Tag Archives: kate somerville


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This is probably one of the least glamorous-looking beauty products out there. But, it’s efficacy makes up for it’s un-aesthetically pleasing white tube.

I have now been on Differin for more than three months now (supposedly how long it takes to actually work), and I can definitely see an improvement in my skin.

It has really purged my pores of little under the skin bumps, pimples, blackheads and more. However–don’t get me wrong–I still have some blackheads on my nose, some comedones on my chin and forehead and the occasional cystic pimple. But there are far less of them and this adapalene gel makes them much more manageable.

I used to experience a never ending circle of cystic pimples on my chin and cheeks and now, I may get 1 every two weeks (more likely around my special time of the month) and instead of lurking around for a week before disappearing, the Differin brings down the size and pain significantly in one night and speeds up the healing process to only a day or two. This in itself, for me, is magic.

If you’re expecting Differin to clear up your skin by 3 months, you’re probably dreaming. When I was frustrated and approaching my second month (and going through what seemed like purge cycle upon purge cycle), I found online that Differin really needs at least 4 months to be given a chance. There’s definite improvements so far, so I’m going to stick with it.

Tips for using Differin:

  • Make sure you have thoroughly cleansed your face beforehand, and then wait 15 minutes before applying a pea-sized amount to your entire face. This is not a spot treatment.
  • I usually give the gel a few minutes to sink in before applying my other skincare. If you have oilier skin, you might be able to go without any moisturizer on top, but the retinol can be quite drying.
  • Don’t use any heavy serums, oils or moisturizers over top. Keep it light.
  • If you have uber-sensitive skin, then start slowly by only using it every other night for the first week.
  • Follow the directions: only use a pea-sized amount, cover your entire face and do wait those 15-20 minutes: I read a blog post about a girl who was complaining about it’s efficacy but she was using it totally wrong (using it as a spot treatment after applying moisturizer).
What skincare I’m using along with Differin:
N.B. This might seem like a lot of exfoliation for some, but my skin really needs to be well exfoliated to stay clear. My skin gets congested very easily.

Differin cannot be bought from a department store: you need a prescription from your doctor. As a beauty blogger, I am so lucky to receive many products for free, but all in all, this is the best product that I don’t have to pay for (thank you benefits). So, for now at least, I’ll keep truckin’ and keep you all updated with the results in a few months.


Sometimes, in the skincare world, all it feels like anybody talks about is exfoliating–scrubs, brushes, toners, masks, moistruizers, serums, etc.etc. the list goes on and on.

I’m a huge fan of exfoliation, but over-exfoliation is dangerous territory. Skin can become red, raw, inflamed, and thin which makes skin more sensitive to touch and the sun.

It can be hard to restrain yourself from too much exfoliating–who doesn’t want baby smooth, soft skin every time they wash their face? Exfoliation is necessary, but we must be careful what we’re doing it with and how often.

If you are using several different treatments on your skin, i.e. serums, toners, moisturizers, retinol, acids, etc., then it is important to make sure that what you’re using doesn’t cancel out another product’s function. I, myself, am now using a doctor-prescribed retinol at nights on my face (for acne), so I need to make sure that I’m not combining retinol with glycolic acids, because glycolic will actually render the powers of retinol redundant.

As of right now, my exfoliating includes using my Clarisonic in the morning, followed by Clarins Gentle Exfolliator which contains a small amount of glycolic acid.

At night, I simply just double cleanse, apply my retinol and eye cream, wait an hour (to let the retinol sink in), then apply moisturizer. Retinol on its own will resurface the face, and can cause some flaking or peeling, so it is important to be gentle with the skin when using this ingredient. Once or twice a week I may do a scrub (Exfolikate, which yes, contains glycolic, however, I rinse off the scrub so it doesn’t matter) if my pores are feeling congested, and one night a week I might use Alpha H’s Liquid Gold.

So here we are finally. Onto the review of my two toners.

Clarins Gentle Exfoliator: This is a great introductory toner for someone who is nervous about using acids. It is so gentle, no burning or stinging, and has a lovely slightly thick feel to it. Less watery, more lotion. Lovely.

Alpha H Liquid Gold: This is a much stronger exfoliator, at about 5% of acid. I use this totally alone at nighttime. I know. So boring and plain, right? But, by excluding any extra serums or moisturizers, it allows the acid to work, uninterruptedly. Don’t worry, your face may feel slightly dry at first, but the feeling goes away. It can be used under a moisturizer, but I prefer to let it work to its full potential.

Who knows–this still may be considered as too much exfoliating for one person, but I really feel like my pores get congested easily, and this formula helps to keep breakouts at bay and my skin smooth.

As always, please remember: If you are using any products at all that contain any acids or retinol, you MUST use a sunscreen. Your skin becomes more photosensitive from these products and any anti-aging/scar or dark spot diminishing you were hoping to accomplish will be all for naught if you don’t wear a sunscreen.



The people at Kate Somerville where kind enough to send along a few of their products for us to try out. I had been wanting to try out their products for a while, as I had heard so many good things about them.

Exfolikate: The granules felt really sharp at first, and I was a bit alarmed (it’s been a while since I used a scrub), but this is a product that you massage VERY gently onto your skin for 30 seconds then allow the acids work by leaving it on your face for up to two minutes (depending on how sensitive your skin is). Rinse off to reveal baby smooth skin. I use this twice a week to help decongest pores and bring under the skin bumps to the surface.

Yes, I know, that using a scrub on acne can spread the bacteria around, but I think that to properly exfoliate the skin, you need a bit of manual exfoliation every now and again. This scrub has circular jojoba beads so it’s not going to scratch up your face like any old Apricot Scrub.

Goat Cream: I personally hate goat cheese, especially the smell, so not to worry: this pretty much has no fragrance at all. If you’re an oilier girl, I wouldn’t recommend it for daytime use without a powder (I wore it this past weekend (sans powder) and my husband asked me if I was sweating–I hadn’t powdered my forehead), but great for nighttime. Very hydrating, and light. Perfect for dry and sensitive skins, especially those with acne (which speaks right to my complicated dry/acne-prone skin! Salespeople never understand me, and try to give me non-hydrating oil-free lotions). Since it has goat cream, it contains lactic acid which helps to resurface the skin.

Plus, I know this doesn’t affect the actual formula of the product, but I adore the packaging–not for it’s looks (though, the purple is nice and all), but because it has a push-down top that dispenses the perfect amount of cream for both your face and neck, so you’re never sticking your fingers into a pot, contaminating the rest of the cream. Win!


La Roche-Posay Effaclar Duo: Using it day and night to help abolish bumps, gently.

Kate Somerville Exfolikate: This is growing on me. At first I was a bit nervous about using a scrub, but it really, really works.

Ren Clarifying Clay Cleanser: Gentle, non-stripping. I use this when I feel a breakout coming on, and even leave it to work for about 2 minutes before rinsing off. It also has a nice, slightly sweet almond-y smell that is unexpected for a clay cleanser.

Eminence Probiotic Mask + Willow Bark Serum: You already know this is my favourite for helping fight breakouts.

Verso Products: Loving the retinol-infused products so far, and their minimalist design.

Kate Somerville Goat Cream: This is a really great replenishing moisturizer, I’m impressed with it so far. Hoping the lactic acid in the goat milk will help to keep breakouts at bay!

Chanel Rouge Coco Shine: Loving this in the shade Boy. Nude, yet gives some oomph to lips. Shiny without being sticky. It’s almost the same as my favourite lipstick, Mademoiselle, but is more sheer and foolproof (I can easily apply this in a flash without a mirror).

Nuxe Reve de Miel: Has been saving my lips from the polar vortex. Thick and protective and last forever. Unfortunately, it was just dropped on the floor last night and the lid cracked 😦

Alpha H Liquid Gold: Resurfaces the skin overnight. I use it alone a few nights a week. Review to come!

IPL: I’ve gotten two facials with the IPL laser, which has really helped to get down to the bottom of my breakouts and dry them out. These treatments have really made a difference (bonus: they stimulate collagen growth).


For someone with acne-prone, oily skin, toners were always the step of my skincare routine that I thought got rid of the zits– possibly because for years, a toner was only good in my eyes if it stung. However, I’ve acquired a tad more education on these astringents and, well, made myself even more unclear on which one I should be using. The whole science to it is quite confusing and everyone has their own opinion on what a toner needs to do, if any at all (I once heard that if you are using a good cleanser, no toner should be required at all. hmm.). So stumped and dry out of my last toner, I did the rounds at all my favourite beauty joints (mainly via internet) and found this Kate Sommerville one to be most promising.

Basically, I want my toner to treat any current breakouts, prevent new ones, control oil and fade acne scars. That’s all! Yah, so, I had to accept the fact that there is no solution on earth that will really work that kind of magic, but I’ll take what I can get. Hence, the clarifying toner from Kate Sommerville. I actually first heard of the brand by it’s highly acclaimed spot treatment, EradiKate. So, I figured Kate must be pretty good in the acne department. This toner promises to fight off acne-causing bacteria (check), lighten acne scars (check), control oil (check) and unclog pores (not on the list, but check). This stuff should be everything I’m looking for (and more).

I don’t even think you can classify my skin as ‘oily’ because it is far more oily than practically every girls’ I’ve met who claims to have this skin type. Yah, blah blah blah, it ages slower and so on, but it is a pain in the ass 24/7 and I would trade it for anything. In terms of this toner, I wouldn’t say it controls oil throughout the day, more so it keeps oil at bay for around three hours. I’ll take that. As for my breakouts, I’d say this stuff does what most toners do… keeps things regular as in a few zits here and there but nothing major. But, where this stuff shines is the whole fading of discoloration category. As most sufferers of acne can agree, most of the time the actually spot isn’t the problem, it’s the WHOLE shebang that surrounds it, ie. redness (!!!). And to top it all off, once the pesky zit goes away, we’re left with a scar. Not cool. But this stuff lightens my scars and my discoloration, fighting half the battle of us acne-prone soldiers. I can dig it.

–Anna Raponi