Skin Care update

Time flies when you’re … taking care of your skin?

Overall Improvement

I feel like I’ve entered a new phase of my skin. Starting off, the asian-style skincare routine pretty much cleared up my lingering active issues. I’m still in awe, a bit. After about 2 weeks, the irritation/seb-derm around my nose pretty much disappeared, and I stopped applying the anti fungal.

Oil cleansing step is key for me

For a few weeks in July, I was feeling tired and unmotivated, so I was slacking on both cleansing steps. Big mistake! I didn’t see a recurrence of the seb derm, but I was seeing larger pores, more clogged pores, more unevenness, more whiteheads. After getting back on that train, things rapidly returned to the ‘new normal’ of … really nice skin???

Adding ‘actives’

On the Asian Beauty subreddit and on many skin care blogs, ‘actives’ refer to any ingredient that is clinically proven to treat skin in some way. The biggies are AHA’s (glycolic acid is the most common one to see in the US I think), BHA (salicylic acid is most common in the US), Vitamin C derivatives, and prescription drugs like trans-retonioic acid (aka Retin-A, Retinol, etc).

While my skin is at it’s most calm, I still have a lot of blackheads that get more and less clogged, depending on my cleansing routine. I still get occasional whiteheads popping up. And I still have a bunch of those little bumps, sometimes called millia that are like mini pre-whiteheads. It’s a clogged pore, but it isn’t irritated and it is well below the surface of the skin.

Since I don’t seem to have any active acne happening, I’d like to try to clear some of the lingering clogs, and possibly do some minimization of the acne scars that probably only I care about. I’m definitely on the more ‘mild’ side of the acne scarring spectrum, but I have a few deeper pit scars from a few really bad pimples on my cheeks. Again, probably I’m the only one who both notices and cares, but that’s how it goes, isn’t it.

To start out, I’ve been using more of the AHA+ from I’ve been using a generous amount daily in the evenings on my face and shoulders. The good news is that it seems to be surfacing some of the little spots. The bad news is that I do have a bit more in the way of small whiteheads than I think I would otherwise. So far, I’m willing to chalk this up to a ‘purge’ of existing clogs and not the formation of new clogs. Recently, I discovered that my AHA that I’ve been toting around for the last forever is *ahem* rather expired. That motivated me to order some new AHA and BHA products.

I’m starting a Korean product, Cosrx AHA Whitehead Power Liquid on my face, and have an American product, Stridex Maximum Strength Acne Pads, a 2% salicylic acid for either alternating with the Cosrx AHA, or starting after I’ve worked up to using the AHA regularly, I haven’t decided. Because these ingredients are pretty strong actives, most skincare communities recommend a) patch testing (which I’m skipping b/c impatient, I may live to regret this) and b) not adding a new product for at least 6 weeks. I’m not sure I can be that patient. I have a new sunscreen coming as well that is supposed to be more sweat/sebum resistant, so I will probably be throwing that in the mix as well.

There are two main issues that I may face.
1. Both AHA products are 10%, but one is not expired and also does not contain lidocaine (licorice extract) which is soothing, so it might be much stronger or irritating than I expect. I’m combating this possibility by being generous with my Mizon All In One Snail Mucin moisturizer.
2. I might react badly to one of the ingredients in either the sunscreen or the new AHA. I’m not really worried about reacting badly on my shoulders for whatever reason.

Current skincare routine

I’ve gotten a little suckered into the whole ‘Asian skincare’ craze, and it’s inspired me to step it up a bit in terms of taking care of my skin and working on clearing up my ‘adult acne’ that I’ve been battling for years and years now. Step 1: document what I’m doing now and how well it’s working.



  1. Remove makeup/sunscreen with either Jojoba oil or an argan oil that I got from Marshalls that is probably not (entirely) argan oil.
  2. Wash face with CeraVe foaming face wash.
  3. Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence.
  4. Target-brand anti-fungal around my nose for seborrhoeic dermatitis redness/dryness/flaking
  5. Either:
    a. Epiduo (benzol peroxide + tretinoin, expired)
    b. AHA+ (glycolic acid) from
    c. skip both if skin is looking good OR too irritated.
  6. Optional, depending on previous product application + skin condition + humidity/weather: jojoba oil as a final moisturizer. In the winter, I have to go to a much heavier moisturizer.
  7. low-dose hormonal birth control


  1. Rinse face with water
  2. Misha First Treatment essence
  3. Target-brand anti-fungal cream
  4. Olay SPF 15 for sensitive skin moisturizer.

I’m not really wearing much makeup these days. If I’m wearing anything, its some eyeliner and mascara. I don’t have time/am not motivated to do foundation/blush/anything else, and it’s gotten hot enough that it’d all melt off anyway.

Product notes:

  • Jojoba oil. I bought mine from It makes for a good medium-level moisturizer for me, except in the winter when it isn’t moisturizing enough. My bottle from has lasted for at least 5 years of intermittent use as both a moisturizer and makeup remover.
  • CeraVe foaming face wash. This one is supposed to keep your skin closer to it’s usual pH, which is supposed to help your skin’s natural barrier function. I’m hoping this helps with both my acne problems and my seborrhoeic dermititis issues (abbreviated to seb derm on some forums). Spending a little more time gently rubbing my face with this seems to also be helping with general blackheads. This seems to be more effective than the Cetaphil face wash I was using for a while.
  • MISSHA Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence. Since my skin is a special snowflake that is both very oily by nature, and also dries out at the drop of a hat, I’m intrigued by the idea of Asian products that seem to understand this is a thing. Many Western/American products seem to assume that if you have oily skin, you never have a problem with dryness, or your skin is always dry and you never have excess oil on your face. I’ve been using this for a few weeks, and I like it quite a bit. If it is more humid or warm, this works as a good moisturizer over night to keep things from drying out, but doesn’t make my face sticky all night and doesn’t break me out. It also goes nicely under my usual moisturizer/sun screen (though I’m looking to change that up soonish). It is also supposed to have similar properties to the much more expensive SK-II Treatment Essence, but as much as I love Cate Blanchett (their spokesperson), I’ve never tried it. Maybe if I can find a sample that seems legit…
  • I’ve had off and on problems with dandruff around the edges of my scalp that got much worse in grad school. It’s mostly under control, but a few years ago, I started getting red itchy flakey spots around my nose. I haven’t had a diagnosis from a dermatologist, but it clears right up with regular treatment with an anti-fungal cream, which matches the symptoms of seborrhoeic dermititis aka dandruff on other parts of your body besides your scalp. I just use the target brand because it works and is cheap.
  • Epiduo was proscribed to me by a dermatologist I was seeing briefly. The tube I have now is pretty well expired, but it still seems to work. I use it when I’m seeing a lot of inflamed spots on my face, or I’m seeing a big uptick in whiteheads/clogged pores. It looks like maybe they’ve changed the formulation, and it’s something not Tretinoin now?
  • AHA+ from I’ve also used this intermittently for 5+ years, so it lasts a long time. Works well, stings a bit if there are any recently popped zits or other major irritations of the skin. Possibly exacerbates seb derm. Seems to work best when applied generously. According to The Internet, chemical exfoliators like AHA work best when the accompanying products are of a certain pH range, but I haven’t really read up on this one yet.
  • Olay moisturizer SPF 15 for sensitive skin. I get the sensitive skin kind because it does not have aveobenzone (a sunscreen ingredient) that irritates the ever-loving heck out of my eyes. If I’m wearing something with aveobenzone on my face, my eyes start to itch uncontrollably after ~4 hours, so I read the ingredient list of any sunscreens that is going on my face pretty carefully. Since I started doing that, I haven’t had any problems with eye irritation, so I feel pretty confident that aveobenzone is the culprit. I’m in the process of researching a new face sunscreen since I’m not 100% happy with this sunscreen/moisturizer combo.