Sorry guys ! Or girls ! It has been far more than a week since I put anything on paper about my skincare routine.  My excuses ? Well, it has been soooo busy, as usual, and I just didn’t have the right mood to be writing anything during these hectic past two weeks.

Anyhow, I’m back nowand ready to tell you what’s up and new in my skincare programme.

Last time – that is if you read the post – I wrote about how AMAZINGLY WELL my combination (alternation) of Retinol & AHA product went. Honestly, it went perfectly well for a while, but under stress (I mean I was under stress), my skin started to respond to treatment in a different way. Sometimes, my skin just felt “warm” and glowing, in an unpleasant way. Just as if one has been in the sun for too long. That wasn’t really a problem, but it made me think of the fact that I had probably reached my “retinol maximum”.

A warm, glowing sensation (even without redness) can be a sign that your skin has reached its tolerance level when it comes to the use of retinol. If you remember, I am on a “full-strength”, although non-prescription 1 percent (which is quite a lot) Retinol cream for about 5 nights out of 7. Plus, on the other nights I like to treat my skin with a 10 percent glycolic acid lotion.

So, to make a long story short, my skin told me “STOP”, and I had to reconsider my skincare regime.

What you usually do, in such a situation, is just to “skip” your retinol/AHA product for one or more days (well, nights, actually), and then re-introduce it back into your routine. As I didn’t really feel like giving up the active ingredients on my skin, and just go back to a basic hydration, I decided to give two NEW PRODUCTS a try. New to me, that is to say, not new on the market.


NEOSTRATA ULTRA MOISTURIZING FACE CREAM, with 10% PHA (Polyhydroxy acid) and BIONIC FACE CREAM ( 12% Bionic/Polyhydroxy acid), were completely new to me. What I DID, however, KNOW, is that POLYHYDROXY ACIDS, also (mostly) listed as “gluconolactone” and “bionic acids”, have the same ability as AHA’s  to stimulate CELL TURNOVER, without, however, having the same exfoliating (peeling) effect. For that reason, they are also a lot “softer” on skin.

Interresting fact when you’re looking for MAXIMUM improvement with minimal drawbacks !

At the moment, I’m experimenting with both products, and am trying to find out my optimal schedule, alternating between those two and my classic AHA product & retinol. So far, a 2/3 times a week application, on the nights I’m skipping the strong products, seems to be ideal. Skin feels great, looks great and is MAXIMALLY HYDRATED. I truly love these two new discoveries and will keep you posted on how I get on with them.

See you soon !


Having worked in the beauty industry for decades now :-), but hadn’t worked on a stand for so many years. It was frankly LOVELY & INSPIRING to be back, working on the Utrecht Beauty Trade 2019!

The EXUVIANCE/HELIOCARE team was great, the atmosphere was fantastic and the enthusiasm from (new) clients even greater ! It’s nice to be able to help and advice beauticians/skin therapists find and discover a new brand that may bring even more success in the future.

We’ve spoken to so many nice & interresting persons and I’ve met collegues I hadn’t seen in years.

I’d like to thank everyone who helped making this possible, especially father and daughter Filip and Charlotte Heylesonne from HDP Esthetic, who organised everything in the best possible way.

And thanks you for your interrest in the brands we represented & hope to see you in the future !

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SKII Essence has been a cult favorite for years now.Just see the amount of articles by collegue bloggers and how much it is appreciated.

I personally never tried this one, mainly because of the (very high) price tag, which definitely held me back.

Fortunately, both French, USA and Korean brands (especially them) offer a wide array of lovely essences and give us plenty to choose from. Their price tag is often just a fraction of the famous cult favorite and their INCI listings can only make us happy …..

Klairs, Missha, REP, SVR and Exuviance all offer lovely skin essences, so you can shop according to your personal preference. They all have their specificities and you can choose them depending upon your personal needs and skin care concerns.

Why should you use an essence ?

Like I wrote in a former blog post about “the difference between toners and essences”, an essence can be AN EXTRA STEP in your skincare routine.Normally – and especially in Korean/Asiatic skin care routines – an essence comes IN BETWEEN a toner and a serum. BUT, you could very well REPLACE your toner by an essence if you were looking for something more POWERFUL in the sense of HYDRATION and SPECIFIC ACTIVE INGREDIENTS.

Many essences contain fermented ingredients, which you can consider to be a type of probiotics for your skin. They will help restore and maintain a healthy skin balance and will also counteract environmental damage.

Especially when seansons change, or when you’re doing an intensive course of AHA’s (Fruit Acids) or Retinol (whether presciption strength or “over the counter full strength”, like I’m doing), an essence will give you that little “extra” that no toner can deliver. So whenever your skin is in need of precious moisture (not grease), is feeling more tight than usual, or presents fine dehydration lines, an essence is what you’re looking for!

Here’s a brief (and far from complete) list of essences that are in my bathroom cupboard now. Some of which I like, some of which I LOVE.

By the way, some (Korean) brands call their products toners instead of essences (see my article on them for definition), but these are definitely essences in my book !!


LEEGEEHAAM GROW HYAL B5 TONER :Hyaluronic  Acid & Bèta-Glucan, known for its soothing and skin calming properties : very good ingredients and I wanted to love it, but feels very STICKY on my skin (sorry guys). Good formula though, but I guess your skin needs to be really sensitive/dry to appreciate it.

COSRX HYALURONIC ACID HYDRA POWER ESSENCE :is just what its name says ; a super-charged moisturizing water/gel, which main ingredient is Hyppophae Rhamnoides water, so a plant destillate, which makes this a real “care” product. LUSH !

RE:P PHYTOCELL ALL-IN ONE ESSENCE : I’m not sure what the “all-in one” means …. Maybe it’s because of the very long, mainly plant-extracts based ingredient lists, that makes this one a real “allrounder”. Full of beneficial anti-oxidants (plant based) and also several essential oils. Although the latter are deep down on the ingredients list and pose no problem for me ; be careful if you have very reactive skin.

MISSHA TIME REVOLUTION THE FIRST TREATMENT ESSENCE: Guys, what can I say ? This is supposed to be the “dupe” (according to Korean Webshop LittleWonderland) for the famous SK II, but the INCI list is definitely more impressive to me. This is the type of product that is just a “must have”, even if you use it off-and-on. Based on fermented ingredients, which help restore skin balance and act as a probiotic for our skin. Strengthens skin barrier.  Also contains niacinamide which helps prevent impurities and improves hyperpigmentation.

KLAIRS SUPPLE PREPARATION UNSCENTED TONER :Hyaluronic Acid, botanical extracts & bèta-glucan make this essence a really soothing, deeply moisturizing and calming product. Unscented, which is great when you have sensitive skin and non sticky (unless you keep on layering). Great as an after shave (for men) too ! Feels absolutely lovely on skin and if in doubt, I would absolutely recommend you this one.

SVR HYDRALIANE ESSENCE :incredibly soft & gentle, mainly glycerin and hyaluronic acid and a lovely smell. Luxury feeling, super moisturizing. Nice if you like your product to be French J.

EXUVIANCE :probiotics combined with Exuviance’s unique PHA complex which make this a truly exceptional essence. Great if your skin needs the extra “kick” of very mild exfoliation combined with superior hydration. The PHA’s in this product also provide extra anti-oxidant (cell protecting) protection.  Light, non sticky texture. One of the more “active” essences on the market.


Moisturizing Skin Care Program


Balances pH Level

Deep Moisturizing

Cleanses & Soothes

“Supple Preparation Unscented Toner is an essential oil-free type toner. It is formulated with a base of various botanical extracts to balance the skin’s pH level and provide full nourishment to the skin”.

So far for the Klairs description/claims.

Interresting ingredients :

Sodium Hyaluronate : salt form of Hyaluronic Acid, moisturizing

Centella Asiatica Extract : stimulates collagen, improves scars

Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract : skin soothing

And a mix of various botanical ingredients like Aloe Vera, Althea Rosea and Amino-acids that all help soothe and moisturize skin. Also has a tiny amount of stabilized Vitamin C.

To begin with :this is NOT a Toner in my book, but an ESSENCE (see my definition in the blog post I wrote on this subject), mainly because it has a “richness” you won’t find in a toner.


Secondly ; this is a MARVELOUS product,that any of you can use without hesitation, whether you are looking for simple, uncomplicated moisturizing for your acne prone skin or for an extra boost (of moisture) for your dry and DEHYDRATED skin. Anyone can benefit from this lush product.

One of the good things is, that the product is totally UNSCENTED,  which makes this product a great option if you like your cosmetics to be fully fragrance free. This makes it ani deal partner in a Retinol or AHA skincare routine.  Furthermore, the price is almost ridiculously low for such a good formula, which is why I like to recommend this product so much.

Bottom line :

Skin type :all, especially oily (as a “stand alone”) or very dry & dehydrated with fine lines.

Age group :all

Texture :watery/gel consistency, sinks in well, does not leave any sticky residue.

I get my Korean products from LittleWonderland. (Korean webshop, based in The Netherlands).



For face, body & hands

Glycolic Acid 8%

Citric Acid 2%

Other active ingredients :Arginine (moisturizing/skin softening), Vitamin E (Tocopheryl Acetate), Mango Seed Butter (Source of Omega Fatty Acids, skin replenishing).

The Neostrata 10 percent AHA Ultra Smoothing Lotion was gracefully given to me as a press sample by the HDP Medical Company.

Neostrata, a U.S.A. based brand, can be considered as the “inventor” of AHA’s, also called fruit acids.Created by two world-famous dermatologists (Dr. Van Scott and Dr. Yu), the brand has become the world’s leading brand in the development of AHA-based anti-ageing technology. In the ’60 and ’70 of the past century, these two dermatologists discovered the rejuvenating properties of AHA’s and started experimenting with the treatment of sun damaged and prematurely aged skin, starting a new era in the anti-ageing technology.

As we get older, many processes in our body start to slow down. The regeneration and cell “turn over” becomes slower, resulting in an accumulation of dead skin cells on the surface of our skin.

The goal, when using fruit acids, is to reactivate skin cell turnover and help skin shed its dead skin cells in a faster way. Fruit Acids work from the surface into the skin and improve all processes in the deeper layers.


From all fruit acids, glycolic acid (used at 8 percent in this product) has the smallest molecule, meaning it can penetrate into the deeper layer of the skin. The deeper an active ingredient can go, the more effect it can theoretically have on your skin.

Glycolic Acid is famous for its skin-improving properties, which, by the way, are many :

  • Improvement in skin tone
  • Improvement in skin texture & pore size
  • Improvement in the depth and number of wrinkles
  • Imrovement in skin hydration

Any skin can bebefit from the use of this type of product, but especially if your skin is oily OR very dry, you will see some FAST and DRAMATIC results.

When choosing an AHA product, it’s important that het producer of the product knows what he’s doing in relation to : 1) Concentration, 2) pH Value of the product. The latter is of primary importance as a product that is not formulated well (meaning it’s not “acid” enough), will do ABSOLUTELY NOTHING to your skin !!

The 10 percent AHA Lotion by Neostrata also has 2% citric acid as an adjuvant, let’s say “helper” to the glycolic acid. Citric Acid is also known for improving hyperpigmentation and this is always a plus in a product.

This was my first “serious” introduction to highly active AHA products. I must say, I truly LOVE this one for both my FACE AND BODY,as it really helps improving my skin texture on my face and seriously reduces dryness (and flakyness) on my legs and arms. Another advantage is that NEOSTRATA uses a patented delivery system for the glycolic acid, meaning you get FULL STRENGTH RESULTS without any irritation. Of course, when you apply a (serious) fruit acid product to your skin, you will feel a tingling sensation, telling you that the product is actually working (compare it to lemon juice on your skin).

Bottom line :highly recommended !Visible skin improvement in just days. Great value for money, considering the HUGUE 200 ml packaging.

Texture :fluid/milky

Skin Type :all, especially very dry & very oily & combination

Age :30+ for anti-ageing purposes, younger if you have a problem skin or serious dryness on your body.



Last time I wrote about my (weekly) skincare routine, I told you about incorporating AHA’s (Fruit Acids) into my skincare routine. As I had also been upgrading the use of Retinol, I was curious to see if any sensitivity reaction would occur ….

Being on a “full strength”, meaning 1% micro-encapsuled (Exuviance) Retinol night care product for about two months now,I wanted to discover if I could benefit from the advantages of AHA’s (Fruit Acids) at the same time. So I decided to give it a try and substitute my Retinol product by an AHA one, on a twice-a-week basis.

And you know what ? It works just great for me! No sensitivity, no irritation, just benefits up to now!

As you will know if you’re a regular reader of my blog, I suffer from acne scars, especially on my chin. They tend to become more visible when you get older (especially when over 40 J), and that was really bothering me.


As results of the Retinol were becoming more and more visible over the weeks (refined pore size, less marked acne scars), the introduction of an AHA product even lead to more improvement. I choose the Neostrata 10% AHA Lotion, which is being recommended for both body and face. It’s a light, non-greasy, slightly hydrating product and is fragrance-free. I introduced it on a twice-a-week basis, meaning I replace my Retinol by this product at night. After a good cleanse, of course.

I am absolutely AMAZED on how good my skin tolerates both products and how visible the IMPROVEMENT in texture is !PLUS, my skin needs a lot less hydrating, which could be caused by the fact that AHA’s, especially Glycolic Acid, contained in this product, IMPROVE the natural production of GAG’s, which are our natural moisturizing factors. Thus, using this type of product, my skin needs a lot less separate moisturizers, which keep my skincare routine so lovely and simple !

The high tolerance level of my skin to the product could well be caused by the Neostrata specific delivery system of the glycolic acid, making it better tolerated by even more sensitive skin types. That, in my opinion, is a BIG PLUS, as  you will always have to get used to the use of AHA’s, especially when they are in higher concentrations (like here) !


Morning :gentle cleansing (Cerave Hydrating Cream Cleanser), Vitamin C drops (Nazan Dermacare or Mad Hippie), Sunscreen (Heliocare Gel SPF 50 or Silk Gel SPF 30). And that’s it !!

Evening :gentle cleansing (Exuviance Cream Cleanser, Body Shop Chamomile Cleansing Oil, Clinique Liquid Facial Soap Extra Mild or again, my beloved and oh-so-simple Cerave), toning with Klairs Unscented toner or Exuviance toner, Exuviance Retinol (5 nights a week), alternated with Neostrata 10% AHA Lotion (twice a week).

If it happens that my skin feels very tight or dry (especially after a too long/too hot shower), I will skip all the active ingredients for once and just do a bit of “layering” of moisturizers with a Hyaluronic serum (my favorite is Nazan Dermacare), followed by a good-but-uncomplicated moisturizer like Biotherm Life Plankton Balm or La Solution 10 by Chanel. Got to have some French every now and then J….


See you next week !


Cooling Anti-Oxidant Moisture Gel-Cream

“A cool refresh for eyes,. Formulated with Cucumber Extract and all the power of DayWear’s Super Anti-Oxidant Complex to help keep eyes looking young. Intense 24-Hour hydration. Instantly soothes and brightens. De-puffs. Smooths fine, dry lines. Minimizes the look of dark circles.”

Interresting Ingredients:

Glycerin, Threhalose, Sucrose, Algae Extract, Sodium PCA, Urea, Sodium Hyaluronate : moisturizers.

Cucumber Extract, Caffeine : de-puffing.

Ascophyllum Nodosum Extract, Asparagopsis Armata Extract, Thermus Thermophyllus Ferment, Palmara Palmata Extract, Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate, Tocopheryl Acetate : Anti-Oxidants .

Like the other DayWear products, the eye contour version has an impressive INCI list with plenty of moisturizing, calming, soothing and cell-protecting (thus : ANTI-AGEING) ingredients.


The gel texture is pleasant and absorbs quickly into skin.I didn’t see much of the claimed “de-puffing” effect yet, but this might be my fault as I do not use the product twice a day for weeks. LIKE ONE IS SUPPOSED TO…. Sorry guys, I mostly use my product off-and-on and this might be a case where I should be more consistent to see real results.

I principally use the product on my upper eyelids and corner of my eyes when I’m doing Retinol, in order to keep the Retinol away from my eyes.

By the way, do you REALLY NEED an eye cream : well NO YOU DON’T, except when you need a different texture around your eyes, or when you are using products that cannot be taken around thee eyes (like Retinol, Fruit Acids).

Alltogether this is indeed a nice, refreshing and cooling eyegel, even when you don’t put it in the fridge, like they advise you to. The plethora of helpfull ingredients will certainly benfit any skin type. One word of warning :although the product is named “DayWear”, it has NO SPF, so you will need extra protection (on top) during daytime. You can use as many anti-ageing ingredients as you want, your real anti-ageing comes from SUN (LIGHT) PROTECTION.

Daywear Eye is available through perfumeries and department stores.



SPF 50

High Protection


With FERNBLOCK Photoimmunoprotection Technology

“High photoimmunoprotection with color for daily use in an exclusive creamy gel with great skin feel. It helps prevent the formation of pigmentation spots and other visible signs of photoageing”.

Interresting ingredients :

Bis-Ethylhexyloxyphenol Methoxyphenyl Triazine, Diethylhexyl Butamido Triazone, Ethylhexyl Salicylate, Butyl Methoxydibenzoylmethane, Titanium Dioxide, Ethylhexyl Triazone : UV Filters

Butylene Glycol Cocoate, Cetearyl Alcohol,  Sodium Hyaluronate : Moisturizing

Polypodium Leucotomos Leaf Extract, Tocopheryl Acetate, Camelia Sinensis Extract : Anti-Oxidants

I was gracefully offered the full Heliocare Line to try a few months ago. As you might now from previous posts : sun/light protection is very important to me.It is one of the few weapons we have against ageing and thus very important if you want to take your skincare seriously.

Apart from the darkest months (November till the beginning of Februari), you should (living in the Netherlands, like I do) ALWAYS wear SPF. No matter if there’s sun, there will always be harmfull UV light that damages your skin. No use investing in expensive serums & creams if you don’t take this into account.


Having said that, SPF started as early as the first of Februari this year, as we are having a truly exceptionnal weather. Depending on my mood, I alternate the Heliocare Gel (will be in my full review of Heliocare Range later) and the Heliocare Color Gelcream “Light”.“Light” is good when you have a clear complexion and it will form an invisible “healthy looking” shield (and not whitish) on your face (and neck). “Brown” is good for a darker complexion, or if you already have a tan.

Heliocare products all contain the patented FERNBLOCK complex, an extract derived from a fern that offers impressive Anti-Oxidant protection. Meaning it will protect your skincells agains environmental damage and keep your skin younger for longer. That by the way, is what they mean with the word “photoimmunoprotection” (see above).

I absolutely ADORE this product, you can use it even close to your eyes ; I’ve had no irritation so far. Lush! The INCI list has some fragrant ingredients, but I suppose that’s VERY LITTLE, as the product just smells neutral in a nice way. POSITIVE POINT, as I prefer my sunscreens to be unscented. Sun and fragrance are seldom a good couple, as you may know.

Bottom Line : EXCELLENT, HIGHLY RECOMMENDED product.Blend of proven UV Filters.  Gentle on skin, can be taken around eyes without irritation, bonus active “anti-ageing” protection by powerfull anti-oxidant complex, featuring “Fernblock”, a natural ingredient extracted from a fern. What could we possibly want more ?



As many of you that follow my blog will know, I’ve been working my way up the Retinol ladder and can actually use a “full-strength” Retinol product on an (almost) daily basis.

For those of you who are new tot he blog:Retinol is a stronger version of Vitamin A and is considered (by dermatologists) to be THE most powerhouse active ingredient in the cosmetic world.

Retinol can be used for wrinkles, post-acne scars (like I have), but also for hyperpigmentation and open pores. It improves almost ANY skin condition and should be in every “anti-ageing” routine.

Fruit Acids (AHA’s & BHA’s) are equally interresting because they also stimulate cell turnover and – contrarely to Retinol – work from the outside in (Retinol works from the inside out, by stimulating the deeper skin layers). Fruit acids are famous for improving skin texture and also work for many skin problems like wrinkles, fine (dehydration) lines, sun spots and enlarged pores.

Thus, Retinol and Fruit Acids are an excellent match. However, as both tend to be a little irritating when you start them, and as it takes a while for skin to get used to both, it is better to start them gradually, one by one.

As I told you, I’ve been skipping the “acid toners” for a while, in order to get my Retinol sorted and now am gradually introducing them back in my routine. MILD ones, however, like Clarins Doux Exfoliant and Wishtrend Mandelic Acid Skin Prep. Nothing too strong for now….

What I’ve also been doing, is using a 10 percent Glycolic (AHA) skin lotion once a week, instead of the Retinol. And that seems to be perfectly fine !I currently have the Neostrata Ultra Smoothing Lotion and I reaaly LOVE it. It comes in a 200 ml (!) tube and is meant to be used for both BODY and FACE. Of course, Neostrata makes other, more sophisticated face care products, but I thought I’d kick off with something simple.

Altogether, I’m trying to build up a steady routine with the ongoing use of Retinol and AHA’s. Both should also be your favourite ingredient if you’re struggling with one of the issues I mentionned before. Next step will be the introduction of Vitamin C to my routine. I’ve been using several types of vitamin C drops off and on for a while, but reading many dermatologists’ reports and collegues’ blogs on this active ingredient, I believe it also deserves a place in almost anyones routine! More of this next time.

See you soon !


Time-released, microencapsulated retinol formula

“This unique nighttime transformer supercharges the proven power of Retinol with our patented Neoglucosamine, amplifying results, while delivering a gradual, time-released infusion of pure Retinol in a microencapsulated form to minimize irritation.”

Beneficial Ingredients :

Glycerin: moisturizing

Retinol, Acetyl Glucosamine: improve cell turnover

Tocopheryl Acetate (Vitamin E): Anti-Oxidant

Arginine, Bisabolol: soothing

There are three types of retinol products available : the “actual retinol”, the “prescription strength” retinol, also called tretinoin, and the “simple” vitamin A, which is in fact no retinol.

Complicated ? No, not at all ! Here’s how it is :

The “real” Retinol, that you will find in the INCI (Ingredients) list as “retinol”, is a pure, highly active form of vitamin A. In our skin, it has to  be converted into “tretinoin” (the acid form) to be absorbed by our skin cells.

Tretinoin, also called “prescription retinol” because you need a prescription from you doctor or dermatologist, is even stronger and has the (only) advantage of being directly available to your skin cells. But it is also VERY irritating, and some skins (like mine) will never get used to this type of  product. Ongoing redness, flaking and irritation can be the result and although some people have excellent results, I do not advocate this type of active ingredient.

Vitamin A, in the form of “vitamin A palmitate” or “vitamin A acetate” is often marketed as retinol, but doesn’t have the same effects. It is merely a (good) anti-oxidant, but has no DIRECT anti-ageing benfits. Some brands claim retinol and are in fact using these less interresting forms of vitamin A.


A newer form of retinol, known as Hydroxypinacolone Retinoate, is said to be just as good as retinol, but does – at this moment – not have the same amount of studies to prove its effect as retinol has. It is, however a very interresting ingredient that I suerly would advise you to look out for.

My PERSONAL favorite is the actual “real” retinol. You need your skin to get used to this also, so you will – depending on your skin’s senstitvity – have to build up your use of the product over time. In order to build up, you will need to start with a less concentrated product and work your way up to a “full strength” one, or start using a “full strength” product once or twice a week and then build up your routine to a daily ( = nightly) use.

As Retinol is sensitive to light, it is best used at night. That’s the general consensus in the skin care world. It is not forbidden to use it at daytime, but full benefits will be obtained using it overnight.

By the way, “full strenght” for retinol means about a 1% concetration, which might seem very low !

The Exuviance product belongs to this category and I gradually built up my skin to a nightly use. Benefits start to show after a few nights of use, full benefits will need several weeks (to months) of ongoing use to show.

Texture: gel-cream

Skin type: either oily or ageing, open pores, fine lines, wrinkles,  lack of firmness

Use : at night, starting 1 to 2 times a week, building up gradually

Exuviance is available through selected depositories (BE/NL)