There’s a pervasive myth in the beauty industry.
Maybe you’ve heard it before, and maybe you believe it. Unfortunately for those who do, adhering to this myth may just be the reason why you suffer from dry or acne-prone skin.
We’ve heard it frequently: the main sign your face wash is working is that your face tingles while using it.
We’re here to tell you that is wrong, and if your face tingles or feels tight after using your face wash, you should replace it immediately.
Read on to understand just why this is not good for your skin, and learn what steps you can take to save your skin.
There is more to the skin than meets the eye.
Your skin is your largest organ on the body. Not only is it seen by every person you interact with, but it’s also your main defense against illness and acne-causing bacteria.
Thankfully, the factors that make your skin look plump and glowing are also the factors that are important for your skin’s overall health.
Your skin’s pH level is a very important factor in appearance and overall health. The pH value varies based on skin location, age, and gender, but most people have a pH value between 4.7 and 5.75.
pH values range from 0 to 14. 0 is acidic, 7 is neutral, and 14 is basic. As our faces are below 7, they are slightly acidic.
This acidity is due to our skin having an acid mantle, the water part of the hydrolipid film that covers our skin. This film is what keeps our skin supple and hydrated, and is what acts as a barrier to bacteria and fungi.
Our skin can’t hide when our hydrolipid film is out of balance, and a large cause of that imbalance is due to our skin’s pH being out of place.
So, what’s causing the face tingle?
The face tingle does not mean a product is working. As Dr. Purvisha Patel, board certified dermatologist, says, “Just because a product tingles doesn't mean it's more effective—nerve sensation is not correlated to skin outcome.”
As we explained before, the face’s pH level is incredibly important to your skin’s overall health. If your face is tingling after using a facial cleanser or other skincare product, that means it is most likely at odds with your skin’s natural pH level.
Is it bad that my face is tingling?
Experiencing a facial tingle is not necessarily a bad thing. Many ingredients in skincare products naturally give off a little tingle due to their pH levels.
Tingle-inducing ingredients include:
- Alpha -hydroxy acids
- Beta-hydroxy acids
- Fruit acids
In addition to these, ingredients like menthol and camphor that give a cooling or heating feel can cause the face to tingle.
These two ingredients typically cause a non-threatening reaction, but that doesn’t mean that all tingling sensations are safe.
A tingling sensation can mean that the product you’re using is too intense. Dr. Patel explains, "If products make you tingle, they may actually be too strong for you and should be avoided." She continues, "Also, allergic reactions and burning of the skin can start with skin tingling, which is not a desirable result from skin care."
Tingling can be the first sign that you’re on the way toward a chemical burn. Tingling should never increase intensity or last for a prolonged amount of time. If it does, be sure to immediately wash the product off your face to stop the chemical reaction.
Another cause of tingling skin
The products you use aren’t the only cause of a tingling sensation.
Those with dry or sensitive skin can be prone to experiencing tingles.
Your skin’s pH balance and its acid mantle are very important to your skin’s overall health. When your face is too dry, that signifies that either one of these factors, or maybe even both, are out of alignment.
Much like the myth of the beneficial tingle, many people believe that having a tight face after cleansing is a sign that the cleanser did its job and did its job well. But that’s not true.
A tight face may feel clean, but that’s because too many necessary oils were stripped away. And as we explained before, oil is an important part of having a well-balanced face.
Facial dryness ensues when you strip your skin of too much oil. So while your face may feel clean, that tightness actually means that you’ve dehydrated your skin and have opened it up to feeling that tingling sensation.
How to get rid of the tingling feeling
The tingling sensation isn’t necessarily bad, but it is important to note that it is not a signal that your product is working.
If you’re looking to keep your skin in the best condition possible, consider making steps to reduce facial tingling. Here are steps you can take to avoid the tingling sensation.
Wash with lukewarm water
The temperature of water you use to wash your face is an important part of your skincare routine. If it’s too cold your pores won’t open and the cleanser won’t be able to penetrate, but if it’s too hot you can strip necessary oils from your face.
Wash with lukewarm water. Make sure it’s warm enough to open your pores, but not so warm that it will remove the good oils from your face.
If your skin feels tight after washing, there’s a chance that you’re washing with water that’s too hot.
Use dermatologically tested foam cleansers
The type of cleanser you use is also important.
Foam cleansers are great at penetrating deep into your pores to remove dirt and oil, but they also have the ability to strip your skin of oils that are necessary in hydrating your face.
As a result, if you’re worried about the skin tingle, it may be best to stop with the guesswork and select a foam cleanser that is dermatologically tested and approved. Their formulations keep the most sensitive skin types in mind, and are made without ingredients that are known to cause the tingling sensation.
Moisturize immediately after washing
If washing your face daily is the best thing you can do to have fresh skin, the second best action to take is moisturizing regularly.
And not only should you moisturize regularly, you should also do it immediately after washing your face so all moisture remains locked in. There is a 60 second window between cleansing your skin and losing moisture. Products have to be added before those 60 seconds pass if you want to make sure your skin stays hydrated.
That isn’t to say that moisturizer has to be the first step of your skincare regimen – it should be the last, just before your daily SPF – but be sure to start applying your products as soon as you wash in order to lock in your skin’s moisture.
Monitor your skincare ingredient list
If you experience a repeated tingle sensation even though your skin is well moisturized, it would be good to look at what ingredients are in your skincare products, especially your facial cleanser.
Exfoliants and acids can cause an unwanted tingling feel, and your products might be filled with more of those ingredients than you want.
Consider these factors when purchasing a cleanser
Face wash is one of the most important skincare products a person can use, and because of that it is often the product that is used the most.
It directly impacts your face’s pH balance and lipid levels, so it is imperative that you select the right facial cleanser. Consider these factors when selecting a cleanser.
If your cleanser is more acidic than your face, there is a chance it can lead to excess dryness or the tingling feeling you’re trying to avoid. Look for cleansers that tout their gentleness, and for ones that specify their pH level. Always select a facial cleanser that is in alignment with a typical face pH.
Skin is unique, especially the skin of the face.
Skin is divided into three main skin types: dry, normal, and oily. All skin types have different requirements that they need to be as healthy as possible, especially when it comes to cleansers.
- Those with dry skin typically have small or invisible pores, more lines and wrinkles, and less elastic skin. Sensitivity is also common. If you have dry skin, select a moisturizing cleanser with skin friendly ingredients like ceramides and glycerin that clears pores without stripping your skin of necessary oil.
- Normal skin isn’t dry or oily, has small pores, and is not sensitive. When skin is normal, the goal is to maintain balance so it’s important to use a cleanser that does not dry the skin out.
- Those with oily skin have large pores, a shiny complexion, and are prone to acne. It’s important to select a cleanser that will reduce your skin’s oil without stripping it completely.