So a few months ago the skin on my face had a TOTAL freak out. I mean it went into complete and utter meltdown. As you'll probably be aware if you've read any of my skincare posts before, it's always very up and down, but this was different - something I'd used had caused horrible blotchy, flaky, painful red patches of spots and rough skin around my nose and chin, and even the skin on my cheeks felt BURNT. GROSS, right? I know.
I have my suspicions it was a combination of the Origins Make a Difference (not the plus version, the old original kind) skin rejuvenating toner and moisturiser which I'd been testing out for a few days that made it react so dramatically, but I can't be sure. The toner actually sizzled and stung on contact with my skin and the moisturiser was greasy and smelled so bad I almost boked putting it on. So, yi know, use with caution, that's all I'm saying. I have a weird love/hate relationship with some Origins products but all I know is that since I chucked those particular items out, my skin has been on the mend. Slowly...
But back to a few weeks ago. It was clear I had to have a total rethink. Time to bust out the big guns to sort this situation out, STAT.
Number one on my priority list was to get rid of the gross patchy, flaky areas. I was almost like whatever I'd used (*fires Origins daggers*) had burnt my skin and left it scabbing over in an attempt to repair itself, and I could NOT be doing with that. Makeup can deal with redness in the short term but no amount of foundation or concealer will hide rough texture.
It was with MUCH trepidation I decided to go for the most potent glycolic exfoliator I've got in my arsenal. I've used Alpha H's Liquid Gold before and found it way too harsh for my sensitive skin, but frankly I was at my wits end and prepared to do anything.
Instead of using this at night and leaving it on for hours, I swept a bit of this over my face on a cotton pad, left it for about 45 mins and then used my Clarins Extra Comfort Cleansing Cream and gently removed with a flannel. I found the dry patches came away much easier with less redness than a manual exfoliant, but I didn't end up with the raw and painful skin I did the last time I used this over night. If you have sensitive skin but are still looking for a hefty exfoliator that gives visible results I'd recommend this method.
I repeated this every night for about 4 days and slowly started to see a difference in the texture of my skin. Thank God.
Once I could see a slight improvement in my skin, I figured I could move on to manual exfoliants. Generally harsher and more abrasive than their chemical counterparts, manual exfoliators physically remove the surface of the skin by buffing it away using rough beads, or in this case natural bristles in the form of a face brush by Botanics.
Like virtually everyone in the universe the Clarisonic revolution didn't pass me by unnoticed, but I wasn't up for shelling out over £100 on a giant electric-toothbrush-for-your-face as it seemed gimmicky and I'd read some scary stories about "purging" aka horrific breakouts as a consequence. But I walked by this wee oddity in Boots a few weeks ago and had to get it, purely for the novelty factor and the fact it was only around a fiver. Anyone else feel like a total CHOOB standing BRUSHING your face of an evening though? I know I did/do!
But I have to say, I'm getting really into it. I've been using it with my Elemis Tri-Enzyme cleanser or the Clarins Comfort Cream - I wouldn't double up with this and anything harsh and stripping - and I've been finding my skin is smoother and softer as a result. It hasn't revolutionised my face or anything, but it does a good job of buffing away dry flaky bits gently... Gads.
Now that the majority of my sore and scabby skin had gone, I moved on to alternating this gentle exfoliating cleanser from Clarins with my other cleansers and have really been enjoying it. The beads are just the right size and there are just the right amount of them so as to get an effective amount in one dollop - if that makes sense. It doesn't feel scratchy in the slightest, plus it smells deliciously of oranges and doesn't leave my skin red raw or dry. I'm sure there are cheaper alternatives of this that do much the same job, but when my skin is sore and traumatised I always come back to brands like Clarins that I trust and know.
Once my skin had been buffed down, it was then I could really see the damage done. I almost wish I'd taken pictures of it but I just can't bear putting pictures of my naked face online, especially when it looked how it did. Picture bright red scarring and papery thin, sensitive skin. Ouch.
Again I went back to the drawing board. I needed something nourishing and repairing, while helping to minimise the scarring and redness.
At first the thought of slathering oil on my face really freaked me out, but I could see my skin was crying out for something that would add moisture and nourishment deep down so I bit the bullet and started applying a few drops of this Trilogy Organic Rosehip Oil at night underneath my Advanced Night Repair, patting it in all over but concentrating particularly on the sore and damaged areas.
Rosehip oil (or this one anyway) is a totally odourless, yellow-toned oil which is used to moisturise, help heal scarring (including stretchmarks) and minimise the appearance of wrinkles.
This is an oil, OBVIOUSLY, so saying it's non greasy is a moot point, but I do find it to sink in quickly and when applied under my other night time skincare routine (after the Caudalie beauty elixir but before ANR and moisturiser) it disappears quickly with little residue. I have to say though for the few weeks when my skin was in a mess I really didn't mind the feeling of oil on the surface, it felt healing and medicinal somehow. I think now I'll just be using this a few times a week but it did definitely help to add back vital moisture and elasticity.
This is the second bottle of this Antipodes Apostle Skin Brightening and Tone Correcting Serum I've purchased (and it's not bloody cheap, believe me!) and I'm still absolutely loving it. It looks and smells like crushed up fruit because that's essentially what it is, with added goodies like aloe vera juice, grapeseed concentrate and mushroom extract thrown in. I have to say, it's not been the most dramatic thing ever to correct my skintone, but it's by far the nicest to use because of the delicious smell and organic origins.
After those hellish few weeks I wasn't going to take my chances with anything I'd not tested before and I knew I could rely on this to do the job of sorting out the scarring and redness left behind, albeit slowly. A few weeks down the line and one of the patches of discolouration has virtually disappeared, while the other, more severe area of redness is fading day by day.
As a side note, I've also been using my Antipodes Aura Manuka Honey Mask regularly to calm my skin and help to cleanse and purify it, and I've been finding it to work WONDERS. I can't recommend either of these products enough.
The fact I have a sneaking suspicious this was all at least PARTLY caused by a moisturiser in the first place (*shakes fist angrily in the direction of Origins*) I was very nervous to try anything new, but torn because quite honestly I feel I've never really CRACKED moisturisers. I have dehydrated, combination skin that can be quite sensitive, so I need something light than can work well deep down to add serious moisture, but that won't overload my skin or clog pores. I've yet to find my holy grail daytime and nightime moisturiser, but in this case of massive DAMAGE CONTROL I was less concerned with finding something I loved than with something to soothe and heal my broken and damaged skin in the short term.
Enter Avene's Skin Recovery Cream. A fairly thick, white hypoallergenic cream targetted at healing sensitive, intolerant and allergy prone skin using thermal spa water. It claims to repair the skin's emolient layer which is exactly what I was looking for so I slapped it on, only to realise the second main ingredient in this is Paraffinum Liquidum... THE DREADED MINERAL OIL.
I have to be honest though and say I've noticed NO adverse side effects to this, despite being terrified of mineral oil ever since Caroline Hirons denounced it as the root of all skin evils. Instead I found this to do exactly what it said, and relished applying it morning and night, even if it meant I was a little shiny by hometime.
Now that I don't need something as HARDCORE as the Avene Recovery Cream, I'm still scared to start testing out moisturisers again after this, so I've gone back to an old favourite of EONS ago, The Body Shop's Vitamin E Moisture Cream. I've been alternating it with the REN Hydra-Calm moisturiser which I also like, but there's something more comforting about using this. Maybe it's the fact it smells more grannyish, or it's pink, or it comes in a tub, but for whatever reason this is what I've been reaching for most days and nights and it's been keeping my skin soft and hydrated a treat so far.
So yes, that's how I attempted to heal my damaged skin, and thankfully it's almost back to normal. Normal for me, I mean. I'm sure it'll still be as tempremental as ever! While I can't be SURE it was those Origins products that caused it, I won't be rushing back to test them for a while. I've been disappointed by Origins before and I think that if it's organic skincare you're after you can do way better - Antipodes, REN, Trilogy and Melvita to name a few.
Have you guys got any skincare-testing disaster stories to share? Mon in for a group hug!