Medik8 CE-Tetra Review

Vitamin C provides antioxidant protection, protecting the skin from the damage of free radicals in the environment like UV light and pollution. Vitamin C can help reduce hyperpigmentation and red spots and maintain collagen and elasticity, thus helping wrinkles.

Depending on the form, vitamin C can be unstable and irritating. It is sensitive to heat, light and oxygen.

I have never used a vitamin C product for my skin previously and after looking at different brands and products, I bought Medik8 CE-Tetra. Medik8 is a British professional grade skincare company with roots in science and technology to manufacture effective and stable products.

The Medik8 CE-Tetra is targeted towards those with normal, dry and redness-prone skin. I have oily skin, but purchased this as the oil-free vitamin C product targeted to oily skin was more expensive.

Medik8 CE-Tetra
Medik8 CE-Tetra

This product comes in an amber glass bottle to protect it from light and dispenses from a dropper. The first ingredient, jojoba seed oil, derived from the jojoba shrub, is a source of fatty acids that the skin recognizes and can use to help the skin repair itself, defend against UV light and stimulate collagen production. It is noncomedogenic and is fast-absorbing. Next are two silicones, cyclopentasiloxane and cyclohexasiloxane. Silicones are used in skincare as conditioning and lubricating agents, providing slip and giving the skin a silky feeling. I don’t usually like using skincare with silicones; I find my skin feels heavier or extra oily when I do. However, this has been in moisturizing lotions and lotion sunscreens, which I no longer use on my face. A serum with silicones probably won’t feel as heavy. Next is the vitamin C form tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate (7%). This is a mild vitamin C derivative that is stable in light and air for up to 18 months. It is oil soluble and used in skincare for brightening, collagen production and repairing and preventing effects of environmental damage. On the box, it says that this form of vitamin C has the equivalent potency of 28% L-ascorbic acid (which is unstable). There is tocopheryl acetate (vitamin E). Vitamin E and vitamin C are used together to prevent UV damage, therefore indirectly increasing the efficacy of sunscreen. PPG-12/SMDI copolymer is a film-forming agent that has water binding properties and gives a smooth feeling to the skin. The last ingredients are grapefruit peel oil, limolene, citral and linalool. These last ingredients are generally used as aroma compounds from plants to provide fragrance – the grapefruit peel oil, limolene and citral give a citrusy scent, and linalool comes from many different plants and provides a floral scent with a bit of spice. The box says fragrance-free, so I’m assuming this means no added chemical fragrances. These plant fragrances and oils can be irritating to the skin.

I used this in the morning after cleansing and toning and used one drop for my forehead, one drop for each cheek area and one drop for the chin and jawline. When I first used this product, I was surprised by how thin it is; a water-like consistency. This made it hard to see and feel if each drop was being spread over each area. After a few days of use, though, I got used to the consistency and found the drops were being spread around. When putting this on, it absorbed immediately and made the skin feel very silky upon application (due to the silicones). It smells great; like oranges (this fragrance, though natural, is probably not necessary). After applying the serum and waiting a few minutes I only used my Colorescience Sunforgettable powdered sunscreen on top because I wanted to see how my skin reacted to the vitamin C and how it performed on its own. I usually otherwise use YBF Balance in the morning to absorb the oil on my skin throughout the day.

One-Month Results:

By the end of the first week of use I thought my skin looked a little brighter; it was very subtle. At the end of week 2 I started to get breakouts; a couple on my forehead, four small ones between my eyebrows, and a big one on the right cheek. I get breakouts every couple months, but not so many at once, and they come and go. The left side of my lower cheek breaks out every couple months and lasts a long time, and has come and gone for a long time. I have two theories about the increased breakouts during this time. My skin could have been getting used to a new product or my already oily skin does not like the extra oil from this product. Because of this, I am going to add my YBF Balance back in the morning. This is a product that absorbs oil and prevents breakouts. This product doesn’t have an effect on fine lines or hyperpigmentation, so I should still be able to see a difference in my skin with the use of Medik8 CE-Tetra.

After this one month of the Medik8 CE-Tetra use I am not seeing any difference in my fine lines or hyperpigmentation yet. Some products take time to see results. I will continue use and update in another 2 months.

Three-Months Results:

While the lighting and focus looks better, unfortunately, I’m not noticing a lot of difference after the 90 days of use – the hyperpigmentation has not faded noticeably (if at all). The fine lines on my forehead have also not diminished. I do notice that my skin does look overall brighter and feels much softer than it has in a long time. As I had noted at one months, I felt that my skin had more breakouts than usual. These have mostly calmed down other than the right side of my face where breakouts seem to occur every couple weeks to month. I’m beginning to think these are hormonal breakouts. The serum, specifically the jojoba oil, doesn’t seem to make my skin oilier than it usually is, which is something I was worried about.

Despite not noticing much difference in the fine lines and freckles while using this vitamin C serum, I am going to continue use; I still have about two-thirds of the bottle left and I think that vitamin C is very beneficial for the skin. Once I’m done the bottle I might try the vitamin C serum from Mad Hippie, it’s much less expensive and I feel like I should see more results by now from an expensive product such as this from Medik8 (of course expense doesn’t guarantee results). I am also tempted to try another vitamin C serum also from Medik8 called CE-Thione, a “step-up” from the CE-Tetra.

Delon+ Premium Cotton Rounds Review

Delon+ Premium Cotton Rounds
Delon+ Premium Cotton Rounds

After trying a few different kinds of cotton rounds, I happened on these from Delon Laboratories at Costco. I got them because they were in a pack of eight and these are now my favorite brand of cotton rounds. These are made in Canada and are 100% cotton with no additives. Others I have tried, generic and other name brands, always fell apart or lost fibers. These have a smooth surface and a textured surface. I use the smooth surface to apply toner and remove eye makeup. These are gentle enough for use on the eye area and are soft and strong. The textured surface can be used to remove nail polish or gently exfoliate the skin. When I apply toner to the face and neck, these don’t fall apart or leave cotton fibers on the skin.

The smooth surface and the textured surface are held together at the edges by a sort of seam and when I accidentally ran that seam across the skin, it made a small almost paper-like cut. So I be sure to use the center of the cotton round and when using around the eye area, I fold it in half.

These are also available in organic and with aloe vera and provitamin B5 added. I haven’t tried these.

Obagi Nu-Derm Review – Before and After

The Obagi Nu-Derm system for normal/oily skin consists of eight products:

  • Foaming Gel
  • Toner
  • Clear
  • Exfoderm Forte
  • Blender
  • Retin-A (not included) (used with Blender – prescription required)
  • Hydrate
  • Sun Shield Matte Broad Spectrum SPF 50

After a consultation through Fresh Laser Skin Studio I went on the Obagi Nu-Derm system for normal to oily skin for about 4 months to help with fine lines on my forehead, hyperpigmentation (freckles) from sun damage and scarring and red spots from previous acne. I purchased the travel size which was enough for about 4 months. This system should be used under the direction of a specialist. While using this system I had followups with Fresh Laser about once a month to make sure things were working and the skin wasn’t being over-irritated and to ask any questions (of course, I was welcome to call and ask questions anytime).

  • Step 1 – Foaming Gel: A pink gel cleanser that lathers up on application to remove makeup, impurities and oil and to prepare skin for the next step. To be used morning and night, a pea-sized amount.
  • Step 2 – Toner: This removes remaining makeup and balances the pH of the skin. It has skin calming ingredients including aloe vera, witch hazel and sage. It includes fragrance and artificial color and is alcohol-free. To be used morning and night.
  • Step 3 – Clear: This is a prescription strength skin lightening product that contains 4% hydroquinone that is very effective in for skin discolorations and hyperpigmentaton. Hydroquinone should not be used for more than 4 or 5 months at a time. To be used morning and evening, a pea-sized amount.
  • Step 4 – Exfoderme Forte: This is an exfoliating lotion using glycolic acid and lactic acid, two alpha hydroxy acids that brighten dull skin and help remove wrinkles by removing dead skin cells and other debris. To be used in the morning, a pea-sized amount.
  • Step 5 – Blender and Retin-A: The Blender is formulated to be used with Retin-A. Taking a pea-sized amount of each, these are blended together and put on the skin at night, used to reduce hyperpigmentation and wrinkles and smooth the skin’s texture.
  • Step 6 – Hydrate: A moisturizer used morning and night. As the purpose of my Obagi Nu-Derm use was to exfoliate and peel and I didn’t want to inhibit that, I didn’t use this product. I was told that if the peeling skin from the other products was irritating or if I was going out and had skin “peelies” I didn’t visible, I was to use the Hydrate.
  • Step 7: Sun Shield Matte – To be used during the day as a sunscreen lotion. As I didn’t want extra moisture to inhibit the exfoliating and peeling, I didn’t use this, but opted for a powder sun protection from Colorescience.

This is a system that should be followed by a professional. These are strong, prescription strength products that promote exfoliation and peeling to reveal clearer new skin. Sun protection is a must with this system, as the AHAs and Retin-A make the skin more sensitive to the sun.

I was amazed by the results I got by using this system:

obagi system
Before and After Obagi Nu-Derm (courtesy of Fresh Laser Skin Studio)

You can see from the photos that the hyperpigmentation was reduced and the skin looks clearer and smoother. I don’t have a photo of my forehead, but I had many fine lines and after the 4 months, they were gone. I still have some deeper acne scars on the right side of my lower face that were reduced, but didn’t disappear. I still have a deeper fine line between the eyebrows that faded a bit, but didn’t disappear. The pores on and around my nose seemed smaller and less noticeable.

I think what really helped my skin from this line was the Clear, the Exfoderme and the Blender/Retin-A combination. I imagine one could find a different (better) cleanser and toner and get similar results.

While using this system I learned about my skin; oily skin needs help to exfoliate, I need ingredients in skincare to help do that (alpha hydroxy acids), Retin-A is proven to reduce wrinkles and acne and result in a smooth complexion. I also learned to listen to my skin; if it was being irritated or became red, I would reduce the Exfoderme or Retin-A to every three days or every other day, then work back up to once a day. I was previously using way too much product on my skin; I would use a dime-sized amount of a product when all I needed was a pea-sized amount, for example. My skin is oily and only needs a light moisturizer.

This system really worked to reduce fine lines, breakouts and the hyperpigmentation. My skin was clearer and smoother and looked better than it had in years. That said, it was pretty expensive and some of the ingredients are less than great. Some of the products contain silicones, parabens, color and fragrance. This is a very exfoliation-intensive program, but the products contain ingredients to lessen redness and and inflammation that might otherwise be caused by the products. As mentioned, this system works, just listen to your skin and use sunscreen.

After using this system I maintained my skin on the therapeutic line by Dr. Zein Obagi called ZO Medical.

*featured image from

Michael Todd Charcoal Detox Deep Pore Gel Cleanser Review

michael todd charcoal cleanser michael todd cleanser front michael todd cleanser

I have been using the Michael Todd Charcoal Detox Deep Pore Gel Cleanser for about 3 months. This cleanser is for oily and acne prone skin and claims to remove dirt, oil and makeup without stripping the skin of its natural moisture. It also claims that the absorbent activated charcoal penetrates into pores to draw out impurities and blockages. This product is certified vegan, uses 70% organic ingredients and is made in the USA. Directions state to shake well before each use.

The packaging of this product could be improved. It comes in a bottle with a pop-off type lid.  I prefer products with a pump, or better yet, an airless pump that reduces the risk of impurities and bacteria entering the product. *Please see note below.

I use a dime size amount of this cleanser morning and night by massaging onto my face and neck for about a minute. At  night I use this with my Clarisonic Mia. This gel cleanser feels nice on the skin and doesn’t lather much. I find that too much lather such as a foaming cleanser can make the skin feel dry and tight. It rinses nicely with no residue and the skin feels soft, oil-free and clean with no tightness.

Looking over the ingredient list (I won’t go over each ingredient, but will mention some perhaps unfamiliar ingredients or ingredients that stand out to me), aloe leaf juice is first. Aloe contains two hormones,  auxin and gibberellins, that have anti-inflammatory properties and can help minimize acne and promote cell growth. Being a rinse-off product, these benefits might be minimized as opposed to a leave-on product. Tea tree oil also has antibacterial and anti-inflammatory properties. This cleanser uses a number of plant extracts that could be irritating to the skin; wintergreen, orange, lemon, lavender. I, however, have not experienced any irritation. Bilberry, sugar cane and maple extracts are the ninth, tenth and eleventh ingredients and are sources of AHA (alpha hydroxy acids) used as exfoliating agents to aid in cell turnover. Oily skin needs help exfoliating. I was surprised to see activated charcoal toward the bottom of the ingredient list at number nineteen of twenty-eight. Being called “charcoal detox cleanser”, I would have expected it to be towards the top. *Please see note below.

The name of this product, Charcoal Detox Deep Pore Gel Cleanser, to me, implies that this detoxes the skin. This cleanser claims that the charcoal is able to penetrate the pores and draw out impurities. Activated charcoal, when taken internally at the right time as an emergency treatment, may help with food poisoning or a stomach flu as it absorbs most toxins and poisons before they can harm the body. It is also used in water filters. Can activated charcoal draw out impurities and detox the skin? I looked at PubMed for any articles relating to charcoal detoxifying or purifying skin and could not find any. I did find that charcoal can help with odors of blistering skin and skin loss related to wounds such as open ulcers from diabetes, for example. So it seems that charcoal will not help with intact skin (from what I could find).

It may be that cleansers such as this with activated charcoal rely on other good ingredients that cleanse, exfoliate and help heal the skin such as the aloe juice, sugar cane extract and tea tree oil.

This cleanser has retinyl palmitate and beta carotene. Acrylates/C10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer can combine to water and oil to create a smooth consistency and can also be used as a stabilizer. Benzyl alcohol is second-last on the list. This type of alcohol can be problematic in high amounts, but nothing to worry about in this product.

Throughout my few months of using this twice a day, my skin hasn’t been irritated and does not feel dry after use. My skin is very oily by the evening and this washes away the oily feeling without leaving a dryness. I don’t usually wear makeup, but when I do this cleanser is able to wash it away. Compared with other cleansers I have used in the past, this one seems to indeed be helpful for my oily skin and helped clear up some bumps and congestion on my forehead.

Despite activated charcoal popping up in many skincare products, I could not find any science-based evidence that it works to detox the skin and purify pores. It might be a logical jump though; if activated charcoal can absorb toxins/poisons from the body to prevent further harm, it might pull out impurities and toxins from the skin. Perhaps clever marketing? In any case, I like this cleanser, I don’t find it very expensive and it lasts a long time. I like that it has no artificial colors or fragrance. It does have a smell that may bother some. It is pretty strong in the jar, but when taking a bit to spread on the face, it wasn’t so bad. I couldn’t put a name to the smell and when I asked my husband, he said it smelled like lilacs in acid…a pretty good description actually. I don’t mind the smell though and it is being washed off anyway.

*Note: Since buying this, I note on the website that the packaging has been changed to a pump. The ingredients have also changed a bit. The activated charcoal is third and twentieth on the list. Why that would be I am unsure, and it looks like they took out the benzyl alcohol. On the Michael Todd website, it states that they are always improving formulations and ingredients and the ingredients on the website should be taken as up-to-date.

Daily and Weekly Skincare Routines

Daily Morning Skincare Routine
Daily Morning Skincare Routine

I have oily, blemish prone skin with hyperpigmentation. My morning skincare routine consists of:

  • Step 1: Michael Todd Charcoal Detox Deep Pore Gel Cleanser over face and neck.
  • Step 2: La Vie Celeste Restorative Illuminating Toner over eyes and neck.
  • Step 3: Michael Todd Blue Green Algae Antibacterial Toner over face.
  • *Toners applied with Delon+ Cotton Rounds.
  • Step 4: ZO Medical Glycogent over face.
  • Step 5: ZO Skin Health Olluminate under eyes and over eyelids to brow bone.
  • Step 6: La Vie Celeste Day and Night Restorative Face Cream over neck.
  • Step 7: Your Best Face (YBF) Balance over face.
  • Step 8: Colorescience Sunforgettable Topical Sun Protection Powder.
  • Step 9: Your Best Face (YBF) Quench Lip Treatment.
Evening Skincare Routine
Daily Evening Skincare Routine

My evening skincare routine consists of:

  • Step 1: Michael Todd Charcoal Detox Deep Pore Gel Cleanser over face and neck.
  • Step 2: Cleanse with Clarisonic Mia with Deep Pore Cleansing Brush.
  • Step 3: La Vie Celeste Restorative Illuminating Toner over eyes and neck.
  • Step 4: Michael Todd Organic Lemon AHA + DMAE Toner.
  • Step 5: ZO Skin Health Olluminate under eyes and over eyelids to brow bone.
  • Step 6: La Vie Celeste Day and Night Restorative Face Cream over neck.
  • Step 7: Your Best Face (YBF) Quench Lip Treatment.
Weekly Skincare Routine
Weekly Skincare Routine

On Wednesdays in the evening after steps 1 and 2 above I add in:

  • Your Best Face (YBF) Prep Exfoliant.
  • Michael Todd Kaolin Clay Detoxifying Facial Mask.
  • And continue with Step 3 and onward as above.

On Sundays in the evening after steps 1 and 2 above I add in:

  • Nano Ion Home Facial Steamer.
  • Your Best Face (YBF) Prep Exfoliant.
  • Your Best Face (YBF) Clarity Green Tea Mask mixed with Wedderspoon Raw Manuka Honey & Bee Venom and YBF Private Reserve Antioxidant Treatment Oil.
  • And continue with step 3 and onward as above.

If my face feels dry at any time I add a couple drops of the YBF Private Reserve Antioxidant Oil to my face.

In subsequent posts I will go over each product individually and why I use it. I have also purchased a couple other products to try that I will add in soon.