My skin is currently not happy. It hasn’t been for about a week. Symptoms:
- Pain when touched by anything
- Stinging when touched by liquids, including water
- Constant itchiness, etc.,
- Tenderness to the touch, and, visually, swelling, blotchiness, a rash of red pimply-looking things, and dry flaky sore patches
This started with the area around my eyes (and my eyes themselves) and may be linked to / a contributing cause may be when I rubbed my eyes and face with my scarf. Long story, not for here, as to why the bleeding suffering heck I did such a stupid thing in the first place.
Other contributing factors, bearing in mind that the reactions may result from a Perfect Storm of several factors, and this Perfect Storm is at least as likely as just one single cause:
- The usual seasonal allergies. Or, the dark side of our beautiful cherry blossom.
- Work stress
- Poor quality sleep
- A couple of days when I was less than dutiful about drinking lots of water regularly throughout the day
- Maybe something I ate?
- Changing my usual multi-purpose oil blend to include avocado oil?
- Tried krill oil omega-3 capsules (I usually get omega-3 from food, or that Norwegian Gold fish-oil capsule: it’s one of the few omega-3 caps that uses fish rather than beef gelatin in the coating, uses sustainable fish sources, is regularly available in normal shops, and is not a stupid price)
- Experimenting, before this episode, with Andalou Organics Turmeric + C Enlighten Serum: I had been patch-testing it then moved to small-area patch-testing on face, had immediate mild irritation, and stopped using it. Possible culprits: turmeric, flax seed oil, orange essential oil. This might have moved skin into Upset Mode, into being more prone to over-reaction at the slightest provocation.
- On Monday last week and through part of Tuesday, in the port of Vancouver, there was a chemical fire. Shipping containers of trichloroisocyanuric acid burned and released toxic fumes (including chlorine gas) into the local atmosphere; I was at the outer limits of the affected area.
It’s not just a matter of perception and self-perception. Though of course that’s always going to be a factor with skin; combined with the effects of hormones on mood, attitude, view of the world and of the self; and the weird wonderful relationship between humans and their mirrors.
You know things are a bit different when you experience physical pain.
It’s been settling down somewhat over the last three days. My face doesn’t feel comstantly itchy and isn’t doing the hypersensitive thing of going bonkers and hurting whenever anything touches it.
What I’ve been doing:
- Careful about food
- “Skin Elimination Diet”: reducing products used to a minimum, first using only the blandest most basic stuff, and once skin is settling, reintroducing ingredients and products one at a time
- No makeup for the first 3 days, then just mascara, then back to the usual eyeliner + mascara + eye-concealer + tinted lip-balm
- Topical corticosteroid cream (except near the eyes) for the first two days; NB this stuff is ONLY for dire emergencies and short-term use (doctors usually say 3 days, 5 days absolute maximum)
So here’s what I’ve been using on skin:
- Clean it using unscented mineral oil and tepid tap-water, using cotton pads for face, neck, and eyes
- Rinse with tepid water and another cotton pad
- Moisturise with mineral oil
- Drier skin–eye area (but not undereye), dry flaky patches on cheeks: Prevex cream (petrolatum + silicone)
- Clean with Aveeno oaty cleansing bar
or (as of this morning’s progress) fine-ground oats mixed to a smooth creamy paste with warm water
- Rinse with warm water
- Moisturise with mineral oil
- Drier skin, eye area: Prevex cream
- Sunscreen: EltaMD pure physical SPF 47 (ZnO + TiO2). I’m using this in preference to the equally bland Vanicream SPF 50 because it’s runnier and more easily spreadable just by patting on gently. The thicker Vanicream needs more rubbing, and that’s just not going to happen with sore skin…
- EDIT (2015-03-14), forgot to say: unscented bland shampoo & conditioner (Cliniderm = Free & Clear)
SUBSTITIONS THAT ARE WORKING
- replaced mineral oil with a 50/50 mix of safflower + meadowfoam seed oils
- replaced Prevex cream with DIY multi-purpose balm
= 50% refined shea butter + 50% beeswax & olive oil
- EDIT (2015-03-14) replaced Cliniderm hair stuff with EarthSafe, also unscented
- EDIT (2015-03-15) replaced sunscreen with one that just has ZnO (no TiO2) and no silicones: Derma E SPF 30; skin happier. Still not back to normal, but there had been a turn for the worse when the previous (super-bland) sunscreen stung on application and the rash became redder and bumpier. I experimented on skin on my forehead and neck: irritated but less so than middle of face:
- Testing to see if the silicone base, and specifically cyclopentasiloxane, might be a factor contributing to reaction: EltaMD vs the less-siliconey Vanicream SPF 50: no cyclopentasiloxane (which can clog and/or irritate on my skin, though not always), though heavier and less easily spreadable. The Vanicream side was as itchy and bumpy.
- Testing to see if TiO2 might be a factor: EltaMD vs Replenix sheer physical spray SPF 50 which is also bland, silicone-based, includes cyclops, but is ZnO-only (no TiO2). Skin felt better on the ZnO-only side.
- Working hypothesis: ZnO combined with a non-silicone base might alleviate reaction. So I tested Replenix vs Derma E which is also ZnO-only, some other ingredients in common, but with a non-silicone base. The Derma E side is calmer. It is also cooler to the touch.
- I am therefore now using the Derma E all over, on irritated skin. (I may return to the other sunscreens under other circumstances and would certainly use them up on non-irritated skin such as hands).
Caveat: these are short-term sketchy experiments, not properly double-blind, etc.
- ADDED (2015-03-14): reasons for substitutions: preference for using more environmentally-sustainable stuff. Products in the skin elimination diet emergency kit aren’t, but their super-stable ingredients and minimal formulations mean they can sit around in the emergency / first aid supplies for a very long time, used like any other medical supplies only when needed, sparingly
- Tightliner in brown: Laura Mercier cake eyeliner: no change, but I wiped the surface with alcohol, cleaned my brush with alcohol, and clean it daily between uses; I’d been somewhat lax/lazy about proper tool hygiene
- Tubing mascara in black: Clinique Lash Power or Bobbi Brown Intensifying . The latter applies better, especially on lower lashes. I also cleaned and disinfected my lash brush/comb.
- Silk Naturals HD cream concealer in #20
- Burt’s Bees tinted lip balm in Red Dahlia