Friday, 13 April 2012

Skincare Not-So-Routine

Or, even more products what I use to supplement my not-so-basic basic skincare routine.

So, delicatest of delicate little lotus blossoms that I am, I have skin that is sensitive, thin and slow-healing, a combination that makes exfoliation both tempting (slough off dull flaky bumpy bits and make scars fade faster? woot!) and risky (irritation ahoy! yet more flakes and redness? what fresh hell? etc.) 
I now find it best to avoid all physical exfoliators,* instead relying on a thin layer of REN Glycolactic Mask about once a fortnight (once a week max) -- its fruit acids, like, completely resurface my skin in ten minutes, bestowing a makeup-less(!) glow for the next day or so. It does sting slightly while on and absolutely reeks of fruit roll-ups but what price beauty, eh? It doesn't make my skin red, sore or flaky afterwards.
A localised dot of Paula's Choice 2% BHA Weightless Body Treatment overnight usually takes care of any isolated clogs. (I originally bought this to deal with some psoriasis bumps on upper arms / backs of thighs -- it's a rare example of a product that works so well it rendered itself obsolete before the end of the tube.)
*not just the notoriously abrasive St. Ives Apricot Scrub but also everything from the Asian rub'n'peel gels like Cure to gentle enzyme-based Dermalogica Microfoliant to the finest muslin cloths. I tolerated pink clay konjac sponges quite well, but only in summer / hot climates.

Moisturising Masks
If I exfoliate less often than your average pamered poodle groomed woman, I bet I 'mask' more often -- at least twice a week, always after exfoliation, and daily if my skin's particularly picky. It's always fun to try whatever's flavour of the month when I travel to E. Asia (currently bee venom, apparently; previous trends have included platinum, pearl, red wine and of course, SK-II's pitera) but the no-frills drugstore fragrance-free, alcohol-free Mandom Beauty Barrier Repair Super Moist sheet masks have remained my favourites for years. Like my 'holy grail' serum from the same brand, it does a simple job (hydration) exceptionally well, leaving me with plumped, soothed and ridiculously soft skin after 20 minutes' wear. The sheet itself is also thick and cut larger than many other brands', and tears down the middle for an even better fit.
I babble a lot about Japanese drugstore gems, but Boots Botanics is a reliable source of homegrown ones -- their lightly honeyed Intensive Moisture Mask makes an excellent overnight spot-treatment for dry patches and doubles as my gankin massage cream -- most of it's usually sunk in by the time I finish, but any excess is easily patted in, so there's no rinsing / double cleansing / wiping to deal with.
DHC Revitalising Moisture Strips proved to be my favourite of all the Asian eye masks I tried last year -- laid over whatever eye cream you're using, they noticeably depuff and brighten the undereye area overnight while boosting its moisture, and the effect lasts at least 24 hours. (On their own they don't moisturise sufficiently for me.)

During brief windows in which I have unbroken, relatively happy skin I like to tempt fate Erase the Passage of Time incorporate some more 'active' ingredients into my basic 'keep skin hydrated and moisturised' routine (which frankly takes too much work as it is).
The Body Shop Vitamin C Radiance Capsules is the more effective of the only two vit. C products on the market which didn't burn my face off (the other is the very watery MAP-based DHC Vitamin C Essence). The individually packaged doses (30 per jar) are a clever way to keep the active ingredient fresh (vit C in its L-Ascorbic Acid form is notoriously quick to degrade) and they make any acne scars/marks fade noticeably faster and give brighter-looking skin overall applied as a morning serum.
I've professed my love for Olay Regenerist Fragrance-Free Serum before and it's still my nighttime serum for barrier-repair and redness-minimising (it's best not to layer l-ascorbic acid and niacinamide as the two ingredients work best at different pHs).
Note: both of these actives come in very siliconey bases to 'buffer' them for my very sensitive skin; I'm sure there are more potent offerings out there for those with normal or resistant skin.

My response to any skin emergency is to moisturise the hell out of it. This applies to breakouts as well as the more usual dry-skin woes (chapped, peeling, cracked, tight or lined skin). I rarely get spots but when I do they're inevitably those giant, painful stress/hormonal underground cysts -- and for those, moisturising and not-picking/squeezing are for me the best way to:
  1. bring them to a head quicker (if they are to come to a head, most of mine seem to get reabsorbed after a month or summat...*)
  2. keep the surface smooth and flake-free to ease concealer-application
  3. ameliorate future scarring, a little
Avène Cicalfate Repair Cream is perfect for this, because as well as being bland, fragrance-free, and antibacterial, it's also thicker than most of their creams so adheres well to localised patches and can be applied in a thick mask-like layer overnight. The metal packaging is hygenic and psychologically soothing, though I admit I wish it came in awesome test-tubes like the old Tolérance Extrême...
La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume B5 is a new product I first read of on Musing On Beauty. Its ingredients resemble Avène's Cicalfate (unsurprisingly as the two brands and product lines are direct rivals) unlike the original LRP Cicaplast which is more of a cosmetic primer. First impressions are that it is much more matte and almost waxy in comparison to the Avène; I'll be giving it a more thorough testing through an East Asian hot summer.

*dermatological expertise: I haz it. In spades.


  1. This is very interesting!
    Now I need to tell you that my love for the LRP Cicaplast B5 Balm has been renewed: it just cured in 5 days a bad face skin situation I couldn't get rid of in MONTHS and that kept worsening. A must have, it looks like it totally restpred my damaged skin barrier, I'm really thrilled!

  2. I've bookmarked the Mandom mask so I remember to try it when I reorder the Serum from adambeauty. Thanks!