Sunday, 26 February 2012

My experience with Tretinoin and Isotretinoin treatments

I've been MIA from this blog for a while, as I finally decided to drastically address my hormonal acne with tretinoin (generic form of Retin-A) since October 2011.

Five months later, I can tell you I've gotten to know my skin better, and also the products I use, in terms of sensitivity.

Before I start with my experience, if you have concerns, its best to discuss this with your dermatologist. I am by no means a professional, but I'm hoping my 'journey' will help those of you in doubt on the effectiveness of the treatment and also share a few tips and tricks that helped me.

I started off my treatment 5 months ago, with 0.05 tretinoin cream, which also contained Hydroquinone that kinda helped calm down the redness.

I was using it every night as prescribed, 15-20 minutes after washing my face, and NOT followed by any other product.

Initial reaction:

First 4 days I experienced no side effects whatsoever, I could even use my regular skincare products without feeling any sense of discomfort.

HOWEVER... On the 5th day into the treatment, my skin started acting up really bad, flaking, burning and all that 'pleasant' stuff that comes with it. I must admit that at that point, I felt so tempted to just give up and go back to using my drugstore acne treatments every now and then, but since I was determined to go all the way, I didn't stop and I'm glad I didn't...

So for a while I had to live with my "Retin-A" face, as I like to call it... orange tint and tons of small flakes, which was pretty embarassing esp. when I was out, regardless of how much moisturizer I packed on! lol

Products I used:

Now here's another point I need to address.

I had to change all the products I was using prior to my treatment, as the level of "burning" I experienced, gave off warning signs on the quality of my skincare!

What you will definitely need is a good non pore-clogging moisturizer paired with a full spectrum sunscreen for the day. Trust me your skin will thank you! ^^

A product range I can recommend, and that is every single product in that range, as it is paraben-free, yes even their moisturizers for oilier skin types is La Roche Posay (especially their Redermic [+] cream which I initially used and Cleanance K which I am currently using).

And the second one, which is also paraben free and relatively skin-friendly, is Vichy (I used their products from the Aqualia line).

To cover up any redness and possibly flaking, the only make-up product I can recommend is BB cream. I used the "Magic" BB cream by Etude House, for oily skin, since it had the best coverage out of the ones I had.  

Also use a PH balanced soap to clean your face, since your face will probably not tolerate anything harsh until it gets used to the tretinoin.  

Oh and if you have a clarisonic... take it from me and let it rest for a while! My skin HATED it! :(

Duration of side-effects:

I think I was one of the "unlucky" ones, as my skin took forever to get used to the treatment. I was flaking every-single day for almost three months. PLUS, I experienced a ton of purging, but that's a good thing cause it really helped unclog my pores and everything.

My eyes and sides of my nose were also burning and itching big time, but I found a good way to prevent that half-way through the treatment, using Bepanthol ointment around the eye and nose area. 

It was a scary experience because I had no idea how my skin would end up... but also my last hope since I had literally tried every single topical treatment available.

But in the end, I can assure you that it paid off and I'm not going to stop using it every now and then, as it has a "regenerating" effect on your skin. 


Currently my face is clear enough to be able to get away with not wearing any make up or even BB cream on some days. I had the type of face that required a decent amount of coverage to get through the day, due to scarring. 

Current status is by no means flawless, but clearly improved with less discoloration AND sunspots.

I do get occasional breakouts but only when my hormones are off balance (i.e. testosterone levels are sky high), which happens occasionally, regardless of how religiously I take my prescribed medication.


Now that my skin is somewhat more tolerant to retinoids, I am regularly using topical isotretinoin gel, which is milder, almost on a daily basis, on evenings. This helps keep vicious breakouts at bay and seems to work fine for my skin, as long as I don't overdo it. (once a day is enough xD)

Paired with my sunscreen and a good moisturizing, anti-aging cream for the day, I'm good to go.

Make-up wise, let me tell you... once your skin clears up, you'll be able to realize what has been clogging your pores all the way. One of the products that broke me out the most was in fact, my too-faced bronzer, followed by my highlighter (strobe liquid ;____;), some of my bb-creams (esp. Skin 79 in pink packaging) and blushes.

So for the time being I'm using Physician's Formula products for bronzing and blushing (non comedogenic ones) and loving them! :)

Bottom line:

Is it worth the trouble?? My answer would be yes... especially if you've tried every single acne treatment on the book. If you haven't tried tretinoin, I recommend giving it a go.

If you find the side-effects unbearable, you could try using it gradually, like once every three days, and eventually you'll be able to tolerate it.

Anyway, I hope my experience was helpful for some of you and don't give up! :)

Friday, 18 November 2011

HAUL: Korean Cosmetics (Etude House, Holika Holika, Skin 79, MISSHA)

Its HAUL time (i.e. my recent Korean cosmetics splurge)! xD

I purchased a few items from ebay recently, and I wanted to share my first impressions and thoughts.

Hope you can find something helpful in this post! ^^

ETUDE HOUSE Face Color Corset in Pink Lady Fit #4, and Highlighter Fit #1

Quite cheap and cutely packaged, first impressions from the Face Corset range are positive.
The Pink Lady Fit Blush is a quite light coral shade (more on the pastel side) and the highlighting powder seems good enough, not too chunky but not too fine shimmer either.

Cute packaging <3

Close-up of the products opened.


This is supposed to reduce oiliness, which is why I gave it a try, even though I'm not technically a "girl"... lol Haven't tried it on my face yet, but I'll review it soon. 
Lovin' the colors of the tube, but no pump!

Swatched heavily (texture is quite watery and pretty sheer coverage)

ETUDE HOUSE Petit Darling Eye Shadow - Matte

I needed an all over matte shade, and chose pastel blue ^^.
Not very intense in terms of pigmentation but it definitely does the job for an all over eye color.

Came in sealed.
Close up of Petit Darling Eyes opened.

MISSHA The Style Eyeliner Pencil in White #01

OK... I'm in love with this pencil liner. I was running low on Benefit's eye bright, and needed a replacement, but I ended up buying this instead.

I initially feared this would be too intense for the waterline, but it looks and works so well for me!!

Not extremely pigmented, but buildable... without looking weird or anything.

MISSHA The Style Liner
Swatched <3

Holika Holika Wonder Drawing Dot Liner

I always save the best for the end, and since this is a very interesting eyeliner, its definitely worth the spotlight of this haul! :D

It's a pretty gimmicky product but, I just could not say no to the amazing packaging, and the fact that Holika Holika is endorsed by CNBlue.

The most interesting aspect of this pen liner is the actual brush, kinda looks like three fine marker tips bundled together. And yes it does work for tightlining (already tried it on top of my make up today!).

This eyeliner should however come with a warning... IT STAINS!!! Swatched it on my hand for this post and had to wash my hands over and over to get rid of the dots... and couldn't get rid of them completely. Now for me this is a good thing, but I'm not sure everyone would like it.


Tip of the liner.

Swatched: Pretty watery consistency, sank into my pores... but fortunately it looks much better on the eyes! xD

Review: Koji DollyWink Eyeliner Pen

Super Cute Polka Dot Packaging! ^^
This review is on one of the most talked about eyeliners, the Koji Dolly Wink Pen liner.

Now, before I get into more detail for this review, I have to say I was tempted to buy this, after reading and watching all the raving reviews on it.

Having used the liner enough to review it personally, I admit I wasn't particularly impressed. Probably cause my expectations were a liiiiiittle too high! xD

Product Pros and Cons

  • The super fine and stable precision tip of this liner makes it perfect for beginners or drawing a nice crisp, clean line when in a hurry. ;)
  • Very pigmented for a pen liner. I have tried TONS in this range and this is by far the best
  • Perfect for tightlining, if used with caution.
  • An ideal liner to carry in your make-up bag for touch ups when you're on the go, thanks to its cute and handy packaging.
Super fine and stable precision tip!

  • Not as lasting as I expected, in fact this eyeliner fades on me throughout the day, as I have pretty oily eyelids, so you'll definitely need touch ups if you apply this product only. On a positive sidenote, there was no transfer whatsoever to the top, which is something I have always experienced with liquid pen liners.
  • Didn't do well in regard to water resistance either. Winter makes my eyes quite teary and sadly my wing was gone by the time I was home and checked it in the mirror. So if you're looking for a fool-proof waterproof eyeliner, then definitely look for something else (the ETUDE HOUSE Proof 10, that I already reviewed, is a great and affordable waterproof liquid liner). 
  • Quite pricey for what it is. I purchased mine for ebay for 18USD incl. shipping costs. 


    Keep in mind that my skin is on the oilier side, so I always have trouble finding a liner that actually stays put!

    One swipe was enough to get this much pigmentation!!

    Smudge test: Failed! D=

    Final Thoughts:

    Overall, I don't think this liner is bad at all, it's the best of all liquid pen liners I've used, but it's not an all purpose eyeliner, especially if you have oily eyelids. :(

    If you're someone who likes to wear intense or smokey eye shadow looks and wants a little definition, then look no further, the Koji Dolly wink will not dissapoint you.

    If on the other hand you want this for a bold winged liner look, which is what I personally go for on a daily basis, then I would not recommend this product.


    Wednesday, 19 October 2011

    Review: L'Oreal Professionnel Fiberceutic treatment

    Botox for your hair? Indeed! ;)

    Being a dedicated fan of L'Oreal Professionnel hair products, I HAD to give this a go.

    Overall, this two-step process visibly improved my fine, damaged hair. After the very first application, my hair felt instantly thicker and stronger. Feels like I have a built-in heat protectant, resulting in reduced breakage and damage, despite my "harsh" hair styling habits.

    FIY: I purchased this treatment online and applied it on my own, using a standard tiny plastic syringe I purchased from the drugstore, since no hair-salon in my area offers it. I'm quite experienced in using at-home treatments, but if you've never done something like this, and your local stylists offer it, then I'd definitely recommend getting this treatment done by a professional.

    • Easy to apply, although the syringe application requires a bit of patience, since you have to apply the serum gradually strand by strand (on squeaky clean towel-dried hair) concentrating from the middle to the end of your hair. This took about 10 minutes for my shoulder-length hair.
    • Timewise, it only takes five minutes for the product to work, once you've applied the mask to seal this in.
    • Lives up to its promise, my fine hair felt immediately thicker and much stronger, meaning I could use my flat iron without worrying too much about heat damage.
    • Lasts a few washes, in my case I had to re-apply after one month.
    • Available for all hair types, i.e. fine and thick.
    • Just like botox, results are not permanent, so this works best if you have the treatments done on a regular basis.
    • Didn't do much with regard to frizziness, meaning I still have to use my frizz-taming products. 
    • I have to clarify that this is not a product with miraculous hair-transforming effects, just think of it as a "shield" for your hair. ;)
    Final Thoughts:
    If your hair is processed, dyed or damaged from heat styling, then I'm sure you'll love this treatment, especially since it doesn't come with the risks of the notorious Brazillian Keratin treatments (which I never even dared to try out tbh), making this a great alternative.

    Although this treatment is available for thicker hair, if you have fine hair you'll definitely get more benefits out of it.

    Having done six treatments within a five month period, I can confidently say that the process definitely lives up to its promises and worth having it done... after all who doesn't want strong hair?


    Review: Nubar Porcelain Base Coat

    I purchased this base to try out, since I was running low on my essie first base coat (best ever btw), with high expectations. My first impression of the product and packaging were positive, but its performance as a "base coat" was quite dissapointing. I'd recommend purchasing this, as a treatment, i.e. if you plan to use it on its own, considering it has a sheer, glossy, milky white finish and nourishes your nails.
    Now on to a more detailed review of this product's characteristics.

    • Sheer white color is enough to cover up nail discolorations.
    • Makes an amazing treatment, perfect for "resting" your nails in between using extreme colors and glitters. Matched with a glossy top coat, this polish will give you the best natural finish, and durable nails.
    • A perfect shade for french manis; one coat would be enough to give your nail a credible natural shade.
    • Given the fact that this product is marketed as a base, I'd say it definitely failed in this aspect. It took forever to dry and made color application streaky (even with opaque cream finish polishes, and believe me I tried using many on top of this base coat). This meant I had to apply more than one coat of polish, despite their opacity, adding up even more drying time to this process.
    • Nail polish easily chipped on the second day. I blame this on the base coat, given the fact that I used trusted and tested long-lasting nail polishes and top coat.
    • Like I said, it took a long time to dry, and even when I let it dry on its own for about an hour, when I applied my nail polish on top (which would normally take 15-20 mins to dry), an hour later my nails were still "sticky".
    Final thoughts:

    If you're looking for a base coat, then I wouldn't recommend this product at all. Could have been a bad batch... who knows? But given its price, I definitely would not risk purchasing this again.

    Nevertheless, I now have a decent nail treatment for the days I like to leave my nails alone! ^^

    5/10 (bad as a base coat, works as a "natural" nail treatment)

    Review: KERASTASE Oleo Relax Serum

    Compared with L'oreal Professionnel, Kerastase products have always been a "hit or miss" case, especially when taking the price factor into account.

    The Oleo Relax serum was a bit of a miss in this case, because when I purchase a "high end" hair treatment, I expect relatively good results, if not the best.

    Although I loved how smoothly and quickly I blowdried my hair, I can't say I was excited about this product's finish, as it left my super fine hair, feeling "feathery" soft, in a bad sense, which led me to believe that this serum would probably work best on thick hair.

    But I'll get into more details in the following part;


    • Economical despite the price tag; seems like I made a lifetime investment purchasing this, you only need two tiny drops of this for shoulder length hair, and trust me its more than enough!! ;)
    • Dramatically reduces blowdrying time. I was surprised at how easily and quickly my ceramic brush glided through my hair, so I highly recommend this product if you style your hair on a daily basis.
    • One of the best detanglers I've used. This would make a great all-in-one inclusive product if you're planning to go on holidays, considering its multiple functions as a detangler, leave-in conditioner and frizz treatment.
    •  Left my fine hair way too soft after blowdrying, probably due to silincone being one of its key ingredients. This works much better on thicker locks. I tried it when I styled my friend's dry and thick hair, and the results were amazing .
    • My hair started to get oily on the second day... and I mean really oily, which comes as a surprise because my hair is definitely on the drier side. If you style your hair on a daily basis this may not be a problem, but if you style your hair twice a week like me, then I'd skip this serum.
    Final Thoughts:

    If you have fine hair, I'd recommend the Mythic Oil serum, much less buildup and weight, even if I use the product AFTER styling my hair. =)

    If you have thick, dry and coarse hair, then this may be an HG product for you. 

    I don't regret buying this serum, but I'm sure I won't be repurchasing it; the results were not good enough for a high end product, at least in my case.

    On the bright side, as I said, this makes a great product for my holiday kit. It works great as a leave-in conditioner and leaves my hair in a decent condition when let it air-dry.


    Monday, 3 October 2011

    HAUL: Nail Polish

    I was so happy to find my nail polish order in the mail this week and I wanted to share initial pics and a mini review of the ebay store I purchased them from, before I mess up the bottles and packaging! ;)

    All six polishes came packaged in a box, within a box!

    I purchased them from enchantedbeautyspot on ebay, best nail polish seller I can recommend really (fyi: I paid for everything with my own money).

    US based seller, everything always comes extra safely packaged, ships extremely fast PLUS there's no hidden charges or fees incorporated in their shipping costs.

    Sneak peak from the top.

    A++++ on ebay terms!

    Now on to the polishes.

    I have a tendency to buy blue and purple tone nail polish with cooler undertones preferrably, as I find such tones are flattering to my yellowish skintone.

    One thing I HAD to get was a new top coat as I can't live without my Poshe! <3

    First time I give anything from NUBAR a go, I purchased the Porcelain base coat and a freakin' AMAZING purple glitter polish. Hope it performs better than my china glaze glitters, which I hate as they tend to chip within a day or two, even with the best top/base coats I've used.

    Nubar Porcelain Base Coat
    Nubar Violet Sparkle

    And of course I had to get me some China Glaze polishes, as I have a "love and hate" relationship withi this brand, due to the numerous hit and misses I've had (we can't have it all can we?? lol).

    I have to admit that nobody does interesting blue shades like China Glaze, so I got three blueish shades which I've never tried before, most interesting being Tempest, which looks like a duochrome shade from the bottle! *Hoo-rah* Pitty my camera didn't capture this color in its full glory, its far from looking like a plain blue shimmer.

    Blue Island Iced Tea (my fave)
    China Glaze Tempest.

    China Glaze Sky High Top 

    Swatches will soon appear in NOTD posts, and I'd like to take some time to review the NUBAR porcelain base coat, as the natural finish looks pretty promising. ;)

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