My 3 Must-Have Actives After 3-6 Months of Differin

Recently I shared my *simple* skincare routine – basically the go-to products in my routine to tackle my top priority skin goals: acne control, hydration, barrier protection.

In today’s post, I’m sharing with you the three extra actives I added to my skincare routine once my skin adjusted to my prescription topicals. They are powerful ingredients that are no one-trick ponies, but have a multitude of functions that contribute to skin’s overall health!


Products marked with * are PR Samples/gifts. Links marked with a * are affiliate links. This means when you use the link to make a purchase, I earn a small commission at no extra charge to you. Thank you if you decide to use them! If you feel uncomfortable, feel free to google a new link.


Niacinamide

Niacinamide is an amazing all rounder ingredient that addresses multiple skin issues, it is actually my favourite ingredient out of the 3! It is an antioxidant, increases skin’s lipid production to improve skin barrier, minimizes pores, helps refine wrinkles, brightens and evens skin tone, helps with sebum control, and fades pigmentation.

Current go-to: The Ordinary 10% Niacinamide + Zinc

  • $5.90 USD, $10.60 USD
  • 30 ml, 60ml
  • Use PM, mixed with Hada Labo Premium Lotion before Differin

Why it’s my go-to:

  • Cheap, lol!
  • A simple, straight-shooter formula that I like to use to mix in with my HLPL
  • Provides pH level and percentages
    • pH: 5.5 – 6.5
    • Niacinamide: 10%
    • Zinc PCA: 1%
  • Skinthusiast perspective: Niacinamide and Zinc PCA are the only star actives in the formula, but the bulk of the formula still has solvents doubled as humectants.

I  currently have a rotation right now of other Niacinamide serums/boosters out of my sheer curiosity (Niacinamide battle soon), but TO’s has been a constant repurchase for me and it’s a staple in my skincare collection.

Where to buy:


Glycolic Acid

Glycolic Acid is a water-soluble chemical exfoliant. It increases cell turnover on the top-layer of skin, the Stratum Corneum, acts as a humectant, and increases Collagen and Hyaluronic Acid in the dermis, making it thicker and less prone to TEWL. For my skin, GA has also shown to be the most effective with improving my skin texture, most notably in smoothing out my atrophic acne scars.

Current go-to: Krave Beauty Kale-lalu-yAHA *

  • $25 USD
  • 200ml
  • Use AM 1-2x week, before Vitamin C

Why it’s my go-to:

  • Low percentage Glycolic Acid that’s gentle but can still exfoliate
  • KB also provides pH level and active percentage
    • pH: 3.0-4.0
    • AHA: 5.25%
  • Skinthusiast perspective: Also has additional ingredients that promote skin’s health:
    • Aloe, Hyaluronic Acid, Vitamin B5 – humectants and skin soothers
    • Dark leafy greens kale, spinach, parsley – antioxidants
    • Allantoin – skin soother

KB was a good product to reintroduce after acclimating to Differin. However, after I finish this bottle, I will move on to Paula’s Choice 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant. KB is still unavailable to Canadians to purchase, and also I am ready to move up in strength. I opted for PC because I find they do a great job at formulating high percentage active products that don’t irritate my skin.

Where to buy:


L-Ascorbic Acid

LAA is the best researched Vitamin C ingredient compared to its derivatives; It is an antioxidant, provides photoprotection, promotes collagen synthesis, brightens and evens skin tone, and fades pigmentation. Combining L-Ascorbic Acid, Ferulic Acid, and Vitamin E has shown to increase the effectiveness of LAA and improve its stability.

Current go-to: Paula’s Choice Resist C15 Booster

  • $49 USD
  • 20ml
  • Use AM daily, freshly cleansed skin

Why it’s my go-to:

  • PC uses the most well studied ingredients in this formulation and tries (or maybe did) dupe the famous Skinceuticals CE Ferulic Serum
  • Provides the percentage of LAA as well as the pH level of this product:
    • pH: 3.0
    • LAA: 15%
  • Skinthusiast perspective: Contains additional ingredients that are good for the skin:
    • Sodium Hyaluronate and Glycerin – humectants
    • Hexanoyl Dipeptide-3 Norleucine Acetate – hydrates, improves skin texture
    • Panthenol and Bisabolol – soothing
  • Only LAA Vitamin C serum at a high concentration that does not burn my skin

I already repurchased my 3rd bottle of this booster! I have tried the infamous Timeless Vitamin C serum – 2 bottles worth actually – and it stung a LOT! And for those of you who may mention MaeLove’s Glowmaker Serum – no shipping to Canada! I believe they’re working on that, so maybe once it does become available I will purchase. In the mean time, I’m content with spending the extra cash on the PC C15 Booster.

Where to buy:


And that is it for this blog post! I know all too well how overwhelming the skincare world is. Lot’s of good ingredients, but not sure where to start or understand what exactly makes it so good! I hope my top 3 helped you out with your own skin journey, especially if it’s similar to mine! (Acne prone, dry, preventative aging…)

xo, M

SUNSCREEN SUNDAY #9: Hada Labo UV White Gel SPF 50+ PA++++

HADA LABO UV WHITE GEL SPF 50+ PA++++

Rohto Skin labs Gokujyun SPF50+ PA++++ UV White Gel can be used as an all-in-one face lotion, beauty milk, beauty serum, cream, or masking lotion. With the added feature of being UV blocking and also as liquid foundation, this amazing gel has 7 functions!
Contains ample amounts of hyaluronic acid​ and nano-hyaluronic acid, as well as vitamin C derivatives, which while moisturizing even the deepest layers of skin acts as a liquid foundation for beautiful makeup application.
Use it every morning and experience the difference!

– Dokodemo

Price: ~$15-$20 CAD
Amount: 90g

UV FILTERS:

Type: Hybrid
Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate (Octinoxate)
Polysilicone-15
Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine (Tinosorb s)
Diethylamino Hydroxybenzoyl Hexyl Benzoate (Uvinul A Plus)
Titanium Dioxide

Protection: UVA/UVB
UVB: 50+ (~60)
UVA: PA++++ (PPD 16≥)


INGREDIENTS

Water, methoxy cinnamic acid-ethylhexyl, isononyl isononanoate, dimethicone, ethanol, BG, PEG-12 Dimethicone, pentylene glycol, polysilicon corn -15, glycol methacrylate cross polymer, bis ethylhexyl methoxyphenyl triazine, ascorbyl phosphate Mg (vitamin C derivative), hydrolysis of hyaluronic acid, hyaluronic acid Na, diethylamino hydroxybenzoyl hexyl benzoate, poly-silicone -13, Fenokishieta Nord, carbomer, TEA, polystyrene, polyvinyl alcohol, hydroxyethyl cellulose, EDTA-2Na, butyl carbamate acid iodide Puropini Lumpur, (acrylates / alkyl acrylate (C10-30)) cross polymer, titanium oxide, Aku relay retaining clips polymer ammonium, hydrated silica, hydroxide Al, hydrogenphosphite dimethicone, methylparaben

From my -passionate skincare consumer- perspective..
Heck to the yes for using modern UV filters! As expected from Hada Labo, the formula also contains different sized molecules of Hyaluronic Acid, as well has Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate for antioxidant protection. Ethanol is the 5th ingredient in the list, and it’s typically used in formulas to stabilize UV fiters and give the product a more elegant consistency. If you’re in a more drier part of the world, make sure you layer with a balanced (humectant-emollient-occlusive) moisturizer prior, for this is not a heavy feeling SPF. Otherwise if you’re in the more humid parts of the world I can imagine you’d find this SPF super comfortable as both a moisturizer and SPF.

INCIDecoder breakdown


EXPERIENCE


CONSISTENCY:
  Light cream.

FRAGRANCE: No additional fragrance or noticeable scent.

APPLICATION: Glides on skin very easily.

FINISH: Shiny.
wp-1584459001490.jpg

FEEL: Despite Ethanol high on the list, it adds moisture to my normal to dry skin. I tried this SPF without moisturizer and my face was so dry and matte looking!

STINGS EYES? No.

WHITECAST / TINTED? No.

WATER RESISTANT? No.

SKIN BENEFITS?
Adds extra moisture to the skin, has MAP for antioxidant protection, skin looks smoother.

UNDER MAKEUP:
On my normal to dry skin, it tends to pill when I wear foundation on top of it. Like all around the sides ;_; Aside from that it has pretty good priming abilities. I usually reach for this SPF when I want to do a no-foundation makeup look.


PROS:

  • Uses modern UV filters
  • 90g is an awesome amount of product for the price, including shipping fees
  • Provides extra moisture and some antioxidant protection as well
  • Any skin type can use it

CONS:

  • Pilling
  • Jar packaging

FINAL THOUGHTS

After on and off use of the Hada Labo UV White Gel SPF 50+ PA++++ in the warmer and colder months, I can confirm that it is indeed an amazing sunscreen discovery of 2019; I just didn’t feature it in my Skincare Faves of 2019 video because I didn’t use it enough to form a solid opinion on it. But here it is now! Awesome UV filters blend, additional skincare benefits, and it doesn’t sensitize my normal to dry skin despite Ethanol being high on the ingredients list.

WHERE TO BUY:
Dokodemo

This is an affiliate link. If you use one of these links to make a purchase, I earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you so much if you decide to use them! If you feel uncomfortable, feel free to google a new link.

Hope you found this post helpful and informative!

xo, M


[RELATED CONTENT]

SUNSCREEN SUNDAY #7: Bioderma Photoderm SPF 50+ Milk High Protection

My Skincare Routine for the First 3 Months of Aczone and Differin

Since I incorporated topical prescriptions in my skincare routine back in November 2018, the products I focus on to use alongside it has changed. My approach in curating a new skincare routine was to use products with more minimal, and effective ingredients. I figured the less lengthy the INCI list is, the gentler it’ll be on my skin as I’m using prescriptions for the first time in a long time.

For context, please read my Skin Update [#1] December 2018 post.


THE -SIMPLE- ROUTINE

Looking back in late 2018 to early 2019, my routine itself wasn’t that minimal because I was rotating too many products in the first couple of months. Below is the general breakdown of my skincare routine with must-have steps and a youtube demo, featuring some of my favourite products. None of them irritate my skin, are a good price point for the amount and ingredients you get, and have repurchased some of them multiple times.

For reference, I’m 29, acne-prone, normal to dry.

MORNING:

1. Cleanse for 30 seconds. At first I used only water, then switched to a cleanser because I felt it helped reduce the flakes or dry patches I would experience.
3. Apply Hydrator on damp skin to prevent further water loss.
4. Apply thin layer of Aczone.
5. Moisturize, sometimes add an occlusive to intensify the moisture.
6. Apply a generous amount of sunsreen, I aim for 2mg/cm2.

NIGHTTIME:
1. Double Cleanse with an oil cleanser and low pH cleanser. 30 seconds each, I try not to go past 2 minutes.
2. Apply Hydrator on damp skin to prevent further water loss.
3. Apply thin layer of Differin. I added Aczone after 3ish weeks.
4. Apply Hydrator again because face would start feeling dry quickly from the Differin.
5. Moisturize with a mix of an occlusive (roughly a pea-size).


Hope you found this skincare routine helpful, especially if you don’t know where to start in your first 3 months of Vitamin A use.

xo, M