Skin Care – Acne


I had my teeth cleaned a few weeks ago and my dentist mentioned how good my skin looks. I usually attribute skin compliments to whatever foundation I’m wearing, but I wasn’t wearing any foundation that day so it must be my skincare routine for the second half of the year (the last time she saw me was August).

I thought, it’s about time I post this long overdue installment. Click the link for my Morning Skincare Routine.

Evening Skincare Routine Scatterbraintures

Step 1. Remove Makeup (First Cleanse)

I just finished my PureVivi Micellar Water, my favorite cleansing water! This is what I use on nights when I’m too lazy to wash, tone, treat, and moisturize. However, the number of cotton pads I finish up in a month due to micellar water use is just too much so I decided to explore emulsifying cleansing balms (aka sherbet cleansers). I have Banila Co Clean It Zero*, used it a few times, and liked it. The latter does a good job loosening up makeup.

For eye makeup and liquid lipstick, I always use a bi-phase cleanser. It removes the most stubborn makeup without the need for aggressive tugging and rubbing. My all-time favorite is Laneige Lip and Eye Makeup Remover.

Step 2. Second Cleanse

I rotate 3 cleansers at the moment (because — struggling hoarder). I have Safeguard Dermasense for Sensitive Skin, Safeguard Dermasense for Acne-prone Skin, and Olay Regenerist Cream Cleanser. When my skin feels dry, I use Safeguard for Acne-Prone Skin or Olay Regenerist. Both of the latter are cream-type non-foaming facial cleansers.

When I miss the feeling of soap I use Safeguard Dermasense for Sensitive Skin. It foams up a little but it doesn’t make the skin tight and dry unless you have dry skin to begin with.

I don’t care for expensive cleansers. As long as I don’t feel my skin drying out, I’m good.

Evening Skincare Routine Scatterbraintures 2

Step 3. Tone

As I mentioned in my Morning Skincare Routine post, I don’t consider toning a must-do unless I’m using it for exfoliation (i.e., acid toning).

Where I live, tap water is occasionally rusty, as in rusty-watermarks-on-the-dish-drain level of rusty. Due to this, I feel the need to cotton off excess tap water with a non-drying toner. I currently use Dear Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner which has a watery gel consistency. I think it’s best applied with fingertips, but I need to feel like rust is getting wiped off with a cotton pad. It’s moisturizing but it’s not something you can rely on solely for your moisturizing needs.

Step 4. Treat

I’ve mostly just been using two treatment products: The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2% and The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2%.

I’ve been using prescription retinoids (tretinoin/ retin-a/ all-trans retinoic acid) for years which I credit for keeping adult acne at bay. My main beef with tretinoin is how fussy it is to use. You have to make sure you apply a VERY thin layer on completely dry skin. If you apply a little too much or if you get too impatient waiting for your skin to dry, there’s high probably you’d wake up to flakey skin in 2 to 3 days. There’s also the problem of dehydration which affects how my skin looks more than anything. I had been meaning to switch to non-prescription retinoids but before The Ordinary, most products I found were exorbitantly priced–at least twice as much as tretinoin.

The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2% (now, Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion). The active ingredient in this product is hydroxypinacolone retinoate (HPR), an ester of all-trans retinoic acid, and retinol. The number of studies on HPR pale in comparison to tretinoin’s 50+ years worth of clinical studies, but I jumped on the former because I just had it with how finicky a routine with tretinoin can get.

Whether The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 20% is working or not, only time can tell. Hopefully, my senior citizen self won’t hate me for switching to an off-the-shelf retinoid, BUT my skin right now is thanking me for it. My skin experienced a lot less bouts of dehydration, feels supple, and looks really clear. My adult acne didn’t come back, too.

The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2%, on the other hand, addressed my blackheads. I can’t say for certain that this can remove blackheads, but it kept my skin blackhead-free since I last got them extracted–something I did NOT expect. My blackheads usually come back after 2 to 3 weeks after a facial (w/ extraction).

I usually use Salicylic Acid just on my nose, but on days when my skin feels congested, or during my period, I apply it all over the face. I don’t advise everyone to do this, though. I believe my skin is more tolerant to acids than most.

Laneige Perfect Renew Serum

Step 5. Moisturize

I find The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2% to be moisturizing enough most of the time that I don’t find the need to layer on something else afterwards. However, the air has been drier lately so I’ve been layering with Laneige Perfect Renew Regenerator Serum. The latter doesn’t have occlusive ingredients that trap moisture in, but it gives enough added moisture to keep my skin hydrated until my own skin oil rises up to the surface to do its job.

In the next few weeks, I’ll incorporate Kiehl’s Daily Reviving Concentrate (oil) to top everything. I bought this last year but haven’t gotten around to using it save for mixing with thick foundations. I hope it works well with everything else.

I swear to the skin gods, if this post jinxes how my skin is behaving right now, I’m gonna be pissed!!!

*PR Sample

My As-needed Skincare Products

Save for when I don’t sleep or when I have my period, my skin has been behaving really well. I’ve been trying out different brands and products over the past several years, but I generally stick to the same active ingredients –vitamin c (or its derivatives), retinoids, niacinamide, and spf (zinc oxide and titanium dioxide).

Since February, though, I have been sticking to the same products and I noticed I’m no way near getting bored of them. My skin is far from perfect but I think it moved past a plateau, thanks to the new products I switched to.

I’m going to split this skincare routine series into 3 posts — morning, evening, and ‘as needed’.

I’ve managed to keep my morning ritual down to 4 steps max. It involves:


Step 1. Wash

At the moment, I’m using up the samples I’ve accumulated the past months. If I wasn’t doing that, I would be alternating Innisfree Bija Trouble Cleansing Gel and Safeguard Dermasense for Acne-Prone Skin.

Innisfree Bija Trouble Cleansing Gel

This was a gift from my friend, Cheche. Like many gel cleansers, this doesn’t make a thick foam which I like because it’s not difficult to rinse. I don’t find it drying (for reference, I have oily skin) but if you wait for your skin to completely dry before applying moisturizer, you might feel some tightness. It’s no longer listed on the Innisfree website so I’m not sure if it’s still on the market, but I remember that it was priced at around PhP 375 on Althea Korea.

Safeguard Dermasense for Acne-Prone Skin

My favorite face wash. I can see why some people don’t like it; it feels like a rinse-off skin lotion. If you’ve tried The Body Shop’s skin conditioner, that’s how it feels on the skin.

To me, it’s like Olay Regenerist’s Cream Cleanser without the polyethylene microbeads. I loved that cleanser. I just don’t like scrubbing my face every day. I wished P&G would make it without beads and, in a sense, they did with Safeguard (also by P&G). Both Safeguard Dermasense for Acne-prone Skin and Olay Regenerist have salicylic acid. I’ve read that salicylic acid doesn’t perform best in cleansers, because the acid must stay on your skin. However, there’s something about those two cleansers that makes my fingertips feel prune-y in less than 60 seconds. It must be softening dead skin cells, right? (Times like these, I wish I’m a chemist.)

Anyway, this cleanser won’t remove most of your makeup. I only use this in the morning to remove excess oil on my skin, or at night, following a makeup remover.

New Picture

Step 2. Tone

Toners are not a must-have for me, but I need one because tap water in Pasay City leaves rusty orange watermarks on our dish drain. I can’t help but imagine rust on my face after rinsing off my cleanser. I don’t have much to say about Dear Klairs Supple Preparation Toner* yet. I’ve only been using it for 2+ weeks. I can’t tell if it’s moisturizing but it doesn’t dry my skin out.

Step 3. Vitamin C Serum

I’m one of the lucky ones who can use Vitamin C in the morning. Some people I know report skin irritation when they use Vitamin C during the day. I don’t get a lot of sun exposure because my commute to work is short and I don’t go out to lunch. Anyway, I’m using Vitamin C Serum under sunscreen because of this 1993 study:

We report that (in swine skin) vitamin C is capable of additive protection against acute UVB damage (sunburn cell formation) when combined with a UVB sunscreen. A combination of both vitamins E and C provided very good protection from a UVB insult, the bulk of the protection attributable to vitamin E. However, vitamin C is significantly better than vitamin E at protecting against a UVA-mediated phototoxic insult in this animal model, while the combination is only slightly more effective than vitamin C alone.

And this article on Pubmed:

To optimize UV protection, it is important to use sunscreens combined with a topical antioxidant. Vit. C does not absorb UV light but exerts an UV-protective effect by neutralizing free radicals, while this effect is not seen with sunscreens. Under laboratory conditions, it has been shown that application of 10% topical Vit. C showed statistical reduction of UVB-induced erythema by 52% and sunburn cell formation by 40-60%.

I’m alternating between Kiehl’s Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate and The Ordinary Ascorbyl Tetraisopalmitate Solution 20% in Vitamin F. The latter is oil-based while Kiehl’s has 10.5% L-Ascorbic Acid suspended in silicone. If I had known about The Ordinary ($) sooner, I wouldn’t have bought Kiehl’s ($$$$$). Ragrets. These two deserve separate posts so let’s wish the universe for me to get my blogging act together.

Morning Skincare Squad | Scatterbraintures

Step 4. Sunscreen

I use either a “proper” sunscreen or a cushion foundation with a minimum of SPF 50+++. I make sure to apply two thin layers of the latter to make sure I put enough. I’m a fan of The Faceshop’s cushions because they have a medium shade that would fit deeper MAC C30 to C35 skintones (aka my skintone).

Now that monsoon season has started, I use liquid foundation over sunscreen, but during the summer, I limit myself to powder.

Let me know if there’s any product here you would like to know more of. I’ll try to post a review.

* received for free from Althea Korea

Next: Evening Skincare Routine

I am not happy to report that I only have 7 skincare empties in the first half of 2017. In my defense, instead of trying to use up everything, I passed on and sold a lot of them for fear of finding them expired by the end of the year.

Here are capsule reviews of the stuff I finished:

Etude House AC Clean Up Cleansing Water
(PhP 678 300ml; The SM Store/Watsons)

I bought this because I was bored with PureVivi Cleansing Lotion. This cleansing water is a little bit more drying than the latter. I don’t use heavy bases or waterproof makeup every day so I can’t assess whether this removes significantly more makeup than other micellar water products I’ve tired. My main use for micellar water is to soften makeup before I use a facial wash.

I’m not repurchasing but it’s not because it’s bad. It’s more expensive by the ml compared to most other cleansing waters and it doesn’t do anything significantly better on my skin to justify spending more. This is marketed for acne-prone skin, though. Maybe if you find yourself breaking out with other brands, this could be worth the shot.

PureVivi Cleansing Lotion
(PhP 667 500ml;

This is my favorite cleansing water. As of this writing, I’ve already halved my last backup bottle. I think this cleansing water does a lot more than cleaning because my skin seem to look slightly nicer when I use it. It has lactic acid in the ingredients list which must be doing something. Other stuff I saw listed are aloe (listed last) and sodium hyaluronate.

Once I finish my current bottle, I probably won’t repurchase micellar water (of any brand) soon. I’ve been going through so many cotton pads, it’s not even funny. I’m looking into sherbet cleansers as my first-cleanse product. I recently bought Banila Co Clean It Zero.

Ingredients: Water, PEG-6 Caprylic/Capric Glycerides, Butylene Glycol, Glycosyl Trehalose, Hydrogenated Starch Hydrolysate, Sodium Citrate, Citric Acid, Xylitol, Phenoxyethanol, Tetrasodium Glutamate Diacetate, Lactic Acid, Ethylhexylglycerin, Sodium Glycolate, Sodium Hyaluronate, Ziziphus Jujuba Fruit Extract, Citrus Aurantifolia Juice, Coix Lacryma-Jobi Ma-Yuen Seed Extract, Crataegus Cuneata Fruit Extract, Pyrus Malus Fruit Extract, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis Juice, Citrus Medica Limonum Juice, Citrus Grandis Fruit Extract, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract.

Bifesta Eye Makeup Remover
(No longer locally available? It was PhP 249 at Watsons)

Bi-phase cleansers are my go-to when removing liquid lipsticks and waterproof makeup. My holy grail remains to be Laneige Waterproof Lip & Eye (Makeup) remover but a bottle of the latter is PhP 895 (just a few pesos more and you can already buy a good quality foundation with that!).

Bifesta does the job but it doesn’t dissolve mascara and eyeliner as quickly as Laneige. It’s good enough for the price, though. You just have to hold the cotton pad for several seconds longer if you are used to Laneige.

Burt’s Bees Anti-Blemish Solutions Toner

Most of this toner was used by my husband. I didn’t hear him complain about it so I’m guessing it’s alright. I got this from Project Vanity’s anniversary event more than a year ago. I won’t repurchase because I prefer moisturizing toners nowadays (preferably, alcohol-free). I also finished the Burt’s Bees Anti-Blemish Purifying Daily Cleanser, but I don’t have a picture. My husband beat me up to the empty bottle and threw it away 😂. The cleanser is like most standard gel cleansers. It has an herbal scent that’s very soothing. I’m not likely to repurchase because of the price. I’m trying to limit my second-cleanser budget to PhP 500.

Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair Night with Accelerated Retinol SA

I tried to like this so much but the strong floral scent bothers me. I used this up by applying it on my neck and chest. I can’t say I saw a difference, I don’t have issues on those areas. Also, with Retinol, it’s hard to tell if something is happening (at least on my skin). In general, it takes 3 months to see significant changes with retinoid-containing products. We don’t have this in the country, but the Neutrogena Fine Fairness Serum has retinol in it. The percentage is not indicated, though.

Curel Whitening Moisture Lotion II Enrich (Toner)

My friend bought this for me when she went to Japan. I liked it because it’s not drying. It doesn’t have denatured alcohol, if I remember right. I would repurchase if it were available here. I like the idea of having ceramides (a special type of oily wax that’s naturally found in our skin | source) in my toner, but to be honest, it’s hard to tell if it made a difference. My skin is probably not compromised when I used this.

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Hopefully, in the next installment, I’ll feature makeup products. I’ve hit pan on several items but I’m far from finishing up a lot of stuff.