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A famous esthetician once kindly referred to my skin as “emotional,” which if you know me, is so on-brand it’s almost laughable. While the word kind of skirts around any offensive language (emotional is so much nicer than always breaking the eff out), it’s actually the perfect way to describe my skin. I deal with serious acne, but I’m also incredibly sensitive—the wrong product can leave my skin irritated for days—and I often have large, inflamed zits that leave angry red marks for months, even after the swelling has gone down.
To add to all that, I also have true combination skin: My forehead gets shiny throughout the day, while the rest of my face gets progressively flakier. Balancing both my acne flare-ups and the dryness has been a game of roulette for years now, but I have finally found the answer: Just as you would try to calm a friend in distress, I leaned really hard into calming products. Acne like mine (deep, red, rarely comes to a head) is more an issue of inflammation than of clogged pores, and in my case, the red marks that linger arenÆt hyperpigmentation or scars, but hyperinflammation that sticks around for months even after the pimple has healed. By embracing products that soothe my skin rather than strip and dry it out, I’ve managed to keep sensitivity to a minimum and help reduce this leftover inflammation.
A key player in this discovery has been the Dr. Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Cream, which I haven’t gone a day without using since it landed on my desk two months ago. The cream is part of Dr. Jart’s cult favorite Cicapair line (including that massively beloved color corrector), which all use Centella asiatica, or tiger grass—tigers in India roll in the plant to heal their wounds—as their hero ingredient. “Centella asiatica is an herb found in Asia that has been used in eastern medicine for various health benefits,” says Joshua Zeichner, M.D., director of cosmetic and clinical research in dermatology at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City. “It’s rich in saponins, which are like nature’s anti-inflammatories and have been shown to calm irritated skin and aid in wound healing.” The plant helps form a protective barrier on your skin, and Zeichner says it’s great for helping with conditions like rosacea, eczema, sensitive skin, and acne.
The cream also includes something the brand is calling Cicabond, to repair damaged skin (the shea butter and niacinamide in the formula probably help with this as well), and Jartbiome, to help “strengthen, balance, and improve skin’s defenses against irritation and damage.”
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The cream’s thick, luscious texture has an instant calming effect, as if I’m wrapping my skin in a blanket. It’s deeply moisturizing but has a velvety finish, which is perfectly suited for my combo skin. I wouldn’t quite call it matte; it just smooths everything out and makes me look alive without adding additional dew or grease. That, paired with the slight green tint (to neutralize redness) and the fact that it doesn’t pill, makes it the perfect base for makeup. It’s great for locking in all my serums at night (I’ve been using it with the brand’s Cicapair serum for double soothing), streamlining the amount of products I need in my cabinet.
Perfect texture aside, the thing that keeps me hooked is the fact that my skin not only feels but looks better. My complexion is far from perfect (most days it’s a red, blotchy mess), but within seconds of applying this cream, I’m a little closer to my goal of no redness. It’s also been amazing to have on hand to really pile on super-painful zits. I swear it takes the inflammation down overnight. This might sound corny, but it’s also a reminder to be kind to my skin. I’ve spent most of my adult life obliterating my acne with harsh toners, prescription spot treatments, and even Accutane, so it’s nice to work with my skin instead of against it.
My skin and my emotions will always be connected—ask any woman with a skin condition, and I’m sure she’ll say the same—but knowing I have this moisturizer on hand keeps me calm, in more ways than one.
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