My Skincare Overhaul and Reviews

Good evening bloggers, and happy Friday! Today’s post is going to be a long-winded and boring affair. Since I was about eleven years old, I’ve been suffering from an oily complexion and moderate acne. In the latter half of my life, there have been maybe six months in total where my skin has been something approaching clear (thank you, Dianette). The rest of the time, I’ve been putting up with greasy, bumpy skin, cystic acne, blackheads, blocked pores and scarring. I’ve tried every antibiotic, several different contraceptive pills and countless washes, gels and creams – everything short of Roaccutane. I even tried Clinique’s Three Step System, which just left my skin oilier and spottier. Nothing has worked for a meaningful period of time.

In recent months my skin has been even more bothersome. While I don’t suffer too badly with cystic acne anymore (barring that monthly week of JOY), my skin has been feeling greasy and covered with tiny, hard bumps full of sebum. I had a breakout in reaction to Lancôme’s Teint Idole Ultra 24h foundation back in January, and my complexion just hasn’t recovered since. My only option has been to wear super heavy foundation, which I just don’t want to do everyday. At the end of my tether, I consulted the lovely ladies on and they gave me some fantastic advice. On foot of that, I’ve been amassing a new collection of skincare products in the hope that I’ll see an improvement soon! Before this, I tended to use whatever was on offer or lying around the house but, believe me, I’m seeing the error of my ways now!

So here’s my collection-in-progress!


Starting with cleansing, I bought Garnier’s Micellar Cleansing Water for €6.29 in Boots, which I reviewed for Hey Dolly. 

I suspected that a large part of my problem may have been a failure to completely clean off my make-up everyday, which we all know is skincare sacrilege. I had been interested in trying out a micellar water for quite a while, so this was the push to buy one. For the price, it is fantastic at washing away all my make-up without any alcohol, so it’s gentle and non-drying. While the days of make-up wipes are long behind me, cleansing just once each night really wasn’t enough, but now I feel like I’m really thoroughly cleansing my skin of all the products and dirt that build up over the day. 

To my shame. I had been using Clean & Clear cleansers for the last couple of months, purely because my mum kept buying them and they were always just there. But I’ve realised my foolishness, and ditching the Clean & Clear has possibly been the most effective thing I’ve done so far. Not wanting to spend too much on a cleanser just yet, I purchased the Botanics Shine Away Mattifying Cleansing Mousse for about €7.
(It did have a lid at some point)
This has been rather favourably reviewed by other bloggers, and I think it’s a great budget-friendly option for oily-skinned gals like me. The Botanics range was borne out of a collaboration between Boots and Kew Royal Botanical Gardens which uses ‘active plant extracts’ to create effective skincare at affordable prices. This cleanser contains willowbark, which apparently is a natural source of salicylic acid, an acne sufferer’s best friend. The thought of a foam made me a bit nervous, but it’s surprisingly rich with a fresh citrus scent. It does leave my skin slightly tight but that soon fades away, so I’m not too worried. I really do feel that it’s helping to thoroughly cleanse my skin; it does very very fresh after washing.
Until I can afford something a little more luxurious (because I am a skincare snob, all of a sudden), I’m more than happy to use this everyday and when something new comes along, this will be left in my boyfriend’s house so I’m never caught short.

A few posters on Boards had recommended that I buy a clarifying lotion or microfoliant. Already being a fan of La Roche-Posay, I decided to try their Effaclar Stringent Micro-Exfoliant Lotion for €13.25.
Having been told that I was exfoliating with facial scrubs far too often (three times a week!) I bought this as an alternative to harsh scrubs that were probably damaging my skin. With the Effaclar, at least I can get all the benefits of an exfoliant without hacking my skin to pieces. This big, bright bottle uses cleansing agents and ‘micro-exfoliant LHA’ to unblock and refine pores . It smells very fresh, if a little chemical-y, and you wouldn’t believe the amount of gunk coming off my skin when I use this with a cotton pad – and that’s after the micellar water and the Botanics cleanser. As it turns out, my face gets very dirty during the day! With this, I definitely feel like my face is getting the best clean possible. I was worried that using it twice a day might be too drying, but so far I haven’t noticed any evidence of dehydration, and other bloggers who recommended it have mentioned that they used it twice daily also. The pores around my nose have shrunk nicely, even more so since I began using this (a week after I began using the cleanser, so I can say for certain that the Effaclar is the reason). This will definitely be getting repurchased.
I’ve heard fantastic things about the Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant, which I hope to try someday. But at €51.20, it won’t be a contender for my Effaclar any time soon.

Another tool in my exfoliating arsenal is the aforementioned Soap & Glory Scrub Your Nose In It
Being entirely honest, I haven’t gotten around to using this since I first reviewed it. I’ve just had so many other products to try out lately, and I’ve been reining in my exfoliating habit to once a week, as I was quite possibly drying out and damaging my skin beforehand, leading to irritation and the overproduction of oils to compensate. I’m planning on cracking out this baby next week though, it’s pore-refining talents are just too amazing to dismiss. 

I haven’t used a facemask since experimenting with those Montagne Jeunesse sachets as a teenager – flashback or wha’?! But I felt that it was time to return to the land of stiff faces and dirty bathroom sinks, so I picked up another Botanics product, their Shine Away Ionic Clay Mask for €9.99.
This was a bit of an impulse buy, as when I saw it in Boots, something in my brain yelled ‘Hey, clay is good for crappy skin’. So I bought it, and I am thrilled that I did. Reviewed favourably by other bloggers, this is a fantastically affordable facial in a squeezy tube. I thought it might be a stiff, thick (LOL) formulation that would have the pliability of tar, but it’s actually a bit watery so I recommend shaking it first and working quickly. Once it’s on, you can feel it tightening on the skin, as though it’s literally shutting your pores. It dries to a rather pretty light green colour and rinses off with ease. Afterwards, my skin felt incredibly soft and so, so clean, even a couple of days later. Like the Botanics cleansing mousse, it contains the salicylic acid derivative willowbark, which is music to my ears. It’s probably too drying for less oily skins but I adore it. This mask will be a weekly skincare staple for me.
And here is a snap of me wearing said mask. For scientific purposes.

After using my Effaclar micro-exfoliant, I turn to a LRP favourite, their Effaclar Duo, which isn’t available in Boots but can be bought in larger pharmacies for ~€16.
I bought this about a year ago to tackle my problem skin and, while it wasn’t enough on its own, it still made an impact. It promises to reduce the appearance of blemishes and unclog pores. This product is a strange beast; while I don’t always see the results after using it twice daily, if I stop using it, my skin goes bezerk. So it must be doing something beneath the surface of skin, which is the main thing. It smells rather pleasantly of pollen and is light enough to wear under moisturiser. Some may even find it sufficient without moisturiser, but I prefer to use both steps to be on the safe side. Right now, given the plethora of blemish-fighting products I’ve started using, I’m only putting this on in the morning to conserve it.

Next up in my extended skin care routine is a more recent impulse purchase, the Body Shop’s Tea Tree Skin Clearing Lotion for €11.95.
As much as I loved my Soap & Glory For Daily Youth moisturiser, I think it was just a tad too rich for me. The presence of coconut oil amongst others was just that bit too much for my already greasy skin to handle, so I’ve relegated it for emergency hydration needs as I can’t bear to throw it out altogether. I tricked my debit card into buying this Body Shop lotion for me, as I’d just run out of money in Boots but the payment hadn’t fully gone through before I bought this – how naughty! Tea Tree oil is a natural antibacterial agent and a common ingredient in breakout-treating products. Tamanu oil, another ingredient, apparently accelerates skin healing and the growth of new, healthy skin. I adore the smell of tea tree, which is lucky because this light, water-based lotion reeks of it. It’s easily absorbed, leaves no residue and its shine control honestly does work.  I have a more matte base before I apply make-up when I use this, resulting in less blotting and fewer powder touch-ups – win. Although I haven’t been using this for long enough to see any blemish-clearing properties, I’m hopeful that this will continue to improve my skin.

For targeted spot fighting, I’ve found yet another LRP miracle worker, the Effaclar A.I. Targeted Breakout Corrector
I gave my first impressions of this little tube of power already and I’m pleased to report that I’m still really happy with this. All you need is a tiny dab of this lightweight fluid and it speeds up the process of a developing spot, bringing it to a head and helping it heal at a far quicker rate.  I won’t claim that it makes spot vanish overnight because it doesn’t, but it reduces inflammation and kick starts the healing process while aiming to prevent scarring. In the long run, it will become more apparent if it actually is effective at leaving me with less scarring from spots. Another plus is that it’s so easily absorbed by the skin that I have worn it under make-up without any issues whatsoever. A gem of a product.

So there is my extensive, intensive skincare regime as it now stands. I won’t lie, in order to improve my skin I’ve had to invest quite a bit of time and money. I’m bankrupting myself every week but it will totally be worth it in the long run if I discover a routine that keeps my skin relatively clear and grease-free. I’m not long into this new routine so I can’t say that I’ve seen amazing results so far. I’m in the middle of a menstruation-related breakout right now, which may partly be a result of dormant blemishes being forced out of their homes by all the new lotions of potions I’ve been trying. That aside, the rest of my skin is already feeling fresher, cleaner, softer and less greasy, which I’m delighted with. As that breakout clears, I’m hoping to see a serious improvement in that regard. I’ll keep you updated!

I’ve also got my eye on a few other products that I’m desperate to try as soon as I can afford to: 
1. Ren Glycolactic Radiance Renewal Mask (a glycolic mask is something vital that I’m missing)
2. Ren Clearcalm3 Clarity Restoring Mask (I’m mad for the masks)
3. Ren Clearcalm3 Replenishing Gel Cream
. Ren Clearcalm3 Clarifying Clay Cleanser
5. Ren Clarimatte T-Zone Balancing Gel Cream
6. The aforementioned Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant
7. LRP Effaclar Purifying Cleansing Gel (with thermal spring water – oooh!)
8. LRP Effaclar K

The list is probably bigger, and is growing by the day. Now, where did I leave my moneybags?

Em xx


3 thoughts on “My Skincare Overhaul and Reviews

  1. Pingback: My Ren Obsession | ilyanaroseblog

  2. Pingback: My Morning Skincare Routine | ilyanaroseblog

  3. Pingback: La Roche-Posay Effaclar Foaming Gel | ilyanarose

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