A few months ago, I tried a new aesthetician. She’s Russian and beautiful in an ageless ballerina kind of way. Her skin glows. She might be 34. She might be 27. She might be 59. I don’t know. But she is amazing.
The first time I went to her, she sold me on simply her waxing and extraction prowess: with my eyes closed, I could have sworn that the waxing was done by a very strategic hummingbird. It didn’t hurt! I have had facials from no fewer than two dozen different specialists but Svetlana is the Pore Whisperer.
And I’m not making that up: her name is actually Svetlana.
Let us ignore for a moment how infinitely satisfying it is to lay in a dark room and have your face slathered while a lady with a Russian accent is whispering to you about your skin care regime (sidebar: when I am extremely wealthy through some brilliant invention or perhaps Potter-esque novel, my Town Car driver will be Russian and also, licensed to carry a concealed weapon. In the fantasy of Bix Perfection, in fact, people with assorted accents will run my life. I will be the Angelina Jolie of hired help), the woman has gotten RESULTS.
Two weeks after my second appointment, I had already decided that I would follow Svetlana wherever she went, including but not limited to my monthly appointments in Milwaukee or Chicago if needed. She cemented my devotion by telling me that the problem was NOT in failing to clean my face enough (something that every other aesthetician has been telling me would help my rosacea) but rather that I was cleaning my face TOO much. She warned me not to use my Clarisonic on my cheeks or maybe even at all and also, ditch all soap products. Even The Soap! I had been afraid of moisturizing too much, lest the zits cry VIVA LA REVOLUTION on my face, but Svetlana said that I should be using moisturizer both before bed AND when I got up in the morning, on top of my usual sunscreen (which I thought was enough). Also, while I thought I was doing a pretty good job of dabbing on eye cream about three times a week (per advice of a lady’s magazine for my age bracket), she said that for my skin type, I should actually be doing it twice a day!
Basically, I was doing it all wrong. And yes, I DID actually cover skin care for years. Remember that the next time you read advice in Marie Claire and Cosmo.
So, over the last three months, I’ve been devoted entirely to figuring out my rosacea demon. I’ve learned that when I eat too much sugar or had too high of a carb to protein balance, my skin looks like absolute crap and that when I drink wine, the next morning will be redder than normal.
I’ve also been running through a host of sensitive skin moisturizers, treatments and cleansers, giving each no less than a week’s window of use. I have the winners, the losers and the next possible heirs to the throne.
First, what doesn’t work:
- Origins Night-a-mins Holy crap, this stuff is heavy, not to mention, kind of expensive for the teeny tiny tub. I was too nervous to put it on my T-zone, so I limited it to my cheeks and forehead and promptly got three clogged pores on my CHEEK. Ladies, who among us who are kissing forty get blocked cheek pores? Way too heavy, even in the middle of harsh Wisconsin winter. Also, annoying name!
- Clinique Moisture Surge Extended : You know how you think you love a product but when you actually get scientific about it, you realize that you had beer goggles on? That’s how it was with me and Moisture Surge! I love the light feeling, the absorption and the way it makes my little “character lines” get blurry, but after my rosacea had been toned down so awesomely by one of the Winners, I popped open my old favorite Moisture Surge and blammo: gigantic red face that lasted all day. It pained me to put this in my Free For All bag that my friends get to dig through when they come over, but ah well.
- Prescriptives Super Line Preventer Serum Like the Moisture Surge, I used to think this stuff was the shit, and maybe at one time, it balanced out my oil-overproduction but now? Did someone order a giant red face? Because I got one right here.
- Aveda Enbrightenment Brightening Correcting Serum Oh, it smells so nice! And it absorbs really lovely! And the word Serum makes me feel all science-y and stuff! And then it made me red and itchy after two days. Expensive lesson to learn, into the Free For All sack it goes.
- Eucerin Redness Relief Daily Perfecting Lotion Oh my god, this is the biggest bucket of crap. It’s Herman Munster green, smells like ass and made me dry and SCALY, which is not quite a sexy look. Does it improve redness? Maybe on my cheeks but the corners of my nose were bright bright red and sore. Maybe that stinging feeling means it’s working? I was too annoyed to stick out the whole week with this one.
- Murad Redness Therapy Recovery Treatment Gel*: No. NO. Doesn’t moisturize, doesn’t seem to do really anything. Glad I didn’t pay for it.
Onto the winners!
- Caudalie Cleansing Water It is exactly as it sounds: a soapless cleanser that removes dirt and makeup. No need to use a toner and no harsh chemicals on your skin. It works because it has teeny tiny little particles (called a micellar solution) that grab dirt and oil out of your pores. Lancome and Clarins each have a similar product and I’m sure they are roughly the same thing but I like Caudalie because I’ve never had a reaction to it, so I use it. Plus, I think it’s cheaper than the other micellars on the market.
- Desert Essence Organic Jojoba Oil, 4-Ounce Bottle: I originally bought this to stow in my locker at the pottery studio to combat my post-wheel mummy hands, but then I read that people were cleaning their faces with it instead of soap, so I tried it on my face. Surprisingly lovely! The cheapest contender on the list, because it takes like four drops for my entire face and the little 2 oz bottle I got from Trader Joe’s for $5 seems like it’s going to last forever. It did not cause a rosacea reaction nor seem to create sebum problems (I’m looking at you, Night-A-Mins) which was my biggest concern but also seemed to make me less shiny than usual in the afternoon. Huh. No real smell, totally no frills. While I think this is going to be too robust in the summer, this is a totally viable moisturizer during the drier months. This is totally going in my pack when I go to Vegas and bonus, you can use it on your entire body and the 2 ounce bottle can fit in the TSA-mandated baggie.
- Aveda All Sensitive Moisturizer This is loaded with oat extract and chamomile that’s supposed to be soothing to irritated skin, but while my friend jojoba oil is an ingredient, I do get a little nervous about the olive oil. When I bought it, I swore the salesperson told me that it was oil free, and no, it was clearly not when I read the ingredients at home. I think that’s why the post-moisturizing feeling is kind of gross. Despite all of these minuses, Aveda All Sensitive managed to turn my complexion into a creamy dewy perfect glow that has me skipping foundation for the first time since I was 17. For reals. Proof is in the pudding: this one seems to be the big all time winner product in my Rosacea Showdown. Flip side: I think I might be mildly allergic to it.
- Aveda Outer Peace Cooling Masque Kind of a “fooled ya!” moment though when you remove the masque because the pressure of washing it off (you have to use a soft cloth, as it’s tenacious) makes you MORE red temporarily. Kind of a ridiculous green treatment like the Eucerin Redness stuff in the Loser pile but used probably twice a month in combination with the All Sensitive Moisturizer, I definitely had a reduction in redness the next day after application. Not advised for every day use but a must the morning of a party to reduce the wine flushes.
Things I want to try next:
- Dermalogica Ultra Calming Serum: I have never met a Dermalogica product that I didn’t like, and Svetlana has been using some pro stuff during our appointments to fantastic results. I can’t get my hands on that stuff, sans beauty license, but this stuff seems to be the closest thing to what she’s using and I WANT IT. I don’t know if I want it badly enough to gamble 50 bones on it though.
- Murad Complete Reform Anti-Aging*: The folks at Murad are trying to woo me back after the Redness disaster so they sent me this product in ADORABLE back to school packaging complete with branded retro metal lunch box and theme notebook. I’m a sucker for being wooed, but I have to run this one past Svetlana before I slap it on my face. The list of ingredients makes me crazy.
- Yes To Cucumbers Hydrating Facial Lotion: One of my eye creams is a gigantic super cheapie Yes to Carrots eye cream and I feel like it performs better than Origins and close enough to Kinerase to make me love the drugstore price. Cucumbers are a no brainer when it comes to soothing and for $15 (and the promise of it going on sale at Wags sometime soon, as it does) I want to get in on this action. I might grab the blueberry one too.
- Kiehl’s Rosa Artica Cream My skin care insiders are whispering that this one can’t claim it’s rosacea-happy but the underground is abuzz. It’s $60 a pop, though, so I’ll probably wait for a generous sample from a Kiehl’s counter person.
To be clear, I should be satisfied with the action I’m getting from the Aveda All Sensitive and the occasional masquing but as I mentioned above, I think I’m mildly allergic to it, as I’ve been noticing some itchiness along my jaw and neckline. Despite the great results, I think I am pushing my luck and will hive out in a bad way as soon as I have any exposure to some serious sunlight this summer (which is always when it happens).
So tell me, my pretties, what are you using to hold off Father Time? And particularly those of you with picky princess skin, what should I be trying next?
*Received free products from company for review purposes.