Skincare journey: cleansing and toning

This post is the second instalment of a skincare series over three months (July – September).

The series is a gifted collaboration with In The Line Of Beauty, a Dundee skincare specialist service provided by Kezia Miskell-Reid.

Catch up on part 1 of my skincare journey.




The plan – take everything out, focus on cleansing

Kezia’s first piece of advice to me was to take things back to basics. We decided together to strip back the skincare products and focus on the first part of any routine: cleansing. The idea was to ensure the skin was being cleaned properly with the right products (for man before we even begin to tackle anything else, including the spots.

So exactly why should we cleanse? And why should we take the time to cleanser properly? Kezia says,

Why cleanse? 

Your skincare routine will never work to full advantage if you don’t begin with thorough and relevant cleansing. Thorough meaning the correct procedure and technique for your skin concerns and relevant meaning using the correct products.

Without cleansing your pores will be filled with dirt, make up, spf, debris, polluted impurities and bacteria that cling to the skin and when the dead, dirty skin cells build up your skin will then be prone to breakouts, dullness and dry patches.

As if this wasn’t enough a good cleansing routine will prep the skin for all the lovely other skincare products that you have in your little artillery. No point lobbing them on all that gunk. Take time to learn about your skin and the cleansing routine and tools that will work beautifully for you. Then go ahead and enjoy the process.”

First though, Kezia took a good look at my skin and gave me a facial (sublime), which left me feeling super relaxed. But, more importantly, I felt so much better about my skin – it looked brighter, more youthful, and dewy (despite the awful rash-y spots). I felt so confident that I left In The Line of Beauty without a scrap of make up on, and walked through Dundee city centre to Zara, then Daily Grind for a flat white. I have never, ever done that before. I’m not sure if it was the treatment or speaking to Kezia about the pressures of society’s beauty ideals that made me feel so assured walking around make up free. Perhaps it was both.


Anyway, Kezia chose the following products for me to try for a few weeks:

  • AM: Caudalie micellar cleansing water, Caudalie gentle cleansing milk, Caudalie grape water facial mist, Skin Regimen SPF30
  • PM: Caudalie make up removing cleansing oil, Caudalie grape water facial mist, Caudalie Vino Source SOS thirst quenching serum, Caudalie Vino Course SOS intense moisturising cream

The trial and error of cleansers, in out, shake them all about

We tried these products for three weeks and learned that the micellar water was causing irritation. I could tell this immediately when applied to the compromised skin – it caused a bit of stinging and it was almost a relief to remove it with the cleansing milk, despite the pleasant fragrance.

After discussing this with Kezia via our DMs, we removed the micellar water and the cleansing milk from the routine and instead used the evening cleansing oil in the morning. We left everything else the same.


Three weeks of cleansing later, and an improvement

The revised cleansing system seemed to be working well – my rash/spots had reduced in redness and inflammation.

At this appointment Kezia wanted to swap the cleansing oil in the morning for Comfort Zone’s remedy cream-to-oil cleanser – she was concerned that perhaps Caudalie cleansers weren’t quite right for me (though I found the oil to be pleasant enough). That said, in comparison, the Comfort Zone cleanser was so much lighter – it felt like I was simply washing my face – it didn’t feel like a product. No scent, no heavy texture, just clean.

So, the new regime now looked like this:

  • AM: Comfort Zone remedy cream-to-oil ultra gentle cleanser, Caudalie grape facial mist, Skin Regimen SPF30
  • PM: Caudalie make up removing cleansing oil, Caudalie grape facial mist, Caudalie Vino Source SOS thirst quenching serum, Caudalie Vino Course SOS intense moisturising cream

After three weeks of working with Kezia, it had become clear that fragrance was an issue for me. Even though I didn’t consider my skin to be sensitive (never before have I had a reaction to any skincare or make up product in this way, whereby dermatitis and/or spots develop) Kezia explained that it my skin was feeling fragile and needed a lot of TLC. And although Caudalie is generally a very mild brand to use, their fragrances seemed to be irritating my skin slightly despite the other ingredients being gentle.

It’s worth noting that it was only with Kezia’s understanding of the products and ingredients that we came to the realisation about what was irritating me – without her, I wouldn’t have figured this out. I might have come to the conclusion that something wasn’t right about Caudalie cleansers and stopped using them but I wouldn’t have known why – and then I’d have probably moved on to another product or brand and had the exact same trouble because they too used fragrance. Instead, Kezia’s knowledge meant that we could quickly move on to a new cleanser while knowing to avoid anything with fragrance.

Essentially, through this trial and error process we learned something about my skin, and that’s invaluable because it provides me with an understanding of my own skin, which I can take away with me for future purchases – I now know to avoid anything scented and therefore I save my face and my purse from buying the wrong products for me.

Cleansing sorted within three weeks, now for the next step: toner

With this small but significant development, Kezia felt confident that it was time to introduce a toner, which is basically a way of gently exfoliating the skin. We decided to try Caudalie’s Vino Pure clear skin purifying toner because the brand is renowned for being gentle. So, the routine had developed into:

  • AM: Comfort Zone remedy cream-to-oil ultra gentle cleanser, Caudalie grape facial mist, Caudalie Vino Pure clear skin purifying toner, Skin Regimen SPF30
  • PM: Caudalie make up removing cleansing oil, Caudalie grape facial mist, Caudalie Vino Source SOS thirst quenching serum, Caudalie Vino Course SOS intense moisturising cream

After introducing the Caudalie toner, things went downhill quickly – my improved skin flared up within seven-to-ten days of use, with my spots returning around my chin and an angry, inflamed and spotty patch appearing under my right nostril (which you can see in the first skincare post). I was super keen to see Kezia again to discuss this development with her.


Caudalie is a no-go area

Kezia was disappointed and frustrated at the return of the spots – her attitude towards my compromised skin is that she will not be beaten! I was feeling disheartened and down about the inflammation but Kezia assured me that this journey is a process and that we are learning something every step of the way. She sounded determined when she claimed that we would ‘obliterate this by September’. I felt encouraged, though I wasn’t doubting her for a second. I understood that this step backwards was part of our investigation but it didn’t make it easy to accept the sore, dry, ugly mess around my nose which now even make up would no longer hide.

Kezia had planned on giving me a peel at this appointment but my bad patches of skin were so sore that she decided against it. Instead, she suggested light therapy; yellow to reduce and calm inflammation, red to encourage collagen. I had eight minutes of each light back-to-back and a mini facial. As soon as Kezia gave me her mirror I was blown away by the difference the light therapy had made in helping soothe and boost my skin. The dermatitis had improved hugely and although yes, it was great that it didn’t look as bad, it was actually the reduction in tenderness and irritation that I was pleased with.

Kezia’s suspicions about Caudalie’s fragranced products irritating me had been 100% confirmed, so we ditched all but one of the Caudalie products. We were left with:

  • AM: Comfort Zone remedy cream-to-oil ultra gentle cleanser, Caudalie grape facial mist, Skin Regimen SPF30
  • PM: Caudalie grape facial mist

Comfort Zone was working well so Kezia suggested we try the Comfort Zone remedy soothing refreshing toner, which I was totally up for because so far I was loving the remedy range. (Okay so I had only tried the one product, the cleanser, but I could just feel it.)

Next, we had to include hydration having removed the Caudalie serum and moisturiser. Kezia said she had seen some amazing results with NeoStrata facials she’d been giving other clients (three of which I had spoken to personally to about their facials, before she even mentioned them). NeoStrata is a dermatology-grade brand that addresses skincare from a medical perspective. My thought was, what the hell, let’s give it a go.

The new routine for me to take home now looked like this:

  • AM: Comfort Zone remedy cream-to-oil cleanser, Caudalie grape facial mist, Comfort Zone remedy refreshing toner, NeoStrata Bionic Face Cream, Skin Regimen SPF30
  • PM: Comfort Zone remedy cream-to-oil cleanser, Caudalie grape facial mist, NeoStrata Bionic Facecream.

Two days after the light therapy, my skin was a bit crusty and sore again. However, four days after the treatment, my sore rash/spots had decreased in dryness and soreness and felt a lot better. I suppose this is in part due to the light therapy and in part due to the new skincare. On the fifth day, I returned for another blast under the yellow light.

A week later, my nasty breakout had reduced significantly in size, inflammation and the soreness was gone.

Stay tuned to find out how my skin is progressing in the next instalment. Meantime, let me know if you’ve had any similar skin experiences, either resulting from hormones, stress or another condition? What does your routine look like?

Images: Kris Miller.

With thanks to Kezia at In The Line Of Beauty (In The Lob) for her support in this project and in helping me address my skin concerns. Find out more about In The LOB.


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