Skin Update [#2]: August 2019: My Skin’s Progress so Far!

I forgot to schedule this because my mind drifted during the Long Labour Day weekend 🙂

It has been around 9 months since starting 0.3% Adapalene, so it’s about time I do a skin update and show you my skin’s progress!

Be sure to read my first one so you’re up to date: Skin Update [#1] December 2018: Acne + Scars


Here’s a breakdown of what I’ve been doing since my last update in December 2018:

  • Still have not used a microneedling device since November when I reviewed the Banisher 2.0.
  • No professional facials done, just stuck with topical products I purchased.
  • Using Differin almost every night since I got it end of November 2018.
  • Aczone was good up until the 4 month mark, then I switched to Finacea (AA). I noticed Aczone would dry out my skin and make it look darker and red.
  • Upped my chemical exfoliators to 2 times a week – still using Krave Beauty’s Kale-lalu-yAHA and Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid.
  • Have been attempting to apply minimum SPF50 PA++++/PPD 16 up to 2mg/cm2 of sunscreen on exposed areas.

BEFORE / AFTERS

NOTE:

  • It’s really hard to match exact lighting and angle!
  • I also added the same photos with increased the shadows and highlights to emphasize the texture – even then it’s hard to truly depict what’s happening on my face
  • Ignore that cut on the bottom part of my face – I shaved and cut myself (yes I’ve been shaving my face! it’s quite magical)
  • TIMEFRAME: November 27, 2018 – July 13, 2019
michxmash-before-afters
Top: Befores, Bottom: Afters
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Emphasized shadow and contrast. Top: befores, Bottom: Afters

ATROPHIC SCARS

In general, they look like the got smaller, and my face generally looks smoother. At first I thought I really wasn’t getting a good angle for the photos; but maybe, just maybe… they actually look that much better! My mom said my skin looks smoother every time she sees me, that has to count for something lol.

PIGMENTATION

I find a lot of the pigmentation I had lingering lightened up ever since I introduced AA and applied proper amounts of higher UVA protecting sunscreens to my routine, and a general boost in my skin’s health.

ACNE

I definitely don’t get as many breakouts since last year, and they are well under control. When I do experience a bad breakout, the connection is from eating too much processed food and drinking very sugary drinks. I find the actives I use in my routine however really help rid any active breakouts quickly, and I don’t find myself stressing over cystic spots as much as I used to.

OVERALL SKIN CONDITION

  • Clearer – acne is under control, pigmentation does not last for months
  • She is slow, but there have been some improvements with my atrophic scars
  • Feels fairly normal since we’re in summer, but still prone to dryness
  • I find my skin gets sensitive to products that I used prior without issue

And that’s it for my 2nd Skin Update! It’s by no means perfect, but I’m happy it’s getting better. Healing old scars as mine with topicals can only do so much, and I’ve accepted that, but at least there’s SOME improvement!

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ACTION PLAN

  • Continue with what I’m using, sticking with Differin
  • Use micro-needle again to boost the process
  • May look into the vampire facial, or other professional treatments to help speed the process for my atrophic scars. It’s so expensive doe ;_;
  • I like my skincare routine at the moment ko, so I’ll be sticking with what I’m currently doing and share it in good time!

It’s always nerve-wracking sharing my skin like this, but I really hope these updates help you out, especially if you’re going through the same skin struggles as I am!

xo, M

BEST OF BEAUTY 2018: Skincare

I feel like with every passing year, I always learn a different aspect of skincare. I found this year I focused a LOT on scientifically proven ingredients, as well as new, popular ingredients that are commonly talked about in the beautysphere. This was also the year I showed more interest in drugstore products! Out of everything I tried and used up this year, here are the skincare products that really stood out to me this year and deserve some praises.

Before we get into the individual products, I want to give a shout out to a few brands that have impressed me with almost every product I’ve tried from the line. If I didn’t, I feel like the list would be a lot longer! I also have product shoutouts along the list as well. They may not be my top pick for the year of 2018, but again, they deserve a mention since I did enjoy using them.


BRAND Shoutouts

DRUGSTORE: Cerave – If you need affordable, effective skincare with a simple ingredients list, this is the brand to turn to. Almost any skin type can turn to this brand! I’m looking forward to trying more from the brand and provide you all affordable alternatives in skincare.

MID-RANGE: Krave Beauty – I actually would have featured everything in this post, but since I only started using them near the end of the year a handful of times, I’ll leave the praises for a future post *hint hint*. A new skincare line created by acne-prone, sensitive-skinned beauty Youtuber Liah Yoo. The brand is all about respecting the skin’s natural function and makes sure to promote its helf rather than further sensitizing it.

HIGH-END: Dermalogica – She may be pricey, but she works, and a little goes a long way with every product I have tried! I love the combo of science-backed ingredients mixed with botanicals and essential oils in their formulas. This is one of the few skincare brands I’m willing to splurge money on because I’ve reaped nothing but benefits!


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Makeup Remover

Marcelle Eye Makeup Remover for Sensitive Eyes – Favourited by a handful of Canadian Beauty Bloggers, and I can see why. It is simple, it is gentle, it works really well at removing waterproof makeup, all the while never irritating my eyes or drying out my eye area!

Cleanser

Cerave Hydrating Cleanser – Jesus where was this when I had worse skin problems? Cerave has impressed me this year as a drugstore brand and this is one of their standout products to me. Preferably used for my morning cleanse, I find it softens my skin when massaging for a minute or so and does a decent job at removing overnight fluffs. If you need a very gentle cleanser, I don’t think you’d be disappointed with this one!

Shoutout:
Dermalogica Special Cleansing Gel * – She’s expensive, but she also has a lovely texture, amazing second cleanse, and a little goes such a long way it took me forever to finish it!

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Hydrator

COSRX Galactomyces 95 Tone Balancing Essence – I seriously miss this from my routine! I’m currently using Secret Key FTE which is nice, but COSRX is pretty much the same but with my preferred consistency! It wasn’t until I started using this that the plateau I was experiencing in my skincare ended. Face felt more hydrated, looked even tone, and I actually started noticing improvements in my hyperpigmentation.

Shoutouts:
Klairs Supple Preparation Unscented Toner *
Some By Mi AHA/BHA/PHA 30 Days Miracle Toner *

I already threw out the COSRX Essence so I couldn’t take a new solo photo :3)

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Moisturizer

Hada Labo Koi-Gokujyun Perfect Gel – I pine for this. Has the different HA molecules, Urea, Ceramide, and Squalane! A seriously lovely humectant moisturizer that I’m highly considering repurchasing.

Cerave PM Facial Moisturizing Lotion – Surprise surprise! But seriously, I really am surprised that I liked a drugstore moisturizer so much. It worked with my dry skin and I see the workings of the 4% Niacinamide.

Klairs Vitamin E Mask * – Love it as my night time moisturizer in the colder months, and it’s also just a joy to use because of the texture and the instant brightening effects. The bonus is that it is a heavier mask that doesn’t aggravate my acne or enlarge my pores!

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Actives / Treatments

Dermalogica Biolumin-C Serum * – I cringe that this is a favourite because of the price point, but it’s SO GOOD! It does everything you could want in a vitamin C serum – hydrate, brighten, create an even tone, lighten pigmentation. I felt like it just simplified my morning routine when I used it.

Differin OTC 0.1% Adapalene – My gateway drug into retinoids (lol). After years of experimenting with skincare outside of prescription, and learning so much this year about its benefits, I decided to go back to Vitamin A. It was definitely a turn for the better, because I’ve only noticed my skin improving since incorporating it into my routine. I now use prescription Differin with a higher percentage, but Americans are very lucky to have easy access to this in your local drugstores!

Benzagel 5 Acne Wash – Simplest, gentlest BP product I have ever tried. It was very affordable, I was surprisesd at how long it lasted, and yes, I found it very effective at killing any spots within a few days. I never thought I’d like a BP product as much as this!

Exfoliator

Dr. G Brightening Peeling Gel – Gentle and easy to use, and I like that I can use it on wet skin!

Secret Key Lemon Sparkling Peeling Gel * – Must be used on dry skin, but love how my skin is noticeably softer after using this. This one is particularly good for not just it’s quality but the low cost!

Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid – Out of all the products I’m mentioning, this one is probably the gentlest. I always anticipate a stinging sensation when using this, but it’s always soothing and moisturizing! Like I’ve said before, it’s like an acid essence. My skin always looks bright and even, and pores look smaller.

Krave Beauty Kale-lalu-yAHA * – This year’s AHA favourite. Love that it’s gentle, especially now that I am using a retinoid, and still effective as an exfoliant for my skin. I especially like how both this and the PC product can be used under my eyes!

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Sunscreen

Elta Md UV Facial Broad-Spectrum SPF 30+ Moisturizing Facial Sunscreen – We hear time and time again from skin professionals, experts and enthusiasts how important sunscreen application is, and this is the one I used that really made me enjoy applying sunscreen. I also consider this a gateway drug into trying out many other sunscreens!

Klairs Soft Airy UV Essence SPF50+ PA++++ * – How can I not include this? Seriously one of the best Klairs releases. Chemical sunscreen with photostable UV filters, doesn’t sting my eyes, is slightly moisturizing, doesn’t have a cast, and comes in a great size for a great price.


And there you have it! I’m impressed that I managed to keep the list * rather * short this time around. Hope you enjoyed this post and be sure to check out the related content below!

xo, M


RELATED CONTENT

BEST OF BEAUTY 2018: Makeup
BEST OF BEAUTY 2017: SKINCARE
The Best of Beauty 2016
My Morning (AM) Skincare Routine 2018
My Nighttime (PM) Skincare Routine 2018
SUNSCREEN WEEK [Day #2]: Elta Md UV Facial Broad-Spectrum SPF 30+ Moisturizing Facial Sunscreen
SUNSCREEN SUNDAY #1: Klairs Soft Airy UV Essence SPF 50+ PA++++
BRAND REVIEW: Dear, Klairs
I tried Dermalogica’s Double Cleanse Routine ft. the PreCleanse Balm
Skin Update [#1] December 2018: Acne + Scars


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Skin Update [#1] December 2018: Acne + Scars

It has been ~6 months since I stopped dermarolling and started using OTC Differin 0.1% Adapalene. I have done quite a few things for my skin since then, and I thought I’d do a Skin Update if you were curious about my progress and my current approach to achieving healthy skin! As seen in the title and main image, these will be the main focus of this update.

Before we continue, please be sure you’re caught up with the following, that way you have a better understanding about my skin and my approach to this post!
I’m Finally Sharing my Current Skincare Routines 2018
My Morning (AM) Skincare Routine 2018
My Nighttime (PM) Skincare Routine 2018
REVIEW: Banish Acne Scars Banish Starter Kit

RECAP:
– Did 4 at-home dermarolling sessions with the Banish Kit. Stopped microneedling in general because I had no control over my acne breakouts. (March – April 2018)
– After microneedling, used OTC Differin for ~6 months. (May 2018)
– Sun not as strong, reintroduced chemical exfoliators back into my routine. BHA in the AM only on days when I workout, and AHA every other night. (September 2018)
– Tried Banisher 2.0 and did another 2 microneedling sessions. (Novermber 2018)
– Saw a dermatologist after 10 years of not seeing any skin professional; Got prescribed Aczone Gel 5% Dapsone + Differin 0.3% Adapalene to heal acne lesions and prevent breakouts. She was okay with my at-home microneedling. (November 2018)
– Created a more focused skincare routine in consideration of the new prescriptions. (Decmber 2018)
– Spoke with a Medical Esthetician about a PRP (Vampire) Facial. (December 2018)


Acne

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Differin 0.1% Adapalene for 6 months
After using OTC Differin 0.1% Adapalene for 6 months, here’s what I have noticed:
– Skin is subtly smoother, but not by a lot
– Quickly reduced pain caused by active acne
– Helped acne to quickly heal
– Red acne marks fade faster

Overall, OTC Differin was a great introduction into my skincare routine. Any skin professional will tell you Vitamin A is the most superior ingredient for improving acne and anti-aging, and this one is easily available for Americans (*shakes fists of jealousy*). However, after half a year of use, my skin plateaued. By that I mean it was working okay, but not great – not significant. Quite frankly, I really disliked how I was still breaking out into large, painful cysts. Definitely a sign to me that 0.1% was only doing so much.

Dermatologist Visit
My family doctor booked me an appointment to see a dermatologist about a few spots I noticed on my body (FYI: no skin cancer, yay!), so when I went in for the visit I also expressed concern about my persisting acne breakouts after YEARS of trying to get it under control (antibiotics, birth control, previous prescriptions, cleaned up diet).

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The derm prescribed me Aczone Gel 5% Dapsone to help heal current inflamed acne lesions (painful AF cysts) and non-inflamed acne lesions (blackheads and whiteheads), and upped the Differin to 0.3% Adapalene to better prevent blocked pores as well as treat inflamed skin. I’ve currently been using Aczone in the day and Differin at night (since Nov. 27th), and I, as well as family members and BF, have already seen a difference. Current inflamed acne lesions subsided a lot, and I find my skin way more even tone and smoother than usual *no placebo effect, plz*.


Scarring

I’ve hoped for years topicals could help me with my acne. I’ve been trying this for 5 years. Half a decade. And only recently I decided to incorporate Vitamin A into my routine and speak to a professional. I feel like a dummy, but at least I’m still in my 20s and I got over my fear of prescriptions (due to my poor routines years prior) and understand my skin concerns enough to address them with a professional.

As I previously mentioned, Differin 0.1% Adapalene made my skin appear subtly smoother, but frankly, there was no significant change. In attempts to take a Before/After photo (the Before photo being my last picture in my dermarolling post) I found it not only difficult to remember the exact lighting angle I used, but also my atrophic scarring didn’t look THAT different. On top of that, I am still breaking out so you can see red marks despite previous ones healing fast, as well as active acne *le sigh*.

I’ve seen Chemist @kindofstephen post a study on 0.3% Adapalene helping with acne scarring just before I got prescribed Differin 0.3% Adapalene; After reading the study, I am more enthusiastic about my higher prescription and the potential results.

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Reintroduced Acids
Before I saw the derm, I began using chemical exfoliants in my routine once the sun became less strong and we started moving into the fall. I’m currently using Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid in the morning only on days I workout. In the PM I was using Krave Beauty’s Kale-lalu-yAHA, a 5.25% Glycolic Acid toner *, but now rotate it 1-3x a week due to prescription use. PC’s BHA Liquid makes my face lovely and smooth every time I use it, but AHAs seem to always be my bestie when it comes to scarring. I’ve been using KB’S toner for just under 2 months now and I already notice my face looking smoother. I think I’ll keep using the AHA all year round just because it’s probably the only topicals easily available that I notice makes a difference in my skin. Also I don’t think I’ve ever talked about this, but I got 2 free BHA Peels done by George Brown College Students in downtown Toronto last year (2017) because it was free.

At-Home Microneedling
If you read and watched my brand review on Dear, Klairs, I did mention that I started microneedling again. I had the opportunity to review Banish’s new Banisher 2.0 * and have done 2 microneedling sessions since receiving it. These were done before my derm visit, so now that I have new prescriptions to get used to I won’t be using the Banisher 2.0 for another month or so until I get a better understanding on what’s happening with my skin.

original vs. 2.0

Considering a Professional for Microneedling
I told the derm I’ve done 6 microneedling sessions total with 0.5mm titanium needles and she was okay with that. Actually, she said microneedling or Fraxal laser were my best options for getting rid of my scars completely since topicals can’t do it themselves *le sigh*. My boyfriend’s mom (Medical Esthetician) discussed the Vampire Facial (PRP) with me and suggested to have the facial done through her friend who is an RN. I’m planning to meet her soon for a consultation. I also asked my sister (who’s now in Seoul working) to scope out the prices for PRP. In the meantime, at least the at-home 0.5mm dermastamp will assist in the appearance!


My Current Skin Goals & Routine

After all I have just said and done, my skin goals have not changed much. Acne Control, Hydration, and Barrier Protection are still my top priorities for maintaining and achieving healthier skin! Instead of using so many products like my previous routines, I want to achieve these goals by attempting a more minimal approach *key word: attempting*.

I’ve also been watching way more skin professionals online, including dermatologists, so I have a better idea (and patience in general) on how to incorporate the prescriptions in a routine with products I like to use. I’m going to try my hardest to keep an efficient daily routine, and leave the fun stuff for bath time or lazy times. I’d say my approach is inspired Dr. Davin Lim’s Vitamin ABC’s, but it seems like my routines always had them!
Vitamin A – Differin 0.1% Adapalene to 0.3%.
Vitamin B – Niacinamide (B3) is da besttttt.
Vitamin C – Using a derivative at the moment, but will try to focus more on L-Ascorbic Acid with future products.

TBH, I’m having a hard time with the C. I currently am using Dermalogica’s Biolumin-C Serum * and in November I received the Banish Oil * when testing out the Banisher 2.0 *. I just find the effects I usually get from Vitamin C (even skin tone, brightening, glowing, reduced hyperpigmentation), are also coming from/being assisted by the other Vitamins, and I don’t know if there’s really a purpose for the C. Or maybe, they all just work best together, which is why I haven’t noticed anything individual! I’ve heard great things about Melano CC Essence and have ordered it from DokoDemo along with a couple of other items. I’ve also been curious about Drunk Elephant’s C-Firma, but we all know that shiz is esspenssive. Skincare peeps, what do you think?

Now that topical prescriptions have been introduced to my routine, I want to make sure what I use with it has effective ingredients and helps offset any dryness or irritation I may expect.  I will share my updated skincare routine once I have comfortable used all the products.


And that’s that for my skin update! I hope you found it informative, especially if we’re on the same healthy skin journey! Stay tuned for an updated skincare routine with Aczone and Differin!

xo, M

August 2018 Roundup

Basic BG Statement: I CAN’T believe we’re near the end of summer! Seriously, as you get older, time passes so quickly. Anyone else feeling the same way? Anywho, here is August’s roundup!


FAVOURITES

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Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid – I totally get the hype. I like how gentle it is that I can bring it up to my eye area without worry. I’ve repeated this a couple of times to friends, but my face looks very poreless, smooth and “juicy” when I use this product. I want to say the texture is borderline toner to essence. Like an acid essence. It doesn’t dry out my skin at all, and I can wait a few minutes before adding other products.

Riversol SPF 30 Lightweight Broad Spectrum Sunscreen – This has been a very pleasant sunscreen to use. Despite the mica in it to create a natural shimmer, I find it doesn’t blend too shiny or white on my skin. Having said that, I don’t think the tint will 100% adapt to your skin type. Definitely a sunscreen meant for drier skin types, because I do notice it adds an extra layer of moisture on my skin. Until the weather becomes colder and I become a little more lighter, I like using this under my powder foundation.

La Roche Posay Anthelios Mineral Tinted Ultra-Fluid Lotion SPF 50 – It’s a bit pricey for the size, but I love how easy it is to apply without worrying about an obvious cast. This is the the sunscreen I reach for if I don’t want to wear any makeup, but I want some miniscule amount of evenness in my skin. It’s also great to wear at the gym!

I did a Sunscreen Week on my blog back in July, where I go more in depth about these sunscreens!
SUNSCREEN WEEK [Day #6]: Riversol SPF 30 Lightweight Broad Spectrum Sunscreen
SUNSCREEN WEEK [DAY #7]: La Roche Posay Anthelios Mineral Tinted Ultra-Fluid Lotion SPF 50

Featured CBB Blog of the Month – I am part of a group called the Canadian Beauty Bloggers Network, and I was featured as August’s Blog of the Month! Around this time I’ve been blogging for just about 3 years, and have 100+ blog posts. I love being part of this community of bloggers who are so supportive, helpful and encouraging!
My featured blog post – August 2018 Blog of the Month: MICHXMASH


EMPTIES

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SKINCARE

Consonant DHE Mask – This mask was REALLY good at cutting down the size and pain of very active zits! I mostly used this as a spot treatment, but occassionally all over the face. My skin didn’t feel dry from the clay, and it was fairly soft after washing the mask off. If you want a mask that doubles as a spot treatment, this is your go-to!
REVIEW: Consonant “One For All” Kit

COSRX Galactomyces 95 Whitening Power (Tone Balancing) Essence – I noticed such a difference in my skin the moment I incorporated this product into my routine! I stopped complaining about tightness in my skin, and my face felt smoother in texture. I was skeptical about essences, let alone Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate, but this essence performed really well. I bought the Secret Key essence instead of repurchasing this one however because I *did* give in to the nice packaging of it! Out of the two however, I prefer the texture of the COSRX one!
I’m Finally Sharing my Current Skincare Routines 2018

Too Cool For School Xakziuza Cleansing Water – Better than their Eye & Makeup Remover Counterpart. My face didn’t tingle, which normally happens when I use a product with micelles in it. I won’t repurchase because this also has a strong scent and I’m trying out Riversol’s Micellar Water at the moment.

Make P:rem UV Defense ME Blue Ray Sun Gel SPF 50+ PA++++ – Not completely empty, but I can’t get the rest of the product out! Argh! >_< Either way, this is a great chemical sunscreen. My face always looked even, also during days if I was outside in the sun all day. I also did a dedicated review on this sunscreen if you want more details!
SUNSCREEN WEEK [Day #1]: Make P:rem UV Defense Me Blue Ray Sun Gel SPF 50+ PA++++

Paula’s Choice Clinical Ultra-Rich Moisturizer – This was okay. When I first started using this, I felt like it was actually DRYING out my skin, and made the center of my face very discoloured. Now that the weather is a bit better and I have a different approach to my skincare routine, it’s doesn’t seem to do that anymore. I’m not saying this moisturizer is bad, I just think I’ve tried better moisturizers.
REVIEW: Paula’s Choice Moisturizers for Dry Skin

HAIR

Aveda Clove Color Conditioner – Already bought another one! Aveda has been my go-to since I discovered it for treating my coloured hair, and I can’t find anything else that’s easier and effective to use. Clove is what I use to keep the darkness of the ash brown in my hair. It’s been almost a month since I ran out of it, and I can tell my hair’s been getting lighter faster.
MICHXMASH & Vera Rapunzel’s Haircare Faves 2017

North American Hemp Co. Area 369 Hair Serum – I finally ran out of this guy! I really enjoyed this hair serum and my hair felt soft and detangled almost instantly. I would still have to apply this on a daily basis to make sure my ends were not feeling frayed. I just hate the packaging, What’s the point of it having a cap like this if the bottle doesn’t even let you squeeze!?

SAMPLES

Paula’s Choice Gentle Cleansing Cloths – Impressed how nicely saturated it was and GENTLE around my eyes! I’m not a makeup remover wipe kinda gal, but I definitely see the appeal of this one and would consider adding it into my cart the next time I buy PC products. I usually use wipes when I swatched a lot on my hands for a post/video!

Paula’s Choice Resist Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum – I can’t even recall anything special about this other than the texture was cool. Sure, it has a nice list of ingredients, but I already use a vitamin C serum, and I like my Cerave PM Moisturizing Facial Lotion for my ceramides.


And that’s that for last month’s roundup!

Hope you enjoyed the read.

xo,

M

REVIEW: Paula’s Choice Moisturizers for Dry Skin

We all know Paula Begoun, right? Cosmetic Cop? Beautypedia? The ultimate brand review website, along with an ingredient dictionary with cited studies with each ingredient? Yes, that Paula Begoun.

I was in search of a skincare line that had effective products without potential sensitizing ingredients, and Paula’s Choice fit the bill. I really admire the transparency they have with the ingredients in their products (and listing their primary functions), and cater to all skin types.

I purchased Paula’s Choice Clinical Ultra-Rich Moisturizer and Skin Recovery Daily Lotion SPF 30 in hopes that my dry skin days will come to an end. These moisturizers have been put to use for the past month and I am ready to share with you all!

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