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the best speed-heal gel balm everyone should have in their Holy-Grail kit
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I have a few knee-jerk type solution responses to certain I-need-help statements. "MAC Blot Powder!" I blurt when someone wonders how to control daily oily-skin shine. "Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant!" jumps out when the question is about gentle exfoliants. "Neostrata glycolic acid toner!" is at the front of the line as an aid for breakout-prone complexions. "Clive Owen!" -- er -- well.

La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Pro-Recovery Skincare gel balm

La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Pro-Recovery Skincare Gel

"Cicaplast!" is my answer to skin irritation, scrapes, cuts, hot-tool burns, and microdermabrasion gone wrong.

La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Epidermal Recovery Accelerator (about $20 CAN) – now renamed as La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Pro-Recovery Gel – for irritated, distressed or post-procedure skin is a topical ointment much like Polysporin, only it can heal in half the time. (Toronto dermatologist Dr. Nowell Solish showed studies in support of its speedy ways when he first introduced editors to the product a few years back.)

A key ingredient in Cicaplast gel is something called madecassoside, sourced from a medicinal plant called Centella Asiatica; its leaves have antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, and collagen-boosting properties. Copper, zinc, manganese and selenium, an antioxidant, also contribute to the get-better-quick, while dimethicone, a type of silicone found in most moisturizers and makeup, forms a barrier over the skin a bit like an invisible band-aid.

One year I did a dumb thing. I had a microdermabrasion facial at a spa instead of a derm office, a hugely stupid move for me because I was already exfoliating my skin regularly and more than the average person would. (Listen, lots of exfoliation kept my skin breakout-free for years; any change in that routine made my complexion very cranky indeed).

First, the microdermabrasion was painful, which it had never been for me before. Second, by the time I got to the subway mere minutes away, my face was a criss-crossed mess of throbbing, violently red welts that hurt so much I didn't know what to do with myself.

Thankfully I remembered that Cicaplast gel is derm-recommended for patients who have had skin resurfacing procedures. This situation had to count since I'd left my skin at that spa place, so I beelined for my tube and frantically-yet-gently slathered the stuff on. And omigod it stung so much that I said some very bad words very loudly. But within minutes the awful sting faded almost miraculously, taking with it almost all the throbbing and a good portion of the pissed-off redness.

I reapplied several hours later when the throbbing dialed up again. And again there was that initial hellish stinging, soon followed by blissful relief.

With Cicaplast's help, my skin was back to its normal tone in just under three days, which I know for certain would not have happened otherwise. I don't heal that quickly in general. Without Cicaplast, I'd have been red, welty and whiny for more than a week, guaranteed.

Huh. I'd never intended to tell that story.

UPDATE: I gave a tube of Cicaplast to a friend a couple of days after she'd had thyroid surgery. Two weeks later when she visited her doc for a check-up, the doctor almost fell off her chair – my friend's scar had healed so well and faded so much that it looked months old instead of a couple of weeks. Cicaplast Epidermal Recovery Accelerator, or as it's known now, Cicaplast Pro-Recovery Skincare Gel, is da bomb. Click right here for more stories.

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La Roche-Posay Pro-Recovery Skincare is available at pharmacies and drugstores and via (still available under its previous name, too).