Christa D'Souza has made a six week commitment to getting better skin - but is it worth the pain?

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So then. It is time for the human walnut to become a human peach. Dr Vicky Dondos, my new ‘derm’ (Yay! I’ve got my own ‘derm’!) has studied my sun-wizened skin exhaustively and this is what she has recommended: A prescription strength skin system from LA called Obagi Nu-Derm, which is supposed to be one of the most effective ways to get rid of brown spots, sun damage and fine lines and generally even out one’s skin tone to promote that ‘pearly’ look I so very much don’t have.

Excited? You bet. I love a transformation. But it will be gradual and I’ve got take into account the downtime. The redness, the peeling, the dryness, the soreness, the shedding etc, it can last up to six weeks. It shouldn’t be too bad, says Vicky, because my skin looks quite resilient, but still, she needs me to know, this is a big commitment. Pah. Six weeks. I went without washing my hair for six weeks for a story once, this will be a breeze in comparison…

Off I trot then, with a massive shopping bag full of products - eight in total - and a long list of instructions. Peee-yuuuu, do these products smell, but I don’t mind. Anything that smells this bad has to work, right?

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So. Day one, nothing, day two nothing, day three nothing. I e-mail Vicky. Is she sure this is working? Might I need a double dose? No, she says, just carry on, which I do. And then, OMFG. Readers, by the sixth day the lower part of my face is so dry and cracked I cannot smile, let alone eat. Drinking I have to do through a straw. No, no, everyone says nicely, you look fine, as if you’ve been skiing in fact - but I can see the pity in their eyes. Do I look like a burn victim? I must.

On day eight I go to visit my mother. Maybe it isn’t that bad, maybe I’m overreacting, I do have that tendency, after all. “But it IS that bad,” she says clapping a hand to her mouth, “you’ve never looked uglier in your life!”  

Every morning that I wake up it seems to get worse. By day 11 at least it is less sore and throbbing round my muzzle (thankfully Vicky has sent me some barrier cream for round the edges of my mouth which are actually bleeding). But I am still shedding more than our pet python, bits of me, literally, in heaps all round the house. Oh, dear, if only I lived in Saudi. A burqa would make this all so much easier to bear...

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By day 17,  just as I am off for a fun hen weekend, I have become a cover girl…for National Geographic Magazine. Although a lot of the redness and hurtiness has gone, the crisscrossing and dryness and crinkly effect around my eyes (you aren’t allowed to use a moisturiser, you see) makes me look about 103.

Meanwhile, I have become so demoralised by the piteous reactions and cavernous reassurances, all I can do over the ‘fun’ weekend is put on the Gorilla costume I have brought with me (I got the hen weekend instructions slightly wrong) and silently binge on chocolate and corn chips and caramel popcorn. By the end of the weekend I have put on three and a half pounds. Isn’t it funny, though,  how destructive one can be when one is feeling like a piece of s***?  

So. Day 21, and  I can’t take this any longer, so off I run (rather than trot) back to Vicky. Tonight, I’ve got a big dinner on and there has GOT to be a way of making my face feel more normal. And of course there is. Apparently I have been using way too much of the Tretinoin (aka Retin-A) at night. And yes, there’s some legal “cheating’ we can do about the criss-crossing under my eyes. This involves a combination of super rich Epionce moisturiser and barrier cream, and Lycogel, a corrective concealer used for post-procedure healing.

Hooray. I am caked with gunk but at least the swelling has gone down and I feel like a human being once again. As to whether it was worth it? Ask me in 21 days. Cross fingers there is a happy ending to this (thus far) sorry tale…

Dr. Vicky Dondos  is at