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4 Signs You’re Using the Wrong Skincare Product

Your skin is unique. Genetics, the environment, your diet, and many other factors all contribute to your skin’s distinct look and feel. That’s why some people tend to have oily skin while others suffer from dryness. It’s also why your best friend may rave about a product, but that same product irritates your skin and then does nothing at all.

Figuring out what does and doesn’t work for your skin can be a tricky task when there are thousands of skincare solutions on the market. How do you know when to stop using a product? How is your skin supposed to react when you try a new cream, serum, or mask? And when is it just too early to tell if something’s not right for you? Not knowing the answers to these questions might make you give up on the right product too quickly, but it also may cause you to continue using the wrong product for too long.

Discover what product is best suited for your skin concern by browsing our colour coded and simplified chart.

Signs You Might be Using the Wrong Skincare Product

While there isn’t always a straightforward reason why your skin is reacting to a certain product, there are some common causes to keep in mind. As you read through these signs, remember: the significance of a skincare product is found in the formula, not the ingredient. If you’re having a poor reaction to a new retinol serum, for example, the problem isn’t that you react poorly to retinol—it’s that specific serum formula doesn’t work for your skin.

As such, avoid formulations from disreputable manufacturers who don’t invest in extensive research. Be careful of using too many potent ingredients at the same time, especially when trying a new ingredient. It’s best to test one variable at a time when trying new products made of highly concentrated formulas. It’ll help you make better sense of how and why your skin is reacting the way it does. Allergies, sensitive skin, and abrasive scrubs are also reasons you might be responding negatively to a product. Some abrasive scrubs can cause micro-tears in your skin, leaving it more vulnerable to damage, redness, and inflammation.

Not sure if you’re having a negative reaction? Look out for these signs:

  1. Pilling. You might be familiar with the concept of pilling when it comes to your laundry—loose and broken fibres in cotton sheets, for example, can “pill,” developing scores of little knotted up balls that drastically change the texture of the fabric. A similar phenomenon can happen to your skin. Have you ever started to rub a product into your skin and then noticed what appear to be little product balls rubbing off? That’s pilling. Typically, this is a reaction that happens between your skin and the product, or between the product and another product that’s already on your skin because you used it earlier in your routine.

Pilling has nothing to do with active ingredients—it’s an incompatibility with the whole formula or an incompatibility with your regimen in general. Emulsifiers can also cause pilling—and that’s exactly why we at Perricone MD minimize the use of emulsifiers in our products.

  1. Prolonged irritation. The word “prolonged” is important here. When you start any new product, especially if it’s efficacious clinical skincare, your skin will respond to it—you may start breaking out, experience some mild tingling, or feel dryness. This is especially the case when using potent ingredients like Vitamin C, Retinol, and Benzoyl Peroxide. That’s normal and good. It’s a sign that your skin is doing what it’s supposed to do. One of the biggest, most unfortunate mistakes we see some skincare enthusiasts make is to discontinue a product because it makes them break out. Breaking out is normal, and it will go away with time!

The key factor is time. Mild irritation that lasts beyond three weeks is a sign that the product isn’t right for your skin.

  1. A severe reaction. If you try a new product and experience a severe reaction—we’re talking a large rash or serious itchiness, discontinue that product. A severe reaction is something that causes medical concern, is intolerably uncomfortable or debilitating. It’s almost always caused by an allergic reaction to an ingredient. And don’t worry—severe reactions to skincare products are incredibly rare.
  1. Gut instinct. Psychology is important. Ultimately, you are your own judge of whether or not a product is working for you. If you just don’t like the way you look after you use it, if you feel like you’re losing radiance or appear ashy, that’s a good sign that this product just isn’t working for you. And even if it might be having some positive effect on your skin, but you just don’t feel happy using it and feel dissatisfied with the results, you should still consider moving on to a new product that you feel happier with. A key component of healthy and youthful skin is a consistent routine. The more you like your skincare products and feel like they’re working, the more likely you are to use them every day. The end result? Beautiful skin.

How to Find the Right Product for Your Skin

As more and more products flood the skincare market, the process of finding the formulations that are right for your skin can feel daunting. Here are a few tips to make your search easier and faster:

  • Understand the difference between irritation and a severe reaction. Just because you’re experiencing tingling, peeling, redness, or dry skin doesn’t mean a product isn’t working for you. This can be common in formulas with potent ingredients. Mild irritation is a positive sign that the product is working and that your skin is reacting the way it should. Think of how your body needs time to adjust to a change in diet or environment. It’s the same with skincare. Let your body adjust—that acclimation period may take days or a couple of weeks.
  • Don’t be fooled by fragrance. When you think of laundry detergents or air fresheners, you likely have a sense of what “clean” smells like. Well, companies invest millions into creating scents, because the fragrance is a significant motivator. But just because something smells clean doesn’t mean that it actually is.

It’s the same for skincare. Some skin care companies invest millions into determining which fragrances are preferred by their customers. This means that instead of investing in ingredients or formulas that will actually make your skin look better, they’re investing in scents that make you think their products work. Make sure you’re judging a product on the actual benefits you’re seeing, not just how it smells.

  • Take advantage of trial size and return policies. Most good skincare companies offer ways for consumers to try products before committing to them, or return the products if they’re not working. Reputable companies should have a 30-day return policy—because that’s how long it should take before you start seeing positive results.

In order to find the right skincare routine that will give you the radiance and results you’re looking for, it’s critical to identify when a product isn’t working and determine what skincare solutions are right for you. Perricone MD is committed to advanced skincare research and choosing the highest quality ingredients to address the unique needs of all skin types.