Any ingredient that reduces signs of inflammation, such as swelling, tenderness, pain, itching, or redness. Many ingredients perform the function of anti-irritants or anti-inflammatories, and better ones are being discovered all the time. The term “anti-irritant” is interchangeable with anti-inflammatory.

Interestingly, most antioxidants function as anti-irritants because one of the skin’s responses to free-radical damage is irritation and inflammation. These ingredients go a long way toward helping the skin deal with its daily struggle against sun exposure, pollution, skincare routines (topical disinfectants, sunscreens, and exfoliants can be irritating to skin), and seasonal environmental extremes. [1, 2]

References Cited:

  1. Ford C, Maibach H. Anti-Irritants: Myth or Reality?. Exog Dermatol. 2004;3:154–160.
  2. Kim B, Lee Y, Kang K. The mechanism of retinol-induced irritation and its application to anti-irritant development.. Toxicol Lett. 2003;146(1):65-73.

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Paula Begoun is the best-selling author of 20 books on skin care and makeup. She is known worldwide as the Cosmetics Cop and creator of Paula's Choice. Paula's expertise has led to hundreds of appearances on national and international television including:

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The Paula's Choice Research Team is dedicated to busting beauty myths and helping you solve your skincare frustrations with research-supported expert advice—so you'll have the facts you need to take the best possible care of your skin.

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