Skin Update #6: Acne + Scars

It’s been quite a while since I shared my last skin update, so I thought it was about time for a new one!

In this update, I will be sharing my 1 year experience with using Tretinoin (Retin-A Micro), 2 year experience using Dapsone (Aczone), why I stopped taking Spironolactone after 6 months of use, and a brief chat about my experience with CO2 Fraxel Laser.

If you don’t know what I’m talking about, I highly suggested looking at past skin updates to understand the context of this one:
SKIN UPDATE #5: 0.04% to 0.1% Tretinoin, 6+ Months of Spironolactone, Professional Microneedling
SKIN UPDATE #4: Switching From Adapalene (Differin) to Tretinoin (Retin-A), Taking Spironolactone, Acne Scar Revision?
SKIN UPDATE #3: 1+ Year using Differin
Skin Update [#2]: August 2019: My Skin’s Progress so Far!
Skin Update [#1] December 2018: Acne + Scars


Tretinoin 1 Year Later

If you recall, I started using Tretinoin last spring. My derm bumped up my prescription from 0.3% Adapalene because it was clear that its strength was not enough to controls intense breakouts. It has been just over a year since I started incorporating Retin-A Micro in my skincare routine, so here are my thoughts.

  • It is a powerful molecule. I said it before and I’ll say it again, 0.04% Tretinoin did more for my skin than 0.3% Adapalene. I noticed in a month existing acne healed quicker, pores looked smaller, overall skin texture is smoother, skin quality is just overall better.
  • Slow and steady really wins the race. When I bumped up to 0.1% Tretinoin, my skin still had to go through a bit of retinization because I did experience more sensitivity with it. I was using it every night after, but started noticing my skin would look flushed and my pores would look very exaggerated. I now cut the usage to 2-3 times a week and my skin has been in a very happy state.
  • It is not the end all of acne control and anti-aging. Yes, I noticed a number of benefits when I started using it and will continue using it for the rest of my life. However, after years of on and off using a vitamin A topical, even using sunscreen, chemical exfoliants, vitamin C serums… Being super consistent with my skincare for years, I can still see wrinkles coming through on my forehead, my pores were sagging a bit which is a sign of collagen degradation, I still freckle when it’s summer time. It has only been in recent times I’ve been able to control my acne, and a big reason for it is both the use of this topical prescription as well as taking care of myself on the inside. After a year and a half of experimenting, I have finally managed to connect the way I eat to my skin health. Being disciplined in my eating habits plus these topicals help keep my skin clear and overall contribute to the graceful aging process.

Dapsone 2 Years Later

I started using it day and night everyday since January 2020 when I did my 1 year of Differin update. I felt like I could have saved myself a lot of time and money if I just stuck with what was prescribed to me and not freaked out so much about short term side effects. Dapsone is one of the gentlest prescription topicals I have used for my acne and it’s an unsung hero for sure. It helps reduce inflammation around active acne, I have been able to use it alongside other actives with no issues (tretinoin, AHAs, BHAs, Vitamin C), there’s no irritation if I overapply, and it doesn’t make other skincare textures not work in my routine. Now that my skin has been staying fairly clear, I reduced the usage and only use it at night when I use my tretinoin.


6 Months of Spironolactone

Spironolactone is an oral medication to help further assist with acne control. Originally prescribed as a diuretic to help lower blood pressure. How it works for acne is it also inhibits androgen production, which us with hormonal acne tend to be in excess of.

I first started taking it because I had a bad breakout when I saw my dermatologist in the summer of 2020. Fed up with breakouts, I agreed to going on Spironolactone while continuing my topical treatments tretinoin and dapsone. The first 3 months I most definitely had side-effects, the worst being dizziness and spotting for an entire month. After this time had passed, I definitely noticed its benefits. When I ate too many carby foods, I still did not have a bad breakout – maybe a small pimple that disappeared quickly. When it was my time of the month, same thing! Little to no breakouts. I would say I was about 98-99% clear at that point.

I took Spiro consistently for another 3 months until I ran out and decided not to get a prescription refill. I knew it was a bandaid to my lack of discipline with what I ate, and as time pass this fact bothered me a lot more. I finally figured out my gut health and how it has been effecting my skin, and the Spiro just allowed me to be lazy and undisciplined. I also didn’t like the side effects when it came to hormonal changes. I have had experience with birth control in the past and part of the reason I stopped taking it is to not be reliant on oral medication, I wanted control over my body. Spiro also effected my hormones, my period being the obvious indicator. If I was younger I wouldn’t care, but now that I’m in my 30s, hormonal health is very important for me. I know a few people who had difficulties conceiving and I was afraid that iIwould have that problem. Although the rewards of taking Spiro were good, for my situation the risks outweigh it, so that’s why I stopped taking it.

Frankly I don’t miss it, because I’m way more disciplined with my way of eating and lifestyle than I was at the time when I started taking it. I also feel very free not relying on oral medication for my acne.


CO2 Fraxel Laser

YES, I finally did it! I got my first CO2 Fraxel Peel session to address my old atrophic acne scars. I started 3 professional microneedling sessions last year and while it definitely lifted some of the scarring, improved my pores and gave a moment of plumpness to my skin, I knew I needed something more heavy duty. Even the dermatologist who performed the procedure said prior that my scars are too old and therefore difficult. I documented my healing time over on my Youtube so be sure to check it out! Long story short, it hurt lol. Now that my skin has settled from the procedure, I find my skin definitely looks smoother; Scars look more lifted, pores look more minimal, and obviously overall skin texture has been refined. I have already completed a 2nd session and will probably get a 3rd in the new year.


And that’s all, folks! As always, I hope you find content like this helpful and informative.

xo, M

a collage of michelle's face. Left to right: no makeup, just primer, with makeup.

Minimal Makeup Routine – NO Foundation and NO Concealer!

I have to say, I’m pretty proud of this updated minimal makeup routine. Compared to last year’s video, I cut my products down significantly and it takes me no more than 5 minutes to complete! I also find it a testament to how much more confident I feel about my skin (and face in general). It’s by no means perfect, but I have come to the point where I accept it for what it is without feeling the need to cover and change so much of it. I also like this super simple makeup routine during the colder months, where I feel like I need to reapply moisturizer (as well as SPF).


Products Used

minimal-makeup-routine-products

Base

Primer, in my opinion, is the most important step of this minimal, no foundation (and no concealer) makeup look. It acts as a bridge between skincare and makeup, but I actually find the primers I use to lean more on the skincare side. They act as a barrier on the skin, apply easily after sunscreen, increase makeup longevity, minimize the look of skin texture, slightly reduces excess shine, and has a bit of colour correcting properties!

Tatcha Liquid Silk Canvas Protective Primer
Has a pink-purple hue so it helps brighten and even out my skin complexion, making it looks a smidge fuller.

Indeed Labs Green Nanoblur (gift)
Green help cancels out redness, and I appreciate the subtlety of the colour so it doesn’t look too obvious when I wear it on its own!

 

Eye Area

Here’s where it gets even more simple. I only brush my brows and apply a coloured brow gel, and curl my lashes. My eyes tend to get especially dry during the colder months, and last year while at the office I found myself applying my hand cream around my eye area throughout the day! Keeping it simple just allows me to apply moisturizer (and SPF) without looking in the mirror and without worrying that I smudged something.

Glossier Boy Brow – Brown
Perfect brush size, dispenses the right amount of product, and a great match to my eyebrow colour.

Muji Eyelash Curler
Just the one I currently have in my vanity, seems to be made more for Asian-shaped eyes.

 

Cheeks

Depending on the occasion, this step is actually optional! I use cream or powder, but I was feeling some fall colours this day.

Glossier Cloud Paint – Dusk
A little goes a long way with this cream blush, and I like using this colour in particular up to my temples like a blush/bronzer kinda of product.

 

Lips

Depsite current events and still needing to wear a mask, I still like wearing gloss to keep my lips comfortable and give it a tint of colour..

Fenty Gloss Bomb – Fenty Glow
Just a nice pinky, sometimes pinky-brown tint and a comfortable gloss.

Glossier Generation G Lipstick – Cake
I’m surprised how much I like this formula – it easily applies as a nice blotted look, which is how I prefer wearing lipsticks. Although it is matte, the formula is not too drying. I find this colour in particular to pair well with the Cloud Paint I’m using.


 

And that’s all, folks! As always, I hope you found this helpful and informative, or at least inspires you to embrace your face!

xo, M


 

Links

Tatcha Liquid Silk Canvas Primer
https://bit.ly/32qiiSd *

Tatcha Silk Canvas Protective Primer
https://bit.ly/32mMk9n *

Indeed Labs Nanoblur Colour Corrector – Green (gift)
https://indeedlabs.com/shop/nanoblur-colour-corrector-green/

Glossier Boy Brow – Brown
https://bit.ly/32oO16b *

Muji Eyelash Curler
https://www.muji.us/store/eyelash-curler-4547315844388.html

Glossier Cloud Paint – Dusk
https://bit.ly/3n1gBlZ *

Fenty Gloss Bomb – Fenty Glow
https://bit.ly/38nuF5m *

Glossier Generation G Lipstick – Cake
https://bit.ly/3n2V0JN *

* Indicates affiliate links. This means if you use this link to make a purchase, I make a small commission. Thanks for your support if you decide to use them! If you feel uncomfortable, feel free to google a new link.

FOUNDATION FRIDAY #2: IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better Foundation + Skincare

When I found out IT Cosmetics launched a new complexion product, I immediately added it to my Sephora cart to try out. Back in 2018 I tried and adored their Your Skin But Better CC Cream, so I was super excited to see how their Your Skin But Better Foundation + Skincare performed!


Information on IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better Foundation + Skincare

Experience an instantly better-looking complexion and better bare skin in two weeks! Your Skin But Better Foundation + Skincare features medium buildable coverage that instantly perfects skin—minimizing the look of pores and imperfections while delivering all-day hydration and wear with a natural radiant finish.

Suitable for all skin types and infused with skin-loving hyaluronic acid, aloe vera extract, vitamins E & B5 and hepes acid, your skin-improving makeup works behind the scenes as you wear it. After just two weeks, skin looks smoother, skin tone appears more even and skin texture is visibly refined. IT’s truly your foundation for better skin!– Itcosmetics.ca

PRICE: $52 CAD
SIZE: 30ml
Made in: U.S.A
Total # shades: 40, various undertones
MY SHADE: Light Neutral 22 (picked it myself online)
Undertone: Neutral leaning pink, not my undertone. I feel like the Warm version would’ve been better and possibly similar to the Estee Lauder swatch.

Michelle's foundation swatches from top to bottom: It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better Foundation + Skincare Light Neutral 22, MAC Studio Sculpt NC20, Estee Lauder Double Wear 2N1 Desert Beige
Foundation swatches from top to bottom: It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better Foundation + Skincare Light Neutral 22, MAC Studio Sculpt NC20, Estee Lauder Double Wear 2N1 Desert Beige. Last 2 were matched by a MUA.

PACKAGE: Clear glass bottle with a pump
TEXTURE: Thick fluid. It travels down my hand but not very fast.


IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better Foundation + Skincare Ingredients

itcosmetics-foundation-ingredients

AQUA/WATER/EAU, DIMETHICONE, ISODODECANE, CYCLOHEXASILOXANE, GLYCERIN, PEG-10 DIMETHICONE, METHYL METHACRYLATE CROSSPOLYMER, BUTYLENE GLYCOL, PENTYLENE GLYCOL, SYNTHETIC FLUORPHLOGOPITE, DISTEARDIMONIUM HECTORITE, HYDROXYETHYLPIPERAZINE ETHANE SULFONIC ACID, CETYL PEG/PPG-10/1 DIMETHICONE, SODIUM CHLORIDE, POLYGLYCERYL-4 ISOSTEARATE, HEXYL LAURATE, CAPRYLYL GLYCOL, PHENOXYETHANOL, DISODIUM STEAROYL GLUTAMATE, TOCOPHEROL, SILICA, PANTHENOL, ALUMINUM HYDROXIDE, HYDROXYETHYL UREA, ALOE BARBADENSIS LEAF JUICE POWDER, SODIUM HYALURONATE, TIN OXIDE, HYDRATED SILICA, METHICONE, PENTAERYTHRITYL TETRA-DI-T-BUTYL HYDROXYHYDROCINNAMATE, [+/-: CI 77891/TITANIUM DIOXIDE, CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499/IRON OXIDES, MICA, CI 77007/ULTRAMARINES, CI 15985/YELLOW 6 LAKE, CI 42090/BLUE 1 LAKE, CI 45410/RED 28 LAKE, CI 15850/RED 7]. D247442/1

Highlighted Ingredients:
Hyaluronic Acid and Aloe Vera: Instantly hydrate and visibly smooth skin.

Hepes Acid: Gently exfoliates for a brighter-looking complexion.
Vitamins E and B5: Moisturize and fight free radicals to support skin‘s barrier.

– Sephora.ca

Skinthusiast Perspective…

Contains moisturizing ingredients such has various -cones (mostly for texture but nice as a type of occlusive in skincare in general), Glycerin (5th ingredient), Panthenol (vitamin B5), Hydroxyethyl Urea, Aloe Leaf Juice Powder, and Sodium Hyaluronate.

Antioxidant Tocopherol (vitamin E) and Iron Oxides are also in the formula to help protect against visible light.

Taken from a previous Foundation Friday post:

Both antioxidants and Iron Oxides have shown to reduce the effects of visible light and help with pigmentation issues. Lab Muffin does a great job at explaining all of the research behind this in a digestible manner – be sure to check out her blog post and others as well!
https://labmuffin.com/does-visible-light-cause-skin-damage-and-how-to-protect-against-it/

– Me

Now let’s look at this HEPES Acid, a.k.a. hydroxyethylpiperazine ethane sulfonic acid. Skinceuticals describes its function as a “synthetically-derived acid [that] activates natural enzymes in skin to help break the bonds that bind dead skin cells to the surface for even exfoliation.” INCIDecoder and Paula’s Choice lists this ingredient as a buffering agent. The Derm Review also shares that HEPES Acid is pH neutral and commonly combined with Glycolic Acid as a buffering agent. Browsing the interwebs further, Skinceuticals actually formulated their Discoloration Defense serum with 5% HEPES Acid, and Vichy’s Idealia Peeling also has the same concentration, both exfoliating products are however formulated with other acids. Overall as a consumer I’m quite confused. For me personally, I don’t use exfoliating products in my skincare daily in general, and I don’t really want that feature in a potential daily wear foundation either.


Experience with IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better Foundation + Skincare

PREP: Regular skincare routine, I always wore the foundation over a moisturizing sunscreen base that doesn’t add or subtract to foundation longevity. Eg. Purito Centella Green Level Unscented Sun SPF50 PA++++.

Overall Activities: Sitting on couch working, working out, walking outside, wearing a mask for 2 minutes. Wore it to the mall with wearing mask for a few hours.

Application:
1st Attempt:
1st layer Split-face application with Sigma F80 Flat Kabuki Brush and Beauty Blender. I dotted the foundation on various parts of my face and neck, brush-side had some minor streaking. 2nd layer I used the sponge all over face and neck, still using the dotting technique. Used about 2 pumps total. Looked very cakey, dry patches all over, radiant finish, medium coverage, pores looked more textured. I decided to wash my face and start over.
2nd Attempt: Decided to just apply 1 layer with the Beauty Blender. Instead of dotting all over, I dotted in one area and only applied more when I needed it. I used 1.5 pumps all over my face and neck with this method and it was the best one.

Coverage/Buildable?: 1 thin layer is a light coverage. 2 layers it is a low medium coverage.

Finish: Radiant, not borderline oily. Seems to be the particles in the foundation that disperse light more nicely. 1 layer skin looks smooth, pores look blurred despite radiant finish. Noticed some dry patches but it is forgiving, I don’t see them unless I look really up close. 2nd layer of foundation skin looked cakey, the radiance was a bit extra, sitting into pores, more dry patches, pink undertone was more obvious, wasn’t flattering at all on my skin.

Feel: Light, slightly tacky. Skin started to feel dry every time within 2 hours of wearing the foundation. Sometimes I felt itchy.

michxmash-itcosmetics-foundation-with-flash

Flash Friendly? Yes. My face is lighter than my body (and ears) so I don’t consider this flashback, just a mix of my lighter-skinned face and a wrong shade match.

Oxidize? No, however with 2 layers I notice the pink undertone more.

Oil Controlling? I don’t get super oily until end of day, I found my oils did peak through around that time.

Long Lasting? After work outs, low activities or just chilling all day, I found most of the coverage still lasted after 8-10 hours. I didn’t notice anything significantly disappear unless I wore a mask in which it rubbed off my nose and chin.

End of Day: 1st layer skin always looked like skin from either far away or up close, coverage was still there, some of my natural oils came through.

Natural Light: Looks like my skin but better with 1 layer. 2nd layer looks terrible.

False Light: Looks fine most of the day with 1 layer. End of day I find I notice my skin texture in general but it’s not grossly emphasized with the foundation. When I tested with the 2nd layer I saw texture on my forehead and pore area from a distance near end of day.


OTHER WAYS I’VE WORN THIS FOUNDATION:

  • With powder (over 1 layer) – Emphasized dryness in the center of my face, made my skin look more dehydrated, nasolabial folds looked more prominent. I did a split-face with my Mac Studio Sculpt Foundation (NC20) and my Mac side looked moisturized, no dry patches, and skin still looked plump and moisturized.
  • Cream and powder cheek products – Both work fine.

Final Thoughts on the IT Cosmetics Your Skin But Better Foundation + Skincare

DID IT MEET THE CLAIMS?

  • Better bare skin in two weeks – With the handful of times I wore this foundation, my skin felt dehydrated every time I wore it and I actually feel like this broke me out.
  • Medium buildable coverage – More like light to medium buildable coverage.
  • Minimizing the look of pores and imperfections – Yes. Skin looked smoother and I like how my pores looked most of the time with 1 layer.
  • All-day hydration – Nope, opposite actually! (Refer to first claim)
  • Natural radiant finish – Yes, I noticed the particles and felt like light was reflecting off my skin differently. Looked too much when I layered though.
  • Suitable for all skin types – Meh, I guess, it’s just up to you how you want to work with it/can work with it.
  • After just two weeks, skin looks smoother, skin tone appears more even and skin texture is visibly refined – Did not wear this foundation long enough to see, but I have my skincare routine to do this stuff. I never rely on foundations for skincare benefits other than maybe not drying out my skin, and potentially protecting against visible light. I actually noticed my skin broke out every time I wore this foundation, quite a bit on my cheeks.

OVERALL PROS:

  • Quick and easy to apply all over face and neck with a brush or sponge.
  • Radiant finish doesn’t look borderline greasy.
  • Improves the look of my skin texture, makes skin look smoother.
  • Buildable coverage.
  • Pores look blurred despite radiant finish.
  • 1 layer looks the most skin-like and not cakey once I finished my makeup routine.
  • 1 layer it looks really good up close as I wear it throughout the day.
  • 1 layer dry patches are not exaggerated.

OVERALL CONS:

  • Cannot build the coverage without the foundation looking horrible on me. 2 layers don’t work for me because it increases how cakey my face looks, the dry patches, and gathers near my nasolabial folds.
  • Can’t use powder to subdue shine without it making my skin have more dry patches and look dehydrated.
  • On its own, 2 layers makes my skin look dehydrated.
  • Feels drying within 2 hours with both 1 and 2 layers.
  • I don’t like exfoliating ingredients in my foundations, it just invites more skin problems than improvements in the long run.

MY BEST FACE: 1 thin layer applied with the beauty blender, no powder (other than cheek product).
michxmash-itcosmetics-your-skin-but-better-foundation-skincare

Overall, the It Cosmetics Your Skin But Better Foundation + Skincare is a pass for me. I was hoping this could be a potential go-to for an effortless, medium coverage, natural, long-lasting, pore blurring foundation. Alas, I just don’t like my skin feeling tight and dry throughout the day, and building coverage does not work for me. If you’re not prone to dry patches, do not get easily sensitized to drying products, like radiant finishes but want a skin-perfecting quality, you may actually like this foundation! It overall has a good shade range with a variety of undertones and has good coverage, so it may work for you more than it did for me!

WHERE TO BUY:
It Cosmetics
Sephora
Ulta

All links are affiliate links. If you click on a link and make a purchase, I earn a small commission at no extra charge to you. Thank you so much if you decide to use it! If you feel uncomfortable, feel free to google a new link.

And that’s it for this review! Hope you found it helpful and informative!

xo, M

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

michxmash-before-afters-2
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!

IMG_20190830_133143.jpg

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

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

IMG_20181209_144157-1.jpg

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).

00100dPORTRAIT_00100_BURST20181128115502296_COVER.jpg

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.

IMG_20181209_143756.jpg

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