My Summer 2020 Nighttime Skincare Routine Ft. Retin-A Micro & Aczone

Following my 2020 Morning Skincare Routine (Summer Edition), here is a breakdown of my nighttime skincare routine for the warmer months!

Skin type: Acne prone, normal to dry. Becomes easily sensitized from drying products or environment.
Skincare Focus: Acne control, hydration, barrier protection.
What my skincare addresses: Acne prevention and healing, hydration, barrier protection, graceful aging,  fading pigmentation, minimizing pore size, reduce redness, reduce inflammation, improve texture, promote collagen synthesis, skin thickening.


Products marked with * are PR Samples/gifts. This does not change my opinion of the product. My thoughts are honest, always *casts doe patronus*

All links 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.


NIGHTTIME SKINCARE ROUTINE

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The products below are my tried and trues out of the rotation of items I receive from PR, gifts, and my own purchases. Each are purposeful and contribute to my skin’s overall health.

1. Eye Makeup Removal

Product: Marcelle Gentle Makeup Remover for Sensitive Eyes
How I use it: Apply on a cotton round and rest on eyes to break down waterproof mascara. After a few seconds, I lightly move the cotton round through my lashes to remove as much as possible.
Why I use it: My eyes are quite sensitive – any oil-based cleanser I have used around my eyes for a few seconds burn them. I need to go in with something gentle, especially when I wear eye makeup. The Marcelle one has been repurchased multiple times for the simplicity, price, and how effective it is while still being gentle.
Where to Buy:
Well.ca

2. 1st Cleanse

Product: Hada Labo Gokujyun Oil Cleansing
How I use it: Dispense a full pump and gently massage all over my face and neck. After 30 seconds or so, I wet my hands and massage my face and neck again to emulsify the oil. I do this for another 30 seconds and then rinse.
Why I use it: It’s important for me to remove a day’s face, especially in the summer time. I’m sweating a bit, my sebum production is higher, I tend to reapply sunscreen more, I still like to wear makeup, and I’m outside exposing myself to environmental pollutants more frequently. It all must go! The Hada Labo oil cleanser is cost effective for the amount you get and I enjoy using it to massage my face longer to remove grit as well.
Where to Buy:
Yesstyle
DokoDemo

3. 2nd Cleanse

Product: Bioderma Sebium Purifying Foaming Gel
How I use it: Dispense half a pump and lightly massage all over my face and neck, with a focus on my T-zone.
Why I use it: It is also a cost effective cleanser for the size and amount you get. It is pH balanced around 5.5 (last time I checked), low foaming and surprisingly it softens my skin despite its marketing for oily/combination skin. I also use it on my body as a shower gel and a shaving gel!
Where to Buy:
Dermstore
Well.ca

4. Hydrator

Product: By Wishtrend Quad Active Boosting Essence *
How I use it: After patting away excess water with a face towel but skin still damp, I immediately pour a nickel-size amount onto the palm of my hand and massage all over my face and neck. Depending on how skin is feeling, I may apply another layer or 2.
Why I use it: Due to my problematic skin, I do not like completely drying out my face so I only remove the excess water. Layering something as light as a hydrating toner/essence/lotion really helps reduce my skin’s chance of becoming dehydrated without feeling congested. I also find hydrators make my skin just a bit plumper, brighter, more even, softer. I don’t find implementing this step prior to my prescriptions irritate my skin at all.
Blog Post: REVIEW: By Wishtrend Quad Active Boosting Essence
Where to Buy:
Wishtrend
Yesstyle

5. Retin-A Micro

Product: Valeant Retin-A Micro 0.04% Tretinoin
How I use it: Dispense one pump and apply it all over my face and underneath my jaw. Because my skin is acclimated to it, I also bring it underneath my eyes.
Why I use it: It is the star ingredient that controls my acne. It works by normalizing my skin cell turnover so there is no buildup of dead skin, and reduces my skin’s sebum production. Tretinoin in particular is also the only FDA-approved ingredient effective at diminishing the signs of photoaged skin (pigmentation, wrinkles, fine lines). Since I’m turning 30 this year, I’m really happy I got an upgrade to my vitamin A prescription! I have also noticed it help refine my skin’s texture and minimize my pores, making my skin look overall clear and healthy.
Blog Post: SKIN UPDATE #4: Switching From Adapalene (Differin) to Tretinoin (Retin-A), Taking Spironolactone, Acne Scar Revision?

6. Aczone

Product: Valeant Aczone Gel 5% Dapsone – (prescription only)
How I use it: Once the Retin-A has settled a bit, I apply a thin layer all over face and under jaw.
Why I use it: It’s very effective at reducing inflammation around any active acne lesions, it also helps to control non-inflamed lesions. It also pairs well with my Retin-A Micro, Vitamin C serum, and chemical exfoliants. After my skin acclimated to it, it always feels mild – never sensitizing my skin, doesn’t add or subtract moisture from my skin.

7. Moisturizer

Product: Bioderma Atoderm Intensive Baume
How I use it: Apply once Aczone has settled. Massage half a pump or more all over face, neck and chest.
Why I use it: Another cost-effective skincare item! Skin always feels comfortably moisturized without feeling congested. Calms my skin, softens it, and leave a non-greasy residue. It is pretty much my HG moisturizer at this point!
Where to Buy:
Dermstore
Well.ca

Video:


And that’s it for my nighttime skincare routine during the warmer months! As always, I hope you find this type of content helpful and informative!

xo, M

My Summer 2020 Morning Skincare Routine Ft. Aczone

If you live in Ontario, we really have 2 seasons – Summer and Winter lol. I decided this year I will share my skincare routines by season – I usually mention here or there the slight changes I do in my routine based on the warmer or colder months, but I thought it would be more helpful to not only demonstrate it, but to talk through my thought process as well when it comes to how I approach my skincare.

Skin type: Acne prone, normal to dry. Becomes easily sensitized from drying products or environment.
Skincare Focus: Acne control, hydration, barrier protection.
What my skincare addresses: Acne prevention and healing, hydration, barrier protection, promoting graceful aging, fade pigmentation, minimizing pore size, reducing redness and inflammation, improves texture, promotes collagen synthesis, skin thickening.


Products marked with * are PR Samples/gifts. This does not change my opinion of the product. My thoughts are honest, always *casts doe patronus*

All links 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.


MORNING SKINCARE ROUTINE

michxmash-morning-skincare-routine-summer-2020

The products below are my tried and trues out of the rotation of items I receive from PR, gifts, and my own purchases. Each are purposeful and contribute to my skin’s overall health.

1. Hydrator

Product: By Wishtrend Quad Active Boosting Essence *
How I use it: Apply on a cotton round and wipe face to remove a night’s buildup or fluff. Depending on how skin is feeling, apply another layer or 2.
Why I use it: Due to my problematic skin, layering something as light as a hydrating toner/essence/lotion really helps reduce my skin’s chance of becoming dehydrated without feeling congested. I also find hydrators make my skin just a bit plumper, brighter, more even, softer.
Blog Post: REVIEW: By Wishtrend Quad Active Boosting Essence
Where to Buy:
Wishtrend
Yesstyle

2. Vitamin C

Product: Paula’s Choice C15 Super Booster
How I use it: Apply immediately while skin is still slightly tacky from hydrator step. Massage a full dropper all over face and neck and pat once evenly spread.
Why I use it: Mainly for photoprotection, and it’s nice that it maintains my bright and even complexion. Vitamin C is the most expensive and finnicky product in my routine – L-Ascorbic Acid oxidizes in 3 months and I can’t visibly tell if it’s working. I spoke with my derm about it, and she’s pro-Vitamin C. I decided to keep it in my routine as an extra boost to the graceful aging aspect.
Blog Post: My 3 Must-Have Actives After 3-6 Months of Differin
Where to Buy:
Paula’s Choice
Nordstrom

3. Aczone

Product: Valeant Aczone Gel 5% Dapsone – (prescription only)
How I use it: Apply a thin layer all over face and under jaw
Why I use it: Helps reduce inflammation around any active acne lesions, also helps to control non-inflamed lesions. It also pairs well with my Retin-A Micro, Vitamin C serum, and chemical exfoliants.

4. Moisturizer

Product: Bioderma Atoderm Intensive Baume
How I use it: Apply once Aczone has settled. Massage half a pump or less all over face and neck
Why I use it: Skin always feels comfortably moisturized without feeling congested. Calms my skin, softens it, and leave a non-greasy residue on my skin.
Where to Buy:
Well.ca

5. Sunscreen

Product: La Roche Posay Anthelios Ultra Fluid Face Sunscreen Lotion SPF50+
How I use it: Apply once moisturizer has settled. Shake up bottle and pour a generous amount in the palm of hand. Lightly massage in 2 separate layers all over face, ears, and neck
Why I use it: Due to my nightly use of Retin-A Micro and other actives, sun protection is a must. I also have found that the generous amount I apply and the high UVA protecting susncreens I use have made a big difference. It’s helped to further prevent pigmentation from lasting on my skin, I rarely have irritated skin or an uneven skin tone, and in pair with my prescription topicals my skin texture seems softer.
Where to Buy:
Well.ca

Video:


And that’s it for my morning skincare routine during the warmer months! As always, I hope you find this type of content helpful and informative!

xo, M

SKIN UPDATE #4: Switching From Adapalene (Differin) to Tretinoin (Retin-A), Taking Spironolactone, Acne Scar Revision?

Sun’s out, lockdown is sort-not-really lifted here in Ontario, and I saw my dermatologist for the 2nd time. My 1st visit was back in October 2018 so I was definitely overdue for a follow-up of how my skin has been. It was quite a productive appointment, so I thought I’d share what’s new in my pursuit to clearer skin!

Previous Skin Updates:
Skin Update [#1] December 2018: Acne + Scars
Skin Update [#2]: August 2019: My Skin’s Progress so Far!
SKIN UPDATE #3: 1+ Year using Differin

Recap of what I’ve been doing since January 2020:

  • Using 5% Dapsone (Aczone) day and night
  • 2 at-home microneedling sessions with the Banisher 2.0
  • Eating High Fat Low Carb (Keto) and working out consistently
  • Visited dermatologist – prescribed 0.04% Tretinoin (Retin-A Micro) and Spironolactone

ACNE

Staying consistent with Aczone for the past 4 months has really helped to control my acne. Reflecting more, this is the first topical prescription I have tried that had a minimal adjusting period. It reduces inflammation quickly, prevents painful large breakouts (my last update I had that huge AF cyst -_-); It also plays really well with other actives – Adapalene, Tretinoin, L-Ascorbic Acid, AHA, BHA. Despite my concerns and initial redness in the first couple of months using it, Dapsone has been fairly easy to use in my routine and had the most minimal to no side effects from *knocks on wood*.

Alongside my nightly use of 0.3% Adapalene (Differin), eating Keto and working out consistently has also contributed to my skin’s clarity. I found most of the time my skin stays pretty clear, I don’t get a painful cyst during my period, and any inflammatory breakout subsides quickly. My guess on this is that my hormones are becoming more balanced.

The one huge issue I have been having with my acne though is when I just want to indulge in something sweet and/or carby. I don’t eat many carby foods anymore, but on the off days when I do (say once every 2 weeks), my skin is NOT having any of it, and I break out no matter what. Why not just eliminate sweet/carby foods completely? Cause I’d like to enjoy foods like gelato once in a blue moon, or not be picky at a family gathering when someone has spent an entire morning and afternoon cooking.

5% Dapsone, Spironolactone and 0.04% Tretinoin

After discussing with my dermatologist what my eating habits are, digestive history, oral medication history, and my future plans, she prescribed me Spironolactone and bumped my Vitamin A prescription to 0.04% Tretinoin (Retin-A Micro (RAM)). I have read many positive experiences about Spironolactone and I’m excited to see how it contributes to my skin’s health. For the 0.04% Tret, I asked the derm if it was actually “lowering” the dose since most studies compare 0.3% Adapalene to 0.05% Tretinoin; She said 0.04% Tretinon is still stronger than Adapalene so it should have a better effect for acne prevention and of course, preventative aging benefits!

I’m really hoping that 5% Dapsone, 0.04% Tret and Spironolactone together will show greater improvement in my skin clarity and health, especially on my cheat days :3


ATROPHIC SCARS

The original reason for my appointment was for a consultation on Acne Scar Revision. In short, the 2 options presented to me were Microneedling (3 sessions to start) or Fraxel laser (also 3 sessions, not sure if she meant Halo – Hybrid Fractional Laser or ProFractional). However because I am still breaking out, I must wait to clear my face again (maybe a month or 2) until I can book a treatment. In the meantime, I’ll continue the at-home microneedling. Once my face is more consistently clear, I can book an appointment. I’m leaning more towards microneedling because 1) the down time is only a day 2) 3 sessions would cost me $1350, whereas Fraxel is $1000 PER SESSION, and I would need to do around 3! So given that, I’d rather pay for 6 microneedling sessions.


PLAN OF ACTION

I only just started my new prescriptions, so my plan of action is just to follow what my derm told me to do:

  • 100mg of Spiro daily to start; Decrease the amount by 25mg once acne looks more controlled until I only take 25mg daily.
  • 0.04% Tret twice a week; Increase the usage as tolerability goes up
  • 5% Dapsone day and night
  • If in a month my skin has cleared up, I can book an appointment for an Acne Scar Revision treatment

I am definitely still continuing Keto (and working out) – I have never seen such a drastic change in my gut health and I feel a lot better and healthier. My derm is aware of my lifestyle choices so I trust she wouldn’t have prescribed Spiro otherwise.


And that’s it for this skin update! Not as complicated, but still a work in progress.

If you’ve ever been on Spiro or currently taking it, let me know how it’s been going for you in the comment section down below!

xo, M

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

SKIN UPDATE #3: 1+ Year using Differin

Wow, it’s been 1 year since I started using 0.3% Adapalene! Crazy how fast time passes when you get older heheheh….

If you haven’t already, please be sure to read my previous skin updates so you understand what I talk about in this post and other actives I use that I do not mention here.
Skin Update [#1] December 2018: Acne + Scars
Skin Update [#2]: August 2019: My Skin’s Progress so Far!

Breakdown of what I’ve been doing to my skin since my last Skin Update August 2019:

  • Got too cheeky and started eating eating crappy food and drinking sugary drinks, thus getting breakouts so big that 10% Azelaic Acid couldn’t handle it 🙂
  • Have repurchased a 5% Benzoyl Peroxide wash which does the job very quickly. However…
  • Contemplated why I stopped using 5% Dapsone, and realized that the moment I had a mild side effect (redness) I freaked out. I began the purchasing spiral to find an OTC product to help with breakouts, when I could’ve just continued using Dapsone.

ACNE

My cystic breakouts have been on and off. As mentioned in my recap, I’ve been eating shitty food lately, and both my boyfriend and I know the triggers (refined sugar). Since the holidays, I have been cutting back on sugary snacks and drinks. Reflecting back on older photos, my acne is definitely is more under control than it has been in years. Here are some posts for reference when I started 0.1% Adapalene. You’ll notice dark red marks and lots of hormonal breakouts along my jaw:
2018 Skincare Routines
Some By Mi Review

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From this year of using many actives (do as I say, not as I do lol), I found that Benzoyl Peroxide in wash form (Benzagel 5 Acne Wash) and my 5% Dapsone gel prescription have been the most effective at treating inflamed acne lesions quickly and making my skin smoother from bumps. I’ll continue using both, mostly 5% Dapsone on my face 2 times a day (as advised) and use the BP wash for emergencies.


PIGMENTATION

Due to the increase in some breakouts, my chin in particular has more red/purple marks than usual. However I don’t find it to bother me much, since Differin really helps to diminish them quickly, alongside an SPF50+ sunscreen. I also find Azelaic Acid has been great in speeding up their healing process. Incorporating it into my routine definitely makes my complexion brighter, more even tone, and assist with fading any pigmentation.

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I actually prefer it over Vitamin C serums, which have never shown (in my experience) to help with red acne marks. I currently am near the end of Paula’s Choice 10% Azelaic Acid Booster in my collection, and I don’t plan on getting the unprescribed 15% Finacea any time soon. The PC one while nice is quite expensive and it is difficult to find unprescribed Finacea, even if I look on eBay. I think I need to be patient and either a) ask my Derm about prescribed AA, or b) wait for F.C. from SimpleSkincareScience to launch his AA serum!


ATROPHIC SCARS

And now the big update! Please watch my Youtube video showcasing my scars after a finishing a whole tube of 0.3% Adapalene (over 1 year). I couldn’t for the life of me replicate the exact angle and lighting of my face and it looked different with every photo. The video will give a better idea.

Like I have mentioned here or there, every time I see family and friends, they always compliment how much smoother my skin looks. Usually awful lighting was the teller of all tales for my complexion, and I even notice that my skin looks so much smoother! Although my skin isn’t 100% smooth (I don’t think it will ever be to be honest), the texture has definitely improved for the better with continued use of Differin.


FINAL THOUGHTS + MY PLAN

Although it’s a lengthy process, I’m happy that my skin has been overall improving for the better since starting 0.3% Adapalene. This plus other actives has also given me more mental freedom, and I see myself (literally and figuratively) in a more positive light. The quality of my skin has been a constant focal point in my thoughts for years, and I finally have the clarity to not care about how I look without a face full of makeup.

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I already picked up another prescription of Differin, so I will continue to use it. It seems that more evidence is popping up that it can also help with photoaging, so hopefully this will also contribute to my skin’s quality in that aspect. In addition, I will continue to use 5% Dapsone morning and night even if I am lesion free (it’s supposed to help prevent as well), and book an appointment with my derm if I ever have concerns.

Now that I have finally used up a full tube of Differin, I am going to FINALLY start microneedling again to speed up the healing process of my atrophic scars and to help prevent my subtle fine lines from getting worse. I know I mentioned this in my last skin update, but I decided to just see what topicals solely did for my scars.


As always, I hope you found my post helpful and informative.

xo, M