Derma-E Anti-Wrinkle Eye Cream

I guess I lied about needing an Epiduo-induced skincare break — this reliable little eye cream was worth a post. Now, I know what you’re saying, “eye creams are a scam, they’re just up-marketed moisturizers/retinoids!”, which is probably true. But I still LIKE this thing.

This was a relatively inexpensive buy at $14-$15 that I picked up at a local natural foods store, I think they’re also available at various vitamin shops. The tube is only half an ounce, but a little goes a long way.

This comes out as a white cream that you lightly apply under your eye and near the corners. Obviously be careful not to get too close to your waterline, or you’re going to get a bit of stinging. It’s easy to oversaturate this product, so in that instance it take a bit longer to rub into the skin, but otherwise, it absorbs very well and quickly, without being heavy. Even if you do oversaturate, you won’t experience that stinging sensation that retinol products sometimes cause when you overdo it.

Speaking of retinol, that’s in here, so apply this at night. There’s also a bunch of plant-based ingredients in here, which I like. No drying alcohols. There’s also “bakuchiol”, a retinol alternative, that I’d never heard of before today, so it looks like I have something new to research.

Now, I’m sure some of this could be placebo effect, but when I woke up the next morning after using it, I swore my natural and normally very pronounced under-eye circles were slightly diminished, a feat no other product has ever accomplished. A few fine lines had also decreased as well. I don’t really think the effects carry beyond an entire day, but I’m convinced it does work relatively quickly, with noticeable results.

What I love about the product (well, on the packaging I have, at least), it specifies that the user “dabs around the eye area with your ring finger”, because they darn well know if you use your pointer finger, you’re going to put way too much on. Anyway — I’ll definitely rebuy this after I run out. Call me a sucker for buying into the eye-cream scheme… ~A

Perceived efficacy: 4.5/5

Longevity: 1.5/5

How much I actually like this product: 4/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Yes

Epiduo Forte

This stuff is so powerful that it is causing me to have to temporarily forfeit like, 70% of my regular skincare regimen. On that note, I may be taking a temporary hiatus until my skin gets back on track after having used this.

This is my second go-around with Epiduo Forte. I was prescribed this in conjunction with spironolactone when I first saw a dermatologist about my cystic acne. Yep, prescription only, depending on where you live — and I think there are different variants on the name of Epiduo, depending on the strength.

The first time around was a true clear out of my extremely broken out skin. I was excited to start using this white-gel-cream product, with 2.5% benzoyl peroxide for bacteria killing and .3% adapalene for cell exfoliation. The general Internet consensus is that this stuff really does work, but I quickly realized that applying Epiduo at night isn’t exactly the same pleasant experience as slapping on a sheet mask. For the first month or two? This stuff is gonna burn like mad.

You know that phrase “if it burns, it’s working”? Ok, first of all, that phrase is terrible advice to live by, because it’s NOT true for most skincare products, except maybe this one. Even then, you will question if it really is working for the first few weeks, because it actually makes your skin WORSE. Like, a lot worse.

The first time around, my cystic acne multiplied. By a lot. It was terrible, painful, and just all around hard to deal with. Even now in my second go-around, my skin is probably the worst it’s been in about two years. Epiduo forces your skin cells to turn over more rapidly, thus bringing the bacteria to the surface and causing a break out. It doesn’t matter how diligent you are keeping your face clean — you’re still going to break out, a LOT. And in areas you don’t normally break out in, too!

I waited it out for about six weeks, the first time. My skin finally started to improve! I mean, it doesn’t PREVENT your break outs from happening, but it makes your pores quite a bit clearer, and overall the texture and condition of your skin will be brighter.

So what’s my deal with Epiduo today, 3 weeks into my second go-around? Heck, why am I even here, on a second go-around? Shouldn’t my acne be mostly cured-ish after using it the first time? Not exactly. You need to keep using it. And that’s what I stopped doing. Sure, I would use it like… every two weeks… to spot treat, but that was it.

About nine months after I stopped using it consistently, my face started to get a little more… blotchy. Not so much cystic acne as it had been before, since the spironolactone keeps a lot of that at bay. But the texture overall just wasn’t great. My dermatologist told me in no uncertain terms that I “can’t just stop using Epiduo”.

So here I am, week three. I apply Epiduo every night. The first two weeks, my skin burned like CRAZY — that’s getting a little better now, though. Peeling skin though? Non-stop. Exfoliants are risky to use, since the Epiduo is already exfoliating for me and my skin is pretty raw. I can’t use most of my moisturizers or sunscreens, since they’ll pill, even if my face is 100% clean. And my skin is still… not great. New spots are turning up every day!

I’ve gone through Epiduo before and know it works, so I’ll have to just hold out for another month or so. In the meantime, my skin care routine is minimal: Clinique’s Dramatically Different in the morning, a TINY dot of Its Skin 2pm, and CosRX Honey Ceramide Cream at night (and The Ordinary’s Lactic Acid 5% if I’m feeling brave).

Hopefully my next post will contain some positive news. Hey, if the Epiduo works for me a second time around, then that will mean the product REALLY works! Unfortunately it’s a pricey venture at $375, and many insurers won’t cover the cost — although, manufacturer’s coupons will occasionally help to knock the price down if they’re available. Ah, the price we pay for clear skin… ~A

Perceived efficacy: 4/5

Longevity: 3/5 (you have use it regularly)

How much I actually like this product: 3.5/5 (the burning! the purging!)

Recommended for sensitive skin: It will MAKE your skin sensitive, even if it wasn’t in the first place. Prepare for two months of total annihilation!

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti Aging Perfector

In the words of Jeffree Star, “I’m not living for this”. This is a more-or-less a BB cream, in which the point of using this product is more about the added benefits (sunscreen and retinol) and less about the coverage. Unfortunately, the added benefits ended up not being benefits to me at all.

This foundation comes in a push-top tube. The liqui-cream comes out in a thin line, and, honestly, what you can get out in one or two pumps won’t really seem like enough product. It didn’t spread very evenly, and I kept having to go back to get more of the product, after feeling as though it had stopped short while I was spreading it. This might have been because the color isn’t really intended to be coverage, but more of a tint, thus causing me to think I simply hadn’t used enough. Which leads me to my next gripe.

What tint? Although my skin undertone skews yellow, I have a lot of redness due to my various skin sensitivities, but otherwise I’m a hard NC-15 during a good half of the year. I figured picking this up in the “ivory to fair” shade would be satisfactory. And again, I get that this isn’t intended to provide coverage, but I didn’t see any color at all, not even enough to provide any smallest amount of correction. Then, after twenty minutes, the weirdest thing happened: it oxidized, turning my face slightly orange. Suddenly, my face no longer matched my neck! But at this point I was already out of the house, so I soldiered on and continued to wear it.

Now, fortunately, any color that was on my face was relatively imperceptible by noon, although I had quite a bit of oil breakthrough. But then my skin started to itch, and by the time I was home to remove my makeup, I had broke out in a few spots. Now, there’s nothing unheard of in this product’s ingredient list, nor anything that I would say is bad. But it does contain both retinol and sunscreen. Retinol, even at low percentages, invokes an initial purging period. And sunscreen… I don’t know. I don’t have a good time with American sunscreens, personally, but I can’t put my finger on why that’s the case.

I can see why some people would like this product though. If you can tolerate the ingredients that provide the benefits, it seems like it could be a great product. Retinol is great for anti-aging, as is SPF (and you would need the SPF anyway if you planned on going out in the sun after applying retinol). If your skin can mesh well with the oxidation-orange tint, you’d be in luck with this. Otherwise, this foundation is personally hard pass for me. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 2/5

Longevity: 1/5

How much I actually like this product: 1/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: No

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti-Wrinkle Cream

Neutrogena Healthy Skin Anti Wrinkle Cream

This product was one of my very first moisturizers and retinol products. I don’t know how I feel about that, to be honest — I probably could have started with something a little bit more low-key, without the retinol, but I must have figured 20 or 21 was a good as time as any to hop on the anti-wrinkle train.

I definitely did not know what I  was doing with anything retinol related at the time, so there is a possibility I used this way too much — every morning/night, or at least, every day. I probably wasn’t wearing any sunscreen with it, either. Bad. But I can say with confidence that it never broke me out (any more than I already was at the time, anyway — this was before my cystic acne, so I suspect at the time those breakouts were more due to my poor eating/sleep/stress habits), and the packaging does specify that it’s oil-free.

It is a white cream, that quickly sinks into your skin without having to vigorous rub in. It’s can be a little bit pilly if you don’t let it set or you put too much in one area, etc., but as long as it goes on smoothly from the onset, it should be relatively lightweight. There’s no fragrance.

As it is a retinol cream, this should be worn at night, not during the day, or if you’re going to wear it during the day, put some sunscreen over it. So you probably shouldn’t need to put makeup on over it, but if you do, that should go on fine as well, again as long as you’ve allowed the product time to set. I haven’t used this in awhile, so it’s possible that reformulations have occurred in the time that’s lapsed thus changing the structure of the product, but I don’t notice any substantial ingredient changes.

While this product does boast retinol, they don’t disclose the percentage, and I read somewhere on Reddit once that the percentage is actually relatively low, or that it merely contains it’s lesser form, retinyl palmitate. But regardless of the amount of retinol, my word of caution is still to read up on retinol and how to use it properly before applying (especially if you’re acne prone, cause the retinol purging period can be real!)

But if you like to live a more carefree lifestyle (like me, at age 20) and do absolutely zero research before using a product, this is certainly the product to do it with. It’s probably not a miracle worker, but it won’t kill your skin, and there’s just enough good stuff in it to convince yourself that it’s actually doing something. ~A

Perceived efficacy: 3.5/5

Longevity: 5/5

How much I actually like this product: 4/5

Recommended for sensitive skin: Maybe