How Layering Too Many Acids Gave Me Perioral Dermatitis: Jess' Story

layering acids skincare

With the rise of the Skinimalism trend showing no signs of slowing down in 2022, we're all becoming more conscious of what (and how much) we're putting on our skin. Our Content Manager, Jess, shares how a past obsession with layering acids and exposure to an expired skincare product led to her skin severely suffering the consequences...

In 2019, my love for skincare reached new heights. I was genuinely excited to do my evening skincare routine after getting in from work. I'd line up my products of choice on the bathroom sink like it was ammunition and I was preparing for battle. Little did I know that my dedicated fight against blemishes would in fact lead to a bit of a tragic time for my skin... 

More serums, more results?

In my naivety, I believed that the more serums I Iayered onto my skin every night, the better my skin would look - but in fact, I was irritating my skin beyond repair. I would pick serums out of my drawer without much thought behind the acids I was mixing. To my embarrassment, I'm sure I even regularly played a game of 'eeny meeny miney mo' to pick my 'skincare cocktail' of choice some evenings. Despite thinking that I was doing the right thing for my skin, I was in fact overloading it with actives and as a result, it was struggling to maintain any semblance of stability. My skin felt hot and my cheeks were constantly flushed, inflamed and uncomfortable to the touch. Looking back, the red flags were as red as my poor skin however I innocently believed that the reactive nature of the serums was a sign that they were working. My skin would catch up soon and balance itself out again and it'll look better than ever, right? Wrong...

The Expired Cleanser

A face cleanser my friend gave to me was the figurative straw that broke the camel's back. Again, I should've read the warning signs but as they say, ignorance is bliss. Looking back, accepting skincare products from your friends is in fact a terrible idea. Here are a handful of questions I should have asked: Where did you buy the face wash? How long have you had it? How long has it been open? Did it break you out (and is that why you're giving it to me)? Instead, I just charged on and used said face wash without thinking of the potential consequences. I'm ashamed to admit it, but looking for its expiration date didn't even cross my mind once. As my skin was already in a fragile state, the (most likely expired) face wash did a little more than just strip my skin of its natural oils. The next morning, I woke up to a bright red rash on my chin. Throughout the day, it spread to just below my nose and felt incredibly sore. Unlike a hormonal breakout, it felt like I had burnt my skin off. Dramatic? Yes - but the truth nonetheless. 


perioral dermatitis

Calamine Lotion To The Rescue

My skin was so raw to the touch that even splashing it with water felt uncomfortable. There was no way I could apply make up over the the top of it but equally there was no way I could leave the house with this level of flare-up. With little to no expert advice available to me, I felt at a loss with what to do. I sent a photo of my skin to my manager and thankfully she let me work from home so I could let my skin rest and repair. If you've ever suffered with a skin condition, it's this directionless, not-knowing-what-to-do-for-the-best feeling that leaves you vulnerable. I called a friend of a friend aesthetician and she immediately told me off for using so many acids - oops. She also told me to throw the out of date cleanser in the bin. I did as I was told and walked (with a scarf wrapped around my face) to the nearest chemist to grab some calamine lotion in an attempt to soothe the rash. It's also in this moment that you essentially find yourself doing anything and everything to help solve the issue. I spontaneously reached out to skincare guru, Nadine Baggott, on Instagram and to my surprise, she messaged me back with her thoughts on my skin's current condition; perioral dermatitis. 

What is Perioral Dermatitis? 

According to Healthline, Perioral Dermatitis 'usually appears as a rash of red bumps around the mouth and in the folds around the nose.' There is no proven cause however it is suggested that an overload of ingredients in cosmetics including steroid-based creams, paraffin and SLS, can cause the flare-up. 

The Road To Recovery 

After sitting and working from my desk at home for a week with calamine lotion slathered all over my face, my skin was starting to feel much more like my own skin again - hallelujah! The redness had died down and the texture was less rough and bumpy. It was a huge skincare lesson learnt, and since that week of skincare-related trauma, I have always tried to keep track of my products' expiration dates. I've also cut back on overloading my skin with serums every night and now follow a proper routine where I alternate between actives and limit my use of some acids to just a few times a week. If I do get a small breakout, I give it time to repair with nourishing, hydrating products instead of chucking multiple serums at the problem. Consequently, my skin is now more even in tone and texture and less reactive. I also feel much more confident without makeup - something that I just wouldn't have considered being a reality for me a couple of years ago. My final thoughts? Treating your skin with more care and attention really does pay off. Educate yourselves on the best products to use for your skin, take our real-time skin test or speak to one of our trained skin experts if you are looking for product guidance or just someone to talk to about your skin. And please, whatever you do, don't accept expired skincare from your friends.   

Skincare & Expiration Dates 

Discover our guide to skincare expiration dates and learn about how to keep track of when your products run out of date.

Order in January and we'll also send you a couple of our limited edition Shelf Life stickers so you can easily record the dates and never use an expired skincare product again!

We also recently ran a survey about skincare expiration - you can read more about the results here

 skincare expiration date stickers


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