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Today I thought I'd share with you the products I reach for when my skin is freaking out or my skin barrier is not happy! These are my go-to helpers...
First up: let's talk about sunscreen. Obviously it's an every-single-day part of my skincare routine, but sometimes - if my skin is feeling tender and sensitive - chemical filters can be a little irritating so I switch to my Skingredients Skin Shield SPF 50 PA +++* | £51 | full review. This is now available at Cult Beauty and has been repackaged and you get almost 50% more product (if you were wondering why it's now £12 more expensive than in my original review) plus the new version is refillable. I am pretty much out of this so will definitely pick it up for the winter! The formula is still the same though; it's a super-fluid sunscreen with zinc oxide acting as a broad-spectrum filter and iron oxides to help with visible light protection. It has a slight peachy tint - obviously this is my personal SOS Skin Kit so I can't say it won't leave a cast on deeper skin tones than my own (the Colorescience formula comes in a wider shade range though). I like this one because it's lightly hydrating and moisturising and can be used as a one-step sunscreen moisturiser with added beneficial ingredients including soothers like bisabolol and allantoin and antioxidants like Vitamin E (which has moisturising benefits too) and Vitamin B, in the form of skin-barrier-boosting niacinamide. It's not irritating and there are lots of nice, soothing ingredients in here, alongside the zinc itself, which can actually calm inflammation.
A go-to product for when my skin is reacting is La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume B5 | £8. I have honestly used this product for years and it lives in a little tub in my bathroom so it's available if it feels like I need it. This creamy healing balm is formulated with glycerin (a humectant, drawing water into the skin), nourishing shea butter, panthenol (AKA Vitamin B5, which is amazing for lasting hydration), Vitamin E to moisturise, zinc to calm inflammation and also the 'active' element of cica (or centella asiatica) which has skin-soothing properties. This comes out as a cream but melts down very readily and immediately calms down areas of redness and inflammation. I use it on small areas so I have this little tube, but you can use it on your body and all over your face, if you like (in which case I'd go for the larger tube at £15).
Something people don't often talk about is the fact that when your skin barrier is compromised: you can break out! For me personally, this manifests as these colonies of red bumps (usually on my chin, moving up towards my mouth area) that feel inflamed but they're really under the surface and don't have a head. I really enjoy using the Inkey List's Succinic Acid Blemish Treatment* | £6.99 | full review. This is a different kind of spot treatment: you don't apply it for a few hours and it dries out the spot. It's gentle, hydrating, even, and you apply this in the morning and the evening for the breakouts to subside over the course of a day or two. The succinic acid (despite the product name) isn't really doing the heavy lifting here, in my opinion: salicylic acid is increasing skin cell turnover and clearing out spot-causing debit to shorten the lifespan of active blemishes, and sulphur is shrinking down that angry redness.
A great product for when I want to wear a bit of makeup but my skin isn't feeling great is the Dermalogica Barrier Repair | £45. This is also an option if you just don't like something that feels oily or heavy on the skin. This contains silicones and has that sort of feel - they have the function of trapping moisture into the skin so it has time to heal. This is also formulated with anti-inflammatory ginger extract, soothing oat, calming Vitamin E and other moisturising oils. I apply it to where I get redness and irritation and it just protects the area. It's amazing if you're going out into the cold weather and you have a bit of irritation; it just creates this barrier between your skin and the elements.
The Zelens Power D* | £95 | full review | has become an absolute essential in my routine. This super-light oil is an absolute dream with ingredients like skin barrier boosting Vitamin D, Vitamins E and F, squalane, avocado oil and cholesterol. These ingredients work to really replenish the skin with essential fats. It soothes irritation and ensures that if things are dry, dull or peeling, they're returned to being soft, smooth, calm and moisturised as soon as possible.
If you want to spot-apply something really nourishing, I personally love the REN Evercalm Overnight Recovery Balm* | £42. Again, it does create that buffer between your skin and the elements, as well as repairing and protecting a damaged skin barrier. I often apply it around my eyes and my mouth in the winter when my skin can be prone to dryness around those more delicate areas. You can pop it in your handbag and apply it to dry knuckles or around the nose if you've been blowing it a lot and things are getting a bit flaky; it's just a fantastic multi-tasker. There's are hydrating, calming ingredients in here like beta glucan (from oats) and fatty alcohol blended with replenishing oils like sunflower and jojoba. It provides lasting nourishment to dry skin, making it an essential for me as we head into the colder months.
What are your essentials when your skin is having a bit of a 'mare?