'All the products I used to repair my damaged skin barrier in 10 days.'

As a beauty writer, I get to use all sorts of potions and lotions and I love it. Having access to new products on the market or trialling ones that have been around for a while and reporting back to readers is something I really enjoy. Because sometimes beauty can be a tad overwhelming.

We hear about the buzzwords of the latest ingredients and want to bathe in the newest miracle cream ingredient. But here’s the thing - this comes with risk, and if you have ever destroyed your skin barrier, then you know the issues you can face coming back from that. 

Now, as much as I want to go ham with everything I manage to get my hands on, I'm quite considered in my approach. I only ever add one new product into my rotation at a time giving my skin a few weeks to settle, just in case a reaction occurs - and boy, did one happen recently.

Watch: Mamamia's beauty contributor Teresa McNamara shares her thoughts on the popular Westman Atelier Vital Skincare Complexion Drops. Post continues below.

Video via Teresa McNamara

I'm not going to name the product as I know a lot of people have used this for years - and everyone's skin type is different I read the ingredients list of the products I use and make sure there is nothing I feel that I'm uncomfortable putting on my skin. But my skin just didn't like it for some reason. 


In this instance, I used the product for three days and woke up one day four with a swollen face. I stopped using the product immediately and my skin settled down quickly, however my story is nowhere near done. 

A few weeks later I was taking off my makeup (using my usual skincare routine) when all of a sudden my face started burning like it had acid poured on it. I immediately applied a cold pack and took an antihistamine, but it just kept getting worse over the course of the day. 

I know it's not pretty and, to be honest, I feel vulnerable and exposed sharing these images but it is important to see what can happen.

Image: Teresa McNamara


Every single product I tried to use just caused a reaction. It was bad, and it was painful. I made an appointment with the GP but there was a wait of a couple of weeks so I had to take action myself. 

So, for those who might find themselves in the same situation, here's what I did to turn my skin from this (below left) to this (below right) in less than two weeks. 

Before (left) and after (right).


Firstly, I just stripped everything back to basics. 

I had a few days off work but once back on site; I needed to wear makeup. Yeah, I know it's not ideal but I work in a customer-facing role, so I didn't want to scare people! 

To take my makeup off in the evening, the only thing that didn’t irritate me was The Body Shop Camomile Cleansing Butter, $28. I tried a few others, but they all caused a reaction. I did a very gentle second cleanse if needed but I could not use anything else as everything felt abrasive and burned.

I still wanted to take care of my skin so I incorporated a full routine that focused on repair and hydration. 

Next came the K-Beauty brand Goodal and their Vegan Rice Milk Moisturising Toner, $26.95. It is super hydrating and absorbs into the skin. It’s made from rice from Jeju Island and retains moisture and aqua ceramide to repair and strengthen a damaged skin barrier (hello lover!)

Once that absorbed, I loaded some iUNIK Black Snail Restore Serum, $33, onto my face. I actually prefer this product over the viral CosRX Snail Mucin. It absorbs better and does not feel as sticky. On top of the snail secretion, it also has some niacinamide in it, and has antioxidants and anti-inflammatory properties. My skin LOVED this product.

iUNIK Black Snail Restore Serum and Hydrance BOOST Concentrated Hydrating Serum. Image: Supplied.


I then turned to Avene and their range for hypersensitive skin. I mean I clearly fit the category. I mixed the Hydrance BOOST Concentrated Hydrating Serum, $69.99 (my skin was THIRSTY) with the Tolerance CONTROL Soothing Skin Recovery Cream, $31.39. 

The recovery cream is designed to soothe and calm hypersensitive skin and reduce reactivity to external environmental factors. It's formulated to minimise the risk of allergic reactions and help restore the skin barrier. 

If you have skin issues like mine, then you NEED to have this brand in your arsenal.

Image: Avene Tolerance Control. Credit: Supplied.


My eyes were particularly irritated and as they dried out they became scaly and patchy. My eye area was so fragile, the only thing I could tolerate was the Avene Soothing Eye Contour Cream, $34.99. This product has soothing properties for eye irritation, redness and that horrible tight sensation. It is hydrating and creates a protective base around the eye contour and eyelid. 

My skin journey is not over and I am still having random reactions every now and then, but it bounced back so well considering the state it was in. 

Image: Teresa McNamara's skin now.


I am currently awaiting an appointment with an allergy specialist, but in the meantime, these products are staying very close to me. 

If you are experiencing any damage to your skin barrier and don't know where to start, I hope this will help!

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Feature Image: Teresa McNarmara/Supplied.

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