You Ask, We Answer: Why Is My Skin Stinging?

? This girl is on fire ? - but her skin should not be.

Stinging, burning, inflamed.

These are uncomfortable sensations we might have experienced more than once, especially when we have sensitive skin.

While a little tingle that lasts a few seconds is nothing to worry about, when it becomes a sharp sting that’s almost unbearable, it’s a sign something’s wrong.

Skincare should not be painful, and no, the stinging should not be embraced as a sign the product is working.

So, why is your skin stinging when applying a product? Here are some possible reasons:

#1 You Are Exfoliating Way Too Much.

While exfoliation can be a great addition to your skincare routine, helping reveal brighter skin and reduce clogged pores, too much of it can lead to a damaged skin barrier.

Your skin barrier is the outermost layer of your skin, and plays the very important role of defending you from environmental threats such as bacteria and UV rays. When this protective barrier is compromised, your skin can become raw and sensitive, giving you that stinging sensation you wouldn’t otherwise feel.

How to Fix It: Stop exfoliating with harsh scrubs that can cause micro-tears in your skin and avoid exfoliating too frequently, especially if you're new to skincare and your skin hasn't yet acclimated to it. Instead, opt for a gentle chemical peel, such as with the Balancing Cleanser, once a week. Every morning and night, apply the Protective Moisturizer, which has been specially formulated with peptides and antioxidants to repair and re-strengthen your skin barrier.

#2 You Have Dry and Dehydrated Skin.

Dry and dehydrated skin is also a sign of a weakened skin barrier because the barrier is what keeps your skin from losing much-needed moisture. If your skin feels dry or is peeling, or even cracking, you might feel stinging when applying products.

How to Fix It: The key is to return and retain the moisture in your skin. Use a gentle cleanser such as So Fresh, which won’t over-strip skin of its natural oils, and follow with the nourishing Protective Moisturizer. For extra hydration, layer on the Matte Hydrator before applying the Protective Moisturizer.

#3 You’re Having a Reaction to an Allergen or Irritant.

When your skin stings after applying a product, it most likely means your skin does not agree with one or some of the ingredients in it. Possible allergens and irritants include fragrances, dyes, and fruits such as lemon and grapefruit.

Everyone’s skin is unique, so what is perfectly safe for others might not be for you. If you’re constantly experiencing irritation from different products, it’s best to check for any common ingredients that could be the culprits.

How to Fix It: Immediately wash the product off your face and gently pat dry. Then, try and identify what it is that could be causing the negative reaction so you can remove it from your routine moving forward. Always check the ingredients list for potential offenders before purchasing new products and always do a patch test before applying them to your entire face – just to be extra safe!

To patch test, apply the new product on the skin right behind your ear or on the inside of your wrist. These areas are best because they more closely mimic the skin on our face, which is thinner and more sensitive. If you do not see or feel any signs of a negative reaction after a day, you can try applying the product on your face.

#4 You’ve Just Started Using Clear Out.

Our top acne-fighting lotion, Clear Out, uses medical-grade retinol to promote the shedding of dead skin cells and flush out clogged pores.

How to Fix It: Slowly introduce skin to retinol by applying Clear Out on alternate evenings. The stinging sensation should not last more than a few seconds. Once skin has adjusted and the stinging is gone, you can safely apply Clear Out every evening.

Not sure if the stinging you’re experiencing is normal?

Send any questions you have our way via Messenger chat or Instagram DM (@clearlybasics). However, if stinging persists for more than a few minutes or becomes too much to handle, check in with your dermatologist as soon as you can!

Disclaimer: This article should not be interpreted as personal medical advice. For medical-related matters, please consult your dermatologist.

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Based on 2549 reviews
Skin Type: Combination
All I can say is wow

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Power Duo*
Chuan Ling T.

Adult acne is a new thing for me- I’ve had clear skin growing up so the outbreaks were very stressful! I did everything and anything I could, from watching YouTube reviews, trying out cult products to professional advice, but nothing quite did the job. So how the power duo panned out for me was definitely a pleasant (-ly hugeeee) surprise. I do acknowledge that my acne challenges are not on the extremely severe end, but I must say, emotionally the positive outcome of using both the power duo encouraged me to wear my skin as it is again. It’s really worthwhile trying as it is also a no fuss duo; hence the currently gild of my staple skincare products.

Calm Down*
Kimberly C.

The entire Clearly Basics product line is the only one that has cleared my skin. I tried any product you can think of including doctor prescribed medication and ointment and nothing worked. After having acne for over 15 years I am so happy to have clear, radiant skin!

I have maybe seen some improvement but nothing amazing yet. Have used the product as instructed, religiously. Will try another bottle and stick to it for a few more months.

I love all of clearly basics! They made my confidence rise because I finally feel comfortable without makeup.
This cleanser is amazing 👏
My skin doesn't feel tight afterwards and now I don't get that mid day shine near as bad.

I love everything from clearly basics! It totally changed my life by clearing my acne. Now they have a new sunscreen and it's great.
It doesn't have a smell or leave your face white or greasy. Best of all it doesn't cause breakouts!

The products are just amazing!! My results in 4 months of using clear out extra strength!!

Clear Out*
Sophie C.

Love this product 👏🏽

Works really well! Enjoy using this face wash, never stings or dries out my acne prone skin !

Clear Out*
Emma S.

Worked really well in quite a short amount of time! I now see long lasting results, my skin is healthy and my acne is finally under control! The first product I have tried which works and is actually affordable!

I struggled with lots of painful cystic acne so tried the clear out product. Found by the end of the first bottle a lot of the smaller spots were not coming back and the more painful larger ones were coming back less inflamed. I was happy with the results from the first bottle so I ordered another, this is halfway through the second bottle and can see most of the acne on my cheeks has gone! I still get cystic acne in the T area but it is much less painful than before. Definitely recommend, but takes time to see real results.

Clearly Basics has been an absolute life saver! Not an over night miracle, be patient and stick with it, amazing products

I saw a huge reduction in new pimples and any new pimples scars healed and disappeared a lot quicker

Power Duo*
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I have struggled with acne since I was 12 years old. All through my teenage and adult life my skin has been unpredictable and the breakouts have been constant and so frustrating. I’ve tried everything you could imagine but nothing worked reliably. Clear Out and lighten up have been a total game changer for me and I couldn’t be happier with the results

Acne Care Kit*
Sinead C.

I started using clearly basics at the beginning of the year. I have struggled with acne most of my adult life and when I saw a video from a customer on instagram, everything she described is exactly what I had done…had hormonal acne on chin and jaw line in particular. I had been to the doctor, was referred to a dermatologist and had been on medication, tried all sorts of creams and gels with no success.

I cannot believe this actually worked. I would say I saw results within the first month and probably took around 4 months so really clear up. I have continued with using it and now only get the odd spot at that time of the month but use the calm down on it. It has given me my confidence back and now I’m working on reducing the scaring. I use clear out each evening, the TLC in the morning, lighten up twice a day (but that is a small bottle so doesn’t last long) and then have tried both the so fresh and balancing cleansers. For me it really worked so would highly recommend.

Tightens pores and brightens and smoothes skin. This was my first bottle but I will continue to purchase. I use day and night.

I already use CB balancing cleanser and clear out extra strength, two years ago my skin was spotty, blackheads, raw and very visible. I wondered if the TLC would make a difference in my routine but it has, a glow and radiance I didn’t expect. This is no filter I’ve just woke up. I turned 50 this year the clearly basics range is also an amazing anti ageing tool!

Power Duo*
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I suffered with acne for years, and when I finally learned to stop the acne I was left with red and brown scars and hyperpigmentation. But I started using the clearly basics Lighten up cream and Dark mark defends, followed by the moisturiser, and I saw a dramatic difference within days! My scars have lightened so much and most of them are gone. I find this moisturiser is also very hydrating but not greasy, it is absorbed into my skin effortlessly, and it wears beautifully under my makeup. I've now been using the products for 6 months and will continue to use it!

Power Duo*
Laura S.

This stuff changed my life!!!!
After reading the reviews I never thought it would work for me in the same way as it had for other people, as my skin was so bad and cystic. But after just a few months of using this and cutting down on dairy, my skin was 10 times better!
I’m still religiously using the Power Duo and don’t think I’ll ever stop 😊

Clear Out*
Leah N.

It's such a relief to finally have found something that works. I've had acne since I was around 11 and like most people, I tried so many different products and 'hacks' to try and get rid of the spots but nothing really helped.
I was hesitant to try clear out because of the price but I was reassured by the money back guarantee.
To be honest, the purging process they warn about was pretty severe for me. Mine lasted for the entire first bottle and I was so ready to give up. I contacted customer service and they offered me a refund or 50% off my next bottle, reassuring me it would be worth sticking with it. I agreed to persevere and I'm so glad I did! About half way through the next bottle I really noticed improvements and by the end, my skin was the clearest it had ever been. I've completely stopped having breakouts and only occasionally get a spot or two during my cycle. Overall my skin is smoother and I have much less redness and a more even skin tone. I keep using clear out nightly to maintain my nice new skin and I'll happily keep buying it knowing how well it works for me!

Clear Out*
Mandy R.

After a few weeks the results were already visible (right photo). Now the red spots are also less visible!!

Acne Care Kit*
Keiwing W.

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Calm Down*
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Clear Out
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I was ashamed of going out in public because everyone was pointing out my acne and scars, but since I started using clearly basic, I found a new me. Thank you changing my life!!"

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