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Beauty, Skincare

Two Eye Masks: Petitfée Black Pearl & Gold Hydrogel Eye Patches & Kracie Hadabisei Eye Zone Intensive Wrinkle Care Pack



eyemask2I consider my under-eyes to be a “problem area”. I have pretty extreme dark circles and “troughs”, and I feel like they make me look a lot older than I really am. I’m trying to accept that they’re genetic, and I probably won’t be able to improve their appearance. The most I can do is slow the aging process, and I recently tried out two Asian eye masks to do just that.

Petitfée Black Pearl & Gold Hydrogel Eye Patches

Petitfée Black Pearl & Gold Hydrogel Eye PatchIngredients: Water, Glycerin, Calcium chloride, Butylene Glycol, Ceratonia Siliqua Gum, Xanthan Gum, Carrageenan, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Mineral Oil, Alcohol, Synthetic fluorphlogopite, Titanium Dioxide, Iron Oxides, Peat Water, Sodium Hyaluronate, Cucumis Sativus Fruit Extract, Rosa Centifolia Flower Water, Chamaecyparis Obtusa Water, Aloe Barbadensis Leaf Extract, Gold 0.0001%, Pearl Extract 0.01%, Betaine, Allantoin, Disodium EDTA, Triethanolamine, Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Houttuynia Cordata Extract, Artemisia Vulgaris Extract, Citrus Junos Fruit Extract, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Ethyl Hexanediol, Citrus Grandis Seed Extract, Bambusa Textilis Stem Extract, Pinus Palustris Leaf Extract, Chlorphenesin, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben, Propylparaben, Ethylparaben, Butylparaben, Isobutylparaben, Fragrance

The black pearl and gold powder are supposed to improve circulation around the eyes and give a brightened, glowy effect. The various extracts are supposed to rejuvenate the skin. After using these several times, I can say they had no effect other than being slightly moisturizing immediately after use. I stopped using these after 7-8 nights because I felt that the skin around my eyes looked even drier in the morning than before I had started using these. Some other things to note: these have a very heavy floral fragrance. If you keep these in the fridge, they are especially refreshing. I found that the eye patches themselves were quite slippery and tended to droop down my face, so I had to constantly adjust them, and the essence got all over my entire face.

When I looked these up on CosDNA, I was surprised by the ingredient list. It contains five different parabens for preservatives, yet the packaging says these are only good for two months after opening.

Would I recommend these? Definitely not. I’m not sure why these were so ineffective, even for moisturization. Maybe it’s the alcohol that’s pretty high on the ingredient list or the heavy fragrance?

Kracie Hadabisei Eye Zone Intensive Wrinkle Care Pack

Kracie Hadabisei Eye Zone Intensive Wrinkle Care PackIngredients: Water, DPG, glycerin, ethanol, PEG-75, palmitate, Royal Jelly extract, hyaluronic acid, lemon, maltitol, peg-60 hydrogenated castor oil, polysorbate 20, methyl gluceth-20, sodium citrate, xanthan gum, BG, citric acid, phenoxyethanol, methylparaben

These were the second of the two eye masks I tried, and I admit I had much higher hopes for these because they actually contain retinol and hyaluronic acid, and they are unscented. Unfortunately, I didn’t get to test these out over a longer period because after one use, I woke up with tiny whiteheads under my eyes the next morning, ugh. I think I gave these three chances, but each time, I woke up with the same tiny white pimples. As for the fit of these eye patches, I honestly preferred the Petitfée hydrogel ones. These fit much better under my eyes at first, but after a couple minutes, it felt like they almost shrunk onto my skin, and when I needed to adjust the placement, they tugged a lot.

I’m not sure why these broke me out. The CosDNA analysis shows that corn oil is a potential acne trigger, so that’s my only guess. Would I recommend these? They do have great reviews everywhere I’ve seen, and they are pretty affordable*, at around $11 for 30 pairs. If these hadn’t broken me out, I would definitely have liked to try them out for a full month.

I’m disappointed that my first two eye masks were both duds. I would love your recommendations on other eye masks or eye creams, I’ll try anything!

*affiliate link

Beauty, Skincare

Current evening skincare routine

DSC_8336Last week, I shared my morning skincare routine, and now I’ll walk you through everything I do to take care of my skin at night.

If I’m wearing makeup, the first step is always oil cleansing. I’ve been using the Aromatica Natural Coconut Cleansing Oil for about a month now, and I do like it. I’m not sure it’s worth the hefty price tag since it doesn’t work any better or worse than the other oil cleansers I’ve used that cost one fifth of what this does. After oil cleansing, I always use CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser to remove any leftover residue from the first cleanser, and to make my skin squeaky clean. I do still love and use my Clarisonic Mia, although I try to use it only once or twice a week. I cringe when I think back on all the over-exfoliation I used to put my skin through!

Once the cleansing is over with, I make sure to wait a bit until my skin is completely dry before applying my tretinoin .025% cream. Over the winter months, I find waiting any more than 10 minutes to be unbearable, even though I think waiting 15-45 minutes is recommended. I’ll usually wait about five minutes after applying the tret before moving on to the Aromatica Rose Absolute First Serum. I should confess that I haven’t used it for about a week, and I haven’t seen much of a difference. I’m not sure if this stuff actually does anything or if it’s just rose-scented aloe water. My last step is to moisturize with CeraVe PM, aka the best moisturizer of all-time…maybe. I can’t help but think back fondly on my Cosrx Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Mask. I still have half a tub of it, and it’s been calling to me recently! Lastly, and I didn’t include them in the picture, but I usually slather the area around my mouth and nose with Aquaphor or the Alba Botanica Un-Petroleum to try to keep the flaky skin at bay.

Next on my skincare agenda is to find a toner and to try to FINALLY work in some of the products I got for Christmas into my routine.


Tretinoin update


I’m taking a little break from all the makeup talk that’s been going on here lately to rant about my skin. January was a complete disaster for me, skin-wise. Right now, my face looks worse than it has in years, and it fucking sucks. There was a day last week when I almost cried because of how bad it was, and I can’t remember the last time that happened. Let’s rewind to the last time I shared my progress pictures, August 14th, 2015. Looking at the pictures is pretty depressing because my skin is worse now than it was in the “before” picture from that post. Back in August, my skin was pretty smooth and I wasn’t getting that many breakouts. It seemed like my skin was on track to becoming what I wanted, acne-free and smooth.

I don’t really know what changes triggered what happened in the months afterward. At one point, it seemed like my skin’s improvement plateaued, and I wasn’t seeing as much improvement as I wanted, so I went back to my dermatologist, and he prescribed me Aczone, a really expensive, and, as it turned out, really ineffective antibiotic. I applied that stuff morning and night for about three months, and experienced no improvement. In fact, the only effects I saw were more dryness (possibly due in part to the dry weather), and constant, stubborn breakouts on my cheeks.

Also around the time I went back to my dermatologist (early September) I got cocky, and decided that since it seemed like my skin was plateauing, I would try to take things into my own hands and try out new products. This is when I discovered the world of /r/asianbeauty and Korean skincare. I bought some products from a Korean brand called Cosrx, and was really happy with them. The best product I tried was the Cosrx Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Spa Mask, which I used as a moisturizer day and night for months. I was trying out different things, but I made sure to do it the safe way, by patch testing and never introducing more than one new product at the same time. For a while I thought it was working, but now I’m not so sure.

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Beauty, Skincare

An Aquaphor alternative


Those closest to me know that I’m an Aquaphor addict. I sing its praises to anyone who will hear. Complain about dry skin near me, and I’ll be by your side with my tube in milliseconds. I get that it’s gloopy and sticky, and it takes a while to sink in, but I’ve found that it heals any dry skin, clears up patches of eczema, and keeps my cuticles looking decent. As someone who uses a super-drying  prescription acne medication, I basically can’t survive the winters without Aquaphor. There’s just one problem, Aquaphor is a Eucerin product, and Eucerin is not a cruelty-free brand.

Out of all the dozens of products I use, I knew Aquaphor would be the toughest to give up when I decided to try to only buy cruelty-free items, but I really wanted to see what else was out there. After a little googling, I found out about a product by Alba Botanica called Un-Petroleum Multi-Purpose Jelly. This product is marketed to moisturize, prevent windburn, gently remove eye makeup, soothe diaper rash, and to create a moisture barrier, basically everything Aquaphor claims to do. I found a tube at Whole Foods for about $7 and started putting it to the test.

The only major differences I noticed are the texture and how fast it sinks into the skin. Anyone who has used Aquaphor can probably recall how it feels to apply it to your skin. It feels thick and greasy, and it sits on top of the skin for several minutes before sinking in. Un-Petroleum feels less like grease and more like whipped oil, and it sinks into the skin slightly faster. As you can see from the pictures below, the Aquaphor appears to sit on top of my skin, while the Un-Petroleum seems to melt into it.


Truthfully, Aquaphor creates a better moisture barrier. Its effects last longer because the main ingredient is petrolatum, arguably one of the best emollients out there. I can put it on my lips, and around my mouth and nose (where I have stubborn dry skin) and still feel it there in the morning. Not so with Un-Petroleum. I have to reapply it more often than I would with Aquaphor. I have noticed that when I use the Un-Petroleum as a lip balm, it provides a nice gloss and seems to plump up my lips somehow, making the lines less noticeable. I have not used it to remove eye makeup because I honestly think it’s way too thick, and I can’t see myself putting it near my eyes. All in all, I find the two products very similar. They work pretty much how you would expect based on the ingredients of each one.

Un-Petroleum’s ingredients are: Ricinus Communis (Castor) Seed Oil, Cocos Nucifera (Coconut) Oil, Beeswax, Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Tocopheryl Acetate, Tocopherol. 

Aquaphor’s ingredients are: Petrolatum, Mineral Oil, Ceresin, Lanolin Alcohol, Panthenol, Glycerin, Bisabolol.

The only potential problem I can see with Un-Petroleum is coconut oil, which can be comedogenic, so I would not use this on large portions of your face if you have a known sensitivity to it. The only ingredient in Aquaphor that could cause a bad reaction is lanolin alcohol, which can be a mild irritant and acne trigger. I haven’t had any reaction to either product.

I thought I would list a few pros and cons of each product to provide my concise thoughts.

Alba Botanica Un-Petroleum


  • Cruelty Free
  • made from plant oils and waxes as opposed to petroleum
  • Creates good moisture barrier
  • Great, plumping lip balm
  • Cheaper than Aquaphor


  • Not quite as moisturizing or long-lasting



  • Creates amazing moisture barrier
  • very long lasting


  • product of company that is not cruelty-free
  • main ingredient is petrolatum, a byproduct of the oil industry
  • more expensive

So do I think Un-Petroleum is better than Aquaphor? Not quite, but I do think it’s comparable, and I will continue to use it over Aquaphor. I feel better about supporting Alba Botanica, and I like using a product made of more sustainable ingredients.

On a side note, Alba Botanica’s site seems to be down, but I found Un-Petroleum for $3.95 on Thrive Market, with an additional 15% off a first-time order. I have no affiliation with Thrive Market, I just thought it was an amazing deal!




Tretinoin 12-week update

If you’re not interested in reading detailed accounts of skincare routines or seeing really unflattering pictures of me and my acne, this post probably isn’t for you!

I’ve now been using Tretinoin .025% for about 12 weeks. I tried to take progress pictures with some regularity, but it ended up being kind of sporadic/whenever I remembered/whenever I could recreate the lighting of the first picture (majorly failed on that point). I also didn’t take down notes or anything, but I made plenty of mental notes along the way.


First four weeks: This is probably when I saw the most “action”. My skin was very dry, and flaking a lot around my nose, mouth, and chin. From all the accounts I read elsewhere online, this was completely normal and to be expected. Sometime during the first few weeks, the top and sides of my nose became extremely oily. It still remains this way today. I’m not sure if this is because of the Tretinoin or simply because it’s summer, and this summer in New York has been hot and humid as hell. My skin typically gets oily throughout the day in summer, but I can’t remember it being this bad before, so it’s probably mostly the Tret. As far as acne and the overall appearance of my skin I did start to see improvement during this time. The pores on my nose started to clear out within the first week or two, and I started to see a decrease in new clogged pores and closed comedones. In general, the skin on my cheeks started to look tighter and less bumpy.

Four to eight weeks: I saw the most improvement during this time period. The closed comedones along my jaw line started to heal and go away, and for a few weeks I had absolutely no new ones showing up! The breakouts on my cheeks basically stopped as well. Other than being very oily, my skin was pretty stable. During this time, I switched from using a combination of CeraVe PM + CeraVe Sunscreen in the morning, to only using CeraVe AM, which was the original recommendation from the dermatologist. I’m pretty sure this had a negative effect on my skin in the following weeks.

Eight weeks to today: Nothing catastrophic has happened within the past few weeks, but I haven’t seen much improvement either. I’ve had a couple of cystic breakouts along my jaw line, and a couple small breakouts on my cheeks and near my temples, which has been pretty disheartening. Strangely, I feel like the pores on my nose look worse. I keep telling myself that it’s because it’s been so freaking hot the past month, that my skin has gotten overly oily, leading to clogged pores. I hope I’m right and that I see improvement again soon. Also, the skin around my eyes has been inexplicably dry the past few days. It’s actually been flaking off around my inner eyelid area, and in the area right underneath my lower lash line where I have a wrinkle/eye bag thing. I have no idea what that’s about, but I’ve been trying to clear it up with extra CeraVe PM and Vaseline. The lack of improvement during this time period may have something to do with me being sick for over a week in the beginning of July and AGAIN the last week of July (I’m STILL battling it). My nose definitely looks a lot more red and veiny, I’m guessing because I’ve been blowing my nose literally 20 times a day for two weeks now. Ugh. Being sick in summer is the actual worst thing ever.

Overall: The two biggest things I’ve noticed are the very noticeable decrease in closed comedones along my jaw line and the speed with which any new breakouts heal. Before Tretinoin, my breakouts would usually cause me trouble for a week-10 days before they would reach the scabby/healing phase. Now it’s down to maybe four days. Everything seems to heal so much faster, I love it. I’m curious if anyone else has had sort of a “plateau” phase at around 9-12 weeks. A lot of people see the most improvement at 12 weeks, but I would say mine was at 6 weeks. I’m definitely going to stick with it for the foreseeable future, and hopefully I’ll see improvement when I’m not sick and when the weather isn’t so hellish!


Skincare talk – acne, retinoids, and lizard skin

Last fall, I finally went to a dermatologist for the first time. I’ve had acne since I was 10, and I was at my breaking point. She prescribed me Clindamycin, a topical antibiotic, and Epiduo Gel, a benzoyl peroxide/adapalene (a retinoid) combo. I left her office hopeful that maybe, for the first time since before puberty, I might have smooth, clear skin. Sadly, after about five days, the Clindamycin broke me out in tiny whiteheads all over my entire face. I used the Epiduo a few times, but since she told me to only use the Epiduo once a week, I saw no results, and I stopped. I did continue to use CeraVe in the tub, which she advised me to use to combat my dry skin.

Unfortunately, my skin has not only not improved, but it’s slowly been getting worse. I regularly have about a dozen closed comedones around my jawline at any time, as well as acne on both cheeks. The dermatologist I saw in fall had no availability when I wanted to make another appointment recently, so I found someone else thinking that maybe a second opinion was a good thing. The first thing the new doctor told me was to stop using CeraVe in the tub on my face. According to him, it’s too thick and can exacerbate clogged pores in people who are already acne prone. Instead, he told me to use CeraVe PM, which is actually made for the face. When I told him that Epiduo didn’t do anything for me, he told me that I should still use something with benzoyl peroxide daily because it’s one of the best things for acne. So, I picked up Neutrogena Clear Pore Cleanser/Mask on his recommendation. I was skeptical the first time I tried it because it has a pretty strong, but pleasant fragrance, but so far, so good.

He also prescribed me Tretinoin, a retinoid. I’m definitely not a skincare expert, but from what I’ve gathered, retinoids help your skin shed its cells with more regularity so you don’t get clogged pores or hair follicles. Retinoids can also help with wrinkles and other signs of aging. While they’re great for treating acne in general, they also come with their fair share of side effects, which I’ve been experience first hand these past two weeks! The first four to five days, I saw no side effects, good or bad, and then the dry skin started. It’s been especially bad around my mouth. At the end of the day, I’ll literally have bits of skin hanging off my face, it’s delightful, let me tell you! Many people also experience a purging phase, where all the acne that has been waiting under the skin comes to the surface all at once. I’ve been reading quite a bit on retinoids, especially Tretinoin, and most people seem to see results after 6-12 weeks, which is on par with what the dermatologist told me. So far, I’ve been trying to take pictures every week to see if I can see any improvements, and I’ll be sure to do an update post from time to time.

Other than the new cleanser and prescription, I still use a few of my old standbys. I’m back to using Trader Joe’s Jojoba Oil to remove my makeup. I was using the Boscia Makeup-Breakup Cool Cleansing Oil, but I found it really wasn’t any better than the jojoba oil while being about quadruple the price. After the CeraVe PM, I’ve been using Vaseline to desperately try to combat the lizard skin. In the morning, I use CeraVe SPF 30 Sunscreen, and then continue with my makeup as usual. Another lovely side effect of the Tretinoin is that every product stings when I put it on now, especially around my eyes. I haven’t noticed any redness, and the stinging goes away after about 30 seconds, so I’m not too worried.

I’d love to know if any of you have used retinoids and what your experiences were!