Beauty: Anti-inflammatory skincare is the latest soothing trend to help ease redness
Prudence Wade finds out how anti-inflammatory products work, and what ingredients we should be looking out for...
WHEN it comes to beauty, few things are as annoying as inflamed skin.
For many people, inflammation means skin that can be itchy, sensitive, red and uncomfortable – and sometimes, it can be all you can think about when you have a flare-up. That’s perhaps why quick-fixes are everywhere on TikTok – you’ve probably seen the technique for ‘icing’ your skin, either with a jade roller you’ve left in the freezer, a frozen cucumber or even braving the ultimate test: sticking your face (briefly) into a bowl of ice.
We’re becoming more aware of inflammatory skin conditions – particularly with celebrities speaking out about their struggles. Kim Kardashian has opened up about her journey with psoriasis – she had her first flare-up at 25 – and famous faces with rosacea include Sam Smith and Cynthia Nixon.
If you’re struggling with a skin condition, it’s always a good idea to see your GP or a dermatologist, so you can get the most appropriate treatment advice for you. But if you have red skin that you’d simply like soothed, anti-inflammatory skincare might be worth checking out…
What is inflammation of the skin?
Your skin might be inflamed if it’s red, sore or itchy. Dr Preema Vig, medical director of the Dr Preema London Clinic (drpreema.com), says it “occurs due to an immune response in the body”. This “can be triggered by conditions such as bacterial, viral and fungal infections, allergic reactions, internal disease, and some skin conditions such as dermatitis and psoriasis”.
It’s worth noting that darker skin tones can also struggle with inflammation – and it might not always manifest itself as noticeable redness. For example, eczema might look like darker patches on darker skin, and those affected by the condition might still feel sore and itchy.
How does anti-inflammatory skincare work?
“Anti-inflammatory skincare contains ingredients that actively inhibit inflammation in the skin,” explains Vig. She can see why it’s becoming increasingly popular at the moment, saying: “Instead of buying a separate product such as an anti-inflammatory face cream, your skincare product is now giving those combined benefits, so you don’t have to purchase them separately.”
Luckily, there are plenty of common skincare ingredients with anti-inflammatory properties. Vig recommends looking out for products which include aloe, turmeric, calendula extract, witch hazel, niacinamide, sea buckthorn oil, vitamins C, D and E, oatmeal or ginger – “all these ingredients can help fight inflammation”.
If you don’t want to exacerbate the redness of your skin, there are also some products you might want to steer clear of, such as those “that contain synthetic fragrances”, Vig suggests.
Anything else you should know about anti-inflammatory skincare?
As with most things, anti-inflammatory skincare isn’t necessarily a quick-fix. Although topical products “can start to give an immediate effect”, says Vig, “you [might] want to address the inflammation that occurs in the deeper levels of the skin, and address the root cause”.
The skin is our largest organ, so you have to think of a range of factors when taking care of it. “Often I will advise patients to evaluate their lifestyle (stress and raised cortisol levels), diet (certain foods can cause inflammation), water intake and amount of sleep – this can all contribute,” explains Vig. Ultimately, she advocates for a balanced lifestyle and skincare routine: “Do not forget the skin is an organ and benefits from vitamins, minerals and antioxidants – from food, supplementation and also topical skincare.”
And don’t worry if your redness-prone complexion is taking longer than you might want to clear up (but do seek expert advice if your symptoms are severe or getting worse). As Vig adds: “The time it takes to reduce and address inflammation varies from person to person, and also on any skin conditions they are suffering from (such as rosacea, acne etc).”
Anti-inflammatory products to try…