Hormonal Acne Before/After Photos with The Ordinary, SkinCeuticals, Uriage, Rosette, Geek & Gorgeous…

When I came across the old photos of me, I realized that my skin has literally transformed. Even during menstruation, I no longer have hormonal pimples. I didn’t think this day was going to come and I’m keeping my fingers crossed that it will continue like this. If you’re on the verge of distress like I was a few years ago, here are a few things that might help.

Before, during my teenage years, I had pimples concentrated on the T-zone. My cheeks were spared. After dragging it for about ten years, I went to see a dermatologist who wanted to prescribe me Roaccutane, which I refused. Instead, I was given 3 months of antibiotics – which helped me a lot. However, I continued to suffer from it once a month. During the trip around the world, I started to get more and more pimples on my cheeks (which I didn’t have before).

After asking several beauticians from several countries (I was traveling at the same time and going to the best spas in each country), I realized that if it was always the same area, it must be hormonal – and that there was an excess of sebum in this area, linked to both dehydrated skins and an overproduction of sebum due to hormones. Not to mention my annoying habit of touching pimples.

So I started a 100% Dr. Hauschka routine that gave me satisfaction in Europe, but as soon as I went to Asia, it sprouted up again. After a lot of testing & learning, I found the routine that suits me, whatever the continent 😀

Note: I have put links to trusted sites. This allows you to see what the products look like. You don’t have to go through my links at all, buy where you want lol my products come from all over the world because I have the chance to travel a lot and find THE miracle product in every country I go through

before/after (in 6 months)

Beware, for acne due to masks, the products are a little bit different. This item is suitable for hormonal acne.
For acne caused by barrier masks, read my article dedicated to “maskne” here

Sulphur and zinc are my friends

My Spanish teacher in Nicaragua told me, when I asked her about the country’s cosmetics, that a Canadian student was having a major acne attack when she came to Nicaragua. At first, she suffered in silence, but then one day this student expressed her despair that her skin was getting worse every day. My teacher took her on a trip to Masaya (there are many volcanoes in Nicaragua and sulfur, coming from volcanic land, is an easy ingredient to obtain), and that’s how she was healed and bought about ten sulfur-based soaps before returning to Canada hihihi

I confirm that sulfur is a miracle ingredient for acne-prone skin, although it doesn’t smell like a rose and dries out the skin a bit (but we’ll talk about hydration later). By drying the skin, it reduces excess sebum (which increases especially before menstruation); and with its disinfectant action, it effectively eliminates p.acne bacteria, responsible for the proliferation of pimples on the skin.

Another key ingredient against hormonal acne is zinc: As menstruation approaches, hormones change, sebaceous glands go crazy and sebum production goes into overdrive. Zinc, by its action regulating sebum, rebalances it and prevents the formation of acne

Here are the products that I use and that I recommend to you:

  • Facial cleansing: the famous facial cleanser from Rosette (a Japanese brand) (YesStyle link, or Amazon link), the blue color contains sulfur. I advise using this cleaner instead of soap because soap is much more drying, whereas this cleaner, well dosed, can be used every day.
  • For the body: Sulfur soap is the one recommended by my Spanish teacher in Nicaragua. This product is on sale everywhere in pharmacies in Latin America, it comes from Mexico. I recommend it for the body only because it is a bit aggressive for the face unless you have a very severe case of acne. You can find the equivalent in France on Amazon, here
  • After facial cleansing, make a psschitt of Uriage thermal water(Amazon link). Remove the excess with a cotton pad. This water contains zinc, the small psschitt helps to perfect the cleansing. Opt for the 300ml version which lasts longer and cheaper per liter. It is very important to use the URIAGE brand, believe me! A big favorite! It’s very hard for me to find it abroad but I’ve become an expert at locating Uriage points of sale in the world haha
    • I know that SeroZinc from La Roche Posay contains zinc as well and is easier to find, but it is not effective.
    • I tested the Trio-zinc from Novexpert too, it’s a flop
    • Update April 2020: Since the containment, the water is more loaded with chlorine, and many people are left with more pimples than before. It is essential to remove the residues of this hard water with a psschit of thermal water (or mineral water at least) after cleansing the face and after showering – using a cotton pad.
    • Once the tap water has been removed, you can reapply a psschit of Uriage water (without removing the excess) and pat the skin to enjoy the benefits of the thermal water. This water is isotonic, I quote “The word “isotonic” means that it is in perfect osmosis with the skin and mucous membranes. It respects the integrity of the skin cells. As well-tolerated as a physiological serum, it alters neither the size nor the volume of the cells”
  • The serum Niacinamide 10% + 1% Zinc fromThe Ordinary (link The Ordinary, link Sephora): a miracle product for 5.8 €: it tightens the pores, is used on the active buttons or in prevention. Regulates extremely well the excess of sebum. I spread all my face with this serum before my period to have no pimples. Visible effectiveness in a few days. Attention, always make a patch test before using it every day on the face because some people do not support the high concentration of Zinc present in this serum. At worst, you can always buy Niacinamide powder of the same brand (link The Ordinary), without the zinc. The texture is not great, a little too sticky, but who cares because it’s too effective
  • If you don’t like the Niacinamide of The Ordinary (which is understandable because the compatibility rate is 50%) but still want a product as concentrated in Niacinamide but without the Zinc, a more expensive option is Paula’s Choice Resist Booster 10% Niacinamide (FeelUnique link), with a much more pleasant texture than The Ordinary while being less irritating.
  • Another option at 10€ is Geek & Gorgeous B-Bomb, with a less thick texture, and reworked zinc, which no longer irritates (link Geek & Gorgeous) while being moisturizing
  • For more sensitive skin, you can use a product with a lower concentration of Niacinamide (2%): Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence (Amazon link, Yesstyle link, Jolse link) is a multi-tasking product, containing Snail Bee Slime, a miracle ingredient to repair the skin, Bee Venom Extract, which boosts collagen production, calms inflammation and Sh-Oligopeptide-1, which is highly moisturizing and helps repair the skin barrier. This product also contains niacinamide and aloe vera gel. Very very good product, a real game-changer even for cases of very severe acne or skin in a lamentable state.

A good facial cleansing

I’ve already talked about it. Acneic skin is not dirty. They have acne because of improper cleansing.

People tend to over-clean their skin precisely.

If you use sunscreen but do not apply makeup, you should still remove your makeup in the evening. I use WellDerma’s washable makeup remover discs(Yesstyle link, Jolse link, equivalent on Amazon) with a special texture that catches sunscreen and dust (and makeup if you have any). Simply wet the disc with water and rub it over your face.

Otherwise, opt for micellar water. I recommend the Simple brand (Amazon link) which is specially formulated for sensitive skin (because I can’t stand BioDerma’s). Don’t use too much micellar water either. If possible, use them for eye make-up removal, but for the skin, the make-up remover discs are more than enough.

I don’t recommend oil makeup removal because my skin doesn’t like it at all, but if it suits you, fine.

After make-up removal and especially after the micellar water, it is necessary to finish with a cleanser.

It is the basis of the Asian double cleansing: (1) make-up removal (2) cleansing

I use the Rosette facial cleanser(YesStyle link, or Amazon link) with sulfur that I mentioned above. There is a “family” version, larger for absolute fans of this cleanser (Amazon link). Beware, the smell is not great because it contains sulfur, but the smell doesn’t stay on the face, don’t worry.

If you have completely clogged pores, opt for this magic cleanser Sanskrit Saponins from Niod (my before/after pictures below & detailed advice here). Use it every other night, otherwise, it will dry your skin too much. Pores disappear as soon as you use it for the first time.

Photo Before / After 4 uses

Then, in the morning, you do NOT need a cleaner. I repeat, NO CLEANER IN THE MORNING! A pssschit of thermal water is enough. Do not over-wash your face

I think that when the environment is particularly polluted, we don’t clean our faces well enough with our hands. So I use a machine that, thanks to its micro-vibrations, brings out the dirt hidden in the pores. But this only applies to very polluted areas (Asia, Latin America…) where the micro-dust risks getting lodged in the pores, clogging them and becoming pimples. Before, I used Mia 2 from Clarisonic, but when it died, I switched to Foreo Luna Play Plus, much softer and adapted to acne-prone skin (detailed advice here, Sephora link here).
If you are in Europe, there is no need to buy a cleansing device.

Good hydration

Excess sebum is caused or worsened by dehydrated skin. When skin is dehydrated, our body tries to hydrate and compensate by supplying sebum (oil). But this is not what we want => pimples. Thus, to prevent excess sebum, it is absolutely necessary to moisturize the skin, bring water :

  • by drinking lots of water
  • by using highly moisturizing products
    • a moisturizing serum: I use and love all hyaluronic acid-based serums OR one that boosts the production of hyaluronic acid. Hyaluronic acid can retain the equivalent of 1000 times its weight in water
      • the best on the market, in my opinion, is the Clarins Quench Serum (Sephora link, Marionnaud link, FeelUnique link). Shake the bottle before use. One pump is sufficient for the entire face. This miracle serum contains organic Kalanchoe extract, a powerful natural moisturizing activator that boosts the skin’s production of hyaluronic acid. My skin drinks it instantly. Attention, this serum must be used with a cream behind to seal in moisture. I have tested many serums but this one remains my favorite, I always buy the 50ml version to pay less per ml.
      • the other bio option would be the Hyaluronic Acid Booster Serum from Novexpert (Nuoobox link, detailed notice here) with 4 molecular weights of hyaluronic acid. This serum must be used with a cream behind to seal in hydration. This serum has an incredible effect on wrinkles too.
      • The cheapest option would be Goku-Jyun Hada Labo Hyaluronic Acid Lotion (link Amazon, link Yesstyle, link Jolse) which contains 3 sizes of hyaluronic acid for better absorption by the skin. It is obviously necessary to use a moisturizing cream afterward, this is the case for all hyaluronic acids
        • i know that other people will advise you to use Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5 at The Ordinary (Sephora link, The Ordinary link), but it’s lame, doesn’t work very well in layering and isn’t even moisturizing. There are other more economical options such as Hada Labo
      • New! Everybody is talking about Haruharu Rice Black Rice Hyaluronic Toner ( Yesstyle link), the opinions are unanimous: it is the best moisturizing toner currently. Unfortunately, I couldn’t get my hands on it but looking at the list of ingredients I can understand why: there are 6 moisturizing ingredients, and 4 antibacterial ingredients, which is tip-top for the maskne that is rampant right now.
    • the ingredient everyone talks about: snail slime, which moisturizes and is perfect for thirsty skin. The best one, still, in my opinion, hehe, is Benton Steam Cream, a Korean brand, I’ve already talked about it here, and you can buy it here (Yesstyle, Amazon link, lookfantastic link, Jolse link). I was dragging a few pimples on my neck for a very long time and this cream got rid of them very, very quickly. Beware, in winter, it may not be moisturizing enough. It’s the best moisturizer in the world, in my opinion, I’ve tried a lot of other creams that are more expensive, more organic, but it shows when my skin doesn’t use it. I can’t live without it.
    • finally, the moisturizing masks must be used 2 to 3 times a week minimum. Abusing moisturizing masks has been a game-changer for me in the fight against unsightly pimples. In case of uncontrollable skin rashes, moisturizing masks should be used every day for at least 7 days, this is the advice my beautician gave me. I was hyper skeptical but she was too right!
      • My all-time favorite mask is the snail slime mask from Tony Moly. It is in the shape of a gel. The next day, the before/after results are very, very satisfactory. You can buy them here (Yesstyle link, lookfantastic link, Jolse link).
      • I also love the Aura d’Antipodes mask based on manuka honey (very famous, particularly antibacterial and repairing, to be used without moderation) (Sephora link, Marionnaud link, Lookfantastic link, Amazon link, FeelUnique link, Antipodes link), it is very moisturizing and calming, to be rinsed off after 15 minutes.
      • If you have ONLY manuka honey or thyme honey at home, mix it with a little yogurt (so that it doesn’t run, there are also probiotics in the yogurt) and spread it on your face, and leave it for 30 minutes. If you are not afraid of yellowing your face (for a few hours), add a little turmeric powder and you have the recipe of the Indian bride mask. Other kinds of honey are good too, but the best are manuka and thyme.
      • If you can’t do otherwise, Avène ‘s ultra-basic moisturizing rinse-off mask (lookfantastic link), sold in all pharmacies, will do the trick too.

Do not touch the buttons

With facial cleansing machines, at some point during the cleansing process, the pimples will come out and go away themselves. But the most recalcitrant ones still deserve a little attention. For this, I use three products:

  • For buttons with visible stink: Drying Lotion by Mario Badescu (Sephora link). It is only used in the evening because it leaves a pink stain 🙂 Salicylic acid helps to bring out and remove impurities. The sulfur and zinc oxide contained in this product allow to dry them out. Before going to bed, dip a cotton bud in the pink sediment at the bottom of the bottle and tap directly on the buttons. If the button is open, it will hurt a little bit
  • For the red buttons that hurt, without the stink
    • Duo+ from La Roche Posay. Duo+ also has an anti-blemish action on pimples, it is a two anti-blemish product (with azelaic acid) that I recommend when acne is still active. Be careful, it dries the skin, you should only use it on pimples.
    • Keracnyl PP & Triacneal are OK according to me too, but they indicate on the instructions that they can be used on the whole face, it’s wrong, it’s hyper drying so throw away the instructions and use only on the pimples. In addition, Triacnéal contains a rather strong version of retinoid which can cause peeling. It is necessary to flee the sun like a plague and apply it only in the evening and spread sunscreen in the morning.
    • Etude House – AC Clean Up Anti-Imperfection Lotion (Yesstyle link, Amazon link): new discovery, it’s a bit like Mario Badescu’s Drying Lotion (Sephora link ) but better because it’s well-formulated (salicylic acid, sulfur, zinc, ceramide, Centella Asiatica and tea tree oil). It is capable of making a painful pimple disappear without bringing it to the surface (the pimple resorbs itself), it calms redness while repairing the cutaneous barrier. It is the ideal remedy for hormonal pimples; Before going to bed, dip a cotton bud in the pink sediment at the bottom of the bottle and tap directly on the pimples.
  • For open buttons :
    • removing stink (or blood) with your hands will contaminate the surrounding pores. To empty the pimple of its dirt, you must use an anti-blemish patch. My favorite: Anti-blemish patches from COSRX (a Korean brand, Amazon link, Lookfantastic link, YesStyle link, Jolse link, Olive Young link) and Olive Young(Olive Young link).
    • COSRX patches contain hydrocolloid, which is used in hospitals for the care of serious injuries. They have the advantage of staying overnight on the skin – and they absorb the last remaining dirt in the pores, allowing pimples to heal much faster, protect the area (from our hands that are constantly crushing them), and prevent the spread of acne (a pierced pimple contains lots of bacteria and can infect the pores around it).
    • If they are too hard for you to find, buy Compeed footpads (Amazon link, they also contain hydrocolloids) and cut them into small pieces. This is an important step in the treatment of acne! To tell you how effective it is, one time I hurt my heel, there was blood everywhere and a big chunk of skin gone (sniff). I put a Compeed patch on it and I completely forgot about it because it acted like a second skin. 4 days later, I took it off and my heel was as good as new, it looks like I never hurt myself. If this kind of patch is able to heal – at this point – an injury, the pimples are even easier
  • For all buttons
    • azelaic acid: very effective for all pimples, killing p.acne bacteria and preventing the formation of spots. Paula’s Choice Azelaic Acid Booster is to be used preferably in the evening on pimples or areas of hormonal acne (FeelUnique link)
    • lED machines to kill bacteria (blue color) and soothe redness (red color). Be careful not to use just any machine because the wavelength used must be correct (otherwise it is the opposite effect: no more fine lines and damaged skin). You may not believe it, but these machines are based on very serious NASA studies of the effect of certain wavelengths on the skin and the health of astronauts (I have read the results of these studies at the Kennedy Space Center in Florida and the Space Museum in New York, I assure you, it is very serious). The green light is supposed to reduce spots but the tests are only conclusive in the lab but not in real life. The two blue and red lights are enough. Trust well-known brands like Neutrogena (Amazon link) and Talika (Amazon link, Sephora link). I’ve been using these machines for years and it shows when I forget to use them. Light therapy sessions cost 150€ for 30mn in the institute so buy yourself one of these machines instead.

Note: CUTACNYL – Benzoyl Peroxide is a double-edged knife. I am in love/hate mode with this ingredient. If your doctor prescribes it for you, look in the comments, I have already answered about its use.

  • For very severe cases of acne, consult a naturopathic doctor and/or dermatologist

Products adapted to treat pigmentation

Only when the acne is stabilized and gone, can you begin to treat the spots left by your hormonal acne.

Repair the skin barrier

If you feel that your skin is still extremely fragile (the skin hurts, is red, and more sensitive than usual), repair the skin barrier first:

  • with B5 (panthenol): B5 (panthenol) repairs the skin very effectively. Even if you crush a pimple and make a huge hole in it, it is still possible to save your skin with this ingredient.
    • the B5 serum from Skinceuticals (detailed opinion here)
    • or one of the dupes like The Ordinary Amino acids + B5 (link The Ordinary, this version is better and more moisturizing than the version with HA)
    • or a simple pharmacy cream from Greece, to be spread generously in the evening on damaged skin Rona Ross D-Panthenol (Amazon link)
    • Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence (Amazon link, Yesstyle link, Jolse link) contains less B5 than other products, but it is a multi-tasking product, containing in addition to snail slime, a miracle ingredient to repair the skin, bee venom extract, which boosts collagen production, calms inflammation and Sh-Oligopeptide-1, which is highly moisturizing and helps repair the skin barrier. This product also contains niacinamide and aloe vera gel. Very very good product, a real game-changer even for cases of very severe acne or skin in a lamentable state.
    • I know that La Roche Posay also offers a product based on B5 but it clogs the pores (I have nothing against La Roche Posay eh, but only their product Duo+ pleases me).
  • or with copper peptides: which boost the action of copper, already present in our plasma, on the barrier of weakened skin. Basically, they are very good for healing wounds and “holes” in our skin, by boosting collagen production. For this, I have two options for you:
    • “Buffet” + Copper Peptides 1% from The Ordinary: a miracle. I don’t understand why everyone throws themselves on the “Buffet” version when this one is 10 times better (ah maybe because of the price, 28€, because peptides are expensive)
    • NIOD CAIS 2 (same company as The Ordinary) contains 2% copper peptides: for a long-term effect. CAIS 2 has incredible effects on texture and rosacea too. It is extremely concentrated, 4 drops are enough for the whole face. My detailed opinion here
    • Caution, copper peptides are not compatible with Vitamin C or acids, they must be used on days when you do not use Vitamin C or acids
  • If the skin barrier is damaged by wearing masks (creating an all-weather moist environment loaded with bad bacteria), it is necessary to provide good bacteria to the skin, so target products with fermented ingredients, with probiotics:
    • The essence of SK-II, a Japanese high-end brand (if you are in Canada or the United States, it is sold at Sephora). To buy it from France, go through the YesStyle website which sells test formats, you have to wait a little because of the Covid. It’s a game-changer for me, even if there are a purge and adaptation period in the beginning. It’s a real miracle product, anti-aging, anti-stain, anti-blemish (if your skin likes it, it’s even or double) but caution & patience are the keywords. It is necessary to purge a little before having beautiful skin so if you are looking for a product with long term effect, this is it. If it’s for a short term effect, go your way.
    • i have a weakness for Rich Deep Toner at Whamisa (Amazon link), one of the few Korean organic brands. Just the smell alone, it’s very “herbalist”. The good bacteria, aloe vera, argan oil, it’s all good!
    • Niod S0 (Niod link), an anti-oxidant even more powerful than Vitamin C and full of good bacteria. I’m too in love that I even wrote a separate article
    • The cheap solution is to make yogurt masks, which also contains a lot of probiotics 😀
    • Has anyone tested the Gallinée brand (link Marionnaud), made in France and contains a lot of probiotics? I’ve heard a lot of good things about it
  • There is a Japanese product containing Ceramide, which I like very much: TuneMakers Ceramide 200 which really repaired my protective barrier last year but since the Covid, it is no longer accessible at all abroad, even on Korean sites

Note 2020: Currently, the fashion in Korea is to use Centella Asiatica (tiger grass) to repair the skin barrier and reduce inflammation. I would advise against it, acne-prone skin, therefore very damaged, needs B5 or copper peptides, stronger. The Centella Asiatica is an active ingredient that takes far too long to take effect.

I wrote an article about my routine for rebuilding the skin barrier here

Treating stains

Then, with a strong skin barrier, the spots can be treated. We start with :

  • a soft but regular exfoliation (well not every day, 2 to 3 evenings per week MAXI): with an acid-based lotion
    • I particularly recommend the one from Biologique Recherche, nicknamed “Jesus in a bottle”, it is a mix of AHA, BHA, PHA, niacinamide (yum), and glycerin (humectant). Look at the before/after pictures here. Use 2 to 3 times a week with care. Patch test to be done before use. This chemical exfoliation is more than enough, no need to buy physical exfoliation products with grains that damage the skin even more.
    • another cheaper option, but I don’t know what it’s worth, it’s the Lactic Acid 10% + HA from The Ordinary. It’s an AHA but with moisturizing ingredients. I’ve seen before/after pictures on the forums, it takes longer than Organic research, but it’s gentle for very sensitive skin
    • another option still from The Ordinary is Mandelic Acid 10% + HA from The Ordinary, even softer than Lactic Acid (the molecules are larger). It is an AHA but with moisturizing ingredients. The before/after previews on the forums are very encouraging, but of course, it takes longer than Lactic Acid or the AHA/BHA/PHA combo. Mandelic Acid is particularly suitable for people who tend to have acne. It’s for you! – sorry I can’t test them all because I only have one face
    • The essence of SK-II, a Japanese high-end brand (if you are in Canada or the United States, it is sold at Sephora). To buy it from France, go through the YesStyle website which sells test formats, you have to wait a little because of the Covid. It’s a game-changer for me, even if there is a purge and adaptation period at the beginning. It’s a real miracle product, anti-aging, anti-pigmentation, anti-blemish (if your skin likes it, it’s even or double, a test during two months is necessary). This product is not for just anyone, but I mention it anyway because I like it too much <3
  • anti-spot products. And there, you have the embarrassment of the choice. Here are my best products:
    • Tamanu oil (Amazon link, Nuoo Box link, Pacifico Nature link): be careful, it is not used with other oils, it is very active so use only it, a few drops are enough for the whole face. Tamanu oil has another name: Calophyllum oil but we want cold extracted oil from Oceania (New Caledonia/Tahiti), not from India or Madagascar. That’s why we always choose tamanu oil because that’s what it’s called there. It is anti-inflammatory, anti-bacterial thanks to Inophyllin A and anti-oxidant because of its concentration in omega 6, 9, and vitamin E. It is the only anti-blemish product that can be used even with active acne.
    • Vitamin C
      • L-ascorbic acid, between 10% and 20%
        • the Phloretin C F serum from SkinCeuticals(link to the official website): a killer that costs the skin of the buttocks, formulated precisely for acne-prone skin. Contains Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid, 10%). Spots disappear as if by a miracle. 4 drops are enough for the whole face. This serum is best used during the day and boosts the effect of the sun cream that you will put on afterward. More information about SkinCeuticals products here. Attention, Vitamin C should be used on strong skin, which has no more pimples, and which has a strong skin barrier. Otherwise, expect the opposite effect. I’ve tested several dupes but none match the elegant texture of this serum.
        • the cheaper but still expensive option is C-Firma Day Serum by Drunk Elephant (full size, mini version). Vitamin C (L-ascorbic acid, 15%) is bathed in ferulic acid and 1% vitamin E, just like SkinCeuticals. Studies have shown that this mixture helps to better preserve vitamin C and reinforces the effects of this star ingredient. The only disadvantage: too oily texture, so it can only be used in the evening, unlike SkinCeuticals.
        • A much cheaper dupe exists, it is C Glow from Geek and Gorgeous (link G&G) with 15% L-ascorbid acid, with vitamin E and ferulic acid too. It’s a Hungarian brand that sells only on their official website because they make their vitamin C every week, to make sure the consumer gets the freshest vitamin C possible (ascorbic acid can be unstable and oxidize quickly). Texture OK but Skinceuticals is still the best.
      • Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate: an ingredient more compatible with acne-prone and sensitive skin. It is found in the famous InstaNatural Vitamin C Serum Amazon link, which I, unfortunately, could not test, but its small price deserves a try. The list of ingredients and reviews are very positive, it also contains feluric acid (antibacterial) and vitamin E, but also licorice root (anti-bacterial) and Centella Asiatica (restorative).
    • Hydroquinone: Murad’s serum with 4% hydroquinone (the maximum dose allowed without a prescription in the USA) was extremely effective, even on melasma. But it is impossible to find it in Europe because it is an ingredient accessible only by prescription. You have to buy directly in the USA (even online, in Europe you will only find the modified formula (Lookfantastic link, FeelUnique link) which is not as effective). However, on *non-caucasian* skins, hydroquinone can cause depigmentation, it happened to me. I have a mini white spot because of this product (like a dead pixel impossible to repair lol, others even have a bleached area like Michael Jackson). Even on Caucasian skins, you have to use it only in the evening, 2 months then stop for 1 month, then start again. And spread sunscreen. In short, it is an ultra-effective ingredient but with many negative effects. If you have matte skin like me, don’t play with fire, azelaic acid combined with retinol will be as effective as hydroquinone, without the negative effects.
    • Azelaic Acid is effective against blemishes while providing a very light exfoliation to the skin and killing p.acne bacteria. It is a very effective ingredient against rosacea as well. Can be used when you still have acne
      • My favorite is Niod Re:Pigment (Niod link, Lookfantastic link), with a very liquid serum-like texture (thanks to the use of an azelaic acid derivative: Potassium Azeloyl Diglycinate or PAD). The results are visible after 3 months, but it is a multi-tasking product and especially not a stripper. Used with retinol, it will be much more effective. I love it because it is as liquid as water, which allows me to spread a lot of layers of cosmetics afterward. It can be used even when you have acne.
      • The dupe of Niod Re:Pigment is 6 times less expensive, but a bit thicker, it’s aPAD from Geek & Gorgeous (link G&G), with this liquid texture that I like so much. It’s a Hungarian company. It can be used even when you have acne. There is the equivalent of 6% azelaic acid derivative: Potassium Azeloyl Diglycinate or PAD, the perfect concentration! You can read my detailed opinion on my blog here
      • Another alternative would be Paula’s Choice Azelaic Acid Booster, which can be used even when you have pimples, but preferably in the evening (FeelUnique link). Creamy texture and it stinks a bit, but there is a mini exfoliating effect.
      • The Ordinary proposes a cheaper version of Azelaic acid (link The Ordinary), not in serum, but bathed in a kind of silicone cream. This makes the texture much less pleasant, even if it doesn’t make pimples. It doesn’t make you want to use it, basically.
    • Retinol: too high a concentration can on the contrary make purge but retinol, well dosed and well used, can prevent the return of acne while treating spots. My favorite is A-Passioni by Drunk Elephant (travel size). Everybody emphasizes the high concentration of this retinol (1%), but paradoxically it is the one that hasn’t had any negative effects on me. In addition, it is a vegan retinol (I specify in case). Each time I use it, the next day I wake up with a new skin, softer, more homogeneous, it’s superb! I only use it in the evening, every other night, and then I generously apply a huge layer of moisturizer (detailed opinion on this product here, and my comparison on retinoids here). Attention, retinol is not compatible with a lot of ingredients, so unless you’re well versed in active ingredients, don’t use it with anything and especially not in the morning. If you are breastfeeding or pregnant / expecting to be pregnant, retinol should be banned. In any case, hyaluronic acid, followed by azelaic acid, followed by retinol, followed by a thick layer of moisturizing cream, is the winning combo before going to sleep.
    • Tranexamic acid (at SkinCeuticals’ Discoloration Defense Serum, with very good opinions even on melasma), Kojic Acid (aim for 1 to 4% concentration), and Arbutin (aim for 5% concentration) are also recommended for spots but I have never yet tested these ingredients
    • Snail slime is very effective too, with long term effect but not stripping (see the Benton products I mentioned above), in “I wake up one day and I have no more stains” mode aha
    • Niacinamide also works, but it’s very slow
    • Licorice root or licorice root: effective I confirm, but how slow it is!
  • exfoliation and use of acid toner = sunscreen. After years of fighting acne, I realized that it was better to use a moisturizer with SPF than a moisturizer and then a sunscreen (too many layers for my skin). I have noticed: the higher the SPF, the higher the risk of having pimples, I feel good with an SPF around 20. Also count on a hat that covers well, sunglasses, but also yourself (don’t tan or eat lunch in the sun). Unfortunately, I don’t have ONE miracle product to recommend (they all have a mini defect). I can only give the name of the sun creams that do not give me pimples
    • No-Sun d’Esthederm (SPF50) (Amazon link, Sephora link)
    • and Nuxe Expert Anti-Spot Fluid SPF20 for *normal skins*(Amazon link) <= both moisturizing & sun protection
      • I use both because Esthederm’s No-Sun regulates the sebum but it is too white, while Nuxe gives me a velvet complexion (mother-of-pearl micro-powder), moisturizes the skin, while having an anti-blemish effect, and makes the No-Sun less white, but it is a bit oily in summer. So, in summer I use both to get the best of both: a velvet complexion but also a mattifying effect. In winter, I only use the Nuxe fluid.
    • Immortal from Antipodes(Lookfantastic link, Antipodes link, Amazon link) is OK too, organic brand. This moisturizing cream with SPF 15 does not give pimples but it is a bit oily for the summer and not protective enough (SPF 15 only). For winter, it’s very good.
    • Survival 20 of Niod (Deciem link, Lookfantastic link, feelUnique link): no white trace, mattifying, beautiful skin effect, with antioxidant properties, very light. But it is not at all a moisturizing cream, so it is mandatory to use it with a moisturizing cream before. I like it a lot!
      • The sun creams of Avène, La Roche Posay (Anthelios): to banish, greasy, give pimples, white spots, horrible. Asian sunscreens: most of them have too much alcohol, too drying, too white
  • For the eyes, I use SkinCeuticals sunscreen that does not migrate and does not make you cry (Skinceuticals link, Lookfantastic link)
  • LED machines also reduce redness and greatly improve the appearance of skin. Please be careful not to use just any machine because the wavelength used must be correct (otherwise it will have the opposite effect: more fine lines and damaged skin). You may not believe it but these machines are based on very serious NASA studies of the effect of certain wavelengths on the skin and the health of astronauts. The green light is supposed to reduce spots but the tests are conclusive only in the lab, but not in real life. The two blue and red lights are enough. Trust well-known brands such as Neutrogena (Amazon link) and Talika(Amazon link, Sephora link).

Be aware that if your acne is of hormonal origin, you must continue to regulate excess sebum.
It is NOT necessary to switch to normal products from the 1st period without pimples.

Well, I hope I didn’t knock you out, that’s a lot of information all of a sudden I know I know. To recap, here’s the routine I recommend:


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Uriage Thermal Water Uriage Thermal Water
Moisturizing serum: Clarins Anti-SoifOu
Lotion à l’acide hyaluronique Goku-Jyun Hada Labo (light version, green color)
Or MMHC 2 by Niod

Treatment/antioxidant serum: Phloretin C F from SkinCeuticals all over the faceor
InstaNatural Serum Vitamin C
or C-Glow from Geek and Gorgeous

Treating product: Niacinamide 10% + 1% Zinc from The Ordinary on problem areas
Paula’s Choice Resist Booster 10% Niacinamide on problem areasOu
Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence on the whole face ( be careful as it is an essence, it is to be used before the moisturizing serum)

Moisturizing serum: Clarins Thirst Quencher
or Lotion à l’acide hyaluronique Goku-Jyun Hada Labo
or MMHC 2 at Niod
Moisturizing Cream with SPF: Nuxe Fluide Expert Anti-Spot SPF20 for normal skin to use if it is too oily for you with 1 to 2 drops of No-Sun d’Esthederm
Moisturizing Cream with SPF: Nuxe Fluide Expert Anti-Spot SPF20 for normal skin to use if it is too oily for you with 1 to 2 drops of No-Sun d’Esthederm

Note: Please note that I do not make you use niacinamide or copper peptides with vitamin C at the same time


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Make-up Removal: WellDermaDiscs OR Washable Discs OR Simple micellar cleansing water
& Facial cleansing: Blue Rosette cleanser to be used with a FOREO
Make-up removal: WellDerma OR Washable discs OR Simple micellar cleansing water
& Face cleansing: Blue Rosette cleanser, to be used with a FOREO
Uriage Thermal Water Uriage Thermal Water
Moisturizing Mask (every day ideally): Aura d’Antipodes Exfoliating lotion: P400 PIGM de Biologique Recherche (2 to 3 times a week)
Moisturizing serum:
Clarins Thirst Quencher
Or Hyaluronic Acid Lotion Goku-Jyun Hada Labo (light version, green color)
or MMHC 2 at Niod
Moisturizing Mask (2 to 3 times per week): Aura d’Antipodes
Treating product:
Niacinamide 10% + 1% Zinc from The Ordinary on problem areas
Paula’s Choice Resist Booster 10% Niacinamide on problem areas
Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence on the whole face ( be careful as it is an essence, it is to be used before the moisturizing serum)
& Gorgeous aPAD, on the whole face
Moisturizing serum
Clarins Thirst Quencher
Hyaluronic Acid Lotion Goku-Jyun Hada Labo
or MMHC 2 at Niod

Moisturizing cream
Benton Steam Cream
If it is not nourishing enough in winter: mix with a drop of argan or tamanu oil

Treating product:
Niacinamide 10% + 1% Zinc from The Ordinary for prevention, on areas at risk of pimples when approaching menstruationOu
Paula’s Choice Resist Booster 10% Niacinamide on problem areasOu
Benton Snail Bee High Content Essence (be careful as it is an essence, it is to be used before the moisturizing serum)
Or Geek & Gorgeous aPAD, all over the face
Treating the most problematic pimples: Mario Badescu or Etude House AC Clean Up or Duo+ from La Roche Posay or Anti-Imperfection Patches Moisturizing cream: a mix of aloe vera gel AND l’huile de tamanu (2 drops only)
LED Light on Problem Areas (Daily) Full face LED light (2 to 3 times a week)

To set up these routines

  • It is necessary to go slowly. Introduce 1 to 2 new products at a time (maximum) for 3 weeks (to see if it works for you or not), for example, a product that regulates sebum at the same time as a moisturizing product. Do not introduce 2 drying products at the same time, it will be counter-productive. Here is the recommended order:
    • new cleanser & new moisturizer
    • new thermal water & new masks
    • then new treating serum & new moisturizing serum
    • the rest
  • For products that I specify that you need to do a patch test, test first behind the ears before applying to your face
  • My recommended products are not organic (not my thing)

If this article isn’t long enough for you, go to the FAQ about these routines & see my current routines here

Anh est toujours très occupée à profiter de jolies choses, et à fabriquer de petites bricoles de ses propres mains. **** Hi, my name is Anh. I am a Vietnamese-French DIY passionate, beauty lover and cosmetic tester.

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