How I deal with the (retinol/retinoid) uglies!

So, lured in by amazing – science backed – claims of anti-aging (yes, true anti-aging!) I’ve decided to try out some retinol/retinoid products.

Now, these products are serious business. Yes, the results have been proven but there is a LOT to keep in mind when using these products! I am by no means advocating or recommending the use of any retinol or retinoid products to anyone, heck, I don’t even know if they work for me yet! Because of this, I won’t be going into any further detail on the retinol/retinoids I’m using on this blog. Speak to a dermatologist if you have any questions about these products.

What I DO know is my skin is acting in new and… special ways since I started using them. (Why oh why did I decide to do this in Winter?!) This is what I’ve done so far to combat the dreaded “uglies”.

Hydration, Moisture and Gommage Peels! ❤️

Surprise! My skin is acting up, dried out, peeling, flaking, grey and just generally kinda disgusting. Now I know why the settling period of retinol/retinoids is called the uglies! I’ve been slathering on the hydrating products, sealing them in with some heavy-hitting moisturisers and sleeping packs. It’s helped a LOT but there’s still some peeling. I’ve skipped all other actives for the time being as I don’t want my face to fall off in chunks bigger than it already is! So my current night time routine looks like this;

First cleanser: Heimish All Clean Balm

Second Cleanser: Sukin Charcoal Gel Cleanser

FTE: Secret Key First Treatment Essence

Gommage: the Yeon Hallabong

Hydrating Toner: Secret Key Milk Toner

Essence: Scinic Aqua AIO

Serum: Holy Snails Aqua Shark 

Sheet Mask: Elizavecca Donkey Milk Steam Cream Mask, Too Cool For School Egg Cream Mask (Hydration), Illi Hanbang Camelia Intensive Moisture Mask, A’Pieu Milk Mask, are my current fave to really nourish and throw a lot of hydration and moisture into my skin

Eye cream: Purebess Galactomyces 80 Eye Cream

Occlusive: Benton Steam Cream or COSRX Honey Ceramide 

Sleeping Pack: COSRX Honey or Rice

Phew! So as you can see, I’m putting products that are a lot thicker and more moisturising than I was previously using, including some that I had put aside because I thought they were too heavy for my skin! I’ve lowered the amount I’m using and saw a decrease in irritation almost immediately, though keeping up this routing through winter should hopefully save my skin!

While I’m still getting a little bit of peeling, my skin isn’t red or sore and I’m hoping that the worst of it is now behind me.



Are you using enough sunscreen?

Sunscreen is arguably one of the most important steps in any skin care routine. It prevents aging by blocking UVAs, protects the skin from damaging UVBs and keeps you looking younger, longer, but only if you choose the right one and apply it correctly!

Stated SPF VS Actual SPF

Some sunscreens state their SPF as higher than it actually is! In 2015 wrote an article on how they tested some common Australian sunscreens and not all of them delivered the Sun Protection Factor that was stated on the bottle. Make sure your sunscreen isn’t out of date and has been stored correctly (not in a hot car) in order to maximise its effectiveness.
“Broad Spectrum” vs PA (Photo Aging) rating 

Broad Spectrum sunscreens show that they offer UVA protection, however PA rating shows you how much! PA rankings can be shown as PA+, PA++ PA+++ or PA++++, with more plus symbols meaning more protection. The PA rating system is used in Japanese and Korean sunscreens, however some western brands are now also starting to add the PA rating system.

How much to use 

Obviously the size of your face and body might vary, but in general the agreed amount  for the average adult is 1/4 tablespoon for the face – this is based off of 2mg of sunscreen per square centimetre of skin in order to meet the stated SPF. Try measuring out 1/4 tablespoon of sunscreen sometime – you’ll probably be surprised at how much this is!
Sunscreen should ALWAYS be the first and most important step in any skincare routine. Which one do you use?

Most important though, is you actually wear it, every day!

Review: COSRX Blackhead Power Liquid (BHA)

This was my first product from COSRX and my first experience into chemical exfoliation.

I use it right after cleansing and using a pH balancing toner (I currently use a simple DIY combo of apple cider vinegar and water) and before AHA, hydrating toners and serums. COSRX Blackhead Power Liquid is oil permeable which means it can get right down into the pores and work it’s gentle exfoliating magic deep in the skin.

I have quite large pores and this is gentle enough to use twice a day for me.

I really like this product a lot – it’s good value for money, and I really admire COSRX as a company for their integrity and dedication.

A while back on the AsianBeauty subreddit there was a discussion on the pH of this product as people with batches made from 2016 onwards were getting higher readings than the expected pH of 3.5-4.5 – most were getting readings of around 5-6.5 – however studies show that Salicylic Acid (and Betaine Salicylate – a neutralised form used in this product) are also effective at higher pHs (6.5). COSRX has responded that the pH had been raised as the previous versions were unstable, and in order to bring the pH back down they would have to add alcohol to the formula.

I find the product still works fine for me – it’s very gentle but I can really see amazing results when I use Fifty Shades of Snail‘s pore shrinking method with my Innisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask – so I will continue to buy and use this product even with the higher pH.

I would definitely recommend this product to anyone who has enlarged pores, blackheads, or is interested in chamical exfoliation or a K-Beauty style skin care routine.

Love, Selkie.

Review & GIVEAWAY [now closed] Illi Hanbang Intensive Moisture Camelia sheet masks

I want to talk a bit about my favourite masks at the moment as the weather is beginning to finally cool down here in Australia.

These are the stunningly gorgeous Illi masks in the Camelia… flavour?

Just look at that packaging *swoon*

I really adore these masks, they’re super filled with essence, more than almost any sheet mask I’ve encountered, and are very luxurious feeling. The essence is milky and slightly creamy feeling and takes forever to dry out. I have worn these for up to an hour in the middle of Summer in Australia. 

And there’s a lot of essence. Did I mention the essence? No joke, I covered my arms, my calves, my chest and I still had some left over! It’s lightly frangranced and quite watery. I intially expected these to be much more strongly fragranced as they are labelled as Hanbang (which is Korean traditional herbal medicine) but it’s not strong or offensive at all.

The fabric is very soft, nothing spectacular but it’s a nice comfortable mask that fits me quite well. The nose area has a bit of a gap but I’m okay with that, with so much extra essence I just keep patting it into the exposed areas.

Can you tell I really like these?



Review: Etude House Bebe Foot Mask

Okay! After the last one I wanted a foot peel that… well… did anything. Preferably working as advertised.


So I picked up a pack of the Etude House Bebe Foot Mask – it came in a cardboard box (WITH BOOTIES) and the cute foot-shaped packet full of liquid, divided in two (one for each foot).

I didn’t get any photos of my feet in the booties, but they were comfy and easy to wear and didn’t leak.

I have a confession to make. I stuffed up. I dozed off while wearing the booties. (Also, the liquid tested at about pH 4 – low enough for exfoliating! Hurraw!)  It wasn’t uncomfortable or apparent I had over-exfoliated UNTIL I jumped in the shower. Holy wow. It hurt when the water touched it – my skin felt raw and burning hot. As soon as I jumped out of the shower it felt a little tender but that was all. My feet felt totally normal, a little dry, when I woke up the following day.

Fast forward to day 4… a tiny blister of skin appeared. The following day when I got out of the shower my skin peeled off my feet in huge sheets, mostly from my heels.


Snail gel for scale.

This was amazing. I have used multiple foot peels in the past and none have worked as well as this one did, is it possible that that’s because I over-exfoliated by leaving it on too long? Maybe. But I’ll definitely be picking these up again the next time I want a foot peel!

Review: Rolanjona Milk and Bamboo Vinegar Peeling Tendering Feet Mask

Here in Australia Autumn is finally starting to settle in and for me, that means foot peel time! I’ve bought a couple of cheaper foot peels off of eBay before, some worked okay, some were pretty awful, but this… THIS… aside from the fact that it was under $2, made me so sad.

Unfortunately I didn’t take many pictures of the process or the packaging but as you’ll see there’s almost no need for it.

This was TERRIBLE.

First, after soaking my feet in warm water for about an hour, I opened the packaging. 

Surprise! No plastic booties in here, just weirdly thin paper-type fabric soaked in not unpleasant smelling goop. 

Argh. Okay. So I ran around grabbing some supplies. Which ended up being grocery bags, cling film and packing tape.

I picked up the now dripping booties to find not only was there not a foot hole and they needed to be cut, but they had weirdly fused together so I ended up with a small tear in one of the booties. Argh again.

After makeshifting a plastic over-boot for my feet to soak in I tested the pH of the remaining liquid with my cheap pH strips.

In order to exfoliate a pH of around 4.5 is needed. They read at… somewhere between 7.5 and 8. Argh.

So I sat and waited, and played some Animal Crossing to pass the time, and washed off the liquid.

Nothing. After knowing the pH I’m not surprised there was no peeling but there was nothing. No moisturising, no dryness, not a hint that I had even soaked my feet in anything. 

So, lesson learned. These suck.

My top 5 Beauty stuff that makes me cringe

Okay so, here’s a list of things that make me cringe. I’ll go into the why I don’t personally use them but if you have used them please leave me a comment telling me why!

1. Harsh physical exfoliating scrubs

Okay, so you know how soft and smooth you feel after a scrub? You might actually be doing more harm than good depending on which kind of scrub you’re using! One very popular scrub is the Patron “Saint” of physical exfoliants (I’m not going to hint any further with the name but you know the one) – using ground up walnut shells that actually create tiny tears in the skin. Others use little plastic beads that go down your drain and end up in our oceans. Sloughing off a few dead skin cells shouldn’t be so rough as to be creating wounds and tiny tears in your face! When I had bad pimples as a teenager, I used this particular scrub to try to get rid of them, but they kept getting worse! I one day noticed that the less I did to my skin, the better it was, and until recently have strictly adhered to this!

What to try instead: Maybe look into chemical exfoliants – these have changed my whole perception on exfoliation! I love COSRX Blackhead Power Liquid. Or if you really like the feeling of scrubbing your face clean, try gently scrubbing with a sugar scrub while in a warm shower or a “gommage” type exfoliant!

2. Lemon juice

This one is all over Pinterest and makes me want to curl up into a ball and click “report for harmful content” every time. Lemon juice is much much too acidic to go onto your skin, never mind cutting one in half and scrubbing your face with one covered in coffee grains or sugar ugh no no stop. Adding baking soda or bicarbonate of soda to raise the PH doesn’t work unless you’re testing it accurately… even then. Unless you know what you’re doing, leave it to the pros.

What to try instead: If you want the brightening effects of Vitamin C all over your face OST C20 is a fairly inexpensive popular choice.  If you want a scrub, well we’ve covered that.

3. Vaseline

Ugh. I mentioned in my Clean it Zero review post that me and Vaseline do not see eye to eye. I understand that some people are happy using it as their occlusive layer and that’s them, but the thick viscous feel of it always makes me cringe.

What to try instead: Try amping up your hydration! If you’re hydrated to the max and love Vaseline as an occlusive then go for it! This one is totally a personal preference.

4. Peel off masks and “quick fix” crazes

Okay so, we’ve all been there. The newest craziest easiest beauty product just hit twitter/instagram/everywhere and you NEED that $463 (okay I just pulled a number out of my butt – like I feel some of these companies do) black peel off mask. OR did you know you can just make it out of things you have in your house for free? Ugh. I hate when things trend like this. Sure, sometimes they’re interesting, fun, or occasionally actually not terrible products (some people hate the Elizavecca Carbonated Clay mask – I like it!) but mostly the idea that you can throw some glue on your face and “instantly, magically” fix your skin (and the accompanied savvy businesspeople trying to sell you 30mL of glue for a ridiculous price because it’s trendy) really makes me kinda sad. Yes, for some people it may be a gateway to taking amazingly good care of their skin – unfortunately, most of these trends are one off – do nothing – wastes of money. That is, if they don’t damage your skin,

What to try instead: Ensure you have a base skincare routine you’re happy with. Try new products – but always take everything – especially anything labelled as “the hottest new skincare trend” or similar – with a grain of salt. Or maybe it’s just me that’s salty…

5. Nose strips

Okay, immediately relating to the above peel off masks, these can actually damage your skin. Those tiny little flecks that get pulled out of your nose/forehead/chin/eyelids aren’t actually blackheads – they’re sebaceous filaments,  and they’ll be back in a couple of days. Overuse of the nose-strip type ripping/pulling mask technique can lead to scarring of your pores, and I’m unfortunate proof of this. I had really bad blackheads so I was using the strips – as directed – twice a week. Then I notice one pore in my nose had gotten big. Like REALLY big. Like 4 of my other pores mashed together in a line. It’s been that way for 10 years now, and I’ve accepted my goof, but seriously, please don’t use peel type strips or masks!

What to try instead: GENTLE exfoliation. You can try chemical (it’s not as scary as it sounds, honest) or any of the techniques I mentioned above.

So weirdly, most of my cringe inducting skincare related junk is related to exfoliation. Just remember – a pimple is a wound. If you had a scratch on your arm would you be scrubbing sand onto it to make it “go away”?

Love, Selkie.