My Skin Battle and Current Skincare Regime – Part 1

I’ve never really posted about my skincare routine. Up until now you only get glimpses of my skincare products in the monthly empties posts. So I thought I’d put everything in one place and kick it off with this post in case it helps anyone battling the same problems. I’ve broken this into two posts because of how lengthy it was getting and I don’t want to overwhelm you guys.

From my empties posts you might know already that I suffer from hormonal breakouts and the constant presence of La Roche-Posay etc. Here’s the why.

My story:
I was one of those people who sailed through the teenage years without breaking out. I had clear (dare I say perfect) skin up until my early 20s. Clear skin, invisible pores, even skin tone and texture etc etc. And then it all changed.
I began getting these tiny spots that pop up every two days. When one disappeared, two new ones arrived. I didn’t know what to do and started trying all sorts of new cleansers/potions to no avail. Eventually I was introduced to a reputed dermatologist and he got me sorted out. One of the reasons he mentioned was something along the lines that the skin has a certain amount of tolerance but if you abuse it with products that aren’t suitable, eventually (some might take years, others days) it will reach a break point and the spots are the cumulative results and its way of telling you ‘Enough!’.

Apart from the odd spots from time to time I enjoyed clear skin again but the whole spotty experience (albeit milder) returned approximately every other year. I’ve moved across the continent since and couldn’t consult my derm regularly, only on the occasions when I return to visit my family. Since those visits I’ve been using very mild products for sensitive skin (hence all the La Roche-Posay). I had one cleanser and one moisturizer, same products for AM and PM, nothing else. My skin behaved quite well in winter but summer could be a constant battle.

Unfortunately the problem seemed to have evolved last year – I was getting spots that synchronized with my period – they’d pop up just before and they take longer and longer to heal. The seasons no longer matter, winter could be just as bad. Now I’ll get new ones before the old ones have completely faded and my face just look very spotty with old and new spots 😦

I deduced that this has become a hormonal issue and while I can’t change that without taking some kind of pills, I tried supplementing my skincare routine with AHA/salicylic acid and other ingredients that have been touted as ideal for acne-prone skin, hoping at least to minimize the ‘breeding ground’ factor. These help to a certain extent but didn’t ‘cure’ my breakouts.

I’ve never seen my skin in this bad a state (I’m in my 30s now, and I always have one or two angry spots plus old scars that take ages to fade) so a few months ago I finally went to see a dermatologist and she prescribed me Adapalene cream (0.1%). This is akin to a milder version of Differin. She said to apply this after cleansing and then put on my moisturizer afterwards. She approved of my moisturizer (La Roche-Posay Toleriane) but pointed out that’s targeted for really sensitive skin that couldn’t err tolerate anything but if it works for me it’s fine. The interesting thing was she asked if I was using oils on my face and said that she noticed it’s the trend nowadays (argan oil was cited) but in her opinion it’s not for the majority.


My Adapalene experience merits a post on its own. I’ll just say that the purging stage makes me sad. It’s been a little more than 3 months now and it appears to be less violent but we’ll see if the improvements are coming.

When I first started Adapalene, I thought to just let it do its ‘magic’ on its own. This way I’ll know if it’s really effective/improving the situation in the long-run, ya know? That was stupid because as the purging started I needed all the help I could get. It’s not the moment to be ‘scientific’ when you are looking like a wreck. I’ve come up with the following routine (building it around Adapalene) and it seems better suited to my current needs.

My Day Routine:
– POD cleanser (was using Toleriane until it ran out)
– La Roche-Posay Serozinc (to use this up – and I have! See November Empties. Replacement is Darphin Intral Toner)
– Hydraluron
– LRP eye cream
– LRP Toleriane moisturizer (I’ll use the Algenist when this runs out)
– some sort of acne treatment (Effaclar Duo or topical treatment)
– sunscreen (*ahem*)

My Night Routine:
– 1st cleansing (makeup removal – either Bioderma + eye makeup remover OR a cleansing oil)
– POD cleanser
– Peter Thomas Roth Glycolic Acid 10% (was using Clarins Gentle Exfoliator until it ran out – see October Empties)
– Hydraluron
– LRP eye cream
– Peter Thomas Roth Glycolic Acid Moisturizer OR Algenist (alternate evenings)
– Adapalene cream

I’ve veered off the simple, sensitive skin (also boring) routine for a while now. I do try to use unscented products and currently only my cleanser and the Darphin is scented. I have a separate day and night routine because I have AHA products and I use those exclusively in the evenings. My skin is drier than before even though I still get a shine during the day. Dehydrated as well I suppose? My lips feel dry all the time so all the lip balms I’ve stockpiled come in handy.

ETA – When I first wrote this post it wasn’t even winter. Now that it’s here I’ve found that the blemishes are rarer (still get ’em though) and they also go away dramatically faster. Could it be the drying weather or something else?

Other Factors:
I’m no angel. I drink coffee, consume sugar/gluten/dairy/alcohol, don’t often get enough sleep, don’t drink enough water, don’t wear sunscreen everyday, stressed at work etc. I think it’s hormonal but who really knows what the real culprit could be? 😛

Lesson learned:
It’s better to have teenage breakouts and get that over and done with (together with your peers) than having adult acne.
All kidding aside if it’s something that’s really bothering you, I recommend going to a dermatologist if you can and get it looked at professionally. It’s still too early to say if my prescription is working (told to stick with it for 6-9 months) but at least it’s something more ‘concrete’ than trying to do your own skincare potion mixing and matching. Your skin has a regeneration time of 28 days and I

If *knock on wood* Adapalene doesn’t work for me, personally I’ll stop and just accept those monthly breakouts. I won’t go to Accutane if it’s the last resort. Side effects notwithstanding I can’t go through that level of purging.

I will review the products I’m using in the routine in part 2.


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