My Current Skincare Routine

My Current Skincare Routine

My skin has never been terrible, but when I get breakouts, they are scarring, painful cystic acne blowouts that I would get on my chin and on the sides of my nose. They would generally occur with my monthly period, or just after. I am not one to pick them because when I did the scarring would be even worse. I was courageous enough to let my cystic acne take its course, but it made me never want to leave the house.

If you have read my Adapalene post from a year ago, you will know that my first dermatologist prescribed me that one cream, gave me zero directions, and sent me on my way. Not surprising my face never cleared up. Instead, I still had acne, my skin got flaky, peely, dry, irritated, and just plain terrible. I really resent my first dermatologist for doing that to me.

So, I stopped using Adapalene, and began trying a bunch of over-the-counter acne treatments, from Paula's Choice to natural, organic brands with salicylic acid and tea tree oils, and the whole gambit in between. I was using Josie Maran's Argan oil to try and heal my acne scars, but it made my acne worse.

Last month, I through in the towel, and made an appointment with another, new dermatologist near my house. She immediately looked at my face and said, "you have inflammatory acne". She then proceeded to outline an ENTIRE skincare routine from AM to PM, and was adamant about me switching out my current SPF (more on that later)! She put me on this skincare routine:

  1. A Gentle Cleanser. She gave me a sample of the Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Hydrating Cleanser -- Foaming Formula. I liked it very much, but decided to buy the cream formula because I thought it would be less drying. Love this affordable, and effective cleanser!!!! 
  2. Benzoyl Peroxide/Clindamycin Acne Treatment. Benzoyl peroxide is a staple in any acne routine, but I was nervous about it because I had used OTC 5% benzoyl peroxide and it irritated, and dried my skin out like crazy. My derm prescribed me Onexton, which is BP and Clindamycin, an antibiotic. I was told to use less than a pea-size, every other day on areas prone to acne. It does make my skin feel a little sensitive, but way less than the OTC ones I have bought online. I have noticed a huge difference in my skin since using Onexton, and definitely recommend it. I'll continue to update you guys on my progress with this gel! 
  3. Moisturizer. The hugest thing my derm said to me was that she did not believe in moisturizer and SPF. She told me use Cetaphil DailyAdvance, which is meant for sensitive, dry skin. I was reluctant to go back to Cetaphil, which I had used throughout my teens because I have read that dermatologists have some in with the manufacturers. In or not, this Cetaphil DailyAdvance moisturizer is amazing!!! It's cheap, it's moisturizing, and it has a pump. I don't know why I ever strayed from you, dear Cetaphil!
  4. SPF.  This was also a huge thing for me!!! My dermatologist said I could choose between Cerave and Cetaphil for my moisturizer, and Cetaphil and Neutrogena for my facewash, but she said that she was adamant that I use the Elta MD UV Clear SPF she sold in her office. It was zinc-based, titanium dioxide free, and had niacinamide (an acne fighter). Later, I did some research, and found out that titanium dioxide, has been known to cause acne!!!! OH MY FREAKING GOSH!!!! I have been on this physical sunscreen kick for a year, and of course titanium dioxide is the #1 ingredient in physical SPF. Plus, it's in a bunch of makeup, and other SPF. I felt so stupid!!! I've been sabotaging my own skin!!! Anyways, I bought the bottle of Elta MD UV Clear in her office for $30, but found it on Amazon for $19.99!!!! I am stoked. I am never looking back, and NEVER using anything with titanium dioxide, again!!!!
  5. Non-comedogenic makeup. I try not to wear makeup on a daily basis because I am afraid of breaking out. On special occasions, I do slay my whole face, and wear foundation, concealer, setting powder, contour cream, contour power, blush, highlighter, the whole 9 yards. My foundation of choice before meeting my new God-send derm was Giorgio Armani Luminous Silk because it's great on my dry skin, and photographs like a freaking dream. I am even more in love with it because my derm approves of this foundation! I had been researching comedogenic ingredients since, and have been trying to mold my makeup routine to avoid them (that's for another post).

  1. Remove eye makeup. I use waterproof mascara because my Asian eyelashes are straight like an ironing board. I researched makeup removers, but most of them contain comedogenic ingredients, or are not strong enough to remove waterproof mascara. Now, I just put a pump of my Cetaphil DailyAdvance Moisturizer on two cotton balls, and hold them against my eyes for 30 seconds, and then gently start swiping off my mascara. I love using my moisturizer as makeup remover. One, I know it won't break me out, and two, it is super effective!!!! Try it and thank me later.
  2. Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Cleanser. I wash my face in the shower with 2-3 pumps of this stuff. Love it, and never turning back.
  3. Toner. My derm didn't have any recommendations on toner, she just said that if I had something I liked that didn't break me out, I could use it. I am on my second bottle of Derma E Soothing Toner with Pycnogenol, and I love it. I discovered it though I have always been a fan of Derma E as well. I like it as a second cleanse to make sure I get any residual cleanser or makeup. 
  4. Retinol. My derm prescribed Ziana, which is a retinol gel. It is freaking AMAZING!!! I had less adverse effects than with adapalene, but then, again, my new derm also gave me more detailed directions than my last incompetent derm. First, I started off applying it every third night; 30 minutes after I washed my face. Then, after two weeks, every other night, which I am currently still doing. I knew to switch to every other night when my skin started feeling more flaky. It sounds counter intuitive, I know, to apply the retinol more often when I started to seem more flaky, but I read online that if you do not use the retinol often it enough your skin will never build resistance and continually be irritated. Thus, you walk a fine a line between resistance and irritated skin, but just stick to your dermatologists directions like I did. 
  5. Cetaphil Daily Advance. After my Ziana, has had a chance to dry, I pile on my moisturizer -- two pumps. I pat my face with it in an attempt to disturb my skin and retinol underneath. After my moisturizer has dried, I put another two pump layer on. Even with the benzoyl peroxide and the retinol, my skin is not dry, but rather glowing and almost acne free. 
  6. Oral Antiobiotic. My derm, in an attempt to battle my inflammatory acne from the inside, prescribed me doxycycline, Acticlate. I did notice a blatant stop in my acne, but it was just TOO strong for my stomach. I began having ulcers and acid reflux. It was so terrible, I had to stop taking it immediately. If your body can handle it, I would definitely continue taking it because you WILL see results.  
I strongly urge you to go see a dermatologist, and hopefully, you are lucky to find a good one. Please do your research, get some recommendations on a good dermatologist, and stick to your derm-proscribed regimen. Also, definitely switch to a zinc-based SPF, and get rid of your comedogenic infused makeup and SPF. Stay away from titanium dioxide, too!

I hope this post was helpful. I am very passionate about my new regimen, and the results I am experiencing. I wish you guys the best of luck! Let me know how it goes!

September Favorites: Cruelty Free edition

I am so excited to do my first monthly favorites post! This month all my favorites are cruelty free! Generally, I like to do detailed and in-depth posts about products that I love, but I hope you enjoy these quick and to-the-point posts! As always, any comments or questions are highly appreciated.

My first favorite is from Blissoma Solutions. A great brand with a great mission delivering RAW, holistic, and vegan beauty products. I got the Rejvenating Herbal Gel Cleanser and Makeup Remover from the September Petit Vour box, and I am so happy that I did!!! This foam free cleanser is amazing at cleansing, and removing waterproof makeup, even though it feels different than the soapy, drying cleansers I've used in the past.  I apply 3 pumps to my makeup'd face every evening in the shower, and all my makeup washes away without leaving my skin ultra tight -- thanks to it's sud-free formula. I also really appreciate how this brand offers paraben and pthalate free products! Available on or

My next favorite product this month comes from Paula's Choice, the beauty brand behind Beautypedia -- one of my favorite resources for beauty reviews. After a couple months of being pimple free, I started experiencing a more breakouts, and so I wanted to incorporate a chemical exfoliant into my AM skincare routine. I ordered the RESIST Daily Smoothing Face Exfoliant from the PC website (they always have a deal going on). The RESIST Exfoliant has 5% alpha hydroxy acids, 5% glycolic acid, and a little boost of .05% salicyclic acid (BHA) so it's anti-aging and anti-acne. The formula is gentle and does not dry out or make my skin peel. I think it has added to my skincare routine and have  experienced almost no more breakouts since incorporating it. My skin looks more even, and my pores appear smaller than it did a few months prior. It's suitable for all skin types. Love this one! 

My final favorite for September is my most favorite blush of the moment. It was a sample I was gifted from Sweet Leilani -- a Canadian, vegan beauty brand. I absolutely fell head over heels for Colour Tides blusher in 'Star Fish'. It's a coral-y blush with subtle reflects. It reminds me so much of the Milani baked blushes because of its all-in-one ability to blush, sculpt, and highlight in one motion. The slight shimmer really highlights my cheekbones. It is very pigmented, and super blendable. The 'Star Fish' coral shade is great with almost every sky tone, too. All Sweet Leilani products are made with rose hip seed oil, grape seed oil, and green tea. Definitely recommended!

What's your favorite cruelty free brand or product?

Ingredient List:
Blissoma Solutions Rejvenating Herbal Gel Cleanser and Makeup Remover - Glycerin, Infusion of Ilex paraguariensis* (yerba mate), Medicago sativa* (alfalfa), Prunella vulgaris* (self heal), Plantago major* (plantain), Rubus idaeus* (raspberry leaf), Centaurea cyanus* (cornflowers), Olea europaea* (olive leaf), and Tilia europaea* (linden), Caprylyl capryl glucoside (Ecocert vegetable source cleanser), Vitis Vinifera (grapeseed) Oil*, Helianthus annuus (sunflower) Oil*, Leuconostoc/Radish Root Ferment Filtrate, Quillaja saponaria* (soapbark), Cetearyl Alcohol and Cetearyl Wheatstraw Glycosides, Gluconolactone, Xanthan Gum
*from Certified Organic Agriculture

Paula's Choice RESIST Daily Smoothing Face Exfoliant - Water (Aqua), Glycolic Acid (AHA exfoliant), Cetyl Alcohol (thickener), Butylene Glycol (slip agent and penetration enhancer), Dimethicone (silicone slip agents/texture enhancer), Polyacrylamide (film-forming agent), PPG-14 Butyl Ether (thickener), Palmitoyl Hexapeptide-12 (cell communicating ingredient), Ceramide NG (skin identical ingredient), Tetrahydrodiferuloylmethane, Tetrahydrodemethoxydiferuloylmethane, Tetrahydrobisdemethoxydiferuloylmethane (anti-irritants/antioxidants derived from curcumin), Epigallocatechin Gallate (antioxidant), Salicylic Acid (BHA exfoliant/anti-irritant), Disodium Lauriminodipropionate Tocopheryl Phosphates (vitamin e based antioxidant), PEG-10 Phytosterol, Cucumis Melo (Melon Fruit Extract (antioxidant), Bisabolol (anti-irritant), Allantoin (anti-irritant), Cyclopentasiloxane, Cyclohexasiloxane, Dimethiconol (silicone slip agents/texture enhancers), Tribehenin (texture enhancer), Polysorbate 20 (emulsifier), C12-15 Alkyl Benzoate, PEG-40 Stearate, Sorbitan Stearate (thickeners), PVM/MA Decadiene Crosspolymer, Disodium EDTA (stabilizer), C13-14 Isoparaffin (solvent), Laureth-7 (emulsifier), Sodium Hydroxide (pH adjuster), Caprylyl Glycol (preservative), Ethylhexylglycerin (skin conditioning agent), Hexylene Glycol (solvent), Phenoxyethanol (preservative).

Sweet Leilani Colour Tide Blusher 'Star Fish' - Mica CI 77019,Titanium Dioxide CI 77891, Magnesium Stearate, Lauroyl Lysine, Kaolin China Clay,Golden Seal Root Extract, Vitis Vinefera (Grape Seed) Extract,Rosa Canina (Rose Hip) Leaf,Camelia Oleifera (Green Tea)Extract. May Contain Iron Oxides CI 77491, CI 77492, CI 77499,CI 77289, CI 77288, Violet CI 77742, Ultra Marine CI 77007. 


My Must Haves from Tula Probiotic Technology Skincare

About 3 months ago, I received the entire  Tula Probiotic Technology Skincare line as a PR sample. I am so impressed by the line that I have made them a part of my daily skincare routine. I have been wanting to do an in-depth skincare routine post that discusses all my favorite products, but I've been flat out busy with both my boys and I starting school.

This morning, I found out Dr. Raj, gastroenterologist and the creator of Tula Probiotic, would be live on QVC today talking about Tula, and so I wanted to share my favorite three pieces from the probiotic line that I use daily!

My first love is the Illuminating Facial Serum. I love how nourishing and hydrating it is! It is perfect in the morning under makeup because it quickly dries matte, yet gives my skin some radiance. I've used all, but a 1/5 of the bottle! Highly recommended!

Next up, the Purifying Facial Cleanser is my, and my husband's, current favorite face wash! Tula is completely unisex from the packaging to the scents, and so, it is a great option if you want a one stop shop for you and your significant other! The face wash is dense, luxurious, and non-drying/stripping. It's thick enough to get off all my stubborn makeup, and definitely a part of daily evening skincare routine.

Lastly, the Revitalizing Eye Cream is a must have. I use it morning and night. I won't put on my concealer unless, I put this eye cream on my dehydrated under eyes. This helps prevent my concealer from cracking or looking cakey.

I hope this helps! Please let me know if you take advantage of the deals on QVC! Would love to know if you enjoy Tula as much as I do!

Latest BB Obsession -- Smashbox Camera Ready BB

My philosophy is tinted moisturizer/BB cream for daytime, and a medium to full coverage foundation sans SPF for nighttime and special occasions. Lately, I have been completely obsessed with trying every tinted moisturizer and BB cream I could get in my makeup addicted hands. I love how easily I can slather tinted moisturizers and BBs with my hands for a quick FOTD. The ease of going from light to medium coverage is also a perk.

The Smashbox Camera Ready BB came as a sample in a recent Sephora haul. Smashbox's BB provides SPF 35, and is available in 8 different shades. Generally, for a no makeup makeup look, I only need about a pea-size for my entire face. I think the 1 oz. size would last me quite a while, probably 3 or 4 months. Sephora offers two shades in .5 oz travel sizes -- "Light" and "Light/Medium". Although, I was sent 'Light" instead of "Light/Medium", I was still able to make it work after bronzing and blush. *For reference, I am NC25 in MAC.

I admit that I totally underestimated how much I would like the Smashbox BB. I was pleasantly surprised at how long it lasted --  a good 6-7 hours. Although the matte finish formula is thicker than my watery Nars Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer (which I wear in St. Moritz),  it worked surprisingly well with my dry skin. To the naked eye, the matte finish does make you look "Camera Ready", but I would look for something with more coverage for a super important day, like a wedding or school pictures.

On the daily, I prefer a more demi-matte finish so, I have been mixing Smashbox's BB with my super dewy Nars Tinted Moisturizer. I have actually noticed longer staying power with my Nars by mixing the two. I am thinking about ordering a "Light/Medium" and a lighter shade of my Nars tinted moisturizer to mix for the upcoming Fall/Winter. This is definitely a must try.  Available at Sephora, Nordstrom, ULTA, Macy's, and other retailers for $39.00 1oz./$19.50 .5oz.

Have you tried the Smashbox Camera Ready BB?

Liquid Gold: Skin Dressing's REALLY GOOD™ Rose Skin Butter

I discovered Los Angeles-based Skin Dressing through Instagram and fell in love with the brand's mission -- to deliver all natural, non-toxic skin care at an affordable price, while still remaining cruelty-free and vegan-friendly. 

I asked, and Skin Dressing generously agreed to send me the REALLY GOOD™ Ultimate Rose Skin Butter. This luxurious and silky heaven in a gold jar is made naturally fragrant with 100% USDA certified organic rose essential oil. NO TOXINS whatsoever. 

The gaudy, and totally my style, gold jar obviously caught my attention, but the rose scent made me down-right obsessed. You can smell the beautiful rose oil from the outside of the jar, which isn't too surprising because according to Skin Dressing, "it takes TWENTY DOZEN organic roses to distill enough oil for just one jar." The Skin Butter is the consistency of a thick clarified butter, but completely smooth, and not at all greasy. 

The REALLY GOOD Ultimate Rose Butter is made with skin-nourishing ingredients like Vitamin E, jojoba oil, and murumuru butter. Murumuru butter is obtained from the seeds of the murumuru palm, which is native to the Amazon Rainforest. I love when skincare ingredients come from plants. Don't you?

How to Apply.
I like to dip a clean finger into the jar, and rub the butter on my collar bone and dab any leftovers on my neck. It gives my skin the perfect, healthy glow, and leaves me smelling amazing. Rose is my absolute favorite scent in the entire world. It's just so feminine and romantic.

I also like to rub a little onto any scars or stretch marks because the REALLY GOOD butter has all that skin repairing goodness from the jojoba.

Why use a skin butter rather than a lotion or cream? 
Skin Dressing's REALLY GOOD Rose Butter's all natural, and waterless formula does not require a chemical preservative like a lot of off-the-shelf lotions and creams do. The waterless formula also gets you a lot of bang for your buck. The Rose Butter's concentrated formula can last four to five times longer than the average tube of lotion. It also doesn't smell at all like those overly sweet or artificial floral fragranced lotions. The Ultimate Rose Butter, $25, and other all-natural skin care available at

Have you tried the Ultimate Rose Butter or any body butters lately? 

Skin Dressing's  REALLY GOOD™ Rose Skin Butter Ingredients:  organic simmondsia chinensis (jojoba) seed oil, astrocaryum (murumuru) butter, shorea stenoptera (illipe) seed butter, rosa centifolia (rose) floral wax, organic rosa demascena (rose) oil, mixed tocopherols (derived from organic sunflowers).

Bogavia: All Luxury and All Natural

If you have been looking to purge yourself of chemical and preservative filled hair and skin care, then keep reading... Bogavia is a skin and hair care brand free of: parabens, mineral oil, sodium laurel sulfate, artificial fragrance, and chemical preservatives! Oh yeah, and cruelty-free!! Everything in their ingredient list is easily pronounceable and all natural with a lot of organic plant and fruit extracts. They have a line for adults and babies -- so exciting!

I contacted Bogavia after learning that they crafted a baby-friendly skincare line. My sons have grown a little fascination with creams and lotions after watching my AM & PM skincare routines. So, I had been looking for a baby-friendly lotion for them. I absolutely love Bogavia's Extra Gentle Healing Butter for my two angels' soft skin. The Healing Butter, infused with Calendula, is a thick unscented cream with a denseness like Desitin, but feels like a lotion. It can be used and applied all over the face, body, and bottom for diaper rashses. This is a great option for babies with super dry skin or eczema.

On top of having a great all-purpose baby healing butter, vanilla bean baby lotion (it's so yum), and a gentle baby hair and body wash, Bogavia has an expansive line for mommy and daddy, too. It will truly make you think you are staying at a luxury resort even when you are just at home. From the quality of the packaging, to the classic and rich Valencia Vanilla scent, everything feels luxe.

I am obsessed with Bogavia's signature Valencia Vanilla scent. The sweet yet citrusy scent has definitely been something I look forward to. It smells so amazing I want to swim in it. Good thing that Bogavia makes an entire line with the scent: Shampoo, Conditioner, Toning Body Wash, Hydrating Body Butter, and my ultimate favorite, the Lip Balm!!!! Ugh the Valencia Vanilla lip balm is super addicting. It is made out of coconut oil and reminds me of orange cream soda....I just looooooove it! The best part is knowing that I am not putting any toxins in my body.

Not all of Bogavia's products are scented, and so if scents are not your thing, the Exfoliating Facial Scrub is super hydrating (strangely) and has very fine particles that will gently get rid of your dead skin cells. 

Bogavia definitely needs to be in all 5-star resorts and hotels immediately, and Valencia Vanilla definitely needs to be all over your body.