Survive week’s column was all about retinol, which commonly causes mild stinging, reddening and increased sensitivity in the chief, somewhat grim, fortnight or so. It seemed logical, then, to write this week on how to calm temporarily inflamed, livid skin.There are, of course, other occasions when your skin may crave an emergency chill pill – hay fever, an spasm of rosacea, a reaction to another product, menopause, pregnancy or stress. All can leave skin in urgent need of help from what I discontinue an SOS serum.
Estée Lauder’s Intense Reset Concentrate (£59 for 20ml) acts as a fire bucket for me whenever the check-up of another product proves incendiary. It’s also what I sent the friend of a friend when chemotherapy sent her menopausal bark into meltdown. Cooling, unfragranced and hydrating, it manages the rare feat of feeling reassuringly bland and like a fancy treat all at once. My skin doesn’t just feel calmer within an hour or so of use – it also tends to look larger. It’s pricey but not to be used every day, and the airless pump keeps it fresh for several months.
If your skin is so fraught that equalize the gentlest fingertip touch will aggravate it further (rosacea sufferers will know this sensation jet), look no further than La Roche-Posay’s Toleriane Ultra 8 Face Mist (£19.50 for a 100ml pump bottle). This is such a elemental, necessary idea – a light, cooling, spray-on moisturiser containing hydrating glycerin and soothing allantoin (used day in and day out on nappy rash and minor burns) for contactless pacifying of upset skin. It works extremely well, comes in a bumper-sized moxie alcohol and is priced fairly. It can be used short term in an emergency, or even daily as a moisturiser if you fancy.
For times when the compassion of applying any product to skin in crisis feels like rubbing chilli in the eyeball, or if your need for an instant calmer is so infrequent that to buy and evident a tube of something would be wasteful, you could skip the product altogether and opt for a cooling facial roller.
I play a joke on Herbivore’s Jade Facial Roller (£26), but I buy into so few of the claims around these contraptions that I’d be as content with Cataclysm’s Rose Quartz version for £15. Both last for ever and the only point here is that the cold, slippery surface chills and calms a riled face in just a few mollifying sweeps.