Reviewing skincare isn't the same as reviewing makeup. You put mascara on and instantly know whether you like it or not, the same with lipstick or eyeshadow. After one day wearing foundation you know how it functions and how long it lasts and can pretty much write a review there and then. Skincare though is a whole other ball game because your skin's reaction rather than your personal opinion usually dictates and shapes the review. So I always like to give myself as long as possible to evaluate my findings. I actually postponed this post the other week and I'm glad I did (thankfully without someone breathing down my neck saying I hadn't completed it in time!), because there's been developments that need to be included here. Ok so I'm not kidding when I say this product couldn't have been released at a better time. I was in the midst of suffering one of the worst (if not the worst) breakout I've ever experienced, when I got an email to say there was a new complete blemish system from La Roche-Posay and would I like to try it? I'm pretty sure there was a chorus of singing angels and blinding lights, while I replied "ermahgerd, yes please"! If you've never suffered from acne or anything close before, then you can't really understand how much it shatters your confidence and just how rotten you feel throughout it. I was one such lucky teenager, never having a single blemish, then I hit 25 and it all went downhill from there. I won't bore you with the ins and outs of what I've tried, what the doctor prescribed etc etc. It's almost 10 years since then and I still suffer the odd breakout from time to time and can't say my skin is ever completely clear, but I admit to enjoying being a little less strict with what I put on my face than at other times during that decade.
Back to this breakout and I have no idea what caused it, but there was a cluster of around 10-12 (on the side of my chin), I want to say 'pustules' because that's what they looked like, but TMI here, they were blood filled rather than pus. Gross, regardless. They felt hard and were extremely raised, I mean wiping a thick cotton pad over them I couldn't actually get close to my face because the spots stuck out so much. They hurt like mad too, my whole face just hurt. They were horrid and I'm so thankful I never had to leave the house during that time. So in a frantic "I have to do something" moment, I turned to this gel the doctor had prescribed (I've spoken about it before. It's not pleasant to use. It literally burns your skin and makes it peel. Your face is on fire all the time (and looks it too) and after a couple of uses, no matter what goes near your face (water, cleanser, moisturiser) it will sting and burn). Almost to the point of tears (I'm pretty sure the way it works is to have you worry about how much your face is burning thus forgetting you have spots)! I swore last time, I'd never use it again, but desperation struck! Then thankfully, the Effaclar Anti-Blemish System* (£32.50) arrived, phew!
It consists of three full size products; a purifying gel cleanser, clarifying toner and anti-blemish cream. This is the part I absolutely love. Often, you can't find three products that work for your acne prone skin and you struggle between keeping a routine and sticking with the individual products that work for you. You question everything you put on your skin and worry that your toner is causing spots, but your moisturiser seems ok. Do you skip that step entirely? The cleanser works well with the toner though blah, blah, blah. All the decision making is out of your hands with this one, you've got a routine for day and night and hopefully one that will work in harmony with one another. It also meant from a personal point, it was easier to review because I knew that nothing I was already using could be causing conflict or aggravating my condition. Another helpful factor is me not wearing makeup just now. The fairest test conditions possible really. Of course other elements can impact on whether or not you're going to breakout, but it's something you'd expect these products to be able to deal with, as it's their job.
So I started using them right away, twice, every day. As I'd been using that hell-gel (but ceased when this set arrived), there was a burning sensation still at first. Nothing to do with the Effaclar and by the 4th day, it had stopped. The cleansing gel comes in a squeezy tube (125ml) with a flip lid. Easy to use, you just apply a small amount to wet hands then massage into the face and wash off. It's a clear gel and it smells divine, it's so soothing and gentle and not at all overpowering. Immediately I felt it a little drying, not on my face, but I noticed my palms felt tight afterwards. The majority of acne prone skin is oily, whereas mine tends to lean a little dry in areas, so it's understandable. I've noticed now (after 5/6 weeks use) that I've been flaking around my eyebrows (randomly), but I haven't noticed tightness or dryness elsewhere.
After cleansing, you follow up with toner. It comes in a 200ml bottle, with flip lid and small hole in the top. I kinda wish the bottle was transparent like other toners, as it's easier to see how much is left. This applies well (onto a cotton pad) and always seems to look like it's removed traces of something (slightly discoloured cotton pad afterwards) which, like flossing, pleases me greatly. Please say I'm not the only saddo extremely satisfied when you actually find something between your teeth when flossing? It's boring otherwise!
Then the final step is the Effaclar Duo [+] moisturiser. Again it's got that lovely soft scent. It's easily absorbed into the skin and feels quite light. There's no greasy or sticky feeling and it leaves a soft, matte finish. I'm sure this will work well under makeup, though I've never tried it.
For the first few weeks, I got on really well with the trio. Within a week, those horrible spots were reduced to red marks. My skin is notoriously slow at clearing up, so even now I still have those red marks. I'd given up using all other products in order to fairly test this, but by instinct the first time I showered, I went on auto pilot and used my regular scrub and face mask. I noticed those spots flaring up afterwards and had a mini panic, but thankfully it never came to anything and I remembered next time not to use them. By the third week, my skin had been looking quite clear minus the red (but flat) marks. Then I noticed a bump or two appearing. By the end of the week I had several new spots (in other places). These are different to the ones from before; they mostly feel like they're under the skin, they're not keen to come to a head and are red, sore only if you touch them. I was pretty mad last week that I had to go out with my face looking angry. I'm pleased I hadn't published the review before that stage though, because so much changed. Now, going into the 6th week (I think it is) there's still around 6 bumps at various stages and I still have the red marks, though I think they are becoming more faint.
You'll notice on the box, it says 'clearer skin or your money back'. Last week, I'd honestly have been asking for a refund! According to clinical trials, there's "visible results from day 1" and "significantly clearer looking skin at 4 weeks", neither of which I'd particularly agree with so far. However going back to how I started this post, I believe your skin isn't going to magically change overnight. Mine has a tendency to react 3-4 weeks after trying something new, then usually calms down again. Which would mirror what happened here. I read something recently that said you should really allow 12 weeks, for your skin to settle into a new routine/products and I'm inclined to agree. Call me crazy but I've decided to stick with it and keep using this 3-step system. Apparently there's 'up to' 6 weeks supply in this kit, so I may need another set to complete it (there's a £5 off voucher included in the leaflet inside, for your next purchase). Which brings me to another point, I'm not sure the size of each product is right. I can see the moisturiser running out long before the cleanser and there still being lots of toner left. It's a bit like that shampoo vs conditioner conundrum we all suffer! Thankfully the cleanser and cream are available separately if this is the case, but the toner is the one unique item made specifically for this trio. I can't see it running out before the others, so I don't think it will become an issue.
LRP use their very own thermal spring water (a natural anti-oxidant) in all of their products and limit their ingredients to those necessary to the products efficiency. That hopefully means, fewer things for your skin to disagree with. I think they've absolutely mastered the fact that blemish prone skin requires a simple but effective routine. So many sufferers will normally skip a step or think the cleanse/tone/moisturise rule doesn't apply to them, so a specific regime all found in the one set, feels like a no brainer. In terms of summarising my findings, I've certainly felt my skin is incredibly soft and smooth, but blemishes are still an issue for me. Another positive I've noted, is I usually have a build-up around my nose and feel the need for a good exfoliator each week to remove that, but there's no little bits anywhere and that's with me not using a scrub at all. I'd like to continue use and get back to you in 6 weeks time and let you know if anything has changed for the worse or better, because I strongly believe results would be more conclusive over a longer period. However for now, you can find this set in Boots and the Effaclar cleansing gel and moisturiser are available separately at Escentual too. Is this something you'd like to try?
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