Venlafaxine: my experience

Dear beauties,

I have been meaning to write this post for quite some time; mental health is something very dear to me and sharing with you my experiences I hope will be helpful for some while being somehow cathartic for me.

My encounter with anxiety happened when I was 21 and I had my first panic attack which I erroneously mistook for a heart attack ( I am sure many of you anxiety sufferers will relate to this). From that moment on I have had bouts of extreme anxiety,depression, OCD episodes and hypochondriac tendencies. A nice mix I’d say.

Medications and psychotropic drugs are often demonised with the ill effect of stigmatising and turning mental health into a taboo.There is nothing worse than hearing your friends saying ‘ You should not take that stuff’, as if my idea of fun is popping pills morning to night.At the same time the imprudence with which GPs hand out antidepressants is somehow shocking.So where do we draw a line?

Well, first of all let’s straighten something out: mental health problems are health problems. You would not tell someone with a broken arm :‘ I am sure you are fine, it’s just a phase,don’t think too much about it, it’s all in your head’.Secondly, I always advise seeing more than one doctor ,especially when it comes to depression/anxiety.I do not believe GPs are trained in this particular field and honestly my brain is way too important to be messed with uncareseely.

My diagnosis was generalised anxiety disorder: catastrophising everything,worrying about a plug left switched on, thinking a cold would lead to imminent death  and so on. Things that when read aloud might make you laugh but when lived on a daily basis can send your life into an abyss of fear.

I pretty much tried every antidepressant that there is: Prozac, citalopram, sertraline, mirtazapine and ultimatly venlafaxine. From my understanding, venlafaxine is one of the newest types of medications that are able to work on both serotonin and norepinephrine.It is usually prescribed when all other medications have failed( at least this is what my doc said) and it is aimed at both depression and anxiety.

I actually pushed my GP to prescribe this mediction as they were kind of unaware of its effects or benefits.Anyhow we started off at 37.5mg for a few weeks and gradually incresed to 75mg. Everyone who has been on meds knows they come with side effects and psychotropic drugs are no different,actually worse.Here are the side effects i experienced while on 75mg venlafaxine for the first 3 months:

  • interrupted sleep: this was the most troublesome side effect I experienced with venlafaxine and I was on the verge of giving up. I would fall asleep easily and wake up a couple of hours later and so on through the night,resulting in me being drained of energy every day.Eventually at the 3 month mark things started to improve and now I can sleep more or less six hours uninterrupted.
  • weight loss: unlike most of the ther antidepressents ,with venlafaxine my appetite diminished.Nothing major to report here ,I did not lose significantly amount of weight.
  • Loss of libido : this is something that happens with all SSRI and SNRI but somewhoe ,while on venlafaxine, I have not experienced it to such a high degree.
  • Constipation: only occured during the first few weeks,i just upped my fibre intake.
  • Alcohol consumption : YOU SHOULD NOT BE DRINKING while on medication but we all know that is not always possible . Anyhow I get drunk way quicker on the rare occasions I do decide to drink.So be careful

These are the main side effects I experienced. I have now been on venlafaxine for about 2 years and my dose has been adjusted to 225mg daily.I do not know how long I will be on it but I am trying to take small steps.Many times in the past I have quit meds only to relapse a few months later and having to start from scratch.(in my experience when you quit a med and you start it again months later ,it does not seem to have the same effect as before.I don’t have an answer for that.sorry)

The advice I would like to pass on is this: If you make the conscious decision that you want to start medication for your anxiety/depression please beware your symptoms will very likely get worse before they get better. It’s not just a saying. Be prepared for it. Write down your symptoms if it helps. Sometimes doctors will prescribe some benzodiazepine for a couple of weeks to help with this. Also remember that for the first 10/12 weeks you might not notice any significant improvement: give the meds time to build up in your system before deciding to give up or switch. Ask a friend or a relative to keep an eye on your behaviour to see if they notice any major changes. Finally: nobody can understand you better than yourself. Be kind to yourself, life is about mistakes, successes and fails.No one has a perfect life.Anxiety/depression should not define you as a person, rather encourage you to be an even better person. If you feel like resting then rest if you feel like running please run. Allow yourself time to heal and recuperate. Most importantly: LOVE YOURSELF.

I hope you will find this piece interesting and of use.These are my personal experiences/views. I am not a doctor nor I claim to be . I am just a regular guy who is trying to share with others.Have a fantastic day.



Hadalabo gokojyun premium

Hello, my lovelies,

summer is the U.K. this year has been amazing so far but you know the sun means UV rays which mean damage, pigmentation, dehydration, sunspots and other nasty stuff and nobody got time for that.

So today I wanna introduce you to a lesser known product of Japanese origin, Gokojyun Premium: a toning lotion containing 5 different types of hyaluronic acid.

I came across this lotion a few months back on Amazon and decided to give it a try but being overwhelmed by all the products I have I ended up using it only a couple of time rediscovering it again last month and loving it since then

WHAT’S IN IT:  5 different types of hyaluronic acid and glycerin

  • Sodium Acetyl Hyaluronate
  • Sodium Hyaluronate
  • Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid
  • Sodium Hyaluronate Crosspolymer
  • Hydroxypropyltrimonium Hyaluronate
  • Glycerin

Now in terms of ingredients, there is nothing groundbreaking here but somehow together these ingredients leave your skin feeling extremely supple, smooth and radiant.

HOW TO USE IT: instructions on the bottle are in Japanese but browsing and watching a few videos I realised it’s best to be used as a toner. A few drops (the consistency is gel-like) applied on the face and then pat into the skin. Let it absorbed for a few minutes and follow with the rest of your skincare. I do use it around my eyes and eyelids with no problem.

WHO IS IT FOR: there are two versions of this products and I believe this one is the more ‘antiageing’ one designed for slightly drier skins. combination skins would benefit from this too.


It retails for around 11 quid and the bottle is pretty big meaning it will last you quite a long time.

CONCLUSION:  If you are looking for a hydrating toner, if you are a fan of hyaluronic acid and if you are intrigued by oriental skincare this is the product for you. It does the job, it doesn’t cost the earth and it really does leave your skin looking smoother and more hydrated. In terms of ingredients, it tends to be a one ingredient kind of product and I do believe your skin needs more but I say give it a try.



my tretinoin and retinol journey : UPDATE


Hello beautiful people,

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

I get my tretinoin in the UK from

I am in no way sponsored by them, it’s just the most convenient way for me to get tretinoin here in the UK.

After 30 mins of tretinoin application, I slather on a really hydrating moisturiser( bobby brown balm usually )

I always pay attention not to go to close to the eye area or the corner of the nose to avoid peeling in those sensitive areas

finally, SPF 30 or greater is a must, DAILY!

I am in the process of filming a video about it all so you can also see the results on my face 🙂

Happy tretinoin !!




Anxiety Disorder: How I cope with it.





Hello beautiful people,

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 

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 :

1- testosterone support ( I have been diagnosed with low testosterone so I am trying the natural approach before bombarding my body with hormones)

2-selenium and zinc for energy levels

3-turmeric for its anti inflammation benefits

4- Magnesium L-Threonate  this is a god sent for nightime use as it really relaxes me and helps me sleep

5- omega 3 supplements , there are so many out there but the best for me is always bare biology

6- melatonin : this is a gray area , as it is a hormone. I use in cycles, 2 weeks then a couple of months of and so on. it helps me sleep better but bear in mind it can give very lucid dreams

Now when it comes to books  there is a whole universe of self help ones out there so i am not going to bore you with a long list but I am going to share one of the books that made me thing of anxiety in a completly different way ,almost as a superpower and it is from the same author of the I quit sugar stuff i mentioned earlier.This is a great book for anxious minds and for friends of anxious minds alike. Have a read you will love it and learn from it,

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 THERAPY  5 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 !


Love ,





Paula’s Choice Clinical 1% retinol treatment





Hello skincare junkie!!!!

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 FOR anyone 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:

lots of love





Hello, precious ones,

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

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)

HOW TO I GET TRETINOIN IF I DON’T HAVE A PRESCRIPTION: Well, in the UK, you can now sing up to       

for £19.99 plus p&p, you get every month your tretinoin delivered to your house, previous a questionnaire to be filled in to assess you are a suitable candidate for the product.

WHAT DOES ALEXINWONDERLAND RECOMMEND:  I have tried both retinol and tretinoin, and yes tretinoin works faster but it also caused, on me, some noticeable side effects which were bothering me so I decide to switch to one of the most potent retinol alternatives as I mentioned above and I am loving the results

with both retinol and retinoids you have to be consistent:  at least six months of continued use before you can start seeing dramatic results.

Enough rambling for now, I hope I did not bore you and I do hope you found this post interesting and informative, please let me know your favorite retinol products in the comments section.



Vitamin C : friend or foe?



Vitamin c galore



Hello beautiful people,

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.

lixir skincare

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.

The ordinary

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.

Your Skin But Better CC+ Illumination SPF 50+



Hello precious people,

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, vitamin C 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.








Hi beautiful people,

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: it is 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 ( 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.

Let me know what you think and, as always, lots of love,