The $7 Face Cream That Saved My Skin

Photo: Courtesy of Vicco.
My skin is, in a word, cranky. I have large pores which clog up instantly, even with vigilant exfoliation. Of course, exfoliation is a problem unto itself; my skin is so reactive that I once got a full face rash from a sterile, hypoallergenic moisturizer meant for post-procedure skin. A hard workout will leave me scarlet for hours. And with any fluctuation in climate or emotion, I flush fuchsia, instantly. I'm a basically rational person, but one wrong move, and my skin is pissed off and red with rage. If my skin were a party guest, you'd probably ask it to leave, and then unfriend it on Facebook because you just do not need the drama. This is all to say that I have a long and complicated relationship with skin-care products, and I am always trying to find the magic wonder cream that will fix my face, no matter what the cost. But, two months ago, I found the first and only product that taught my skin to calm down and act like a grown-up. And it cost me $7. Okay, to be fair: it cost me $7 and a doctor's visit. I'd given up on dermatologists years ago — typically, they'd just marvel at my hypersensitivity and offer no real solutions ("Have you tried Cetaphil?"). But this year, I went to a new doctor for an annual mole check, and after that, she leaned in close to my face, and asked if anyone in my family had rosacea. It's caused by different things, and it turns out that people with my ancestry are exceptionally prone. My case was mild in that I'm not permanently flushed, however, she said she sees this low-grade rosacea more and more in her younger female patients: large pores, visible capillaries, maniacally sensitive skin. The good news: She prescribed me MetroCream, which would probably help protect my skin from irritants that caused further flushing. That was important because if left unchecked, the redness would become more frequent and, eventually, permanent. The bad news: MetroCream alone probably wouldn't be that effective in improving the current state of my skin. Enter: Vicco Turmeric Skin Cream.

Great, I thought. Gonna have a bad skin day and smell like an incense stick.

I'd stumbled across this product a few times and, frankly, it sounded like one of those drugstore miracles that wind up too good to be true. Maybe it would work for someone with less high-maintenance skin, but surely not my diva complexion. Still, I was intrigued by the all-caps reviews from users saying it crushed their lifelong acne, faded scars in a matter of weeks, visibly brightened and evened out skin tone, reduced facial hair (?!), and created the calm and comfortable skin that they'd always dreamed of. Vicco was, "WITHOUT A DOUBT THE BEST I'VE EVER ENCOUNTERED!!!" said one reviewer. "IN MY LIFE!!!" A little research revealed that this exceptional amount of hoopla was due to Vicco's primary ingredient — a truly exceptional herb: turmeric. Turmeric (or rather, curcumin, the active agent in turmeric) has long been touted as a health and beauty wunderkind. It's effectivity been studied in everything from wound care to cancer to diabetes, and while research is still preliminary in many of these areas, its anti-inflammatory powers are undisputed. Turmeric is an Ayurvedic staple and has over 53 names in Sanskrit, each representing it's various awesome attributes: kashpa (killer of worms), gauri (to make fair), and tamasini (beautiful as night). I mean, yeah, I'd like to be "beautiful as night." And I don't currently have any worms to kill, but you never know, right?
Photo: Courtesy of Vicco.
Excited but skeptical, I ordered a tube online, and decided to do a trial run overnight. Upon removing the cap, I instantly thought I'd been right about it's too-good-to-be-true-ness. Though there are no added fragrances in Vicco, the smell of sandalwood oil was potent, to say the least. It wasn't a bad smell, but if you're not a fan of sandalwood, you'll have to learn to tolerate it. And so will anyone who gets within five feet of your face for the first 30 minutes after you put it on. The cream came out of the tube like a light, yellow mousse. I tested it on my hand and found no reaction, and no shine whatsoever. In fact, it almost felt powdery when dried. So far so good. On to the face. With any new product, I know there's about a 70% chance I'll have some sort of reaction: splotches, rashes, clogged pores, or even those deep, cystic bumps that take months to fully obliterate. When I put on the Vicco, my skin instantly tingled in a way that usually signals an oncoming skin tantrum. Great, I thought. Gonna have a bad skin day and smell like an incense stick. But the tingling faded over the next 30 minutes with no visible reaction from my skin, yet. The yellow cream had sunk in, leaving my face feeling clean, matte, and only vaguely incense-d. The real surprise came the next morning. You know when you go to the dentist thinking, "Hey, I brush my teeth and I even floss sometimes. These suckers are clean!" Then they do the cleaning and you leave realizing you had no idea what real clean felt like? That's what happened when I looked in the mirror. It was as if someone had vacuumed my face, and while it was the same, um, floor I'd had before, it suddenly looked more shiny and new than it had since...ever?

I realized I'd basically never woken up without some sort of problem to fix on my face.

Still, I thought maybe I was just imagining the effects due to new product excitement syndrome, so I put the skin cream to the test for the next couple months. Keep in mind, I was still using the MetroCream as prescribed, no matter what moisturizer I used — and I believe it did help with overall sensitivity. But there was no doubt, when I used Vicco (particularly when I used it regularly), my skin looked and felt better. No more fighting my naturally pink-ish undertone with makeup. My workout flush went from tomato to, well, normal. Before Vicco, if I had two glasses of wine late at night, I'd wake up looking like I'd gone on a bender. I realized I'd basically never woken up without some sort of problem to fix on my face. I'd always thought of myself as a good hair person and a bad skin person, and that was just fine. Everyone had their thing. Now, for the first time in my entire life, I was getting random compliments on my skin. It was like a little identity crisis, but the best identity crisis ever. Vicco is now an indispensable part of my skin-care routine. I'm not sure it'll be moisturizing enough for the winter months to come, but even if I need to supplement it with another product, I'll find a way to keep it in the mix. For me, Vicco is more than a moisturizer. It's the product that finally resolved my bitter, angry skin issues, and helped me actually like my complexion — rather than just learn to accept it. I would have paid a lot more than $7 for that. (But I'm really glad I don't have to.)

More from Skin Care

R29 Original Series