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How My Inflamed, Red Skin Recovered From a Retinol Mishap

A meticulous skincare routine that doubled down on gentle, moisturising, and healing formulas.

At the grand ‘ol age of 27 years, I recently dipped my toes into the world of anti-aging. As the skincare experts have gathered, it’s around this age that growth stops, and the converse begins. There’s no time to waste. A complete beginner in the anti-aging department, I did what any beauty rookie would – hop on board the retinol bandwagon.

It’s the stuff that every skincare junkie I’ve met swears by. Google, too, confirmed their claims. Prevents wrinkles. Slows down the body’s aging process. Brightens dull skin. Say no more – I promptly got my hands on a bottle from a skincare brand (whom I shall not name) which, according to the reviews, had the Internet’s seal of approval.

Don’t believe everything you read on the internet, kids. The warning signs of things going wary settled in very quickly. Upon the first application, my skin started to tingle. I brushed it off – that had to be the retinol doing its thing, right? Well, you already know how this story pans out. The retinol surely was working, and as I would find out the next morning, a little too hard. I had broken out into what looked like blisters around my mouth. It was a scene from the movies – the one where the girl looks into the mirror and is absolutely mortified by her reflection. I was that girl.

Cue the panic and the flurry of text messages to anyone who would listen. Slathering anything above inflamed skin was a bad idea, I knew that much. I had to wait it out, only occasionally spritzing Clinque’s Moisture Surge Face Spray to alleviate the itch. I switched out my Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser (the tiny exfoliating granules were not ideal, for obvious reasons) to the Fresh Soy Face Cleanser that Yoyo absolutely swears by.

Once I crossed that bridge, it was all doubling down on the healing from there. For starters, I pulled out my trusty go-to: Dr Jar.+ calming gel cream, a super lightweight and gentle formula. For extra TLC, I slathered on Indie Lee’s Daily Skin Nutrition Moisturiser made from a hydrating blend of rosehip seed, olive, and avocado oils.

To top off the routine – masks. They always get the job done. Fresh’s Rose Face Mask and Innisfree’s My Real Squeeze cucumber mask, my fallbacks on bad skin days, did as they always do – swoop in to save the day. It took a little over a weak of meticulous skincare and going makeup-free to calm my skin down. Thankfully with #WFH still in order, I didn’t exactly have places to be and even when I did, my skin sitch stayed concealed under face masks.

The biggest takeaway here? Always patch test a retinol before you go to town with it. And I repeat, do not take what you read on the internet as gospel.

What To Read Next: 5 Fuss-Free Ways to Hit Reset on Your Skin Post-HolidayBeauty Wars: Face Mists – It’s More than Just Bottled Water and Colour Correctors Are the Cheat Sheet to Perfect Skin That No One Talks About | Cover Image: Qide Sim.

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