactions to skin care

Tuesday, February 22, 2022


With so many skincare products available, including cleansers, moisturizers and cosmetics, it can be challenging to know which products to choose. Even if you know your skin type - normal, oily, dry or a combination of the two, a product can still irritate your skin.  


Sometimes, a skincare ingredient can trigger a reaction. The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) regulations require the ingredients used in cosmetics to be listed on the product label so consumers can avoid substances that have caused reactions in the past. 


Before you slather your skin with your latest purchase to moisturize, tint or add a pleasant fragrance, see if it passes the skin test.   


To test a skincare product, the American Academy of Dermatology Association recommends the following tips: 

  • Apply the product to a test spot twice daily for seven to 10 days. Choose a small area on the underside of your arm or the bend of your elbow where the product won’t be rubbed or washed away. Use the normal amount you would use as if you were applying the product regularly. 


  • Leave the product on your skin for as long as you would normally. If you’re testing something that you would usually wash off, like a cleanser, keep it on your skin for as long as the instructions say. 


  • If after seven to 10 days you don’t have a skin reaction, such as red, itchy skin, go ahead and use the product. 


  • Keep in mind that some ingredients, such as retinol and glycolic acid, can irritate your skin, particularly if your skin is sensitive. This is normal and temporary. 


  • If you develop a skin reaction, gently wash the product off as soon as possible, and don’t use it again. If your reaction to a product is severe and not relieved with cool compresses or petroleum jelly, you may need to seek medical attention. 


Sometimes, discovering the cause of skin irritation is easier said than done. If it is difficult to pinpoint the exact ingredient causing your skin to react, talk to a board-certified dermatologist who can help.  



Genesis HealthCare System’s Health and Wellness content conveniently provides accurate and helpful information. Your health history and current health may impact suggestions provided through our Health and Wellness content. Although we hope this information is helpful, it is not a substitute for your doctor's medical advice. Before making any significant changes, please consult your doctor.