11 July 2021
Filed under Skincare   No Comments

I’ll start by stating that this post is (unfortunately) not sponsored. Because I’ve been buying products from the same store, though, I’ve gotten an affiliate link to share on this post.

So, a little background information: I have fairly oily skin, and I’ve only had dry patches in some specific locations a handful of times in my life (during winter in France, for example, or while traveling abroad. The affected areas are always around my nose and mouth). It is also blemish-prone – it stayed clean through most of my teenage life, but started giving me trouble as an adult. In my case, any breakouts are usually related to stress, and then I get an occasional pimple right before my period begins.

Although pimples have become a rare occurrence on my face, I’ve been dealing with closed comedones my entire teenage/adult life, which you might be able to see in this picture to the right (I never take photos of myself, much less good/clear ones, so this was the only one I found that shows my comedones. Notice how the skin on my forehead seems a little rougher? It has tiny flesh coloured bumps all over. This was taken in December 2020). I had no idea what they were and no dermatologist ever named them for me, either, they would just recommend some acid to apply on my entire face and call it a day. For anyone who doesn’t know what these are, they are referred to as “white heads” by some people, and are characterised by “flesh coloured bumps” on your skin. Mine are all on my forehead, and look irritated (sort of red-ish) when I sweat or if I rub something on them, such as a towel – it gives them a pimple-like appearance, but they don’t break the skin).

About 10 months ago, I moved back to France and dealt with a pretty bad skin situation, and I still don’t know if it was caused by stress, the usage of masks or both. I wasn’t using any skincare products then, with the exception of Avene’s Cleasing Gel, which single handedly cleaned the horrible acne I had on my shoulders during a rough time as a teenager. The first thing I bought to try and help me with that was an exfoliating mask by the same brand (Avene), and the result was terrible – the amount of pimples on my face must have doubled. I’m unsure whether the product caused purging or if it was just not for my skin, so I quit using it.

I started researching online what I could do to help clear my skin, as I knew the main cause of my acne would stick around for a while – my stress was justifiable then, having moved back to France and started a new internship without an actual place to live… in the middle of a pandemic. I finally began to understand how a skincare routine works and the many types of products involved, so I chose which ones I wanted for each step of the process and made an investment. I have since changed it a bit, but it’s remained very similar to what I started with, so I’ll go ahead and share the products that I currently use on my face. The results over these 8 months have been amazing and my skin has been clear of pimples for months. When they do show up, they heal fast and leave no marks. I have very few closed comedones on my forehead, too, and it feels very smooth to the touch.

Step 1: COSRX’s Salicylic Acid Daily Gentle Cleanser (night) or COSRX’s Low PH Good Morning Gel Cleanser (morning) or L’Oreal Paris’ Pure Clay Cleasing Gel
Step 2: Lemon Sparkling Peeling Gel (twice a week)
Step 3: COSRX’s AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner (morning and night)
Step 4: The Ordinary’s Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG (this one is marketed as an eye serum, but I use it on my entire face)
Step 5: COSRX’s Oil Free Ultra Moisturizing Lotion With Birch Sap
I clean my skin with The Face Shop’s Rice Water Bright Light Cleansing Oil at night, before starting this routine, if I wore make up during the day.

I won’t go into the details of what exactly is in each of these products because I am not a specialist, so I’ll describe how I use them, with what purpose and how they make my skin feel. Before buying any of them, I do encourage you to go through their composition and check that you aren’t allergic to anything that’s in them.

All of these products were bought at TofuSecret.com – some in September 2020, and some in June 2021. They ship from Hong Kong and, in my experience, the packages are well put together and the waiting time is very short (my orders arrive to France in 2 weeks or less).

Step 1: Face Washing

COSRX’s Salicylic Acid Daily Gentle Cleanser
I use this product at night, right after I shower, and in very short amounts. It feels a bit like toothpaste because it’s so thick, but it’s very easy to use – I apply it to my wet hands, rub them together until the soap seems a bit foamy, and proceed to washing my face. I rub it all over for about 30 seconds and then wash it off, and my skin feels very dry afterwards. I have been using this religiously for the past 10 months, every night, and I’m still somehow on my first bottle of 150ml. I’ll definitely buy this it again.

COSRX’s Low PH Good Morning Gel Cleanser
I read somewhere that my 1st cleanser is a bit harsh on the skin (it does leave it very dry…), so I bought another one to use it in the morning. This one is a gel, and I feel it doesn’t spread as easily as the Salicylic Acid cleanser by the same brand, but it does the job well. I’ll probably buy this again, but I wouldn’t oppose to trying something else, too.

L’Oreal Paris’ Pure Clay Cleasing Gel
I bought this thinking it was a face mask (out of stupidity, because the bottle states very clearly that it is a cleasing gel!), and I’ve kept it because it smells so divine. My skin feels nice after I use this one, too, and just as dry as when I use the Salicylic Acid cleanser. I do think keeping both of them in the same routine is unnecessary, though, so I probably won’t buy this again.

Step 2: Exfoliating

Lemon Sparkling Peeling Gel
The consistency of this one is a little odd – for an exfoliating gel, it seems super dry. I apply short amounts of it around my face and rub delicately for about a minute, and it doesn’t feel wet at all. It’s very easy to wash off, and my skin feels quite nice afterwards. I do have to say, though, that exfoliating with coffee + cinnamon + honey felt a lot nicer to me, so I won’t buy this product again. (For what it’s worth, my dermatologist liked this when I introduced it to her!)

Step 3: Toner

COSRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner
I used COSRX’s BHA toner for months without noticing any difference to my skin, and then moved on to using it twice a day. It definitely helped clear some of the closed comedones on my forehead, so, once it was over, I decided to go for something else by the same brand. I had about 2 months in which I simply didn’t use any toners, and those annoying comedones slowly came back. Once this toner arrived, I started using it twice a day (two pumps of it each time), and, after about a month, my forehead is almost clear again. My dermatologist says this might not work to clear it completely because it’s not a strong product, so she recommended me a solution with adapalene (3%, commonly known in the US as Differin). I’ll be using the COSRX toner in the morning and adapalene at night and seeing how it goes! There has been no irritation on my skin so far, so I’ll buy this product again!

Step 4: Serum

The Ordinary’s Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG
I had been using COSRX’s Triple Hyaluronic Moisture Ampoule for months, and didn’t have time to order it again before flying to Brazil to stay with my family for a while. I actually wanted to try something new, but serums are a tricky part of the skin care routine to me, as it’s harder to understand the way they are affecting my skin in comparison to the other products I use. I decided to go for something by The Ordinary, as my friends often praise them and they are also fairly cheap. The caffeine composition was interesting to me, and this product is marketed as an under eye serum that helps with puffiness and dark circles, which sounds appealing. I do however think my dark circles are genetic, so I’ve just been using this all over my face. It’s not bad, but also doesn’t serve any purpose to me, so I won’t buy it again. I’ll go for something that has vitamin C in the future.

Step 5: Moisturiser

COSRX Oil Free Ultra Moisturizing Lotion With Birch Sap
I love this one. Like I said, my skin is quite oily, and I have a lifelong fear of applying moisturising products to it, as it definitely feels like they make me go around shining all day long. After reading about skincare, I realized not moisturising my skin properly just makes it try and make up for the lack of moisture on its own, which might lead to clogged pores. I’ve been taking this step more seriously since then, and I really do feel an improvement. This product is quite light, and it dries fast! My dermatologist loved it, too. I’ll definitely buy this moisturiser again.

My skincare routine doesn’t really include any face masks at the moment, but I intend to buy The Ordinary’s AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution when I’m back in France. As for my makeup remover, I don’t include it as part of a “routine” because, with this never-ending social distancing situation, I just don’t wear make up. When I have job-related Zoom calls, I’ll occasionally wear a concealer on my eyes, some lipstick, and call it a day. I have been removing the concealer with The Face Shop’s Rice Water Bright Light Cleansing Oil, since I was bombarded with recommendations for cleasing oils earlier this year. So far, so good. I haven’t used it enough to recommend it myself, but it does its job efficiently!

As for my sunscreen, I’ve used Avene’s Emulsion SPF 50 + sun protect for several months, but I can’t say I like it much. It doesn’t make my skin breakout, though, and I’ll give it points for that. I’m just not very fond of its consistency, so I’ll look for something else soon.

Bonus: I have somewhat dry lips, and they always get worse when I’m back in France. After using a few different lip balms (the last one by Neutrogena), I decided to look for something that wouldn’t require me reapplying a product several times a day in order to not be uncomfortable, so I bought Laneige’s Lip Sleeping Mask. My lips improved after literally one night of use, and they feel soft throughout the day now. I don’t like to use it during the day because it feels like lipgloss (which means my hair would definitely stick to it if it goes near my mouth), but I don’t actually feel the need to, either, so it’s okay. I can’t recommend this product enough!

I’m definitely not someone who understands a lot about skincare, but my skin has improved immensely with no changes to my diet and without any oral medication, and I’m just as stressed now as I was back when I started using them (if not more), so I’ll attribute all the improvement I’ve noticed to them. Before trying these, the only thing that had successfully cleared my skin in the past was Proactiv’s 3 Step Acne Treatment System, which is very harsh on the skin and has the huge downside of bleaching every fabric that comes in contact with it. It does work, though, so there’s that.

I hope these recommendations help you somehow! I’m sure I’d be able to get even better results by eating healthier, but that’s a whole other battle. For now, I’m just grateful that I’ve found products that work for me and don’t lead me to bankruptcy.

Thank you for reading, and I hope you have a wonderful week! 💕

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