Have you ever been sitting at your work desk and secretly wanted to rip off your pants because there’s an itch on your leg that you can’t seem to reach? Okay, so maybe I’m alone in that one. However, getting down to the bottom of what I assume are some super sneaky itchy skin causes has been my number one mission in the midst of this seasonal transition. My itchy legs and itchy face have practically demanded it through a wave of trial-and-error, all of which have brought me back to square one.
I have the beauty gods to thank for the most perfect alignment between my top need and an appointment with Christine Chin, otherwise known as #MeanChristine. Her facials are legendary in that they literally take hours to complete and get every piece of gunk–seen and unseen–out of your face. In the midst of my own tour-de-force experience (more on this later), where I experienced quite literally the best of the best in skin wizardry (my attempt to describe the indescribable), all I could think about was itching the skin around my mouth and under my jeans yet again. So with an expert hovering over me, I decided there was literally no better time than to speak up and hopefully get some relief.
As it turns out, there was no mysterious, out-of-the-world reason behind my conundrum. Rather, I just needed a few gentle reminders about some crucial steps I had been skipping for way too long. Here are the itchy skin causes you may be overlooking too.
Okay, let’s get the most obvious out of the way. Chin says that if your itchiness is confined to the face, it’s almost always the sign of an allergy. “The most common place is usually around the eyes; you’ll have itchiness, swelling or hives.” In this case, it’s important to never underestimate the power of a patch test when trying new products. We’re so used to gambling on a full-size product when most stores–including the big bosses Sephora and Ulta–offer sample sizes that you can take home and play with first.
As someone who gets excited reading ingredient lists and online reviews, this is definitely something I needed to hear. Pump the brakes and take your time. And when you feel the first sign of itching, skip the facialist and go to a dermatologist who can more properly diagnose the underlying issue.
Good Old Fashioned Dryness
Here’s a “duh” moment for you. If your body skin is itching, you simply need to put on more lotion. Oh, and shorter showers would probably do you some good too. “Usually it happens with the change of the season; especially now or before winter. Right now, it’s cold, so we’re using more hot water when we take a shower or bath. And we just don’t put enough cream on the skin,” Chin told me.
So first thing’s first; improve the ratio between water temperature and the length of your showers or baths. If you simply can’t go without close to scalding hot water, spend less time in the bathroom. Alternatively, if you can stand lukewarm water, take all the time you want. Just be sure that’s you’re not going overboard with both at the same time. Otherwise, you’ll be ashy and as far as I’m concerned, that’s a major no-no.
In this case, you should be slathering on lotions and creams and according to Chin, the best ones are made without fragrance. Also be sure to never use your body moisturizers on the face. Chin says that body-specific ones are often made with cheaper fillers, such as mineral oil, that can not only cause face dryness but lead to allergic reactions too.
Here’s the one that made me feel guilty AF. After visiting another facialist some months ago and being told that I should skip toner, well, I did just that. What I didn’t know is that what I thought was sage advice would lead to the flakiness around my mouth. So for most of the winter and the top of spring, I’ve been harboring plaque on the surface of my skin, much like plaque sits on teeth.
According to Chin, what happens when we don’t eliminate soap residue from left-over cleanser, it literally hardens on the skin, thus blocking your face from getting moisture that actually penetrates the surface. From there, dryness accelerates and if you have no idea plaque is there, no amount of moisturizer can get rid of it. When there’s plaque on your skin, your skin is very dull-looking,” says Chin, who also adds, “but if it’s an exfoliating toner, use just 2-3 times a week.” But ultimately, you should be using a toner period.
Skipping Your SPF
Finally, like most experts, Chin told me in between extractions that we’re still not applying enough sunscreen. This is absolutely necessary. When you don’t wear sunscreen–whether it’s under your makeup or infused into your coverage of choice–excess UV exposure leads to dryness, in addition to disease. I could say it one hundred different days and you might still forget, so bookmark this page ASAP.