My skin has been unhappy for most of the past month. I have been afflicted by dry skin, breakouts, blocked pores, dull complexion, rosacea and a kind of general Mrs Angry (well who can blame me) flare to my cheeks. I’m not sure whether to blame the weather, hormones, testing unsuitable products, the gods of skincare….. so I am hedging my bets on all four. This meant I had to (1) drastically simplify my regimen (2) fallback on the tried, true and tender (3) hone in on some problem solvers.

In order to simplify everything, a lot of product testing had to be postponed or designated to less sensitive zones (neck, hands and – a preoccupation that will hopefully result in next month’s regimen report – knees). As a quick aside, my neck has benefited from said action as it has been the guinea pig for Kaplan MD’s serum and I will be reviewing this soon (I already like the Lip 20 Treatment ($30 in the TIA shop). My fear, of course, was that I would throw out the baby with bathwater. By which I mean, cutting out antiagers and undoing all my good work.

After some thought, I reached for Your Best Face Restore ($120). First off, I remembered that I have always found Restore to be gentle and, somehow, very compatible with my skin (delivering just the right amount of moisture and never irritating). Second, there are studies that suggest that vitamin C (the dominant ingredient) can help calm rosacea. Plus, Restore has alpha arbutin, a skin brightener much needed by my dull as dishwater skin. And, for good measure, there are a couple of important antioxidants, spin trap and Lipochroman-6. Well, Restore turned out to be a good decision: my skin is calmer, hydrated and hasn’t noticeably aged.

Still, I needed some problem solvers. I found that I had a few vials of Dr Hauschka’s Rhythmic Conditioner. A key active is borage. Researchers in Germany recently found that borage and flaxseeds reduce wrinkles and, specifically, redness.

For breakout control I tend to reach for Platinum Skincare’s Oil & Blemish Control ($28.95) with argand and sesame seed oils, plus salicylic acid. Platinum Skin Care claims they create a perfectly balanced polyphenol formula, consisting mostly of lignans and phytosterols. These help inhibit the formation of 5-alpha-reductase, which is responsible for the overproduction of sebum. Bad skin days also benefit from Astara’s Blue Flame Purification Mask ($41). I find that it’s brilliant for dealing with the kind of spots or rashes that just sit under the skin, lurking with intent .

Despite all of this, I was afflicted by open pores and I felt that I needed a cleanser with some attitude. I got it when I found Skin Perfection’s 10% Glycolic Acid Cleanser ($13.50). After using this two or three times a week, my pores are closed and my skin clearer.

Now I can go back to abusing my skin – um, I mean testing new products!

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Ingredients in Restore

Reverse osmosis water, ascorbyl tetraisopalmitate (vitamin c), alpha arbutin, ppg5 ceteth-20, vitamin B5, dimethyl isosorbide, niacin, spin trap (phenyl butyl nitrone), vitamin e, c10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, sodium hyaluronate, polysorbate-20, Lipochroman-6 (dimethylmethoxy chromanol), triethanolamine, paraben du