Alexis Adrienne


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 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?


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
Cleanse with water (yep for real)


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:

Cleanse with water


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

Cleanse with water
Wishtrend Mandelic Acid (every other day)


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*



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

purchased / contains affiliate links*



Hey, babes!

I’m sure I’m not alone when I say that I absolutely love the new features of Instagram stories that are being rolled out - new fonts, gifs, story highlights… The other features of the app though are a different story 🙄 but we’ll discuss that another time.

I’ve got a quick tutorial today on how to make super cute Instagram Story Covers for FREE using Canva! If you’re a blogger and you don’t already use Canva, you’re missing out. It’s a great free website and app for creating high-quality images, such as Facebook Covers, Pinterest Graphics, and obviously Instagram Story Covers. There ARE paid features, but I’ve been able to use the app so far without needing them. If you're on iOS, you can download Canva from the App Store.

Here's how my profile looks before adding covers - it's not bad, but I'd like my story highlights to look a bit more cohesive.
The first thing you’ll need to do is make an account on Canva, as this makes sure that your design is saved for you to go back to and change if you need to. In the Canva app, “Your Story” is the correct preset for Instagram Stories. With Canva, I like to find templates that I like but modify to suit what I want. I find it hard to start from scratch but you do whatever you want to do. On a computer, Canva doesn’t show the “Your Story” option but you can easily get it by clicking here or creating a new project with the dimensions of 1080px x 1920px.

Now, you can go wild! I like keeping things pretty simple with a pale pink background, diagonal lines and an italicised serif font. Canva has super handy guides for aligning things perfectly centred, so you shouldn’t have any issues centring your title texts. Here's an example of what I decided to go for:
Another way to make covers is the actual Instagram app! It's great because it's practically no fuss - you don't have to learn how to use anything new and it's automatically preset to fit in Instagram stories. I made a really short gif of how to do this. The only drawbacks of using the Instagram app itself is that you don’t get as many creative tools as Canva, such as different fonts and shapes. However, it is a great way to use gorgeous images as your cover background as well - just import the photo, instead of colouring over a photo like I’ve done.

When you’re happy with how your covers look, save them to your phone. Since I designed mine on my computer, I AirDropped them over to my phone - this is the best way to get photos to your phone for Instagram if you use Apple! It’s so easy to edit a bunch of photos at once and send them over without losing quality. If you’ve done this in Canva, you can save them straight to your Camera Roll.

Now comes the kind of annoying bit - these need to be posted to your stories in order for them to be used as covers, so they’ll be in your stories for the next 24 hours with anything else you might post in your stories. I’m personally not too bothered by this but I know some others are. Unfortunately, there’s no way around this. I posted a little warning that I’d be posting covers, it’s up to you if you want to do that or not.

Once you've posted your covers to your stories like you would any other photo, here's how to make them the cover of a highlight:
And there you have it! Two super easy ways to make great Instagram Highlight Covers for free!

I hope you've found this super helpful - I'd love it if you showed me any highlight covers you've made using Canva or IG!

A xx

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