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Come Out! (With Your Skin Care)

Come Out! (With Your Skin Care) Miranda Previat!


A thickened stratum cornum is a common characteristic seen in sun-damaged and mature-skin types.

Miranda is at a point where the skin is showing characteristic signs of aging such as wrinkles, and unevenness in texture and color. The skin is described to be “crunchy” and rough as a result of excess layers of dead skin cells (stratum corneum). These signs are attributed to hormonal changes, and a fair amount of UV exposure for almost half a century, among other factors. Miranda also has to deal with the occasional bouts of acne. In terms of a goal, Miranda would simply like her skin to appear more radiant and even-toned by reducing hyperpigmentation and inhibiting future damage. However, she acknowledges that skin care can only do so much to treat the various signs of aging.



  • Cleanser: Paula’s Choice RESIST Optimal Results Hydrating Cleanser (baking soda is added once a week for extra physical or manual exfoliation)
  • Toner: Paula’s Choice RESIST Advanced Replenishing Toner Skin Remodeling Complex
  • Antioxidant Serum: Paula’s Choice RESIST Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum
  • Moisturizer with SPF: theBalm Shelter Tinted Moisturizer SPF 18


  • Makeup Remover: L’Oreal Dermo Expertise Gentle Eye Make-Up Remover
  • Cleanser: Paula’s Choice RESIST Optimal Results Hydrating Cleanser
  • Toner: Paula’s Choice RESIST Advanced Replenishing Toner Skin Remodeling Complex
  • Moisturizer without SPF: Paula’s Choice RESIST Daily Smoothing Treatment with 5% AHA OR Paula’s Choice RESIST Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Treatment OR Paula’s Choice Moisture Boost Hydrating Treatment Cream


  • Chemical Exfoliant: Paula’s Choice RESIST Weekly Resurfacing Treatment with 10% AHA
  • Lip Moisturizer (with SPF?): Kinerase Ultimate Volume Lip Conditioner SPF 20
  • Body Moisturizer without SPF: Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Body Lotion OR Dr. Lewinn’s Hand Cream (Because no specific product was pointed out, I will NOT be reviewing these products)


Cleansers: Both the L’Oreal and Paula’s Choice cleansers are fine. They don’t contain any irritating ingredients and are appropriate for Miranda’s skin type. And even if they did, because cleansers are left on the skin for so brief a time, depending on what the “irritating” ingredient is, this particular characteristic may be irrelevant. What needs to be addressed however, is the use of baking soda or sodium bicarbonate. When added to water, baking soda gives a very basic pH value. As we know, a basic pH (even a neutral pH) environment can damage the skin and not allow it to function properly; to exfoliate. And since more mature skin types already have a reduced capacity to exfoliate, we certainly don’t want to add to that. Substituting the baking soda with sugar should do the trick. But this extra step of physical exfoliation may not even be necessary. I’ll get into the details in the recommendation section down below.

Toner: I have a review of this toner HERE.

Antioxidant Serum: I have a review of this serum HERE.

While this may feel and look very nice on the skin, its organic UV filters are not appropriate for Miranda. There are certainly better options available.

Moisturizer with SPF: The theBalm tinted moisturizer does not contain any beneficial non-sunscreen ingredients. Furthermore, this contains an organic-based sunscreen system that includes: avobenzone, octinoxate, and octisalate. As I’ve pointed out before, avobenzone is degraded by octinoxate due to 2 + 2 addition of cinnamates and alkenes, making both compounds less able to absorb UV light. Even though this product doesn’t contain any avobenzone stabilizers such as octocrylene or oxybenzone, note that this degradation occurs even IN the presence of these compounds. So I’d recommend discontinuing use of this as the sole provider of sun protection because of those two factors; not to mention that Miranda herself has claimed that organic UV filters irritate her skin.

Moisturizers without SPF: The Paula’s Choice RESIST Daily Smoothing Treatment with 5% AHA is reviewed HERE. The Paula’s Choice RESIST Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum is reviewed HERE. The Paula Choice Moisture Boost Hydrating Treatment Cream is reviewed HERE. Miranda expressed that she’s only rotating these products in her routine because she has them. However, given that she’ll be happy once they run out, it can be inferred that she is dissatisfied with the results that these give, if any.

Chemical Exfoliant: The Paula’s Choice RESIST Weekly Resurfacing Treatment with 10% AHA is reviewed HERE. I acknowledge that the 5% AHA product mentioned above is also a chemical exfoliant. The only reason why I didn’t include it in this category is because Miranda uses it has a “moisturizer” in her routine. When she uses this product, she applies the Moisture Boost cream afterwards. Therefore, the 10% AHA is not a “moisturizer” for her.

Lip Moisturizer (with SPF?): The reason why I put a question mark behind the SPF is because I don’t know if Miranda uses this as her sole form of UV protection for the lips during the day. I say that because this product only contains octinoxate and octisalate, meaning that it does not provide any UVA protection. So it’s not recommended for daytime use. However, I won’t say to discontinue use of this because it does contain of a lot of other beneficial non-sunscreen ingredients such as a high amount of pomegranate extract, which is a documented and potent polyphenolic antioxidant. There is also a blend of good non-fragrant plant oils such as the soybean, sunflower, and jojoba oils. So as a nighttime lip moisturizer, while I wish this didn’t contain any UV filter, it’s still an excellent option. Ultimately, depending on how Miranda uses this product, will determine whether or not this gets me “seal” of approval. Or stamp.

Also, I’d like to note that though the following products are not in her routine yet, Miranda did purchase the Paula’s Choice Skin Recovery Daily Moisturizing Lotion SPF 15 with Antioxidants (reviewed HERE), and the Paula’s Choice RESIST Pure Radiance Skin Brightening Treatment (reviewed HERE). I don’t think Miranda will like the Skin Recovery Lotion because it has an apricot oil-scent, which isn’t too pleasant, while leaving a noticeable white-cast and a somewhat greasy finish. Furthermore, I wouldn’t recommend this because it just does not provide enough protection against the sun, especially considering that Miranda lives in a very warm and bright climate; and she’s in direct sunlight for at least an hour everyday. I’ll talk about the Pure Radiance treatment in the next section.


Probably due to my influence, Miranda has become a big user of Paula’s Choice products. In fact, a few of the products in the routine came via casual recommendations from myself. That being said, there isn’t anything particularly wrong with Miranda’s routine. She just needs more effective products, which unfortunately, can only be tested in person; theoretical ingredient-based product reviews only go so far.

So my goal is to try and give better recommendation based on the evidence learned from Miranda’s previous product choices.

  • Glycolic acid has a very wide therapeutic range: about 5-70%. It appears that 5% is not enough for Miranda.

    For example, the 5% AHA product doesn’t seem to be doing much. This could be because the 5% glycolic acid content, as the bottom threshold of efficacy, is not potent enough to enhance the “epidermal turnover” rate; basically the natural rate of exfoliation, that naturally slows down with age.

  • The Intensive Retinol Serum also doesn’t impress Miranda, despite the relatively high retinol content. This could be because retinol isn’t properly converted in her skin, or maybe the concentration present (estimated to be between 0.25% and 0.5%), is not high enough. Or perhaps, because the stratum corneum is thicker than usually (which is typically seen in sun-damaged and more mature skin types), the retinol cannot be properly delivered to the skin; this is dealing with the delivery system of a retinol product. The Intensive Retinol Serum only employs an nonaqueous silicone-based delivery system that doesn’t contain any notable penetration enhancers.
  • As for the RESIST Pure Radiance Treatment, I’m pretty sure that Miranda bought this to improve the forms of hyperpigmentation present on the face. However, while I think this product is excellent, I have to emphasize that like any skin lightening product, this does little to improve existing hyperpigmentation. As we learned in What is the Biology of Skin Color, melanocytes create melanin, then melanosomes transport this melanin to the upper layers of the epidermis. However, when one sees sunspots and other forms of hyperpigmentation, the melanin has already arrived at its final destination. So lighteners like hydroquinone and mulberry extract that inhibit the tyrosinase enzymes (which are involved in melanin synthesis), and niacinamide that inhibits melanosome transfer, don’t actually do ANYTHING about the existing melanin on the skin. They don’t “eat” or dissolve or destroy any of the existing melanin. That’s why it’s so difficult to treat existing sunspots for example. For OTC treatments and non-surgical/laser-based procedures; basically the only things that we can do at home is to wear a lot of sunscreen, stay out of the sun, and regularly exfoliate the skin (either chemically, physically, or both) to increase “epidermal turnover,” so that the upper keratinocytes carrying the excess melanin, can fall off more quickly; thereby, reducing the intensity of the various forms of hyperpigmentation present. Overall, while I still think the RESIST Pure Radiance is an excellent product, I doubt it will do much for existing hyperpigmentation.


As stated above, I don’t want to really make a lot of new product recommendations. I’d rather just tweak Miranda’s existing one to be more appropriate.

The Clinique Face Protector SPF 25 provides excellent UVA and UVB protection with almost 15% of inorganic UV filters. It’s also sheerly tinted for minimal coverage.

Because Miranda receives so much UV exposure, the first product that I’m going to recommend is the Clinique City Block Sheer Oil-Free Daily Face Protector SPF 25. It contains almost equal amounts of titanium dioxide and zinc oxide (about 7% each), in a moisturizing base that also contains several other beneficial ingredients such as the birch and cucumber extracts. The coverage is quite sheer, so a concealer should be used on any areas that need more coverage. Or consider using a full-coverage foundation instead; they perform the same function: covering up imperfections. Or a full-coverage foundation can be mixed into this tinted moisturizer. While the level of protection may be compromised a bit in this last scenario, the amount of foundation used shouldn’t make too big of a difference in terms of UV protection. Consider using a foundation with UV filters built-in to lessen that difference.

Prescription retinoids are THE best group of ingredients to treat the signs of aging.

The next product I’d like to recommend isn’t something that can be bought in stores. Yes, I’m sure that many members of the audience know where I’m going with this: a prescription retinoid, either tretinoin or tazarotene for Miranda. Because she does not seem to respond to retinol, the only place left to go is to the dermatologist’s office. While this may be a pricier option, it is worth it as prescription retinoids have the most evidence supporting the ability to “reverse the signs of again.” And in order to be more cost-efficient, go with the generic brand as there’s no significant reason to pay for the brand-name versions. While the FutureDerm Time-Release Retinol 0.5 treatment, with its advanced encapsulated delivery system, may be something to try, the retail price + the additional shipping costs to Miranda’s location, which is outside of the US, would probably be more or less the same as the price for a tube of a generic prescription retinoid, making it an inefficient investment. Anyways, I really hope that Miranda takes this recommendation seriously because outside of in-office procedures, no other topical ingredient or combination of ingredients can match the prowess of tretinoin or tazarotene!

The next recommendation isn’t actually a product; it’s a temporal adjustment of a product that Miranda already uses. Because she didn’t respond to the 5% AHA and that she only used the 10% version twice per week (no wait time between applications was indicated), it’d be prudent to increase the frequency of application of the 10% AHA to perhaps 3-4 times per week, depending on tolerability. This way, that look of luster and radiance can be more easily achieved. It’ll also allow other beneficial ingredients to penetrate the thickened stratum corneum a bit more easily.

Finally, because Miranda indicated that she also wants help for the skin on her body, which exhibits similar characteristics as her facial skin, I’d like to recommend the Paula’s Choice RESIST Skin Revealing Body Lotion with 10% AHA. With the removal of petrolatum, the new formula is a bit lighter and more pleasant to use. Like with the RESIST Weekly treatment, this could go a long way to restoring some of that “glow.” This can also be used 3-4 times a week, and the Palmer’s body lotion can be layered on areas that require the extra emollience.

So here’s what I’d like Miranda’s routine to look like:


  • Cleanser: Paula’s Choice RESIST Optimal Results Hydrating Cleanser (with sugar if desired)
  • Toner: Paula’s Choice RESIST Advanced Replenishing Toner Skin Remodeling Complex
  • Antioxidant Serum: Paula’s Choice RESIST Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum
  • Moisturizer with SPF: Clinique City Block Sheer Oil-Free Daily Face Protector SPF 25


  • Makeup Remover: L’Oreal Dermo Expertise Gentle Eye Make-Up Remover
  • Cleanser: Paula’s Choice RESIST Optimal Results Hydrating Cleanser
  • Toner: Paula’s Choice RESIST Advanced Replenishing Toner Skin Remodeling Complex
  • ***Treatment: Prescription Retinoid (tretinoin or tazarotene) OR Paula’s Choice RESIST Weekly Resurfacing Treatment with 10% AHA (Alternate every night and wait 15-30 minutes before applying the next step)
  • Moisturizer without SPF: Paula’s Choice RESIST Pure Radiance Skin Brightening Treatment OR Paula’s Choice RESIST Super Antioxidant Concentrate Serum (this can certainly be used day and night; it can’t hurt to alternate these two products every night)


  • Lip Moisturizer (with SPF?): Kinerase Ultimate Volume Lip Conditioner SPF 20
  • Body Moisturizer wihout SPF: Paula’s Choice RESIST Skin Revealing Body Lotion with 10% AHA OR Palmer’s Cocoa Butter Body Lotion (Alternate every night or use together)

***Please note that I’m only instructing Miranda to use these two products separately because combined use may be too irritating. However, I did NOT say this because I think tretinoin/tazarotene shouldn’t be used with acid products. As stated in the post on retinol metabolism and its use with acidic products, I’m only referring to retinol and retinaldehyde (precursors to tretinoin) when I say that they shouldn’t be used with acidic products. I am not talking about tretinoin, because the source of conflict between the use of retinol and retinaldehyde with acid products resides in the conversion of these precursors to tretinoin. This conflict obviously doesn’t apply to tretinoin because, guess what? It’s already tretinoin! I know this can confusing, so I just want to make that clear.


Miranda, whenever you’re feeling down, just remember that at any given time, your body is able to withstand the massive moon-pulling force of gravity itself. You can handle anything else thrown at you!

I’d like to thank Miranda (and everyone still in the queue line) for being so patient for such a long time! Between the various updates that I received from Miranda, she actually had different ages listed in the responses which means that she had a birthday in the last few months. It also means that I’m slower than a car without gasoline. So Happy Birthday! I’d also like to tell Miranda that she is so worth the effort of writing this little piece, and to be fearless in everything she does, whether it’s saying no to aggressive salespeople or presenting herself before others either online or in-person. She’s done too much to not be considered a strong person. Best of luck!

Feel free to ask any questions in the comments down below. And if anyone would like for me to review his/her routine in a similar fashion, click HERE.

Like I’ve mentioned before in the Disclaimer, I am not a medical professional of any kind, so if you decide to follow my advise, do so knowing that you bear full responsibility.

*This is something new that I’ve decided to do from now on. I was actually inspired by Emma, but from now on and for any past reviews, if a reviewee follows my advice for a significant (relatively) period of time and gives me a detailed (relatively) update on how his/her skin is responding to the new routine, your response will be given ITS OWN POST! And I will respond with my own thoughts of course. You could say its a way for you to have a GUEST POST on this site! Of course if you have a blog or something you’d like to share, you may provide a link. I think it’d be a fun and educational way that will benefit both parties! Any “updates” will be included in a completely separate series. In no way will the choice or promise to give an “update” affect whose routine gets reviewed or when that happens. I will add this information to the Template, but I’ll include it in the next few Come Out routine reviews!

About John

The Triple Helixian is an unbiased science and research-based site that attempts to clarify and elucidate questions about skin care, while aspiring to be the most thorough and complete source of information.


28 thoughts on “Come Out! (With Your Skin Care) Miranda Previat!

  1. Derivatives of retinol lot sensitize my skin. I’ve tried using the “derm aha and redermic” – la roche posay but not worked. The dermatologist prescribed a formulation with a lower concentration and yet the redness was severe.

    Finally he forbade me to use AHA, having extreme sensitivity to AHA, and to stimulate skin cell renewal today use more adapalene and anti oxidants.

    But I really want to try the products of Paula’s Choice.

    (John you know the products Caudalie?
    My dermatologist wants me to use some of the products Caudalíe. He said that polyphenols derived from grapes contained in Vinoperfect Radiance Serum is vastly superior to Vit. C (according to him about an activity 62 times more effective!) And nothing irritating.
    What do you think my dear? )

    Posted by RAFAEL | October 12, 2012, 6:17 pm
    • Yes most polyphenols are much more potent than vitamin C. However, even the most well-studied one ine green tea has only shown to be photoprotective in vivo. Its other beneficial properties have not been demonstrated in clinical studies, probably because one, it’s highly unstable and two, because it’s hydrophilic, meaning that it has difficulty penetrating the skin; not to mention that as its purpose is to prevent damage rather than treat it. Vitamin C on the other hand has photoprotective, collagen-increasing, and several other benefits that have been demonstrated in vivo. So while I think green tea will be great as an antioxidant and boost the efficacy of your sunscreen, it does not have quite as broad of a therapeutic range as vitamin C. But give green tea a shot, since grape seed extract isn’t anywhere in the same league.

      If you want to try products with green tea polyphenols, I wouldn’t recommend Caudalie products because they don’t state how much of the polyphenolic content is present. For the same price, try one from the brand Replenix.

      Something like this would work: http://www.dermstore.com/product_Serum+CF_4066.htm

      Posted by John | October 13, 2012, 11:17 am
  2. Hi John,
    First I want to say thank you so much for such a thorough, well thought out skin care recommendation. It is really quite something to have your skin care evaluated and tweaked by someone who is so passionate and caring – it is such a cool thing for someone to do for you, so have another thank you (or twelve) 🙂

    I will endeavour to get some form of prescription retinoid (it’s not that expensive here – Australia) but I am going to implement your other suggestions first and see what effect that has. It is so exciting to have a proper process rather than just slapping stuff on randomly.

    I now have the other PC products. Funny I can’t detect any smell in the sunscreen, nor a particular white cast, I just find it a bit greasy – and obviously insufficient against the harsh sun (I really should have read the % of ingredients and not just the ingredients!). The skin brightening I purchased for ‘skin brightening’ rather than brown spots per se, but if they eventually fade well I won’t complain.

    Lips….that is a problem for me. I am one of those people whose lipstick wears off really quickly. I tend to put a lipstain on and then just top up with SPF balm (or Clinique Vit C lip smoothers if I am feeling fancy) during the day. The Kinerase sits at my desk (as does the hand cream) and I just put it on when my lips feel dry, I don’t use it in the sun. With summer around the corner I really do need to sort the lip thing – any suggestions would be appreciated.

    There are only two other questions that I have. One is should I repurchase the toner when it runs out, or is there a better choice? The second, I tend to shower and wash my face just before bed, so waiting is a bit of a problem. Mostly I just put the weekly treatment on and if I am still up, slap something on after it, but other times I don’t. What happens if I (a) continue to do this, or (b) put the next cream/lotion/serum on within only a few minutes?

    Again, you are a star John,

    “Miranda” x

    Posted by Miranda | October 10, 2012, 5:37 pm
    • Hi Miranda!

      I’m so glad that you love your alias! It actually takes me a few minutes to come up with a good name.

      It’s also surprising that you don’t find the Skin Recovery SPF 15 to be unpleasant smelling. Maybe it’s just me, I can’t stand it haha! But yeah, let us know how you like your two new PC products.

      Now, the thing with lip SPF products is that you’re never going to apply a thick enough layer to get anywhere close to the labelled SPF rating. But any UV protection is better than none. But, I really don’t know what brands are available in your area, so I’m not sure how I can help you here. Perhaps the YSL Rouge Volupte SPF 15, which gives a sheer tint while providing UVA and UVB protection, may be appropriate? They’re quite pricey, but I hear good things about it. Also, I’m not sure if you like glosses or if you have access to this brand, but the Smashbox Limitless Lip Glosses with SPF 15 provide UVA and UVB protection as well. For something a bit cheaper, the Juicey Lip Balms from Wet N’ Wild are a good choice; they’re tinted too. Again, I have no idea if you have access to this brand in your drugstores.

      As for the toner, the one you’re using is probably the best for your skin type. How do you like it though?

      Finally, if you continue to only wait a few minutes between application, that may not allow for adequate exfoliation with the 10% AHA. However, now that you’re using the 10% AHA 3-4 times a week, maybe that’ll be enough exfoliation for you? As for not applying something after, because your skin is quite dry, I wouldn’t recommend that because AHAs thin the top layer of dead skin cells. However, those dead cells are what keeping your skin from losing excess water; it’s a barrier. So if you don’t apply some type of occlusive layer (aka moisturizer/serum/etc…) on top, you may find your skin even drier when you wake up. So a subsequent application of something is absolutely necessary.

      So here’s something I thought of to help deal with wait time issue. Since you usually do your face routine right after you take a shower and before you go to sleep, would something like this work?

      1. You get out of the shower. Towel yourself dry.
      2. Then put the 10% AHA on.
      3. Put body lotion on.
      4. Get dressed.
      5. Brush and floss your teeth.
      6. Put on lip balm.
      7. Put on facial moisturizer.
      8. Go to sleep.

      Also don’t you have to dry your hair too? I donn’t know if you don’t wash your hair everyday, which I why I didn’t include that step into this proposed routine.

      Now, that’s obviously this is just an estimation of your evening routine. But between all those steps, wouldn’t that take at least 15 minutes? Therefore, wouldn’t waiting 15-30 minutes work just fine and dandy? Haha.

      Let me know if you have any further questions!

      Posted by John | October 12, 2012, 9:59 am
      • Hi John,

        Ha ha, sorry I couldn’t help myself – the assumption that my evening ‘routine’ has that much thought put into it 🙂

        I solved it by having a shower a bit earlier on the nights that I use the exfoliant – not a drama, just need to remind myself to do it.

        It is really interesting to see the steps set out like that. I clearly need to pay a bit more attention to taking care of myself. Body lotion and lip salve at night, using a hairdryer!! Oh dear, I am really letting the side down here, as a total wash and go type. Probably because I live in a house full of teenage boys (and only one bathroom – the horror). I usually have hand lotion and lip salve next to me at my desk or on the couch, so I use them when I am working or relaxing in front of TV, but not immediately before bed. Hairwashing happens a couple of times a week in the morning so that it can just dry naturally.

        I had a look at some lip balms yesterday and none of them appealed, but I will look out for the lip products you mentioned.

        As far as results go, I know it is early days yet, but my skin feels really soft and smooth (neither dry nor oily actually) and I have needed/used even less makeup than usual – so I would say that I am definitely on the right path. Nothing wrong with the toner at all, was just checking that it was the right one for me (which clearly it is).

        I try to be thrifty, so am going to use up the PC sunscreen as it really is ok for me. I haven’t been out during the peak sun times, so only have to deal with indirect sunlight from a window several feet behind me. I understand the City Block is the best choice for me, but I can’t buy it now that I know Clinique is animal testing again. I bought the Vit C lip smoothie before I knew about it and feel really guilty every time I look at it.

        It will be interesting to see what changes this routine brings. I will definitely let you know how I go.

        Thank you so much for being you x

        Posted by Miranda | October 12, 2012, 4:48 pm
        • It’s great to hear that you’re noticing some type of positive change already, though like you said, it is a bit early to tell. And I can’t believe there’s only 1 bathroom! Nice job managing that. Haha!

          But I’m happy to see that you’ve altered your evening schedule to accommodate this request of mine.

          As for the City Block, I understand that it is completely your choice to not use products tested on animals. But doesn’t L’Oreal also test on animals? And you’ve been using the Eye Make-Up Remover for years now I think. Or maybe they don’t just for the Dermo Expertise line? Anyways, if you really can’t use the City Block, I’ll keep looking around for good products that are available in your area.

          Yes, keep us updated please!

          Posted by John | October 13, 2012, 10:43 am
          • Oh $%#@. Just Googled and you are absolutely right. I feel like a prize fool for not checking the L’Oreal status. It is only that I checked the City Block on Beautypedia and the animal testing thing jumped out at me. What a hypocrite *blushes. Now I have to rethink the eye makeup remover thing too. The irony here is that the L’oreal one isn’t that great when I have used eyeliner and mascara as I always wake up with a bit of panda eye.

            I’m trying really hard to do the right thing, but there will always be a few stumbles along the way. Same with my business – try running an ethical jewellery company – yikes, it;s a (literal) mine(ing) field.

            Put your hand up if you are a bit of a dill/noob/dork (insert appropriate term depending on country of residence).

            Posted by Miranda | October 13, 2012, 4:41 pm
            • Back again 🙂

              I have done a little investigationing and come up with the following options – opinions sought pretty please.

              Eye makeup remover
              (1)ELIZABETH ARDEN – Cleanser
              All Gone Lip/Eye Makeup Remover
              (2)Paula’s Choice Gentle Touch eye makeup remover

              SHISEIDO – Sun Care – Face
              Sun Protection Lip Treatment SPF36 PA+++ (we don’t appear to have Wet and Wild here)
              I don’t like lipstick, so I think that a lip tint or stain with a gloss over the top is best for me.
              I actually have the YSL lipstick that you recommended (those gosh darn persuasive sales people) and I put in on yesterday and then remembered why I don’t wear it – heavy lipstick (and obvious foundation) looks really odd on me. I just tend to play up my eyes and leave the rest pretty natural.

              SPF moisturiser
              (1) SHISEIDO – Sun Care – Face
              Ultimate Sun Protection Face Cream SPF 55 PA+++
              (2) SKIN CEUTICALS – Day Care
              Physical Fusion UV Defense SPF 50
              (3) Yes to Blueberries Age Refresh SPF 30
              (4) Yes to Cucumbers (something something similar)

              I have used a couple of the Yes to things before and haven’t loved them. On balance, if the Skin Ceuticals is a good option I think that appeals the most.

              The only other thing I wonder about is if I have included anything in my routine that is going to keep blackheads at bay. They have significantly reduced with the various things I have been using in the past few months (one of the resist products I assume) so I wonder if that will change with the elimination of BHA from my routine – unless there is BHA in there somewhere???

              So complicated!!!

              Posted by Miranda | October 13, 2012, 5:25 pm
              • Welcome back!

                —Both makeup removers look to be effective. Furthermore, they have similar ratings on MakeupAlley. So just to save money, I’d say pick up the Paula’s Choice version, and perhaps get a small sample of the Elizabeth Arden one. I’m not sure if you get can get samples at department stores in your area.

                —I did notice the Shiseido lip product, but I didn’t recommend it because it is quite pricey for the amount of product you get. Furthermore, I have no idea if this gives a white-cast to the lips or anything. Also, I wanted to recommend an all-in-one product, which the Shiseido one is not. And by the way, I apologize about the YSL recommendation. When I gave you that recommendation, I thought I was actually talking about this product:


                The packaging is so similar to the lipstick, and this product DOES only have a sheer tint–nothing heavy; that it fooled me. Too bad because it would have been an excellent product for you, if only it provided UV protection. Boo!

                So yeah, if you’re willing to spend the money on the Shiseido Lip product and use something like a lip stain/gloss on top, that’ll do just fine.

                —I think we talked about the Shiseido SPF 55 product before. I think you told me that you tried it before and said it was way too greasy and unpleasant for you. You asked my opinion of it before, and I said that despite having gone through at least 3 tubes of this, I’ll most likely switch to the EltaMD SPF 47 because it’s easier to apply, less ghostly white, and much more affordable.

                The Skinceuticals product is okay too. It has a nice texture and gives a matte finish; without being overly dry. However, the reason I didn’t recommend this (and I did examine this product while considering your routine recommendations), is because it’s quite expensive, and I don’t believe that the (5 + 6) 11% of inorganic UV filters is enough protection for someone in your climate. I really don’t trust the SPF 50 rating, and even if that were to be true, the packaging doesn’t tell me anything about its level of UVA protection. However, if there’s nothing that you can find to be appropriate, this product should be fine for you. 11% is better than nothing. It’s certainly better than the ~7% from that Skin Recovery SPF 15 from Paula’s Choice.

                The same idea applies to the Blueberries product. The (6 + 4.9) 10.9% of inorganic UV filters is not enough in my opinion. Also, this product is much more emollient than the Skinceuticals, so I’m not sure if you’d like the feeling of it on your face. But it’s an okay option.

                The Cucumber product is virtually identical to the Blueberries one, so the same review applies.

                —As for the blackheads issue, the reason why I didn’t introduce a salicylic acid (SA) product into your recommended routine is because in the past and in your routine review request submission, you noted that you tried the Paula’s Choice 2% Lotion/Liquid and didn’t like it very much. Therefore, I assumed that it wasn’t really helping. And out of the RESIST products that you’ve been using now, there isn’t really any SA content present in any of them. The 5% Daily Treatment only has 0.5% SA, which I’m sure you can tell is much lower than 2%! Therefore, it was my conclusion that the retinol from the Intensive Retinol Serum was doing most work. And it’s very well-documented that retinoids can help at preventing clogged pores.

                As I indicated in this post: https://thetriplehelixian.com/2012/02/13/the-skin-saga-breaking-blemish-temptalia-post-v-0-02/ retinoids do this by reducing the positive and negative charges of keratinocytes and (down)regulating levels of transglutaminase. Here’s a study substantiating this ability: http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/1283729. So because of this fact and because you weren’t satisfied with the results of retinol, I recommended a prescription retinoid (preferably tretinoin or tazarotene) because it is beneficial in so many ways for you: clogged pores, acne, fine lines, hyperpigementation, etc… And with the rest of your routine, a prescription retinoid should really help your skin look more even, lustrous, and smooth.

                I hope that made sense and as always, if you have more questions… 😉

                Posted by John | October 14, 2012, 10:14 pm
                • About the Skinceuticals sunscreen, when I was looking into it, I send several emails to them asking about UVA protection. They are not very forthcoming, it actually took at least 3-4 emails before I got any straight answers, and all they would tell me is that it has a PPD of 21. I find that VERY hard to believe, considering the small % of UV filters, so I requested more information (like the studies/tests done to come to that value, critical wavelength, and inquired how did they manage that with such a small % of inorganic UV filters, etc.) but they just ignored me.
                  I wouldn’t recommend this product.

                  Posted by Lucas | October 15, 2012, 6:45 am
                  • I agree that there’s no way it has a PPD of 21. Like I said to Miranda, I wouldn’t say this is a “good” source of UV protection for myself or Mmiranda, but if it’s the most appropriate choice that fulfills her various conditions, it’s still much better than the PC product. The most important thing is to stay out of the sun. 🙂

                    And don’t you hate it when companies pull this kind of bullcrap?! I get so frustrated haha! Oh well.

                    Posted by John | October 15, 2012, 5:02 pm
                    • This is just ridiculous. Maybe it’s time to go hard on a campaign to Clinique to stop animal testing!!! It is an interesting exercise however. I have been trying a few searches on ‘Daily med’ and just clicking on all the products with the combination – maybe I will find something totally new. Actually it is quite a cool search if anyone is interested, just click on the individual listings for ingredients http://dailymed.nlm.nih.gov/dailymed/search.cfm?startswith=TITANIUM+DIOXIDE%2C+ZINC+OXIDE&x=15&y=6 – apologies if this is ‘old hat’, I haven’t tried it before.

                      Interesting that you say buy the PC because it is cheaper. The makeup remover is $30 here.

                      If you have a look on the Australian version of the PC site you will see a major price difference. A big one is the 2% BHA body lotion – $37.80. I will get one of them though, just having a bit of a whinge. In Australia we appear to have a few Zinc Oxide only options, not a lot of the Zinc/Titanium combination – Hissyfit, True Solutions, Cancer Council and Invisible Zinc (which I really dislike) to name a few.

                      Anyway, thank you once again for your ongoing care and attention. I will continue the hunt and share my findings.

                      Cheers M

                      Posted by Miranda | October 15, 2012, 8:20 pm
                    • Holy Jesus that is SO expensive. $30?! Crap, I keep comparing prices based on the ones in the US. Ack!

                      Go for the Arden if it’s cheaper. I’m sure you’ve been doing this already, but if I say two products are basically equal, go for the cheaper one in your area. Ignore my price assessments haha. Ugh that makes me so mad! Paula’s CHoice really isn’t that cheap for you. 😦

                      Also note that I didn’t recommend the 2% BHA body lotion; rather it was the 10% AHA. But of course, if you would rather try that instead, go for it!

                      You know what would really help me? It would be to give me website links for the various drugstores and department stores that you shop at, so I can just check their selections from there. For example, we have Target exclusively here in the US. There’s Boots in the UK. What about in your area?

                      Sorry again, and be sure to let me know about if you have questions about future finds.

                      Posted by John | October 15, 2012, 8:55 pm
                    • Yeah, that’s true.

                      It’s very frustrating! But they hold all the information and can just ignore you, so all we can do is move on to another brand.

                      Posted by Lucas | October 16, 2012, 11:11 am
                    • Good call. 🙂

                      Posted by John | October 16, 2012, 4:59 pm
                    • I had a similar experience with that Skinceuticals sunscreen. I printed out the emails, and showed them to my dermatologist. Her office emailed and got the same crummy answers that I did. As a result, she no longer recommends the product.

                      Posted by amy | October 20, 2012, 8:19 am
                    • Yeah, that’s unfortunate! But I’m happy to hear that your dermatologist made the effort to do that. Still, Skinceuticals does have some excellent products; though they are quite pricey.

                      Posted by John | October 20, 2012, 7:44 pm
            • Everyone misses things, myself included, so don’t worry about it!

              Posted by John | October 14, 2012, 11:36 am
          • Hey John,

            I thought it was about time I gave an update on my routine. I have to say though, I was in a shop the other day and whilst chatting to the owner she stopped and said ‘you have really great skin’!!!! It has been quite some time since anyone has said that – so kudos to you 🙂

            Since this routine was created I have discovered the PC BHA9 and like it very much. So what I do is rotate the tretinoin, weekly resurfacing and BHA 9. so that each product is used every three days. I don’t always manage to put a moisturiser on top but I keep the serum beside the bed and if I am still awake 15 minutes later (usually) I put it on in the dark. I have to say that there doesn’t seem to be any adverse effects when I don’t put it on – however I am sure you will tell me why it is very naughty.

            I have the skin brightening stuff, but I don’t really like it that much, won’t repurchase. If I continue to have problems with dark spots I will get them lasered in the winter, however, my skin is so much brighter overall and I can get away with just a tinted moisturiser and it covers everything.

            I haven’t completely irradicated the blackheads, but they are greatly reduced. Dark circles are also reduced and my skin is really smooth. I have much more of a glow than I did before and wear much less makeup.

            I am still fine tuning the routine. I feel that nicacimide (?sp) is missing and was wondering if I could alternate that and the anti ox serum as an after treatment moisturiser – if so is the PC moisture boost a good choice, or something better.

            I want to thank you so much, I am definitely improving every day and just love the revitalised look.

            Posted by Miranda | December 21, 2012, 1:53 pm
            • Yay!! I’m so happy for you!

              You can certainly alternate a niacinamide product with the antioxidant serum. However, I’d like to note that the Skin Brightening product already has a lot of niacinamide in it. And since you didn’t like it very much, you may want to consider why you don’t like it. If the reason is something that’s non-cosmetic (i.e texture, finish), then the niacinamide content may be the cause of your dislike, since it’s present in quite high concentrations.

              The Moisture Boost Cream doesn’t have much niacinamide, but it’s still a good overall moisturizer for drier skin types.

              As I indicated in this post: http://www.futurederm.com/2012/09/27/spotlight-on-vitamin-b3-niacinamide-and-nicotinic-acid/, I really like this product: http://www.target.com/p/olay-total-effects-moisturizer-plus-mature-therapy-1-7-oz/-/A-11113177 for those with dry skin types looking for a product with a lot of niacinamide. Maybe consider something like that?

              Anyways, congrats again on the improvement!

              Oh, and if you’ve gotten it already, how have you been liking the tretinoin or whatever prescription retinoid you’re using?

              Posted by John | December 22, 2012, 9:39 pm
              • Hey John,

                It has niacinamide in it? I really should read ingredients.

                Hmm, maybe I should try it for a bit longer. I don’t really know why I said I don’t like it, I guess it is more that it is expensive and I didn’t know if it was working. It is probably no more expensive than anything else – stupid Australian Paula’s Choice prices.

                My skin isn’t that dry at the moment as we are in full summer.

                For some reason I thought the Moisture boost had lots of Niacinamide and the Skin Brightening none. Beside my bed is the moisture boost and the anti ox serum – perhaps I have been using the moisture boost and mixing it up in my mind with the Brightening stuff..aaargh, just ignore me, I get confused sometimes and have too many things going on in my mind at once.

                I have to keep coming back and referring to your routine suggestions as I get it all mixed up.

                Yes, got the tretinoin cream a couple of weeks ago. I like it, it seems to be working rather quickly and some superficial lines are reducing.

                As I said, I rotate that, the weekly resurfacing and the BHA9 and then put some sort of moisture over the top (if I am still awake) – although I don’t put anything over the BHA9 because it said not to.

                My skin seems to be changing, it doesn’t feel particularly tight if I don’t put moisture over the top and i find the trentinoin cream quite thick and moisturising. I am not getting any irritation at all. The only one that gives a slight sting (and it is only slight) is the weekly resurfacing treatment. It doesn’t bother me for long.

                I feel like my skin is a lot hardier and seems to take whatever I throw at it. Definitely going in the right direction!

                Posted by Miranda | December 22, 2012, 10:11 pm
  3. Hey,

    I have a question about layering sunscreens and avobenzone/octinoxate incompatibility.
    I am currently using a zinc oxide+octinoxate based sunscreen and was thinking about adding a Tinosorb M+Uvinul T-150+avobenzone one underneath. I was wondering if the octinoxate would still degrade the avobenzone, even after it has been stabilized by Tinosorb M.
    And if it does, would it do any harm, considering that Tinosorb M would provide enough UVA protection (making the avobenzone unnecessary)?


    Posted by Lucas | October 10, 2012, 5:21 am
    • Hi Lucas,

      That’s a very good and rather astute question if I say so myself! Nice work.

      The octinoxate will still degrade the avobenzone. However, this negative interaction may be irrelevant because Tinosorb M is better than avobenzone at absorbing UV rays at most applicable wavelengths. I understand how this can be confusing so I’ll briefly explain. While you may think that avobenzone is photostabilized by Tinosorb M, this particular train of though is actually incorrect and is known as the inner-filter effect.

      A good metaphor for this effect would be if you consider avobenzone as an umbrella made of tissue paper. Then if, a second umbrella (Tinsorb M) made of rubber is placed over the first umbrella, the “rain” or UV rays wouldn’t actually reach the first weaker umbrella. Thus, the more fragile tissue paper umbrella appears to provide some degree of protection only because of the action of the upper second umbrella. The paper umbrella by itself would be quickly destroyed in the rain.

      So really, Tinosorb M doesn’t actually photostabilize avobenzone (in the same way as octocrylene and oxybenzone by absorbing triplet energy), meaning that there are no direct molecular interactions. It basically replaces avobenzone. Therefore, you don’t have to worry about the octinoxate degrading the avobenzone (it still occurs) because the avobenzone doesn’t really do anything in the presence of Tinsorb M, which means that what you’re proposing to do is perfectly fine.

      I hope that made sense. If not, let me know.

      Posted by John | October 10, 2012, 10:56 am
      • Hi,

        Thanks for clearing that out. So, only octocrylene and oxybenzone stabilize avobenzone in that fashion?
        It did make sense, and that’s a great metaphor!

        Is there any reason why someone would formulate a sunscreen with both Tinosorb M and avobenzone?

        Posted by Lucas | October 10, 2012, 1:00 pm
        • Yep only octocrylene and oxybenzone stabilize avobenzone that way, though octocrylene is the better of the two.

          And the reason why Tinosorb M and avobenzone are used together is because avobenzone initially gives better protection at some wavelengths than Tinosorb M, but once it degrades it’s a lot weaker.

          Posted by John | October 10, 2012, 1:41 pm
  4. Hi John! So excited to see a feature on more mature skin (ahem)! I too purchased the Paula’s Choice RESIST Pure Radiance Skin Brightening Treatment and Clinique’s Even Better Dark Spot Corrector to help combat some recent hyperpigmentation spots on my face ( I use them interchangeably for cost reduction) . If I understand what you wrote correctly, these products will do nothing to lessen the appearance of dark spots? Is their only advantage then to obtain a more even skin tone? Or is it mostly just hype? TIA

    Posted by Cathi Clark | October 9, 2012, 2:17 pm
    • Hi Cathi Clark,

      They won’t do nothing; they can certainly help. As I said in the post, they won’t do “much” for hyperpigmentation.

      Because melanin is produced as a response to things like UV exposure, if you have a sunspot for example, these various lighteners won’t do anything about the melanin that you already see on your skin. However, they can help inhibit any on-going melanin production that’s transported to the same site. So in this way, it can help increase the rate at which hyperpigmentation disappears. But that’s only in conjunction with UV exposure, which shouldn’t be reaching your skin anyways! However I acknowledge that some UV exposure will still penetrate the skin even with sunscreen, because sunscreen can’t block 100% of UV rays.

      So basically, lighteners can only inhibit future melanin production, not the actual melanin content that’s already on your face. So they are still beneficial for the skin; just don’t expect dramatic nor fast results. But it’s definitely not just hype. Even the gold standard hydroquinone takes a lot of time, and has to be used with a strong UVA and UVB absorbing sunscreen to achieve noticeable results.

      I hope that made sense and please let me know if you have any other questions.

      Posted by John | October 9, 2012, 7:39 pm

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