If you follow me on instagram you’ll have been waiting for this post! For everyone else, here’s the cliff notes as to why I’m posting about skincare on the blog (and not even sarcastically, but for real!). I had pretty good skin my entire life until I started Keppra. When I started that I would get this weird occasional red spotty rash on my nose - it would flare up when I was run down or stressed (and actually it lined up pretty well with bad seizure days). Then last year as my dosage went up and up and up to finally the legal limit (4,000mg a day!) this rash was permanent. And spreading…all over my face. I was also run down all the time, could fall asleep standing up and felt pretty flipping drugged out! As you can see from the first picture - the black bags and sallow skin and red rash. I’ve been down about this skin thing for a while now because I am SO CLUELESS about skin - I’ve never needed to care. So I had no clue what to do. My neurologist doesn’t care about my skin, he just wants my brain to function properly. I was stumped. And it feels a bit silly to complain about your skin when you are having seizures constantly and could die at any moment, so I tried not to complain too much. Just took sadsack pictures and sent them to Lindsay.
THEEEEENNNNN I met with my bestie of 25 years for a coffee and we got to talking about being in our 40s and the joys that come with it and she said she had met with some friends of similar age a while back and they all looked unbelievable. So I said what are they injecting and how can we get our hands on it?! She said ‘Oh Janine, I have been sent all of the information in a series of WhatsApp messages, I’ll forward it all to you!’.
So, given that I was already desperate to do something with my skin (which was getting worse and worse and worse), I was highly motivated to actually read the information and purchase the products and then actually use them. I did all of this and -ohmyword - my skin is completely changed. It is smooth and hydrated, definitely less wrinkles, brighter, healthier, and - most exciting of all - the rash is gone. There’s a little bit of scarring which is getting better by the day, but there’s been no new spots since about day two of my new routine.
I wrote about this on my instagram and everyone wanted the #anonymouswhatsappguru skincare routine! But there were so many WhatsApps I couldn’t get the information out via instagram easily so I asked my friend if she would ask the guru if I could publish her extensive and very useful information here. She said yes! Yay!
My routine has gone from a quick rub with a simple wipe and maybe some coconut oil or nivea moisturiser. Maybe. Now I have a morning and night routine. In the morning I cleanse and most days I put that V55 max salicylic acid cream on followed by a good heavy moisturiser like Clinique Moisture Surge (as the V55 can be drying but boy does it work magic on spots). At night I cleanse and then put the Alpha H AHA on followed by a 20% vitamin C serum and a lighter moisturiser. Sometimes (as per the instructions on the box) I just use the Alpha H on it’s own as it’s supposed to be a better exfoliation that way. I’d say out of everything, the acids have made the biggest difference as my skin is so bright and smooth now. There’s not a single spot on my face. I can’t get over it.
That was supposed to be short and sweet. Sorry! And if you were here for the cute babies or witty stories about my life, I’ll be back to normal in the next post :)
Hopefully this helps someone out there because I know skin is problem for so many of us and we have no clue where to start! If you disagree with anything written here then you don’t need to tell me. This is a private WhatsApp conversation that I stole so it’s hardly like some masked charlatan has started up a clinic in their garage and is charging you all for this information. It’s free! Take it or leave it!
*Order of Routine*
Exfoliate (acid not a scrub)
I mostly try to avoid fragrance in any skin products. So if you see fragrance or Parfum high up the ingredient list I would avoid. I never use fragrance on anything for the kids as they have eczema prone skin. Most kids products are doused in fragrance. Bare in mind that as none of my recommendations have fragrance, they’re not going to smell nice or give you a real sense of pleasure to use but they’re going to work!
Essential oils - not good for the face and can be irritating.
Alcohol - always best for drinking not for skin! Again if it’s anywhere near the top of the ingredient list I would avoid. It’s irritating and drying.
As a general rule I would say that you don’t need to spend a lot of money on cleansers and even moisturisers. Most of your money should be spent on serums (I will discuss these in detail later!).
It’s a good idea to introduce active ingredients one at a time so you can see if you get a reaction and/or if it’s working. All the actives I will suggest are brilliant for the skin but you have to be careful to build up and not overdo it.
Finally be patient. Most of the key ingredients in the serums can take up to 3 months to show a difference.
Firstly wipes are not acceptable for your face unless in an emergency! Also don’t use a foaming cleanser. Nearly always they are going to dry out the skin.
If you don’t have time or can’t be arsed to wash your face you should use a micellar water with cotton pads. Bioderma or Garnier are good and will take off all makeup inc eye makeup.
I tend to cleanse twice in the evening. For the first cleanse I use a balm or cream cleanser to take get my makeup off. Then for a second cleanse I use a lighter gel like one to give the skin a final clean. I have combination skin so I like a light gel like cleanser to finish but if you have dry skin you’re probably going to want to stick to balms/creams.
Cleansers should be effective at taking make up off but shouldn’t contain any irritating ingredients. Also no point in having lots of active ingredients in them as they’re going to be washed off so quickly.
I like Clinique take the day off balm and also the oil version. Both are really effective. The oil isn’t actually an oil, it’s an ester, but feels like an oil. It also comes in a lotion.
Some other options that I haven’t used but are on my list to try are: cerave hydrating cleanser, la Roche posay toleriane dermo cleanser, Paula’s choice (lots to choose from depending on skin type). Also, boots have a new brand called YourGoodSkin and there is a hot cloth cleansing cream that gets great reviews and I will definitely be trying it. All of the ones above are around £8.
I would always recommend using a flannel or Muslim cloth to take makeup off.
As long as you avoid bad ingredients you just need to find a cleanser that suits you.
I’m keeping this one short! I’m on the fence as to whether you really need one or not. If you’re keen to keep your routine short then I wouldn’t bother as this is def the first step I’d drop. If you’re going to use one then the most important thing is to make sure you’re using a good one that doesn’t have any irritating ingredients as per my previous edition!
If you have one you use or one you’re thinking of buying send it through and I can look at the ingredients list.
In this section I’m focusing on exfoliating acids. In my opinion these should be used instead of a physical grainy exfoliator and they are a key part of your routine for brightening the skin:
Alpha Hydroxy Acids (AHAs)
They exfoliate the skin, stimulate collagen and are good for signs of ageing. The most well known one is probably Glycolic acid. It’s the smallest molecule in AHA family, which means it’s able to penetrate more deeply than some of the others. I’ve used it for years and wouldn’t be without it. However, you need to build up the % you use, starting low and gradually moving up if you need to. I’d say you want to start at no more than 5%, using the product 2-3 times per week. Depending on what product you’re using, you can then increase to daily usage and/or increase to a higher % product. For reference, I use a 10% PC product and use it most days. It’s worth noting that some people are sensitive to glycolic acid and just can’t tolerate it. It can also make skin sensitive to the sun. I’ve never known anyone to have an issue (is it ever sunny here anyway) but in saying that maybe it’s something that could be skipped when you’re away on holiday.
I’ll list a few glycolic options below but if anyone feels their skin is very sensitive there are other AHAs and also PHAs on the market which could be an alternative. I’m not detailing them here as I’m afraid you’ll lose the will to live!!
(I’ve used this one on and off for about 10 years and will always come back to it. The first night I used it it stung like eff for about 10 min but literally after a few uses it stopped and then very quickly my skin was looking much better). My sisters both use this too and I don’t think it ever had even any stinging at the start. I am very fond of quite a few products from this brand.
https://www.paulaschoice.co.uk/resist-anti-aging-advanced-smoothing-treatment-aha-m7651.html?dwvar_m7651_size=fullsize&cgid=exfoliants-products#start=0&top=385 (this is the one I’m currently using but may be too strong for someone just starting. However, PC has one of the best selection of acids you can get so have a look on the website and see what would suit you best).
(I haven’t used this one but def will give it a try. I also like a few other products from this brand).
Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHAs)
There is only one beta hydroxy acid, which is salicylic acid. It’s derived from aspirin so don’t use it if you’re allergic to aspirin! BHA also acts as an exfoliant but as it’s oil soluble it can actually get into the pore, which is why BHA is extremely useful for treating blocked or clogged pores. This is a must product for someone who has blackheads or spots. Again, you need to be careful what % you use and also make sure you use a good formulation and have other good products in your regimen. Basically this is an excellent ingredient but there are lots of shit products out there that have Salicylic acid in it and will dry your skin etc.
I use BHA 2% intermittently only on my chin and nose when I feel my blackheads are getting noticeable. So if I think they’re getting bad I’ll use this for 6-8 wks mist days and then stop if I think I don’t need it. I’ve only ever used Paula’s Choice for BHA and as her formulations are very good, I’ll probably never look elsewhere. Again check her different options out and pick one you think best suits you. She does a lot of travel sizes in both the AHA and BHA exfoliants so you could try them rather than spending on the full size.
Paula’s choice does a nice one that’s a light serum but it’s only 15% vit c, which is a perfectly good concentration, but as I’m hardcore I like to go into the 20s as a minimum! I’m about to try one from this brand, which is a great brand but I’ve never used their vitamin c.