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The Surprising Telltale Sign Your Beauty Products Are Irritating Your Skin 

Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Beauty & Wellness Editor
By Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Beauty & Wellness Editor
Jamie Schneider is the Associate Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen, covering beauty and wellness. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare.
Image by Federica Giacomazzi / Stocksy
October 21, 2021

Your skin is a super-smart organ, and it will inform you when it doesn't like a certain formula or skin care habit—with breakouts, flushing, scaling, the works. Sometimes these signs are quick and easy to spot (full-blown irritation is pretty hard to miss), but others can fly a bit more under the radar with time. Is your uptick in dryness an innocent byproduct of the crisper fall weather, or is your skin begging you to forgo a harsh formula? 

You may have to play detective to decipher what, exactly, your skin is trying to tell you, not to mention which product is to blame (if you've introduced a couple into your routine of late). But according to derms, a tell-all sign is in the eyes. 

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How your eyes can show signs of skin irritation.

Your eyes betray a ton about your skin's status: Lack of sleep, a salt- or sugar-heavy diet, and collagen decline all make their appearance in the eye area, namely because the skin up there is so thin and fragile already. Because of this delicate tissue, we also know contact dermatitis is more prevalent around the eyes—which is why investing in hypoallergenic eye makeup, like mascara, is a must for folks with sensitive skin. 

But allow us to declare: Your peepers can totally be one of the first places to show a reaction to a certain product, even if said product isn't eye-specific.  

Board-certified dermatologist Kavita Mariwalla, M.D., seconds the notion on a recent episode of Clean Beauty School: "[A] telltale sign is if your eyelids get really dry," she says of skin irritation. "Because the eye area is super sensitive, you don't always need to apply things to the eyes for them to react to things you're applying to your face." 

Again, the skin is quite sensitive (did we burn the phrase into your brain yet?), so the eye area can easily react to ingredients that the rest of your skin may be able to tolerate—such as fragrance, sulfates, and the like. Of course, there could be plenty of other reasons you're facing dry skin around the eyes, like a drop in temperature, physical stress (i.e., constantly rubbing your eyes), seasonal allergies, and so on. But if you're testing a new formula—or have a potentially expired beauty product on your hands—and find your eyelids itchy and flaky? It might be time to investigate. 

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The takeaway. 

If you aren't sure whether your beauty products are irritating your skin, check the eye area: The fragile skin is extremely sensitive, which means it's often the first place to react to potentially harsh ingredients, even if you don't apply them to the eyes themselves. Your (seemingly) unexplained dryness may have a very good explanation.

Jamie Schneider
Jamie Schneider
mbg Associate Beauty & Wellness Editor

Jamie Schneider is the Associate Beauty & Wellness Editor at mindbodygreen. She has a B.A. in Organizational Studies and English from the University of Michigan, and her work has appeared in Coveteur, The Chill Times, and Wyld Skincare. In her role at mbg, she reports on everything from the top beauty industry trends, to the gut-skin connection and the microbiome, to the latest expert makeup hacks. She currently lives in New York City.