Got redness? That’s from inflammation—a response from your immune system. Inflammation is one of the most common side effects our skin experiences due to acne, abrasions, and irritation. Though it appears as a red, swollen inconvenience, it’s actually a vital step in your body attempting to heal itself. But, as we all know, it’s a challenge to hide without caking on more makeup than you really care to wear.
Though inflammation can come and go, some may experience ongoing redness due to certain causes. If you’ve been red in the face more often than usual, perhaps one of these triggers are to blame.
Bacteria from acne can trigger inflammation, which leads to the redness that often accompanies pimples. Because pimples can produce excess bacteria-laden sebum when they become dry, it’s important to keep acne-prone skin moisturized. This will keep pores open, not tight, allowing airflow and helping to stop excess inflammation before it starts.
There are a number of things we do to our skin that may not be as beneficial as we had hoped. Esthetician Cassandra Lanning tells us, “You’ve got these people using ridiculous items out of their refrigerator, or they’re on the exfoliation bandwagon and it’s triggering external inflammation.” If you’ve been sandpapering your face with harsh cleansers or fruit acids from your kitchen, you may be causing abrasive redness that sticks around long after you’ve rinsed it away. Do what feels best for your face, but remember to be gentle to avoid feeling not-so-great after your DIY facial is through.
Allergic reactions to food can cause our skin to become inflamed on both minor and major levels, but some common ingredients might be contributing to our red areas more than we know. “From a nutrition standpoint we’re eating a ton of inflammatory foods like high omega 6 oils,” says Lanning. “You’ve got autoimmune responsive inflammation and a lot of that is from food as well.” Diabetes, for instance, is one example of a diet-based autoimmune disease that can cause inflammation in the skin and internally as well. Foods such as gluten, processed vegetable oils, and certain carbohydrates are blamed for triggering inflammation flare-ups, while foods rich in omega 3, leafy greens, and certain fruits are believed to reduce the effects. Will swapping that burger and fries for salmon and kale get your skin glowing? It certainly won’t hurt you to try.
If you’ve got problem skin, you might notice the redness and swelling worsen along with the state of your nerves. Finals week? Big deadline at work? Moving house? Relationship troubles? These things can all make a small breakout look like a big deal. Ongoing stress can actually change the gene activity of your immune cells before they even enter the bloodstream making them ready to fight, leading to excess inflammation that’s got nothing to ward off. Practicing calming exercises such as yoga and meditation, or simply remembering to take rests and breathe is a great small step toward a calmer complexion.
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