If you have splotchy red skin, the most important step in nixing it is figuring out the cause. Could it be that second glass of wine? Or perhaps the soap you’re using? Here are the habits that could be standing between you and a clear, calm complexion.
Everyone naturally sheds about 50 million skin cells a day, and it only takes a little effort to liberate them from your face — so going overboard is all too easy. In other words, too much exfoliation can definitely rub your skin the wrong way, leaving it inflamed and blotchy.
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How to exfoliate the right way: Avoid gritty scrubs that contain rough exfoliators like kernels or seeds, and steer clear of harsh peels. Instead, use gentler products such as those that contain sugar as the exfoliating particles, like Ole Henriksen Moment of Truth 2-in-1 Polishing Sugar Mask ($42, sephora.com). And no need to exfoliate daily — a few times a week is just fine.
2. Using Harsh Bar Soap
Using harsh soap on your face weakens the skin’s barrier by stripping the skin of its natural oils, ceramides, and healthy fatty acids — a perfect setup for irritated, dry and blotchy skin.
How to choose the right cleanser: Use a pH neutral, hydrating, non-soap cleanser or wipe to remove the day’s dirt. Dove Beauty Bar ($3 for 3, amazon.com) and Simple Kind to Skin Cleansing Facial Wipes ($10, amazon.com) are safe choices.
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3. Moisturizing With Fragranced Products
No matter how much you love your scented body lotion, it could be causing your skin some serious grief, as fragranced products can be a harsh irritant on skin. Even worse: If you develop an uncomfortable rash, you’re probably dealing with eczema. The telltale sign: pink, scaly patches in areas where fragrances have touched your face.
How to properly moisturize your skin: Use products that are fragrance- and dye-free. And apply a hydrating cream right after the shower to lock in moisture and keep the skin calm. To get the job done, dermatologists love Vanicream Moisturizing Skin Cream ($13, amazon.com). If you do suspect you have eczema or another cosmetic allergies, see a doctor for treatment and testing.
No one is faulting you for getting your work out on — in fact, we strongly urge you to keep doing it. That being said, it can definitely be a trigger for splotches. When the heart rate and temperature rise with cardio training, more blood gets pumped to all vital organs, including the skin.
How to clear up your skin after exercise: When that post-Zumba glow won’t just go away, try cooling down by putting an ice cube in the back of your mouth where the body’s temperature sensors live. Spraying on spring water with anti-inflammatory minerals when you are done pumping iron can even out your skin tone pretty quickly too. La Roche-Posay Thermal Spring Water ($10, dermstore.com) is a gym bag must.
5. Drinking Red Wine
There’s a reason behind your rosiness after a night of pinot noir: The alcohol and sulfites used to preserve wine make small blood vessels in the face open more, causing blood to rush to the surface, and whammo! Hot pink cheeks. That said, if drinking a glass of red wine sends your face into a full flush that lasts for hours, you could have rosacea. Besides alcohol, other triggers include hot or spicy foods, caffeine and in some cases citrus fruits.
How to avoid blotches after eating and drinking: Try sipping water in between cocktails, this helps to flush out the alcohol before it reaches your face. At meal time, stick with milder versions of your favorite eats. For those with rosacea, a National Rosacea Society survey found that, between red wine, white wine, beer and liquor, the latter affects far fewer people, so go for a shot instead of the sauvignon at your next happy hour.
6. Skipping Sunscreen
Unprotected exposure to UV light causes 90% of the signs of aging. Including brown spots and saggy skin. The solution, in this case, is a piece of cake.
How to wear sunscreen the right way: “Wearing an SPF of 30 or higher daily, as well as sunglasses and hat when outdoors are a must,” advises Tamella Cassis, M.D., a dermatologist in Kentucky. If you already have affected areas, you should also limit your screen time: Light from your computer or cell phone can make the problem worse. Another tip: Try an antioxidant serum like Lancome Advanced Génifique Sensitive Antioxidant Serum ($78, sephora.com) in the morning and a prescription-strength retinol at night to prevent more UV-induced splotchiness. If that doesn’t cut it, in-office lasers and chemical peels can clear things up.