I often receive many reactions that are quite taken aback when I explain that to treat perioral dermatitis (PDO), you have to do a cosmetic detox ! Indeed, we often have the habit of “taking something” to cure an illness. It is not in our culture to let things go, do nothing…However, for certain issues, this is precisely what must be done.
What is a cosmetic detox ?
A cosmetic detox consists of no longer using cosmetics or in any case reducing them. We, predominantly women, are immersed in a fierce marketing ocean where the cult of youth drives the majority of cosmetics sales. We used to hear about anti-wrinkles, now we have “anti-aging” products. We are pushed to the consumption of cosmetic products to fight against this, to fight against that.
So, indeed, certain “inconveniences” and/or “imbalances” can be helped by products, but how many of us have felt judged when an esthetician asks us about our facial routine and we understand that ” It is not enough”. But not enough according to whom ? We, women, must be perfect, with smooth, luminous, young skin, without roughness, like the models on the glossy pages of magazines…Except that the skin is not a canvas on which we can lay everything. Because the canvas, the more it is nourished, wetted, etc. the more it crumbles. Let’s go explore our skin a little more !
The essentials to understand our skin
Many of us are unaware that our skin is an organ. It is even the largest organ in the human body : it represents 16% of its total weight. It is made up of several layers of tissues :
- The epidermis, the surface layer,
- The dermis, intermediate layer,
- The hypodermis, deep layer.
It forms a protective barrier for the body against the external environment, but also performs other vital functions :
- Protective function : One of the main functions of the skin is to protect the body from external aggressions. With its appendages (hair, nails, etc.), it forms an armor against direct trauma (shocks, friction) and against the action of chemical agents. In addition, the skin prevents the deep tissues from coming into contact with an ambient atmosphere which would dry them out very quickly. The skin also plays a role in immunity because it is able to make certain white blood cells, T lymphocytes, specialized in immune defenses, competent.
- Regulatory function : Thanks to a complex network of small vessels, the skin is strongly involved in the regulation of body temperature.
- Secretory function : The sweat glands produce sweat, release water and mineral salts which contributes to the consistency of the internal environment. In addition, these glands eliminate a number of wastes such as the breakdown products of certain drugs.
- Sensory function : The large variety of nerve receptors it contains gives the skin a fundamental sensory function. These sensory receptors respond to different stimuli such as touch, cold, heat, pain…
- Transmission function : On the circulatory level, the skin has the power, thanks to its important vascularization, to play the role of blood reservoir, by storing or releasing appreciable quantities of blood.
- Psychological function : The skin plays a psychological role because it reveals our emotions (reddening of the timid, for example) and our health (dermatoses due to stress in particular). Thus, as a living envelope of our body, the skin participates in communication between individuals.
From a chemical standpoint, the skin comprises on average :
- 70% water,
- 27.5% protein,
- 2% fat,
- 0.5% mineral salts and trace elements.
How to do a cosmetic detox for perioral dermatitis
Now that we know that the skin is an organ, we must keep in mind that it has a certain basic “balance”. The skin is covered with microorganisms, fungi, etc. which if all goes well, are there to maintain balance (as in our gut, for example). PDO is an imbalance of the skin. The skin has been damaged by x or y cosmetics and it reacts in an inflammatory manner (redness, irritation)? by spitting out (this is often the image I give) via pimples, pustules, etc. So adding more cream or drugs to treat the problem doesn’t make sense. We have to let the skin regenerate naturally, meaning, by itself. To draw another parallel, if you’ve fallen and grazed your leg, a scab will form. If you perpetually tear off the scab, your wound is going to have a hard time healing and you will likely get a scar from not having left your skin alone. It’s a bit the same idea when we are faced with the PDO.
DPO is therefore manifested by prolonged overconsumption of cosmetics. It manifests itself more on skin with a tendency to dryness because we generally hydrate it more than necessary. The PDO has nothing to do with the use of makeup. It’s really about how we treat our skin. At the same time, the skin can also be weakened with certain ingredients or cosmetic components.
To share my experience with you : before triggering the DPO, I cleaned my skin morning and evening (with a cleansing gel). I usually followed up with lotion, serum, moisturizer and eye contour. In parallel, every week, I will have a scrub and a mask at home.
Once the PDO manifested, I had to stop EVERYTHING. During the crisis period, I was only allowed :
- spring thermal water in the morning,
- powdered make-up (no foundation or liquid corrector),
- gentle cleansing milk to cleanse the skin in the evening,
- spring thermal water in the evening.
It is very hard to switch from one routine to another – especially in a moment of distress when our face (which we cannot hide from the world) becomes all red, pimply, bloated, etc. Because in our collective unconscious stuffed with diktats, skin with pimples means dirty skin. While that has nothing to do with it ! The skin will pull, it will be a source of great discomfort…but I promise you, I got away with it. With patience and persistence.
Cosmetic detox therefore allows the skin to heal and regenerate itself. If we give it more “to eat”, the liver attack will continue. The process takes several weeks because the skin works slowly before the outer layer is completely repaired. To help dry out this almost purulent side, my dermatologist advised me to use black tea compresses. Indeed, black tea is quite astringent and will therefore help tighten and dry the tissues to facilitate their healing. To do so, nothing could be simpler : provide yourself with a basic black tea. Infuse it in hot water long enough. The darker the tea, the better. Let it cool. Soak sterile compresses or, failing that, cotton pads and leave on your face. You will almost immediately feel the soothing side on the skin which tends to “heat up” with the inflammation.
During this cosmetic detox, the skin will go through several stages : redness, pimples, itching…It is necessary to hold on. Once the skin starts to peel (for some people), we’re on the right track. It’s like a sunburn after all.
Once the skin gets better, it is important not to fall back into the cosmetic consumption that we know. This is because PDO is a chronic disease. If we have had it, we can have it again. An adjustment of your skincare will be necessary in order to respect the balance of the skin. There may be some relapses. This has happened to me and sometimes happens to me but these relapses remain fairly localized and I react quickly to prevent the symptoms from continuing too much. However, even if the inflammation remains very localized, the time to remission is sometimes as long as when the whole face is affected.
For those who live in Paris and who ask me who my dermatologist is, I will give you his contact details : Dr Eiko Hortig. He only makes replacements in different Parisian firms. I see him near Rambuteau at Dr Vicart‘s practice (he’s there on Fridays) and the price is € 80 per consultation.
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