“Don’t worry,” she says, painting a lactic peel onto my skin. “This one’s very gentle.” Que? It feels like every pore is licking a 2 volt battery. As the acid penetrates my already fragile dermis, it turns into a smarting burn. Even though she removes it faster than usual, the damage is already done. I have red, angry burns on my skin that will remain for weeks.
There’s not much that can be done in these situations except to apply a thick fragrance-free occlusive balm every few hours and pray. And maybe wear a hat and large sunglasses à la SATC’s Samantha. I do all of the above and lament my situation on my Insta stories. The good-skin fairies La Roche-Posay must have heard me because a few days later, I receive a care package containing La Roche-Posay’s newest launch – the Cicaplast B5 Mask along with two other skin-soothing products – Hyalu B5 Hyaluronic Acid Serum and Cicaplast Baume B5 Balm.
All three products contain the magical skin-soothing ingredient Vitamin B5 (also known as Panthenol) that deeply hydrates the skin and helps repair the (in my case very compromised) barrier. I can’t get to the bathroom fast enough to try them out.
I ask dermatologist Dr Leona Yip all about why our skin barrier is so important, and how to repair mine. “The skin barrier is the ‘brick wall’ and waterproof seal of the skin made up of natural lipids and proteins to lock moisture within the skin and keep external irritants out.
“The best way to repair the skin barrier is to use moisturisers enriched with active ingredients that can repair and restore skin barrier function, like Ceramides, Niacinamide, and Vitamin B5.
“Vitamin B5 is an excellent humectant that draws water into and maintains moisture within the skin, therefore improving skin smoothness and suppleness.”
I start by gently cleansing my dry and flaky face then carefully applying the tissue mask. It’s made from 100% natural & biodegradable pure cotton fibre, but is super-soft to touch. It feels like I’m putting an ice pack on a burn: cooling and quenching. I kick back for 15 minutes while it does its thing. When I take it off, I pat any remaining residue onto my face and down to my décolletage. My skin is so juiced up, I actually have to wait a while before I can put the serum on. It’s soothed and so hydrated, it’s like it won’t absorb anything else. Great problem to have!
I follow with a couple of drops of the Hyalu B5 Hyaluronic Serum and a generous slathering of Cicaplast Baume B5 Balm. The serum has a silky, aqua-gel texture that absorbs fast to provide hydrating and firming benefits. Along with the Panthenol, the rich (but non-greasy) balm also contains Glycerin, Shea Butter and another soothing ingredient called Madecassoside. It’s just the ticket for a tortured complexion like mine. I keep up the serum and balm duo for a couple of days, and by day three all my dry patches have vanished, the redness and discomfort has subsided and my face is back to normal. Back to healthy looking skin, tick. No more hiding under mega-hats. Crisis well and truly averted.
In a bid to avoid future skin meltdowns, I quiz Dr Leona on her expert tips for dealing with sensitised skins. “Identifying and avoiding the trigger(s) for the sensitivity is very important – common triggers include soaps, hot water, and active ingredients of anti-ageing and acne skincare products e.g. retinoids, AHAs, she shares.
What else have I learnt? Firstly, not to combine peels and super active skincare. Secondly? To always have a stash of La Roche-Posay’s Vitamin B5-infused skincare on hand, in case disaster strikes again. Sensitivity is not a skin type. It’s a condition that can occur at any time to any one, so it does pay to be organised. I’ve also learnt that Vitamin B5 is an absolute Godsend for skin meltdowns and it will be my first port of call next time I’m sensing the start of an iffy reaction. I also love that the whole ‘made for sensitive’ range is also hypoallergenic, fragrance-free, phenoxyethanol-free, paraben-free, free from lanolin and allergy tested, so it’s 100% safe for all skins no matter the disaster.
Words by Sigourney Cantelo, photography by Sigourney and Tess de Vivie de Régie. In collaboration with La Roche-Posay.