A woman with skin irritation

Is Your Face Cleanser Burning? Here’s Some Potential Reasons Why

Feeling a stinging or burning sensation after using certain products may be a sign that your skin has been damaged. Here's what you need to know.
Updated: November 9, 2022
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We all want our skin to feel soothed and calm after applying our favorite cosmetics, but sometimes we can feel discomfort, stinging, and sensations of burning.

Side effects and irritation aren’t new phenomena in the skincare world, but if you’re experiencing a burning feeling after using relatively gentle products like face cleansers, you may need to take stock and figure out what’s going on.

Here are some potential reasons as to why you are having these types of reactions.

You have damaged your skin barrier

Throughout any given week, most of us use a large range of various skincare products to tackle whatever individual concerns we have. Doing this over a period of months and years will have an effect on the health and condition of the skin’s natural protective barrier.

Harsher products such as scrubs and items with high levels of acidity, when used regularly over the long term, can wear down this essential barrier. Overall, this makes your skin more sensitive to certain active ingredients, and you may find yourself experiencing a higher frequency of side effects and irritations.

Seek professional advice

If you are reading this and think you may have severely damaged your protective skin barrier, the sooner you take action, the better.

Depending on how bad the skin is, and how reactive it is to products, the best course of action will be to seek a professional opinion. Making an appointment with a qualified dermatologist will begin a restoration process that will have the best chance of returning the skin back to a healthy state.

Use gentle products going forward

Going forward, it’s important to avoid further harming or irritating the skin. This is why we’d suggest sticking to mild and gentle cosmetics.

Choosing products that contain soothing ingredients such as hydrocortisone and Aloe Vera, will help ease irritation and calm bouts of over-sensitivity. Over time, the skin should regain a natural balance that will improve its general health, reducing the risk of further side effects. Then, when sufficient healing has taken place, you can begin to reintroduce more potent products for tougher skin concerns, and you should be able to deal with the ingredients much better.

In conclusion

Experiencing a burning or stinging sensation after using face cleansers or other cosmetics isn’t a sign that the product is defective, but rather that your skin itself may already be damaged.

Take the time to evaluate the condition of your skin and review your daily routine to see if there are problematic ingredients that could be amplifying your symptoms. From there, seek professional advice and stick to gentle, soothing products to help the healing process.

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This article has been reviewed by the in-field experts on our Medical Content Advisory Board to ensure everything is up-to-date and accurate.