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Normal Reactions to a New Skincare Regimen

Normal Reactions to a New Skincare Regimen

"Skincare is a marathon, not a sprint," as we like to say at GlyMed. When you switch over to a new product or regimen, you might be concerned why your skin is reacting differently, but it’s just your skin getting used to new ingredients.


Normal Skin Reactions to New Products

“Skincare is a marathon, not a sprint,” as we like to say at GlyMed. When you switch over to a new product or regimen, you might be concerned why your skin is reacting differently, but it’s just your skin getting used to new ingredients. Trust the process because the beautiful, radiant skin you’re dreaming of is just around the corner. Let’s discuss some of the typical reactions someone starting or restarting their skincare journey might experience.

Signs of an Allergic Reaction to Beauty Products Before we get into anticipated reactions, we should review how to tell if you’re having an allergic reaction to a product. If you suspect that you’re allergic to something, discontinue use immediately and discuss other options with your esthetician or dermatologist. According to the FDA, the following are common symptoms of allergic reactions caused by beauty products:

  • Hives

  • Itchy skin

  • Rash

  • Unexpected flaking or peeling

  • Facial swelling

  • Blistering

  • Irritation of eyes, nose, or mouth

It is essential to note that flaking or peeling skin might be considered a normal reaction to a product or treatment if that's the goal. For example, some mild flaking or sheet peeling of the skin is a normal reaction to some chemical peels. You might also expect mild dryness and flaking when you start using acne fighting ingredients like AHAs, BHAs, and retinoids.

Reactions to Strong Active Ingredients While a painful burning sensation or a sign of an allergic reaction is concerning, a slight tingle can be expected when using an ingredient that your skin isn’t quite used to. If your skin feels hot or uncomfortable, it could mean that your skin is sensitive to the ingredients or that your skin is overly dry, and the moisture barrier is compromised. Thankfully, there are ways to continue using the new product that might be causing the sensitivity without sending your skin into overdrive.

Conditioning Your Skin for Strong Ingredients

Skin conditioning is the practice of slowly introducing a new product into your skincare by either using it less frequently or buffering it. Many estheticians will use this great analogy: your skin is like your muscles. It needs to be exercised and strengthened. You wouldn’t expect a beginner at the gym to lift hundreds of pounds, just like you shouldn’t expect your skin to handle strong ingredients right away.

As mentioned, there are two ways to start your skin conditioning journey. The first is to cut the recommended use in half and work your way up. For example, a product recommended once a day could be used every other day, or a product used twice a day is only applied once. Try this practice for the first month of use, and once your skin normalizes, you might try applying the product more often.

Another way to practice skin conditioning is to buffer your active products with something gentle and restorative. For example, instead of just using an active face wash, you can use half a pump of the active cleanser and half a pump of a restorative one. As your skin normalizes, you may try using the cleanser on its own.

Determining when to adjust can be tricky. We find the best practice to determine one's tolerance is by trial and error. If you find your skin reacts poorly to a recent change, consider reverting to what was working before to allow your skin to heal before switching it up again. Your skin will tell you what it needs, so make sure you listen!

Lastly, it's important to note that those with sensitive skin may never be able to use the product at its full potency, which is okay! Rest assured, our products, even when buffered, can provide incredible results.

Ingredients in skincare products that may require skin conditioning:

  • BHAs (salicylic acid)

  • AHAs (specifically glycolic acid, lactic acid, mandelic acid and malic acid)

  • Retinoids

  • Benzoyl Peroxide

  • Enzymes (papain, bromelain, protease, pumpkin)

Sensitive Skin or Sensitized Skin

When discussing how your skin reacts to new products and ingredients, it’s worth talking about skin sensitivity.

Have you ever noticed how certain environmental factors like harsh weather and active ingredients might cause your skin to feel hot, irritated, or uncomfortable? Do you avoid fragrance or certain detergents because they cause hives or itchy skin? If you’ve been dealing with this your whole life, you might be dealing with a sensitive skin type.

As someone with sensitive skin, here are a few things to keep in mind when working with new products:

  • Choose gentle, restorative products

  • If an active product is needed, skin conditioning is essential

  • Avoid harsh exfoliating products (both chemical and mechanical)

  • Choose a chemical sunscreen for the best UV protection

Sensitized skin is different because it’s a skin condition triggered by external or internal factors, such as medications, extreme weather, UV exposure, or a harsh skincare ingredient. These factors can damage the skin barrier, which causes the skin to react sensitively. Not to mention that a compromised skin barrier can also leave you susceptible to toxins that cause breakouts, dry, dull, or inflamed skin. Thankfully, you can restore your natural skin barrier with time and the correct skincare practices.

Here’s what to do when your skin has become sensitized:

  • Use more reparative ingredients (like peptides, ceramides, and hyaluronic acid)

  • Avoid harsh ingredients (like alcohols, retinol, AHAs, BHAs, and benzoyl peroxide)

  • Use sunscreen daily and reapply every two hours

  • Give your skin the time it needs to heal, about 28 days (one skin cycle, give or take a week)

Skin Purging

Have you ever started a new skincare routine just to find new redness and bumps appear within a few days? This process is called purging, and it’s more natural than you might think.

Skin purging happens when your skin is adapting to a new product, ingredient, or regimen. This is especially true when you switch to an active ingredient that promotes skin cell turnover. Your skin starts shedding dead cells faster than before to reveal smooth, youthful skin. However, it won’t just happen overnight. Excess sebum and flakey skin are likely to find their way to the surface, creating whiteheads, blackheads, microcomedones, and sometimes even papules or pustules.

So how can you tell the difference between a full-blown breakout and skin purging? The most common sign of a purge phase is acne that seems to heal faster than a typical breakout. Now, that is not to say the purging phase is fast (in fact, it can last up to a month or more), but you’ll notice that the pimple you find in one spot might go away within a day or two, while pimples caused by breakouts can sometimes take a week or more to heal.

You should also notice purging in areas where you typically breakout. For example, if you’ve been prone to breaking out around the jawline before starting the product, the acne in that area might worsen before it improves.

So, what do you do about purging? Stick with the new product or regimen. Unless you are concerned that a product is causing an allergic reaction, continue using your products as recommended by your skincare provider. Here is our professional advice: give the product(s) about two months before making any switches or substitutions. Sure, that timeframe might sound like a long time to wait for clear skin but trust us when we say it is so worth it!

GlyMed and Your Skin

GlyMed’s mission is to create powerful, pharmaceutical-grade products that produce proven results. But you might expect reactions like purging, that “tingly” feeling on the skin, or even slight sensitivity. All of which is normal and will eventually pass. Remember, the skin of your dreams is just around the corner, but consistency and patience are key! So, trust the process, and you’ll love what you see in no time.

Are you ready for all the GlyMed has to offer? Contact support@glymedplusaustralia.com.au


Written by The Institute of Skin Science