Alexis Adrienne

2.5.18

5 MISTAKES YOU MAKE WHEN YOU WASH YOUR FACE

I know what you’re thinking. “I KNOW how to wash my face! Why are you even writing about this?”

But it’s only because I want to share with you how bloody important washing your face is as the first step in your skincare routine. Having perfectly prepped and cleansed skin, in my opinion, lays down the foundation for everything else in your routine to work - serums, essence, moisturisers, etc. If you’re not washing your face properly (and with the right stuff) then you may as well not have any kind of routine at all. Check through this list of super common (I admittedly still do some of them) face-washing mistakes so you know how to avoid them.

MISTAKE 1

You’re not taking your makeup off first. 

In a certain beauty-based Facebook group, I was confronted for the first time by women who did not remove their makeup before washing their faces. I was shocked (to put it lightly), especially since they were complaining about breaking out due to makeup. One of my first makeup-related memories is my mom pressing makeup remover and a pack of cotton pads into my hands, around the time that she gave me the “okay” to start wearing makeup. I was frankly shocked that this wasn’t the norm for many women. Makeup removal is the first step to a perfectly prepped face.

Luckily, there are literally SO MANY OPTIONS to choose from for makeup removal. My personal fave is a combo of a bi-phase makeup remover (for eye/lip makeup) + micellar water. There’s also cleansing oils, cleansing balms, and makeup wipes - literally every kind of makeup remover for every kind of person. Cleansing oils and balms have the added benefit of being able to melt down into pores and sometimes pull out things called ‘grits’ in the skincare community. They’re totally YMMV (Your Mileage May Vary) - some people never get grits and some people get them every time. There are even makeup remover wipes, however, I haven’t found a wipe that I like. The fabric is always too irritating for my skin and the remover not strong enough to actually take off my makeup. However, if these work for you, keep it up - just don’t forget to cleanse or rinse after.

MISTAKE 2

You’re using the wrong cleanser for your skin type. 

The only thing more crucial than removing your makeup is what you actually wash your face WITH. As an oily-skinned gal, I always kind of figured that my skin was working pretty well with foaming face washes marketed specifically to my oily skin. I couldn’t have been more wrong. I didn’t realise how desensitised I had become to how taut my skin felt after cleansing with a foamy cleanser - it was literally SO thirsty for moisture afterwards. Now that I use something really gentle, my skin just feels clean and soft. Lemme share with you what I look for in a cleanser:


  • Not medicated. This means no additional acids, acne treatments, whatever. I only want my cleanser to do one job - clean my face.
  • Not stripping. A lot of the time this is in the same vein as ‘not foaming’ but I know there are some properly formulated cleansers out there that can foam without being stripping. 
  • Actually formulated for the face, meaning they are pH balanced to be neutral or lower in pH. Most body washes and even some cleansers are higher in pH which is very disruptive to the skin’s natural acid mantle. 

My skin is happiest with cleansers that are neutral or just below neutral. I didn’t have very much luck with a low pH cleanser (CosRx Good Morning Cleanser) but my skin is definitely not happy with high pH, alkaline cleansers either. You can usually tell when something is alkaline by its slippery, soapy feel. Your skin may also feel dry and tight after rinsing - a red flag that something isn’t right. I personally really enjoy the Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser, but there are a lot of gentle and hydrating cleansers out there to choose from.


MISTAKE 3

You’re forgetting your neck.

This is super important, especially if you wear makeup and blend it down your neck. I’m not gonna lie, this is one that I started doing recently and my neck is SIGNIFICANTLY less ‘gunky’ (ew) when I swipe over it with some micellar water on a cotton pad. When your neck is properly cleaned and prepped, it can make the most of all the goodness in your other skincare. Not forgetting your neck also applies to applying serums, treatments, and sunscreen FYI! It’s the best way to avoid having a premature turkey neck. Taking skincare all the way down my neck and sometimes to my décolletage also makes me feel like a ~real adult~ too.

MISTAKE 4

You’re being too rough on your face.

You really don’t need to be vigorously scrubbing your face with handfuls of exfoliating scrub every day, as if doing so would actually scrub away any imperfections and blemishes (Pro tip: it doesn’t). So much abrasive rubbing irritates the crap out of your skin - believe me, I’ve been there before. Put down the apricot scrub and save it for your booty, legs, and feet.

You might also be too rough on your face by overzealously rubbing a dry towel over and over your scrunched up face to make sure you’ve gotten every drop of water off it, BUT this isn't necessary. It’s overly irritating for your face too. I’ve had my face literally sting after drying because I was too keen to dry it off with my towel. What I like to do to stop myself doing this (or anything bad for my skin really ahaha) is to ask myself “How would an esthetician do this?”. All you need to do is gently pat pat pat all over your face with a towel to dry it properly - just like an esthetician would.

MISTAKE 5

You’re using water that’s too hot.

I know gals - I also prefer my showers as hot as the depths of Hell, but the reality is too hot of a shower is messing with the natural oils in your skin. When you take away too much of the natural oil produced by your skin, you’re left with irritated skin which is left vulnerable to acne and dryness. This is why I usually turn down the heat when it’s time to wash my face in the shower, and use room temperature water to wash my face in the morning - my face is a lot happier for it.

Now that we’ve gone through this clearly super exhaustive list about face washing (who knew this would be such an important topic?), go forth and cleanse for happy, glowing skin!

Have you committed any of these skincare sins before? Or do you have even more amazing tips to share? Lemme know!

A xx

3.4.18

MY ACNE STORY: How I Deal With Acne


Hey, babes!

My name is Alexis, I’m 25 years old, and I have adult acne.

Today’s post is going to be a little different. As a beauty and skincare blogger, it’s all well and good for me to post about products that work for my skin while it’s all lovely and smooth and my acne is under control. But today, I really wanna show you how exactly how my skincare journey has gone, and how I manage my acne. To list it out in full, the treatments (script or otherwise) that I’ve tried for my acne are:

  • Lemon juice
  • Benzoyl Peroxide
  • Differin
  • Tretinoin
  • Clindamycin (topical)
  • Doxycycline (oral)
  • AHA (lactic acid)


My acne story starts around when I was 12 and just starting to get pimples, as you do when you hit puberty. The first acne ‘treatment’ (used very loosely here) I ever used was putting calamansi (a type of Asian lemon) on my skin around once a week to help sort out my acne and this is what I did for a few years. I can STILL remember the sting - this was the most torturous treatment ever and I can’t help but wonder how much permanent skin damage I actually caused by doing this.

Fast forward a couple years and I get into a semi-routine of seeing an esthetician to get facials every couple of months (thanks, Mom!). This helps, but it doesn’t actually treat my acne.

After a few years of regularly getting facials to help with my congestion, my mom took me to the derm and I walked away with a handy little script for Clindamycin and Differin. These two were great for managing my acne (although I probably STILL didn’t use enough recommended SPF with Differin oops) and I used them up until I moved to New Zealand for university and was no longer covered by my parents’ health insurance.

The Benzoyl Peroxide Era

February 2014
I ended up switching to the Acne.org method, which was 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide twice a day applied to the whole face. This worked really well for me (as you can tell by the photo) until I fell down the rabbit hole of benzoyl peroxide as a pro-oxidant. I couldn’t find any concrete information about negative effects of the long-term use of BP on one’s entire face, but I wasn’t willing to be a guinea pig either. So I stopped using BP and began to look for something else, and of course, my skin returned to it’s untreated, pimply state.

Before people come in perpetuating the myth of “ur skin gets addicted to BP that's why u broke out gal” let me just ask you something - if you took a medication to manage the symptoms of a disease, then stopped taking it and the symptoms came back, were you 'addicted' to the medication?

No.

I stopped using a product to manage my acne, and therefore it came back. The thing with all topical acne treatments is that you need to keep using them to keep seeing results because of how the skin is constantly renewing itself. What an amazing world we would live in if we could only use BP ONCE and be rid of our acne forever! Sadly, the skin doesn’t really work that way.

The Differin Era

July 2014, August 2014
So I struggled along for a little while, trying various acid toners (which didn’t work as well as I hoped for me) until I realised that under NZ’s national health care scheme, I could get Differin prescribed for acne! I don’t know why I didn’t realise this when I first started uni but whatevs. I marched into my doctor’s office at the end of July 2014 and she was able to prescribe Differin and a month’s course of Doxycycline to help battle the purge. Emboldened by the fact that I was going back to something which really worked for me, I did heaps and heaps of research how I SHOULD be treating my skin while using Differin.

My first time around using it, I still used harsh salicylic acid-based cleansers and scrubs which were completely unnecessary and hurt like hell. Turning to the internet, I heeded various warnings about the peeling, sensitivity, and dryness I would experience and began to fall into the rabbit hole that is Asian Skincare. I learned about things like sheet masks, watery lotions, and uber lightweight sunscreens.

I also downloaded an app called Day One to help me monitor my skin’s progress over the next few weeks. It's actually where I've been able to download all these progress shots from! Doing this really helped keep an eye on my skin and it’s something I still do to this day. It gives you a great idea of what is working and what isn’t working for your skin over time. What I like about Day One is it keeps the photos out of your camera roll and only in the app (which can be protected with a passcode), so it’s for your eyes only.

It was around this time that I started forming my Best Skincare Routine Ever, and there’s a good reason that that’s a proper, capitalised title. Let me show you how I looked six months after starting it:

January 2015
MORNING ROUTINE
Cleanse with water (yep for real)

EVENING ROUTINE

Other than Differin and sunscreen, the three products that made the most difference were the C20 Serum, EltaMD, and Hada Labo. C20 & EltaMD (Vitamin C + Niacinamide) were a KILLER combo for my PIH, and the Hada Labo really helped keep my skin properly hydrated and minimised peeling.

However, because my skin was finally GOOD, I got lazy and stopped documenting my skin (this is always a bad idea… Trust me!). I also decided to try too many new things at once. Not my best thinking, I’ll admit. Fast forward from January 2015 to June 2016 and I’m having skin that is just as bad or even worse than 2014. I think it was a combination of a couple of products, specifically CosRx BHA Lotion and a L’Oreal sunscreen that set my skin off. I panicked and went back to my GP, who sent me home with a script for Retin-A.

The Tretinoin Era

June 2016
I cut out C20 (as my skin would go through another period of becoming extremely sensitive) and went through the purge again. At this point in time, I actually had incredibly low self-esteem about my appearance (possibly the lowest I’ve ever had due to a crazy haircut I got plus the state of my skin) so I didn’t document my skin/take any photos of myself from July 2016 until January 2017.

January 2017
At this time, my routine was approximately something like this for these 6 months:

MORNING ROUTINE
Cleanse with water


EVENING ROUTINE
Tretinoin

July 2017
And this is how my skin looks now (sorry about the lighting discrepancy):
April 2018
My current routine looks something like this:

MORNING ROUTINE
Cleanse with water
Wishtrend Mandelic Acid (every other day)


EVENING ROUTINE
Tretinoin

There currently is a little bit more swapping out in my current routine, as I've gotta make do with what I can on the road (Watson's is a bloody godsend though!) but it's all working pretty well for me so far. I also sheet mask pretty frequently, but the jury is out on how much these are really making an impact on my skin other than temporary hydration and brightness - I'm hoping they make up for the fact that I don't have a permanent, strong serum like C20 in my routine right now.

So there you have it! I hope you've enjoyed following along with this post and gotten to know me a little bit better, and where my opinions come from when I review skincare. Feel free to ask me ANY questions about my skin, my routine, and the products that I used! I'll be writing about a few of them in-depth in some upcoming blog posts.

A xx

some products mentioned were provided as pr samples / contains affiliate links*

21.2.18

THE SECRET TO GLOWY + HYDRATED SKIN: HADA LABO PREMIUM LOTION REVIEW

Hey, babes!

This review is all about the newly hyped Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium Lotion. If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll know that I’ve loved Hada Labo’s Lotions for YEARS. As I ran out of my beloved Hada Labo in Taiwan last month, I thought I would try something new and pick up the Hada Labo Premium and compare my experiences. As far as I can tell, this product has been around for a little while but seems to have gained a bit of new momentum in the skincare world. It also comes in 170mL bottles and refill sachets like the other lotions, except that the packaging is gold with “PREMIUM” on the front in a lovely blue ribbon design.

What's in it and what does it do?

It promises to provide “mask-like hydration” using 5 different types of hyaluronic acid and anew ingredient to me called sacran. Derived from algae, sacran has anti-inflammatory effects and improves skin barrier function, therefore improving hydration of the skin. Compared to the regular Gokujyun Lotion (this is also known as Gokujyun Moist), the Premium Lotion has a far more beefed up ingredients list (with notable ingredients in bold):
Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, PPG-10 Methyl Glucose Ether, Diglycerin, Triethyl Citrate, PEG-32, Diethoxyethyl Succinate, Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate, Disodium Succinate, Methylparaben, Sodium Hyaluronate, Potassium Hydroxide, Disodium EDTA, Polyquaternium-51, Succinic Acid, Aphanothece Sacrum Exopolysaccharides, Ammonium Acrylates Copolymer, Hydroxypropyltrimonium Hyaluronate, Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer, Pentylene Glycol, Hydroxyethyl Urea

And compared to Hada Labo Gokujyun Moist:

Water, Butylene Glycol, Glycerin, Disodium Succinate, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid, Hydroxyethylcellulose, Methylparaben, PPG-10 Methyl Glucose Ether, Sodium Acetylated Hyaluronate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Succinic Acid

And for good measure, we’ll compare it to the Shirojyun ingredient list too:

Water, Dipropylene Glycol, Glycerin, Arbutin, Sorbitol, PPG-10 Methyl Glucose Ether, Carbomer Styrene/VP Copolymer, Methylisothiazolinone/Iodopropynyl Butylcarbamate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Xanthan Gum, Carbomer, Triethanolamine, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate, Hyaluronic Acid, Sodium Hyaluronate

Oddly enough, I can only see three types of named hyaluronic acid in the Premium’s ingredient list. After doing a bit of research and puzzling over this, I’m pretty sure that the two other types Diethoxyethyl Succinate and Disodium Succinate. I’m not completely sure about this because I’m not a cosmetic chemist (if you are, please feel free to jump in!) but apparently it’s possible to do this thing called ‘derivatization’ with succinic acid and hyaluronic acid, and that’s what I think the clever scientists at Hada Labo have done.


So what did I think of Hada Labo Premium?

First off, the texture is so different from the HL products I’ve used previously. It’s very thick, and not as runny as the other toners. I would say it has a thicker, essence or serum-like texture. It doesn’t have a scent (at least not to my nose). It doesn’t become sticky or tacky like the normal lotions when patted in, but rather an almost oily texture on my skin. Because of this, I can only use this at night - it’s so heavy and shiny. I actually can’t believe how heavy this is sometimes for something that isn’t a rich cream. Because of the high humidity here in Malaysia, I currently use this as my only routine step after tretinoin because it’s SO hydrating.

It leaves my skin super soft, bouncy and glowy - I love using it before a sheetmask to really amp up the mask. It's amazing how hydrating this is, but it’s unfortunately too much for my oily skin in warm and humid climates. It’s too heavy for me to layer with - it wouldn’t be a bad thing if one layer wasn’t already so much for my skin. I don’t think I could recommend this for other oily-skinned folks unless you’re on Accutane or somewhere where it’s cold and drying af. Even then, I’d reserve this for night time use as it really gives your skin a dewy sheen. Normal to dry folks will probably LOVE this stuff!


For my skin, I rate this a 3/5. It does it’s job, but it does it too well for my skin and just doesn’t fit my needs.

Have you tried hyaluronic acid toners before?

A xx

rating scale
1 - Terrible: Negative effects on skin.
2 - Mediocre: No change in skin/claims not met.
3 - Average: Performs as expected.
4 - Good: Would repurchase unless I try something better.
5 - Amazing: Meets trifecta of perfect packaging, formula, & cost.

where to buy Hada Labo online
Amazon*

purchased / contains affiliate links*

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