Category: irritation

new stuff: shampoo and conditioner

skin, updated

(Little to report.)

Compared to my last post: stabilisation, mainly ups overall. Skin feels, seems, and looks more stable.

Here is what I am using on my face right now:

  • Mix of sunflower + meadowfoam seed oil as makeup remover; warm water & a fresh cleansing pad flannel thing every time
    = no change
  • Wash: La Roche-Posay Tolériane Dermo-Cleanser; applied to dry skin, removed with a damp cleansing pad. Zero anything with this cleanser: a bland fluid, feels like lightweight cold cream or cleansing milk. Cleans well and leaves skin feeling clean but comfy.
    = no change
  • Toner, serum, etc.: nothing. Just pat skin dry.
  • Eye area: Garden of Wisdom anti-puffery eye serum (hyaluronic acid, caffeine, matrixyl 3000). Using this for puffy eye area (undereye and eyelids) with regular seasonal allergies. Current sleep situation is improved; I get baggy both with too little and with too much sleep, so actually bags are a good indicator of whether or not I’m getting the right amount of sleep (for me, and this is one of at least two raisons d’être for bagginess in my case; the “how” and “why” of bags varies).
    = no change
  • Moisturiser (face, eye area, throat): La Roche-Posay Tolériane Cicaplast balm.
    Testing against their Tolériane Ultra ended with the following:
    1. Cicaplast baume is moister, more concentrated, and as I use about a third of the quantity and a tube is half the price, Cicaplast is a better buy.
    2. Cicaplast keeps my skin better moisturised for longer.
    3. I do not get any redness, bumpiness, itching, spottiness, or other stages of irritation with it. At all. Skin just feels soothed. While Tolériane is fine on most areas of my face plus neck, I get all these irritable negatives in the nose, chin, and jawline areas. Sometimes soon after application, sometimes a few hours later.
    Conclusion: staying with Cicaplast Baume. Used up the last of the pathetically tiny tube of Tolériane Ultra in one lavish swoop as a body moisturiser after a very pleasant oily bath. Waste not, want not.
  • Lips: my old multi-purpose DIY balm, shea butter + olive oil + beeswax
    = no change.
  • Face & eye-area sunscreen: Derma E Face SPF 30 (16% ZnO, also green tea, vitamin C (SAP), no silicones; = Wise/Poor Man’s Replenix)
    = no change.
  • Lip sunscreen: Badger unscented SPF 35 stick (22.5% ZnO)
    = no change.

Using up the remaining Lipikar Syndet cleanser on body, plus Lipikar Baume on body and hands (like it a lot), and Derma E Body sunscreen.

So: continuing minimalism and super-gentleness. As I said before: Current cleanser and moisturiser are pricy but not exorbitant, and certainly cheaper than prescription medication or trying out other products that might or might not work. Above all, functioning calm skin and no pain = priceless.

Plus hat, covering up, daily antihistamine, etc. …

On a less self-protective defensive note, but staying with that idea of being pure as the driven snow:


current state of the skin-nation

Ups and downs, mainly ups overall. 

Changed cleanser experimentally to an even blander one without niacinamide; face happier. Lipikar Syndet had been stinging a bit in the shower. Next move is to see (once I’ve finished the current cleanser) if I can find something similar that’s cheaper. Right now, where I am, I can’t: I can get similar and more expensive, or nearly-similar but with some known problem ingredients for about the same price.

Here is what I am using on my poor unfortunate face right now:

  • Mix of sunflower + meadowfoam seed oil as makeup remover; warm water & a fresh cleansing pad flannel thing every time
    = back to my old multi-purpose oil, moister than just meadowfoam alone and cheaper
  • Wash: La Roche-Posay Tolériane Dermo-Cleanser; applied to dry skin, removed with a damp cleansing pad. Zero anything with this cleanser: a bland fluid, feels like lightweight cold cream or cleansing milk.
  • Garden of Wisdom anti-puffery eye serum (hyaluronic acid, caffeine, matrixyl 3000)
    = no change
  • Moisturiser (face, eye area, throat): La Roche-Posay Tolériane Ultra cream or Cicaplast balm; applied to dry skin, after drying skin with a soft flannel cloth. Skin had been getting red, rashy, and sore when using a regular towel, even just patting at skin gently. I thought I might have been getting slight break-outs around the mouth and nose from Cicaplast, but not with Tolériane Ultra (tested split-face etc.). Not conclusive. Continuing testing.
  • Lips: DIY shea butter + olive oil + beeswax lipbalm
    = back to my old multi-purpose balm
  • Face & eye-area sunscreen: Derma E Face SPF 30 (16% ZnO, also green tea, vitamin C (SAP), no silicones; = Wise/Poor Man’s Replenix no. 2)
    = no change
  • Lip sunscreen: Badger unscented SPF 35 stick (22.5% ZnO)
    = no change

Using up the remaining Lipikar Syndet cleanser on body, plus Lipikar Baume on body and hands (like it a lot), and Derma E Body sunscreen.

So: continuing minimalism and super-gentleness. Alas, the absolute minimalism of just oil–for both cleanser and moisturiser–doesn’t work: I get redness, inflammation, return to rashy irritated zittiness. Oils tested out at various stages in the last three months using various blander oils like mineral, safflower, sunflower, meadowfoam, avocado, hemp; the ones that worked previously with other skin conditions. Current cleanser and moisturiser are pricy but not exorbitant, and certainly cheaper than prescription medication or trying out other products that might or might not work. Above all, functioning calm skin and no pain = priceless.

Plus hat, covering up, etc. …


skin disaster updates + coming up next…

Main update: skin is improving and nearly “normal.” Touch wood (or soft fluffy bunny). How and why are mysterious as the exact mechanism is unknown and has not been tracked systematically, due to my having other things to do (work, life) which are incompatible with obsessively attending to skin-condition. My doctor suspects the following:

  1. Paying less attention to skin and more attention to other things has probably been a positive contributing factor.
  2. Skin improvement has meant that (1) above was possible in the first place, because my skin didn’t hurt so I could ignore it. Skin not hurting, skin slowly healing, triggered a neat nice virtuous circle.
  3. My skin may have simply taken a regular renewal time to heal: that is, two months after the multiple initial dramas at the beginning of March.
  4. Work stress, anxiety, and overwork have been a negative contributing factor. They would have put my whole system in a weakened state, including increased sensitivity, proneness to over-reaction, and lower defenses. I’ve been more physically ill this year than previously, and less mentally well. 
  5. A positive that may have helped in the last two weeks: it’s a calmer time of year, work-wise, and I talked to work-people who were supportive in various ways, including reducing my work-load. Moral of the story: talk to people, openly and honestly, including your boss. If you’re valuable you will be valued. If you’re anxious and/or depressed, you may have no idea as to whether or not you and your work are valued and valuable, and you may have no way of telling precisely because your judgement is off. This may of course be a high-risk gamble if you are in fact neither valuable nor valued; so talk to trustworthy peer-colleagues first. (If you have none, then it’s probably a sign you should change job; been there, done that…)

Current stuff used:

  • Meadowfoam seed oil as makeup remover; warm water & a fresh cleansing pad flannel thing every time
  • La Roche-Posay Lipikar cream cleanser; ditto
  • Garden of Wisdom anti-puffery eye serum (hyaluronic acid, caffeine, matrixyl 3000)
  • Garden of Wisdom green tea hydragel serum (= Wise/Poor Man’s Replenix no. 1)
  • La Roche-Posay Cicaplast balm
  • DIY shea butter + olive oil + beeswax lipbalm
  • Derma E Face SPF 30 (16% ZnO, also green tea, vitamin C (SAP), no silicones; = Wise/Poor Man’s Replenix no. 2)
  • Badger unscented SPF 35 stick (22.5% ZnO)

Next up: 

  • review of Derma E Face SPF 30: I’ll expand the quick notes on my notepad at the  “morosophical beautification” page
  • review of that Garden of Wisdom eye stuff, and a couple of comparisons
  • review of the Badger sunstick, comparisons (Babo Botanical, Elemental Herbs, BurnOut)
  • I’ll keep my eyes open for any new sunscreen that looks Ginger-compatible, and anything else useful and, again, usable on yours truly.


lippie and what else is on the face a.k.a. The Routine (much as I loathe the word and idea)

Routine, schmoutine. Routine, rootin’-tootin’, poutine, pah! Now we’re talking.

routine? give me poutine
The skin on my face is still not exactly normal, but we’re managing to co-exist. I think my face is calming down and getting better, slowly slowly. My forehead is OK, nose, most of my cheeks. Chin and jaw-line are still a but itchy and iffy, and usually the area between just under my cheek-bones and the wings of my nose will get grumpy and spotify later in the evening. It’s OK now (nearly 8 p.m.), yesterday it did its daily reminder around 10 p.m., last week it was around when I was coming home from work (so, between 7 and 8:30 p.m.). At the beginning of last week, the itchy rashy spottiness was further up my face, on my cheeks and temples, with some red dots on my forehead the weekend before. So it’s diminishing and coming down my face. All very fascinating to watch.

Current stuff and what I do with it:


  1. wash with warmish water + cotton or bamboo flannel round (a reusable make-up removal pad, basically; a fresh one every time) + La Roche-Posay Lipikar Syndet cream-gel washlrp lipikar syndet
  2. dry face

upset skin update: journalling the apocalyptic singularity


(There will be no gory extreme close-up illustrations.)


  • itchiness, at its worst making you want to claw your face off
  • watering eyes 
  • tears from watering eyes make skin around the eyes and on cheeks itchy and sore
  • excessive tenderness, hypersensitivity: even brushing the skin with a scarf, or rain, makes it hurt. Side-effect: totally fucks up your love-life.
  • swollen puffy skin, especially around eyes and nose
  • red rash, at its worst all over. Centred on the thinner skin to the sides of my nose, mouth area, chin, jawline, cheeks. 
  • raised bumps in that rash, particularly cheeks and jawline
  • some of which blister, some develop what looks like whiteheads and pustulation
  • skin feels hot to the touch
  • heightening of the above with over-reaction to many things
  • PAIN: the sensation of being flayed alive, or burning (like sunburn or a regular good old scalding from boiling water or burning from fire), and of your whole head ballooning and going “whooompf”


  • if the symptoms above decrease rather than increase
  • if you don’t feel your skin at all: this is The Ultimate Good


The following, twice a day:

  • Cleanser: something mild that didn’t irritate and inflame my face further + tepid to warmish water + facecloth
  • Pat skin dry
  • Apply thin layer of Metrogel 1% (prescription from doctor)
  • Bland soothing but lighter moisturiser
  • Sunscreen


  • Swapped facecloth for (softer) reusable cotton pads. I use them for eye makeup removal, they’re made from pyjama-/bedlinen-type flannel.
  • Cliniderm shampoo stung skin (it usually doesn’t, but this last month has been full of Skin Firsts). 
  • Bar cleansers (Aveeno, A-Derma): stung skin.
  • Plain oatmeal: stung skin.
  • CeraVe Hydrating cleanser (leftover dregs in an old bottle): OK. I had barely enough left for one use, though.
  • Avène Xeracalm (I use it in the bath): stinging.
  • Samples of various things from doctor: variable. 
  • At the worst stages, plain water from the tap (we have good soft water) and even mineral water: stung skin.
  • Best one, no stinging, face calm: La Roche-Posay Lipikar body cream-gel cleanser. Also good reviews from assorted skin-problem people, including a lot of rosaceans, on MakeupAlley and Beauté-Test. It happened to be on special offer at a local drugstore so I bought a full bottle and that’s what I’ve been using for the last several days.


  • Several moisturisers that are in my standard arsenal for my usual skin problems (dryness, eczema, allergic irritation) were too thick and rich. Spreading and rubbing them in hurt skin. Skin would also feel hot and would be hypesensitive in the way that a fresh burn is. Thus:
  • DIY oil blend: nope.
  • Avocado oil: nope.
  • The following super-bland oils used alone–safflower, sunflower, meadowfoam–nope.
  • Mineral oil: nope.
  • Prevex cream: nope.
  • Drugstore own-brand dupe of Aveeno’s blandest unscented lotion: nope.
  • ShiKai borage dry skin remedy hand cream: nope.
  • Impruv cream: nope.
  • CeraVe cream, lotion, and P.M. lotion (doctor samples): nope.
  • Avène Xeracalm cream: nope.
  • La Roche-Posay Lipikar AP+ balm and another one (cream or lotion, doctor samples again): nope.
  • Avène Cicalfate: OK but a bit thick and, on day two, some burning around nose and on jawline. Great on hands though…
    La Roche-Posay Cicaplast: excellent, soothing, calming. No irritation or burning. Also great on hands. And (update 2015-04-05) around eyes.
    La Roche-Posay Tolériane Ultra. I first got this for around the eyes. Super comfortable on even the most upset areas of skin. Feels very like Cicaplast, not quite as moisturising, and usually nearly three times the price. But: very minimal formulation and no preservatives (sterile packaging with a special delivery-mechanism where there’s no contact with air).


  • My suspicion that Metrogel might be hindering more than helping arose at PHASE TWO. That experiment resulted in improvement. When I had washed with LRP Lipikar and patted skin dry, my skin felt calm, comfortable, cooler to the touch. It still wasn’t pretty (a.k.a. normal). But felt OK. Then I would apply Metrogel and it would sting. I bore with it. For the first few days, my face would stop stinging by the time the Metrogel had sunk in. I would then apply moisturiser (with PHASE THREE experiments above) and sunscreen.
  • On the sixth day of using Metrogel, I observed noticeable stinging and increased skin redness, inflammation, and downright pain. No matter what I did next, that stayed. It worsened through the day. 
  • That evening, I observed that my chin had more raised pustules after Metrogel application than before. I hypothesised that, whether or not it had helped earlier, Metrogel was now irritating my skin.
  • I spent another three days tweaking sunscreen; no difference to the day 6 pattern. Hellfire burning sensation with Replenix spray one and with Derma E (had to remove with both, immediately). EltaMD less agonising, but hot and heatrash in addition to other bollocks.
  • I have now therefore stopped using Metrogel. The very first time I washed and moisturised without it, my skin felt and looked better. 
  • It is now 5:37 p.m. I washed at about 11 a.m. Skin much improved, no pain, less puffy / inflamed, rash receding (barely discernible on forehead), blisters way down (they’re just slightly raised parts of the rashiness, no larger than minor milia), no pustulating sores, and the thin tender tenderised skin in the nose & mouth area is way down, nearing normality. 
  • Remaining bumpy rash and some spots / cysts: left jawline, right cheek

The fight goes on.   

skinsperiments update: irritated, reactive, distressed

My skin is currently not happy. It hasn’t been for about a week. Symptoms:

  • Itchiness
  • 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

Continue reading

some lipstick and moisturiser and horror

Later this week: mascara. There will be waterproof mascara, of three sorts. Over the course of rather a long post, you’ll also be able to watch me stumble clumsily through a decision-making process. All this will be accompanied by at least one song, of dubious appropriateness. It’ll be fun!

Meanwhile, here are three experimental failures and a success.


I’m ethically OK with using BH: formulated before my own FCOD (03-2012). It’s an amazing perfect colour on me: it is my very definition of My Lips But Better. Other pluses: No scent. No irritation. Doesn’t dry my lips out.

But it doesn’t last.

Various indie brands have near-misses, usually too orange-brown or going that way (oxidation) before the end of the day, because of restricting their colouring agents to iron oxides. Or too fuchsia-pink. Lavera had one that was close, about ten years ago, but it was irritating (mint, for starters). That’s the other issue: this “green” overuse of essential oils in every damn thing. Continue reading

new irritants

bah humbug
Exciting news! And we all know that you can never have too much excitement. Except when it comes to skin. And that ancient curse, “may you live in interesting times.” So … exciting news about over-excitement: good news because it’s news and, well, new; bad news if you’re my skin.

Adding these to the list:

  • decyl glucoside (aka decyl polyglucose)
  • cetearyl alcohol: though OK in low-contact wash-off stuff like bar cleansers
  • cetearth-20
    (often combined with cetearyl alcohol as emulsifying wax; and ditto)

How they were discovered:

  • my scalp got bumpy and itchy and, eventually, that itching turned hurty 😦
  • and, by a happy coincidence, it was time for my regular allergen check-up

Continue reading

skin & hair updates


Experiment with using up old avocado oil (we just don’t use it enough or fast enough in the kitchen), alone or mixed with meadowfoam seed oil: over. Using up the last of it on body. Zits on face. It is more moisturising than meadowfoam alone, initially anyway. And less zitty than olive. But for moisture-retention by the end of the day, better results can be observed by changing from a hyaluronic acid-based serum to a moister one without (Garden of Wisdom oat serum). I tried that with the meadowfoam-avocado mix, then with meadowfoam alone.

Conclusion: face: back to meadowfoam oil for moisture, and back (actually, way back from before this here blog…) to that oat serum.

Skin being very reactive at the moment: entirely to do with work stress. But that means that many substance that are otherwise OK on my skin, or have been in the past, trigger reaction. Vitamin C (even the very mild MAP) and green tea, for example. The antioxidant serum with which there have been least reactions has been another GoW one, Majik Green Tea. Still not as good (on me, right now) as their oat one, with which there are zero reactions.

We’ll see about reintroducing antioxidant serums for boosting sun protection, once there is more sun (and once skin is less irritable). Eating antioxidants seems to be fine, fortunately; would be disastrous otherwise, as I’m more or less vegetarian (with occasional fish).


My hair is currently shortish.

Over the course of my/its/ our life it has mostly been long; if you are an actual natural redhead and your hair looks nice, there’s often family, societal, and amorous pressure to keep it long. As it’s wavy to curly, and not uniformly, certain cuts and styles don’t work. Remember that I am lazy. So I usually have more or less the same cue, one length, longish. That also means hair can be trimmed every couple of months at a cheap unisex place.

But it gets dry and tangled, can cost a lot in products (been OK recently), certainly costs time and effort. Just getting conditioner through the stuff in the shower, for example. And, for numerous reasons and sometimes for none at all, sometimes I cut it. Lots of it off.

I went into a hairdressers when the “GET IT OFF ME” urge struck. This was, luckily, not only a good hairdresser but one who knew what to do with intermittently wavy hair, and who understood lazy people. I don’t know whether she is also lazy herself, or diplomatic, or genuinely neutral and non-judgemental. But she was sympathetic, and the first hairdresser I’ve met (or remember) who didn’t try to change my whole hair routine and force me to style and blow-dry the barnet. She did amazing things. Hair stayed amazing for the next six weeks. It also grew, as usual. I returned for some maintenance, reshaping, like topiary. (Sorry, at the start of a shorter hair phase, I find I’ve forgotten lots of stuff since the last time and have to learn all this hair excitement all over again.)

Happy hair.

It does, however, need a little on the product management side. Hence re-excavating the products that lurk at the back of a cupboard under a sink in the guest room, so mostly used by visitors. Some stuff had been left by visitors too. Plus collected samples, freebies, etc. Many were off (to the trash!) and many smelled awful, or anyway, bad to my nose. Some led to sneezing.

Adding more conditioner: meh and greasy
Adding more of other conditioners: ditto
Shea butter on ends: good against dryness, not good on flyaway cowlick bits, just greased them
John Masters Organics shine on: bugger all difference, and if you add too much hair gets weighed down and greasy rather than shiny.
JMO gel, the one that smells of orange: good, but smell got to me
Giovanni, The Body Shop, Desert Essence (various): scent issues and skin reactions. See, that’s something to remember with shorter hair: more surrounding skin is exposed…
And a bunch of others that went in the trash.

So I went on an expedition, online and IRL. Looking for something gelid but unscented. There may well be others I didn’t get (feel free to add comment below…), but the one I did get, being easily obtained here, was the Curelle gel. It does what I need it to do: tame flyaways, control frizz, generally help hair to behave itself. And it does so with discretion. Apply small quantity, distribute evenly through hair, let hair dry, that’s it. You don’t feel the stuff all day, no grease or crunching or desiccation. And no sneezing.