My Experiment with Differin 0.1% + Benzoyl Peroxide 2.5%

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Before I decided to write this post, I’ve actually been debating with myself on whether I should even start writing this. The thing is that I’ve tried to use both products (the Differin 0.1% gel and the Benzoyl Peroxide 2.5%) in a way that’s never been indicated on the product packaging or its leaflet so it’s kind of an unorthodox method of using them. However, I decided to write and publish this post to inform you guys on the results and the warnings of not using a product for the way it was intended for, especially with strong prescriptive products like Differin.

Note: I’ve previously done a full review on the Differin 0.1% gel and you can read it here.

I’m just going to list the ingredients of the Benzoyl Peroxide 2.5% below. The product that I’d used is Galderma Benzac Spots Treatment Gel 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide.

Galderma Benzac Spots Treatment Gel 2.5% Benzoyl Peroxide Ingredients

Active: benzoyl peroxide 2.5%
Inactive: sodium docusate, disodium edetate, poloxamer 182, carbomer 940, propylene glycol, acrylates copolymer, glycerin, silicon dioxide, sodium hydroxide, and purified water. May contain citric acid to adjust pH.
So let’s start, shall we?
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How did the combination of Differin 0.1% plus Benzoyl Peroxide 2.5% fare?

The fantastic (no..not really..) idea of combining Differin 0.1% and Benzoyl Peroxide 2.5% came to me when I realised that there’s this product called Epiduo on the market. Epiduo is a prescriptive-based gel that has a combination of 0.1% adapalene and 2.5% benzoyl peroxide. This gel helps clear up the breakouts you have now and helps prevent future pimples from forming. I was thinking that wow.. since I already have the Differin 0.1% gel, I can just buy the Benzoyl Peroxide 2.5% product (which is easily available over the counter) and I can form Epiduo at home. At this point in time, you’ll need to bear this phrase in mind “The road to hell is paved with good intentions”.

gOOD INTENTIONS

Indeed! Although the Great Botticelli wouldn’t appreciate me desecrating his painting like this!

You’ll also need to know that actually I don’t really have a severe acne problem. In fact, the only acne I’ve got are those one or two pesky hormonal acne that pops up around that time of the month. So retrospectively, I’m probably not the person that’s the target market for Epiduo. And the fact is that I wasn’t even using Epiduo. I was just trying to recreate Epiduo at home. I was thinking to myself one night while I was lying in bed trying to coax my daughter to sleep “Since Differin worked so well for me, why don’t I try adding Benzoyl Peroxide to see if my hormonal acne can be banished forever?” (Note to self: It might not be so wise to take action on random ideas that pop up at night).

How I use the combination is this: I apply a thin layer all over my face after applying Differin then I wait for 30 minutes before I apply all my other hydrating serums/ creams/ oils on top. The thing is, this combination actually worked amazingly well for me the first 2 weeks. Any small clogged pores on my face went away, hormonal acne was banished to the depths of Dante’s Inferno, and most importantly, my face was glowing like I’ve Snapchat filters on me in real life!

But then the 3rd week came around and it was really the beginning of the end. I remember distinctly one morning after I used the combination the previous night and my face started to feel tiny prickling sensation while I was washing my face. It wasn’t very bad, just a slight tightness that wasn’t present before. The usually mild PIXI Glow Tonic that I used in the morning started to sting when previously it didn’t. And my face felt uncomfortably tight the whole day even though I had already used my hydrating serums and creams on top. I tried to use all my most nourishing oils and moisturisers at night after I had applied the combination but my face still felt tight the next morning. By the end of the 3rd week, I knew that I cannot carry on with this experiment. I had to stop using this combination and also all my other actives. I needed to concentrate on repairing my skin barrier which I believe cannot take such a harsh combination. After that, I only used my gentle cleansers, hydrating serums and creams with my ceramide moisturisers and oils. It took about a week before everything became better. Nowadays I only use the BP cream sparingly at localised area for spots.

So yup! I learnt my lesson the hard way and now I’m here to tell you about my experience. Obviously my skin is different from yours but what I’m trying to say is that sometimes, too much of a good thing might not be so good after all. Doing things in moderation might just be the key for everything, even skincare!

As always, thank you for reading!

Step by Step Guide to Incorporating Actives for Your Skincare Routine

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In my previous post whereby I talked about how to introduce actives to your skincare routine, I promised that I’ll give you a step by step guide on what to do. As I’ve already mentioned before (and also kept repeating) in my previous post, it’s best to take it slow when you want to add any actives to your skincare routine and give each active around 4 weeks to gauge how it’s working for your skin first before you add another different active.

Below I’ve separated the different actives that I commonly use into daytime and night time routines. Please note that the actives step is always after the cleansing step no matter day or night. After the actives step, you can add in all the hydrating lotions/ serums/ creams that you desire.

Daytime Routine

 

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Daytime Actives Routine (start from left to right)

In the daytime, I like to incorporate a strong anti-oxidant (such as a Vitamin C serum) to shield the skin from the stresses of pollution as well as evening out my skin tone. Vitamin C also provides visible anti-ageing benefits such as the improvement of lines and wrinkles, loss of firmness, and a brighter complexion. Most importantly, there have been some studies showing that if you use a Vitamin C serum underneath your sunscreen, you’ll increase the stability of your sunscreen in the presence of sunlight.

However, because generally Vitamin C works best if your skin’s pH is low (around 3.5), you can use a pH-adjusting toner to immediately lower down your skin’s pH after cleansing to maximise the effects of the serum. Then you’ll apply your Vitamin C serum and wait for around 10 ~ 15 minutes before you continue with your BHA and AHA steps. I would advise that you apply BHA first before you apply AHA because BHA is better able to go deep into your pores and dissolve all those oily gunk. Then you’ll use an AHA to not only remove the gunk from your pores that the BHA had dissolved, you’ll also be able to do surface exfoliation. In short, BHA is used to deal with blackheads, oily pimples etc. while AHA is used to deal with closed comedones, whiteheads and milia.

After you’ve completed applying all your actives, you can continue to apply your other hydrating toners, serums, creams and most importantly, sunscreen.

So my daytime routine will be in this sequence:

Cleanse => pH Adjusting Toner => Vitamin C Serum => Wait 10 ~ 15 minutes => BHA => AHA => Wait 10 minutes => Hydrating Toner/ Mist => Hydrating Serum => 2 drops of Face Oil mixed with Day Cream => Sunscreen

Nighttime Routine

 

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Nighttime Actives Routine (start from left to right)

At night, I like to use either my over-the-counter (OTC) retinol products or my prescriptive retinoids. Again, after double cleansing to remove my makeup and sunscreen, I’ll go in with my BHA, AHA and then wait 10 minutes. If I want to buffer my retinoids, I’ll apply my hydrating toner and serum first and wait additional 20 minutes before I apply my retinoids. Otherwise, if I’m just using OTC retinol products, I’ll go in straight after my AHA step without the hydrating serum buffer (after waiting 10 minutes of course). Finally, I can then add in my other lotions, serums, creams and oils.

So my nighttime routine will be in this sequence:

Double Cleansing => BHA => AHA => Wait 10 minutes => OTC Retinol => Wait 30 minutes => Hydrating Toner/ Mist => Hydrating Serum => Face Oil => Night cream

Note: If I’m using a retinol oil such as the Pestle & Mortar Superstar Retinol Night Oil, the OTC Retinol step will be in the face oil step. So I’ll just wait 10 minutes after my AHA step before starting on my hydrating toners/ mists and continuing with the rest. 

Below is my sequence when I use prescriptive retinoids:

Double Cleansing => BHA => AHA => Wait 10 minutes => Hydrating Toner => Hydrating Serum Buffer => Wait 20 minutes => Prescriptive Retinol => Wait 30 minutes => Face Oil => Night Cream

Lastly…

I hope that this step by step guide has been useful to you. Just remember that everybody’s skin is different and you definitely do not need to use all the actives that I’m using. Also, you’ll notice that I’ve incorporated some waiting time in between the steps because for me, the actives work better that way. However, I think that perhaps you might not need to have so much waiting in between the steps. You can experiment to find the most effective and efficient way you can incorporate them into your daily life.

Additionally, please always be in tune with your skin and observe it carefully when adding any new products.

As always, thank you for reading!

Tips for Introducing Actives into your Skincare Routine

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My Actives Family!

I’ve always been using actives in one form or another since a long time ago. However I only started a more regimented actives routine around last year when I started to notice some fine lines on my forehead and really want to step up my anti-ageing game. Now I do love my beautiful face oils and creams but in my opinion, actives are a whole different ball game altogether. Actives are the ingredients which are scientifically tested and proven to actually work. Let’s face it alright? Rosehip oil may be nice for some slight anti-ageing effects but nothing comes close to the effects of prescriptive retinoids except aesthetic treatments like Botox and lasers or doing more invasive treatments like getting a face lift. I’ve never come across a “green” alternative to prescriptive retinoids that actually matches the effects of the chemical ones. Actives are the powerhouse in your skincare regime which will really make the most difference in the way your skin looks and feels. However, I still think that many people are apprehensive about adding actives into their skincare routine as it all feels so clinical and foreign. Or worse, there is a fear that their faces will melt from all these actives?!

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Poor schmuck!

In this post, I hope to demystify the role of actives and how to incorporate them safely in your skincare routine.

Just a word of caution for people with the following conditions, please tread slowly/ check with your dermatologist about the inclusion of actives into your skincare routine:

  1. People with compromised skin barriers e.g. flaky, itchy, extremely sensitive and easily irritated skin
  2. People with eczema
  3. People with rosacea
  4. People with sunburn (obviously do not start on actives if you had recently suffered from sunburn.. but I’m still gonna leave it here.. just in case..)
  5. People with severe acne (actives are actually good for people with acne but they need to be more cautious because actives actually can cause even more “purging” initially)

What are “actives” in skincare?

“Actives” in skincare terminology are the ingredients in a cosmetics product which are deemed to have a pharmacological effect that is documented by scientific evaluation and is approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for use within a precise set of regulations. Products in this category are referred to as “over-the-counter” or “cosmetics that are also drugs” or “quasi-drugs”. Common skincare actives include AHA, BHA, Vitamin C, Retinol, Niacinamide, Benzoyl Peroxide etc. It is also important to note that skincare products with “actives” in it usually have a percentage of “XX” stated on the packaging. For example, a Vitamin C serum will usually state its percentage of Vitamin C that is formulated for that product.

Below are some tips that I would like to share with you when you are looking to start adding some actives into your skincare routine.

1) Sunscreen is a MUST – no compromises!

One thing you MUST do while you are adding actives to your skincare routine is that you definitely need to be diligent in your sunscreen usage. If you don’t want to use sunscreen/ cannot be bothered (why tho?), then please do not use actives at all! There’s absolutely no point in adding actives to your skincare to have your lovely smooth new skin coming out if you are not going to protect it! Also, you need to make sure that you are using the correct amount and type of sunscreen for your needs. There are many beautifully light sunscreen with strong protective powers on the market nowadays that are a far cry from the nasty oily sunscreens of yesterdays. Experiment and find one that your skin likes and that is also within your budget so that you can use it consistently at the right amount.

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Always use sunscreen!

2) Tread slowly

Actives are a different beast from your normal creams and toners. They are actually meant to give you results and some of them are also prescriptive based so essentially they are like medicine, except for your skin. You do not want to load all of them onto your skin in one go, especially if you are just starting out. Also, some actives do not play well with others and must be used separately either on different days or different times. Additionally, if you generally have sensitive skin, please listen to your skin! Do not try to go all in and damage your skin barrier unknowingly! Remember, little but consistent use of actives is better than sharp spikes of unrelenting use than a drastic drop when your skin becomes too sensitised to even wash with water.

You can start with any skincare actives depending on your own needs and skin goals. Personally, I started with a gentle AHA (like the PIXI Glow Tonic) and then I gradually added more stuff. You need to give your skin time to adjust, especially when you are just starting out. I think that you can start by using the product on every 3rd day/night for around 2 weeks and then check your skin condition. If you discover that your skin can tolerate the product, then gradually increase its use to alternate day/night and then daily. I also generally give the product about 4 weeks time to check for any adverse reactions before I add in a different active (such as Vitamin C or Retinol). Patience is key! Do not go all in unless you are sure your skin can take it!

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Tread slowly.. Without the falling down part.. Lol..

3) Mix the use of actives with skin fortifying ingredients

In my opinion, I think that while you want to use actives to sort of make your skin work “harder”, you also need to be very careful to maintain a balance to avoid damaging your skin barrier. A damaged skin barrier is the start of a long and bumpy road to skincare hell. When the skin barrier is damaged, the skin becomes dry, irritated, sensitive, and becomes prone to skin inflammation leading to psoriasis, eczema, severe dryness and acne. Therefore, you should always be mindful about over-exfoliation when you are using actives. I like to mix my actives (when I say mix, I mean layer and not to mix in one giant pot) with some of my favourite hydrating serums, face oils with omega fatty acids and moisturisers with ceramides that can repair and fortify the skin barrier. Also, you’ll need to take note of the type of cleansers that you are using. Harsh cleansers (especially those with abrasive scrubs) are out!

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Double, double toil and trouble…

I’ll be sharing in a separate post on the exact steps (eg. Step 1: Use XXX, Step 2: Use XXX) on how you can use different actives together to form your daytime and nightime skincare routine.

Thank you for reading!