Self diagnosed, I think I might also have redness and irritation from over exfoliation, retinol and (too) high percentage of Niacinamide. A lethal combination that eventually weaken my skin barrier, triggered more inflammation and irritation.
And being an adult with acne didn’t help either. So, if you have Acne-Related Redness problem like me, read on.
I believe, it is best to identify the cause of redness first, in order to pick and choose your skincare products wisely.
A few tips:
Choose soothing and natural ingredients like aloe, oat, cucumber, licorice or chamomile that actually has been proven to calm redness.
I realized that I haven’t done this category, oops!
Personally, getting the right moisturizer is rather tricky, since I’m also very prone to clogged pores and breakouts. Therefore, I do pick my moisturizers wisely, to make sure they’re not just safe for Fungal Acne, but also for my clogged pores prone skin. And, it’s a bonus if they don’t leave any greasy or sticky residue.
Ingredients that I tried to avoid while looking for moisturizer, as they might be comedogenic:
Oils (avocado, coconut, the list is long)
Bad Alcohol (like Hexadecyl Alcohol)
Butters (Shea, cocoa)
Fatty Acids (Lauric & Stearic specifically)
KRAVE BEAUTY OAT SO SIMPLE WATER CREAM
This is my second jar by the way, I love it because of its’ minimal ingredients list. If you want a basic and lightweight moisturizer, this one’s for you!
If you check out the ingredients list below, nothing really icky there except fragrance and coloring. IMHO, it works for oily skin better due to its’ gel texture. For drier skin type, you might need another moisturizer on top to seal in the moisture.
Now, this is my go-to everyday moisturizer. Easy to find at local drugstores and affordable. It’s great that it has Panthenol inside, because it supports the healing of acne. It’s also a water based gel, therefore it supposedly prevents clogged pores.
Dr Sam Bunting said it is a multi talented acid and her most loved ones too.
After all those AHA, BHA, PHA, LHA that I’ve tried, I’ve decided to give this pore-cleaning acid a go. Especially after I did an exfoliant/retinol fasting due to Botox, read here.
Why I bought the gel instead of the cream format? Well, Dr Davin Lim once said that Azelaic Acid is best or most stable in a gel formulation. So I purchased this local product at Erha Apothecary for IDR 96,5K (30ml).
Why 20%? Since I’ve been using Adapalene for quite some time now, I believe that my skin can take stronger percentage of actives. It’s just my opinion, though. If you’ve never tried actives and took stronger ones, better start low.
How I incorporate this to my skincare routine? Twice a day, morning and night on clean and dry skin after cleanser and toner. I usually use two drops for the whole face. It absorbed so fast, let me tell you. Then I will apply moisturizer than finish with sunscreen (morning).
Why apply on the whole face? To get the full benefit, obviously! It’s not just great for congested pores, it also improves radiance and a good anti-oxidant. And unlike Retinol, I applied Azelaic Acid directly on clean dry skin without the help of moisturizer, because it is way more gentler than Retinol.
Plus points: it’s safe for pregnancy and breast-feeding, great for sensitive skin (because of its’ low irritant factor), it’s anti bacterial.
My thoughts: if you can’t deal with the purging of Retinol, you might want to try this. It might left a bit of a white cast and felt powdery if applied alone. But if you layer with serum and/or moisturizer, it’ll be fine. What I’ve experienced so far with Azelaic Acid, it didn’t make active acnes pop in one night like Retinol. It won’t make skin get worse first before it can clear up like Retinol. But it is slower in action, only for the patient ones. After two weeks of using AA religiously, I might say it brighten up my whole skin tone and it did treat my redness around my nose. I also can see my new acne marks fading (see before after pics below). So far, I’m enjoying using AA and considering it’s affordable and locally available, I guess I’m going to use this for 6 months (as recommended) and pause my retinol/adapalene treatment. AA didn’t completely make new acne stop (it’s not a miracle ingredient), but it did reduce sebum production and clogged pores.
If you wondered why, well…I just had my Botox again after 5 years of Botox hiatus (watch my previous experience, here).
So what shall we do after Botox? Except the ordinary stuffs like don’t lie down for the next 6 hours, they told me not to use any exfoliants for 14 days. What?! No retinol, no BHA, no AHA for two weeks? Can my skin handle it?
Guess not! I gave up on day 10, LOL. WHY?? Scroll down and you’d know.
As you can see from both before and after pics as my evidence. Pores were clogged heavily and I could feel that bumpiness on my skin textures. Just like the days before I met my Retinol.
So, moral of this post is: EXFOLIATING your skin is super important. But as always, know your skin and their ability to handle exfoliant. Some might need it every day like yours truly but some might not. Remember, you know your skin best.
For now, I decided to start my exfoliant again with gentler acid, Azelaic Acid, not my usual Adapalene and Tretinoin. More on Azelaic Acid, so stay tune for the next post.
SIMPLE KIND TO SKIN SOOTHING FACIAL TONER It went MIA for awhile in our local drugstores, but it’s back. Turned out, they changed the old packaging with a new one. An affordable, no-fuss daily toner, with good ingredients like Allantoin, Panthenol, Niacinamide and Chamomile extract. Priced at IDR 99K for a 200ml (and they’re on promos most of the time), it is safe for Fungal Acne and 100% alcohol free.
HIMALAYA HERBALS PURIFYING NEEM FACE WASH Combination of Neem and Turmeric in this affordable face wash are really interesting. Neem to combat acne and turmeric (which is bright orange in real) helps to soothe skin. Even though it’s fungal-acne safe, it does contain sulfate, some allergens and fragrance. Priced at IDR 40K for 100ml.
HIMALAYA HERBALS PURIFYING NEEM MASK It has been a while for me not to use wash-off mask in my skincare routine. However, this fungal-acne safe mask is equally affordable, so I can’t resist to try it. Anyway, it still contains sulfate, fragrance and paraben. Priced at IDR 40K for 100ml. I’ve posted a detailed review about this already, please click here to read.
Got a few DM on my Instagram about Retinol, so I guess I’ll answer them here while also giving you update on my skin condition.
Disclaimer: I’m not a dermatologist, so these are totally based on my own personal experience.
Q: If I successfully cleared up acne after using Retinol, shall I continue using it or stop? A: Based on my own experience, I tried to reduce the usage to once every night. So on non-Retinol night, I’ll use other actives serums like AHA or BHA (depends on my skin’s condition).
Q: Will the acne be back even after you manage to clear them out using Retinol? A: As long as I’m alive, I guess I’d still have acne hanging around. My mom used to tell me that after I passed my teenage years, my acne would clear up by themselves. Well, they didn’t. Hormonal acne on chin area are the worst for me, so they’d pop out uninvited, no matter how clean I cleansed or how diligent I am with my routine.
Q: What’s the correct order to apply Retinol on one’s skincare routine? A: First thing first, use it at your night time skincare routine. Mine would be: double cleanse, hydrating toner, Niacinamide serum (just because it works well with Retinol), moisturiser then Retinol. If you’ve been following me, you’d probably know that I use two types of Retinol, Adapalene as base and Retinoic Acid as spot treatment. Please don’t apply them on their own, at least you can do is to mix with your moisturiser after cleansing.
Q: How about the skincare routine for morning, after using Retinol? A: Best that you can do is to treat your skin gently in the morning. Cleanse with gentle cleanser, use hydrating toner, moisturiser and never forget your sunscreen (even if you are not out and about like me).
Q: What type of Retinol are you using now? A: Evalen Adapalene Cream 0.1% and Vitacid 0.05% Retinoic Acid Cream. Adapalene went first for the whole face, then Retinoic Acid as spot treatment (on acne and acne marks). Both are local products, so they’re affordable.
If you’re familiar with their previous Chamomile line, Pure Calmille, this is the new version. A range of skincare for sensitive skin, with wild chamomile cultivated in their own La Gacilly organic fields. Even though it’s dedicated for sensitive skin, actually all skin types can use this range, especially when our skin reacted to certain stuffs.
You see, our skin condition might change due to climate, pollution, harsh products and hormonal. These things might also affect the skin’s barrier, thus make our skin reactive. Some might experienced itchiness, redness or tightness, basically all the feeling of discomfort. It’s great to know that this range will not only soothe skin when shitty things happened, but they will also strengthen our skin.
Being Yves Rocher, the packaging in this range is 100% recyclable plastic, and there are no artificial scent and colouring used. Yes, the cardboard is also recyclable. They didn’t waste anything from the chamomile, the flowers, leaves and stems are used to create these products. They use 98% natural ingredients, with 0% mineral oil, silicone, alcohol and fragrance.
OK, let’s start with the review!
THE CLEANSING OIL
Y’all know how I love to double cleanse, even though I’m not using makeup on daily basis, but I’m still using sunscreen. Somehow, I just feel cleaner when I use cleansing oil before moving on to second cleanser. The first ingredient on the list is Sunflower Seed Oil, a non-comedogenic carrier oil and known to be less irritating. There’s a hint of relaxing Chamomile scent, it glides easily and emulsified like most cleansing oils that I’ve tried. No slippery after-feel which I like, and it rinses easily.
THE MICELLAR WATER
Usually I use Micellar Water in the morning to wipe off all the night time skincare products on my face. However this is my personal preference. For fungal acne warrior, you’d be glad to know that based on the ingredients list on the packaging, it’s safe for fungal acne.
THE CLEANSING CREAM
Now, this is interesting. It’s not a foamy cleanser, mind you. But I believe this is great for dry cleansing technique. Apply on dry skin (I prefer to use this in the morning after Micellar Water), and massage for one minute, then rinse off with warm water. I always recommend to rinse cleanser with warm water to minimise the slippery after-feel.
THE SOOTHING LIGHT CREAM
It’s a moisturizer in a light texture with a hint of natural chamomile flowers’ fragrance. I thought it’s going to be more like a light lotion, but once I spread it, it’s more like a water-cream (disappear without a trace). Great for normal to oily skin due to its’ texture and absorb power. However, it’s not giving you that dead matte finish (if you’re expecting one).
THE NOURISHING COMFORT BALM
If you have normal to dry skin, you’ll love this moisturizer. They named this as a balm, but I did find the texture more like a thicker lotion. And I’m surprised how easy it absorbed on dry skin. It feels comfortable on dry skin and also gives a dewy effect.
THE CORRECTIVE GREEN CREAM
Another interesting product from this range. It is green in color, but they don’t use artificial color. Instead they used chlorophyll from Chamomile’s stems. This cream is like a tone-up cream, but instead of brightening the whole face, this will reduce and correct redness. I apply this on red spots only (usually around my nose and chin) in the morning on top of moisturizer and before sunscreen. I believe from all the products in this range, this one is more scented than the others.
Yeay, it has been 12 weeks since my Adapalene journey. And I guess pictures will speak a thousand words, so here’s my before-after pics.
Please note that I do use Retinoic Acid on top of Adapalene for 12 weeks.
I just want to say that I’m glad that these prescription strength creams really worked on my hormonal acnes and closed comedones. Yes, the first 5 weeks was a nightmare and I almost gave up. But this pandemic really helped me, because all of the bad purging were hidden underneath mask. And FYI, based on everything that I read or watch in YT, Adapalene needs max 12 weeks to show its’ result. Mine already got better on week 8, fortunately. No more bumps and no more big zits. Big improvement shows on the chin area, while these creams won’t work on milia and sebaceous filaments that I have on my left cheek (might need another Cauter session after the pandemic is over-God knows when).
Am I still going to use both creams? Yes, to maintain my skin condition, but I’ll make sure I minimized their doses or use both every other day. Should you try it? Please check to your dermatologist first, because both are prescription-strength products and not everybody will have the same reactions and results. GOOD LUCK!
It’s almost a month (if you want to see my weekly update, please go to my IG stories highlight) and to think of it, I’m not even halfway there yet (sigh).
So, I can definitely tell you that Adapalene really helped my problem with oil plugs a lot. I had severe bumps on my left cheek and chin only, so I only apply the cream there instead of the whole face. First, it really help to push the existing oil plugs out, either they became blackheads or pustules. Then, it helps to stop the new oil plugs from forming. Of course when there are no more new oil plugs, my skin felt smoother. If I rubbed it now, I can feel lesser bumps.
On week 2, I decided to add Retinoic Acid as spot treatment. Under the name Vitacid (another local brand), it’s another prescription-strength topical skin treatment. From my point of view, it speeds up the progress (gunks up to surface, I mean). But I warn you, this is really potent, so please consult with your derm if you want to try.
I can’t wait until month 3! Anyway, here are my current skin condition.