Are You Suffocating Your Skin? Aestheticians Say If Your Products Are Doing This, It’s Not a Good Sign


The word “suffocate” may not be totally synonymous with something to avoid on the road to good skin, but celebrity aesthetician Veronica Barton Schwartz says that’s exactly what can get in the way when going for the “glow.”

“You can suffocate your skin by using the wrong products and by using too many products as well,” she says, explaining that this can occur in two main ways: “This typically happens when your products are not being absorbed into the skin or when you combine ingredients that should not be used together.”

It may be a seemingly understood fact, but, as Barton Schwartz explains, our skin has a protective barrier to keep it moisturized—and messing with that barrier can lead to problems that go beyond a dry complexion. 

“The barrier is made up of natural oil from our body to prevent loss of moisture and a natural moisture factor (NMF), which draws moisture from the air around us. Some products are made up of active ingredients, non-active ingredients, preservatives to keep products from going bad, stabilizers to prevent separation of the ingredients, alcohol, fragrance, and other ingredients that could cause an allergic reaction.”

One telltale sign that something is off when it comes to your skin care: Your products will “ball up” or peel off, Barton Schwartz warns. “This is a sign your skin is not absorbing the product. If you’re putting too much of a bad ingredient on your skin, it will end up clogging your pores, causing pimples, acne and other skin problems.”

As for a definitive must-stay-away-from list, she shares this “avoid applying” trio: “Mineral oil, petrolatum and isopropyl myristate should be avoided. These ingredients suffocate the skin and can clog your pores. In addition, I’d recommend avoiding sodium laurel sulfate, sodium laureate sulfate, toluene, heavy metals, formaldehyde, arsenic, lanolin, coal tar, cocoa butter, and D&C Red dyes.”

While she doesn’t pinpoint a named list, New York aesthetician Vicki Morav says, in her opinion, it comes down to size. “Any large comedogenic molecule ingredient will make it hard for the skin to stay oxygenated and stay in ‘regenerative mode.’ If you don’t use absorbable ingredients, build-up can take place and the overall condition of the skin will not be as healthy, glowing and pretty. The skin is a live organ and has the ability to react when it’s overwhelmed. When your skin is suffocated, you may break out or get rashes.”

Besides staying away from heavy, large-molecule oils, Morav very much backs the “keep skin moving mantra.”

“I also recommend using exfoliating agents to help the skin resurface and renew so it doesn’t suffocate. In my opinion, as long as we keep moving, the skin will shine!”

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