Burning sensation when applying moisturizer? Read this

Not all products are made equal, you can start to feel a burning sensation when applying moisturizer. This article is a guide on what to do when this happens.

Burning on the skin after using a moisturizer can happen because of an ingredient in the formula, the use of synthetic fragrances or synthetic chemicals in the formula, a very low or high ph or a damaged moisture barrier. To combat this apply a cool compress on the skin or use aloe vera.

We need to keep a good skincare routine to keep our skin looking supple, prevent the look of fine lines and wrinkles and keep that healthy glow maintained. Moisturisers help us do that.

Well, that’s if they do what they are supposed to do.

But what happens when you apply a new moisturiser, are super excited to get dewy skin and it starts burning?

There are a couple of reasons why this can happen. This article is a closer look at the burning sensation when applying moisturizer.

Burning sensation when applying moisturizer

How do skin moisturizers work?

Moisturisers are necessary products that you need to use after you wash your face in order to bring moisture back.

Your face wash or face cleanser can strip your skin. Moisturizers will bring a good balance of moisture back to the skin, keeping it healthy and happy. 

It prevents us from being at risk to elements drying out our skin and it will keep the moisture barrier of the skin maintained. It will also give your skin a beautiful dewy finish.

Here is my favourite

Why does my face burn when I put on moisturizer?

pH is off: Our skin has a natural, slightly acidic, ph of 5.5. This keeps the skin feeling normal and comfortable.

If the pH of the skin is thrown off then this can result in the skin burning. If the product has an alkaline pH then this can burn the skin.

Damaged moisture barrier: If your skin has a damaged moisture barrier then the skin can have cracks or holes where the moisturiser can enter and irritate it causing a burning sensation.

You can also use a humidifier to add moisture into the air, this prevents dry skin. Read about the best humidifier for dry and itchy skin here.

Allergic reaction:  There might be one or many ingredients in the product that you are allergic to. If you haven’t read the label beforehand to see if there is something that you are allergic to then burning can happen

Synthetic fragrances: Some products use synthetic fragrances to give the product a nice scent (or to cover up a scent in the formula that is less than pleasant).

This synthetic fragrance can irritate the skin and cause a burning sensation. Always check for this before buying a product

Synthetic chemicals: In an effort to improve the effects of a moisturising product skincare brands might add synthetic chemicals to the product.

This, in turn, might end up causing allergic reactions such as burning of the skin or irritation of the skin. Always check for this before buying a moisturiser.

Non-sensitive skin products: If you have sensitive skin then certain moisturizers can irritate it and cause a burning sensation. You’ll need to find products that work for sensitive skin.

Unfortunately, if you have this skin type you need to be extra careful with what you buy.

How do I stop my face from burning?

Wash off: When you feel that your skin is burning from a moisturiser you should immediately wash the moisturiser off

Cool compress: This will soothe the skin. This is also effective if you suffer from redness or a rash from using the moisturizer.

You can do this by soaking a cloth in some cold water and applying it onto your face. This is a favourite cool compress

Cold water: If you don’t have or don’t want to use a cold compress you can dunk your face in cold water. This might be extreme but if the burning is that bad then you might have to do this.

Aloe Vera: Aloe vera is a plant that is well known for its ability to soothe the skin. It’s good for cuts, burns, irritation and any other unsavoury skin reactions. It is also anti-inflammatory. This is a favourite aloe vera

Over the counter cream: If your skin is very irritated from the moisturizer you can use an over the counter hydrocortisone cream. This will go far in helping to heal inflammation and the burning.

Prescription cream: If you find that the hydrocortisone cream is not helping your skin you can use a prescription-strength cream

Medical professional: If your skin is still irritated long after you use the moisturiser then you might have to visit a dermatologist or your general practioniner. Remember to bring the moisturizer with you for them to pinpoint the problem.


Before you apply any moisturizer or new skin product on your skin it is very important that you test it out on your skin.

This is called doing a patch test. Leave the product on a patch of your skin and see how it reacts after 48hours. If the skin looks normal and no irritation occurred then it’s good to go.

If you get a burn from the moisturiser then it shouldn’t be used on your skin. Also, if it burns your skin does then be sure to limit the amount of sun exposure you get on the burn.

It will be a good idea to do a skin allergy test at a dermatologists or doctor’s office. Use this as a guide as to what products you can use.

Why does my face burn when I wash it?

Your face burns when you wash it for the same reasons it would burn when you apply a moisturiser. Either the ph is causing your skin to burn.

Your moisture barrier is damaged so the product is getting into the cracks.

You have sensitive skin and this product is not sensitive skin-friendly, you are having an allergic reaction. Or there are synthetic chemicals and/or fragrances in the product that your skin is getting irritated by.

Using milk soaps will calm your skin as you bathe, read about the benefits of coconut soap here and the benefits of honey and oatmeal soap here.

This milk soap is well-loved and widely used.

Are eye creams supposed to burn?

The skin around the eye is quite thin and more sensitive to products. If your eye cream contains any synthetic fragrances they may irritate your eye. Other allergens will include synthetic colourants and preservatives.

If you use too much product than necessary the skin can also get irritated. This happens if the active ingredient is very potent, adding too much can do more harm than good.

If you apply the eye cream too close to your eye you can also encounter some issues.

Eye creams should be applied on the orbital bone, as we blink and use our eyes the product will travel, eventually covering the skin closer to your eye. If you apply it too close it can burn your eye.

Read more about why eye creams burn the eyes and what to do when this happens by clicking here.

Burning sensation when applying moisturizer

How do I choose a good face moisturizer?

You need to be very selective when picking out a moisturiser. We all have different skin types, what works for our friends or even family won’t necessarily work for us.

Firstly you need to know what skin type you have. If you have combination or oily skin you need to find a moisturiser that will hydrate your skin and will also mattify it.

If you get a moisturiser that dries out your skin your skin will produce more sebum to try to moisturise itself giving you an oily face. This is a good option for you

If you have dry or normal skin you need to find a hydrating moisturiser. A mattifying moisturiser will only make your skin drier and more dehydrated.

You can use a moisturiser with oil in it, oils are generally great at sealing in hydration in the skin.

You may opt for a heavy cream moisturiser or if you prefer you can pick a moisturiser that contains shea butter and jojoba oil. This is a good option for you

If you have sensitive skin you need to be mindful of what you use as well (this is not a skin type on its own, you can have dry sensitive skin or oily sensitive skin).

You need to steer clear of moisturisers that contain synthetic fragrances and synthetic colourants. A good hypoallergenic moisturiser will also do wonders for you. This is a good option for you

LED at home face masks also help with dry skin, using it with your moisturizer can help to fight dryness and even skin conditions like rosacea. Read more about the best one for rosacea here.

Is hydrating and moisturizing the same thing?

Moisturising and hydrating is not the same thing. Hydration quenches your skin, hydrators are humectants that bring water from the environment into your skin. Moisturisers are oil-based ingredients that seal the hydration in your skin.

What ingredients hydrate skin?

Hyaluronic acid is one of the best ingredients to hydrate the skin. One part hyaluronic acid is able to hold up to 6 parts water.

In addition, the molecule penetrates deep into the skin giving you even better hydration. You can get pure hyaluronic acid serum, here is a well-loved one.

Other humectants which can be used in products include glycerine or honey.

What is the best ingredients for moisturizing?

Oils are generally great at moisturising. The ingredients that are generally used in moisturizing products include shea butter, coconut oil, and petroleum.

If you aren’t using a sunscreen you should at least have some sunscreen in your moisturiser, you need to be using a sunscreen with at least an SPF of 30. If your moisturiser contains antioxidants and ceramides that’s a bonus.

What ingredients should I avoid in a moisturizer?

Considering that up to 60 percent of what we use on our skin gets absorbed and runs into our bloodstream it is important to know what is getting into our bodies, these are well-used ingredients in moistures that you should avoid:

  • parabens (methyl, butyl, ethyl, propyl)
  • phthalates
  • synthetic fragrances
  • mineral oil
  • peg (polyethylene glycol)

What is the best moisturizer?

If you want a moisturiser that can be used on all skin types that doesn’t irritate your skin then I recommend the CeraVe Daily Moisturizing Lotion.

It is a lightweight formula that offers 24-hour hydration.

If you have a damaged moisture barrier this product will help repair it as it contains ceramides.

The product hydrates your skin using hyaluronic acid and it is non-comedogenic, it does not contain fragrance, colourants or oils. And as a bonus it’s hypoallergenic.

Is honey good for burns?

Honey is basically liquid gold, we use it in DIY face masks for a number of reasons, it is nourishing, is a humectant and it can help heal the skin.

The ph of honey helps to heal wounds, helps the skin draw excess water out of damaged tissues and it has great antibacterial properties.

The best honey to use if you have irritation or burns is manuka honey. Always consult a medical professional before using honey on your skin.

What can I use instead of moisturizer?

There are natural alternatives to using a moisturizer and some of these work just as well if not better than your average moisturiser for some people.

They do a great job at moisturising the skin, helping reduce dark circles, and helping to clear acne scarring.  If you’re looking for a good alternative you can try:

I hope you enjoyed this article looking deeper into why you feel a burning sensation when applying moisturizer.

Remember to use aloe vera or a cold compress when you experience this.

Take note of why the moisturizer is burning weather its a low or high ph, ingredients, synthetic fragrances or colourants or a damaged moisture barrier. If you enjoyed this article please share it.

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