• The curse of the product hype

    I love well-advertised cult beauty products. When a product seems to garner that many rave reviews (looking like it’s seemingly able to give you beautiful skin, hair, nail and cure illnesses for all we know…), I want to try it. It relates to the almost magical aspect of cosmetic products. You don’t want to know the science behind it or to understand how it works. No. You just want it to answer all of your beauty wishes.

    And so, a few years ago when I was in college came the infamous Effaclar Duo from La Roche Posay; great french pharmacy brand, simple cream that was supposed to unclog pores and clear skin. At the time, I was beginning to develop what they now call adult acne. Mind you, it was a mild form. Anyway, I thought that if it could work on serious acne, it surely could smooth out my skin! I clearly remember liking the word “unclogging” that was written on the front of the packaging (obsession with cleansing the skin that would continue with a certain brush…).

    I, of course, tried it. A few hours later, my mom looked at my reddened face and asked what I had done. I, sure that the lotion could only work for me, assured her that she was exaggerating and that it was normal and meant that it was working. No pain no gain, isn’t it? Ugh.

    That was, to this date, the worst think I’ve ever done to my skin. For every pore on my face there was a red dot that eventually turned into a spot. (My brother literally asked me if I had chicken pox!) From that point, I actually had acne and it took a long time to calm my skin. (I could have healed it sooner now, I believe, but at the time I panicked and used even harsher products to get rid of the blemishes.)

    I am sure that Effaclar Duo is a good product that works on a lot of people. It was simply too harsh for my skin and I had an allergic reaction to some of its ingredients. I know that for a fact because, later on, I tried another unclogging cream from french pharmacy brand Uriage (called Hyseac A.I.) which I had a similar reaction to. (Yeah I hadn’t quite learned my lesson). Thankfully, I recognized the first symptoms and promptly rinsed it off.

    I used that opportunity to compare the INCI list of both products and I was able to pinpoint the cocktail of ingredients I was reacting to (a combination of niacinamide, piroctone olamine, caprylyl glycol and taurate copolymer). Scanning the ingredients of your cosmetics is a must. That’s also how I learned that I’m allergic to bismuth oxychloride which is often used in face powders. (It makes me itch and break out in little spots.)

    Here’s another example of my mindless stubbornness when it comes to beauty products: the Clarisonic mia face brush. Again, I fell for it hard. It was supposed to help you thoroughly cleanse your skin and remove sebum buildup, thus refining pores. Suffice to say that I had the purging reaction they talk about except it wouldn’t go away!  It happened every single time I’ve used it, even when I tried to repurpose this brush on my bottom as an exfoliating tool… Enough said. I will leave you with that nice mental picture…

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