Active skincare causes anxiety - the popular belief is no pain, no gain.

And this is backed up by a survey of our ultra-informed Facebook group - out of over 350 respondents, 40% were worried about irritation.

So the way I look at skin is this. We all have a threshold for irritation. But for most, there’s generally “space in the tank”. The problems start when you fill the tank without even realising it with irritants that don’t deliver much (any?) bang for their buck, and you end up on your Irritation Threshold before you actually add any Actives. This is actually incredibly common. I see it everyday in the confused skin of patients who are attempting to combine evidence-based Actives with the more fashionable end of beauty. So here’s my idiot-proof guide to avoiding this premature filling of your tank!

  1. Skip products that contain hidden Actives eg cleanser.
  2. Skip all physical irritants eg scrubs, abrasive exfoliation pads, cleansing brushes and abrasive wash cloths.
  3. Rationalise use of eye products - irritation around the eyes is a very common issue at the beginning of your Actives journey. You accidentally transfer product to the area without realising it, or they move when you apply moisturiser over the top. Don’t muddy the waters by using eye products that might confound you - keep it bland when you’re starting out, in order to reduce the risk of it happening in the first place.
  4. Take care with Actives in masks - again, they can irritant and of limited benefit; daily use of Actives is key, rather a once-weekly 15min blast.