Saturday, September 30, 2023

My Year-Long Journey to Good Skin – What it Takes, What Works, What Doesn’t Work and Why it Matters

Kelly Bertrand actually gives a damn about her skin – was it worth it? The proof is in the (very intense) pictures.

A year ago, there would have been no way I would have posted this picture.

A true makeup free selfie is a bigger deal than I’d like to admit, especially as I start to get older and those after-work gins and nights when we I can’t be bothered taking off the slap before collapsing into bed begin to show.

At 30, I have wrinkles, I have lines. I have annoying redness on my cheeks that won’t go away no matter what time day, week, month or even the year it is.

But for the first 30 years of my life, I just didn’t really give a shit about my skin. It slipped down the priority list, I guess. For some reason my hair was always my biggest concern (because it JUST WON’T DO WHAT IT’S SUPPOSED TO DO) and most of my money and energy went into taming my wild mane into something that didn’t look like I’d been dragged through a bush backwards. (That’s another sign of ageing, isn’t it – when you start using the same sayings your mother uses. Cripes.)

Working in magazines for years, I was lucky enough to access to beauty editor’s leftovers, so my (half-arsed) skincare routine contained whatever products they didn’t want and God knows if they were supposed to be used on my skin type. It’s also why I built up quite a collection of too-dark foundations, blue mascara and lipstick with glitter in it.

But then, I got my skin scanned. If you’ve ever had an Observ scan before you’ll know what I mean when I say it’s bloody confronting – five different angles of your face with eight observation modes that lets you and your skin therapist see EXACTLY what’s happening under your skin, including UV light – which shows up everything from pigmentation, redness, lines, wrinkles, sun damage and other conditions.

It wasn’t bad – but it wasn’t great either. Realising that I only have one face – you think that would have occurred to me before – I decided that it was now or never to take care of my skin and actually do future 60-year-old Kelly a favour because I know now there’s no way I’m making enough money to afford face lifts.

But more importantly, I wanted present Kelly to be able to walk out of the house without makeup on. I don’t really like wearing makeup – I just don’t have one of those faces that looks good with it on, you know? Plus in these austere times, think of the foundation savings…

So off I toddled to Skintopia (where I also had my Observ scan – see below for befores and afters) and embarked on what they call a Skin Journey, which was also accompanied by a targeted at-home skincare regime that actually was meant for my specific skincare needs.

(For complete transparency, this was a gifted service, but there was no obligation to write anything from the experience and this is not an ad – just my genuine experience and the before and after shots of my skin, so you can totally judge for yourself.)

So, the journey starts with the Observ, where you and your therapist get intimate with your skincare needs. For me, my general concerns were the redness of my cheeks, and the general ageing process. Luckily for me I don’t have to deal with pimples too often, but we wanted to see if we could achieve glowy ‘I woke up like this’ skin that fought the visible signs of ageing. How hard can it be, right?

I had four facials over the course of the year, with most of them being Skintopia’s most popular treatment, the ProSkin 60 which, as you’ll have guessed, is a one-hour, customisable treatment. As much as I loved these for sorting out my skin, the mental health benefit of being able to leave my phone, lie down on a comfy bed with a weighted blanket and have someone look after me for an hour was WONDERFUL.

Over the course of the year, I had many different treatments – from LED light therapy (the green light was great for reducing my redness) – through to hydrodermabrasion which I LOVED because it was kind of like a tiny water blaster for your face and my skin was that kind of smooth you can’t stop touching because, how the hell did that happen?

My personal favourite? The blue balls. Get your head out of the gutter – although they do have a proper name, the Cryo Globes, which are little bulbs filled with antifreeze and cool and soothe your skin. They make you feel alive, baby!

There’s also the microcurrent treatment which is a weird one – it re-sculpts and re-educates the muscles of your face in what is essentially a non-surgical facelift which does work, but I wouldn’t call relaxing. It doesn’t hurt, but you do feel tiny twangs and your mouth tastes a bit metallic afterwards.

I also had one special treatment, the OxyGlow, which was my favourite of all. Using a special oxygen machine and the LED light, this one hydrates like you would not believe, with the treatment still feeling like it was working for days after, which I always love because, value. My skin was also significantly less red for weeks after this one, so if you’re keen for one treatment, this would be my recommendation. (Put it this way, after I had this treatment I took a photo and updated by Bumble pics, that’s how good my skin looked.)

Before shots on the left, after on the right. There’s been softening of fine lines in my forehead around the eyes (thank God) and far less underlying redness. Says Laura Duggan, Advanced Skin Expert & Trainer at Skintopia, “As we can see from her photos she has had incredible results. We see a softening of fine lines around her forehead and eye area and an overall improvement in oil and texture. She suffers from a lot less breakouts and congestion in the skin as a result, and we can see an incredible reduction in UV stress! Overall, we’re seeing a more even skin tone and colour. We reduced her pigment, redness and skin inflammation while improving her overall skin health.”

The other side of the journey was the skincare at home, which was twofold. One, using good products that were actually supposed to be used on my skin, and me actually committing to a skincare regime.

Success on both counts, I’m happy to say. Skintopia use Dermalogica products, so I was sent home with cleansers, moisturisers and serums (I was SO excited about the serums) and God damn, they changed the game.

Favourites included the entire Biolumin C range – a high-performance vitamin C collection that helps with pigmentation, fine line and wrinkles – and the Melting Moisture Masque which gives you the most intense hydration boost at home.

The Skin Resurfacing Cleanser has changed the game because it also contains an exfoliant, and new Smart Response Serum blows my mind because it somehow figures out what your skin needs every time you use it.

So, here are by before and after shots (above), and for me, I see the difference every day I look in the mirror. I’ve stopped using foundation on a day-to-day basis, with my skin’s natural redness pretty much under control. I still have lines and wrinkles – I’m a human who is ageing and I also decided to start a business in lockdown, so I’m blaming a few of the new ones on that –  but I’m so much happier with the face that stares back in the mirror.

I actually think that a lot of it is a sense of self-satisfaction in that I’m investing in my skin and practicing some self-care that’s really going to come in handy later on in life, as well as now.

And now that my skin journey is over, I’ll be back to Skintopia as a paying customer to do it all again, because there’s no way in hell that I’m losing that feeling.

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