PLAN A: Returning to my Old Skincare Routine – A (very) comprehensive, step by step review

Adventures in being a skincare guinea pig, Life Essentials, Skincare

How did I ever keep up with this?

My MSc was hard. It was an intense year. Stress is what initiated adult acne for me when I was almost 19. And remained a constant catalyst for MEGA breakouts and skin mishaps. I will share my misadventures in skincare and repair another time. But adherence to this routine kept my skin clear, and pretty much amazing. After a few haphazard months; this is my return to the old routine. A few months have gone by. And my skin is in need of some TLC. For one week, I will try my old tried and tested – to see if it will help return my skin to its former glory.

So here’s the theory. Please note that I have, for reasons I may explain another time, what might be described as combination-oily skin. My skin was always very oily and acne prone. The major part of my skincare journey and the catalyst to my becoming more ‘skincare savvy’ and applying my scientific background to my personal skincare was dealing with very oily skin and SERIOUS acne. Having dealt with that, I now get away with additional moisture that I wouldn’t have before. That said – my skin type still leans towards being oily.

 

Morning:

Duration: 8 minutes

When I constructed this I decided to go light in the mornings to make it as quick as possible. The evenings are when I do the real repair. My morning focus is antioxidants to prevent sun damage and skin radical formation, light moisturization (especially in the spring, autumn and summer) as well as SPF cover.

Step 1: Wash

Garnier Pure Active face wash / Alchimie Forever Purifiying Facial Cleanser

Step 2: Air Dry then Pat Gently with a Thick Disposable Kitchen Towel

This is how I did it. And I explain why later in this article. If you plan to emulate this step, make sure to use and absorbent, thick towel that doesn’t break apart and transfer itty bitty bits of tissue onto your face. (Speaking from experience)

Step 3: SERUM!

I used the Skinceuticals Phloretin cf. THE NUMBER OF TIMES I LITERALLY SPILLED THIS! It isn’t cheap and I have spilled so many bottles of this. It actually once stained my walk in dressing room table. I might do a tour of my itty-bitty-serum-stained-walk-in if anyone is interested.

As for the serum – I can’t tell you what this does for me. Full transparency. Because I don’t know. But I didn’t want to alter any part of my routine. I have used a LOT of Skinceuticals products. I like the products but I hold some reservations here and there.

Step 4: Locking it all in

La Roche-Posay Effaclar duo +. Not sure why. It was recommended to me by an aesthetician a while back. And I like the smell. Voila.

Step 5: THE GOOD STUFF: Moisturizer

Even if you have acne, try not to skip on the moisturizer. It is important to keep your skin hydrated in some form as drying it out constantly (something I TRIED FOR AGES) tends to self-perpetuate a cycle of continuous sebum production. I haven’t read any scientific literature to support this claim – but I experienced it myself. I use Dermalogica Active Moist moist of the time and when I feel like a lighter moisturiser with SPF I use the Alchime Forever Protective Day Cream SPF 23.

Step 6: Sun Protection

Last but not least! Both my dermatologist and aesthetician admonished me to wear SPF. I would sit in the sun for ages without any coverage for years. I travelled around on summer vacations in the blazing sun without any sunscreen on my face or body. I just loved the sun and with my dark skin – thought I was somehow immune to the dangers presented by prolonged sun exposure. Oh, how wrong I was. Minimally from the standpoint of keeping my skin looking and feeling lovely.

Now I use SPF every day. My final morning step was using the La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL SPF 50+ Dry Touch. Forever a fave and a gem for those of us with oily skin who don’t want that “sunscreen sheen”.

 

 

Evening:

Duration: 15 minutes

Bearing in mind that this is my old (successful) skincare routine, without any of the new ‘last minute’ repair measures. Just stable, good and routine.

Step 1: Wash (again)

Washing my face. (Every night!!? YES. I did this every night. Despite almost never wearing make up. And I tell you that this works magic!)

Usually used the La Roche-Posay Effaclar Purifying Foaming gel. I find this nice and gentle for the evening.

Step 2: Air dry my face and pat with a kitchen towel (again)

It’s a bit of a repetition game here. But routine is good. Right? I use a kitchen towel because when I had acne, I realised that I didn’t want to transfer the bacteria that might potentially dwell on a facecloth onto my face. This just seemed like the easiest option – outside of purchasing several facecloths and washing them at a frequency that would allow me to use a new one each morning and another new one in the evening. This is the ecological (and reasonable) choice. I was simply too busy/lazy for this. People still wonder why I have a roll of kitchen towel in my bathroom. But they never ask.

Step 3: SERUM TIME!

At a particular point in time I was layering on up to 3-4 serums a night! But in its unadulterated form this is what I did. I will be skipping one of these now as I no longer need it.

1. Skinceuticals Advanced Pigment Corrector – I would use this only on the areas where I was still trying to fade acne scars. (Incidentally – an aesthetician once told me that some of them would never fade – this routine conquered that!)

2. I then used the super gentle Alchimie Forever Pigment Lightening Serum. Fantastic for skin texture. I recommended this to friends, family and professors alike. Everyone fell in love with this and noted an improvement in tactile skin texture if they used it for a while. It also helps with mildly evening out the skin tone. This one is a true gem. Let the serums soak in here. There is no rush.

Step 4: Sealing it all in: Lovely, glorious acids

After this I used the Eneomey Stim Renew 8 – Anti-ageing Radiance Night Cream. This is actually the new version. The original one had the same chemical composition in terms of the proportion of the constituent acids but just different packaging and marketing. So not to worry if you happen to come across the old version. This is a little known product recommended to me by a very well known aesthetician. I started out by using this only over the dark hyperpigmentation spots but moved on to using this everywhere. It is very moisturising too – which is why I didn’t use it everywhere at first. But I later discovered that this night moisture does absolute wonders. Again, let this soak in. Do this whilst listening to an audiobook. I used this as my winding down time.

Step 5: Finally – Moisturiser

Maybe an overkilll. But I would always round this up with the Dermaligica Active moist once again. This is the best, all-rounder, light moisturiser for acne prone skin that I have used. If you have acne, ideally you should err towards a water based moisturiser. In the morning this will also avoid that 12pm noon ‘shine’ in the t-zone.

 

 

Twice weekly:

  1. Physical Exfoliation: Clairsonic Mia 2 or for something more gentle Alchimie Forever Gentle Refining scrub. (LOVE IT). I would replace this with the evening step 1. This is long enough already. I will talk about occasional masks and blah blah some other time.
  2. Acne (+ fine line) Prevention: The final part of my evening Step 3 about four – five times weekly was the Skinceuticals Retinol 0.3 Corrective Treatment. In Switzerland, 0.3 is the highest concentration one can obtain. In the UK, however, I know that one can obtain retinol up to 1.0 concentration without a prescription. (I appreciate the pump bottle of the 0.3.) I used the lowest concentration as this was sufficient to help me to keep my acne at bay (after it had cleared up). Depending on your skin and skin type this is one to introduce carefully and build up if necessary. If you use a retinoid (at any concentration) by prescription I would strongly advise that you do not use a retinol.

So, here goes! Wish me well!

P.s. I am only starting my week TOMORROW. The reason for this is because I had to reorder one or two of these because I realised they were not all in my arsenal anymore.

*Most of the links are (generally) in pounds. I just assumed this would be easier as I wrote this in London. (Although I am currently posting in Switzerland! Only home for a few days.) I will try to use international shipping sites where possible.

My Basic Theory of Skincare Routines

Life Essentials, Monday juice, Reflections, Skincare

Let’s not be silly.

I’ve been through it when it comes to my skin. (And emerged triumphant!)

Stick to a skincare routine that you can keep up with. If you can’t consistently use all twenty of those products that you felt obliged to buy at some point (and now feel obliged to use – we’ve all been there); condense it.

Make it work for you.

Ebay is your friend. You’ll be surprised what people will buy.

Cheers,

Christie

 

Whose race are you running?

A series of questions, Books, reading and lessons learned, Life Essentials, Reflections

Colouring in the within the lines. A letter to myself: questions.

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Whose dream are you chasing?

Whose timeline have you come to adopt as your own?

Who defined your limits?

Who told you how far is too far?

Doubt.

When did you inherit this doubt?

When did your goals become dreams; dreams become wishes and wishes become unattainable.

When did you realise how far is too far?

When did you find silent contentment in something you never wanted.

Help.

If there were no lines, no prescribed boundaries, no end to one page; nor beginning to another; where would your brush strokes start and where would they end?

If there were no lines, what colours, shapes, and hopes would your heart desire.

 

Is this what you really wanted?

 

Run.

Don’t run someone else’s race. Don’t chase what they said would fulfil you.

Run, yes.

Run from regret.

 

On Peace, Rest and Productivity

Life Essentials, Non classé, Reflections

It’s okay to take a break. 

I learned that this week.

A great man once explained that our stresses are what truly drive us to grow. He used a fantastic analogy: the lobster needs the pressure and discomfort of outgrowing his shell to be able to seclude itself, shed its old “comfort zone” and grow into its new biological environment.

So is it with us.

If you are allowing the pressures of daily life to destroy you, you are losing. Your challenges, struggles and shortcomings are valid. But it is only you who can break free from them.

I went through the fear, the fight, the resignation. And I made absolutely no progress. I decided to get up again and fight. I may have been moving slowly, making marginal progress, but I was progressing.

I drove myself to a standstill of anxiety, fear and (often unfruitful) endless hours of non-stop working. I thought I was making progress, and I was, but I was hindering myself.

This week I learned the true importance of planned, structured rest and disengagement. It sounded counterintuitive at first. But you NEED to refuel. You need rest. I was sleeping an hour a night and I grew so ineffective that I couldn’t even keep track of the days.

If you were doubting yourself, let this blog post be the anthem to help you realise that it is okay to rest. It is okay to take a break. It will help you succeed, it will not hinder you. You can be your own best friend; or worst enemy. Don’t make my mistake. It took me years to learn this.

Rest. For in rest, you will find productivity. And in rest, you will find peace.

Dealing with guilt and self-depreciation: A series of questions

Life Essentials, Reflections

A seven-step guide to taking care of yourself.

Dealing with self-hate, cultivating a spirit of self-love and avoiding subconscious self-sabotage. I wrote this for myself, I needed this. And now I offer it to you.

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Ask yourself these questions:

  1. Are you still alive?
  2. Is it that bad?
  3. Against whose criterion are you really evaluating yourself?
  4. What are the realistic worst possible consequences of the particular action/s
  5. Forgetting the past, what steps can you take to mitigate any realistic damages?
  6. Is there any possibility that your sentiments exist within a vacuum of self-doubt, pity and self-hatred; or that your evaluation of self is based on the arbitrary standards of others or warped social norms?
  7. It’s not easy, but work to forgive yourself. Your forgiven self is the most capable version of yourself to move forward, find solutions and mitigate damages.

Cheers, peace & love.

 

– Chonye

“Fortunate Happenstance”: Notes on my favourite word

Life Essentials, Reflections

A fortunate happenstance, a pleasant surprise. Sometimes beautiful things simply occur. Not necessarily when needed. Nor with any personal input, action, or longing.

Serendipity.

Not quite fortuitous. Not merely coincidence. Serendipitous. I’ve loved this word for years. I’ve also always pushed back against my love for this word. I’ve always questioned why I am drawn to this sentiment: of receiving something I seemingly have not earned or created.

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Easy come, easy go?

Time and thought have allowed me to realise that these beautiful, serendipitous moments almost exclusively occur when I have taken the time to set my mind and my thoughts towards the light. These are the times when my every expectation is hopeful, and when I have diverted my focus from the insecure, self absorption of the inward facing lens to look outwards, focussing on actions, intention and most importantly, on others.

It’s what is called being an optimist. I have my own views on optimism; something that has not always come easily or naturally to me. But I can certainly attest to the truth that consciously removing your mind from the day to day worries of this physical world (90% of which are really inconsequential), and bringing it to a place of gratitude, respect, love, peace, and positive expectation both attracts and produces serendipity.

(And does a world of good for both heart and mind.)

– Chonye

The Foe called Fear

Life Essentials, Reflections

Fear is that uninvited dialogue in my head that raises its voice every time I attempt to write my thoughts honestly, and candidly. It is false armor. It pretends to provide protection; but really all it does is encase and suffocate. It is the brother of anxiety, the cousin of depression, the grandfather of failure, and the evil twin of regret. Because, I find, that fear always, somehow, leads to regret.

Growing up, my mum always told me not to use the word ‘can’t’.

I understand that now. Because the lexicon of fear is ‘can’t’, ‘don’t’, ‘won’t’, ‘never’ and, deceptively, ‘later’. Fear will remind you of what is impossible. And every time you consider what is possible, it will remind you of every possible hindrance to your possibilities, until the possible becomes impossible, too.

Fear is the colonizer who will not stop until it has taken all of you. It thrives in the absence of hope and creates a vacuum, where hope cannot exist. Fear is a friend of no one. It has been my foe for many years; and something I have fought against, struggled with, at times even conquered, but only recently started to understand.

I will write more on this topic in future. This piece, however, is more for my personal benefit than anyone else’s. One day I will find myself skimming through my archives. And that might be a day that I need to remind myself to resist the foe called fear. And perhaps reexamine areas of my life where I have allowed this foe to linger, or even dwell.

 

Resist it. Fight it. Conquer it.

 

Light, space, zest—that’s God! So, with him on my side I’m fearless, afraid of no one and nothing. – Psalm 27:1 MSG

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