Reparing Sun Damage: My Latest Skin Pics and Routine Update

It’s been a while since I did an update on my current skincare routine, so I thought I’d regale you all with a ramble and some photos of how my skin care quest is going.

For those of you who missed the backstory, in May of last year I was washing my face one morning, and when I finished I looked up into the mirror to find that my face was still looking down. Confronting times! The Australian sun had finally wrought its damage on my skin: sunspots, wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, loss of facial volume, the lot. This is what you get when you go for years without wearing sunscreen.

Fed up with skincare products that were expensive and not particularly potent, I started to educate myself about proper skin maintenance and care, and it was at that point that I started to DIY my own serums and products.  To understand my journey in more detail, you can find my previous skin pics by clicking on the ‘skin pics’ tag at the bottom of this post.

So nine months on and in the height of an Australian summer, here are some photos to illustrate how I’m going so far.

Previously, I haven’t used full face shots like the ones below to describe my journey because I’ve found that they didn’t show enough detail. However, I’ve included some this time because I think they help to show the diffence in my facial volume. This photo was taken in May 2011:

This photo was taken yesterday:

Everything appears lifted. My brows are higher, I don’t have so much slackness around the jawline, my forehead looks firmer, and my whole face looks more sculpted.

Below is a photo of me smiling back in May 2011. Guess which side received all the sundamage whilst I was driving around for years without sunscreen. Yup, the left. Can you see how it scrunches up more that the right side when I smile? Not pretty:

The photo below was taken yesterday. You can see how my left side still scrunches up more than the right when I smile, but the effect is much less obvious than it was. I’m very happy about this.

Here we have a closeup of my eye (on the ‘sundamaged side’) in May 2011:

And below is a photo of the same area I took yesterday. Note the lessening of hyperpigmentation, the lift of the eyelid, the reduction of the nasolabial fold, and the refinement of the texture of my skin:

Below is a photo I took last October, a few months before I started incorporating facial exercises into my routine. You can see that the skin is in quite good condition, but the nasolabial folds are quite pronounced due to residual sun damage and genetics:

Here is a photo I took yesterday of my nasolabial folds. The are still present, but are significantly reduced. The facial exercise programme I’ve been doing has made a huge impact on this area. The nasolabial folds are still present, but much better:

The picture below was taken in May 2011, and I’ve included it because it helps to illustrate  what facial exercises and good skincare have been able to do for my hooded eyelids. Observe:

In contrast, the photo below was taken yesterday. Oh eyelids, how I missed you! There is so much more vibrancy and energy to my face! You can see here that the brow in the photo below is much higher than the photo above. Other facial exercises have also given me more fullness in the cheek, forehead, and mouth area. Love it:

Here we come to the more difficult stuff.

The photo below was taken last October. Again, note that my skin  is in reasonably good condition, but when I smile my lack of facial volume is immediately apparent. Rather than walk around looking like Posh for the rest of my life, I’ve been hoping that facial exercises will help to address this problem too:

And they have! Yay! there are still wrinkles present when I smile, but I’m a lot more comfortable with the way they look now:

Lastly, I wanted to smile and take a photo of the resulting wrinkles on each side of my face. This is my ‘driving side’ when I smile:

And this is my ‘non-driving side’. See the difference? I’d love for all the skin on my face to be like this. Learn from my mistakes people! Wear a zinc oxide sunscreen every day!

So what does all this mean in terms of makeup application?

Well, these days I don’t apply much. I used to apply full coverage foundations as a matter of course, but these days I skip the base. In the photo below I just have some concealer on under my eyes (I love you Ellis Faas concealer) but sometimes I don’t even bother with that. Eye makeup continues to be a must though (as you can see from the photos above) and I’ve been wearing eyeshadow, gel eyeliner, and lashings of mascara as usual.  Cheeks are usually just a little bronzer or blush, or perhaps both.

I’m really enjoying the extra size to my eyes, and my new-found eyelids! Makeup just looks so much better now, and my brows do a much better job of framing my whole face.

Here is my current routine:



-FlexEffect facial exercises (see the website here)

- Cleanser: ‘Easy Rinse’ Oil Cleansing Method using DIY cleanser with whatever oil I’m liking at the moment, Castor Oil, and Polysorbate 80. Applied with Tanaka Massage. (tutorial here)

- DIY MAP 10% Vitamin C serum

- DIY moisturiser with hyaluronic acid, macadamia nut oil, sea emollient, CoQ10, and Grape Seed Extract. Base recipe is here, but I changed a few things around for my version.

- DIY 20% Zinc Oxide Sunscreen (tutorial here)



- Cleanser: ‘Easy Rinse’ Oil Cleansing Method using DIY cleanser with whatever oil I’m liking at the moment, Castor Oil, and Polysorbate 80. Applied with Tanaka Massage. Removes makeup and whatever else I slapped on my face that day.

- Retin A 0.05% applied to face, neck, and chest.

- Kinetin/ NAG/ Niacinamide serum (tutorial here) OR Idebenone/ NAG/ Niacinamide serum (I haven’t done a tutorial on this, but visit Jen’s blog to see her excellent tutorial)

- DIY moisturiser


- Cleanser: ‘Easy Rinse’ Oil Cleansing Method using DIY cleanser with whatever oil I’m liking at the moment, Castor Oil, and Polysorbate 80. Applied with Tanaka Massage. Removes makeup and whatever else I slapped on my face that day.

- Kinetin/ NAG/ Niacinamide serum OR Idebenone/ NAG/ Niacinamide

- DIY moisturiser

- Occasional exfoliation: Microfibre or Muslin cloth

- Lip Balm: Lanolips 101 Ointment

I also sleep on my back, rather than my side, every night (supported by a pillow under my knees) to avoid creasing on my face.


Moreover, I’ve also been applying my serums and moisturisers (except Retin A) to my hands, which are notoriously difficult to keep pretty:

My hands also suffered from years of sundamage, and along with applying all my facial skincare to my hands, I wear gloves every time I drive to protect them. I wash my hands so much that sunscreen would be quite ineffectual, so gloves keep my hands sun free.

By the way, the polish is OPI Dulce de Leche, thanks to Angela. Isn’t it great? Thanks Angela!

My approach to skincare can be boiled down to three points:

1. DIY, potent actives, and a zinc oxide sunscreen every day;

2. Facial exercise to help address a loss of facial volume as I age;

3. Proper diet and exercise (details on that here)

The serums and skincare I make have gone a long way to promoting collagen production and improving the look of my skin, but years of sundamage had left my face looking a bit slack. I’ve only been doing the full FlexEffect programme for a week (a week!) and I’m already seeing amazing results: more fullness in the cheeks and forehead, the return of my eyelids, a brow lift, more neck firmness, sharper jawline, and significantly reduced nasolabial folds. Bear in mind that it does take about half an hour each day, but for me the results are worth it.

If you are interested in facial exercises but don’t want to pay for a full system, there are many on YouTube that you can try to see if it’s the right thing for you.

Oh yes, and do try out some DIY skincare. It’s easy to put together, very potent, and cheap as chips :)


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74 Responses to Reparing Sun Damage: My Latest Skin Pics and Routine Update

  1. Kathrine says:

    I’ve said it before but I’ll say it again: You are gorgeous and have enviably beautiful skin. Keep up the good work (and please, Lord, start selling your skincare!!!!) x

  2. 2blue says:

    You are doing great Dempeaux! First time I see real proof that exercises work, though I have always believed they do. I am trying to rejuvenate my face all with out injections and harsh treatments. You are a pretty girl ;-)

  3. Incredible. Amazing. Gorgeous! You are such an inspiration! I need to incorporate more of this in my routine. I NEED those results!!

  4. NeenaJ says:

    The results speak for themselves. You continue to be an inspiration! Just made my first batch of KiNiaNAG serum yesterday (using the SEA diy kit) and I love the texture of it.
    How long do you wait to apply yours after using the Retin-A?

  5. Replica says:

    The results are impressive, you have lovely skin, thanks for sharing this, I found it really interesting :)

  6. Meeta says:

    Fabulous! You are continually inspiring me about skincare and also reminding me not to forget the hands!

  7. Is it too early to start on retin-A?

    What do you use on your eyes? I can really see the lifting result!! This is incredible and amazing and if you sell a DIY skincare based on personal consultations of each person, I’d ask you to concoct one for me. :)

  8. Jade says:

    Remarkable Sarah, I think I have the same type of complexion/texture and skin issues as you. What have you found to be the most effective method/product in helping your lids? I’d like to avoid expensive/painful surgery in the future haha :)

  9. Dempeaux says:

    @Katherine Thankyou so much! Haha! You know DIY is pretty easy ;P

  10. Dempeaux says:

    @2blue Thanks for dropping by! I’m hugely impressed by the FlexEffect programme, and I was very skeptical myself! Thankyou for the kind compliment :)

  11. Dempeaux says:

    @PerilouslyPale Thankyou so much! This routine has worked so well for me that I get very excited for others thinking about using it. I hope you use it and love it x

  12. Dempeaux says:

    @NeenaJ That’s so exciting! That KiNiaNAG serum is genius. I love how soft it makes my skin :) I’ve only been waiting about five minutes between applying Retin A and KiNiaNAG these days, as I’ve been quite tired at night, but I think technically you’re meant to wait about 20 mintues before applying anything on top of your Retin A. I still get good results though!

  13. Dempeaux says:

    @Replica Thankyou! I must say, I found it very confronting posting barefaced photos this time around, so I’m glad you’ve found the post useful. Now I’m never going to look at this post ever again ;P

  14. Dempeaux says:

    @Meeta Thankyou! Yes, it took me a while to realise that hands need attention too! And mine has always been pretty dry and horrid :)

  15. Dempeaux says:

    @DanaK Depends on the reason you’re starting: some people start with Retin A in their teens/ early 20s to deal with acne, but for anti-aging you could perhaps wait until late 20s, depending on the state of your skin? Really up to you. Everything I use on my face, I use on my eyes, neck, and chest too, including Retin A, but I’ve built up to this usage. And remember, DIY is so easy! ;)

  16. Dempeaux says:

    @Jade Wow, really? I think Retin A made quite a big difference with my lids, but the facial exercises were amazing because they gave me a reasonably quick brow/eyelid lift. I want to avoid surgery too! So painful and expensive! I also think that doing it this way ensures that your results definitely look natural (with surgery I’m always worried that results will look unnatural). Of course, sunscreen every day makes a big difference too, but I know you already do that :)

  17. I read every word, and I was very happy that you linked to the facial exercises you are doing. I am so impressed by the decrease in hyperpigmentation, the way your eyelids lifted (I did not think that was possible without a bleph), and the reduction of the nasolabial fold. And, of course, your skin looks so smooth and radiant. Well done!

  18. rose says:

    hay dempeaux… WOW your results are amazing… you looked wonderful before but now everything looks tight, bright and just glowing!!!! i wanted to get into some facial exercises into my routin but don’t want to start with flexeffect… you said you just started using the flexeffect so what were you using before that? it gave you wonderful results and i would like to start with that… were you just using the tanaka? thanks…

  19. Dempeaux says:

    @Zuzu’sPetals The hyperpigmentation was a BIG issue for me at the beginning, but funnily enough it was one of the easiest areas to deal with! I honestly thought the same: that nothing would help my eyelids and that I would need surgery. I’m so happy to see that I was wrong – I would rather spent the money on other things! The reduction of the NL folds make me happy too, and again, I didn’t hold much hope that I could actually do much about that. It’s such a difficult area to treat. Thankyou!! :)

  20. Dempeaux says:

    @Rose Thankyou! I can completely understand where you’re coming from: I didn’t want to pay for a facial exercise programme without knowing they would do something for me. The YouTube facial exercises I was doing are linked to in this post As you can see, I started very slow. I did find that after a month my results started to plateau as my muscles got used to the exercises, but the results I had achieved stayed there. The benefit of the FlexEffect programme is that it gives you different variations of exercises to stop your muscles from plateau-ing, and the programme deals with the entire face, neck, and chest :) I am still doing Tanaka twice a day when I cleanse – love it! I did start off with Tanaka on it’s own, and I still enjoy the effects of it :)

  21. Grace London says:

    Your results are incredible. I remember about a year ago, you saying that you wish you didn’t feel like you needed foundation every day. You’ve come a long way, baby! ;)

  22. Dempeaux says:

    @Grace Thankyou! Yes, even a year ago it was bothering me ;) It’s so liberating not having to wear a base every day. It makes me very happy :) xx

  23. Angela says:

    :O I can’t even. Every skin update post you do leaves me gobsmacked because I just can’t believe how amazing the results are! Your skin is so even and lovely. Plus, I’m totally jealous of your new-found lids. ;) You look great hun!

    And thanks for the shout-out. hehe Looks great on you. :D

  24. Dempeaux says:

    @Angela Thankyou!! I love my new eyelids ;) The polish is fab too! Thankyou! x

  25. DragoN says:

    Lovely, just lovely Dempeaux!!! I must get on it with the exercises as well. You have inspired me with your success.

  26. Dempeaux says:

    @DragoN Thankyou! Yes, I can highly recommend facial exercises – love the results!

  27. You really are my poster girl for great skincare Since I read about those facial exercises I have also been trying them. I’m not religious about it (unlike my anti cellulite cream application which seems to be a crazy obsession since the age of 30) but I do think if I were to persevere I would notice a difference. Again I admire your honest writing here. You are making a difference – it’s quite fabulous!

  28. rose says:

    thanks for the link to the youtube facial exercise videos. I want to start slow so i think i’ll do some tanaka and some yoga exercise as a start and see where that takes me… thanks again for being so open and sharing with all these wonderful “youth activators” LOLLL. take care

  29. Dempeaux says:

    @Rose That sounds great! I hope you enjoy the results :)

  30. Dee says:

    I’m very impressed – and jealous that you can look so sexified without foundation.

  31. Jos says:

    These are amazing! I meant to do it after your previous post but forgot. Thanks for the reminder! Will definitely incorporate tanaka massage and will work up to DIY skin are when I finish all my current skincare products.

  32. Dempeaux says:

    @Style Thankyou so much! What a compliment! I’m so glad you’re giving the facial exercises a go, and I’ve never tried an anti-cellulite cream! I’ve been meaning to get a brush for dry brushing for about a year now! It was actually a little difficult to be so honest this time around, but I just hit post and don’t look at the pictures again ;)

  33. Dempeaux says:

    @Dee LOL! That was probably the last way I thought to describe myself ;P

  34. Dempeaux says:

    @Jos Thankyou! I’m so pleased to hear you’re going to incorporate some Tanaka and DIY. You won’t regret it! :)

  35. Sara says:

    This is so inspirational for me as I recently took some self-potraits to update my Facebook profile and I was struck by how gaunt my face looks (at only 27). Can the FlexEffect exercises build /improve volume on the cheeks? Also, in the undereye area where people get dark circles it has become quite hollow, which always makes me look tired if I don’t use a highlighting concealer there. I’m wondering if this could be improved with facial exercises or would I need something else?

  36. Dempeaux says:

    @Sara Oh definitely! You sound like a perfect candidate for facial exercises! There are specific exercises to build volume on the cheeks and to fill in the undereye area. You could also try a product with K1 or Chrysin in it to work on the dark circles, but in terms of building volume the FlexEffect is definitely the way to go :)

  37. Firefox7275 says:

    Thank you so much for posting such candid photos, they are really inspiring.

  38. Dempeaux says:

    @Firefox Thankyou! I’m glad they’re of help. It’s not always easy to post these sorts of photos ;)

  39. Jen W says:

    Your journey is so inspiring, and the results speak for themselves. Looking very fine at the moment :)

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  41. rose says:

    hay dempeaux… just wanted to drop by and say hello! i was wondering how the flexeffect is going for you… i keep saying i’m going to start doing some facial yoga from youtube but i’m just lazy…lol. I can’t wait to hear from you and see an update on how flexeffect is working for you… take care.

  42. GlossQueen says:

    You look amazing, as usual!

  43. Jet says:

    Hi Dempeaux,

    I’m so happy I found your blog! It’s so hard to find understandable DIY skin care recipes out there :s Especially here in Europe people haven’t really discovered it yet I think ;) I would really love the recipe to your DIY moisturiser with hyaluronic acid, macadamia nut oil, sea emollient, CoQ10, and Grape Seed Extract. I want to make some too but I’m new at this so I don’t dare to just experiment with the SEA recipe. Thank you so much for posting all of this again =) You have really helped me out!

  44. Dempeaux says:

    Hi Rose! Thanks for dropping by :) The FlexEffect is going really well! I’m loving the difference in facial volume – infact, you can probably see many of the improvements in my latest FOTD post :)

  45. Dempeaux says:

    @GlossQueen Thankyou :)

  46. Dempeaux says:

    @Jet That’s great! DIY skincare really is so easy, and you can make excellent quality skincare. The basic lotion recipe I use can be found here I would start by making that and getting a sense of how it works with your skin, then subbing in/ out other actives that you might like to try. Yay for DIY! :D

  47. Anita says:

    I really feel like I have found your blog at the right time!! You look A H M A Z I N G. Would love to try the facial massage – but with 4 kiddies I struggle to find 5mins to myslef let alone 30mins! Other than SEA is there any online Australian websites I can purchase the ingredients from (kinda impatient)? Also, the little glass containers they are stored in, where do I get those? Thanks again :)

  48. Joan says:

    WOW…. I love the results !!! I just started to care for my skin and Im doing OCM every night (I will add Tanaka to it). Nice that I found someone who does it twice a day as I was thinking maybe it would be beneficial for me… ;) )) Im purging though ;(
    I have a question, would Tanaka help with brow 11′s and forehead lines? Is there an oil that is good for prematurely aging and sagging skin? I feel like I have waaaay to much skin on my forehead ;(

  49. MP says:

    I really like your carefully laid out DIY info and your savvy skin care and makeup links! The success of the facial exercises is hard to judge though, because the photos are taken with your pupil aimed quite a bit further up or down, you are in very different lighting, and seen from differing angles. Certain colors and intensities of light can make skin look plumper or more glowy. If you aim your pupils less than a millimeter off a target, it can change the whole shape of the face around the eye, forehead included. I hope to visit your site a lot in the future and would love to see a more rigorous test proving the results of all your hard work on your facial exercises, as I am afraid of the knife as well! Thanks so much for sharing all that you have so far!

  50. kelly says:

    Hello Sarah,

    Ive just purchased most of the ingredients for your sunscreen from Natasha at SEA.

    The only thing I don’t have is a blender/mixer, i noticed the one you have and it looks great but the link you provided doesn’t bring the item up anymore. Please would you tell me the make and model of it please so I can buy one too.

    Dragon from SCT has put me in touch with a lady about getting me a mixer but its going to take about a month before that arrives so wanted something inbetween times.

    i love your blog and cant wait to try some of your recipes.

    Thanks for your help :)

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