This post is the first 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.
I started this blog post about six weeks ago. As I wrote, I realised there was too much to talk about in one post, so I’m breaking it down into parts. This is part one, the background information on my skin and why I chose to enlist the help of a professional.
These photos were taken on Monday or Tuesday last week. In them I am completely bare faced, with no make up and having used only a few skincare products limited to cleanser, water mist, toner and SPF30.
What do I see? A tired face in its mid 30s with a few fine lines appearing and rather a nice LVL lash lift. All of which I’m okay with. But there is a problem – a compromised area around my nose and mouth. And this is the reason why, in April this year, I sought the help of Kezia Miskell-Reid after many recommendations from friends.
All my life I have been lucky enough not to suffer with spots or breakouts. I wasn’t exactly the picture of health growing up, so I put my clear skin down to good genes. However, despite being at my healthiest in recent years, I developed a breakout around my mouth when I was about 35 weeks pregnant for the second time – so early October 2018. I thought it would sort itself out after the baby was born but, alas, it didn’t. It moved around my mouth, chin and nose, not once clearing up completely, even when I reluctantly used a steroid cream prescribed by my GP in January.
That’s why, at the start of spring, I approached a professional skincare guru to try and help me combat the spots. After my first appointment with Kezia, I felt completely at ease. In a nutshell, Kezia is Dundee’s skincare guru, a local treasure. She’s a woman’s woman who encourages her clients and fans to support one another, to appreciate our differences as positives rather than something to pass judgement on. In her Instagram posts and stories, Kezia motivates us to love the skin we’re in by treating skincare as a right but also as a luxury, and by doing whatever makes us happy (for example, wearing make up because we enjoy it, not because society says we need it). These are all messages I fully support and try to live by. (Side note: Kezia treats a lot of men too.)
The collaboration – let’s be absolutely clear
I shared my April visit to In The LOB on my Instagram Story and as a by-product of talking openly about my skin and my appointment on my social media, Kezia received new, returning clients. When it was time for me to go back in June, Kezia explained that she would like to work with me to try to show people that everyone’s skin is different, and that it takes a considered approach to find the right regime and products to suit each individual.
To be absolutely clear, Kezia is providing her expertise, products and services free of charge for three months in return for my documentation of this journey on Instagram and my blog. I was more than happy to pay her as the idea was to invest in my skin, but because it was a mutually beneficial agreement we decided to go ahead with our collaboration. Please know that this journey is being documented honestly and from the heart, from both of our points of view. You can see my skin journey as it unfolds via my Instagram Story – there’s a ‘Skincare Journey’ highlight. I have no doubt that I will continue to go to In the LOB for all my skincare treatments beyond this project.
Stripping it back – eight months after the spots appeared
When I saw Kezia in June we decided to strip my skincare routine right back to basics.
Despite using the Caudalie products I had bought in April from In The LOB (which I love – very clean, very fresh, very natural and very simple), the spots were still there come June.
Around five days before I was due to see Kezia I was heading to London for a minibreak with my mum. I took minimal skincare products in an effort to pack lightly butt there was a noticeable side effect – my spots reduced in size, irritation and appearance. Kezia and I believe this to be a positive result of using fewer products on my face.
(However, I do think it’s important to note that while I was in London I was less stressed than I had been at home. Kittie was born in November and, until May I endured her chronic pain inflicted by a milk intolerance – those first five or six months were tough. Life with a two year old and an unwell newborn is chaotic and upsetting, and when you throw in the pressures of work, exercise, maintaining a happy, tidy home and a bit of a social life, as well as trying to be present online, I had been feeling a great deal of pressure. I was, like so many of us are, trying to ‘do it all’. In addition, the sleepless nights can leave me (us) exhausted, and though my Ulcerative Colitis is currently under control, my immune system is lower than average. While I was away for those three days in London, I missed my family but I have to be honest, I felt significantly less stressed. And we all know what stress does to your health.)
My skin consultation, spots and all
When we met we did a lot of chatting. Kezia took time to talk to me, find out about my life, my routines, my skin, my concerns, my hopes. Though we are friendly and enjoy each other’s company, Kezia’s main goal is to learn about you – this isn’t one of those beauty appointments that your therapist talks non stop about his or her weekend, it’s all about you and your skin. The more she knows, the more she can help.
She explained to me that everyone’s skin is unique but there are some fundamental categories that we all fit into. My skin is made up of the following key words: dry, sensitive, lacklustre, slightly congested (around the chin and nose). This means I have to look for ingredients that help these conditions rather than aggravate them, being careful of secondary ingredients that might contradict the main ingredient. See? How can we be expected to keep track of all these products on offer to us!
My lack of knowledge on how to use products effectively for me has most likely contributed to my problem skin. How ironic is that. And this is why I would urge you to see Kezia because she understands skin, she understands products and the ingredients used, and she genuinely cares about her clients. She will do whatever it takes to find the right balance until you are happy. Let me assure you – her sales come secondary to your needs.
The problem, simplified
Kezia explained that, although my spots had improved somewhat, her suspicions of a perioral (around the mouth) condition were confirmed, and that such conditions can be a result of hormonal imbalances (tick: it started while I was pregnant), stress (tick: life as a mum of two is hectic and worrisome), and confusion to the skin (tick: I regularly try new products for features I’m working on). Kezia’s view is that it is likely a form of dermatitis, which means we need to figure out what substance is irritating the skin, while allowing for the added factors of stress and hormones for which there is also no easy fix.
So, what next?
When I went to Kezia in June we agreed to strip everything back and focus on cleansing, in a bid to ensure my skin was completely clean so that we can investigate the skin issue. The plan is to sort the compromised areas out before we even begin to think about my skin concerns as a whole (such as pigmentation, hydration, brightness, lines, etc). So, we’re starting with cleansing, then toning, then exfoliation, etc, etc, and I will blog these steps as I experience them. Meantime, you can catch up on my appointments as they happen via my Instagram.
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.