AGNES at The Clifford Clinic: Avada Kedavra, Recurrent Acne!

Hello everyone!

There are plenty of myths and old wives’ tales surrounding our skin that I can turn a blind eye to. But what really grinds my gears is the false notion that people suffering from acne will eventually grow out of the condition. While it may be so for some lucky souls, this belief usually does not hold true for the more severe cases. A good case in point would be yours truly, who even at the ripe age of 29, is still battling with cystic and nodular acne, sometimes worse than what I had in my adolescent years.

I know, I know… This is the umpteenth post about my acne and you’re probably sick of reading about my acne encounters already. Plus, haven’t I already found the cure to my skin woes? Don’t get me wrong – the oral prescription and Q-switch treatment worked like a charm and helped my skin revert to the flawless state in my prepubescent days. No kidding, my confidence peaked and I was able to go anywhere without putting on any makeup and still looked great. However, with it comes an undesirable price that no one would be willing to pay – extreme brittleness and dryness in hair (caused by the medication), leading to thinning and baldness.

Nice skin but hair was so dry!

Nice skin but hair was so dry!

At first, I didn’t think much of it because bruh, what’s a little hair loss compared to years of terrible skin, right? That was, until I realised that my part had become way wider than normal and I was also leaving traces of my hair everywhere I went (think strands of hair strewn all over the canteen table, work desk, shared spaces, etc – how embarrassing 😞). I was convinced that I was going to be prematurely bald at that rate so I stopped taking the oral medication completely. Within two weeks of the cessation, BAM! The zits came back, this time populating a more extensive area of my face 😭

Bumpy face 2 weeks after stopping oral medication

Bumpy face 2 weeks after stopping oral medication

Bumpy forehead (and my thinning hair)

Bumpy forehead (and my thinning hair)

Dr Ee was naturally shocked to see the state of my face when I turned up for my appointment. He brought up the suggestion of undergoing AGNES but I was hesitant because I remembered stumbling upon an online article (he totally knew which) that refuted the efficacy of the treatment (especially the claim that it would make the skin permanently dry – which I honestly would very much prefer to having unrelenting breakouts). Dr Gerard Ee was quick to denounce the credibility of such sources with solid medical facts (that only very few oil glands are destroyed in proportion to the millions of oil glands located throughout the entire face) and make me feel that I was in good hands. So, I agreed to undergo AGNES right there and then 🙊

Zee AGNES equipment

Zee AGNES equipment

But due to the rigorous nature of the treatment, I was advised to embark on it during the school holiday so that I wouldn’t have to deal with rude stares and comments from people I met. I was so glad I heeded his advice because I wasn’t expecting the treatment to be so potent 😱

Cleansing the face again

Cleansing the face again

Topical anaesthetic cream was administered to my face about 20 minutes prior to the treatment. After the slight numbing took effect, I was led into the treatment room where an aesthetician would cleanse and scale my skin. This step involved full-face drainage with the much-dreaded extraction which – I swear to God – wasn’t as excruciating as what I had experienced before (though it still hurt despite the anaesthetic cream). This could possibly also be due to the fact that most of my zits were “ripe” and hence didn’t require the extractor to go too deep into the skin.

Extract those gunk!

Extract those gunk!

 

Once those nasty gunk were out of the way, the same aesthetician applied a clear, light-blue, semi-cooling gel (or electrode gel) on my face before sticking an adhesive rubber pad (called ground plate or neutral electrode) on my back to enable monopolar radio-frequency current to penetrate the tissue through a tiny microscopic needle that would later be inserted into my skin follicle and sebaceous glands. The needle insertion was performed solely by Dr Ee under microscopic guidance to allow highly accurate targeting of overzealous glands without thermal injury to the skin. Upon each insertion, he would step on a foot switch to emit a pulse of electric current to destroy the identified problematic sebaceous glands.

All ready to be AGNES'd!

All ready to be AGNES’d!

Some discomfort was definitely felt with each zap (it intensified on the not-so-fleshy parts like the forehead) and I was pretty sure that if I were any less tolerant to pain, I would have been reduced to tears at the end of the treatment. Throughout the whole process, Dr Ee and his assistant (the aesthetician) tried to keep me calm by making small talks, and it also helped that familiar instrumental music was playing in the background to distract myself in between conversations.

Ahhhh ouch!

Ahhhh ouch!

The sacrifices I make for clear skin...

The sacrifices I make for clear skin…

My face was noticeably much redder and bumpier than before at the end of the treatment. The little dried blot clots all over my acne-prone areas caused by the continual poking had undoubtedly left me feeling so self-conscious that I wouldn’t go anywhere outside my house without a surgical mask for the next few days.

Immediately after the first session of AGNES

Immediately after the first session of AGNES

Day 2 (before the follow-up appointment) - affected areas had dried up quite a bit. I did not put on any face cream here

Day 2 (before the follow-up appointment)Day 2 (before the follow-up appointment) – affected areas had dried up quite a bit. I did not put on any face cream here

(Day 2, pre-appointment condition) The other side

(Day 2, pre-appointment condition) The other side

The hair follicles would be filled with exudate and debris after the treatment so it was imperative for me to return to the clinic the following day to remove them lest they become a source of infection. The post-care treatment includes melting the treated areas (using a bipolar device to deliver a suitable amount of heat to the skin) to facilitate the extraction of sebum and debris. At the same time, it would also prevent scar formation. The follow-up treatment was wholly administered by the aesthetician since it was minimally invasive (save for the extraction process) and it lasted no more than 15 minutes.

Applying electrode gel

Applying electrode gel

With electrode gel on

With electrode gel on

Melting treated area for easier extraction

Melting treated area for easier extraction

Merry-go-round on the face

Merry-go-round on the face

Cleaning up the gel

Cleaning up the gel

Face became slightly redder

Face became slightly redder

Extraction

Extraction

Thankfully, those concerned spots (which were now scabs) gradually diminished in size and became less conspicuous over time before finally disappearing without a trace after close to two weeks. During this recovery period (which may vary from one individual to another), I had to stay away from the sun and make-up – something which everyone knew I could never imagine being without.

Day 3. Zits turning into scabs!

Day 3. Zits turning into scabs!

Day 3. YES I could totally feel them healing

Day 3. YES I could totally feel them healing

AGNES certainly brought some inconveniences (imagine having to deal with curious glances and explain repeatedly that you are not ill to those who think otherwise just because you’re wearing a face mask), so much so that it had made me wonder for a split second if I had made a mistake in agreeing to go ahead with the treatment. But seeing how my face has cleared up and remained largely spotless until now (with most of my hair still intact), I think the trouble I had gone through was worthwhile.

Day 5. SO MUCH BETTER!

Day 5. SO MUCH BETTER!

(Sorry for the blur quality) Almost entirely gone on Day 8!

(Sorry for the blur quality) Almost entirely gone on Day 8!

Could already put on some light makeup by Day 11!

Could already put on some light makeup by Day 11!

Of course, it is still too early to tell if this treatment is a hundred percent effective (but I must say progress has been rather promising so far). I’ll continue to monitor my condition and keep you guys posted if anything crops up.

Would you consider AGNES for your persistent acne after reading this review? Share your thoughts or experience with me (if you have undergone this treatment) in the comments below! 😊 If you are not ready for AGNES yet, be sure to check out the other acne treatments offered by The Clifford Clinic here as well !

Thanks for reading!

The Clifford Clinic · 24 Raffles Place #01-03 Clifford Centre Singapore 048621 (Exit A from Raffles Place MRT) · Tel: 6532 2400 / 8318 6332 (WhatsApp) · For more information about AGNES, do visit Their website or Like them on Facebook and Instagram.

Follow me on Instagram and Facebook for bite-sized beauty updates!

Individualised Acne Treatments at The Clifford Clinic: Hydrafacial + Q-switch Laser + Topical & Oral Therapy

Hello everyone!

LONG READ WITH SOME REVOLTING IMAGES AHEAD BUT THE INFORMATION YOU’LL SEE IS VERY BENEFICIAL FOR ACNE SUFFERERS, I PROMISE

Pardon me for sounding like a broken record, but for the sake of new readers who have only seen spotless (pun intended) pictures of me in my makeup reviews, I need to make a revelation: they were most likely photoshopped to save you from throwing up. “But why? Are you that ashamed of your flaws?” Of course I am, especially when struggling with acne as bad as this:

This is still far from the worst I've experienced

This is still far from the worst I’ve experienced

Having suffered from acne since I was 15 years old, I know firsthand the stigma attached to it. At my lowest point, I dreaded going outdoors because my pimply face would attract looks of disgust. A trip to the mall was never one without pushy salespeople reminding me about my skin condition in a desperate attempt to sell me acne-fighting products. With my confidence at rock bottom, I kept to myself as I was afraid the next conversation would revolve around my face, again. I was apprehensive about standing up for myself in conversations or arguments for fear that my acne would be used against me, and I lost count of the number of times I broke down in front of the mirror – all these aggravated by the fact that I’ve been called “pimple girl” or “mo peng” (Hokkien for pockmarked face) for the most part of my secondary school life.

According to the American Academy of Dermatology, acne vulgaris – or commonly known as acne – is almost like an epidemic which plagues about 85 percent of teens in each generation. Depending on your luck, the condition may persist for only a year or two, or when you eventually grow out of it. But unfortunate souls like myself have to deal with it for the decades because literally nothing worked to cure it. Some topical products did help to subside a few existing cysts, but not without allowing new ones to form. Thus for 13 years, my face was constantly riddled with angry pimples and scars which no amount of makeup was able to conceal due to their dark and bumpy nature.

M Y T H   D E B U N K E D
Contrary to popular beliefs, acne is not caused mainly by poor personal hygiene although cleanliness does play an important role in skin care, and this is coming from me, whose once porcelain-smooth complexion was blemished by agonising pustules and cysts time and time again despite being a clean freak and religiously washing my face twice or thrice each day. So don’t, for God’s sake, tell an acne sufferer that she’s in dire need of a shower. It’s not funny.

The acne eruption became so extensive and severe as I grew older (how ironic, when acne is supposed to get better with age) that I had conceded to the fact that I would have to live with breakouts for the rest of my life..

..until Dr Gerard Ee of The Clifford Clinic came to my rescue. In fact, their acne treatment wasn’t one of my initial considerations because I thought my condition was already under control by the antibiotics given by my previous clinic. But as soon as the course was completed, BAM! The pimples returned in full swing. Seeing how promising their acne treatment is, I decided to take a leap of faith and entrust my face to Dr Ee.

Surprisingly, much as this condition is mostly associated with puberty, adult acne has also been on the rise globally with “more than 50 percent of women in their 20s suffering from acne, and over 35 percent and 26 percent of women in their 30s and 40s respectively” going through the same ordeal. Although the causes for adult acne are debatable, research has shown links to hormones and genetics, not forgetting stress which is prevalent in today’s fast-paced society so you never know when you’ll be affected by this distressing problem.

To gear you up for any unforeseen bumpy ride, below are some acne treatment options I had explored at The Clifford Clinic which you may want to consider trying out in times of crisis. For the handful of you who have been suffering from since adolescence, they might just be the permanent answer to your skin woes.

HydraFacial

HydraFacial® is a medical-grade treatment and the only hydradermabrasian procedure that cleanses, detoxifies, exfoliates, extracts and hydrates all at once to achieve better acne control for all skin types and complexions. A non-ablative facial treatment that uses the patented 4-in-1 Vortex Technology™, it involves a four-step process including Vortex-Exfoliation™, Vortex-Peel™, Vortex-Extraction™ and Vortex-Fusion®, each marked by a different coloured HydroPeel® tip for attaching to the handpiece. But most incredibly, the whole procedure only takes less than 45 minutes (depending on whether you have makeup on) while offering noticeable results with no downtime, thus making it a great lunchtime beauty fix.

HydroPeel® tips

HydroPeel® tips (source)

Before beginning each treatment, my therapist would carefully remove my eye makeup with a couple of drenched cotton pads, and then gently massage cleansing foam into the rest of my face. The makeup removal process is so soothing that I would admittedly wear makeup to the treatment even when there wasn’t any need to just so that I could enjoy those additional minutes of pure luxury 😝 Most of the time, I would descend into a rejuvenating sleep at this point.

Note: all images are unaltered and were taken during the first session unless otherwise stated
Melting away the eye makeup

Melting away the eye makeup

Wiping away foundation

Wiping away foundation

Taadaah! My horrible skin!

Taadaah! My horrible skin!

Cleansing stage now

Cleansing stage now

Love the massage!

Love the massage!

But I have mixed feelings about the therapist touching my neck and collarbone hahaha damn ticklish!

But I have mixed feelings about the therapist touching my neck and collarbone hahaha damn ticklish!

Towel-drying my face before HydraFacial

Towel-drying my face before HydraFacial

(P/S: Kindly pardon my unsightly double chin. These were taken before my first Sygmalift session 🤣)

HydraFacial room

HydraFacial room

HydraFacial machine

HydraFacial machine

The treatment starts off with cleansing and exfoliation using Activ-4™ serum – a combination of Lactic Acid and Glucosamine – to resurface the skin and create a clean canvas. Acid peel is then performed using the GlySal™ solution (7.5% Glycolic Acid and 2% Salicylic Acid Peel) in tandem with Vortex-Fusion® technology to slough off dead skin cells before extraction is painlessly carried out with a vortex suction nozzle (instead of squeezing – ouch!) to draw impurities out of the pores. As a finishing touch to the now-radiant skin, Antiox-6™ – a powerful formula made up of the deeply moisturizing Hyaluronic Acid and detoxifying antioxidants such as Vitamins A, E, White Tea Extract, Horse Chestnut Extract and Rosemary Extract – is applied to replenish the skin’s natural elasticity and hydration. At the same time, it also helped detoxify and protect the skin from environmental free radicals. ˢᵒᵘʳᶜᵉ The therapist then concludes the treatment with a therapeutic massage on the face and neck area.

HydraFacial (Extraction)

HydraFacial (Extraction)

Sucking out more junk from areas with clogged pores..

Sucking out more junk from areas with clogged pores..

And my zits.. horrible, horrible zits..

And my zits.. horrible, horrible zits..

Absolutely pain-free!

Absolutely pain-free!

More massage!

More massage!

Time for mask! This step was specially incorporated into the session to suit my skin, so be sure to ask for it (additional charges apply) if you're keen!

Time for mask! This step was specially incorporated into the session to suit my skin, so be sure to ask for it (additional charges apply) if you’re keen!

One more snap before I doze off..

One more snap before I doze off..

Mask removal, and a little bit of massage

Mask removal, and a little bit of massage 😍

Post-HydraFacial!

Post-HydraFacial!

HydraFacial felt vastly different from all the facials I’ve had in the past. Every session was truly a relaxing and indulgent experience and I actually enjoyed every single part of it, even taking the opportunity to catch forty winks after a long day’s work which wouldn’t be possible with traditional facials. Unlike traditional facials that punish horrible skin with an excruciating extraction process which often leaves the face looking terribly blotchy at the end (also why I dreaded facials – my face always seemed worse than before so I often wondered why people pay to torture themselves), Hydrafacial manages to achieve similar effects (i.e. immediate reduction of redness and inflammation) without putting the person through sheer hell. In fact, Dr Ee does not advocate the use of comedone extractor or any form of squeezing for the main reason that these old-school techniques can potentially lead to scarring.

Psst.. first-time customers get to enjoy HydraFacial at an introductory rate! Find out more by calling The Clifford Clinic at 65322400 or through WhatsApp at 83186332.

According to the clinic, between 5 to 10 sessions are needed to clear up the whole face but as always, results vary from person to person. Much as I take delight in getting my face pampered, Hydrafacial alone did not come close to improving my condition which I suspected had been due to inner factors. So while it helped reduce clogged and congested pores to some extent after each session, it didn’t take long for them to revert to their original state *sigh* But instead of stopping Hydrafacial altogether, Dr Ee suggested I do it in conjunction with other treatments.

Can I interest you with pictures taken during my second HydraFacial session?

Can I interest you with pictures taken during my second HydraFacial session?

After the session. LOOK AT MY FACE.

After the session. LOOK AT MY FACE.

Right side

Right side

Left side

Left side

Topical & Oral Therapy

For optimal results, proper at-home care in between visits is imperative – that’s why Dr Ee prescribed a series of topical products to me to ensure that oil production was regulated even when I wasn’t in the clinic, and hopefully treat my acne too. The first set of products ranged from face cleanser to moisturiser and acne cream. But prior experience and more than a decade of trying my luck with topical products told me that they weren’t going to miraculously pull the plug on acne, so I requested for oral antibiotics to kinda like nip things in the bud.

First set of topical products from The Clifford Clinic

First set of topical products from The Clifford Clinic

Hence, apart from the clinic’s self-formulated Balancing Facial WashBalancing Facial Cream (a really light moisturiser which restores the levels of missing free fatty acids, namely linoleic and linolenic acid, without the excessive oiliness), and Stieva-A Cream (a tretinoin cream which stops acne growth by keeping skin pores clear and making skin less oily), I was also given a month’s dosage of green capsules called Doxycycline which supposedly target and kill the acne-causing bacteria in the pores while minimising any inflammation of the skin. True enough, my face started clearing up tremendously within a few days of taking the medication (although my skin did become flaky around the chin area), giving me the confidence of going makeup-free at work. I had found my cure – or so I thought.

On Doxycycline

On Doxycycline

Sadly, the effects were short-lived. Soon after completing the course, my pimples returned with a vengeance, causing daily makeup application to be ever more challenging and time-consuming on the bumpy surface. Doxycycline was then replaced with Ermycin, another antibiotics that prevents excessive oiliness of the skin. This was supplemented with Epiduo Gel, an antibiotic-free topical acne treatment with a fixed dose combination of 0.1% adapalene and 2.5% benzoyl peroxide and a proven track record of being highly effective on acne. But likewise, the condition was suppressed only right until the very last pill. And to make matters worse, my face reacted unusually sensitively (allergy reaction?) to the benzoyl peroxide in the cream despite the low concentration and swelled like a puffer fish. Worried that it would affect my day-to-day activities (it was my busiest week of the month), I paid an emergency visit to Dr Ee the following operating day and was given a soothing cream and some medication to calm the swelling (which thankfully went down in a week).

Epiduo day 2, one day before it officially turned me into a puffer fish

Epiduo day 2, one day before it officially turned me into a puffer fish

My face was starting to itch quite badly

My face was starting to itch quite badly

AND BOOM. My face turned crusty, warm and itchier. Furthermore, I couldn't take leave from work because I had an important presentation on that day! 😭

AND BOOM. My face turned crusty, warm and itchier. Furthermore, I couldn’t take leave from work because I had an important presentation on that day! 😭

With almost every option exhausted, Dr Ee persuaded me to try taking a kind of oral medication – a controversial one for severe acne conditions, in fact, which I had been resisting because of the scores of side effects it brings about such as extreme dryness of the skin and birth defects if a woman takes it during pregnancy, coupled with the fear that my acne would flare up even more after the course (this is a misconception, by the way). The prescription is an incredibly potent medication which works by cutting down the amount of oily substances (sebum) made by glands in the skin, and if this turned out to be ineffective as well, Dr Ee would have to resort to the AGNES treatment, which involves a downtime (not advisable for my job which long sick leaves are frowned upon) and high pain tolerance.

Determined to put an end to my nightmare, I relented and started with a low dose of the medication. In the first week, the unforeseen happened and my acne actually got worse. At that point in time, I felt kinda angry with Dr Ee for his “ill-advised” recommendation and was this close to quitting. But not wanting to leave a useless drug lying around, I decided to press on and complete the course.

One after another, the cystic pimples on my face shrunk and faded away as the days went by, leaving a baby-smooth complexion that was more glowing and flawless than before. Amazingly, I could even wear foundation for the whole day in humid Singapore and not spot a single trace of greasiness on my face! And for the first time in 13 years, people complimented my skin! But I didn’t want to keep my hopes too high only to be knocked down again by another massive breakout after the last pill so I waited..

After 10 hours, my makeup still looked the same as when it was first applied. Sorry for the lips.. couldn't control myself from picking them

After 10 hours, my makeup still looked the same as when it was first applied. Sorry for the lips.. couldn’t control myself from picking them 😭

And waited..

I am in love with my new skin

I am in love with my new skin

AND STILL NO NEW ZITS AFTER TWO WEEKS (and counting, even with a diet of fried food and late nights 😂)? Goddammit, this thing actually works! 

Excuse my French, but the prescription is the shit and I am kicking myself for not taking it earlier – it could’ve saved me from all the agony and self-loathing. My skin has never been better even though understandably, I have been getting itchy rashes all over my body. On top of that, my lips have also been chapping like crazy (arm yourselves with tons of lip balm!) and I have to refrain from using matte lipsticks. But sheesh, what’s chapped lips compared to a decade of acne-ridden skin? Lipsticks can wait 😂

This prescription had certainly enabled the other treatments mentioned here (without which my condition wouldn’t have improved so quickly) to perform more effectively. However, due to its possible complications, oral medication is only available on prescription only and you’d have to sign a consent form before it is dispensed to you. On top of that, what may work for me may not necessary work for others, so it’s always best to seek medical advice from a skin expert like Dr Ee who has probably seen (and cured) the worst of cases of acne.

Q-switch Laser

So, I have finally found a solution to my acne. Now what? The truth is, only half the battle is won. Those pesky pimples left behind a strewn of irate scars to remind me that they were never going to be exterminated.

My acne marks

My acne marks 😡

Thirteen years ago, they would have gotten their way. But not anymore. To eliminate acne and its remnants once and for all, Dr Ee recommended Q-switch laser, a no-downtime method for pigment removal (e.g. hyperpigmentation, freckles, melasma) which involves emitting short pulses of high-energy laser light towards the affected area to break down the pigment molecules into smaller fragments. The laser energy is cleared away naturally by the body’s lymphatic system upon being absorbed by the skin, making it safe with no side effects. Moreover, because this treatment only requires 10 to 15 minutes, it is typically done during lunchtime and after which, patients can expect to resume their normal activities.

SCARS BE GONE!

SCARS BE GONE!

Q-switch laser

Q-switch laser

Post-laser. Eyes turned red from the sudden change in lighting haha

Post-laser. Eyes turned red from the sudden change in lighting haha

A single session is capable of lightening or removing 70 to 100% of acne scars. In my case, probably 75% of my scars were visibly lighter than before while the more stubborn ones took about three sessions to be completely gotten rid of.  In addition, this treatment is also an excellent preventive measure against acne as it eradicates the sebaceous glands and removes the bacteria that causes pimples and acne. For pre-existing acne, it helps reduce inflammation and minimise pores so the skin is less prone to leaving marks.

But all these benefits are not without some stinging sensation as the procedure is being executed especially during the first few sessions which made my eyes tear behind the protective goggles 😂 Even so, the sting was still tolerable for me and it sorta diminished in intensity with more sessions. After the treatment, your nose will also constantly pick up slight burning smell (to be exact, the smell of fried facial hair) until you wash your face.

Still, these are small change compared to the many more years I would have suffered from acne if I hadn’t gone to The Clifford Clinic.

Skin now // 8 months after first consultation with Dr Ee and 4 months after starting on Oratane. Can't be more thankful to the clinic!

Skin now // 8 months after first consultation with Dr Ee. Can’t be more thankful to the clinic!

What are some of your experiences with acne and how did you deal with it? Also, let me know in the comments below if this review has helped you!

Thanks for reading!

The Clifford Clinic · 24 Raffles Place #01-03 Clifford Centre Singapore 048621 (Exit A from Raffles Place MRT) · Tel: 6532 2400 / 8318 6332 (WhatsApp) · For more information about the acne treatments offered by The Clifford Clinic, do visit Their website or Like them on Facebook and Instagram.
Treatments were complimentary in exchange for this review but all opinions expressed are my own.

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REVIEW: Foreo ESPADA Acne-Clearing Blue Light Pen

Hello everyone!

Temperatures are soaring globally and this spells trouble for those with acne-prone skin. Heat and humidity intensify oil production in our skin which in turn gives rise to (more frequent) breakouts. Hence, while blessed souls with amazing complexion just need to slap on some toner to prevent summer zits from sprouting, the not-so-lucky ones like us would have to take significantly more precautions to stop new ones from popping up on our already-blemished face. What is your beauty regime for the hot weather like?

Apart from the usual acne cleansers and medicated cream we sufferers are all too familiar with, the trend these days seems to be toward using at-home LED devices to treat pesky pimples. LED light therapy for acne is not certainly not new as it has been used by dermatologists for years. But receiving the therapy in a clinic could set you back a few hundred dollars per session, or thousands to complete the entire treatment (and it doesn’t guarantee that you’ll never get another pimple again). Handheld light therapy devices, on the other hand, are typically more affordable in the long run (a one-time payment of less than S$400) and are a more practical option because they can be used any time you want to avert an acne crisis.

Personally, I own a blue light device – a Foreo ESPADA Acne-Clearing Blue Light Pen gifted by my boyfriend for my birthday last year. It is quite a new product (less than a year in the market?) and was retailing for S$209 on Sephora. Now that the price online has been reduced by 30%, some of you may be tempted to give it a go but discouraged by the lack of reviews. Well, lucky you, you’ve come to the right place 😁 Read on to find out how I feel about the device!

Foreo ESPADA Packaging

Foreo ESPADA Packaging

Foreo ESPADA Packaging

Foreo ESPADA Packaging

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As a quick introduction (with most information obtained from here and here), the ESPADA (‘sword’ in Spanish, but Foreo is a Swedish brand) is a slim handheld acne-fighting device which combines Blue Light Pulse Technology and T-Sonic™ pulsations. Operating it is easy as it has only one on/off button on the front. Once switched on, it activates a red laser-like beam for more precise targeting of blemish. This is extremely useful as without this function, it would be quite difficult to tell beneath the flat surface of the head if you’ve accurately aimed the blue light at your desired spot.

On/Off button

On/Off button

Targeted light precision

Targeted light precision

See the red laser-like beam on my forehead?

See the red laser-like beam on my forehead?

Next, rest the device on the targeted area and it will let out 415 nm of blue light (LED) which penetrates deep below skin’s surface to kill acne-causing bacteria at the source, while the T-Sonic pulsations help the light diffuse into pores for maximum efficacy. This treatment is only initiated on contact with the skin to ensure safety for skin and eyes and conserve battery. The whole process does not involve any pain or discomfort with the only rumbling sensation you experience coming from the pulsations. Repeat the process twice for mild acne, or three to four times for moderate acne. I’m a kiasu (overly cautious) person so I tend to zap every zit, regardless of their severity, minimally three times.

Be prepared for tired hands..

Be prepared for tired hands..

The ESPADA has a built-in timer that enables the device to vibrate every 30 seconds with longer pulses to indicate the end of each acne-treating routine. It is also USB-chargeable and one charge can provide up to 240 treatments. Mine, in most cases, needs to be charged once every week if used daily (about 30 treatments each day) and it takes about 3-4 hours to be fully charged. The red light at the foot of the device starts flashing once it reaches a critically low battery level and the treatment stops abruptly the moment the device deems itself to have insufficient power to complete the routine. But sometimes, there would still be a teeny weeny bit of power left to keep it running for a couple more seconds, so if you’re thrifty like me, just keep hitting the button until it can’t be switched on anymore  😁

Blue light technology in action!

Blue light technology in action!

Designed with hygiene as a priority, the head of the device is coated in a special bacteria-resistant silicone that prohibits the spread of acne-causing bacteria. The waterproof body is quick-drying, easy to clean and nonporous to prevent bacteria buildup. This device is said to be most effective on clean skin so I usually use it after cleansing my face and would only wipe the head with a damp cloth (or rinse under running tap every other week) thereafter. It is very portable and comes with a grey pouch for easy storage.

Comes with a grey pouch that is big enough to fit the device and the complimentary USB cable

Comes with a grey pouch that is big enough to fit the device and the complimentary USB cable

Now, moving on to the efficacy of this product, the ESPADA clears up pesky pimples to a satisfactory extent but unfortunately, does not work on severe cases of acne like my big cystic ones which did not only go away, their size remained unchanged and were still as painful as ever. This device is only effective against occasional or smaller pimples – such as those with poppable heads – as it is able to dry them up faster and reduce the inflammation. Moreover, contrary to what it also promises, it does not (at least for me) prevent further pimples from forming.

Price-wise, I thought the ESPADA is pretty affordable (although I received mine as a gift) especially with the discount at Sephora now. It is a lot cheaper than another similar product by Tria (not available in Singapore) due to the fact that this does not require additional or changeable cartridges which will collectively cost more than the device itself in the long run. There are a handful of other products in the Singapore market that use similar technology (such as SKIN INC’s Optimizer Voyage Tri-Light and Clariancy’s Tanda Clear) but cost at least a hundred dollars more.

In conclusion, is Foreo ESPADA a worthy buy? If you’re a student dealing with teen acne, then for the love of your wallet, yes. Otherwise, this still makes a decent combat tool against the little bumps on your face.

Thanks for reading!

Disclaimer: modelled pictures were taken 1.5 months ago when I had massive breakout of cystic acne. pictures posted in the recent reviews show my visibly clearer skin after seeking professional help from a skin clinic. I will share that wonderful experience soon on this space.
keep your eyes peeled!
😉
The Foreo ESPADA Acne-Clearing Blue Light Pen is available in three colours (cobalt blue, magenta & pink) on foreo.com and at Sephora Singapore for S$206.

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Therapeutic Dermatologic Formula #2: How to Treat Oily Skin & Acne

ADVERTORIAL

Hey everyone!

Despite taking special care of my complexion, my skin is bound to have a major breakout at least once every month due to hormonal shifts (ladies should know what I mean). These are unlike my usual zits as they are typically cystic which mainly occur around my cheeks, chin, jawline and hairline/scalp (mainly at places which are out of sight). They are headless bumps that hurt to the touch and because popping them is close to impossible, they take weeks to heal! They can’t be concealed with makeup entirely too since the bumps would still be very obvious especially from the side. Furthermore, they often leave awful hyperpigmentation when they subside to remind me of the painful experience. Gosh, why is it so hard being a woman?! :\

Another issue I have during my menstrual cycle is the sudden influx of oil on the skin (also the cause of my breakout mentioned earlier). My face becomes a virtual oil slick and it melts down my makeup even when I stay indoors the whole day. I don’t have the habit of carrying oil blotting sheets with me as I had read that they would only lead to more oil production. Therefore I would try to avoid being photographed although sometimes it can’t be helped.

But the condition seems to have improved quite a bit ever since I started using Therapeutic Dermatologic Formula (TDF) products for oil control and acne care last month. From the the same range as the ones I had featured previously, I feel that these products serve as a corrective to oily and acne-prone skin rather than a preventive – very suitable for people who are already battling oily skin and acne. So if you’re looking for ways to deal with the shine and the unsightly pustules (or even cysts like mine), look no further!

(from left) Acne E-Rase, AHA Oily & Acne Solution & Clay Mint Mask from Therapeutic Dermatologic Formula

(from left) Acne E-Rase, AHA Oily & Acne Solution & Clay Mint Mask from Therapeutic Dermatologic Formula

Do note that these products work best as supplements to the 3-step beauty regimen (cleanse, tone, moisturise) I wrote about in the first TDF feature and should only be used when necessary or (as advised by an aesthetician) daily until the skin gets better otherwise you may risk having your skin dried up.

1. Control

For those with severe acne, normal cleansing alone won’t be enough to rid them. Therefore you’d need this to be part of your routine:

AHA Oily & Acne Solution 8 (100ml)

AHA Oily & Acne Solution 8 (100ml)

AHA Oily & Acne Solution 8 (100ml)

AHA Oily & Acne Solution 8 (100ml)

AHA Oily & Acne Solution 8 (100ml)

AHA Oily & Acne Solution 8 (100ml)

AHA Oily & Acne Solution 8 (100ml)

AHA Oily & Acne Solution 8 (100ml)

Immediately after cleansing and drying my skin thoroughly with the Deep Acne Facial Wash (a stronger cleanser for my menstrual acne, brief review on Facebook), I applied the AHA Oily & Acne Solution 8 liberally on my face twice daily, morning and night. This formula helps to control breakouts and clear up complexion and prevent blemishes from forming by clearing clogged pores, correcting enlarged pores and removing excess oil or other lipids present on acne-prone skin. When used regularly, the skin becomes smoother and shine is kept under control.

AHA Oily & Acne Solution 8

AHA Oily & Acne Solution 8

AHA Oily & Acne Solution 8

AHA Oily & Acne Solution 8

AHA Oily & Acne Solution 8

AHA Oily & Acne Solution 8

The solution is a colourless lightweight and runny liquid (like water) that rapidly absorbs into the skin with just a few gentle pats on the face. The excess evaporates like water and does not leave a tacky feeling on the skin.

Recommended sequence:

Cleanse* (AHA Facial Wash/Deep Acne Facial Wash) → Control (AHA Oily & Acne Solution 8) → Tone* (Mild Astringent) → Moisturise* (Ultra Light Hydrator)

*Compulsory

2. Correct

Pimple treatment gel/cream is one of my must-haves for bad skin days because it dries out and flattens specific pimples fast enough before an important event. They are my emergency breakout fix. But from my years of using various acne gel, most of them work better on regular pus-filled pimples and not the cystic ones. They also generally do little to stop the development of zits that have not surfaced. Isn’t it frustrating to be able to feel an oncoming pimple and yet feel helpless about it? Well, now you can!

Acne E-Rase (20ml)

Acne E-Rase (20ml)

Acne E-Rase (20ml)

Acne E-Rase (20ml)

Acne E-Rase (20ml)

Acne E-Rase (20ml)

Acne E-Rase (20ml)

Acne E-Rase (20ml)

The Acne E-Rase is a blend of advanced deep exfoliating ingredients (Salicylic Acid, Lactic Acid) that control the most common concerns associated with acne by regulating the sebum production.

The exfoliant helps to slough off dead skin cells that clog pores which can then cause a breakout. Salicylic Acid, for instance, is both an exfoliant and an anti-inflammatory which effectively reduces inflammation and relieves pain. It’s a lot less irritating like Benzoyl Peroxide (my nemesis – gave me a terribly swollen and crusty face on both occasions that I used it) so allergy level to this product should be relatively lower for those with sensitive skin.

Therefore, besides treating existing blemishes, breakouts and blackheads, this acne treatment gel is capable of addressing future blemishes before they even appear as well without over drying the skin.

Acne E-Rase

Acne E-Rase

Acne E-Rase

Acne E-Rase

A pale-yellow light and pellucid gel, the product flows out of the tube uncontrollably when I first removed the cover so do make sure you open it with the tip faced upwards. The Acne E-Rase is to be used after cleansing and drying the skin thoroughly and should be applied on the affected acne spot twice a day (once a few minutes before makeup to allow sufficient time for it to dry, and another before bedtime for me) until they are visibly reduced.

However, because acne treatment gel tends to be drying on the skin, you have to use a moisturiser (the Ultra Light Hydrator makes a great choice!) on top of it to prevent your skin from flaking. Basically, the general skincare rule is to apply the thinner product first so that the thicker one above can “lock in” the one below. Of course, the sequence varies according to different skin types and conditions. When in doubt, consult your dermatologist!

My pimple had clearly shrunk and dried out after application!

My pimple had clearly shrunk and dried out after application! (obviously I didn’t put on any moisturizer because I was too lazy)

I was way past my menstrual period when I took these pictures so I didn’t have any cystic acne (not like I wished there were!) to demonstrate the product on, but I did have some stubborn pustules. The result was quite amazing as I could actually feel that my zit had subsided and the small oncoming ones around it had also dried out completely. They could all be concealed entirely with tinted foundation by the following day.

Recommended sequence:

Cleanse* (AHA Facial Wash/Deep Acne Facial Wash) → Control (AHA Oily & Acne Solution 8) → Tone* (Mild Astringent) → Correct (Acne E-Rase) → Moisturise* (Ultra Light Hydrator)

*COMPULSORY

3. Mask

Facial sessions are the perfect excuse for you to relax on your couch/bed and do nothing (though I still use my phone sometimes hehe eh, don’t act like you don’t) so I am always looking forward to them. Not only are face masks easy and hilariously fun to use (who hasn’t scared anybody with their face mask before?!), it also delivers noticeable results after a single use.

Clay Mint Mask (60g)

Clay Mint Mask (60g)

Clay Mint Mask (60g)

Clay Mint Mask (60g)

Clay Mint Mask (60g)

Clay Mint Mask (60g)

Clay Mint Mask (60g)

Clay Mint Mask (60g)

Clay masks are normally recommended for oily skin because of the drying and tightening nature of their natural clay substances. The Clay Mint Mask combines natural earth clays – kaolin and bentonite – for intensive pore-purging and elimination of impurities. It decongests clogged pores by drawing out dirt, excess sebum and other cellular debris. Weekly use of this mask detoxifies the skin to unveil a clearer and more refined complexion.

Clay Mint Mask

Clay Mint Mask

Clay Mint Mask

Clay Mint Mask

The greyish-green product comes out of the tube like a toothpaste but it’s rather structured in a way that it does not break off easily from it so it won’t cause as much of a mess as the AHA Oily & Acne Solution 8 or the Acne E-Rase.

After cleansing

After cleansing

The picture above was taken at night, hours after applying the AHA Oily & Acne Solution 8 and Acne E-Rase illustrated above! Can you tell that the pimples (on the forehead especially) had reduced quite substantially? Their redness were now a light-pinkish.

With Clay Mint Mask

With Clay Mint Mask

Close up

Close up

To use, apply desired amount (the thicker the better but I’m prudent when it comes to using beauty products) of mask to cleansed face and neck (skipped this area because I didn’t want to wet my body) with finger tips or brush. The mask spreads evenly and hardens completely within 2-3 minutes. Leave on for 15-20 minutes and then, rinse it off with lukewarm water and pat the skin dry with a soft towel. As the name describes, the mask gives the skin a very therapeutic minty sensation (even more shiok in an air-conditioned room!).

Prior to this, I used mainly peel-off masks because it’s less time-consuming. But subsequently I realised that they are not as absorbent as clay masks and certainly a lot messier. Some experts have advised against applying mask after shower as they feel it would be too drying for many skin types yadda yadda (well, there’s always the other side of the coin ¯\_(ツ)_/¯) but I prefer to apply nighttime beauty products on a squeaky clean face and then conveniently head to bed thereafter. Furthermore, the facial pores would also be enlarged after a hot shower so the mask would definitely be absorbed into the skin more rapidly!

Recommended sequence:

Cleanse* (AHA Facial Wash/Deep Acne Facial Wash) → Mask (Clay Mint Mask) → Control (AHA Oily & Acne Solution 8) → Tone* (Mild Astringent) → Correct (Acne E-Rase) → Moisturise* (Ultra Light Hydrator)

*COMPULSORY

Now that I have managed to keep my pimples under control, the next step is to treat the hyperpigmentation left behind by my past acne! If you are trying to get rid of your stubborn hyperpigmentation as well, stay tuned for the next installment of my TDF skincare series! I have more tips and product recommendations in store for you 🙂

Hope this guide has been useful to you and many thanks for reading! 🙂

To find out more about my beauty regimen for oily and acne-prone skin, click here for Part 1!

ALL TDF PRODUCTS ARE EXCLUSIVELY SOLD AT ALL CLINICS, NATIONAL HEALTHCARE GROUP POLYCLINICS, SINGHEALTH POLYCLINICS, HOSPITALS AND PUBLIC/RESTRUCTURED SPECIALIST CENTRES. FOR MORE INFORMATION ON PRODUCT AVAILABILITY, CLICK HERE.

Therapeutic Dermatologic Formula (TDF)

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Therapeutic Dermatologic Formula #1: The Ultimate Beauty Regimen for Acne-Prone Skin

ADVERTORIAL

Hello everyone!

Being a long-time acne sufferer myself, I can fully relate to the inconvenience this common skin condition poses. As envious as I am of friends who are able to live by the simplest beauty routine (like, using just water to cleanse their faces) and yet still have perfect complexion, I know it is virtually impossible for me to do likewise and get similar results. But due to sheer laziness and the fact that I didn’t like the feeling of a pile of skincare products weighing down on my face every night, I had been depending on a single facial cleanser for years solely to keep dirt and oil from clogging my pores.

But with my recent breakouts (no thanks to the prolonged haze), I’ve come to realise that I needed to step up my game if I wanted to clear up my face. And to achieve that, I’d have to incorporate toning and moisturising into my daily beauty regimen. However, finding the right skincare products for my routine can be no easy feat, especially when I have oily skin that breaks out even with the slightest change in my regimen.

Luckily for me, I didn’t have to search high and low for a suitable product because help eventually came knocking on my door!

Thank you, Therapeutic Dermatologic Formula!

For oily and acne-prone skin

For oily and acne-prone skin

In case you haven’t heard of Therapeutic Dermatologic Formula (or TDF for short), it was first established in the USA and later Singapore in 1994. A pioneer in alpha-hydroxy acids (AHA) glycolic acid formulations, TDF’s areas of expertise include management of acne, pigmentation disorders, photo-ageing and ageing skin conditions. It is a respected name in the field of aesthetic dermatology and also a well-recognised prescriptive skincare brand among medical and aesthetic professionals.

As the saying goes, the best things in life are meant to be shared. Hence, in this first installment of a four-part skin care series, I will be sharing with you guys my day-to-day beauty regimen using TDF products. Have oily and acne-prone skin like me? This should definitely be interest to you so read on! 🙂

Let's begin by wetting our faces! (I wasn't kidding when I said I had breakouts, right?)

Let’s begin by wetting our faces! (I wasn’t kidding when I said I had breakouts, right?)

1. Cleanse

Regardless of gender, face washing is no doubt the most fundamental step in any skincare regimen, especially for night time. No matter how tired or sick I am, I would muster up my last bit of energy just to wash my face and get that squeaky clean feeling. Besides, the last thing I’d want to get during my sleep are more pimples from my contaminated pillow!

This beauty rule doesn’t just apply to people who wear makeup often as research has shown that cleansing is key to maintaining youthful looks. It does a lot more than rinsing the face with water which only removes about 65% of oil and debris from the surface. As a resident in one of the most humid cities in the world, it is also important to note that cleansing helps to unclog pores, dissolve dirt and makeup as well as to remove excess oils and prevent excess oil production in the day.

TDF AHA Facial Wash & Deep Acne Facial Wash

TDF AHA Facial Wash & Deep Acne Facial Wash

TDF has recommended 4 types of cleansers for their Oily and Acne-Prone regimen. Here, I’ve shortlisted two – the AHA Facial Wash and AHA Deep Acne Facial Wash. They are primarily catered for the same skin type, just that the former is suitable for oily and acne-prone skin (preventive) while the other is ideal for comedogenic and acne-ridden (corrective) skin. For clearer illustration, I will only be using the AHA Facial Wash in this quick guide!

TDF AHA Facial Wash

TDF AHA Facial Wash

TDF AHA Facial Wash

TDF AHA Facial Wash

The AHA Facial Wash is a 2-in-1 gel cleanser and exfoliator that combines with an acne-fighting alpha-hydroxy acid (AHA) and soothing botanical and marine extracts as well as antiseptic agents to help prevent flare-ups.

TDF AHA Facial Wash

TDF AHA Facial Wash

TDF AHA Facial Wash

TDF AHA Facial Wash

TDF AHA Facial Wash

TDF AHA Facial Wash

TDF AHA Facial Wash

TDF AHA Facial Wash

TDF AHA Facial Wash

TDF AHA Facial Wash

A pellucid pale green liquid at first, it gradually works into a lather upon contact with wet skin. It gently deep-cleanses pores, removes excess oil without over-drying and clears surface impurities. After cleansing, my skin felt very refreshed and supple!

Do wash with lukewarm water as too hot a water temperature can strip your skin of essential natural moisture and healthy oils. Try not to wash your face in the shower as the high water pressure can also break capillaries and in turn aggravate your skin condition. Besides, your skin will also become dry if it stays in water for too long!

2. Tone

After cleansing comes toning, which is absolutely necessary for people with oily skin. While toners are usually optional for people with normal skin type, they actually provide the extra kick needed by oily skin to remove any little traces of makeup that the cleanser is unable to reach.

Skin toners are available in several kinds – skin fresheners (the mildest form), tonics (slightly stronger) and astringents (strongest form). Astringents are normally recommended for oily skin as they tend to be drying. However, when the skin loses oil, it goes into an overdrive to produce more to keep its moisture balance in check. In view of this fact, TDF has come up with a milder and gentler version of astringent (hence, you probably can call this a tonic instead) so that your skin remains smooth and clean after use!

TDF Mild Astringent

TDF Mild Astringent

TDF Mild Astringent

TDF Mild Astringent

Similar to what I’ve explained earlier, the Mild Astringent is a clarifying toner that removes traces of cleanser and impurities. It maintains your skin at a healthy balanced pH level (which was distorted by the cleanser earlier on) and aids in the application of serum and moisturiser products thereafter. It helps to tighten and shrink pores, making it more difficult for debris and dirt to penetrate your skin. As a result, it also controls acne and prevents blackheads.

TDF Mild Astringent

TDF Mild Astringent

TDF Mild Astringent

TDF Mild Astringent

TDF Mild Astringent

TDF Mild Astringent

TDF Mild Astringent

TDF Mild Astringent

TDF Mild Astringent

TDF Mild Astringent

You can use own fingers for this step but I personally like using cotton pads to prevent wastage (and I don’t really trust that my fingers would be entirely clean too). Unlike the cleanser, you’d only need to apply the astringent to problem areas of the skin, such as the pimples themselves to prevent dehydration on unaffected parts.

Do prevent rubbing the cotton pad back and forth or it may cause irritation to your skin. In addition, toners are meant to be dried off naturally or absorbed into the skin so there is no need for you to rinse it away after that!

3. Moisturise

Finally, moisturise your skin after the toner has dried as a wrap-up to the regimen. The moisturiser helps to retain and restore the moisture (duh!) that was robbed in the process of toning. Nevertheless, this is a step that’s often skipped by those with oily skin due to the common misconception that moisturisers would cause the skin to appear “oilier”. In fact, it’s the complete opposite! Without moisturisers to increase water content of the skin, it would actually produce excess sebum to make up for lack of hydration and then defeat the purpose of this entire routine!

To tackle the problem of having an even greasier complexion after wearing a moisturiser, you can try a light one with mattifying properties like the Ultra Light Hydrator I’m about to introduce to you!

TDF Ultra Light Hydrator

TDF Ultra Light Hydrator

TDF Ultra Light Hydrator

TDF Ultra Light Hydrator

The Ultra Light Hydrator is a must-have mattifying moisturiser for oily and combination skin types. This sheer lightweight formula hydrates the skin to restore moisture balance and regulates sebum production, keeping blackhead-bearing oil at bay. Regular use enhances your skin’s texture, firmness and clarity. Oil-free and with a non-greasy finish, it is also excellent as a makeup base.

TDF Ultra Light Hydrator

TDF Ultra Light Hydrator

TDF Ultra Light Hydrator

TDF Ultra Light Hydrator

TDF Ultra Light Hydrator

TDF Ultra Light Hydrator

TDF Ultra Light Hydrator

TDF Ultra Light Hydrator

TDF Ultra Light Hydrator

TDF Ultra Light Hydrator

TDF Ultra Light Hydrator

TDF Ultra Light Hydrator (oops, a little too much here, but this picture is for illustration purpose only!)

With just a tiny amount, massage it into your skin in an upward motion (to prevent premature sagging) and be more gentle on delicate areas around the eyes.

Once you’ve completed the above, you’re done! It’s that simple 🙂

Here’s the result after going through the 3-step beauty regimen!

After

After (you can compare this with my Moisturise selfies)

Notice the natural glow around my face? I definitely felt a lot cleaner and more refreshed after using the recommended TDF products!

Do you have similar experience with TDF? Chime in below!

Thanks for reading and do stay tuned for the next installment 🙂

All TDF products are exclusively sold at all clinics, National Healthcare Group polyclinics, SingHealth polyclinics, hospitals and public/restructured specialist centres. For more information on product availability, click here.

Therapeutic Dermatologic Formula (TDF)

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My Skin Imperfections + How to Clear Pimples

Hello ladies (and maybe gentlemen as well)! Hope all of you had a splendid new year! I spent mine in Taiwan and I will definitely find time to blog about it soon!

Last week while looking into my mirror like how I’d usually do to prep myself for a night out, it occurred to me that my complexion wasn’t as bad as it looked 10 years ago when I had my first sudden outbreak of acne. I was kinda astonished because it was my time of the month and I expected more red bumps on my cheeks.

They say pictures are deceiving – that’s certainly true for me. I never had flawless skin since I was 15 when I started breaking out on my forehead, cheeks and jawline (strangely zits rarely formed on my nose). Prior to that, I had smooth and supple skin 😦 I was obviously not very proud of my complexion so I photoshopped my pictures ever since (which is a blessing in disguise because that was how I honed my photoshopping skills LOL) before publishing them online. My skin was at its worst during my secondary school days. My confidence plunged to the lowest level then and I totally avoided making eye contact during conversations as I didn’t want to see the other party scrutinising every detail on my face. Every pimple I popped, a few more would appear. I was so afraid to walk into pharmacies because I’d definitely get approached by salesgirls trying to promote me acne products. It was so depressing that I even broke down before my Mom once!

My acne-prone skin is definitely not hereditary though, for both my parents had perfect skin when they were young. My sister who is turning 20 this year, no matter how unhealthy her diet and lifestyle are, maintains a flawless complexion and has never had more than 3 zits on her face. Something must have gone wrong in my body system – I just can’t figure out what.

Nauseating pictures coming up. Swallow whatever’s in your mouth.. You’ve been warned.

Pimply me

Pimply me back in 2007 with Angel, who has passed away last August 😥

Pimply me 2

In 2007 again. SEE THAT BIG PIMPLE ON MY CHEEK?! homg.

Instead of berating my parents for giving me bad genes (lol), I tried all sorts of crazy pimple home remedies in hopes of clearing my skin before I entered Poly. I’ve tried applying toothpaste which stung my skin really bad, the juice of aloe vera, lemon (another bad choice) and cucumber. Sadly none of them worked at all so I turned to over-the-counter pimple treatments. The first I got was OXY pimple cream which gave me swollen face every time I used it.. because (I later realised) I’m allergic to Benzoyl Peroxide – the supposed chemical that kills pimple-causing bacteria. How unlucky can I get? Am I destined to have awful complexion? 😦 Then I got Avène, which improved my skin condition a little BUT somehow my face became oilier. Seriously?

I stopped using pimple cream entirely because it was taking a toll on my wallet (I was like 17 or younger. No money!). I tried drinking plenty of water but the zits left and returned with a vengeance what the hell. I almost gave up hope until one day somebody recommended me what seemed to be a dietary supplement. He was one of the buyers of Angel‘s puppies in 2007 and was taken aback by my terrible skin condition LOL. I was hesitant at first as it was pricey and the guy was also a part of the company which also makes him a promoter (something like MLM). But I gave it a shot still because desperate times call for desperate measures – my first Poly semester was commencing in a few weeks’ time! On top of that, he also allowed payment to be made later so I guess it ain’t that bad.

To my surprise, it kinda worked! I also lost some weight in the process – from 55kg to 48kg, my lightest on the scale. I still had some tiny zits here and there but I saw improvement in my skin generally. I stopped taking it after a few months because I was afraid that I’d be too dependent on it. Maybe due to this reason, my zits made a comeback. My face appeared mo-pengy (pot holes) side view because of the many tiny zits on my cheeks. Argh, so sickening!

Don’t bother asking the product name (nope, not Accutane) because it has been discontinued.

Then came my final year in Poly when I had to get an internship as required by the school. I managed to clinch a placement in a (now defunct and I’m so glad it did) fashion magazine as a design intern. F-A-S-H-I-O-N. It was like an Ugly Betty moment for me. How can a pimply-faced girl work for a fashion magazine? No way, I need to get rid of my zits. NEED.

It’s funny how easy an internship changed my lifestyle, probably because my grade was at stake. I associated appearance/image with confidence. With confidence, you’ll do well and if you perform well in your internship, you’ll get a good grade. I believe this applies to everything else you do. Oh and that was also when I started applying more make-up to boost my image hahahaha!

So yup as mentioned, I started leading a healthier lifestyle for the sake of looking good to feel good. Throughout my internship, I saw more radiance on my face with lesser zits – many times none – and my skin was also smoother which makes applying make-up so much easier! This was also achieved without the help of acne supplements and remedies.

For the benefit of those with troubled skin, this was how I cleared my pimples without spending a single cent:

  • Go to bed by 11.00 pm daily. This is a MUST.
    If you’re one who have got accustomed to sleeping past midnight, give yourself 30 minutes of buffer time to toss and turn in bed. You’ll get used to turning in early in no time!
  • Pin your fringe back (or wear a strong hair band) when sleeping
    Sometimes your fringe can aggravate your acne so it’s best to keep your hair off your face.
  • Change pillow sheets regularly (maybe once a week, or once every 2 days for the kiasus)
    Your acne-causing bacteria may be living in your pillow sheet since your face comes in close contact with it every night. It’s best to ensure you have a clean surface to rest your troubled skin on every night. When I travel, I bring a clean towel and I lay it on the hotel pillow before I sleep. 潔癖。
  • Don’t lie on your pillow/sleep without washing up first
    ..because by doing so, you’re transferring more bacteria to your sleeping area!
  • Drink lots of water (8 cups or 2 litres for me)
    This rule remains because water does help in ridding acne in a way.
  • If you need to pop a pimple, make sure you do it correctly
    Those who advised against popping pimples, seriously… You like seeing people with pus-filled spots, is it? -_- Anyway, I’ve been popping mine since I was 15 so I’m pretty skilled at it LOL. Make sure you wash your hands before doing so, and squeeze out the root of the pimple (hard yellow thingy followed by lotsa blood) or else it’s as good as not popping it at all. It will leave a scar of course but facial cream should be able to lighten it.
  • Exercise or jog regularly
    Yup, this definitely work for me! Your skin clears up and you lose weight. That’s killing two birds with one stone 🙂

1. Exercise helps by increasing blood circulation, carrying nutrients and oxygen to the skin and other cells, and transporting toxins and cellular waste for removal from the body, and

2. Exercise helps alleviate stress.  Studies have shown that stress hormones can increase oil production in the sebaceous glands, which is bad news for those already prone to acne.

Extracted from naturalacnedefense.com

Unfortunately once internship ended, I reverted to my old lifestyle. However I didn’t break out that often because I’ve learned how to take care of and pamper my skin.

Some product recommendations with pictures taken from Google because I’m just too lazy to snap my own pictures. These are also what I’m currently using:

1. ORIGINS Spot Remover

Origins Spot Remover

Image from tattooedtealady.com // Retails at S$29 at local Origins counters.

The image above shows “Super Spot Remover” but what we have here (unless they’ve changed it) is just “Spot Remover”. Not very affordable since it comes in a very small bottle BUT it lasted me for about 6 months because all you need is a small amount each time. It dries up within minutes of application and it has this menthol feel which is great! Coz it means it’s doing something hahaha! It helped clear some of my small zits but generally not effective on my bigger/more unsightly ones. However it’s a highly-raved product! It’ll probably work well on others.

ORIGINS locations:
Isetan Scotts ▪ Metro Paragon ▪ Robinsons JEM ▪ Robinsons Orchard ▪ Robinsons Raffles City ▪ Robinsons The Centrepoint ▪ Tangs Vivocity

* * *

2. Mentholatum ACNES Medicated Skincare

I first got this in trial size as part of my WKWSCI welfare pack last year. I’m usually very lazy to get out of my comfort zone and use product samples but I’m so glad I wasn’t for this!

Acnes Sealing Jell

Image from justjaslin.com // Retails at about S$9 at Watsons if I remember correctly

Acnes Powder Lotion

Image from thesnowflowerrr.blogspot.com // Forgot how much it retails for in Watsons but it should be less than S$10.

I only use 2 out of 3 products from this series: powder lotion and sealing jell. The last one is actually the face wash which I never touched since I already using one I’m comfortable with. The sealing jell is damn tokong I tell you! IT REALLY WORKS WONDERS!! Zits seldom appear ever since I started using the gel (jell?). I also apply it directly onto my popped pimples and they reduce greatly in size by the next morning! I’m using the full-sized ones and they are easily my favourite acne products at the moment!

3. 3M Nexcare Skin Care Acne Patch

3M Nexcare Acne Patch

Image from vivawoman.net // Retails at about S$5 for a box of 18 and $9 for a box of 36 in Watsons

Before I discovered Acnes products, I had been using Nexcare acne patch to tame my huge pus-filled pimples. I have been using this for YEARS and I believe I have spent hundred of dollars on this already hahaha! Basically this product “acts like a sponge to absorb the oily secretion, fluid or pus” of the pimple and yes, it works exactly like that! NO GIMMICK! The patch turns white and gooey on the side where it faces your pimple after a few hours of sucking. If you’re looking to stop your pimple from oozing after removing the white pus, this is the ideal product since it’s breathable to improve healing, and it doesn’t come off very easily. It works best on popped pimples though but that doesn’t mean it won’t work on headless ones! You’ll probably need a lot more of these patches to subside that huge painful one.

Since it can be quite costly in the long run, I’d usually wait for the $9.90 packs (includes 2 boxes of 36) to be stocked up in Watsons/Guardians so that I can sweep the shelves LOL. That’d probably last me for about 3-4 months. Alternatively, if you’re always travelling, you can buy this at a cheaper rate (but different packaging) from the Watsons there.

4. My Beauty Diary Aloe Sheet Masks (我的美丽日记)

My Beauty Diary Aloe Masks

Image from bonboncosmetics.com // Retails at about S$15 in stores but you can get it S$3-4 cheaper online OR if you’re in Taiwan, you can buy one box for just S$9! One box contains 10 pieces.

I chose this because aloe vera is known for reducing acne and scarring. It does reduce my acne quite a bit but only when used about 4-5 times a week. I used to leave it on my face overnight but I kinda hated the wetness around my jaw and neck so I now take it off after 20 minutes or so. It leaves your face refreshed and rejuvenated like any other masks!

Psst.. I recently lugged home 9 boxes of this from Taiwan HAHAHA! #crazy

5. The Body Shop Aloe Gentle Facial Wash

TBS Aloe Gentle Facial Wash

Image from thebodyshop.com.hk // Retails at about S$20-ish in local TBS stores.

Another aloe vera product! This is my current facial wash which I’ve been using for 3 years already. It doesn’t really contribute much to preventing acne but it’s kinda scentless and somehow light on your face? I don’t really like how some acne facial wash have this strong medicated smell and it feels so heavy on your face, if you get what I mean. Bleargh.

6. Clarisonic Mia Cleanser

Clarisonic Mia Cleanser

Image from miaclarisonic5.com // Retails at about S$168 in local Sephora stores

Last but not least, the very expensive cleanser from Sephora! This was a birthday gift from the boyfriend (I casually said that I wanted it and the silly boy took it to the counter) and I use it to cleanse my face after removing my make-up. Sometimes I feel that there’s still some underlying dirt/make-up in my pores even after cleaning my face with a wet towel or with wet wipes and this could potentially form pimples. After using Clarisonic, my face feels cleaner and “empty”! I usually use this before applying my Acnes lotion and gel.

That’s about it 😀

Some recent pictures of me with no make-up to erase those disgusting images of me from above in your mind before I end this post:

Me in 2012

Me in 2012

No make-up!

Me in Taiwan just a week ago 🙂

Until next time 🙂