I have been absent for a minute as I was testing different ways to use tretinoin and retinol in combination and also because I have embarked on a new approach to my diet (a.k.a ketogenic diet) to tackle my chronic fatigue issues, which I will review soon.
Last time we spoke about retinol and tretinoin I told you I was switching almost completely to Paula’s choice 1 per cent retinol as the tretinoin was really irritating me and also making me break out like crazy. Well, a few things have changed since then: I really wanted to find a way to be able to use tretinoin for its amazing antiaging benefits and I can say that after a month I can now pretty much use tretinoin 0.5 pretty much nightly and this is what I did:
1 -after reacting badly to just using tretinoin two times a week I decided to completely stop it and started using Paula’s 1 per cent retinol nightly, every night for two weeks
2- a the end of the second-week od continued use of retinol I started to alternete tretinoin three times a week at night and kept using retinol the remaining nights.
3-during week 4 I started to use retinol one night and tretinoin the following for the whole week.
4- week 5 I used tretinon 5 nights a week and retinol 2 nights a week
5 -week 6 I diced retinol and switched completely to tretinoin 6 days a week
6- I will keep using tretinoin 6 nights a week and I will reserve the 7th night for my intensive peeling treatments(lactic/azelaic/glycolic
A few words of advice:
Paula’s choice 1 per cent retinol is still an amazing product and very effective and people with sensitive skin might prefer this to tretinoin. Also, bear in mind,if you have never used it, you might still have to gradually build u tolerance
today’s post is going to be a little different a little more personal: I decided to share with you how I handle my anxiety disorder, what little tips I can share, what supplements I use and what books I recommend. Anxiety can be a very debilitating condition so I hope that through my experience someone can find some useful tips and ideas.
DISCLAIMER: I am not a doctor, what you will read is my PERSONAL experience living with an anxiety disorder diagnosed by a GP and a psychiatrist. I am in no way trying to diagnose, but simply willing to share with you a few tips that helped in my long battle with anxiety.
I had my first panic attack at 21 while still in Milan, at the time I thought something was wrong with my heart but it turned out I was experiencing severe anxiety. Not much was done back done apart from dispensing some drops to take at nighttime to help me relax and sleep.
I am now almost 37 and over the past 16 years, I have been through it all: depression, nervous breakdown, severe anxiety, trips to A&R …the whole lot. At the beginning of this journey, I was simply trying not to think too much about my anxiety which would normally manifest itself with heart palpitations, difficulty breathing, racing thoughts and the overwhelming feeling I was going to die. I partied my way through it, clubbing and dancing the night away somehow created an escape, hours of fun that would allow me to really let go. The partying introduced me to recreational stuff that in the long run actually made my anxiety worse, much worse. Over the past 10 years I have been prescribed several antidepressants and several anti-anxiety medications to try and stop my meltdowns and my crippling anxiety, most of them would work for a while then they would stop. The side effects and the withdrawal from one to the other for me have always been agony as I am very sensitive to psychotropic drugs. I then decided to try CBT ( by this time I have developed a phobia of toilets, or better still I was scared of not having one around me if I needed to go)which unfortunately I didn’t find very helpful. Eventually a couple of years ago my GP and I decided I should try venlafaxine(a newish type of antidepressant) and that kind of worked for me.N o drug is magic though, and I am a firm believer that while for some medication is essential, a 360-degree approach to the problem must be taken. And this is what I want to discuss with you all today.Sorry for the long introduction but I wanted to give you a better picture of where I am at before dispensing advice
.So one of the first things I did was to completely change my diet, which meant ditching most of the processed food, learning how to cook from scratch and most importantly for me ditching the white stuff aka sugar. A friend of mine ( Hello Phoebe!) recommended a series of books from author Sarah Wilson about quitting sugar and they ended up to this day being my go to and my bible. Cooking also gives me a sense of accomplishment which is really soothing if I am having a bad da y. You can find them here https://www.amazon.co.uk/Books-Sarah-Wilson/s?ie=UTF8&page=1&rh=n%3A266239%2Cp_lbr_books_authors_browse-bin%3ASarah%20Wilson.
My new approach to food means eating lots of veggies( raw,boiled,steamed etc) paired with a good source of protein( salmon,t una,sardines,chicken,lean b eef,e ggs,tofu etc).I tend to use buckwheat as my grain of choice,as its easy to cook and wuite nutriti ous.When it comes to sugar I dont buy cakes or fizzy drinks , but i like to always have 85 per cent dark chocolate in the house for when i crave something sweet and I always have raspberries in the fridge as well which i like to add to my morning porridge or to a bowl of yog urt.Having said that I am no saint and life is meant to be celebrated so If I want to have a tiramisu from time to time I will certainly have it without any guilty feeling.A word about coffee: one little espresso in the morning is the most i can tolerate as if i drink more than that my adreanl glads will go crazy and I might end up having really bad anxiety for the day. Stimulants are not my friend and I dont think they are anxious people’s friends eit her.For the same reason I like to avoid sugar laden stuff. As a result of all of this I ended up getting leaner but also not relying on crap food for energy throughout the day and actually enjoying prepping my meals.
The second step for me was listening to my body: if i need rest I will rest , if I feel like sleeping all day to recharge that is what I will do ,again without feeling guilty about it.My anxiety comes with chronic fatigue as well and as much as I would sometimes like to have more stamine ,unfortunatly that is not possible and I am learning to be ok with it.Physical activity has always been a hit or miss with me as i long to wok out yet i dont always have the energy so twice a week works for me : some weights and some corselene excerci ses.Running unfortunaly ,not quite sure why , makes me very anxious so that is a no no for me. Yoga on the other end i found it quite hard as standing still was an impossible task for me but I might give it anther shot.
When it comes to supplements , it is all so incredibly confusing and it takes lots of errors before you can get it right.Also bear in mind that what works for me might not work for you.Anyhow this is the list of what I am currently taking right now :
ME TIME: time for myself is essential, i recharge when i am alone.Cleaning my room,tidying up,doing a face m ask,watching a crime mystery drama on netflix and so on. I long for these times and i always try to tresure t hem.My passion for skincare and make up is also an outlet for my anxiety and it allows me to feel truly happy and content.All of this does not mean I dont enjoy being with friends because I do!But it means time speant alone for me is also very important.
PET THERAPY5 years ago a little, during a very low time in my life a little (not so little acually) fluff ball ended up in my garden and I started feeding him and eventaully this cat moved .He is been with me ever since , and I hinestky could not be more thankful : the calming effect a pet can have on you is beyond words. I f i am feeling very restless and anxious he would just lie on my chest and its purring would be so conforting for me. Please if you think of getting a pet go visit your nearest shelter , do not buy!!
These are some of the tools I use alongside conventional medications,which once again I do not demonise but are for some like myself a necessary evil to cope with day to day life.There is probably a lot more I would love to share with you but maybe I will save it for another post where I will go more into details about what living with anxiety actually feels like.If you have any other tips or tools you want to share please do so in the comment section below, I would love to hear your stories.May you all have a great anxiety free day !
it’s been a minute since we talked about retinol and tretinoin so I thought what better time to introduce to you my retinol of choice: Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% retinol treatment.
A little disclaimer: I had used this product a couple of years ago but had to stop it because of irritation which was probably caused by my negligence in following the instructions properly. Fast forward and this product is now working wonders on me.
WHAT IS IT: it’s a 1% strength retinol (highest without a prescription) mixed with a good amount of vitamin c and peptides. The inclusion of peptides and vitamin c makes this serum/lotion/cream a great all rounder and not a one ingredient wonder.I do not know how to describe it in the sense that once pumped out of its dark airless pump bottle(to keep retinol stable) it has the consistency of a light cream yet you should apply it before your serum and moisturizer.
WHO IS IT FORanyone with scarring(acne anyone?), pigmentation, melasma, fine lines and deep wrinkles. I would probably recommend to people 30 and over. It should suit most skin types but I know Paula now offers a lighter texture called Retinol booster 1% for oilier skin types. I have not checked that out yet.
WHAT’S IN IT: 1 per cent retinol, vitamin c, peptides, liquorice extract, antioxidants, and anti-irritants.
HOW TO USE: start with 2 or three times a week, one pump all over. the face avoiding eye area(you can use around orbital bone) and sides of the mouth. If you find even a couple of times a week is troubling your skin, mix it with your moisturiser and then apply. Gradually build up to every other night and then nighly. Always use SPF in the morning.
It retails for £53 pounds, but if you are lucky sometimes on eBay you can snatch it for less. ( i didn’t tell you that). After using now for several months I can honestly say my pores got smaller, my pigmentation around my eyes is starting to fade and my crow’s feet look diminished. Please be patient and be consistent and you will be pleasantly surprised.
Let me know your thoughts in the comment section and as usual:
today we are talking about retinol! Whoever has been following me for a while sure knows how fond I am of retinol and its benefits and that I am always on the outlook for the best retinol possible. But let’s start from the basis:
WHAT IS RETINOL: Retinol is a derivative of vitamin A and its most commonly used as an anti-aging ingredient thanks to its effectiveness at treating major signs of aging such as fine lines, wrinkles, sun damage etc
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN RETINOL AND RETINOIDS: The difference between retinol and retinoids is that over-the-counter products contain a form of retinol in ester forms (vitamin A derivatives) like retinyl palmitate, retinyl acetate, retinyl linoleate, etc (you’ll typically see these names on ingredient labels). “These need to be converted into retinoic acid by the skin at the cellular level in order for the skin to use it. Basically, the more conversions it takes for an ester form to get to the retinoic acid form, the weaker it is. So over the counter retinol products tend to be much weaker than prescription only retinoids such as Retin A (tretinoin is the actual active ingredient)but they also carry much less chance of irritation.
WHY SHOULD I CHOOSE ONE OR THE OTHER:Ok, so this is the main question. Tretinoin is an amazing cell-communicating ingredient capable of doing wonders for your skin and also working as an antioxidant. It was first used in the seventies to treat acne, but years of research and studies have concluded it is also fantastic as speeding u skin cell turnover and to boost collagen production and is now referred to as the anti-aging gold standard. Problem is most people cannot tolerate tretinoin and its side effects can range from moderate to severe: flakiness, redness, extreme dryness or like I experienced myself ‘ retinol purge’: weeks of breakouts which I had never experienced before. Having said that, going in slowly starting at 2 or three times per week and slowly increasing can lessen the side effects. You can choose between 0.025% and 0.5% strength to start with . Retinol carries much less chance of irritation since it needs to be converted by your skin, but it also takes longer to work its magic. If you are willing to dip your toes into the retinol wagon I suggest you start with Retinol(just make sure on the ingredient list you see ‘ Retinol’ and not all those other palmitate derivatives as they are even weaker). My absolute favorite one is Paula’s choice clinical 1% retinol treatment https://www.paulaschoice.co.uk/clinical-retinol-treatment-m8010.html?dwvar_m8010_size=fullsize&cgid=#q=retinol&lang=en_GB&start=0&top=312.66668701171875
HOW TO USE RETINOIDS: should you decide to go straight into the retinoids, here are a few tips to avoid or lessen the side effects:
1- only use at nighttime and always wear SPF during daytime
2- apply on perfectly clean and dry face(wait 20 mins after washing face to apply to make sure is completely dry)
3- avoid corner of the eyes, side of the nose and mouth and these areas tend to be extremely sensitive and prone to dryness
4- start with twice a week application for a month, then 3 times and so on until your skin gets gradually used to the product.
5- wait 20 mins after retinoid application and layer additional products( i recommend vitamin c and a nice hydration moisturizer to prevent flakiness)
I have been silent for a couple of weeks testing a few Vitamin C products which I am now happy to share with you.
First things first, though: Vitamin C ( mostly in its ascorbic acid form) is definitely a friend when it comes to skincare, and its benefits are several:
1- a powerful antioxidant that can neutralize free radicals
2-can help to reduce pigmentation and scarring
3-helps to give skin luminosity and radiance
4-boosts collagen production
5- helps shield from pollution ( Hello Londoners…….)
Now it all sounds so amazing and it is ,partly : Ascorbic Acid in its raw form is very difficult to stabilise and mixing it with water most likely renders it ineffective( I am sure most of you have, in the past, bought a vitamin c serum and realised after two weeks of opening that it had turned orange, hence oxidised and pretty much ineffective). It’s also very sensitive to light so you must always ensure your vitamin c products are packaged in a dark bottle and ideally with an airless pump to keep it stable. In my own personal experience, I found vitamin c percentage from 10% and over to be effective at improving overall skin texture and the one I have tried recently are :
Clinique Fresh Pressed 7-day system pure vitamin c
Lixir skin Vitamin c paste
The Ordinary 100 percent vitamin c powder
Let’s start with Clinique: this is a one month course which retails for £58 and includes 4 little bottles. Each week you open one, press the seal to release the vitamin c in the stable solution, mix it and have to use it within 10 days.T his is a great way to always get a pure and active dose of 10 percent vitamin c. the serum itself is lightweight and you are advised to add a couple of pumps to your existing moisturizer and use it twice a day. I absolutely loved this product, within a week my skin was already looking brighter and my pores smaller so it gets the thumbs up from me.
The second product is a little unusual and it comes from a brand which I stumbled upon watching youtube reviews: Lixir skincare.
this pretty tube squirts out a balmy emulsion that you are supposed to apply all over your face(including eyes and lips) with wet fingertips first thing in the morning. You are meant to let it sit there for a few minutes and then rinse off before following your normal routine. I love love love love (did I say it enough) this: right after the first use your skin glows and its super radiant but doesn’t feel greasy. It retails for around £34 and a little goes a long way so a tube should last you at least 3 months or more. Thumbs up!
Onto the last product: The Ordinary 100 percent pure vitamin c powder. This little tub contains a finely milled pure ascorbic acid powder that you are meant to mix with a product of choice and then apply on the face. It is ridiculously cheap, around £6. The problem I had with this is the application, the powder doesn’t really dissolve when mixed but actually creates lump making for a very uneven and difficult application. Also, it does sting a bit being such a powerful strength. With this one I am on the fence, it is good in theory but not very practical so I am going to give it the thumbs down, as I didn’t like the stinging and the mess you make in order to apply it.
I hope I answered some of your questions and I hope you found this piece about vitamin c interesting. Let me know if there are any other vitamin c products you love.
I have to share with you this amazing cc cream/spf50/antiaging serum that a friend who was visiting New York brought back for me to try.
IT Cosmetics is an American brand available in the U.K on QVC. I had never tried anything from this brand before so I was very curious about this, especially since the reviews were mixed. On QVC it retails for £30.
Now on to the claims: It is supposed to be a medium coverage cc cream, an SPF 50 (physical sunscreen)and it also claims to include an antiaging serum, all developed by plastic surgeons.
The second ingredient on the ingredient list is snail secretion which can allegedly help with collagen production. Apart from this, the rest of the ingredients seem promising: hyaluronic acid, peptides,vitaminC and E, antioxidant and collagen.
The SPF comes from Titanium and Zinc, which are my preferred ingredients when it comes to sun protection.
Now the most important part: is it a good base, does it provide medium coverage, does it really illuminate, does it hold up throughout the day? Well, the answer is YES!! I am in love with this product and since I am experiencing a little retinol purge at the moment, this was the perfect time to test this cc cream as my skin right now is far from being great. I have attached some before and after pictures (excuse the spots ….hopefully the retinol purge phase will soon be over). I used just one pump for the whole face and then used a beauty blender to blend. I used the color Medium.Bare in mind the finish is kinda dewy so maybe I would recommend this for combo to dry skins . If you are very oily you might want to try the non-illuminating formula. Let me know what you think please in the comment section and feel free to visit my Instagram alexinwonderland81.
I had the most amazing facial a couple of days ago and I had the chance to try Dermapaning and I wanted to share my opinions with you all.
First of all, what is dermaplaning: itis a method of exfoliation that consists of using a 10 gauge scalpel to gently scrape off the top layer of dulling dead skin cells in order to reveal a smoother, brighter complexion. It also removes the ever so annoying peach fuzz that can make makeup look awful.
The treatment, which lasts about 10-15 minutes, is not painful at all and there is no bleeding whatsoever, it is just a little scratchy, similar to a shaving session.Right after my skin looked and felt incredibly smooth to the touch, literally like baby skin.There was very little redness and was also very fascinating and somehow rewarding seeing all the debris that the scalpel had collected.
I am attaching a video of my session so you can better understand what it does involve. If you are in London or visiting London, you must visit Tine Hagelquist ( https://www.instagram.com/tine_hagelquist_beauty/) she is one of the best facialists I know. Tell her I recommended you to visit her and I am sure she will treat you like royalty like she always does,.
THE VERDICT: I loved it, it is a great physical exfoliation, it left my skin looking and feeling amazing. Pricewise we are talking roughly around £50.
The sun is out in London and you know what that means : time to step up the sunscreen game especially if you are,like me, using tretinoin almost every night.
In all my years working in the beauty industry I tried a million different chemical and mineral sunscreen and my preference is for mineralsunscreens here is why : chemical sunscreens using oxybenzone or avobenzone etc absorb uva and uvb rays creating a chemical reaction that dissipates the heat off the skin, while mineral using titanium oxide or zinc etc reflect rays off the skin like a mirror without allowing any absorption. With that in mind, chemical sunscreens have the advantage of being much lighter in texture and they don’t usually leave any chalky residue on the skin whereas mineral sunscreens tend to have a thicker texture and can leave a blueish tint on the skin. So I tested several mineral sunscreens and the one I chose for me is the Skin Pep Hydra Sun Defence spf 30.
This chemical sunscreen can be used alone as a daily moisturiser for normal to combo skin or layered on top of your favorite hydrator for drier types such as myself..
Why did I choose this? Well, first of all the texture is heavenly,hydrating and it leave a sheer universal tint on the skin that just looks like your own skin but better but most importantly the ingredients list is fantastic :
On top of titanium and zinc for uva and uvb protection you will find antioxidants like grape seed extract and green tea extractplus vitamin e and ferulic acid and adenosine, making this spf a great choice for everyone
The price point is also pretty good, it retails for £17.49 for 70ml and it spreads very easily and works great under makeup with no rolling or rubbing I. Use it around my eyes too with no problems. The SkinPep website allows you to order sample sizes too so you can try the products before you commit to a full size.
Let me know what you guys think, or what is your favorite Spf.
I have started Tretinoin 0.025 percent a few weeks ago ( retinoic acid) and I have been experiencing all the side effects: peeling, redness, sensitivity.So, to combat all of the aforementioned, I went back to an all-time favorite of mine, the true and trusted Rose de Vie serum by Dr. Sebagh.
First of all the name is a little deceiving as this is not a usual serum but rather a dry oil suitable for all skin types but especially beneficial for combo, dry and sensitive.It contains an array of antioxidants and vitamins thanks to the high amounts of organic rosehip oil, rose oil and wheat germ oilit contains plus an anti-redness complex.
As I said the texture is the one of a dry oil, it sinks in quite quickly into the skin but will undoubtedly leave a little sheen behind, which I personally love, but that my oily peeps might not appreciate.I have never broken out from this even now that I am pretty much bathing in it.I sometimes mix a drop or two with my foundation to give it that extra dewiness.
I find it extremely beneficial when used after A.H.A or any other exfoliants, after peels or laser treatments too, thanks to its soothing properties.
Oils are something I always incorporate into my skincare regime and this is one of the ones I love most: it does not come cheap as it retails for £129 but I find that a little goes a long way and normally a bottle lasts me about 4 months.( if you are strapped for cash and want to try a cheaper alternative I can recommend The Ordinary 100percentt cold pressed marula oil which retails for around 9 quid).
I am not a huge fan of fragrant oils though, as they usually broke me out ( decleor, for example, does break me out badly) but Rose de Vie is heavenly and I highly recommend it to anyone in need of extra hydration, extra nourishment, and extra dewiness.
As usual, let me know what you think and follow me on Instagram at http://www.instagram.com/alexinwonderland81
Hair is something we all feel very attached to but unfortunately for many as we grow older we tend to either lose it or we experience thinning, breakage and so on.
I am a 36yo male and about 5 years ago I noticed the hair at my temples and by my crown area was getting sparser and sparser so I immediately tried to research what I could do to help prevent any further hair loss. Minoxidil kept popping up online and when chatting to friends so I dug a little deeper.
Minoxidil is a drug that used to be administrated to treat high blood pressure, but it is now the only FDA approved drug for the treatment of hair loss.It works by prolonging the growth phase of the hair follicles. Men have usually advised the 5% strength while women the 2% one.
It comes in a lotion that you can apply in the affected area, but the company Regaine offers also a foam version. Bare in mind Regaine is just the branded name for Minoxidil and you can purchase generic minoxidil at a cheaper price.Having said that I have only used Regaine over the past few years so my review reflects that.
When I purchased my first bottle of Regaine I was shocked at the long list of side effects listed: weight gain, troubles breathing, dizziness, pains in arms, swelling and so on. I decided to give it a try regardless, aware of that fact that during the first month you could lose even more hair as the drugs work by pushing out unhealthy follicles.
And men it did: I applied the spray twice a day, 12 hours apart, and during the first couple of weeks I noticed, during every shower, that I was losing lots of hair and my kind of freaked out but I stuck with it and I am glad I did.
By week 4 the hair shedding kind of stopped but I still did not notice any new hair growing until around week 8 and from then it has been a great success. Not only I did not lose any more hair but I finally noticed baby hair growing both in temples and crown area.
Another thing I noticed is that my hair was getting a little darker ( a few colleagues asked If I had dyed my hair!). After the first 6 months, I was so pleasantly surprised and not having any side effects that I decided to keep using it. Now a few years in I still have all my hair and no more receding hairline.
One drawback is that if you stop the treatment, within a month or two you will start losing your hair again so this is something that needs to be part of your daily routine.
I know there is also a pill called Propecia that GPs in the U.K. give for hair loss but I haven’t researched that much so I can’t give you my personal opinion.
If you have any questions please fire away and be sure to follow me on Instagram