skincare building blocks – the affordable basics and add-ons

wanting to start your skincare routine and feeling overwhelmed?
I streamlined the basic steps of skincare, coupling them with some more affordable suggestions of products for you to pick.
and I’ve listed some of the most common add-ons – the other building blocks you can slowly introduce to your routine, according to your skin’s needs. make sure you have products you like to use everyday, because a routine is made of persistence.

know it all

my dirty sunscreen habit

it would be rude of me not to address the fear-mongering and cancer-inducing behaviours a certain video promoted this week… everything based off of false allegations that are not science-backed.

a famous woman who happens to now sell cosmetics, – using her own blog/website to solidify a non-scientific narrative that benefits the sales for said products – made a video in a platform owned by a company that profits from affiliate links, where she deliberately ill-applied sunscreen – the underlying motive: because it has “toxic” ingredients.
I don’t care that this over-privileged woman, with privileged access to all the best of everything, including information, decides to throw it all out the window and live her whatever Detox Avocado Lifestyle. it’s one thing to do it for you. another thing is the responsibility that comes with the platform she has, plus Vogue’s. they are spreading a cancer-inducing behaviour – and it’s one of the few cancers that, to some extent can be preventable.
I deeply believe this is utterly wrong and dangerous, and everyone involved should be held accountable.

if Beenyth Faltrow was out there doing a video on how she smokes a pack a day because she discovered oxygen was toxic*, would we be having this conversation? Because, if you come to think of it, oxygen is involved in so many processes that may lead to death. and don’t get me started on hydrogen peroxide!

everything taken out of context can mean anything, and the “clean” beauty marketing spiel is creating dangerous habits along with paranoid misinformed consumers.

you’ll want to read it ALL

skincare routine — am

my morning skincare routine focuses a bit more on keeping my skin balanced, prevent breakouts and hyperpigmentation as well as, as always, also preventing further oxidative stress.

most of the serums mentioned can be used alone (after cleanser, before SPF) for a more minimalistic but still really effective routine, but I do like layering them to try to boost all the benefits possible.

all about the products

winter skincare routine – pm

I think this is the perfect time to let you in on my winter skincare routine, since now that I can look back and really hone in on the products and steps that kept my skin going for the past few months.

my skin is combination, I’ve had severe acne from 12 to 23, then mild acne from 25 onwards up until recently (about 1 to 2 years ago my acne started subsiding), and I still have the odd breakout and maskne. I’m very prone to post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation that then turns into dark spots that outstay their welcome for years.
I’m 41 and life has naturally happened to my skin up until now: loss of elasticity, sagging, wrinkles, fine lines, textural issues.

my goals are keeping my skin barrier safe, help it as much as I can to stay as elastic, responsive and smooth as possible, tackle the blemishes that still come to visit, and tone down and prevent further hyperpigmentation.

I can’t say this enough: what works for me may not work for you, it’s all a game of listening to your skin and understanding what jives with it, being patient and willing to adapt.
skincare has its limitations to what can be achieved – it’s only creams and serums, not scalpels nor needles –, and severe issues will definitely need a specialist. we need to manage our expectations regarding skincare (and brands need to back the hell up on the wild claims).
but, with good science-based information, I believe many people can safely go beyond the “cleanser-moisturiser-spf” essentials and help their skin stay in the best shape it can be, and even tackle some minor issues.

products mentioned

some skincare and makeup empties

let’s talk about trash, baby
let’s talk about my empties
let’s talk about all the good things and the bad things used by me ;)

used these all up, hardly any regrets.
some I won’t repurchase just because I’m currently going through other products, or because I’ve found some alternatives I prefer. bar from one, these are all winners.

click for the product information

2020 favourites . skincare

hey, there

yes, it’s been a while.

let’s just jump into the skincare products that have sparked some joy (and great skin days) over last year, shall we?

if you’re here for the links, scroll to the bottom!

grab a cuppa and cuddle to read

Clinical Treatment for Hyperpigmentation, vol.1

Hey, my lovelies! Long time no post!

I’m taking advantage of this little time in my life where my acne has subsided and I’m tackling all of my hyperpigmentation, left behind after decades of acne and, yes, poor sun protection in my younger years.

I went to Skin Life Beauty Clinic – a facial treatment clinic lead by Dr. Ana Cristina Santos Silva.
Skin Life also has a SPA that is more dedicated to some “feel-good” facials and massages, and a couple of beauty boutiques in center Lisbon.

Because I’ve been taking good care of my skin for so long, a classic peel wouldn’t bring much to my face, so we decided on Microneedling and Laser therapy (this one will happen later, when the sun stops being so strong. My work has me walking around on the street during the day and, despite wearing boat loads of SPF, laser leaves the skin a bit more sensitive to the sun and I’m already prone to marks – it could be counterproductive to do it just yet).

what is microneedling?

Like the name would suggest, it is a machine (kind of a thick pen) with several teeny tiny needles (hence MICRO needling) that basically prick and puncture your skin to stimulate blood flow and cell regeneration (the skin sends a signal saying it needs some reconstruction to repair the damages), and, if you use some specific products, the needles will help pushing those products deeper into the skin.
In my case, it was Tranexamic Acid – an acid that (as far as I could tell), despite needing some further studies, seems to have very promising results in the treatment of hardcore hyperpigmentation situations like melasma.

how did it go?

The doctor applied some Tranexamic Acid on my skin and proceeded to “massage it in” with the microneedling apparatus.
Surprisingly enough, the acid does not sting or burn at all.
The micronnedling feels like someone is sanding your skin, it’s not pain-free (especially around the eyes and under my chin for some reason), but it’s absolutely tolerable.

anything else?

Yes… soooo… because I have several hardcore spots (some have been on my face for over a decade), the doctor then decided to inject (with a botox needle) the acid directly on those spots. Mainly on the hollows under my eyes (where I have some hyperpigmentation buildup that makes me look even more hollowed and tired), on my cheeks, and my chin.

My left cheek was particularly pigmented, mostly due to being constantly exposed to sun light in the driver’s seat – so every single blemish has become a mark, and on top of that there’s quite a lot of just plain sun damage. I’ve been driving everywhere since I was 18, I always lived far from where I needed to be, and then my career had me going around the city during the day very often.
Although I’ve been good with SPF for quite a while, I still spent over half my life believing that 1) SPF was for baking under the sun, 2) if I didn’t burn, it meant I could carry on, 3) because I didn’t tend to burn, I could just use SPF 12…

On my chin I don’t have as much hyperpigmentation as some scar tissue formations due to the hormonal acne that did not yield ever since I was 12 (with a brief 2 year hiatus). So blemishes would be healing and new ones would be starting to emerge, that area was a constant war zone for decades. The injections on the scar tissue were the most painful. Still absolutely manageable for me. But very annoying.

My forehead was completely sun damage-free because… I’ve had a fringe for 14 years and it has kept my forehead basically UV-free.

If this is not an PSA for DON’T SKIMP ON SPF, KIDS!, I don’t know what is…

The whole thing lasted a little over an hour, and I was treated like a precious flower the whole time. Dr. Ana Cristina is delightful and I loved the whole experience.

how was the aftermath?

After the microneedling and injections I was treated to a delightful facial massage. The cream she used did sting, but that was to be expected, since my skin was basically… raw.

My face was quite red and slightly sore for about 2 hours after the treatment, and then the redness started to subside. I did the treatment at the end of the day, and the next morning there was no redness left, just a slight bruising on the injection area underneath the eyes, which was absolutely to be expected. Those bruises slowly faded during the week.

I decided, for the week after the treatment, not to use exfoliating acids (I use lactic twice a week). I still kept with my vitamin C and retinol, with no problem.
Of course I need to keep piling on the SPF, but that’s no change for me.

final thoughts?

I’m going to do this treatment (or laser) every 4 to 6 weeks. It is expected that the cumulative effects of the treatments will deliver quite dramatic and long-term results.
Still, even in the short-term, I’ll supposedly start noticing some difference. Fingers crossed!

This treatment costed 200€ (I don’t know if the laser has the same price).

I confess I don’t want to get ahead of myself and I know this is a marathon, not a sprint, but I have high expectations.

Finally starting clinical treatments for my skin was one of the promises I made myself for this year and it feels good to be fulfilling them, albeit slowly :))

That’s it, for now. Let’s see how it goes.
Any questions you have, let me know!

I did a swap with a subscriber — unboxing

It is definitely quite a time to be alive when you can establish a true connection with someone on the other side of the world through common interests, and become a part of their lives in such a meaningful way, without ever really meeting in person.
This has happened to me a few times, mostly through dancing, but also due to, yes, blogging and makeup.
Today I bring you an unboxing of a swap I did with the sweetest subscriber.
There are no words to convey how grateful I am for you guys to be a part of my life, be it through a simple view or like, but also when you reach out and talk to me.
I hope this unboxing restores just a bit of your faith in humanity for you, just as this whole experience I have had with Barbara did for me.

Click for products list

my tretinoin sidekicks

There are 3 anti-ageing holy grail ingredients in skincare: Peptides, Vitamin C, and the mother of all the gold standards: tretinoin (with all its sister and cousin derivatives from Vitamin A).
It is also largely known as a go-to for acne treatment.

Many people try out retinol or retinoid products, and most are formulated in low percentages, and/or with buffers and other ingredients that soothe the harshest side-effects.
Yet, when jumping on to stronger retinols and topical tretinoin (better known by its commercial name, Retin-A), the side effects can be harsh.
There’s a whole method to this madness of trying to slow down the signs of ageing, and I’ll share what I’ve learnt with you.
This video goes deep into the products that I found are helping me to keep my skin soothed and as balanced as possible.

Also on this post, I’ll keep a little list of the things I have learnt so far (and I reserve the right to come back to this post to add or replace any information I can gather/correct.
I also encourage you to check out Caroline Hirons‘ blog, since she’s preparing a massive post (and maybe video) on this subject. She is a skincare encyclopaedia.

click for more info and list of products

best in skin/hair care 2018

So many amazing products on the market, these were the ones I trusted my almost 40 acne-prone combination skin during the year. Of course I experimented around and there are some others out of this list that I truly rate, but I had to cut somewhere or this video would be 10 hours long.

Happy new beginnings, everyone!

click for products list and links