New Service on Your Menu? The Teargas Facial

You may be living in a part of the country where social justice marches and demonstrations are occurring with regularity. You can provide relief to those individuals who have had the misfortune of being on the receiving end of teargas or pepper spray by offering a relieving and hydrating skincare treatment. I will discuss treatment protocols for skin that has suffered from a teargas or pepper spray attack but first, let’s look at the effects of these toxins on the skin.

Teargas is not a gas, despite its name. It is really solid or liquid chemicals in a spray or powder form that react with moisture to inflict irritation and pain. The eyes, nose, mouth, throat are severely affected because they are some of the most highly moist areas of the body.

Teargas is a mixture of a number of different chemicals. These chemicals bind with pain receptors in our bodies. The chemicals are the same chemicals that cause our pain receptors to respond to oils in mustard, wasabi and horseradish but 10,000 times more potent.

Tear gas was initially developed for use in the military but has evolved for use in crowd and riot control by community police forces across the country.

Anecdotal reports of menstrual disruption, including prolonged cramping, bleeding from women and trans protesters in Portland have come forward. Your client may have additional skincare needs due to the hormonal interruption as sebum production is greatly influenced by testosterone and estrogen levels. [1]

Pepper Spray has been around for centuries. It originated in China where warriors put ground cayenne pepper into rice paper and tossed it into an opponent’s face during combat. Mail carriers used pepper spray to fend off an aggressive dog. It has been adapted as a personal safety device, available in small personal size canisters. It has also become a crowd control measure for law enforcement. [2]

The use of tear gas and pepper spray may bring skin irritation so severe that it could be considered a superficial burn. For either skin attack, avoid the use of aloe. Aloe or oil or oil-based products could seal in toxins.


There are seven steps to the Teargas/Pepper Spray Facial. Be sure to perform a thorough consultation and skin analysis prior to beginning this therapy. Ensure your client has no allergies to the ingredients in the products you are using and has no medical contraindications. Hot towels are not recommended and neither is steam as it could exacerbate skin irritation and increase risk of barrier function compromise.

Step One: Cleanse with a gentle cleanser. Use a milky cleanser or one with a low percentage of surfactants that could cause additional irritation to the skin.

The water temperature used for rinsing off the cleanser is important. The water should not be too hot so that it causes reactivation of the burning sensation from the teargas or pepper spray. Cooler water should feel more soothing to your client.

Perform the cleanse a second time. Pat the skin dry, being careful not to create friction rubbing the skin.

Step Two: Facial massage with an unscented low comedogenic oil. Using an oil with a low comedogenic score will lessen the risk of comedone formation and additional inflammation from pore congestion. Suggestions are jojoba oil or sweet almond oil. Fragrances can cause skin irritation and inflammation so fragrance free oil is optimal.

Remove any excess oil with a lukewarm towel.

Step Three: Apply a soothing mask, such as a hydrojelly mask intended for calming. Use of a stone roller or ice globes is encouraged for additional relief.

Step Four: Apply a Vitamin E antioxidant serum, patting it into the skin, rather than rubbing it in. Vitamin E, also called alpha-tocopherol, has been shown to accelerate healing in skin that has radiation burns from cancer treatment. Dr. Kevin Schewe, a radiation specialist in Colorado, has done extensive studies on its benefits. [4]

Step Five: Apply soothing eye cream. Use a stone roller or gua sha to promote lymphatic drainage.

Step Six: Apply moisture, either a gel, lotion or cream formulation, based on your skin analysis. Pat it into the skin gently until it is absorbed.

Step Seven: Apply SPF of 30 or higher. Press gently into the skin.

Newly licensed esthetician Sheridan Corrie attended BLM rallies in downtown Portland, Oregon and witnessed protestors on the receiving end of teargas and pepper spray. She is putting her skincare skills to service by offering facials to help provide relief to those who have marched for social justice reform.

She says, “This is not a politically driven gesture. I just want to help support my community members. I attended a protest last week, and was humbled by how physically tired they are, yet remain fueled by their passion for human rights. My goal is to provide a relaxing, soothing, nourishing facial. “

Perhaps this is a new service you may consider adding to your menu as rallies and marches continue to thrive during this unique time in our nation.

[1] [2] [3] [4]

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