Here’s Why Some Skincare Products Sting After Applying Them

When you’re applying products during your daytime or nighttime grooming routine, you naturally expect your skin to feel supple, smooth, and calm after you use your skincare products. However, some skincare formulas, leave a stinging sensation in their wake.

According to leading dermatologists, this all stems from the state of your skin’s health. Here, the experts break down why you experience burning or stinging during the application process, and how to get your complexion feeling the very best again.

Here’s why you feel stinging after doing your skincare routine

Your skin barrier could be compromised

According to Dr Alexis Stephens, the consulting dermatologist for Urban Skin Rx, a stinging sensation is most likely the result of a compromised skin barrier. Your face might have become sensitised, which is often the result of overusing harsh products (like chemical peels and acids or retinoids). In the same vein, your complexion’s protective layer might be damaged, notes Dr Julie Russak of Russak Dermatology in New York City. “Our skin is designed as a protective barrier to protect our underlying tissues from [external stressors],” she explains. “The skin has several layers. The top layer is the stratum corneum, a cornified layer that is basically a collection of dried-up cells that no longer contain cytoplasm.”

If you experience a stinging sensation after applying skincare products, it’s most likely the result of a compromised skin barrier. (Image: Safia Shakil/Unsplash)

When this layer is disrupted, stinging will occur. “There are also sensitive skin conditions, such as rosacea and eczema, that commonly experience stinging sensations,” Dr Stephens says. “Occasionally, even someone without a compromised barrier may experience stinging if the product being applied has a particularly low pH, making it very acidic, like certain AHAs (glycolic acid) or even vitamin C.”

Restore the balance

While the stinging you feel might be mild, it could lead to problems if you do not address any underlying causes, especially if you suffer from a skin condition. “When the skin is inflamed from the inside out, it is not going to function as a protective barrier. It won’t prevent things from getting into the skin and irritating it,” Dr Russak says. Work with your dermatologist to recalibrate your skin’s microbiome, the diverse array of healthy bacteria that live on and in the dermis, and acid mantle (or the pH of your complexion), she says. Both should bring your complexion back up to speed and prevent any post-application pain in the long run.

Turn to soothing ingredients

To get your skin feeling its best again, turn to soothing ingredients, like aloe and hydrocortisone, which are known for easing irritation and sensitivity, says Dr Stephens. Dr Russak says to take a long-term approach and focus on healing your skin from the inside out. “This calms the skin, reduces the look and feel of redness and stinging, and allows the complexion to heal.”

This story first appeared on

(Main and featured image: Lumin/ Unsplash)

© 2021 Meredith Corporation. All rights reserved. Licensed from and published with permission of Meredith Corporation. Reproduction in any manner in any language in whole or in part without prior written permission is prohibited.

See also  Here’s Why Adding Cold Water To Whiskey Is A Bad Idea