Wednesday, July 26, 2017

Life on Retin-A: Everything you need to know before using Tretinoin

This post has been sitting in my blog drafts for almost 5 years! I have used Retin-A religiously from 2013 to 2016 and I haven't had any major skin problems since. 

I will start incorporating Tretinoin back into my daily routine soon and I will definitely track my progress just as I did ages ago. 

But for now, enjoy my earlier journey with this magical cream....


Disclaimer: Retin-A/Tretnoin is a Prescription Drug in some countries, luckily it is (still) an OTC drug where I live, although I haven't been prescribed with Retin-A for acne, it has been prescribed to me (repeatedly) for deep scar wounds by a licensed physician in the family. Please take my advise with a grain of salt. I will regularly update this post on new developments on my ongoing treatment.

What is Tretinoin / Retin-A?
Tretinoin (most commonly known as the brand Retin-A) is a derivative of Vitamin A and a first generation topical retinoid used to treat acne and photo-aging. Tretinoin irritates the skin and causes the cells of the skin to grow and die more rapidly, increasing the turnover of cells. Replacing the old cells quickly prevents the forming and growth of new pimples. 

Pregnancy Warning
If you are trying to conceive, currently pregnant or breastfeeding do not attempt to use Retin-A. Vitamin A derivatives have been shown to cause birth defects, specifically oral medications like Isotretinoin / Accutane. Although studies have not shown a direct link between topical use of tretinoin and birth defects in children whose mothers have used tretinoin throughout the pregnancy, your child's health isn't worth risking over clear skin.
Where can I buy Tretinoin / Retin-A?
If you live in the U.S. you might need to see a dermatologist to get a prescription, however in the Philippines it is available Over-the-Counter at drugstores.

How much does Tretinoin / Retin-A cost?
It may cost you around $7 in the U.S. if it is covered by your insurance carrier and around $35-$50 if it isn't. In the Philippines it is available for $14-$16 (more or less 600) for a 25g tube. 

How do I use Tretinoin / Retin-A? 
Using a pea-sized amount of the product, apply a thin layer on your face right before bedtime. DO NOT USE MORE THAN ONCE A DAY.

Is there anything else I need to consider before starting the treatment?
A LOT. I have no intention of scaring anyone away but if you can't make the commitment of using Retin-A religiously everyday (or every other day), avoiding sun exposure as much as possible, using sunscreen, sleeping at least 6-8 hours a day and cleaning your face thoroughly, you might not get optimum results. The effectiveness of the treatment will depend greatly on the consistency of your daily regimen. I personally find the regimen to be very simple once you've found the right products for your skin, I agree that doing the aforementioned procedures on a daily basis can be quite a drag for someone who is very busy but... don't we all need to have a good night's rest with a freshly cleaned face? And doesn't prolonged sun exposure cause wrinkles, dark spots and even skin cancer? With or without Retin-A, these are things WE SHOULD ALL DO ON A DAILY BASIS. :) 

Sunscreen Talk
If there is one thing that I practice and preach at the same time, it would definitely be on the topic of using sunscreen everyday. Tretinoin undergoes photo degradation under sunlight and fluorescent light, which is why the prime time for applying the treatment is right before bedtime. Also note that your face will be much more sensitive due to the exfoliation. 

Look for a sunscreen that's broadspectrum, lightweight and apt for your sensitive skin. SPF 30 is most recommended for daily use as it gives ample sun protection without being too heavy. I use VMV Hypoallergenics Armada Face Cover 30 regularly, I occasionally use this underneath my makeup. On days that I stay at home or just run quick errands, I use L'Oreal UV Perfect SPF50 (which is a tinted moisturizer) or TFS Natural Sun Whitening Sunscreen SPF50. Why such a high SPF rating on days that I stay home rather than days when I go out? You'll find out in a bit.

Make-Up Talk 
The moment my skin started to flake, I stopped using liquid foundation. The brand I used had a very runny consistency and only gives light to medium coverage, after I had set makeup with powder, my faced looked like crocodile patterned material. Hideous. I tried to use another brand of foundation which worked well for me months before, but the moment I applied it onto my face I felt a stinging sensation that never went away even after I had finished applying it all over, I immediately washed my face. From then on out, I have only used BB cream for my face, doesn't matter which brand as long as it's Korean BB cream. 

Not only Korean BB creams are less taxing for the skin, most of them have SPF 30+ protection.

My Tretinoin Timeline
Start Date: September 2, 2013
Brand: Stevia-A 

Day 3: Start of mild flaking.

Day 9: Irritated skin, mild redness and flaking. Mucous membranes should be avoided as much as possible when applying Retin-A. Since I sleep with my face buried in a pillow, my lips have also become dry. 

Day 12: More flaking and actual peeling, as what happens to sunburns. Used Tretinoin on eyelids for the past 11 days, stopped applying on the area today. 

Day 15: Massive pimple outbreak on the forehead.

Day 18: More pimples come out on different areas of the face. Two of which are cystic in size.

Day 28: Most pimples have dried out, flaking minimized and skin has become clearer.

Day 33: Mild flaking still visible but can be removed with physical exfoliant. Skin has become taut and supple.

Day 38: Skin can now pass for flawless with only BB cream! (Yay for the ladies :3)

Here's my bare face on a 'good day' using Tretinoin. Taken on the second month of treatment.

As of...
December 8, 2013:  It took me 3 months to get fully accustomed to the treatment, it takes a while but is definitely worth it, flaky days are less and with my physical exfoliant and moisturizer the dead skin sloughs off easily. I still get pimple, practically the same frequency as I used to but they never grow bigger than the ones you can see on the picture taken on my 2nd month of treatment. What has been really easy for me now is pimple and blackhead extraction, the pores never clog up from dead skin cells, making this task such a breeze. The ginormous pores on the sides of my nose (the area right under the eyes) have decreased in size. 

Morning Regimen
1. Facial scrub to slough off flaking skin - St. Ives 
2. Praha Blossom Serum - Holika Holika
3. Praha Blossom Emulsion - Holika Holika
4. Liole Triple The Solution BB Cream / Missha Perfect Cover BB Cream

Evening Regimen
1. VMV Combination Skin Facial Scrub
2. VMV Know-it-Oil
3. VMV Illuminants Facial Wash
5. Any face mask
6. Retin-A
7. ZZZZZZZZZzzzzzz.....


Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Dyeing for Perfection: L’Oreal Paris Excellence Fashion in P66

Here's a not-so-fun fact about me: I have premature white hair. Not the entire head but at least a good 30-40% percent of it, which is highly noticeable especially with my dark hair. I've been dyeing semi-regularly (every 4-6 months) since I was 16. Despite the regular dyeing, my hair has remained in a healthy state since black dye needs a minimum (or none) amount of color developer.

I've always wanted to experiment with different colors but that would involve a lot of lightening because of years and years of color buildup. My dream was to eventually have pretty lilac/violet hair just like entrepreneur/model Doe Deere. 

This is as delusional as I get... hahaha, even if I had her beautiful Russian features and pale white skin, my thick dark asian hair wouldn't last with the constant bleaching. But I wanted to push through despite the numerous drawbacks, I originally intended to get it done after college, but if I don't land a job in Advertising, I might be thrown into Public Relations or Journalism which are definitely kill my quirky dreams of purple hair. I was leaving for Korea in a week and I decided that it was the perfect time to sport a new hair color.

The hairdresser bleached my hair twice. Why? The black dye buildup was an absolute pain to remove! So we bleached-dyed-bleached-dyed till I had the color that was fairly OK! I had to settle for something quite mediocre because my hair was under a lot stress already.

It is a fairly nice shade of violet under natural light but when the sun goes down...

It starts to look like a reddish-brown shade! Totally not my thing, the worse part of it is, it clashes with my royal blue dresses, and I have a LOT of blue dresses! During the first two weeks, my hair bled to death...the tub was an absolute mess! And by the third week, not a single trace of violet could be seen, only a head full of bleached hair! I dyed it violet again but I just couldn't take it anymore... It looked awful and I consistently had to watch out for color clashing with my wardrobe. 

I purposely faded out the second violet dye job with sulfate containing hair products and took it upon myself to dye my hair, this time, RED! 

After a week of research on what's the best Red box dye in the market, a lot of netizens and youtubers suggested LOREAL Magicolor Hi-lights. I couldn't find it anywhere so I decided to visit a local beauty store and found this instead: Loreal Excellence Fashion in P66 (Intense Red) 

The box contains a dye primer, hair dye, color developer, conditioner and an easy application tube. However, I suggest that you use an old plastic/ceramic (never metal) bowl and a brush applicator when you color own hair for even results. 

After rinsing my hair, I was immediately impressed with the color pay-off and the beautiful shine. 

It looks very vibrant under natural light but with camera flash it tends to get copper-ish in color. Nevertheless, it's absolutely stunning to say the least. These photos were taken a couple of days before I dyed my hair back to black, since school was about to resume. 

All in all I had 2 bleach jobs, 2 violet hair dyes, 2 red hair dyes and a black hair dye done all in 2-3 months! During the last dye jobs, my hair has become extremely gummy when wet. I now have no choice but to deal with my damaged hair on a daily basis by using essential oils to keep it shiny and smooth, but if you want red hair... DO NOT BE DISCOURAGED! Red dye adheres better to healthy hair! It's molecules are too huge to penetrate into the hair follicle that's why bleaching isn't really required. :)

My lilac/purple dreams have now been crushed, all I can ever think of is getting my hair dyed red on a regular basis. Everybody loved it and despite certain color clashes with my wardrobe, it wasn't as bad as my violet do, I can still wear my royal blue dresses with no trouble at all. 

And a super hurrah for L’Oreal Paris Excellence Fashion in P66 (Intense Spicy Red)! I recommend this particular line of hair dye to anyone who would like to try out Red for the first time. 

Happy midweek to everyone,

Sunday, June 23, 2013

So, I was in Seoul for a bit...

Over the course of six months, I applied for a US VISA twice, but to no avail, both ended in vain. It could have possibly been a Grand Reunion for the immediate family, however, as a full-time student at age 21, with no source of income, the results weren't surprising. 

My aunt had plans of stopping over at Incheon for a couple of days before going back to the US. Given that USA is an OCED country, travelers who will be going to any OCED country as their final destination are granted the privilege of staying in Korea for a certain number of days.

My family was clear to go, I clearly wasn't. Since the entire family was bound for the US in a month, I hastily applied for Korean Tourist Visa. 

How to Apply for a Korean Tourist Visa

First of all, a disclaimer: I will only be talking about the process of claiming a Single Entry Tourist Visa for Dependents/Students. Please take my advice with a grain of salt and tons of research before plunging forward and proceeding to the Embassy.  

You would have to print and fill out forms which you can download from here:

You will also be able to check under which category you fall under and what the requirements are. 


As I said earlier, being a student, most of the documents I presented were documents from my parents. Please take note that some documents HAVE to be ORIGINAL copies.

Here's a list of the documents I presented:
* Certificate of Employment (Both Parents)
* Official Bank Account Statement (Mine and my Dad's) 
* Birth Certificate
* School Certificate
* Passport
* Plane Ticket Booking
* Hotel Reservations
* Extra 2x2 Photos

Photocopies of:
* School Registration Form 
* Recent Income Tax Return (Both Parents)
* School ID
* Passport (First Page)

Create as many backup copies as possible. I had made 3 sets of photocopies myself, you'll never know what might happen.


The Korean Embassy is located at 122 Upper McKinley Road, McKinley Town Center, Fort Bonifacio, Taguig City

They process applicants on a "First come, First served" basis, so try to come at the earliest time possible. We left Pampanga at 4:00 am and arrived the location around 7:30. Upon arrival, you will need to sign their log book and will be given numbers for queuing. When the gate opens at 9:00, numbers will be called individually. 

The entire process takes approximately an hour and 30 minutes, depending on how early (or late) you arrived. It will practically be a long queue until you get to the consul, who will then check your documents. No interview. 

The consul returned certain documents which she deemed unnecessary, but please bear in mind that some applicants aren't accepted because they lack certain documents. Do come prepared.


Single Entry Visas for less than 59 days are free. Single Entry Visas beyond 59 days cost 1,500php. Double Entry Visas cost 3,000php while Multiple Entry Visas cost 4,000php. 

Claiming your Visa/Passport

When the consul accepts your documents, you will be handed a claim slip with the date of your return to the Embassy, which is usually 5 working days from your date of application. The worrisome part here is that you won't be told whether you will get a visa or not. Just imagine the anticipatory anxiety! 

On your date of return, come as early as you possibly can, releasing time is from 2:00pm -4:00pm only. I had arrived at the Embassy around 3:00pm that day and got my visa at 3:40pm! 

All in all, the process is quite anti-climactic as opposed to other Visa Application processes for other countries. Though it is easy and quick, not everyone is granted a visa. I have heard stories of people leaving it to travel agencies to apply for them, however, despite of their great economic standing and stability are still denied of a visa. Come with a complete set of documents and be prepared for whatever the outcome may be.


So what did I see/do in Korea? 



Palace Hopping!

Temple Lanterns

Museum :3

Changing of the guards

Is this a Cherry Blossom? :P

Monkey :3 


Met Royalty (not, they're actors)! Haha... Incheon is such an amazing airport.

Although I look like a mess for most part of the trip, plus I didn't think it would be tremendously cold :P  I had an amazing time!

Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Face Shop: Angel Skin Foundation and Angel Skin Make-up Base Review

I must admit that this is a post looooong overdue. I've moved out from the flat where I originally took these photos and I am moving out again! Hahaha. The good side of it is that I have used the products for approximately 6 months, more than enough to give you a detailed review.

 The Angel Skin Make-up Base comes in a green 30ml tube with a screw cap 

The Angel Skin Foundation also comes in the same packaging but in pink.

The primer has a watery consistency with a green hue which helps tone down redness as a green concealer would. Used by itself, it will leave your face looking white and pale. 

The foundation also has the same watery consistency with bit of a yellow undertone. Perfect for most asian women. The shade I got is NB21.

 Here's a photo of myself wearing both products, un-retouched for 5 hours.

You can see a bit of oiliness coming through (and sweat) but so far it's holding up pretty well 5 hours after application.

My take on these Products . . . 

They're cheap and work quite well. It can get heavy and cakey so remember apply just a suitable amount for your entire face. I have no issues with the color since it blends pretty well with my skintone and I didn't experience any breakouts with either of the products. The only part that troubled me is the packaging, it's messy and very inconvenient, you also tend to get more product than you need because of its runny consistency. 

Would I recommend it?

Primer: I'm not a huge fan of concealers, it's something I don't use unless I have to cover up a huge blemish. I would recommend this for people who have cover up any redness on their face. 

Foundation: Yes, this is great for people with yellow undertones. Not a Holy Grail material but worth the try. 

Cost Per Use:

I believe I purchased both on sale at the price of 425PHP each (Approx. $11USD)
My tubes lasted 6 months with at least 4 times a week of usage. 

12(times used in a month) x 6 (number of months) = 72 Applications.

425PHP / 72 Applications =  5.90PHP per use. 

Overall Rating:


Wishing you a Serene Sunday ahead,

Friday, March 8, 2013

Marching Forward

My life seems to be an uneven mix of the good and the bad. I might just have had the worst week of 2013 right before my birthday. Whatever don't kill you makes you stronger right? I do hope so. 

I spent my 21st birthday with my grandmum and a couple of close friends available for the affair. I wish I had more stories to tell but 20-something birthdays aren't just all that fun, especially when you're hosting it at home, just got home from another event, starting it at 10pm and half of the expected guests couldn't make it. 

It was fun but stressful, even with only 4 guests around. And at around 1am, I was cleaning up someone's puke off the floor. LOL. 

As for presents, I finally got something I've been dreaming of for almost 2 years.

Unfortunately, my experience with it was fairly anti-climactic. It's a very lovely shade but made me look ill. What's even more frustrating is that it doesn't go well with my dark hair color. I didn't want it to got waste, thus inspiring the creation of these...

An non-model with a photographer who isn't a photographer. It wasn't planned and the outcome didn't turn out the way I thought it would be, but what the heft?!? I LOOK GORGEOUS! Hahahaha, yes, I'm owning it tonight. I've never felt this sexy when I have never been as chubby as I am today in my entire life. Although this does make me want to lose weight and want to have a photoshoot done by a professional. You're only young once anyway. :) 

Enjoy the extended weekend everyone! :D

Stay gorgeous,