health

"I tried a free beauty sample and it made my face blow up."

Image: Lee and her face in happier times…

This week, my face has have lived through the most harrowing experience of its young life, all thanks to a little sachet of free skincare product.

I have always been quite lucky in the facial-skin department: little to no acne, a pretty even tone, a slightly oily t-zone but nothing to complain about. That was until I tried one of the free eye mask samples I had received a week or so ago. I had some free pamper time so I decided to try the patches out.

I followed all the instructions: wash face, dry face, peel open sachet, apply carefully around the eyes. I was a little weirded out by the patches themselves: large wet cloth circles with holes cut out of the middle for you to see through, that you stick onto your face. But Google told me all the celebrities use these and love them, so I kept going. As I said, I have never had troublesome skin, so didn’t worry about spot testing: what could go wrong?

“I popped a pimple. Then a staph infection ate my face.”

For the first ten minutes they were on my face, I felt great. ‘Goodbye wrinkles! Goodbye swelling! Goodbye under-eye bags!’ the packet promised. I was so excited! In the second ten minutes, things got tingly in the eye region. But I dismissed it, thinking that if you can feel something it means something is happening, right?

After peeling those little devils from my eyes and washing my face, I went about my day.

After a few hours, my whole face started to feel itchy. Mozzies, I thought. Sunburn maybe. No big deal. A few more hours, the itch got worse and started to sting. I braved a look in the mirror: large, red swollen rings around my eyes.

Skin product allergic reaction

I called my mum - because who else do you call when you feel ugly and swollen? - and she told me to take some allergy pills and go to bed. I had to work and had no way of leaving, so I just had to sit and wait while my face swelled like a balloon.

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Finally, feeling puffy and deflated, I got home and could hide my hideousness hoping this nightmare would be over tomorrow.

I could never have prepared for the face that looked back at me the next morning. I looked like about 15 bees had stung me, all around my eye socket. My eyes were weeping, my skin was raw and my whole face was throbbing.

I can’t believe I am sharing this, but this is me, with a normal picture to compare.:

The photo doesn’t do it justice. I couldn’t see clearly, my eyes were weeping, my face was throbbing and my skin was boiling to touch. I am a doctor-fearer, but I have never rushed to the GP so fast. On the long walk to the doctor, because no way could I see well enough to drive, I wore my biggest celebrity Botox-hiding sunnies because I was so mortified by my expanded face.

“The worst thing I’ve ever done to my face”

Multiple packets of steroids, anti-histamines, anti-inflammatories, and painkillers later, I was shrinking back to normal.

Three days later I was back to normal, but scarred for life. I swore I would never, ever, EVER put foreign goop on my face before I tested it out on somewhere unseen first, like the bottom of my foot.

Chemical burns, infections: when eyelash extensions go wrong.

My lesson to you, ladies, is this: free samples are awesome, and even better if you end up loving the product. But let me be a cautionary tale, your own personal warning label, and don’t slather on more than your poor face can handle when you get to the front of the Sephora sample line these holidays.

Have you ever had an unexpected reaction to a beauty product? Tell us more...

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