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When it comes to skin care more isn't always more. Trouble can arise if treatment products are used too frequently, mixed incorrectly, or are too harsh for your skin type. Here’s how to spot stressed skin caused by your actives, and what to do about it.

How to spot stressed skin 

Irritation or Flaking - If you’re experiencing stinging during product application, irritation, dryness, or flaking around the nose, tops of the cheeks or around the mouth, this is often an indication of over-exfoliation. This can occur if you use both a physical (abrasive) and chemical (protein-dissolving) exfoliant too close together, causing the top layer of skin to become inflamed. It may also be caused by mixing alpha hydroxy acids (AHAs) like glycolic, citric, and malic acids with high concentration (2% or greater) of salicylic acid. Another cause is using retinol or retinoic acids too frequently or pairing retinol with acid exfoliants. 

Redness – Acute redness in the skin can be a result of sun exposure, an allergy or from mixing certain active ingredients. Mixing products containing AHAs or ascorbic acid (vitamin C), with niacinamide (vitamin B3) can cause the acids to convert the niacinamide to niacin. When niacin comes into contact with the skin it can cause dilation of blood vessels, causing the skin to flush. 

Breakouts – While acne and blemishes can be caused by a variety of internal and external factors, a breakout may be caused by skin purging. A skin purge often appears as small whiteheads which are typically located on regions of the face where a person already experiences breakouts. Skin purging occurs as a result of increased cell turnover, where pores begin to express their contents. The most common culprits for this action are AHAs and retinoic acids.

How to soothe stressed skin 

Step back from the actives – The best way to balance your skin is to simplify your regimen. Take it back to basics by removing the treat step of your routine all together. For several days (up to 2 weeks), simply cleanse your skin and moisturize with a rich face cream. We recommend the Consonant Natural Foaming Face Wash and Ultra Moisturizing Face Cream (buy them together in the Back to Basics Bundle and save $20 for a limited time). Both are formulated for sensitive skin and contain botanical extracts that help to help replenish and repair the skin’s moisture barrier and reduce the risk of inflammation.

Time your treatments - As you begin to introduce active ingredients back into your routine, try limiting the frequency of use of certain products. For example, start using your AHAs 1-3 times per week and slowly increase. For optimal concentrations and timing of your products consult your dermatologist or send us an email at to learn the best practices for product use and frequency.

Know how to pair your products

To prevent future troubles, slowly introduce treat products into your regimen following these product pairings. Learn more about product layering HERE.


Product Combinations

Safe Pairing


AHAs + Hyaluronic Acid*

Decreased fine lines + glow

AHA’s + Niacinamide (vitamin B3)

Redness or sensitivity

AHA’s + Retinol/Retinoic Acids

Irritation + flaking

AHA’s + Vitamin E

Increased softness + radiance

AHA’s + Ascorbic Acid (vitamin C)

Sensitivity + irritation

Retinol/Retinoic Acid + Hyaluronic Acid*

Decreased fine lines + acne reduction

Retinol/Retinoic Acid + Niacinamide (vitamin B3)

Skin flushing

Retinol/Retinoic Acid + Ascorbic Acid (vitamin C)

Irritation + flaking

Retinol/Retinoic Acid + Vitamin E

Decreased fine lines + improved texture

Niacinamide (vitamin B3) + Hyaluronic Acid*

Improved clarity + visibly hydrated

Niacinamide (vitamin B3) + Vitamin E

Improved texture + radiance

Niacinamide (vitamin B3) + Ascorbic Acid (vitamin C)

Redness or sensitivity

 *Consonant HydrExtreme is clinically proven to outperform even a pure hyaluronic acid serum and is recommended over hyaluronic acid. It can however, be used the same way as hyaluronic acid in the context of product pairing.

 The Bottom Line

When it comes to your skin sometimes less is more. Just like your holistic health, if your skin is feeling stressed it might be telling you to take a step back, simplify, and incorporate some soothing rituals.

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