Red is a cute color when it comes to roses and wine. But my cheeks? No, thanks — I’d prefer to pass on the inflamed face. Between my mild dairy allergy (I’ll never give up cheese plates!), product irritants (AKA the aggravating chemicals found in everything from detergent to shampoo to foundation), environmental stressors (boo to you, pollution) and my mild case of rosacea… well, I often look a little more Elmo than even-toned.
Treating any specific skin issue is always about trial, error, and adaptation: What worked well one month might be fully ineffectual the next. But through all my experimentation — the countless serums, creams, toners, and treatments I’ve tried — these are the six essentials that consistently keep my skin calm all season long.
1. Bioderma Sensibio H2O Solution Micellaire ($11): When I stopped washing my face a few years ago — meaning I completely cut traditional soaps and cleansers from my regimen — my skin was forever changed. It was clearer, brighter, and calmer, and breakouts pretty much ceased to exist. The switch that made the fix? Micellar water. I swapped my go-to drugstore buy for Bioderma’s Sensibio cleansing water, which is part of the brand’s range for sensitive skin. At night, I cleanse with two soaked cotton pads: the first to remove makeup and pre-cleanse, and the second for a full cleanse.
2. DR. JART+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Cream ($48) and DR. JART+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Re.Pair Serum ($46): Did you know that secret skincare groups on Facebook are a thing where women gather to share all their best trends and tips? That’s exactly where I first heard raves for this redness reducer. Fun fact: The range’s star ingredient, cica-rich tiger grass, earned its name from the Asian tigers that would roll around in it to heal their battle wounds — the grass’s medicinal and healing properties have been known for centuries. At first, I was a little disappointed when I didn’t notice a dramatic difference overnight; and after three days with no change, I thought I’d been duped. But within a week, my inflamed face looked consistently calmer. After cleansing with micellar water I apply the serum, then top it with the cream. And a few times a month, I’ll follow that up with the overnight mask ($48), which comes in individual packets perfect for travel and perfect for people who have a tendency to apply too much product.
3. Biossance 100% Squalane Oil ($58): If my next step is applying daily makeup — or even if my skin is just a little extra dry that day — I’ll top everything off with two drops of 100 percent squalane oil, which is a completely pure oil, derived from sugar cane, that restores natural moisture to the skin. (Squalene is what’s in our skin naturally; squalane is the form it takes when converted into a topical product.) Aside from the brand’s gorgeous packaging, I love that everything is sustainable and eco-friendly.
4. Snow Fox Skin Care Arctic Breeze Detox Cooling Mask ($30 for 5): This mask exceeded all my wildest and most unreasonable expectations for quick results. First, let me preface this by saying that I was apprehensive about applying this because I am always worried how my skin will react with a new product. But after 20 minutes of a nice, cooling sensation, I removed it to reveal instantly soothed skin — my redness was reduced by half. Which is a lot. This is my new go-to for prepping skin before special events and photo ops. Nothing has worked better or, more importantly, faster.
5. Dermalogica UltraCalming Calm Water Gel ($48): Dermalogica has been my trusted go-to ever since I was a teen — and some things just never change. I love the entire UltraCalming range, and this new addition doesn’t disappoint: It’s my best friend on those occasional days when, despite all best efforts, things just go haywire. It’s particularly perfect for soothing environmental skin issues.
6. KORA Organics Calming Lavender Mist ($34): The first time I sampled products by KORA Organics created by Miranda Kerr I wondered if they would make me, too, look like a goddess. Spoiler alert: I look pretty much the same, but they do make me feel like a supermodel. Like all KORA products, the mist is energized with rose quartz, a crystal believed to provide “a soothing energy to encourage love and acceptance,” according to the brand. I’m not sure whether it’s the good vibes — or the solid lineup of lavender, aloe vera, and bergamot water — but this mist always leaves my face (and mind) feeling refreshed.
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