March brings wonky weather (see our Spring Skincare Solutions) and the beginning of allergy season. Sneezing, coughing, water, rubbing, itching—we've all seen redness and irritation play out on our faces as a result of allergen overload. Allergies increase the leakiness of your blood vessels, and histamines make you feel itchy, irritated, pink, dry, scaly, and flaky. Dust mites, pollen, mold, pets, food allergies, and even cosmetic and skin care ingredient allergies (fragrance is a common culprit) can break you out in hives!
"Fragrance, some minerals, and plant extracts are common allergens in cosmetics," according to New York City dermatologist Dr. Amy Wechsler, "Everyone's into 'green' skin care, but if you think about it, plant extracts can still irritate the skin—hello poison ivy!" Coping with allergies is not a fun task, so here are some solutions for keeping your makeup picture perfect during allergy season.
CLEANSE SKIN THOROUGHLY AND GENTLY. It's important for you to rinse your face and body after contact with allergens—basic soap and water is the fastest and easiest method. If you're not able to wash your face for a while, keep baby wipes or makeup remover pads handy. Take showers frequently, but remember: Heat releases more histamines (which means more irritation), so be sure to keep your water lukewarm. Clothes in contact with allergens should go into the hamper immediately. Cleanse with basic formulas like Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash or Dove Sensitive Skin Soap.
NO SUDDEN CHANGES. Allergy season is NOT the time to experiment with new makeup and skin care. Stick to tried and tested hypo-allergenic and fragrance-free products and sunscreen. Be sure to wash your makeup brushes and clean your makeup once a week to keep things sanitary. Dr. Wechsler recommends Cetaphil Daily Facial Moisturizer SPF 15, La Roche Posay Anthelios XP 40 Sunscreen, and Chanel UV Essentiel Multi Protection Daily UV Care SPF 50
BE PREPARED FOR THE WORST. If you know your allergies take over your face every spring, be prepared to combat watering eyes and itchy skin with stronger medicine. "If you suffer from allergies, use eye drops combined with waterproof eye makeup to combat red, itchy, and watering eyes," says Dr. Wechsler. "If you're still suffering after two weeks, it's time for a prescription-strength eye drop like Pataday. Take an over the counter anti-histamine like Claritin or Zyrtec, or opt for their prescription counterparts if your allergies worsen.