I visited my sister in Miami last week, and, as usual, having an esthetician around brought up lots of skincare questions. She’s been getting a lot of irritation on her face and chest, and now it’s up to me to figure out what is causing all of it. I think I’ve cracked this case already, and I did it by using my super sleuthing method to find the culprit.
First, I start by asking a lot of questions. When did the problem start? Any new products added about that time? Changes in diet? New medications? In this case, I noticed the irritation popped up after a day on the beach. My major clue here? Environmental factors! This particular reaction is definitely being aggravated by the heat.
Next, I start looking at the products that she’s using. Her routine is pretty simple, and she’s been shopping natural brands at the drugstore to save money. I eventually compare all of the ingredients in her products and try to find the common ones, but I start by looking for my usual suspects in the products she uses the most. She’s using a sunscreen when she goes to the beach (like a good sister of an esthetician), and I notice that the product she used that day has five different chemical sunscreens in it. Chemical sunscreens aren’t necessarily bad, but I find that many people cannot tolerate them. I also see that she’s using another sunscreen with lavender essential oil in it. Since I know that essential oils can cause photosensitivity, I think I may have just hit on the trifecta.
Her routine is fairly simple, so I feel confident that I have figured out the problem. She’s allergic to a specific chemical sunscreen (the common sunscreen in her two products), and the hot, beachy weather combined with the essential oils are compounding her adverse reactions. I put her on the simplest routine possible (exposing the skin to the fewest ingredients possible). She had grapeseed oil and pure aloe on hand, so she can use those for at least two weeks to see if her skin clears up. If it does, we’ve found our perp. If it doesn’t, then I have to continue on with other suspects, like food allergies or medications. After two weeks, and if her skin isn’t breaking out in rashes, we’ll start her on a new sunscreen with a mineral filter instead.
Hopefully, this will close the case on the mystery reaction quickly, but it’s important to remember that even if this is the solution, sometimes the healing process can take a while. Tackling allergies and reactions can be frustrating, so don’t give up. Partnering with a dermatologist or other skin professional can often help, and if redness, hives, or itchiness persist, you should definitely seek one out.