Skincare Review: The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%

Hi, I’m back (I hope) but I don’t think I will be posting that much as I’m running quite a few projects on the side, but at least I’m here with this post!

Have not scrubbed the polish off my cuticles but this colour is awesome is it not?!


This is one of the most popular products made by The Ordinary, and with good reason. Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) has long been a star ingredient in Korean skincare, which is why you can see it in nearly everything Korean. However, those Korean products tend to include it in miniscule to minor amounts (say, <2%) whereas this serum has it at a super high 10%. Zinc is also frequently used as an anti-inflammatory soothing agent, such as in baby diaper rash cream.

Niacinamide is said to reduce congestion and blemishes, as well as being a powerful brightener. With continued use, it supposedly balances sebum production for overall reduction in acne. For me, other products with some Niacinamide such as the CosRX Galactomyces Essence, have helped to calm my skin down and reduce appearance of pores as well. I was excited to try this as a more potent version of Niacinamide!

The ingredient list of this is super short:

Aqua (Water), Niacinamide, Pentylene Glycol, Zinc PCA, Tamarindus Indica Seed Gum, Xanthan Gum, Isoceteth-20, Ethoxydiglycol, Phenoxyethanol, Chlorphenesin.

As you can see, this is a water based serum with lots of niacinamide, pentylene glycol which is a penetration enhancer, zinc, and some thickeners and preservatives. There’s very little else in this besides what is advertised, which is what I have come to expect from The Ordinary.

In the dropper, this is kind of cloudy, but squeezed onto the hand it is basically clear. However, I think due to the thickeners, people have reported pilling up a bit for them. This has never been an issue in the night time, but I do find that if I use it in the morning and apply sunscreen and foundation after, I sometimes find white bits on my face. But I haven’t had it happen recently at all, so maybe I was just using too many silicones at that time!

It has frequently been said that niacinamide and L-ascorbic acid (the most potent form of Vit C) shouldn’t be used together, but Kind of Stephen (kind of) debunks that. Having personally experienced some of the flushing and hotness described that occurs when you mix the two, I would personally not use Vit C products and this together, but you could if you’re less sensitive.

As this serum is fairly thick, one thing I like to do is to mix it into my COSRX Galactomyces Essence mentioned above, as that is very watery and it helps the serum be easier to spread. It can be used on it’s own too though, without issues.

I think it’s a great serum and I especially love to use it when my skin is very congested and inflamed (like around shark week.) It helps to soothe my skin and I do notice the congestion reducing. Also my pores are practically invisible most days, so it does help in that regard. My skin is definitely brighter and clearer after so many months of usage of this higher %, rather than just the amount available in the Galactomyces essence. I think this is like a workhorse serum – you won’t see incredible benefits (unlike the Advanced Retinoid) but with daily use the effects are visible over the long term.

Overall, I really like this serum and it’s also at a great price point. I may even stop buying the Galactomyces essence and use this by itself 🙂

Skincare review: The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA

Time for the next installment on The Ordinary!

Alpha Arbutin is something that I definitely wanted to get, because who doesn’t want brightening and pigmentation fading? Arbutin is a key ingredient in many Asian skincare brands, but in here it is in a more powerful form Alpha Arbutin, and in a very high 2% concentration. The question is, does it work?

My little girl’s grapes, just because.

Continue reading “Skincare review: The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA”

Skincare Review: Update on Retinoid 2%!

So I did promise that I would do an update in mid April, and here we are!

I am happy to say that I am right and my skin has cleared up lots. I only get my regular hormonal once a month freak out, and I would say they are a bit less horrible than usual. I get much less whiteheads and clogs in general, and almost no giant inflamed pimples (except those stupid deep hormonal ones once a month.)

Although my acne did stop being full blown before I started using the retinoid, I was having a LOT of texture on my chin, which is totally visible even after foundation and concealer.

chin detail.jpg
24th Feb timestamp, right before I started using the retinoid.

Continue reading “Skincare Review: Update on Retinoid 2%!”

Skincare Review: The Ordinary 100% Organic Rosehip oil and how it changed my make up routine

This is the next installment in my series of The Ordinary reviews. This also happens to be something that helped me totally overhaul my make up routine, so sit up guys!

Rosehip oil is known for many skin-supporting functions. It is high in linoleic acid, which means it’s not greasy, and can even help acne. You can read Lab Muffin’s post for more information. In short, low linoleic levels may cause acne, so using rosehip oil can help to balance your skin and reduce the proliferation of bacteria. Its high linoleic acid content means that it’s also not ‘greasy’ feeling as most oils.

Stunning natural lighting is everything.

Continue reading “Skincare Review: The Ordinary 100% Organic Rosehip oil and how it changed my make up routine”

Skincare Review: The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2%

This is the product I was the most excited for from The Ordinary. As you know, I had rather bad hormonal acne on my chin for about 6 months. Although somehow it went away by itself and I don’t have huge cystic acne there like I used to, I still have very clogged pores there and a fair bit of texture. It bothers me for sure. So I was hoping Retinoid would wipe it clean and make my skin baby smooth again.

EDIT: Update as promised here, with before and after photos!

Sorry for the blurry pic! Also, HOW FANTASTIC IS MY NAIL COLOUR.


Continue reading “Skincare Review: The Ordinary Advanced Retinoid 2%”

Skincare Review: COSRX Honey and Rice Overnight Masks

COSRX has quite a few moisturizers. There’s the Centella blemish cream [affiliate] which I sometimes want to try but never got around to buying, and the Ultra moisturizing lotion [affiliate], which I may try next time, the Hyaluronic Acid intensive cream [affiliate] which I don’t intend to try because Hyaluronic acid isn’t that sexy an ingredient to me, the Aloe Vera cream [affiliate] which, same reason as the Hyaluronic acid, is not very sexy. There’s also the Honey Ceramide eye cream, which is one of the most expensive things COSRX makes, and the Snail cream, which I would never use because obviously, I have a huge snail phobia. They have a hell lot of moisturizers of all kinds, is what I’m saying.

The ones that I do actually use are the Rice mask and the Honey mask. They are packaged in the same kind of packaging as the rest of the moisturizers, but they are the only ones labelled as ‘overnight masks’. What for, I have no idea. I just pretend they’re normal moisturizers.


Minimal and sleek packaging. I like! I would prefer them not to be in jars, but ah well.


Ultimate Honey Mask ingredients:

Propolis extract (85%), butylene glycol, glycerin, betaine, 1,2-hexanediol, PEG-60 hydrogenated castor oil, arginine, cassia obtusifolia seed extract, dimethicone, ethylhexylglycerin, carbomer, sodium hyaluronate, beeswax, allantoin, panthenol, sodium polyacrylate, adenosine

As you can see, it’s largely propolis, penetration enhancers, glycerin, and some good stuff in small amounts, and that’s it.

Ultimate Rice Mask ingredients:

Oryza sativa (rice) extract (65%), butylene glycol, glycerin, helianthus annuus (sunflower) seed oil, betaine, niacinamide, dimethicone, 1,2-hexanediol, cetearyl olivate, sorbitan olivate, elaeis guineensis (palm) oil, guineensis (palm) kernel oil, hydroxyethyl acrylate/sodium acryloyldimethyl taurate copolymer, cetearyl alcohol, ethylhexylglycerin, arginine, carbomer, allantoin, xanthan gum

Mainly rice extract, and perhaps more oil, and good stuff including betaine and niacinamide. From the ingredients we can predict that the rice mask is gonna be thicker and richer.


No prizes for guessing which is which. The honey mask has been well loved, as you can see, while the rice one is pretty new.



The honey mask is a very light transparent gel. It’s super lightweight. The rice mask is more akin to a traditional moisturizer, but still pretty lightweight.

Let’s talk about the honey mask first. It has a lovely melting texture, of course, and it melds into skin like nobody’s business. It sinks in almost instantly, and leaves only a slightly tacky finish behind (due to the glycerin, me thinks.) It also makes my skin look so radiant. I used to absolutely love it, but in recent days I’m finding it’s a little not moisturizing enough in my super dry office air. It’s great for days I’m not in the office though. I use it primarily as a day moisturizer due to its lightweight properties, and because I don’t quite find it moisturizing enough for the night.

I have to say though, it is very calming and soothing for the skin. And it does moisturize well, but due to its not so occlusive nature, I find the moisturizing effects not so long lasting. If you’re very oily skinned, you would love this as both a night and day moisturizer. If you’re normal like me, you may find it better in the day (and what a fantastic day moisturizer it is.)

Next, the rice mask. It’s far richer and denser and actually feels quite solid in the jar. It still sinks in fast though, and if used in a thin layer, doesn’t leave a residue. It leaves my skin very plump and juicy, perfect for that dewy, radiant look (that always gets diminished by the horrible office air, anyway.) If I am using a more drying foundation like the Armani Lasting Silk, I would definitely use this under my sunscreen instead of the Honey mask. As a night moisturizer, I find it very soothing and more than sufficient for my skin. I can’t speak to very, very dry skin types though. You’ll love this if you have dry to oily skin, probably not for people at the extreme ends.


Would I repurchase? I think they are very cheap for very nicely formulated, solid moisturizers. ~$14.50 + shipping for 50ml each (at my affiliate link above) is a fantastic price, considering a L’oreal moisturizer here costs like $30. My honey mask has been used daily since early October, so 1 tub would last me about 6 months easily. Unless CosRX comes up with something even more amazing at an even better price, or The Ordinary comes up with one that I wanted to try, I would buy both of them over and over and over again. Of course, my preference leans towards the rice mask now thanks to my skin that’s getting a bit dryer, but both probably have a place on my vanity.

The Magical Bottle of Eyelash/Brow Growth: Bimatoprost

Update: Moar pics at the end!

Bimatoprost is a drug that is frequently used to treat glaucoma, and also has the very nice cosmetic effect of making hair GROW like nuts. Let Lab Muffin, the cool Australian chick explain how it works.

I’ve always had decent lashes and brows, but last time, I never felt like mascara ever made a difference. If it did, it required tons of effort of curling and application. It would be REALLY nice to have fluttery amazing lashes by just waking up.

Latisse is $200/bottle, so I splashed for the generic version, Careprost, which has the same concentration of bimatroprost, at $20/bottle.

So I’m sure what you really want to know is, does it work?


Here’s photographic evidence for your perusal, of both my eyelashes and brows.



Curled and with mascara [btw, I’ve used the same type of mascara for more than a year, in all these pictures, so it’s not the mascara making the difference.]:



(this one looks like bare lashes. You can see I naturally have fairly good lashes, just that like all Asian lashes they point doooooown. And are dastardly difficult to curl.)



2-3 weeks after using Bimatoprost:

With mascara


(I think the below pic’s upper lashes for this weren’t curled to their full potential, but look at the lower ones!!!!)



And a look at my brows…

Totally barefaced. I have a fair amount of brow hair but they’re just… kinda sparse? After about 1+ month on bimatoprost, you can see they are a LOT darker – just more density of hair. I don’t even need to do eyebrows anymore when I walk out without make up.

eyebrow comparison.jpg


So here’s a before and after with bare lashes. You can see my lashes are coming in denser and more lush, and they’re slightly longer. The photo doesn’t show them dramatically longer, but believe me, it makes a hugeeeee difference when I curl and put on mascara.



Bimatoprost has also made it far easier to curl my lashes. I’m not sure why – it may be because of the additional length. My curl also holds for very much longer. I’ll take it!

In any case, I’ve only been on bimatoprost about 3-4 weeks, and it takes 2 months to see full results. I’m already very happy at the stage I am, so I wonder how I’ll look at the end of January? 😀 And best of all, you get to tell everyone these are your natural lashes, and there is no fiddling with falsies and glue, no extensions to worry about!

I apply it every night right now, but after the first bottle, I will be applying it maybe 3x a week for maintenance.

Update 16/1/17 – Maybe 2 months of usage? I have a couple of patches with very short lashes because some of the mega long lashes fell out. The slightly bare patches are growing back, so once the growth cycle is stabilized, I expect there to be no more bare patches where lash hair falls out all at one go while others are still insanely long. FYI, this is similar to the pregnancy hair effect. When you’re pregnant, your hair grows nonstop and doesn’t fall out (unless you yank at it) so after you give birth it falls out in massive clumps and youll have some bare patches until the hair grows back in its normal growth cycle again.

20170108_102341(0).jpgBare lashes – I mean holy crap look at the LENGTH!!! I have less volume than fake lashes but I definitely match them in length. I easily get a very fluttery look.


Omg mega long and you can see I barely applied any mascara.

Very freaking happy, and STILL on the first bottle – I am applying it once every 2 days now.

Update 15/3 – My sister asked me today how to get my eye look – and I was wearing NOTHING on my eyes. No shadow no eye primer no mascara no nothing. I think I got a little bit of darkness around my eyes naturally, and bimatoprost also darkens the lashline a little bit, partially also because the lashes look so thick and lush now. I am SO happy with the unintended compliment 😛

Vitamin C Serum on the cheap: OST C20

Vitamin C is a very powerful antioxidant and supposedly also helps your cells to create more collagen, etc. That’s why it’s frequently a star ingredient in a lot of skincare.

The cheapest and most widely available Vit C for us in Asia is likely to be the OST C20 Vitamin C Serum [affiliate]. It’s available for a super cheap $15.57 plus shipping from Roseroseshop.


I bought it and used it mainly because of the scarring on my chin from the hormonal acne. If you look on the internet, some common criticisms are that it contains Niacinamide, which is what you DON’T want to mix with Vit C, and that Ascorbic Acid is not the best form of Vit C to use.


Water, Ascorbic Acid, Ethanol, Sodium Lactate, Butylene Glycol, Glucose, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Rosa Davurica Bud Extract, Carthamus Tinctorius (Safflower) Extract, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, Sodium Hyaluronate, BIS-PEG-18 Methyl Esther Dimethyl Silane, Diethoxyethyl Succinate, Ammonium Acryloyldimethyltaurate/VP Copolymer, Xanthan, PEG-180, Gluconolactone, Beta-Glucan, Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Oil, Zinc PCA, Panthenol, Niacinamide, Glycerin, Tocopherylacetate, Lecithin, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Ubiquinone, Diisopropyladipate, Phenoxyethanol, Methylparaben

Overall, the texture is a viscous liquid. It smells to me like hotdog brine – slightly salty. It tastes slightly sour and salty too if you get it on your lips. I don’t mind it, I don’t find it weird or offputting. It dries slightly sticky, but it doesn’t matter to me because I put other stuff over it anyway. I had a tingling sensation the first few times I used it, but it’s non irritating and it won’t make you red. It does sting a little bit if you’re using it on pimples.

I first got it on 9/10/16, so it’s been about 3 months. I still have about 1/4 of the bottle left, and that’s only because I really doused my face in Vit C almost everyday and I even used it on my arms for awhile. I keep it in the fridge, and it hasn’t oxidized, so I’m pretty happy.

I used to use it right after cleansing in the evenings, but Vit C + AHA + BHA was a bit too much for my skin, so right now I use it in the mornings and use my AHA + BHA in the evenings. I wash my face, sometimes with a bit of cleanser, sometimes only with water, pat it dry and then apply it. I usually wait for a few minutes and get dressed before putting on the other stuff.

My chin scarring is still present because I keep picking at my skin (I’m working on it I swear) so there’s not much photographic evidence there, but here’s evidence of its effects of the spot on my cheek.

Some background: I fell down flat on my face around 10 years old, which resulted in a huge scab on my cheek. I never really actually noticed this scar until I got older. I don’t really mind it, since it’s not very obvious or terrible. It’s just a small patch of darker coloured skin on my left cheekbone.

scar comparison.jpg

Defying logic, I somehow placed the before pic on the right, and the after pic on the left. The difference isn’t crazy dramatic, but it’s not as dark or as stark now, and the edges have softened up considerably. Note that the picture on the left is a super close up (which means it should be all the more obvious) and the one on the right is zoomed out.

Overall, this Vit C serum is a great beginner’s serum. It’s cheap, reasonably effective and easy to get from Qoo10. However, there are definitely better formulations out there. I’m going to be trying this one next, which is way more hardcore. However, this is dependable (and so budget friendly) that if future ones I try don’t work, I would definitely return to it.

Skincare routine update

I’ve used up some stuff and acquired some new stuff, so here’s my updated skincare routine.

I don’t like overly long and complex routines, and in fact overly long and complex anything. Recently, my skin’s going a bit nuts. I think I have some hormonal imbalances because I’ve been getting a crapload of hormonal acne on my chin, while the rest of my face remains as clear and smooth as ever.

AM Routine:


I have 30 minutes every morning to brush my teeth, dress, put on make up, grab my bags and lunch and GTFO of the door. Hence I prefer my morning routine to be as minimal as possible.

Step 1: Wash face with water. I don’t use a cleanser in the mornings because I find it can be quite stripping, so I just wash my face with water and pat dry.

Step 2: COSRX Galactomyces Whitening Power Essence – Soothing, hydrating and brightening. I do notice my makeup doesn’t sit as well when I haven’t been using it awhile, so this is actually a repurchase. Does the galactomyces ferment do anything? Not sure, but this is cheap and good, so.

Step 3: COSRX Ultimate Moisturizing Honey Overnight Mask – a thin, gel-like consistency, absorbs super fast and relatively hydrating. Gives me a nice glow. I think it’s not thick or occlusive enough for my preferences as a night moisturizer, but damn as a day moisturizer it is fab. A tiny dollop is enough for your whole face due to how well it spreads. I wait awhile for it to dry.

Step 4: Sunblock! My favourite, repurchased so many times over. Nice and hydrating, if I’m not in the dry office I tend to just use this as a 1 step morning routine.

Very simple and fuss free, just how I like it in the mornings.

PM routine:


PM routine is a little more complex. Some things are good, some things are just there for me to use up.

From right to left, for some unknown reason.

Step 1: After cleansing, I pat dry and apply my OST C20. This is probably not the best Vit C serum in the market, but it’s $15 SGD and shipping, and is a great entry level serum. I’m happy with it, so I’ll probably repurchase. I keep mine in the fridge and it’s been about 1.5 months and it hasn’t turned.

Step 2: BHA/AHA: I sometimes use both, sometimes just one if I feel like my skin has been a little overexfoliated. BHA keeps the black sebum spots on my nose at bay and makes my pores a lot smaller. It’s very obvious when I’ve skipped it for awhile. The AHA keeps flakies at bay and smooths out any small whiteheads.

Step 3: Water spray. Right now I’m on that Laneige one that I got for free, but honestly it could be plain water for all I care. When it’s gone I’ll experiment with DIY. The only purpose of this is actually to neutralize the acids before the next step.

Step 4: COSRX Galactomyces essence again. No wonder it runs out so fast!

Step 5: Since Step 4 is a ‘first essence’, I will probably have a more substantial essence addressing concerns in this step. Currently, I am using an Alcina Hyaluron Acid because it’s just what I have on hand and I want to use it up. Will probably try out a few things to fill up t his step.

Step 6: Daiso Hyaluronic Acid Sleeping Pack. It’s nearing the end of its life as you can see. It’s actually decently hydrating for $2, and it’s a hugeeee pack. I recommend it if you’re desperate for something or on a shoestring budget. I’ll skip this step when I’m done with it.

Step 7: GNC Vitamin C cream: slightly heavier and more occlusive. For a housebrand cream, it’s surprisingly nice. I have maybe 1/4 left, and I’ll be replacing with another COSRX cream when it runs out.


This is my ideal line up – with the missing serum in the middle 😉

This skincare routine has been good for me. My skin’s been clear (props to the Vit C!!!) and best of all, my old chin acne scarring have really been clearing up. Now just to manage all the current breakouts…

How’s your skincare routine looking? Any new items?