Things are not complicated in fact. I mean, skin concerns can be many, but sometimes one has to go “back to basics”. This is just what I had to do in the past ten days.

After some “skin stress” caused by some “overdoing” Retinol and Acids, I took things more easy and started thinking about what I (my skin) really wants/needs.

The introduction of Retinol in a “full strength” (one percent) formulation was one of the best things I ever did. Visibly. So I should stick to that. Combining it with AHA and also PHA and Bionic Acid, however, did NOT work out very well for me. It caused a nasty rash. Unpleasant and not very nice to look at. Hmmmm….

So I decided to let the acids go (for now) and combine my Exuviance Retinol with gentle, hydrating and protective skincare. It fixed my skin IN DAYS. Just to tell you how great this feels. Back in control !


My routine now consists of gentle cleansing (like always) and mostly HYDRATING TONERS followed by ever so HYDRATING ESSENCES and SERUMS. A “simple” moisture cream will do, as long as I’m “doing” the Retinol and SUN PROTECTION is my all times friend.

Routine :

Morning :

  • Quick cleanse with CERAVE HYDRATING CLEANSER
  • LEEGEEHAAM GROW HYAL B5 TONER as an essence (this has an essence consistency)
  • HYDRALURON SERUM (Indeed Labs)

The Heliocare has the added benefit of “FERNBLOCK”, a very POWERFULL ANTIOXIDANT protection and acts as my anti-ageing day cream.

Evening :

  • EXUVIANCE SUPER RETINOL CONCENTRATE 2-3 times a week ; I mostly use it for two nights on a row, then follow with 3 nights of moisturizing/soothing.

As you can see, simple, but effective. Now I need to figure out, how I can have some acids back in my routine ….


See you next week !


Fundamental Nourishing Care

Restore & Reinforce

Tested on 100%  Sensitive Skin

Ingredients :Water, Glycerin, Cetearyl Alcohol, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glyceryl Stearate, Alcohol Denat., Ethylhexyl Palmitate, Dimethicone, Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter, Myristyl Myristate, Niacinamide, PEG-100 Stearate, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Oil, Sodium Polyacrylate, Glyceryl Caprylate, Vitreoscilla Ferment, Citric Acid, Trisodium Ethylenediamine Disuccinate, Tocopherol, Pentaerythrityl Tetra-di-t-butyl Hydroxyhydrocinnamate, Fragrance.

Interresting (Active) Ingredients :

Butyrospermum Parkii (Shea) Butter ; source of fatty acids, skin resplenishing, nourishing.

Niacinamide ; improves cell communication and cell turnover.

Vitreoscilla Ferment ; improves skin barrier, anti-oxidant, so cell protection.

Tocopherol ; Vitamin E, cell protector.

I’m not really sure what this “tested on 100% sensitive skin” really means…. Have they tested on people with (allegedly) sensitive skin and no-one else ? Or do they mean all candidates were a 100 percent sensitive ? And what would that really mean ?

Anyway, Biotherm Life Plankton Sensitive Balm is a truly NICE product, whether you have sensitive skin or not. I’m not particularly sensitive, but if you were – for example – sensitive for fragrance in cosmetics, be aware, because this product DOES contain (a bit of) perfume ! A quite lovely and quite LIGHT smell, by the way, but it definitely is there !

Texture is light, for a balm. I’m not sure why they call it a balm anyway, because it’s really nicely absorbed, even by my own (quite “combination”) skin. This is a GOOD thing, even if you tend to be dry/sensitive, because who wants a thick, sticky layer on her/his face nowadays anyway?


I personally like to use this product during my “dryer”, more dehydrated days (which are few at the moment ; please read my “skin moments” blogs).But whenever I feel I need a little extra help in the sense of moisture/bit of nourishing, I love this product on my skin. I usually use it at night, over a serum (Vitamin A, C, or something Korean with lots of moisture). It’s also good to keep a jar of this when you’re “on retinol”, because it will nicely compensate any dryness you might experience (especially when starting retinol).

Bottom Line: lovely product, personally love the smell (yes I know, this is not skincare). Nice texture.

Texture: melting, quite light for a “balm”, quickly absorbed.

Skin types: all, if you ask me. Biotherm offers other textures in the same line, if you feel you need something “lighter”, but it works great for my combination skin.

Age : no specific age group.

Day or Night ?Both, the product has no SPF, so please think of this if you use it at daytime.



Intense Smooth Radiant Complexion

Anti-fatigue &  anti-ageing

Mature skin

Tolerance dermatologically tested

Active Ingredients:

Avena Sativa (Oat Kernel) Extract : skin soothing

Hydrolized Lupine Protein : skin soothing

Sodium Hyaluronate : hydrating

Medico Sativa (Alfalfa) Sprout Extract : anti-oxidant, cell-protecting

The sky is the limit !At least, when I read the title/subtitles of this product. Must be something truly GREAT ! You all know, I DO love a nice FRENCH product. And, although science comes before anything in my book, we are ALL subject to marketing, nice packaging and looks.

So far so good… But feel where I’m getting at ? Hmmm this little gem wasn’t so much of a special thing to me. I must admit, I had VERY HIGH EXPECTATIONS; Radiant, Smooth, isn’t that what we ALL want to be? I’m not really sure if I’m in the “mature” skin category yet, I must admit, but that couldn’t keep me from wanting to try and find out for myself.


The product is a cross between a cream and a balm. It has a rather thick, balm-like texture that needs to “melt” into the skin, but is surprisingly well absorbed. So for texture, I must give all my compliments. The product, however, did NOT do much for my skin, if I compare it to, for example, a serious AHA or retinol cream, but maybe I just shouldn’t compare it to that.

The problem is, that when you read the label, you just expect a CHANGE in texture, or at least some visible difference in radiance. None of this happened, unfortunately …. And I honestly WANTED to LOVE this product, just because of my deep sympaty for smaller, less known brands.

Bottom line :if you are a typical “dry” skin type (I don’t mean just dehydrated), you might eventually love this product as a primer or pre-make-up product. If you’re looking for something quite spectacular in terms of pore texture/small acne scars/fine lines, don’t expect a lot from this product.

Skin types :the texture is definitely balm like, so I’d say dry skins. Oilier skins will not like its richness.

Age :mature, the brand says, and maybe that’s just what I’m not (yet J).

Texture :rich, balm-like.

Fragrance :very light, nothing too strong.

Note :as you will probably use this during day time, don’t forget to use an SPF also, as this product does not contain any UV filters and doesn’t protect you against harmful light.



Time for confessions, I’m affraid.There are a few things I didn’t tell you…. Well not ALL of it, so be prepared….

When we speak about Retinol, like I’ve been doing in the past few weeks/months (see previous articles) and about AHA’s / Fruit Acids, we should also speak about some drawbacks these product scan have. Or rather, about some things you SHOULD NOT DO when using them.

Here we go :

Retinol is meant to be used on your face and eventually other body parts (chest) if you have a reason to use it in that area. A reason could be – like in my case – acne scars. As Retinol does wonders on ageing skin, you will usually start using it when you start noticing changes in your skin. In my case :my acne scars started becoming more visible (chin area) and my periorbital wrinkles (meaning : around the eyes) became deeper. Times to change things, so meaning : time to do some “retinolling”.


HOWEVER :Retinol is not meant to be used in SENSITIVE AREAS like around your nose, on your neck and around your eyes. So what did this guy do ? Put it in all those areas where I shouldn’t have, especially around the eyes….

And it all went well for weeks and months, like I told you in my previous blogs. Until some irritation started (well, some “warm”, sunburned feeling in my face). And still I thought I should keep doing “active” skincare, so I introduced some “bionics” (see previous blog) to my skincare regimen. This went well, very well, as bionics are a “soft” form of fruit acids. But what I didn’t tell you, is that I wanted to treat my eye area the same way and started a bionic eye cream, which I truly loved !

But my skin didn’t agree with all this and responded in a very ANGRY way ….. So now I’m facing some serious under-eye irritation, probably due to the fact that I COMBINED Retinol and a powerful eye care product around my eyes. Which I, OBVIOUSLY, should NOT have done….

So please, if you are like me, and want your skincare to be working and give you REAL RESULTS, just keep in mind that TOO MUCH can really be too much. Especially in more sensitive zones, which would be the eye area (my neck is still prefectly ok).

As you see, this WAS indeed “confession time” J

See you soon !


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 !