Skin Improvement Epic Part 1: Alpha-H Skincare

Friday, 27 January 2012

* Long post alert: This is going to be a lengthy post. In fact, I'm just going to go ahead and call it a 'feature'. If you've ever had acne, are suffering with adult acne or know someone who is you/they may find it useful. I really, really hope so. This is not a paid for/sponsored post and there are no affiliate links. I've always purchased my own Alpha-H products excepting a recently launched skincare set I was sent to trial which I will review at a later date. 

 Alpha-H 5-piece
 Anti-Ageing Discovery Collection
 Picture credit: Salon Skincare

I'm going to rave. Not in a 1990s Charlie Says style (far too old for that), but in a this-skincare-is-life-changing kind of way. I've always been skeptical when people dub a cosmetic 'life-changing'. I mean, a face cream isn't going to sprout arms and legs, hop up and perform CPR to the beat of Stay'in Alive (love those Vinnie Jones ads). What I think is actually meant by the phrase, is that sometimes a product can be utterly confidence-changing. And that is a feat every beauty brand wants to achieve; results on the outside that affect the way we feel on the inside - or vice versa.

Lately I've been getting lots of compliments on my skin. I know that sounds smug to repeat but let me give you a bit of history. I've suffered, and I don't say suffered lightly because it has killed my confidence at times, adult acne from the age of 18 - 35. It's been mild, moderate, severe and everywhere in-between. What it has also been is incredibly resistant to treatment. I've taken antibiotics, changed contraceptive pills, chugged vitamins, used Retin-A, tried scores of miracle skincare 'solutions' and consulted a dermatologist who prescribed Roaccutane. I was too scared of the possible side effects to take it.

I know how awful acne makes you feel. Want to use sumptuous, beautiful skincare ladies and gents? You're having a laugh aren't you. Oh no, don't be a silly. That's not for us. We can have the pick of a teenage boy's sock drawer; the stuff you'd find nestled in amongst the lads mags and Lynx. That'll do the trick, or maybe it won't. How especially ironic, given that as you get older there's often the dual problem of wrinkles + spots = wonderful (sarcastic face).

I also know that a good deal of time is spent staring into the mirror and shaking an angry fist at the god of reactive skin praying for a 'normal' adult complexion, whatever normal is. Having to cover a face-full of spots every day of your life is boring, time-consuming and depressing. That's what it is. People may kindly say it's not noticeable (my specialist Mastermind subject would be concealers I've known and loved), and you are still pretty but you can only ever know how it really feels if the spotty face belongs/belonged to you. Like any condition that chips away at self-esteem it subconsciously rules you. So to stumble across something that quite unbelievably WORKED (when I wasn't expecting it to), was life-changing, confidence-changing, actually just bloody brilliant. Here's my review...

It started with Alpha-H Liquid Gold 2 years ago.

No prizes for pretty packaging - but the
 results speak for themselves

If you're big into beauty products, read blogs, check-out skincare forums, or watch the QVC shopping channel (that's me on all counts), you will probably have heard of this brand before. Alpha-H is an Australian skincare range used in salons in Oz and worldwide, that is tunnel-vision focused on results. You don't buy into fancy-pants packaging - the white and black labelling is seriously low frills - but what you do buy into is what is inside the tube, tub or bottle; here, it's the formulations that absolutely count. As an aside, I think there is something psychologically very powerful about using a product that works so effectively and is yet unassuming, almost under-achieving in appearance. I really hope Alpha-H never rebrand.

Anyway, I began with the 'hero' product Liquid Gold. It's a golden liquid which you apply with a cotton pad up to three times a week, nightly on cleansed skin. Couldn't be simpler and you get to bed quicker since you don't apply any other serums or night creams. Liquid Gold is packed with glycolic acid (which features heavily throughout the range), an alpha hydroxy acid derived from sugar cane which has a small molecular structure allowing it to easily absorb into the skin and effectively deliver key ingredients, such as pigmentation-diminishing liquorice extract. It also sloughs of surface dead skin cells reducing the appearance of fine lines, pores and wrinkles.

Alpha-H are unapologetic about the fact that their skincare is designed to send your cells to boot-camp - that's the whole point. It acts as a catalyst and, if you look at other online reviews, seems to be particularly good at kicking the stubborn butt of problem skin that is resistant to change. You are VERY likely to feel a tingle when you start using this product and some sensitive skin types may find it too potent. In which case I would slot the Balancing Cleanser into your routine, another awesome product that is gentle yet effective.

Back to the Liquid Gold. After just one use I could see a difference in my skin's texture but then I had a set-back. Over the next fortnight things got a whole lot worse before they got better; every pore seemed to start unblocking. Plugs of debris came to the surface and rolled off. Eewww! TMI, I know. This could just be indicative of my skin but I felt I should point it out in case it happens to you. I decided to hang tough and took it as a positive sign of purging activity. Sure enough, two weeks later my skin was looking unusually clear. 

I'm no dermatologist but something I had long noticed (and you might recognise it too), was that although the surface of my skin was dry underneath it was excessively oily causing, almost, a papier mache effect. Once that layer was whisked away it seemed as though my skin were free to function. It's just an observation but I do think there may be something in it.

As you can probably gather I'm an Alpha-H girl. I use the Balancing Cleanser everyday which is SO lovely and luxurious (it's like cleansing with a light, aloe-vera based moisturiser), despite the fact that it comes in a container that looks like it should hold engine oil - I buy the 500ml salon super size! Twice a week I also use the Liquid Gold Intensive Night Repair Serum which contains glycolic acid and vitamins A and B3, both useful for skin regeneration and health. Honestly, I'm not keen on either the feel or scent of this product (it reminds me of smell of Shreddies), but the results far override the sensory experience.  Finally, I also use the Alpha-H Balancing Moisturiser with 10% Glycolic Acid which seems to totally address the blemish-prone nature of problem skin whilst adding the moisture that oily skin often craves.

For a good year I stuck with Liquid Gold alone adding the above products into my routine along the way, so don't feel that you have to go the whole hog. However, if you did want a great value starter kit I highly recommend the 5-piece Anti-Ageing Discovery Collection from Salon Skincare which at £21.25 is around half the RRP and contains three of the key products I use plus a sample size of Micro Cleanse and Liquid Gold Smoothing and Perfecting Mask. 

Phew! And breathe... So, we're nearly there. Congratulations if you got this far. 

Overall Alpha-H has, dare I say it, balanced my skin to the point where I am now able to occasionally use facial oils (I know, MADNESS!), pampering masks and balms without ill effect. I can count the number of spots I've had in the last six months on one hand and my pigmentation marks have been significantly reduced. My complexion isn't absolutely flawless (you can't go through 17 years of acne without a few marks) but hey, that's fine. Ultimately, it's now acceptable to the harshest of critics - me. Which is all that really matters. 

Thank you for reading x

* If you find this post in the throw of breakouts have a big virtual hug ((  )) and take a look at this brilliant tutorial on concealing acne from make-up maestro Lisa Eldridge. It's exactly my philosophy and the way I have always cheated clearer-looking skin. Great minds must think alike ;) 


Anonymous said...

Thank you thank you for this post :-)
I have also had trouble with my skin all my life (now in my mid-thirties) and I completely understand how this feels. So great you found something that works.....I am very tempted to try but my past experience with glycolic acid left my skin a bit red/patchy after a couple of weeks use, so I just had to give up and let it recover. Maybe I need to persevere or use less frequently. Either way this is very inspiring, thank u !

Hannah Adams said...

Thank you SO much for your comment I really appreciate it. Alpha-H do some non-glycolic products and the Balancing Cleanser I use is really gentle. In my own experience of using glycolic acid in the past, I have often used it too frequently leading to dry patches. It's very tempting to go in too harsh too soon. I started with the cleanser twice a day and Liquid Gold one or two times a week and built up to three times. It's so difficult to say with acne skin whether it will like a product or not - seems to have a mind of it's own! So exasperating.

One thing I forgot to say in the post was that Alpha-H is sold on QVC and they have a 30 day money back guarantee where, if you don't like a product or it doesn't suit you, you can send it back for a refund minus p&p.

Anyway, I have waffled. I really do understand how acne makes you feel which is why I think it's worth persevering and finding the product - whatever it may be - that helps or works for you X

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