You Could Be Unknowingly Aging Your Skin Using Products With Certain Ingredients - Here's What We Know

Various factors can cause aging skin, from too much sun exposure and dry skin to underlying skin conditions like rosacea. Many people choose to combat aging by investing in high-quality skincare products that promise to rejuvenate the look of aging skin. According to a study in 2022, the global skincare market is estimated to be 189.3 billion U.S. dollars by 2025.

What if your staple skincare products are the very thing causing you to look older? It turns out that you can unknowingly age your skin by using products with certain ingredients. Skincare products that make your skin sting, tingle, or become irritated should be avoided at all costs. While you may think a tingling sensation means the product is working, the opposite is true. 

Jessica Wright, owner and medical director of Rejuvenate Austin, tells Sunday Edit: "The immune system is triggered to remove the offending agent, but chronic exposure to the agent triggers the immune system and keeps it like that. The result is an increase in the free radical formation and oxidative stress, which damages collagen, elastin, DNA, and other structures." Products that irritate the skin gradually break down your skin's barrier over time, which leads to a dryer, older looking skin. Naturally, your skin becomes more sensitive as you age, but if your skin is suddenly sensitive, there may be an underlying issue.

Ingredients that commonly cause irritation

There are a few ingredients to look out for if you find your skin becoming more irritated. Fragrance is one of the most common culprits of irritation. If you suffer from sensitive skin or allergies, avoid products that contain fragrances and opt for natural, fragrance-free items.

Another ingredient to look out for is retinol. Per The Center For Women's Aesthetics, products that contain retinol are typically used to achieve youthful, glowy skin, but it's important to be mindful of the potential side effects. Retinol-based products can dry out your skin and cause irritation, so speak with your dermatologist before using them. Formaldehyde and preservatives can harm the skin and cause painful irritation (via Sunday Edit). 

You'll want to be careful of natural ingredients as they can still cause unpleasant and painful reactions to the skin. Per Verywell Health, essential oils can be irritating, especially when a product contains many. According to a study in 2020, essential oils contain many potential allergens that could disturb your skin.

How to keep your skin healthy and youthful

To limit the amount of irritation, your skin suffers from products, keep track of the skincare staples you use daily and write down any reactions you notice. This can help you rule out which of your staples are causing a negative reaction. Another way to keep your skin feeling healthy and free of sensitivities is by limiting how often you use your products and how often you use them. Using a large number of products too often can end up causing your skin more harm. Rather than overwhelm your skin with a load of products, find a few holy-grail items that work for you and use them consistently in your skincare routine.

This also goes for exfoliating as well. Over-exfoliating can remove your skin's natural oils, which causes dryness, cracking, and peeling. Dr. Aanand Geria, a dermatologist with Geria Dermatology, tells Healthline, "Generally, skin should be exfoliated only one to two times per week to help expedite skin cell turnover without causing damage." You'll avoid aging and damaging your skin by finding balance in your skincare routine and swapping out harmful ingredients.