The panic I felt just days before my most recent trip to London made my ears ring and my skin burn... wait. My skin was burning for other reasons. In fact, it was the impetus for my panic. I was stumped. Why had made my face go red, tight, bumpy and scaly (from temple to nose) and hot (no, not as in Angelina hot... as in to the touch) right before I was meant to board a plane for a week of back-to-back meetings with beauty industry folk?
Two things caused it, I have no doubt. One, my skin went on a 4-month makeup and skincare detox this summer that even the most cosmetic ascetic among us wouldn't be able to maintain by choice. On my around the world honeymoon-in-a-tent, makeup didn't touch my face, nor did anything, really, but a bar of soap and whatever moisturiser I had at hand. This period of skin calm was destroyed by a tsunami of new skincare, makeup and urban living in late October, when, in one fell swoop, I returned to dozens of products. Within a month, my face was radiating heat, the texture and colour angrily undulating and it became painfully clear that spot cream wasn't going to clear it up.
The second thing that dovetailed so conveniently with my hot-and-cold treatment of the cutis, is the onset of a Chicago winter. What on god's green earth keeps people living on such an icy tundra with such poor public transit? It's so cold there's no moisture (it's been at least 15 degrees below freezing for days) in the air. It's also as flat as a dinner plate, so no skiing here and ice rinks are strangely far and few between. It's moisture-free, wind-swept outdoors or drying, heated indoor spaces for me.
But as panicky as I became, it was comforting that my industry of choice wasn't, say, fashion, the most unforgiving (and backwards, in my opinion) of them all. Beauty people are fascinated by conditions and questions and how to fix them. My problem was greeted with genuine interest (not of the schadenfreude variety) and desire to find a solution, on which we all agreed.
It was clear I had to go cold turkey on the beauty bumpf until the flare up subsided and then, gradually, work my way back into a very simplified routine with simple products. An exclusion skincare diet was not on the table as the problem needs to be nipped in the bud immediately. Easier said than done when beauty products are your professional fodder! Facialist Emma Hardie was ardent that I stop using everything and then re-introduce slowly, and she was absolutely right.