So let's talk about some skin care! I have previously mentioned my quest - a word I'm using frequently lately - to take better care of my skin. I've been complimented regularly on my skin most of my life for how soft and smooth it is naturally. Not trying to brag, just setting expectations: I started with pretty good conditions and I don't want other people to expect that my routine will grant the same results to others who are starting in a different place. My basic idea was that I was too lazy/untalented to figure out a decent makeup routine that I'd be willing and able to use regularly, so I best take decent care of my canvas. I'm not the woman who's going to get up an extra 30 minutes or more to "put on my face" but a series of goops I can slap on in under 5? I'm game. Plus as I'm getting older, if I expect my body in general and skin specifically to hold up I'd better start taking care of it.
Before we dive into the specifics of what I use and how, I do want to take a moment to talk about the so-called natural beauty movement. There seems to be the air of competition around natural beauty versus makeup beauty. The idea being that natural beauty is somehow more desirable or even according to some, more moral. Let's not kid ourselves. Achieving flawless skin purely through the use of toners/serums/moisturizers/etc. is NOT accessible to many people and is also NOT any less vain than putting on a full face of makeup. That is to say, neither are vanity in-and-of-themselves. People are allowed to do whatever they want to feel confident and self-possessed, whether that means makeup, "natural" beauty, or something else. Specifically, let's acknowledge right now that "natural" beauty is far from natural. Steam facials, expensive serums, eyebrow microblading, and more are not things that occur naturally. Nor are they inexpensive or widely available to all people. If that is how you choose to achieve your look and spend your money, that's your business. But don't pretend you have moral superiority to people who choose makeup which is often more accessible and more successful for a lot of people - such as those who have scarring or a variety of skin conditions that can't be remedied with double cleansing. It's also worth pointing out that about 5 months into my skin care journey, I did become interested in makeup and have started using both. And I love it. So move along if you want to preach the gospel of moisturizer over foundation. One isn't better than the other and they aren't mutually exclusive.
I started in January of this year, using various gift giving events around that time to accumulate some of my supplies. I subscribe to the Korean skin care regimen, which is a set of steps and not products. To be precise, 10 steps, though you don't use all 10 every time or even every day.
|Got a kitty headband, some masks, acne patches|
|Moisturizers, cleansers, eye treatment.|
|The only makeup I bought early on was the under eye concealer from Maybelline.|
|Those hairbands are specifically for curly hair.|
My hair is still too short for me to know if I like them.
|My stash! I keep it in two separate bathrooms because one sink doesn't work right now.|
This house, people, it's a problem.
|The washables in the bathroom with a working sink. Wooo!|
1. Oil-based cleanser.
I use my oil-based cleansers typically at night only, but this really depends on the person. Their purpose is to remove the dirt of the day. Sweat, makeup, and your morning goops! I don't use my oil-cleanser every day as I can be prone to acne, but usually only on days when I wore makeup or did a lot of sweating. If you have acne prone skin, there are oil-based cleansers and alternatives (such as micellar water) so you don't exacerbate the issue.
|The Face Shop Natural Rice Water Light Cleansing Oil|
2. Water-based/foaming cleanser
This removes the oil cleanser! It sounds a little silly, but that is part of it's purpose. It also helps to remove the last vestiges of makeup, sweat, and your other skin care products. They have to be washed off and reapplied so your skin has a chance to breathe.
|Hada Labo Gentle Hydrating Cleanser|
This is a step that's very different from the way we have typically exfoliated in the western world. Asian beauty and increasingly western beauty call for chemical exfoliation rather than physical exfoliants (which often cause micro tears in the skin that can actually accelerate the aging process over time). AHAs and BHAs are the most common types and are BONUS! a good treatment for acne. BHA is good for more sensitive skin, AHA for more serious acne.
|Cosrx Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol|
This step is intended to balance your skin's pH and ready it to accept moisturizer. Often Asian toners are called hydrating lotions as something to keep in mind when shopping. This is a super important step.
This is my all time favorite of my new products. It looks like water but it feel MIRACULOUS going on. How can something so thin feel so rich on your skin? But it does. Literally magic.
|Hada Labo Gokujyun Hyaloronic Lotion Moist|
Sort of a halfway point between toner and serum, these help with hydration (sort of the ultimate goal of all of this is well hydrated skin since that's virtually synonymous with healthy, pretty skin) and skin repair. I don't technically use any but fermented essences are common. I use an ampoule though, which is similar but more targeted as discussed in the next step.
|Mizon Snail Repair Intensive Ampoule|
These are more targeted products and this category includes ampoules, serums, etc. They often contain single ingredients or near to it in order to address specific concerns. Vitamin C, nianicimide, and snail mucin are common.
|Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch|
7. Sheet masks
These are pretty widely known so I don't know that they require much explanation. I also use gel or mud masks sometimes instead of sheet masks. The effects of a sheet mask are short-lived. They are more for a specific occasion (might use a mask on your wedding day for example, or the day before) to achieve a specific effect. Like exfoliation, these are not an daily step but more like once or twice a week. Mud or clay mask are supposed to have more long term effects if used regularly, but honestly I consider this step a just-for-fun kind of thing to pamper myself.
|My Korean sheet masks|
|This is a Bentonite Clay powder. Mix with water or ACV to make a mask.|
I have seen effects from the use of the above, but again, typically just for a couple of days post. The black mushroom masks gave me a great dewy look, the clay mask just makes my skin feel clear and my pores small, and the cucumber masks are cooling and calming for redness. There are tons of different types. I recommend starting with a variety pack to see which types and effects you like best. I order most of my supplies but sheet masks in particular are widely available. Even JC Penny carries some, and they are an inexpensive (like a couple of bucks) way to treat yourself.
8. Eye cream
So... here's the thing about eye creams. Many of them are the same as moisturizers so several people I know skip this step. There are some products out there formulated differently that will have a better effect, depending on what you are trying to achieve. The basic idea behind an eye cream is that the skin around your eye is particularly delicate and therefore the moisturizer you use for it should be also.
|Garnier Skin Active Clearly Brighter|
|Baebody Eye Gel|
|The top, you push and the gel comes out of that spout in the middle.|
I've tried a few different eye products with... limited results. The problems is that my dark circles are genetic (veins are shallowly placed) and allergy induced. Creams and gels can only do so much. The anti-puff roller does feel soothing though. And I've only used the eye for about a week so we'll see. These would be used twice daily.
Finally! Another easy, familiar step. This is a cream/lotion/gel formulated specifically for the face to moisturize and seal in the other products. This is a must have for everyone in some form. Used every day, and I use it twice a day.
|CeraVe Facial Moisturizing Lotion, AM and PM|
|CeraVe Moisturizing Cream|
10. Sun protection
An often overlooked step, this is probably the most important. It is so important for health (and less importantly beauty) that your skin in protected. I'm not quite so die-hard that you much glop it on for any trip out of doors or reapply throughout the day (unless you work outdoors). Vitamin D is good for you in reasonable doses. But some level of protection is definitely a good idea.
|The Face Shop Eco Natural Sun No Shine Hydrating Sun Cream|
|First day of product use.|
|This week! The differences are subtle but I feel a lot better,|
mentally and literally my skin feels better to the touch.
So that's it! That's my routine. I built it up over time, starting with a few basics and adding the more specialized products gradually. A good rule is to use a product for four to six weeks before adding another so you have a good idea of how each new thing is affecting your skin. If I can give you a starting point, I'd recommend the following 6 basics to everyone:
Cleanser, toner, moisturizer, sun protection (yes, even for dark complexions!), drinking lots of water, and brush your teeth!
I know the last one sounds preachy but it's so so important. Studies are constantly showing how strongly oral health is tied to overall medical health. And a pretty smile helps with the whole glowy look ;)
Feel free to ask questions about any of my products. I'm also happy to share what I know if you want to develop your own routine but I am NOT an esthetician or dermatologist so take everything with a grain of salt. Mostly I'll just be pointing you toward more knowledgable people. Farewell for now my lovelies!