How To Fix Ongoing Allergic Reaction to Makeup Used Two Weeks Ago
February 25, 2015 9:15 PM   Subscribe

About 2 weeks ago I tried a new makeup primer from ELF Cosmetics and after 1 day of use it turned my skin into a nightmare. You'd think that, given my history, I'd know better than to try something new, but Pinterest can be very persuasive. As of today, my skin is still extremely broken out, covered in red blotches and scaly patches, and flaking like no tomorrow. What can I do to heal my poor face?

Things I've tried that have made everything worse:
• Topical acne treatments (prescription and non)
• Alcohol free toner (usually soothes my skin no problem)
• Covering everything in foundation and praying (my face looks like a strangely matte desert wasteland)

Things I've tried that don't seem to be helping either way:
• Only exfoliating once a week
• Doubling up on my expensive moisturizer from NARS
• Slathering my face in Neosporin (my go-to for allergic skin stuff)

As it happens, I have an interview AND a date next week, so surely there's something I can do to restore the balance before I have to be presentable to people other than my cat? please?
posted by Hermione Granger to Clothing, Beauty, & Fashion (25 answers total) 6 users marked this as a favorite
My friend has a skincare and makeup blog, and wrote this about how she decreased her skin sensitivity. Hopefully something there can give you some ideas of what can help. Link: Skin and Tonics.
posted by bedhead at 9:24 PM on February 25, 2015

If it were me, I would stop doing EVERYTHING you are doing. It all sounds really irritating for already angry skin. You're poking the beehive! I would use a very gentle cleanser (lukewarm water and clean fingers only) and a super light moisturizer and nothing else, not even the foundation, until it clears.
posted by cecic at 9:39 PM on February 25, 2015 [13 favorites]

First: Stop putting so much stuff on your face. A lot of toners are not good for the skin because they can contain ingredients like alcohol which ultimately just irritate the skin. Definitely stop putting on make up until everything is under control again.

I would try aloe vera gel applied topically to soothe the dry and irritated skin, and zinc and vitamin c supplements taken orally to try to get the acne under control (maybe supplements don't work, but I'd at least feel like I was doing something, rather than just waiting for my skin to fix itself). Make sure you're drinking enough water to keep yourself and your skin hydrated, also.
posted by kinddieserzeit at 9:43 PM on February 25, 2015 [1 favorite]

Cetaphil cleanser, Cetaphil moisturizer, go with a light tinted moisturizer, if you want to use some coverup type product that is, don't exfoliate at all if your skin is peeling.
posted by discopolo at 9:45 PM on February 25, 2015 [4 favorites]

Also the mix of scaly patches, etc. go see a dermatologist ASAP. They may have something better to Rx than using the OTC Neosporin.
posted by discopolo at 9:47 PM on February 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

Definitely stop exfoliating. You may need to use some cortisone based treatments. See a doctor.
posted by jojobobo at 10:16 PM on February 25, 2015 [5 favorites]

Definitely stop putting stuff on your face. Use cetaphil cleanser and cetaphil cream, if you absolutely must use a cream.

With that said a green clay mask can have a very soothing effect on your skin. I wouldn't use it now though until you've given it a break for a few days.
posted by Toddles at 10:23 PM on February 25, 2015

I have sensitive skin, and I think you are putting an excessive amount of crap on your face if it's reacting already.

I would just be trying for the minimum: Wet a clean wash cloth in warm/hot water and cover face with it for a minute to open the pores. Gently wipe off the skin with the cloth (this is all the exfoliation needed), then splash with cold water to close the pores. Then put on the regular amount of noncomedogenic moisturizer. Stay out of the sun and let the skin heal.

I sometimes spot treat with hydrocortisone cream, if there are specific inflamed spots (of allergy, not acne).

If it's really so bad that people can't see you without foundation outside of the interview scenario, you probably need a dermatologist.
posted by zennie at 10:29 PM on February 25, 2015

Oh man, I hear you - I went rogue with a sunscreen once, and it screwed up my face for two months. Dermatologist, 100%, and definitely stop with the facial aggression until then. Toleriane Ultra Fluide has helped calm my face down when it's been angry at me.
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:44 PM on February 25, 2015

Don't put hydrocortisone cream on it right now and go see a doctor. You basically burned it, treat it like burned skin: clean it very gently, use an appropriate emollient cream as the doctor orders and don't pick at it, it's super prone to infection right now.
posted by fshgrl at 10:47 PM on February 25, 2015 [3 favorites]

(If it were me, I might reschedule the date for the next week. That'd be one less day of stress and covering up your poor skin with more stuff.)
posted by cotton dress sock at 10:52 PM on February 25, 2015

I tried a whole new line of products some years ago (Avene*, for the curious), and had a massive allergic reaction. My entire face was basically one big hive. The only thing for it is a prescription steroid cream. Even with that it took a good two weeks to get back to normal.

*Made by the same company that makes the Vichy Toleriane mentioned above.
posted by ereshkigal45 at 12:44 AM on February 26, 2015

Yup, what you need here is probably topical steroids. I don't know if you can get them over the counter where you are, or if you will have to get a prescription (if you can get them OTC the prescription ones will probably be stronger). Do what you need to do.
posted by Acheman at 1:33 AM on February 26, 2015

Agree that if its an allergic reaction what you need is a mild topical steroid cream. You might be able to get it over the counter if you speak to a pharmacist. Also agree you need to stop putting so much crap on your face, give your skin a rest and let it heal!
posted by missmagenta at 2:25 AM on February 26, 2015

Try using extra virgin organic coconut oil as a nighttime moisturizer. You can wipe off excess with a clean washcloth soaked in warm water. And don't put anything else on your face. I would try the coconut oil before the steroids, but if you want to try the steroids, check with a dermatologist first. Coconut oil is the only thing that healed my hand eczema. I noticed improvement right away. It's very anti-inflammatory and I have sensitive skin.
posted by Beethoven's Sith at 3:46 AM on February 26, 2015 [1 favorite]

When I had a nightmarish drug rash covering my whole body, a doctor told me that Zyrtec is particularly useful for skin reactions.
posted by a fiendish thingy at 4:07 AM on February 26, 2015 [2 favorites]

Seconding stopping putting anything on your face! A gentle wash with Cetaphil or Dove unscented sensitive skin formula soap only until you can get to the dermatologist. Zyrtec does not sound like a bad idea, and yeah, at this point you probably need steroid cream, you can try over the counter though what your dermatologist can prescribe will be better.

(By the way, given your previous history and staph issues, I don't think you should be exfoliating and using toners or over the counter acne products at all any more! You have sensitive skin and allergies and staph issues. You should not be using products that irritate your skin, and should be going for gentle hypoallergenic products. Washing with a wash cloth, gently, should be all the exfoliating you need.)
posted by gudrun at 5:06 AM on February 26, 2015

Coming back to add - definitely treat your face like you got a sunburn, as someone above said. And with the steroid cream, I would not slather your face with it. You want to use it sparingly, spreading it gently on the blotches and scaly bits.
posted by gudrun at 5:10 AM on February 26, 2015

This happened to me a year ago. I tried out a new Body Shop product--used it one time before bed. The next morning I noticed an itchy area at the corner of my mouth. I've had perioral dermatitis before and initially suspected that, but over the course of the day the rash got worse and spread over my whole face. Puffy, red, scaly. Awful.

I quit putting anything on my face immediately and just washed with a clean washcloth and warm water. After a few days I put on the thinnest layer of cetaphil moisturizer, keeping my fingers crossed that things wouldn't start looking worse. It didn't hurt, so I just kept that up--warm water washing and very light moisturizer once a day. It took at least a week to start looking better (I went by not getting worse as a sign of progress) and probably a good three weeks to go away completely.
posted by chaoticgood at 5:21 AM on February 26, 2015

Want to reiterate fshgrl on the topical steroid/hydrocortisone: a dermatologist can tell you if it would help or hurt your condition. Definitely don't slather it on with no prior advice.
posted by zennie at 5:46 AM on February 26, 2015

I'm currently in the middle of some heavy-duty antibiotics because I screwed up my poor skin, including my face, so badly it got really infected. Please, please, stop putting stuff on your face, it will only make it worse at this point.

So definitely nth-ing all of those telling you to give your face a rest. Mild soap (Dove Sensitive Skin and Cetaphil are best) and warm (not hot!) water, then plenty of a hyopallergenic and unscented lotion. If you can find one with aloe vera, even better. I've had luck with Vaseline Intensive Care Advanced Repair lotion, Cetaphil-brand anything, and an unscented moisturizing cream from Trader Joe's (Midsummer Night's Cream).

Benadryl and possibly ibuprofen would be good to take for reducing swelling and the allergic reaction from your face while you wait to get in to see a dermatologist. I've had luck with Claratin and Zyrtec, but Benadryl is the still best and strongest allergy pill you can buy OTC. You might need to take it for a few days to see any relief while your face rests up and heals.
posted by PearlRose at 7:14 AM on February 26, 2015

Find a dermatologist (I recommend ZocDoc for convenience). My eczema flared up several months ago, and my doc prescribed mometasone furoate, a medium-strength steroid cream. After a few days, there was a noticeable difference.

Once that calms your skin down, you may be able to apply a light layer of hypoallergenic foundation or tinted moisturizer (test a spot on your face first).
posted by invisible ink at 8:18 AM on February 26, 2015

nthing Cetaphil everything and derm. Ibuprofen is not a bad idea. I'd avoid things that lessen your reaction before you see the doctor, unless you have a hard time getting in. Insist with them though, b/c this is your face and it's an emergent situation.

Do not pass go, do not collect $200.
posted by Medieval Maven at 8:33 AM on February 26, 2015

Go see a dermatologist. If you share your location I'm sure someone can give you a rec.
posted by radioamy at 9:20 AM on February 26, 2015

The NARS moisturizer might not be helping. Too many fancy ingredients. Go as basic as possible. Vanicream is the simplest I've found. Cetaphil is irritating to my skin, CeraVe is better but still a bit much when I'm actively rashy. The CeraVe moisturizing skin wash is great even when I can't use anything else.

Neosporin is a bad bad choice. Aside from killing just enough staph to make MRSA a real possibility, the neomycin in the blend is known to cause skin problems. Polysporin or Bacitracin are better choices, but really you might be better with plain Vaseline.

If it was the elf Poreless, you might have a problem with tea tree. The other two were pretty benign unless you have a reaction to one of the basic elements that basically all primers use. I like the NYX original Photo Loving because it is so simple, and less drying than Smashbox.

Good luck. I've been where you are. Damn Revlon for using a zillion ingredients causing me to miss the one I'm sensitive to! My face looked like red cornflakes for two weeks. I wish I'd have been able to go to a dermatologist, but I just waited it out. Zyrtec does help amazingly well for skin itch, about as well as Benedryl without being quite as sedating.
posted by monopas at 10:33 AM on February 27, 2015

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