A Skincare Murder Mystery!

A Skincare Murder Mystery!

I have a whole load of products, looks and ideas for posts, but it's been a rather ho hum kind of a month for me.  Once I returned from vacation, I've been a bit down in the dumps.  I feel better now, but one other ailing element has been my skin.  Let me tell you a story.  

The Dead Body is Found in the Butler's Pantry

Prior to leaving on vacation, my skin had been acting up off and on.  It had become very sensitive, drier and getting so red that I was beginning to suspect I had rosacea.  I still think rosacea is a slight  possibility because things like alcohol, spicy foods (you know, all the joys in life), and rapid change in temperature from cold to hot would cause red flare ups.  I also saw that my skin was nice and calm in the morning, but as the day progressed, my face would increasingly grow more red.  This redness and then random acne and just horrible flakiness along with dry patches.

Basically, I was molting into a toad.

A Red Herring is Offered.  (Then salted Korean style, and then Eaten)

But while I was on vacation, my skin slowly reverted back to normal.  So I figured out how this was happening.  On vacation, when I can't be bothered to do more than wash my face, apply moisturizer and then add sunscreen, I tend to get very minimalistic in terms of face regimen.  My skin, which was now free of all potentially irritating actives of my various potions went back into its normal state.

The Dead Body Is Reanimated (Genre Mashup)

Of course, hindsight being 20/20, I didn't realize this until I came back home and went back to my normal routine and back came the angry skin, but now with an extra bout of eczema on my eyelids.  <--- this is totally new for me.  SO MANY POTENTIAL SUSPECTS.

Many Are Suspects.  Someone Must Pay

Once I had my dullard slow-girl Ah-HAAAAA moment, I immediately cut everything out.  I went back to oil cleansing and just a rich moisturizer (the SUQQU one and my AmorePacific Time Response one).  In a few days, most of my redness went away and my dinged up moisture barrier calmed.  The flakes eventually subsided.  The eczema did not and had to be treated with a small amount of a topical steroid.  

The Usual Suspects

Here's the products I've recently incorporated.  Many (most) are from the Deciem brands because I am a sucker for all the noise surrounding them.  *hangs head in shame*

NIOD CAIS 1.00% (Copper Amino Isolate Serum) - an anti aging serum in NIOD's line, that's supposed to target various signs of aging like uneven skin tone, textural damage, visible pores and lack of radiance.  For me, I didn't notice anything dramatic like that at all from this water blue colored serum, but did notice some slight increase in radiance in the skin, which I'm not sure I can attribute to this or...

Hylamide Booster C25 - I love this thing.  I definitely have sensitivities to L- Ascorbic Acid (LAA) having tried a few other products and then experiencing some severe breakouts of cystic acne.  I was thrilled to find that the Ethyl Ascorbic Acid was well tolerated by my skin.  SO I THINK.  OR IS THIS THE KILLER?  I've had noticeable fading of pigmented spots from sun damage and old zits.  I've noticed an increase in radiance, which I'm pretty sure is from this and not the CAIS.

Hylamide Pore Control - I've honestly not noticed a thing while using this product.  It is high in marine ferments, niacinamide and various peptides which minimizes the pores and reduces shine and ultimately regulates sebum production.  It does have a slight smoothing effect where I apply it (nose, around nose), but doesn't seem to improve makeup application or really reduce sebum production over time.

NIOD Flavanone Mud (not pictured) -  I really like a good mud mask, enjoying the bracing astringent feel on my skin, which encourages surface blood flow and helping to loosen clogs.  This several kinds of clay, in addition to flavanone to do its anti clogging work.  I only use this about 1x a week, so I'm pretty sure this is not what has been ailing my skin.

NIOD NAAP (Non-acid Acid Precursor) - I like acid toners for gentle and frequent exfoliation and I really liked the idea of this one.  Instead of using a typical acid like an AHA or BHA for exfoliation, NAAP uses an oligopeptide that is supposed to work as effectively as an AHA and amino acids that works similar to a retinoid.  My skin really didn't like this one so much.  I had a lot of reddening on application and flaking that just wouldn't stop. I actually cut this out of my routine way earlier.  I think in combination with my Retin A Micro, it might have been too much.

Biologique Recherche P50 1970 - This cult favorite is an acid toner, with lactic acid (AHA) and salicylic acid (BHA). I've successfully used the non-1970 version of this before.  The 1970 indicates the phenol in the ingredient (available in the US).  Smelling strongly of vinegar and numbing on the skin, with regular use I've seen smooth and glowing skin.  Looking at the ingredient listing for the P50 1970, I see it also contains niacinamide which the other version does not and which I tend to sometimes be troubled by.  Hmm.

Retin A Micro 0.04% (Rx) (not pictured) - I've used this about almost a decade now.  It definitely keeps my acne at bay, but also has anti aging benefit, stimulating skin cell turnover and helping to retain collagen in the skin.  Once my skin started to go insane, I've cut this out as well.

The Ordinary Rosehip Oil -  UGH THE FISH SMELL.  It's a great source of linoleic acid (omega 6 oylzzzz) and is great at restoring and maintaining the skin barrier and something that can be helpful for acne prone skins.  I thought it would help my skin barrier from going bonkers all the time, but I can't abide this FSHHHH SMLLLL.

The Investigation Commences

I can't be bothered to patch test, but this time I'm committed to being methodical about finding the culprit.  There may be one single Face Killer, or a particular combination or application method that is causing all the havoc.  I've been slowly (over 7 or 10 day periods) adding one product after another.  I'm particularly vested in making sure my Retin A Micro and the Hylamide  Booster C25 remains.

  1. Successfully re-added Hylamide Booster C25 back in.  Same great results, noticeable brightening and continued fading of old pigmented spots.  Just opened up my second bottle.  I *heart* it.
  2. Successfully re-added NIOD CAIS 1.00%.  I'm just looking forward to using this up, but glad it's not causing any upsets.
  3. Successfully (so far) re-added Retin A Micro 0.04%.  I will say with a caveat that reintroducing tretinoin after a break always results in some level of irritation and massive flaking, but I've always been very lax about application method.  This time, I'm really taking care to apply only on completely dried skin (after wash), waiting at least 30 minutes and buffering (applied over a layer of moisturizer) if my skin is showing any signs of sadness or impending death.  This I'm only applying every 3rd day and will try to work up to every other day.

I still have the balance of products to go through, but my guess is that either the P50 1970 alone or used in some combination with the Retin A Micro is just too much for my skin.  I'm also sure that NIOD NAAP is also too much exfoliation when used along with the P50 1970.  But only continued slow reintroduction will tell!

The Murderer is Revealed

I'm still investigating.  But obviously not even begun to luuurn my lessun becows I'm dying to add a couple of more products into my too crowded routine (see below).  I knows!  If you find me face down in a puddle of actives with little droppers clutched in my paws, you know the real killer is achuullee BELLY!  REDRUM.  The Murderer is Me.  :(

And so ends our sad tale of vanity run amok, gluttonous consumption of little eye dropper actives and a killer who deserves fully to have eczema.  

What about your skincare woes?  Ever feel like all the interesting things out there are just too much for your skin to bear?  Did you have to retreat and get back to the minimum to revert back to your normal state of things?  Are you regretting any product because it wrecked your skin?


  • In the US, tretinoin products (like Retin A Micro) is available through a prescription from your doctor.  Recently Differin (a retinoid product) has been made over the counter and available at drugstores.
  • NIOD, Hylamide and the Ordinary are all available from the Deciem website (here).
  • The Ordinary recently launched on Beautylish (here).
  • Biologique Recherche P50 1970 (along with various related formulations) was purchased at Rescue Spa (here).  I've also purchased in person at the Vicki Morav spa (here) in New York City.




CHANEL Les Tissages de Chanel in 100 Tweed Coralline and 110 Tweed Cherry Blossom

CHANEL Les Tissages de Chanel in 100 Tweed Coralline and 110 Tweed Cherry Blossom

Rodin Olio Lusso Luxury Lipstick in Billie on the Bike

Rodin Olio Lusso Luxury Lipstick in Billie on the Bike