Curology Month Four|Doxycycline for Acne

Photo Credit: Curology (I can’t think of any more ways to photograph the same bottle so I’m leaving it to the pros)


Originally, I wasn’t going to continue a month by month update of my adventures with Curology, but after the reformulation (and results) of my prescription, I feel it may be beneficial to those hesitant or just starting out with Curology (or prescription strength actives in general) to keep on with these monthly recaps.

For those of you who don’t know, my prescription swapped out azelaic acid for zinc pyrithione to help with the excruciating dryness as well as provide another form of anti-acne help. I also went under a 30 day regime of the antibiotic doxycycline which would help clear up acne from the inside plus help prevent another bout of purging. My prescription still has the same amount of niacinamide and clindamycin as before.

Frankly, given the results I’ve seen in just a month, I’ll let the pictures do most of the talking for me:

Probably the grossest collage I’ll ever make 😞 While the lighting is a bit different, I must say my brightening products are working hard!


I’ve had really (REALLY) stubborn acne that seriously won’t kick the bucket for almost a year now, but between nightly use of this new Curology prescription and twice daily doses of doxycycline, it’s as subdued as its ever been in too long a time.

Another equally as awesome thing from this new script is its sebum balancing properties. Three months of azelaic acid really took a toll on my already naturally dry skin, taking it from almost normalized to borderline dehydrated. After four weeks away from azelaic acid, and some moisturizer TLC, my skin is almost back to its pre-Curology state. 

Perhaps I owe credit to the doxycycline, but I did not purge again despite the prescription reformulation. 

My derm also suggested using a diluted water-vinegar mixture to help dry out those spots. I applied it morning and evening right after my toning step, and while it smelled less than pleasant, I’m pleased to say this homemade DIY really did the job. After about 2-3 days of doing this morning and night, spots would dry right up without much left over redness.

For those of you curious about going on antibiotics to help with acne, doxycycline is very commonly prescribed to work on this problem.

I am by no means a doctor or expert, but this was my personal experience with using doxycycline for acne.

Just like any antibiotic or drug in general, people complain about all sorts of side effects. I knew beforehand I can be a bit sensitive to the effects of antibiotics so I did a couple things to avoid a miserable month. 

-I took it on a full stomach…as in after a real meal, not just a bite of an apple or something. This really helped in eliminating upset stomach problems which I am highly prone to on antibiotics.

-I also ate yogurt daily to keep things as balanced as possible internally. I find that yogurt bacteria tends to work better than the same bacteria in pill form to fight, er, infections and keep you feeling normal stomach-wise. It’s also a bit cheaper πŸ˜…

-I set an alarm on my phone to remind me to not only take the pill, but take it at the same time each morning and night. It prevented me from missing doses and also kept the drug levels more even/regular in my blood stream (I do this for all medications).

-Water: it’s good for you, good for your skin, good for when your taking antibiotics.

*in case you’re curious: during the 30 days of doxycycline, pimples on my body (you know, the occasional back zit or whatever…I’m human ok?) didn’t show up at all. It worked body wide so if backne or the like is a problem for you, this may help! Talk to someone qualified πŸ™‚
Overall, I feel that without the doxycycline my skin would have purged again and it would not have cleared up like it did. Zinc pyrithione helps more with sebum balance than directly attacking acne so I doubt I would have seen such improvement! 

I’m glad to finally be getting both my stubborn af acne as well as my crazy dryness under control. Both of these issues are the bane of my skin’s existence, and if I can conquer these things for good, then my battle is basically won πŸ™‚

If you’d like to try Curology for yourself, please use my invite link to get your first month FREE (and give me a small credit😘). 

Curious about my old script with azelaic acid? You can read all about it in my month one, two, and three updates.

For just a month, this is definitely not bad at all!

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The Top 5 Scariest Skin Treatments of the Year

A lot of people are willing to go to great lengths to achieve  flawless, glowing skin…would you ever dare to try one of these?

The Vampire Facial

We’ve all heard beauty is pain, but how high is your pain threshold?

Why is she doing this? 

The Dermapen needles work much like a Dermaroller-it stimulates collagen via tiny lesions in the skin which can help improve the appearance of skin in terms of clearness and smoothness.

Supposedly, injecting your face with your own blood magnifies these effects. 

Syn-ake

How far would you go to look young forever?

Photo Credit: Korea Depart.com


This is the product fittingly dubbed “Botox in a Bottle.” It’s made from synthetic snake venom that helps fight signs of aging by temporarily paralyzing the muscles in the face. It’s modeled after the venom of the Tenple Viper.

Photo Credit: 1st4wrinkles


Leeches

Just…eew

Photo Credit: BeautybytheGeeks…I tried to find the least gross picture possible y’all


While the use of leeches in the medical world is nothing new, these bloodsucking creatures are rumored to help acne and numerous other ailments due to a chemical called hirudin they excrete during the feeding process that thins the blood (an anti-coagulant). Their saliva also contains many lipids which are good for moisturizing the skin…

The Phantom Facial

While LED lights may not be all that scary, this facial certainly looks like it is!

Photo Credit: Youtube


The light helps smooth the skin and give it a natural glow. It has virtually no downtime, so it’s perfect for those who don’t want to sponsor “facial face” for a few days.

Photo Credit: Dhgate.com


And to save the scariest for last…

Groupon Laser Treatment

Photo Credit: clinicamonumental.es


Need I say more?

You can read about one poor girl’s horrible, but highly informative experience with Fraxel laser treatments she found on Groupon here.

To sum it up tl;dr style: girl struggled with acne entire life, had a lot of scarring she wanted to fix, but didn’t have the spare cash to afford laser treatments full price. By chance, she stumbled on a Groupon for it, which allowed her to afford the treatments…until this decision literally scarred her for life 😱

Valuable takeaway: just wait until you save up enough for your procedure. Don’t be cheap when it comes to doctors (or laser treatments).

Have you and/or would you ever try one of these? What do you think of them?

Galactomyces Ferment Filtrate: The Secret to Smoother Skin?

No, its not drunken skincare…its yeast!

Galactomyces and Saccharomyces fermented filtrates have been around for a very long time in the world of Korean skincare. Due to the vast range of skin issues these yeast-based ferment filtrates are rumored to treat, they have gained quite the reputation. The hype is similar to snail secretion filtrate: basically, name a common skin issue, and this will fix it. 

Galactomyces ferment filtrate can help with skin issues such as acne, pore size, oil/sebum management, uneven tone, textural refinement, signs of aging, and dry skin-only to name a few. 

Some think this yeast and other hangbang herb fermentation craze may stem from the many fermented foods like kimchi, commonly eaten on a daily basis in the typical Korean diet, and their positive effects on body, including the skin. Korean skincare companies caught on to the benefits of fermentation and translated this into their products, creating the first treatment essence.

 By using helpful bacteria to break down other beneficial ingredients, it is said to help with absorption into the skin , getting the benefits deeper into the pores than a non-fermented formula. Almost all hangbang companies, and most mainstream ones, have some sort of fermented step in their product offerings, usually herbs or yeast.

Another theory stems from brewery worker ‘s hands, which would reatian a much more youthful appearance than the rest of their body, supposedly due to the yeast. 

Either way, these fermented and yeast-based products have gained a lot of popularity in the Kbeauty world.

Having yet to try a pure yeast ferment filtrate, when the Ramosu Galactomyces ferment filtrate went on sale in a set of three, I had to buy it. I’ve been testing it for review since the start of September, and I would be lying if I said I didn’t like the results I’ve been seeing. 

The ingredients: Galactomyces ferment filtrate

As you can see, it’s a very long and complex formulation that makes this product so effective…

I’ve been using 2-3 shakes (approx 1/8 t) of the product twice a day for a little over a month. The product itself claims  that after 28 days “you can experience special feeling in your skin.”  I’m assuming “special feeling” is referring to smoothness. 

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In the 28 day time frame, my skin slowly became more and more healthy/radiant looking (starting around two weeks in), but the effects would wear off if I missed an application. Twice a day kept my skin consistently glowy, but it would fade by the time of the next application.

Where my skin is generally well-behaved, I didn’t notice much change in terms of smoothness, however, in my troubled areas (namely my jawline where things get desert-dry, flakey, and bumpy), there was a definite, noticeable  reduction of texture. My skin in this area looked and felt more nourished, meaning less and smaller flakes and rough patches. It did not help with acne in this area (including some cc’s), but made it appear less noticeable as the surrounding skin looked a lot better.

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These effects have not plateaued since the 28 day mark.

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I apply it before my toner (like a first essence), and the formula is light and non greasy in finish. The second it hits the skin, it begins to absorb. This is a wonderful quality, because as it’s the first step in my post-cleansing routine, I have numerous products to be applied  afterwards, and the last thing I want to do is add more wait time to it.


Galactomyces is meant to be nutritive, making it an excellent option for stressed skin (like mine chronically is). From troubled areas to dryness, this filtrate has soothed and nourished my skin so it can heal.

By the second week of using this product twice daily, I could already see and feel a small difference in my skin. By the end of the 28 day period, my skin felt healthier, and most of the effects from both my natural and prescription-exasperated dryness  had faded. Now, my skin looks a little more youthful and bouncy, and is so much smoother to the touch in previously sandpaper areas. There is nowhere near as much flaking or peeling as before either, which is a total blessing (seriously,  it’s like no matter how many products I apply, my skin will still be dry). πŸ™„ This product will be 100% be staying with my through this winter.

Rating: 

2- the results make so glad I have 2 bottles left. Tis product has definitely been worthwhile.

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Is your skin also a carniverous black hole that just sucks up product and money, but never gives you much to show for it?

What do you think of the fermentation craze? Of yeast?

Why I Got Into Korean Skin Care

Hello my lovely readers!

I briefly touched on this topic in my first post ever (click here if you dare. Gosh, the embarrassment), but I never really elaborated on the why’s of my deep love for Korean skin care. Out of all the possible hobbies to have chosen to really and truly love in this life, I picked this thing of all things. Does it make any sense to you? Because it makes zero sense to me! So, in short, this is why I’m hooked for life:

  1. Hands down, it is the only thing that has ever really worked for my skin because it’s gotten down to the roots of my problems vs masked the side effects.
  2. The packaging is either gorgeously elegant or super cute, and either way I want to stare at it and use it every morning and night for the remainder of my adult life. Etude House will forever have my soul.
  3. Prevention is the best cure. Like, duh, why did I not put two and two together when I was using Windex and toothpaste in my teen years? Thank God I mainly stayed indoors and didn’t tan. This makes so much more sense than the American deal-with-it-as-it-comes approach.
  4. Its so affordable. Even with shipping, you can get so much bang for your buck in terms of quality and quantity. Not to mention all those wonderful freebies and samples.
  5. There is an infinite supply of super weird, super amazing products that the U.S. has never heard of…sheet masks? facial mists? cleansing balls? What about all the cool, unique ingredients? It’s a skin care junkie’s dream. I can experiment all I want and barely feel guilty about it!
  6. It’s discovery came to me at a point in my life when I was really struggling. It was my hardest semester of college, I was balancing waaaaaaaay too many difficult (and in hindsight, stupid) things on my plate, lots of drama in both my work and home life, several really expensive and really awful health problems, you name it, it was happening. Quite frankly, everything just sucked (in a first world problem kind of way). Finding something that sparked some long lost inspiration and a nudged me towards self-care was a total blessing for my burnout. The Korean skin philosophy created a small sliver of order in all the chaos that was going on around me. It made me look better, made me feel better. It gave me something to calm me down in the evenings and something to invigorate me in the mornings. Putting that 30 minutes aside everyday to just focus on taking care of myself helped pull me back to a place of empowerment where I could make the changes I needed to to get my life not to just where I wanted it to be, but surpass those expectations as well. In full honesty, no tub of face cream, Korean brand or not, will magically fix your life and make you happy, but the dedication to your face and yourself that the extensive Korean method requires can be advantageous to those between a rock and a hard place. At least, that’s how it worked for me πŸ˜…

Needless to say, the Korean routine has done a heck of a lot for me, and I hope if you dare go down the Korean path and risk becoming as obsessed as me, it is everything I find it to be and more. My love for it was a major motivating factor for when I first started the Skintuition beauty blog.

Has something beauty ever gotten you hook, line, and sinker before? Real Technique’s beauty blenders don’t count πŸ˜‰

Managing Your Moisturizing Routine

Welcome back to another installment of the Beauties on Fire collaboration! This week’s voted theme is the four elements: water, earth, fire, and wind. 

Photo Credit:Byrdie

Being the skincare slut that I am, I of course have to discuss the element that is the backbone of any successful skincare routine: water! Without sufficient water content, not only will you, well, die, but your skin will become dry and problematic, making it look older and more tired than it may really be. 

So how do you ensure your skin remains looking youthful and healthy? One word:moisturization. 

Photo Credit:@peachandlily

Why the Western world thinks only one measly moisturizer is enough to maintain let alone create good skin is a total mystery to me. Once I got off that 3 step routine train and incorporated more and more moisturizers into my routine, my skin changed drastically for the better. I attribute a big portion of success in eliminating my (mild) cystic acne to proper moisture levels as well as many other smaller skin successes.

Moisturizing is an essential part of what makes the Korean approach to skincare so different and effective. Regardless of skin type or even skin concerns, layers of moisture are going to constitute the majority of any effective routine. But moisturizers are not created equal. So how do you figure out what’s going to work and what’s going to be a big waste of time and money?

Let’s start with the basics.

Moisturizers are divided into three classes:

Photo Credit: Into the Gloss

Humectants: these guys work like magnets, attracting and absorbing (aka forming Hydrogen bonds with) water from deeper layers of skin (and sometimes from very humid air) which in turn increases the amount of moisture your outermost layer of skin (the stratum corneum) can hold. Humectants can provide an instant plumping/wrinkle-smoothing effect due to the increase in moisture. Long-term use can fight signs of aging.

This category can be further broken down into two additional categories-synthetic humectants and natural humectants. These names pretty much describe it all. Synthetic humectants which draw water up from the skin include urea, hexylene, butylene, and propylene glycol (“the glycols” is how I’ve remembered them). These will help moisturize the skin, but tend to only draw water up from the deeper layers of skin, providing short term moisture. These can potentially dry out the skin if other moisturizing agents aren’t used (they just suck water upwards, but don’t replenish).

Natural humectants not only moisturize the skin, but deliver other beneficial nutrients to the deeper skin layers, providing more long-term moisture. You’ve probably heard about many of these natural humectants: honey, aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, and AHA’s in smaller doses (think glycoloic, lactic, and malic acids…AHAs also occur in the natural world like in fruits and milk). Many of these natural humectants have secondary benefits: everyone knows about the anti-inflammatory properties of aloe, the anti-microbial wonders of honey, that AHA’s provide exfoliation if used correctly…and so on and so forth.

Photo Credit: The Beauty Lookbook

Emollients: Emollients work like a lubricant, lending skin a smooth softness by filling in the gaps between skin cells. Any flakes get smoothed over as well. Emollients also give that “slippy” feel to the skin (think of a pore filler). Emollients can provide a slight film to keep water in as well-much like occlusives but to nowhere near the same extent.

The texture of emollients is easily spreadable and generally thin. Most emollient ingredients also provide additional benefits to the skin like antioxidants and have anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. Many also help strengthen the skin because emollients often contain fatty acids as they are often oil-based (a big help for those with dehydrated skin!).

Emollients are generally plant/animal-based oils. These include almond, coconut, jojoba, olive oils, etc, but also animal-based oils like emu and horse oil (which I personally detest and discourage the use of especially given all the other plant-based alternatives. But my opinion of animal testing and the cosmetics industry and what-not is for another time and another place. YMMV and you are entitled to your own opinion. But I personally think the thought of something like pig collagen on my face sounds nasty to begin with…)

OTHER emollient ingredients include things like glycerides and squalene/squalene (not derived from shark liver for me of course, but rather olives or the like…).

Photo Credit: Peach and Lily

Occlusives: This category of moisturizers strives to do pretty much one thing and one thing only: prevent moisture loss. Water loss is the main culprit in both dehydrated and dry skin and its when we lose water that we start looking so suddenly tired and aged. Oily skin may not struggle with water loss as much as other skin types because of natural sebum production preventing moisture escaping.

This moisturizing class works by creating a physical barrier (generally, a thin film) over the outermost layer of skin, effectively sealing good things like water and other products in by slowing down the process of evaporation. Occlusives work best when applied over wet skin (or humectants) as occlusives must have something already there to seal in to do much good. Unfortunately, many times these formulas can be a bit “greasy” or “oily” looking on the face so I personally have relegated them to night-use-only. I have found that the occlusive “film” doesn’t typically play well with my generally “light and sheer” approach to makeup.

Ingredients include pretty much any vegetable-based wax (and also beeswax), or plant-based butter (cocoa, shea, etc) as well as well-known mineral oil and petroleum.

Photo Credit: Sokoglam


Some Rules of Thumb
If you tend to lean on the dry side, dry skin will benefit most from occlusives applied over humectants to draw up/in moisture, then seal it in. Emollients can also help reduce some of the flakiness dry skin types can experience as well. Oilier skin types along with more combination skin types should avoid thick occlusive formulas and heavy-handed use of emollients and stick to lighter, humectant layers. Normal skin types have free range, but should probably stick more to the lighter end of the scale.

Selecting moisturizing ingredients based on skin concerns can also be a beneficial strategy. If you are acne-prone, obviously avoid thick formulas which may clog pores and maybe try an ingredient with anti-microbial properties, like honey. Dehydrated skin should head straight for emollients due to their oil/fatty acid content. And so on and so forth.

Your Skin Knows Best

Everyone’s skin is different and often changes through the seasons and with lifestyle factors like chronic stress and hormones. Once you know what each type of moisturizing class does and what main ingredients to look for, finding where to start for your skin type becomes a breeze.

To read the other collab posts, click the picture below!

Haul Like A Virgin: A Newbie’s Guide to Their First Time

While it may be tempting to get caught up in the excitement and buy All The Things in your first ever K-beauty haul, it’s important to remember not to go overboard, especially when it comes to establishing the essential products in your daily skincare routine.

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What Should I Buy?

A newbie hauler should focus on four main products in their first ever haul:

1) Oil Cleanser-the double cleanse in an integral part of the Korean skin routine. You are going to need something to remove your makeup and that fancy sunscreen you are about to buy.

My Recommendations: Nooni Snowflake Cleanser, Banilla Co. Clean It Zero, The Face Shop Brightening Rice Cleanser, Memebox I’m Oil Cleanser for (Your Skin Type: Oily/Combo or Dry)

2) Foaming Cleanser-getting something low pH will do wonders for your skin. Honestly- if you don’t believe me, buy two and do a comparison test. It won’t dry your face out while still removing impurities and getting pores clean.

My Recomendations: CosRX Good Morning Low pH cleanser

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A note on low pH cleansers: while more and more companies are (slowly) providing more options, the information out there on the actual pH of products when mixed with water is highly, well, mixed. Take CosRX’s Salycilic Acid Exfoliating Cleanser for example: the website mentions the pH being somewhere around an ideal 5.5, however under a certain blogger’s pH test, it charted at a super-high 9.5. It’s one of those things that everyone will react differently to, so if at first you don’t succeed, don’t sweat it. If it’s cleaning and not leaving your face tight and dry, you don’t have to chuck it immediately into the trash can. Just take note and keep moving forward.

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3) Moisturizer-your first moisturizer is probably going to be depressingly Plain Jane, but don’t get discouraged. All those fancy serums, ampoules, and essences will come later once your skin is healthy and showing its true needs. If you need instant gratification, go for something with an “exotic” sounding ingredient that has a lot of popularity like snail or propolis (bee vomit).

My Recomendations: CosRX Snail 96 Power Essence, Goodal Phytorain Murumuru Hydraseed Serum (dry skin), Etude House Moistful Collagen Cream, Scinic Snail Matrix Cream (oily skin)

4) Sunscreen-this is probably one of the best investments money can buy. Sunscreen keeps you looking younger for longer if you can be bothered enough to properly wear it everyday. 

If you wear makeup, Asian brands generally are more cosmetically elegant than American brands, but often contain alcohol (to make them aforementioned cosmetically elegant) which can dry/irritate some people’s skin so be careful when looking over ingredient lists.  

Frankly, as the driest skin person to probably ever roam the earth, my skin can handle it my my sunscreens (so long as nothing else I’m using contains a lot of it). I think it gets more of a bad reputation than it deserves.

My Recomendations: Missha Sun Milk SPF 50|PA+++, Biore Aqua Rich Sun Essence SPF50|PA++++

Only FOUR Things? I Thought This Was A 10+ Step Routine!

These four things form the main structure of the Korean skin routine. After using these first products for 2-3 months (let skin cells turn over and renew a few times), you will be able to better tell what sort of special products your skin actually needs now that it’s healthier and more stablized. The 10+ step claim to fame is essentially additional actives, moisturizers, and targeted treatments that vary person to person.

Quick Note: It can be helpful to know your skin type before going in for the (credit card) kill, mainly for finding the right moisturizer. Someone with dry skin does not want a sebum controlling moisturizer and someone with acne-prone skin does not want a thick, emollient cream.

Often times, things are not as bad as they once seemed after following just the four basic steps for awhile. Acne, dehydration, and such tend to resolve themselves (or at least get better) as skin gets healthier. If you find your skin has issues requiring heavy duty products such as AHA’s, Vitamin C, and the like after the “trial period,” you will need to have this four step routine on lock to avoid damaging the skin.

Actives: Don’t Just Yet

For newbies (and veterans alike), actives can seem cool and like the only things that will solve their skin problems. Don’t listen to their siren song!

More often than not, actives do a lot more damaging things than helpful things if not used correctly and not given proper follow-up care. (Photo sensitivity and dryness anyone? ) So something as highly touted like Vitamin C may be the first thing you think you want to buy, but have you researched how finicky Vitamin C is yet? That can oxidize in sunlight, sometimes needs refrigeration, and requires strict, certain pH levels? (Like do you even own litmus strips yet?) What about its burn-y, sting-y ways? 

Probably not too Kbeauty-virgin-friendly, just saying πŸ˜‚

Can’t Get Over That “Just 4” Rule?

If you are a newbie, dying at the bit to make that first haul, and the thought of only four products makes you a little sad, take advantage of sheet masks and haul as hard as you’d like on those. Go wild. Get masks with diamond powder, snail mucin, unicorn piss, you know the drill. Whatever makes your heart beat faster.

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but with sheet masks…

I would also say (from way, WAY too much hauling experience) that something like Cure Natural Aqua Gel or TonyMoly’s Tomatox Brightening Massage Pack (some sort of generic, not too crazy or specific,  once-twice per week usage item) could be added on, although it would be in your best interest to probably wait.

Alright, so now that you have your shopping list, where should you buy it?

If you live in the US, Memebox, while generally more on the expensive side, will be the fastest option. Amazon also is a good place to score select products on the cheap and buy sheet masks in bulk (but watch out for fakes).

SokoGlam, run by Charlotte Cho, occasionally carries skin routine “starter kits” and mask boxes, as well as keeps a steady stock of cult classic products. Prices are solidly mid-range.

Glow Recipe is your one-stop shop for cool, natural ingredient curations. The famous YuriPibu Artichoke essence was first curated and sold by them. Your wallet may weep a little when it’s checkout time. Just a heads up.

Sephora and ULTA, while they do carry Korean products like sheet masks, are ridiculously overpriced, and the range is so painfully limited, I just don’t see the point. But maybe one day..,.

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If you are willing to wait the 30+days and deal with heavier shipping fees (but lower product prices), I recommend buying from the vendors themselves, especially during sale times. A few months ago, Etude House had their old formulation of the I Need You sheet mask on sale for 1$ or less and a flat shipping rate to the US that was around 30$ if I remember correctly.

While I haven’t personally used them, Jolse and Rose Rose Shop are commonly mentioned in the Asian beauty portion of Reddit.

Bottom Line: Wherever you buy from, do a quick search and read a few reviews before handing over your hard earned cash (and card number-safety first!)

Don’t be afraid to price compare either. Certain sellers are better for different products. The market is super competitive and is constantly changing so always look around to avoid overpaying!

Finally,

This is meant to be fun, as it should be and as it will 100% be, but you can’t forget to spot test, and introduce things gradually. This whole process can be total <insert choice word here>, especially to the impatient and enthusiastic, but your skin will literally thank you in  the results you’ll see a few months down the road.

Then you can add all the fancy serums and such you want…just one at a time of course!

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Do you remember your first haul? Are you about to embark on the K-beauty journey? Tell me about it in the comments below!

*no links here are affiliated; only put in for your convinience*

Pore You: Banish Blackheads and Clogged Pores for Good

Regular dead skin cell maintenance  is a vital component in maintaining healthy-looking, glowing skin. Reducing dead skin cell build-up also lessens the formation blackheads, clogged pores, and other forms of acne. In addition, regular use of pore masks, BHA’s, and exfoliants can help with textural and tone issues in the skin.

At the start of September, having been slacking more than I’d care to admit in the exfoliation department, I jumped on a pore-cleansing bandwagon, whipping out some old favorites and trying some new products guaranteed to pull out blackheads by the roots and liquefy clogged pores. Over the course of the month, my skin showed some major results. All that extra attention really paid off! I learned a lot in the process and discovered a few new products worthy of incorporating into my regular routine.

Three Step Nose Packs:

Pig nose clear blackhead 3 step kit

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This kit uses a 3 step process to remove those pesky nose blackheads. The first step is cleansing, the second is an actual peel-off pore strip, and the third is a hydrogel mask just for the nose area. Each step is worn for 10-15 minutes.

Step 1: It was strongly citrus scented (much like the household cleaners type of citrus) and had a cooling effect. It had a good fit, but was slippery. I had to lay down to keep it on my face.

Step 2: Remove step one, wet nose area, apply the peel-off pore strip. The adhesive side was an adorable shade of pink. It didn’t feel uncomfortable or tight as it dried. It fit only around the nose area, and adhered to all areas (no bubbles, etc).

Step 3: Slowly peel off step two. Apply the hydrogel mask. Wearing this for a full 10 minutes was hard because it smelled so bad. It was something I couldn’t quite place other than something normal skincare product mixed with industrial plastic. Bad combination, especially when it is literally surrounding your nose!

 

The results:

This took out blackheads in their entirety (no half a pore’s worth here), especially around nose edges where the blackhead population tends to grow the most. However, the strip only grabbed the biggest of the blackheads (the “ripe” ones most ready to come out so to speak), but not many of the medium-sized to smaller ones.

It is definitely a step up from the usual drugstore pore strips, and I love the idea of a three step approach that preps and soothes. I also was impressed with the amount of blackheads it removed from the sides of my nose-an area the larger strips tend to neglect.

In all honesty though, these are just not as good as BHA+ Elizavecca Hell-Pore Clean Up Mask combination I usually rely on. This pack maybe hit 1/2-2/3 what that combo does on my nose area.

3.5- I may buy this again in the future, but I definitely won’t be relying solely on these for blackhead management.

Ettang Peeling Soothing Mask:

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This is a two step mask, featuring a mild chemical peeling gel that is followed by a soothing, moisturizing mask.

Step One: The peeling gel comes in a small, detachable packet. It gets rubbed into the face for 30 seconds, then needs to be rinsed off.

This step blew my mind. I am not kidding. Once the gel hit my face, so much, SO MUCH, dead skin and pore gunk started turning white, lifting, and balling up. I honestly wished I had filmed this step because the amount of dead skin that was coming off my face was so large, it was actually scary. I have to now revoke my love for my old holy grail product, Cure Natural Aqua Gel, in favor of this peel. That’s right. It has replaced my longest standing holy grail it is so amazingly awesome!

Since its a chemical peel, many people would expect some painful/annoying side effects. However, there was no stinging, burning, etc during application. After I rinsed off what looked to be my entire face’s worth of skin down the sink, there was a very slight hot/tightly sensation, plus my face was very faintly pink. At the ends of the day, this product is incredibly gentle for how effective this peel is. Frankly, Vitamin C hurts a lot worse.

Step 2: This mask is built to soothe, nourish, and hydrate. The mask is super generous with material, making it a very versatile fit. It reached up to my hairline, had ample under eye coverage, and there was enough material around the chin area to almost completely cover my face underneath.

The mask was also deliciously soft, which is a necessity if following a peel. Good call, Ettang!

The essence was a milky white, containing ingredients such as soothing aloe, nourishing silkworm, and protective and hydrating medowfoam extracts.  It was to be worn for 20-30 minutes, but it was still so wet after the 30 minute mark, I went ahead and wore it for another 20 min. The mask was still damp enough to wear for maybe an additional 15 minutes, but I was in (dire) need of food. That kind of wear time (and without a silicone mask sheet to help!) is amazing.

Taking the sheet mask off, my skin was unrecognizably soft and smooth. It wasn’t pink, irritated, or showing any sign of having lost so many dead cells. My face felt ridiculously clean and hydrated…on levels I don’t think I’d ever experienced before.

That sort of clean feeling is downright addictive!

1-I need this in my life, once a week, indefinitely. Holy Grail, hands down.

Elizavecca Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask

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This product is as fun as it is effective. The smile it puts on my face every time I use it would be worth the repurchase alone, even if it didn’t reduce the appearance of my pores and bubble gunk to the surface.

It tickles like crazy as it foams up, but is a lot more comfortable to wear than my beloved Scinic All Day Fine Pore Mask. I think the bubbling “technology” that supposedly allows the clay to stay in a more nutrient-delivering state (over quickly drying up) for longer, meaning more nourishment for the skin, actually works. 

It doesn’t give that tight, clean feeling like traditional clay masks, but leaves the skin soft, moisturized, and visibly cleaner looking. A better clay mask alternative for us dry skinned folk, but honestly, any skin type could use this with great results.

2-it’s too fun not to use on a regular basis, plus I’m growing addicted to the softness and smoothness of my skin after using this.

And, in a post about pores and their maintenance, I would be committing a sin if I didn’t mention Ciracle’s Sebum Control Powder. Acne forms when dead skin cells, debris, and bacteria become trapped inside of a pore because excess sebum has essentially “glued” them together, inside the pore. When this cocktail is exposed to air, it oxidizes and turns black, forming a, you guessed it, blackhead. 

This powder not only has an amazing, budge-proof hold that can be a lifesaver for setting/preserving makeup (even in Florida summers!), but really helps manage oiliness (sebum) throughout the day without being drying in the slightest. This effect can help prevent the formation of acne by helping control excess sebum which may clog pores.

Regular attention to pore maintenance and dead skin removal can make an amazing difference in skin texture and appearance. A routine that incorporates exfoliation and specific pore products around 2-4 times per week will make skin healthier and give it a natural glow, no makeup required. Many of these products are really fun and unique as well; skintertainment at its best!