That is, until I was introduced to skin-care aficionado Marie Veronique's product collaboration with rockstar holistic facialist Kristina Holey, whose elixirs take your complexion from inflamed and agitated to clear and uber-nourished.
"When I first met Kristina, she would tell me stories of her clients where their skin was really unhappy," says Veronique. "They would all be women in their thirties, highly-stressed, working out, and working for, like, 17 hours a day—so they all followed this pattern that led to adult acne." Sound familiar?
The thing is, this acne by-and-large isn't the same as what most people experience when they're younger—it's a type of perioral dermatitis that's characterized by a lot of inflammation.
"We're trying to refine people's approach to skin care by taking the biomimetic approach."
Almost a year ago, the pair launched a trio of powerhouse serums, but they recently expanded into a comprehensive range of seven microbiome-balancing items, including a micronutrient-rich mask and probiotic toner. These additions aim to target inflammation at its core by providing the nutrients your skin actually scientifically needs (think lipids, ceramides, and cholesterol)—so what sets them apart is that they're laser-focused on restoring the barrier of skin.
"We're trying to refine people's approach to skin care by taking the biomimetic approach, which accommodates your skin to do what it wants," explains Veronique. "That way you get the results you want." Or to put it another way: you get happy, healthy skin.
This is what happened to my skin on the Kristina Holey + Marie Veronique skin-care regimen.
Focusing on my skin's microbiome
As with most routines, I began my night with a thorough evening cleanse, using the Pure + E.O. Free Oil Cleanser, which is meant simply to remove debris and makeup from my complexion. I gently massaged it all over my face for a couple of minutes, as Holey prescribed (using my first three fingers and making small, circular motions). It felt so luxe—probably because it's full of omega 6 and probiotics that totally balanced my skin's barrier rather than stripping it, as so many cleansers do (especially those that bubble or foam).
On a clean complexion, I doused a cotton pad with the Balancing Hypotonic, which is filled humectants rather than anything drying, and swiped it all over my face. "Many toners leave your skin feeling dry after a while," says Veronique. "That's because the water is leeching into the structures that surround your skin cells." In other words, water-based toners (and alcohol-based ones, while we're at it) evaporate the moisture from your skin in order to provide that squeaky-clean effect. This one is instead packed with antioxidant green tea and anti-inflammatory licorice root, so it's really nourishing.
To treat my skin, I slathered on a triple threat of serums. The Barrier Restore is packed with L-arginine (an amino-acid to help with skin health), ceramides (to boost the barrier), and sodium PCA (to absorb water from the environment and bring it into skin). The Soothing B3 serum is spiked with niacinamide to reduce inflammation and stimulate ceramide production. Then there's the all-mighty Intensive Repair Serum, which zeroes in on breakouts with apple cider vinegar, AHAs, and BHAs—it's so strong you should only use it once or twice a week. I swiped it on one night when a pimple was just starting to form, and I woke up to a majorly shrunken spot.
My complexion has never felt more well-supported and nourished—you can feel that the products are working with your skin and not against it.
Upon using these products, I noticed that all have a distinctively weird scent—not surprising considering all are loaded with ferment. The Barrier Lipid Complex smelled the most distinct. When I turned the bottle over, cholesterol, which I've never seen in skin care before, stood out to me as the first ingredient listed—Veronique raves that it's a strong emollient and humectant that your skin's barrier needs. The formula was so gooey when it went on that it felt like it was thoroughly plumping my skin.
Three weeks after using strictly the Veronique-Holey line, my face is clear and has a healthy, radiant glow. My cheeks and forehead are brighter and more even than they've ever been, and my chin—the unfortunate location of so many pimples—is pretty clear, too. Though I've still developed a few zits in this area during the regimen, the Intensive Repair Serum has zapped them so that their healing process is rapidly sped up. Overall, my complexion has never felt more well-supported and nourished—you can feel that the products are working with your skin and not against it.
"Kristina and I are hot on the trail of finding cause and effect explanations for what's happening with people and their skin," says Veronique. "We get a lot of pleasure doing that. And if you can figure it out [for someone] and it makes their skin better, it's very satisfying for everyone involved." Amen.
This post was originally published on November 10, 2017; updated on July 31, 2020.
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