How to Transition Your Skin-Care Products And Keep Irritation At Bay
Buying new skin-care products reminds me of when I was a kid on Christmas morning. As soon as I get it, I can’t wait to open up my new shiny gift and start playing with what’s inside. Those feelings of extreme excitement almost always make me want to completely abandon my current tried-and-true skin-care routine and start swapping in brand new products, ASAP. Until I remember that one time I finished using my favorite cleanser (shout out to you, Kiehl’s Calendula Deep Cleansing Foaming Face Wash), transitioned to a new one and immediately experienced irritation. I’ve always wondered what happened. Was the switch too abrupt? Did I need to adjust my skin to experience something new? And what was the best way to transition, not only my cleansers but all of my skin-care products, to help avoid experiencing irritation in the future? To help answer my questions, I tapped board-certified dermatologist and founder of Surface Deep, Dr. Alicia Zalka.
What do you need to consider before switching out your skin-care products?
“Starting a new skin care-regimen or even just switching out one product is fun and exciting, but be aware that starting any new product can mean a bit of a disruption of your complexion,” says Dr. Zalka. Before transitioning your skin-care products it’s important to read product reviews, ask friends and skin-care professionals for recommendations and always read the ingredient list. “Products that contain ‘active ingredients’ are designed to create an action (such as making skin peel, reduce noticeable fine lines or lighten the look of brown spots) and are generally more at risk for causing some temporary skin changes that might require your skin to get used to it.” She mentions that she finds this most relevant with ingredients like retinol, glycolic acid and hydroquinone, which are known to cause mild dryness, peeling or skin-irritations but after long-term use can help improve skin’s texture and appearance. When adding a product with such ingredients, it’s important to start with low dosages of the ingredient and work your way up to more potent formulas. You may also benefit from doing a patch test to determine if you have any immediate skin allergies.
How do you introduce new skin care into your routine?
“Even if your current regimen is five steps, just start with adding one change at time,” says Dr. Zalka. After introducing one new product, she recommends waiting two days before introducing another. “That way if one of the steps causes an issue, you can stop right there and identify the offender.” It’s also important not to introduce new products into your routine if your skin is sunburned, you're currently experiencing any irritations or you’re in extreme weather changes. “For example, during the coldest winter months, your skin may be more irritable due to dryness and low ambient humidity and may not tolerate a new product. Similarly, do not introduce a new sunscreen your first day [in a hot climate] without knowing how well it works.” When adding new products to your routine, Dr. Zalka says, “keep one of your go-to products on hand to ‘rescue’ you in the event that the new cleanser everyone is talking about turns out to cause your skin to be too dry.”
How long does your skin need to acclimate to a new product?
“This varies from person to person and from product to product,” says Dr. Zalka. After about two weeks of continued use, though, she says it should be pretty evident how well you tolerate your new skin-care choices.