With spring in full bloom and pollen permeating the air, many of us may find ourselves reeling from the yearly symptoms of seasonal allergies: sneezing, itchy eyes, runny nose, etc. And as if the nasal congestion and watery eyes weren’t enough of a bummer, our complexions can also suffer from the effects of seasonal allergies. It’s true: Has your skin been exhibiting sensitivity or dullness lately that’s not a problem the rest of the year? There’s a very good reason why.
According to skin-care expert and Clarisonic co-founder Dr. Robb, ingredients in our skin-care products may be responsible for these changes and cause unexpected reactions. In an email conversation with HelloGiggles, Dr. Robb said, “Even if you are generally not allergic to a particular ingredient, you may be extra sensitive because your body is already stimulated from its environmental surroundings and what it considers a foreign substance." He added, "Your skin, every second, no matter what the season, is responding to moisture in the air, pollutants [or] allergens, temperature, and whatever contacts it.”
That means certain beauty-product ingredients that we may otherwise covet during non-allergy season may be causing problems for our skin.
These include essential oils (say it ain’t so!), fruit extracts, and fragrances. And believe it or not, this could be due to constant exposure over time.
“You eat lavender ice cream, you have fresh lavender flowers in your house, you put lavender oil on your pillows to calm you, and you apply a lavender-scented moisturizer,” says Dr. Robb. “As a result, with multiple means of exposure, your body becomes suspicious.”
In addition to such “suspicion,” it could also be the complexity of the ingredients that’s causing skin irritation.
“When an essential oil is created, it is an extraction from the plant. This complex oil may have a component that is slightly like something else your body has encountered as foreign, [so] to play it safe your immune system labels it as foreign, too,” says Dr. Robb. “Remember, your immune system is trying to protect you from anything it perceives as a threat; that can include (sadly) your favorite perfume.”
So, should we switch up our skin-care routine and products depending on the season?
Dr. Robb says yes, since our systems are on high alert this time of year. He suggests using a gentle moisturizer with a formula that supports your skin type. Affordable options he recommends are trusted faves like Cetaphil Moisturizing Cream and Neutrogena Oil-Free Moisturizer.
As for whether seasonal allergies can cause breakouts, we have great news: they don’t. Acne is typically not linked to seasonal allergies.
"The only [situation] where acne could cause an issue is when [you're] using acne products on highly reactive skin due to an allergic reaction," says Dr. Robb. "The acne products have been designed to kick acne in the butt, but may be too much for skin responding [to] allergens."
So go forth with those soothing moisturizers, seasonal allergy warriors. You’ve got this.