Every once in a while, it can feel like every single problem that skin could possibly have pops up at the same time. It’s red, it’s itchy, it’s swollen, and frankly it’s just all-around unpleasant. As anyone who’s dealt with it knows all-too well, inflamed skin is no joke, and requires being treated with kid gloves—or at the very least, the right products—to help it calm down.
So, when I came across a subReddit thread wherein one Redditor called La Roche-Posay B5 soothing repairing balm “Xanax for inflammation,” I pretty much decided then and there that I need to figure out why inflamed skin happens and what ingredients should be used to help send it packing once-and-for-all. And we’re in luck! There are plenty of moisturizers on the market that are specifically formulated for inflammation, making them like anti-anxiety treatments for complexions.
There are a number of reasons why you might wake up one morning with your face looking like a swollen nightmare (#beenthere), most of which come from external forces. “Inflammation is the body’s response when something harmful and/or foreign comes in contact with the skin, including pathogens like bacteria, viruses, fungi, chemicals, and more,” says Curology founder David Lorscher, MD. “Signs of inflammation include redness, heat, swelling, and pain.”
According to Dr. Lortscher, there are a few ingredients that you should be looking for on labels when it comes to inflammation-fighting moisturizers. “Azelaic acid acts via its antimicrobial activity against P. acnes, and helps decrease clogged pores,” he says, noting that it also has direct anti-inflammatory properties that help treat acne and rosacea. Niacinamide, which is a potent form of vitamin B3, is also known to reduce inflammation and help get rid of red and brown discoloration. Plus, says Dr. Lortscher, “Studies have shown that niacinamide can act as an antioxidant, improve epidermal barrier function, decrease skin hyperpigmentation, reduce fine lines and wrinkles, decrease redness and blotchiness, decrease skin yellowness, and improve skin elasticity.”
If you want something straight from the ground, try tea tree leaf oil, which has anti-inflammatory properties and is also great for fighting fungus and bacteria. Because the oil can be pretty intense on its own, add a few drops to your moisturizer (one part tea tree oil to three parts moisturizer) for an added boost to your regularly scheduled programming. CBD is also known to be a great—and trendy!—way to fight inflammation, derail redness, and calm down whatever other stress is happening on your skin. A few other ingredients worth looking out for, according to dermatologist Michelle Henry, MD: colloidal oats, which are powerfully soothing, plus green tea and turmeric.
Instead of making you hunt down these ingredients on your own, we rounded up some of our favorite anti-inflammatory moisturizers. Keep scrolling to shop ’em for yourself.
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