Category Archives: Skincare

My 3-Step Skincare Routine | Summer 2018


Ever since my sunscreen drama happened in the summer of 2017, my makeup menu significantly reduced its size and my skin has been feeling much better. But when the summer season arrives, I’m now trying to go quite minimal on the skincare front, as well. I’ve never been one to do 11-step routines anyway but the dermatologist that has been helping me the most suggested that I skipped moisturiser in the warmer days and just opt for a hydrating sunscreen. As for the evenings, a lightweight serum or cream are still a must because I need something nourishing after applying my retinoid.
In this post I wanted to share the base of my routine at the moment and I’d like to mention that I’m not featuring face masks that I usually do twice a week and my retinoid is still Differin for most of the time but I tend to use it only 3-4 times a week in the summer. Sometimes I’ll switch it up and use a different product but the main idea is still the same.
My morning rituals start with a cleanse and continue with a serum and a sunscreen while in the evening after cleansing, I’ll apply an acid toner (only if I’m not using retinoid that day) and then finish off with something moisturising.

Morning routine

Cleanse: I’ve been using the COSRX Low-pH Good Morning Cleanser in the past few weeks and although I think it’s a bit too early to give my final thoughts on it, my first impressions are quite positive. One of the most important things in a cleanser for me is to be soap-free and that was the main reason why I picked this one up. It has a gel texture which is my favourite for a morning cleanse and feels really refreshing and purifying but doesn’t leave my skin dry or stripped. Before using it, I thought it would be good just in the summer but it’s so mild and gentle that I see myself reaching for it in the winter, as well. I think packaging could be improved and if you don’t like the smell of tea tree oil, this one would really irritate you but so far, I like the soft and clean feel of the cleanser.

Serum: When I first visited my current dermatologist and shared with her my routine, she replied: “You really know your ingredients, don’t you?”. I love skincare, I read a lot and one of the best ingredients I’ve come across must be niacinamide. Years ago, I’d been using it even without knowing it was part of my favourite products. Niacinamide improves the appearance of enlarged pores, fine lines, uneven skin tone and dullness but it also helps the skin barrier function and reduces the damage that the environment around us can cause. Garden of Wisdom Niacinamide Serum is a product I got a few weeks ago and it’s probably my favourite affordable option I’ve tried. I can’t wait to pick up some more items from the brand’s range because I can see how this serum helps regulate the oil production and my complexion has been looking brighter since I started using it.

Sunscreen: That’s the hardest one to find. I’ve made so many mistakes with sunscreens, they’ve done a lot of damage to my skin mainly by clogging my pores and I still think there isn’t a really sophisticated sunscreen that can also give you the best protection possible. At least that’s the case with combination/oily and blemish-prone skin. You always have to sacrifice something when it comes to sun protection. But let this not be the health of our skin. That’s why I prefer to look a bit shiny  but to still be protected from the sun. Luckily, the Heliocare Color Gelcream SPF 50 doesn’t look that shiny and feels incredibly lightweight. I love this tinted SPF and I’ve been reaching for it almost every day since I got it. I’ve also featured it in my July Favourites post and if I’m using a clear sunscreen, I’d probably go for something like the Kiss My Face SPF 30 Sensitive Side (part of my June Favourites) which takes a bit longer to absorb and looks a lot more dewy on my combination skin but it doesn’t break me out.

Evening routine

Last summer I was not allowed to use micellar water as it can aggravate the skin problems sometimes but as it’s all gone now, it’s back on my shelf. I just like taking off the majority of my makeup and sunscreen before cleansing because smearing all the dirt, mascara and foundation with cleansing balm/oil all over my face is something that truly disgusts me. After removing the top layer, I can calmly proceed towards the proper cleansing.

Cleanse: I start by soaking two cotton pads with the Simple Micellar Water, I just find it to be one of the most gentle ones out there. I’ve been really liking the Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Meltaway Cleansing Balm lately, it’s the first cleansing balm that doesn’t break me out and doesn’t leave a greasy residue. It’s such a nice cleanser that removes impurities and it’s easy to wash off with a hot cloth but also hydrates the skin and doesn’t irritate it. The balm contains Sunflower Oil and Ginger Root Oil to cleanse and nourish the skin, Moringa tree extract to purify, Papaya Extract which is a natural exfoliator and a blend of Lime, Bergamot and Orange essential oils. Yes, essential oils… essential oils were the ingredients that made me feel unsure whether I wanted to try this balm or not. I’m not a fan of essential oils in skincare, they break me out and irritate my skin. Like I said, this cleansing balm doesn’t break me out but if you’re with sensitive, acne-prone skin, I’d suggest getting a sample before committing to the full size.
Otherwise, it’s the most beautiful cleansing balm I’ve ever tried, it has a such a lovely texture and feel to it.
I’m curious to know if anyone can share a comparison between this cleansing balm and the Banila Co. one because the latter is next up on my wishlist.

Acid Toner: There’s no surprise here, I’ve been reaching for my old favourite Pixi Glow Tonic, it’s a great resurfacer, it gives a beautiful glow to the skin and keeps me blemish-free. I need to get the huge pump bottle!

Moisturiser: It’s a bit difficult to pick an evening moisturiser because I’ve been trying quite a few lately but one that I seem to always go back to is the Dr. Jart+ Ceramidin Liquid. It’s another product with ingredient that I’m trying to avoid, this time alcohol but it makes such a difference to my skin. It makes it look so plump and healthy, it’s so soothing and nourishing without being heavy, I really love it. I use it on its own in the summer (I especially enjoy it on a day when I’m using Differin, it’s so calming when I apply it 30 minutes after the retinoid) but when it’s colder I use it as a serum. Ceramides protect skin from moisture loss and damage from pollution, they also have anti-ageing properties. I’ve tried the whole Ceramidin range from Dr. Jart+ and I think there’s a product for everyone in it, I’m lucky to have my skin getting along with all of the products but friends with oily skin prefer the liquid or the gel cream while my boyfriend’s dry skin asks for the cream.

I’m really pleased with my current minimal routine, I feel like I’m giving my skin what it needs without layering too many products while it’s still hydrated and plump.
Do you reduce the amount of products you use in the warmer days?

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Sunday Riley Saturn Sulfur Acne Treatment Mask vs Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Masque

My combination skin has a long love story with clay masks. I use them once or twice a week, I apply them as a spot treatment for half an hour or overnight and after I got severely clogged pores last summer, all the dermatologists I visited had one thing in common, they all suggested me to keep using my beloved clay masks. The type of skin problem I’ve been dealing with is just as unpleasant as all the other skin problems but what makes the experience even more frustrating is the fact that you see redness and feel the bumps but they’re so deep under the skin that you think nothing can reach and heal them. Of course, I’m far from the thought of telling you that masks can do the whole job, I’ve been prescribed Differin which has made a huge difference to my skin but I still need and like to maintain what’s been achieved, so far. Plus, who doesn’t like to pamper themselves with a face mask?

When I started purchasing more products from skincare brands in the US, I noticed that clay masks with added 10% sulfur seemed to be quite popular. The results that people shared sounded almost too good to be true. I’m probably a bit late to the party but it doesn’t look like it’s as popular in Europe as in the US.
I ordered a set from Sunday Riley that contained their Saturn Sulfur Acne Treatment Mask, I loved it and decided to purchase the Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Masque, as well. I’ve been having them for about 3 months and I decided to do a comparison post.
I must say, this is my favourite type of face mask I’ve tried, so far, it helps my skin a lot, it’s not too drying and I get just an occasional breakout since I’ve started using sulfur treatments but nothing too scary.

Sunday Riley Sulfur Acne Treatment Mask comes in a 60 ml tube for the price of $55, I have the 20 ml mini and I’m keeping what’s left of it for travelling and serious disasters, it’s amazing but it’s just really pricey. My other issue is that I have to import it from the US and pay extremely high taxes and shipping fees. The product inside the tube is yellow green and the texture is a bit like a mousse. You can kind of see it in this post and that’s the second time I mentioned the mask.
The first few times I used it only as a spot treatment because many people said it was too drying and gave them chemical burn. I noticed a difference on the following days, my spots were less red and angry and a couple of days later they were almost gone. I experienced only slight stinging sensation at the moment of application but nothing too painful or drying after that. Then I decided to try using it on larger areas of my face but still not on the entire face. I’d just apply a thin layer of the mask on my problematic zones and leave it on for 30 minutes. The mask washes off really easily and my skin doesn’t feel too tight afterwards. Sunday Riley Sulfur Acne Treatment Mask contains 10 % sulfur that fights different forms of acne while preventing future breakouts, 4% niacinamide, zinc PCA, bentonite clay, tea tree oil and manuka oil, brilliant ingredients list. I’ve been almost completely blemish-free since I started using the treatment twice a week, I know everyone is different and it might not work well on all but it works for me and I couldn’t be happier. Now, it doesn’t fight blackheads and doesn’t make my pores appear smaller but I wasn’t even hoping for that. All I wanted was clear skin with no bumps, red spots and clogged pores and I got what I needed.

Peter Thomas Roth Therapeutic Sulfur Masque is stored in a 142 g jar for the price of $47. Luckily, I can find this one in more countries, I got mine from Norway. This ones has a thick and creamy texture, it’s very different from the Sunday Riley one, they both stink but this is sulfur, so it’s normal. I’m actually used to the smell because when the kitties that we adopt have certain type of skin problems, they get prescribed an ointment containing 20% sulfur but you might need some time to stop thinking about the smell.
The Peter Thomas Roth mask contains 10% sulfur, just like Sunday Riley, bentonite clay, kaolin and soothing aloe vera. I use it twice a week on the entire face or overnight as a spot treatment if I need but I rarely do.  It’s suggested to apply a thick and opaque layer but my personal preference is to use just a a light and thin layer of the mask. It works brilliant and it’s a bit less drying than the Sunday Riley one but a lot more difficult to wash off. It’s suggested to leave it on for 5 to 10 minutes but I keep it on for half an hour. My skin doesn’t feel tight or stripped afterwards and as long as I’m applying a moisturiser after washing my face, everything’s fine.

After I started using these masks, I can see that my complexion continues to get better and I hope soon I can forget about the nightmare that began last summer. For me, the Peter Thomas Roth mask would be the one I’d keep repurchasing, it’s more affordable because it contains a lot more product for a similar price. I’m absolutely in love with Sunday Riley Saturn and I might even like a little bit more than the Therapeutic Sulfur Masque but it’s just too expensive for a lot less product.
Sulfur turned out to be a great ingredient for my skin and I’m looking forward to finding new products with it.

First Impressions | Drunk Elephant & Sunday Riley


There’s something rather attractive about brands and products that you simply can’t get hold of. It’s so difficult to find them that you want to try them even more. Until the day your boyfriend and a real-life Santa (even when it’s not Christmas) brings you a box of goodies. He always seems to know what I’m curious about even when I don’t talk about it and he’s been really helpful since I started fighting with my skin problems last summer.

After a bit long introduction to the subject, I should state that I’ve been using the following products for a couple of weeks now and I still haven’t formed my opinion on them but the results I’ve seen, so far, make me want to try more from these brands.

I’ve known about Sunday Riley for a while but I wasn’t sure how I felt about it simply because of the high price tag. And yes, there are many expensive products out there but Sunday Riley‘s seemed a bit outrageous to me. I got a set from them and I still can’t say if it lives up to its claims because I’ve tried only one of the items, so far. Sunday Riley Saturn Sulfur Acne Treatment Mask is a medicated 10 % sulfur treatment that fights different forms of acne (like blocked pores, for example, which has been my skin issue for over 7 months) while preventing future breakouts. It also has 4% niacinamide, a skin-restoring ingredient that I love, Zinc PCA and Bentonite Clay to clear impurities and reduce excess oil without drying the skin out. I also noticed Tea Tree Oil and Manuka Oil in the ingredients list, all amazing ingredients. It sounded too good to be true, so I applied it immediately after I got it. I must say I haven’t used this product as a mask on my entire face yet. I really hope it does prevent future spots and I’m about to test this out but for now, I’ve used it as a spot treatment on a few blemishes around my forehead (sometimes I can’t resist chocolate). It’s suggested to cleanse and dry the skin, apply the treatment and leave it on for about 20-30 minutes or overnight. I’ve tried it both ways and I was happy to see that my skin wasn’t dried out or flaky afterwards. When I’m applying the mask, I feel a slight stinging sensation for a few seconds but it’s not burning. On the following day, my spots looked less angry and calmer, they weren’t as itchy/painful as earlier but they were still there. The same happened when I tried it on different blemishes and different days. Usually, the major difference can be noticed a couple of days later. I can say that the spots heal a bit quicker when I’m using Saturn and I can’t wait to try the U.F.O. Face Oil, it’s suggested to use it after the mask. I’m still not sure how it would feel if I use the treatment on my whole face or only on my T-zone, considering the percentage of sulfur in the formula. I know that my skin is now used to topical retinoids and stronger acids but I don’t have any experience with sulfur, so it’s going to be interesting.

When I first came across Drunk Elephant, it appealed to me because of the idea behind the name, the packaging and the aim not to include ”the suspicious 6” in their products (silicones, chemical screens, sensitising perfumes/colourants, SLS, essential oils and drying alcohols). Essential oils break me out and I’m still struggling with bad reaction after the use of a chemical sunscreen in the summer, so this brand seemed even more fascinating to me.
But what should I try? I really wasn’t sure and I felt like The Littles set was the best in order to try as many products as I could. Too bad they don’t have a mini of their T.L.C Sukari Babyfacial though, I really want to try it out.
But anyway, today I’m sharing more about a hydrating duo that can be used both, day and/or night. B-Hydra Intensive Hydration Gel is a Vitamin B5 gel that also contains Pineapple Ceramide to help boost luminosity and Watermelon Rind/Apple/Lentil Complex to provide long-lasting moisture. It can be used on its own or mixed with serum, cream or oil for a boost of hydration. I use it as my morning serum before applying a moisturiser or I’d mix a drop of it with my cream in the evening and I love how quickly it absorbs, there’s nothing left on the skin, no residue, no sticky feeling but at the same time, my skin is radiant and hydrated. In the past few weeks, I’ve been moisturising my face with Lala Retro Whipped Cream that contains a blend of six African oils to lock in the moisture. I use it at night or on days when I’m not wearing makeup because it takes a bit longer to absorb but luckily, doesn’t leave me looking shiny. At first, it feels quite thick and I need the tiniest amount, I feel like this tiny 15 ml jar is going to last me about 3 months but then it goes on smoothly and doesn’t feel sticky or heavy. The texture is really nice on the skin and I’m happy that it doesn’t break me out, so far. I think it might be a bit too rich for me in the summer but it’s great in the Norwegian winter.

I’m looking forward to trying more from these two brands and I’m curious to know if you’ve had any experience with them.

Votary Rose Geranium & Apricot Cleansing Oil


It might seem a bit strange but one of the least talked about skincare products on my blog is cleansing oil. The truth is that most of the ones I’ve tried break me out (unfortunately, the same applies for most of the cleansing balms I’ve used) and my favourite cleansing oil is quite hard to get hold of.

So, I’m always quite nervous whenever I’m trying different ones but at the same time, I really hope to find cleansing oils that don’t irritate my skin. When I found the Votary Rose Geranium & Apricot Cleansing Oil in my Liberty Advent Calendar, at first, the essential oils in the ingredients list made me a bit unsure, as they can be troubling for me. But I decided to try it and I started using it every night and occasionally, on a colder morning when my skin feels a bit more dry.

I have a beautiful 50 ml glass bottle of the cleansing oil, it usually comes in 100 ml, it has a pump and a lovely face cloth in 100% cotton. Votary Cleansing Oil is made from 100% natural plant oils like Sunflower Seed Oil, Apricot Kernel Oil, Jojoba Seed Oil, Grape Seed Oil, Rose Geranium Flower Oil and Chamomile Flower Oil. The consistency is quite thin and almost watery which for me, personally, is great because it feels light on my skin and I can also massage my face a bit longer. Some cleansing oils are just too thick for that.

I use this cleansing oil as a morning cleanse or a second cleanse in the evening after I’ve taken my makeup off with another product. In the morning I apply one pump of the oil and in the evening – two. I prefer to use it on dry skin but my hands would usually be damp, it’s just how I prefer it but you can use it with dry hands on dry skin, as well. Then I massage my face and neck and at the end, I remove it with a clean hot flannel. When I proceed to my toning step, there’s nothing left on the cotton pad, my skin is clean, soft and hydrated but like I said, I don’t use the oil to take makeup off. The texture of the cleansing oil is beautiful, it’s easy to spread and to massage your face with it. It leaves my skin smooth and nourished and the best part is that it doesn’t break me out. In fact, after a month of using it, my skin looks a bit clearer, brighter and more balanced.
I’m not sure how it would perform on a hot summer day, considering how my skin tends to freak out in the warmer months but for me, this is an amazing cleansing oil that doesn’t strip my skin in the freezing days.

It’s definitely a pricey product that I can try thanks to the advent calendar but I’m really happy to have this possibility because it is a wonderful cleansing oil for my winter skin. My evening skincare routine got even more enjoyable, thanks to the soothing scent and beautiful texture of the Votary Rose Geranium & Apricot Cleansing Oil.

Tackling Skin Issues | Winter Skincare Update


Even though winter hasn’t officially arrived yet, temperatures have significantly dropped and we often switch up our skincare routine. We tend to use more hydrating creams and oils, to reach for richer ones and to layer more and more products on top of each other. But this year, I’m aiming to reduce the number of products applied on my face, while still trying to protect it.

For those of you who don’t know, I’ve been dealing with clogged pores since July this year. My skin didn’t like the then new to me face suncare product and as a result, I got severely blocked pores. I had consultations with several dermatologists, all of them said that it looked quite unusual, especially considering “You can tell you’re really taking good care of your skin” but the situation didn’t change. A couple of months ago, I was suggested to go to another dermatologist who said I probably needed Differin Gel and warned me that everything would look worse in the following weeks. Indeed, it got terrible. It’s the first time I’m facing something like this and now I understand everyone who thinks of giving up at some point but patience is the key word here. Two months later, I’m definitely seeing a progress although I still have a long way to go in order to have my good skin back.
I’m writing this post as a person who wants to share their experience, I’m not a specialist and we all have individual problems. I don’t even have the absolute right solution for my own issues, yet alone to try giving advice to someone else. Unfortunately, nowadays, we tend to overload on skincare products, to strip our skin and dry it out too much or to pile on heavy moisturisers that aren’t exactly the right ones for us. We need to find a balance and we need to find out what’s best for our skin in the exact moment.

In the past couple of months, the skincare routine I’ve been following can be described as simple. It may not seem like this on the photos but these are products that are on rotation, I don’t use them all at once. I’m trying to wear less makeup and to do it only a couple of times a week, I reach for mild, sulphate-free cleansers and I don’t layer too many products.
I’ve been suggested to do my evening routine 30 minutes after cleansing and applying Differin, so that the rest of the products don’t interfere with the retinoid.

Cleansing
My cleanser of choice in the last month has been the First Aid Beauty Face Cleanser. It’s both, my morning and evening cleanser, it’s my second cleanse, I don’t use it to take makeup off with. It’s gentle, creamy (but doesn’t clog my pores), non-stripping and great for this time of the year.

Exfoliating and toning
Acid toners have been part of my skincare routine for years but because Differin is a topical retinoid, I’m trying to be a bit more careful with them now. At the beginning, my skin got really dry, it was peeling quite badly, it was painful and now that it’s finally better, I’m incorporating acids and enzyme peels slowly into my routine. I’ve used Vitamin C in the morning for the past few weeks (first, Clinique Fresh Pressed System and now Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum) and I’ve noticed great results, actually. My skin looks brighter and a bit smoother. I’m also using Pixi Peel & Polish twice a week in the morning, it contains Lactic Acid and fruit enzymes which makes it a mild exfoliant and I’ve been quite pleased with it, so far.
Mists and sprays are something I never skip because they feel refreshing and hydrating. La Roche-Posay Serozinc is great for combination and problematic skin while floral sprays like the L’Occitane Peony Perfecting Mist  give a bit of a glow, as well. Pure rose water has always been an essential for me and having a bottle or two of it in my cabinet is a must. Also, Maya Water Facial Mist with Organic Acai is really soothing and full of antioxidants, it’s the one I often spray before applying a facial oil.

Serums and oils
Now, this is a step that I sometimes skip when I feel that my skin gets enough hydration from the rest of the products or I’m simply trying to avoid certain ingredients that day.
I used to use Lancôme Énergie De Vie The Liquid Care as a moisturiser but it is now my morning hydrating serum. It contains powerful antioxidants, it’s lightweight and works well with the rest of the products.
If my skin feels very dry in the morning, I’d use the Dr. Hauschka Day Clarifying Oil. It’s specially designed for oily/combination and blemish-prone skin and I sometimes add a couple of drops to my moisturiser.
One item that has really helped me in this battle is pure rosehip oil. I use it only at night and it saved my skin during the first few weeks with Differin Gel. If you’re not used to retinoids and your skin peels like mine did, pure rosehip oil is really soothing and calming and I can’t recommend it enough. I love my Clarins Blue Orchid OiI, as it has always been really nice on my skin but in situations like this, pure oils still would be the best choice.

Hydration
I find that gels are working really well for the area around my eyes at the moment. Alverde Aqua Gel is lightweight, cooling but still hydrating and soothing. It’s also very affordable and contains great ingredients.
Synchroline Aknicare Cream is more for maintaining what’s already achieved, so far and for protecting the skin barrier function which is very important. It also has great hydrating properties without being heavy and at the moment, that’s the only product in my routine with Salicylic Acid which has been missing in the last few weeks. It’s still a bit new to me, so I’ll share more on this cream in a future post.

Sun protection
Although it’s winter and there isn’t particularly any sunshine in Norway, I’m still using my La Roche-Posay Anthelios SPF 50 (I probably need SPF 30 now, though). It’s so milky and lightweight that I don’t mind it, especially when I have to protect my skin.

Face masks
Face masks are even more important for me now. I tend to use clay masks at least twice a week because they’re purifying and they balance out my combination skin. The two masks I reach for most of the time are Clinique City Block Purifying Charcoal Clay Mask + Scrub and this is a second tube from it and the other one is L’Oréal Pure-Clay Anti-Blemish Mask* which was launched in the summer and it’s one of my favourite masks in the range, as it leaves my skin feeling soft and clean without drying it out.
When it comes to hydrating face masks, I sometimes use up to five per week, especially when they’re sheet masks like the Bamboo Shot Mask from Erborian.

The most important thing for me now is to keep my skin calm and to remain patient in this fight. I have to say that water in Norway is quite soft and my skin always feels a bit better in Norway than in my home country or anywhere else in Europe, for example. So, I need to take advantage of this now.

Remember to never give up, it takes ages but hopefully, we’re on the right way to having healthy skin again. I still have days when I think I would never have good skin again and I feel like crying. Luckily, my boyfriend and my family always manage to say something specific (that my skin looks less red on that day or it seems a bit smoother, for example) to make me feel better and to believe that it’s going to change.
If you’re dealing with skin issues, I sincerely wish you good luck and if not, protect your skin and take good care of it!

*PR Sample