Inflammation is a defense mechanism our bodies have when a level of stress, a threat such as a pathogen, a virus, a dead cell is detected and causes our immune system to go into "reaction" mode. The truth is, a mild cold or sniffle is also a sign of inflammation but what is important we focus on is the following: just like a slight bruise vs. a visible wound, inflammation is inevitable but if the healing process is incapable of healing, withdrawing that stressor from our ecosystem, our body, then that becomes a form of chronic inflammation which really is found today to be one of the main causes of accelerated aging and a multitude of illnesses!
On the brighter side of things, living a healthy, wholesome life and taking things like rich antioxidants topically, such as in our Base du Jour & through our foods were able to boost our immune function and help it make that inflammation last not more than a few hours, more or less.
While you may know the more obvious sources of inflammation like processed sugars, overly extreme exercise, exposing our body to things it might be allergic to, there are also some natural sources of inflammation that can more specifically, come from the very same products we think are going our bodies good. We all try to find a balance and not go cuckoo between what not to do, and what is best to do but below are some easy to avoid sources of inflammation from skincare products that are quite common:
Don't forget to close your caps! Even the best natural oils in the world can't resist oxidation without being combined with preservatives. Some ingredients are more sensitive to air & light such as most vitamin C serums on the market which you can read about more here. A few hours of a product left open is usually enough to have it be oxidized and potentially cause your skin to inflame, age on the long-run and potentially even burn in the sun.
Photosensitive essential oils & sun exposure
Many wonderful face oils contain essential oils that have incredible benefits. What is often forgotten, is that some of these are very sensitive to the sun which can cause yes, the skin to inflame, but even to burn the skin. This is one of the things I've seen the most and have even personally experienced: dark spots appear from applying these oils on the skin and forgetting to put SPF on. Yes SPF can protect the skin from sun exposure wearing these photosensitive essential oils, but personally, I would not take the risk and enjoy those amazing oils at night. Examples are: any citrus essential oil, cumin seed oil & bergamot.
*Often times, grapefruit seed extract can be used as a natural preservative in products, always best to ask when you see "natural preservatives" in the label because this could also cause, worsen dark spots/hyperpigmentation.
Sun exposure & acids (including topical retinoids & ALA)
All of the above goes for acids & retinol creams/serums. I recommend playing it safe and applying them in winter or before bed to avoid causing stress on the skin: it would get inflamed by being more vulnerable, sensitive to the sun throughout the acid treatment.
Heat-extracted or solvent/chemical extracted, or non-organic botanical oils
When oils are extracted there are different methods that can be used: some using heat which causes the oils to hydrogenate. Hydrogenated oils are a big no & one of the main causes of inflammation in our foods but also topically! The other inflammation-inducing extraction method is using a solvent, chemicals which often leave traces into the oils you apply onto our skin & go right into our bloodstream. Remember, everything that enters our bodies has to be eliminated through the same pathway as any other toxin: our detoxification system which includes our liver. These traces would be considered a stressor by our immune system and can worsen any apparent inflammation, symptoms of auto-immune disease and cause our skin to age rather quickly. Same goes for insecticides, pesticides!
My simple recommendations for avoiding inflammation flair ups and minimizing sources of inflammation in your natural skincare routine:
1. Close your caps - tightly!
2. Check your product's essential oils, natural preservatives and apply them accordingly. Enjoy these photosensitive oils at night, and avoid taking the risk in the daytime.
3. Use acids or retinoid treatments prefferably in winter and if necessary in any other season, or when in contact with the sun, apply sunscreen, wear a hat and go cuckoo on limiting sun exposure to the sensitized skin!
4. Go for organic, cold-pressed and unrefined/extra virgin botanical oils in your foods & in your skincare.