MIXES & MATCHES (Like you see on my Instagram)

What ? I’ve been posting quite a few “skin care routines” recently. They are mostly a “mix & match” of different brands. Generally the brands I love, likely to be brands I work with on a professional basis. No affiliated links ever! 

Why ? I wnat to show you that skincare is versatile. You can easily combine products, as long as you respect certain rules. Cheaper brands work very well with more expensive brands. “Active”  brands are a good match with “gentle” brands.

Examples : I can easily match some highly ACTIVE Neostrata products with some gentle Ceravé Moisturizer. Or pair an Exuviance serum with a Sisley botanically formulated cream. It’s all possible, as long as you think LOGICALLY. Active ingredients with smaller molecules and/or stimulating stuff goes on FIRST. Acids go FIRST. Gentle ones, like PHA or PHA BIONICS, which I’ve discovered and LOVE, go first. Then lots of MOISTURE. Then NOURISHING THINGS. 

A creamy cleanser – like SISLEY’s FABULOUS LAIT AUX LYS – works as an SPF remover for me.

A gentle exfoliating cleanser like Neostrata PHA4 or Exuviance follows for second cleansing.

Toner can be an Acid of your choice. I’m not into “heavy duty” products so BR (Biologique Recherche) P50 did not work for me. Clarins Doux Exfoliant is nice, but Exuviance, with PHA, is better for my skin.

Then a serum or Essence ; anything that comes into my mind. From PHA/Bionic to Pre-Biotic. Or some Hyaluronic if I just want moisture. You can also do a SHEET MASK at this stage. Exuviance has two new ones and they’re great !

Cream can be according to skin condition/weather : I LOVE SISLEY. Emulsion Ecologique is still a favourite. So is Sisleyouth and Hydra Global. Somethimes I layer a bit of Ceravé Lotion in between for its CERAMIDES. Those help RESPLENISH skin, especially if you’re over 40 ….

Should you do this ? Yes, if you want the best for your skin. No regimen can be for ever.


I got the inspiration for this article from a question recently got : “ Is brand xxx clinical or not ?”

Without mentionning the brand this person asked me about, my answer was short & direct : “no, it is NOT, as you can buy it in a perfumerie store ….”

Shocking as this may be for some of you, my answer to the question “ What brands are truly clinical” is led by the following ideas :

  • Products that are available from perfumeries, beauticians or department stores generally are formulated, to be tolerated by all skin types, even sensitive ones. This inevitably means that concentrations, pH-values and combinations are adapted to a larger public.
  • Products from brands sold or prescribed by dermatologists, or sold at private clinics / in doctors’ offices DO take the risk of possible irratation/adaptation time, as patients generally are supposed to come back for follow-up treatments.
  • Products sold in perfumeries do not need clinical trials to prove their effectiveness.
  • Products sold by doctors/clinics do generally have (lots of) clinical studies to prove their claims.

Next question that rises is : “Are clinical products always better ?”

Honestly : No, I don’t personally thinks so ….. BUT, they will give you more RADICAL and faster results than any other product. This, for me, is a FACT.

Being an ambassador for the Neostrata brand (AND it’s daughter brand Exuviance, both owned by Johnson & Johnson), I know what clinical trials & tests mean and what a truly clinically formulated product can do. That’s why I simply get angry when I see other brands claiming to be “clinical” simply by the fact that they use certain ingredients. “Clinical” sounds good and makes sales go up, it’s as simple as that. But ask these brands for THEIR own clinical studies ….. You won’t get them, because they don’t have them.

There are several good clinical brands available. There are some excellent non-clinical brands available. But there is a lot of confusion too. That’s why I felt the need to write this article. I’m generally a nice & easy person. But just don’t get me angry. Especially not in the cosmetics field 🙂


Well, honestly, a lot, when it comes to work. Plus travelling, to Italy, our beloved place in Umbria, to see our friends, get some olive oil, and do lots of siestas J.

Workwise, my activities for several cosmetic companies (Klapp Cosmetics, Neostrata, Exuviance, Heliocare), have taken a lot of my energy and kept me from writing anything for the blog. Well, anything that I thought would make sense, anyway…

But here’s a little information about how things were for me skincare-wise, as any beauty fanatic will know : we NEVER stop caring for our skins, no matter how tired/busy we are !!

I’ve set off the Retinol for a while. Not that one absolutely has to, during summer, but it just seems one of these things many of us do. As I wrote in my previous blogposts, Retinol has been the NUMBER ONE miracle ingredient for me, especially when it comes to treating (old) acne scars. I’ve benn off the Retinol for at least six weeks (or is it two months ?) now, and I STILL see what it did for me.

In order to keep skin “going”, I’ve substituted the Retinol by some mild PHA and Bionic ACIDS, that are really a MUST TRY if you have SENSITIVE skin and are looking for some active, yet gentle anti-ageing ingredients.


I truly LOVE my NEOSTRATA Ultra Moisturizing Face Cream (10% PHA – Polyhydroxy Acid) and Bionic Face Cream (12% mix Bionic & Polyhydroxy Acid), which is EVEN MILDER, but does give visible results when it comes to fine lines and pore texture.

Furthermore, I’ve started the EXUVIANCE Brigthening Serum, that I line to alternate with a super hydrating serum by iUnik (Bèta-Glucan Power Moisture Serum). I’ll be writing about all these products in separate posts, because there is so much good information I want to share with you about these products.

I’ve also recently discovered how soothing and hydrating the MIssha Time Revolution Essence can be, especially when skin is a bit “under stress”, and I must say the Korean do a great job when it comes to formulating a good essence. But then, THEY created the “essence”, didn’t they ……..

So, at the moment, this seems to be my ideal summer skin care. Mild, but still active & effective.


These are just a few tips I often give my clients to get a quick, simple, but almost INSTANT GLOWY DEWY LOOK. Nothing complicated, just a few steps to achieve a beautiful, heathy and luminous complexion.

Here we go :

  • Clean your skin like you always do. Not with a wipe, give it a good, serious clean with either a cleansing milk, lotion or gel. Balm & oil cleansers are great too !!
  • Use EXUVIANCE Triple Microdermabrasion Face Polish.I recently discovered this one (review on the blog) and absolutely love it ! Massage for just one minute on humid face & rinse-off.
  • Use a MOISTURIZING ampoule, or Hyaluronic Acid-based serum.Favorites : Nazan Dermacare Hyaluronic, Iunik Bèta-Glucan Power Moisture Serum, Missha Night Repair Ampoule.
  • Put on a SHEET Mask, like Red-Apax or Hydra-Fill by Meder.These are wonderful, highly moisturizing & skin-plumping face masks. Leave it on for 20 minutes (yes these need some time to work, so you’ll just HAVE TO RELAX).
  • Remove the mask and apply an ESSENCE, like Missha Time Revolution or Exuviance Pro-Biotic Essence.
  • Apply a little bit of serum,in this stage I prefer a slightly creamy one, like Missha Time Revolution Vitality or Skin Calming by Exuviance.
  • Apply a tinted moisturizer, (with SPF during daytime), like HELIOCARE Gel Tinted (2 tones available), which will enhance the glow on your face. For some more coverage, a BB Cream like L’Occitane works well too.

And here you are ! Ready for the day (or night J) !


Bionic acids (Bionics) and PHA’s are considered by some skin care experts as the future of modern skin care. Compared to their “big brothers”, the AHA’s, Bionics and PHA’s are MORE GENTLE, less irritating and also more MOISTURIZING. They could very well be used by people with MORE SENSITIVE skin types that are not able to use the stronger AHA’s, like GLYCOLIC and LACTIC acid.

Products with PHA’s, in the form of GLUCONOLACTONE and BIONIC ACIDS, in the form of Lactobionic and Maltobionic acids, are still not widespread. The brand that has most of them combined and offers a FULL SERIES with this type of acids is NEOSTRATA and its daughter brand EXUVIANCE.

If you are curious to see, what PHA or Bionics can do for your skin, I suggest you try one of these brands’ products.


I am personally very fond of Neostrata Bionic Face Cream and Ultra Moisturizing Face Cream.If have been using them both of and on since a few months and can truly see they are effective at both hydrating and activating the skin at the same time.

One of the advantages of this type of acids is, that they present the benefit of stimulating cell turnover, something we would all want once we are over 30 (and especially when over 40!). They are, however, much softer on skin than, for example, a product with glycolic or lactic acid.

If you want to introduce one of these products into your routine, I would advice you to do it STEP by STEP, like you would with a “classic” acid. I made the mistake of being over-enthusiast with these products and thought they would be a wonderful match with my Exuviance Retinol, but how wrong I was. Using full strength Retinol and alternating it with even a gentle PHA or Bionic acid on a daily basis, is just NOT a good idea …..

If you’re not on Retinol, or use Retinol in a very low (0,1/0,2 percent), start using your product twice or three times a week and see how that goes for about a month. If all goes well, use it 5 times a week for another month, before making it a daily use product.

If you’re using a stronger Retinol, try and keep AT LEAST three days in between using a PHA/Bionic and your Retinol. Experiment (carefully), to see how long your skin stays sensitive after using Retinol.For me, this is AT LEAST three days after having used Retinol for two nights consecutively.

I recommend you use “simple” moisturizers and lots of HYALURONIC serums/essences to keep hydration levels up and soothe skin as well as you can.

Reviews on both products will follow in a few weeks.


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 !


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 !


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.


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.