During my time as a beauty-obsessed person, I’ve become more and more interested in skin care and creating a nice “base” for my makeup. In the past I had basically no skin care routine and now I cringe thinking back on those days! Nowadays my skin has a few issues every now and then but it’s pretty smooth sailing overall, and I definitely attribute that at least in part to having a good routine.
This post is something I almost hesitate to write, because I don’t want it to come across like I think I’m some skin care expert… let me assure you that I am definitely not! I didn’t even know what my skin type was until embarrassingly recently. I’m still trying to figure out what works best for me! So take what I have to say here with a grain of salt haha
All that being said, I thought it would be interesting to share with you what my skin care routine looks like. My skin type is normal (as opposed to oily or dry) and I get breakouts here and there but nothing major. I have a slight tendency to get oily in certain areas like my chin and nose throughout the day, but again, nothing horrible. I wouldn’t say that I have sensitive skin because products rarely make me break out or anything, but I don’t like harsh exfoliating products or anything too abrasive.
I also recently became interested in Korean skin care and the idea of a multi-step routine. It’s a bit overwhelming at first, but there are a ton of good resources for beginners, like blogs and the Asian Beauty subreddit. I’ll leave the experts to tell you about that haha but the basic part that appealed to me was just the idea of having multiple steps and really customizing a routine to suit your needs. This visual guide really helped me understand the different steps and the order in which to do them.
Now that ALL that’s out of the way…here are the steps of my routines, for both morning and night:
This is the simple one! My morning routine consists of just three steps: cleansing, moisturizing, and sunscreen. Sunscreen is the big one – even if I do NOTHING else to my face all day, I always always wear sunscreen.
In the morning I use a very simple and light cleanser to wake myself up and prep my face for makeup. Lately I’ve been using a micellar cleansing water, which was kind of an accidental discovery – I bought this Garnier one to use as a makeup remover when I ran out of coconut oil once but I actually hate it as a makeup remover haha. It does NOTHING for my eye makeup, but it’s a nice morning cleanser! I use a little of this on a cotton pad and wipe it all over my face to wake up.
For a morning moisturizer I like to use something lightweight that sinks in quickly, so I don’t end up having to wait ages to do my makeup. I like the Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel from Clinique, but I try new ones all the time since I have such a ridiculous amount. I also got a very nice lightweight Lancôme one from one of my Sephora boxes once, but the full size of it is $65 so I quickly stopped thinking it was nice haha
The most important part! I like to use a really high SPF sunscreen so I don’t have to worry about my face during the day. The one I use now is the Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF 50+. I like it because it has a very high SPF, absorbs quickly, and doesn’t leave behind any weird white cast on my face. It does have a very slight alcohol smell but it goes away pretty quickly!
That’s all for the morning! On to the real monster…the nighttime routine:
In the evening I go all out! I will be the first to admit that I have lazy days and don’t always end up using EVERY single one of these products every night…but I use almost all of them almost every day, and sometimes more! Here’s the breakdown:
So one of the things that’s really big in the Asian beauty community is the double cleanse technique. The first step is an oil based cleanser, followed by a water based or foaming cleanser. The idea is that the oil cleanser breaks up all the makeup from the day, while the second cleanser is the one that actually cleans the skin. Double cleansing is something that has made a HUGE difference for me in terms of how my skin looks and feels. As you can see from the photo above, I have a LOT of cleansers haha it’s almost all deluxe samples from beauty boxes though! I try to cycle through every so often to use them up, but these are my favorites:
For my oil cleanser I use regular old coconut oil and pretty much nothing else. For some people this can cause clogged pores so be cautious with this one, but I’ve been using it for ages now and it’s like a miracle product for me. Nothing else gets all my makeup off so well. I can pretty much never go back to using makeup wipes again. Plus it’s super cheap!!
For my second cleanser I really like the First Aid Beauty Facial Cleanser and the CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser. I obviously have a LOT more of the water-based cleansers because I get a lot of samples, but those two are my go-tos. They both leave my face feeling fresh and clean but not dried out. And on top of everything, they’re both inexpensive and available pretty much everywhere.
The next step is a toner to balance the skin’s pH level and provide a clean base for the next products. Unlike cleansers, I really only use one toner at a time and I don’t buy another one until I’m done. Right now I’m finishing up the Boots Simply Sensitive Gentle Toner and transitioning into the Thayers Witch Hazel Rose Petal Toner. I don’t feel like the Boots one really does anything so I’m trying to quickly use it up because I really like the rose petal one haha
Now the weird stuff starts coming in! AHA stands for Alpha Hydroxy Acid. This is basically an exfoliator – meant to clear dead skin like a scrub would, but it’s done through chemicals/acid rather than micro-beads or whatever. It sounds scary but it’s actually much more gentle and less harsh for your skin to chemically exfoliate than to use physical exfoliation. It’s like you’re a snake, shedding your skin to reveal a fresh new face underneath haha. There’s also BHAs, or Beta Hydroxy Acids, which are meant to clear your pores. I don’t use a BHA right now but I’m looking to add one.
All that being said, the AHA I currently use is Alpha Skin Care Essential Renewal Gel 10% Glycolic AHA. I only have one of these, unlike my piles of cleansers and moisturizers. I was skeptical of this, but after using it for a few months I see a noticeable difference in the brightness and texture of my skin. I use it three times a week, applying it and then letting it soak into my skin for about 10 minutes. It seems tedious, but I have actually seen the difference it’s made for my face so I’m gonna keep doing it haha
Essence & Serum
Asian skincare routines rely a lot on this part – the essences and serums. These are one of my favorite parts of the routine because they are so customizable. You can find a serum for pretty much any skincare concern you have. To be COMPLETELY honest I don’t know what the difference is between an essence and a serum and anything else so I just pile them all together haha. From what I read you’re supposed to apply them in order from the most liquid consistency to the more thick, creamy consistency, so that’s the order I use them. I have a bunch from sample boxes and not all of them are suited for me, but I have two in particular that I like:
This is the Missha Time Revolution Night Repair. It’s the first essence/serum/whatever I started using and I actually noticed results very quickly. This one is meant to firm, smooth and brighten skin, which is important to me since I previously had some dark spots on my face from old acne scars. This helped SO much with that (along with the AHA) and I’m really happy with it.
This one is the Algenist Genius Ultimate Anti-Aging Vitamin C+ Serum. Vitamin C is AMAZING for the skin and is supposed to help with discoloration as well. I got this in some sample box, I honestly don’t even remember which one but I kind of hate how much I love it because it costs $118!!!!!!!! I cannot ever imagine spending that much money on one product so I am savoring this little tube while it lasts haha
Moisturizer & Creams
Like cleansers, I have ENTIRELY too many moisturizers….again, I guess it’s just an easy thing for brands to put in a beauty box so I end up with a ton of them! I usually use two moisturizing products:
I’ve written about the Mizon Snail Recovery Gel Cream before, but I cannot sing its praises enough. This one isn’t really a moisturizer but it’s a “gel cream” so I apply it here. I apply this EVERY day without fail – there is no other one product that I attribute so much of my skin care success to than this. It’s a miracle product for me. It soothes angry blemishes AND stops new ones from coming. This may be TMI but whatever – when I was on my period last month I made it through the week without ANY new pimples at all when I applied this cream every night, which is UNHEARD OF for me. I love my snail gel and you’ll have to pry it out of my cold dead hands!!!
For a night time moisturizer, I’m okay doing something a little more heavy so it can lock everything in. The two I really like right now are the Belif True Cream Aqua Bomb and the First Aid Beauty Ultra Repair Cream, particularly the latter. Both are thicker but don’t leave my face sticky or tacky, instead sinking in nicely and keeping my skin hydrated.
Finally, I use an eye cream under my eyes to help my dark circles. I’m still trying to find one that I like – this Origins one came in my February Sephora box and I like it, but I feel like I could find a better one. Sometimes when I’m too lazy I just smear extra moisturizer under my eyes and call it a day so this is definitely something I need to look into more lol
I don’t use a mask every day. I like to use them on special nights or mornings when I have some extra time and could use a little extra relaxation. If I do it as part of my night time routine, I use a sheet mask after the essences and serums to help them soak into my face. I also sometimes do them on their own not part of the routine, when I’m just taking a bath or chillin watching youtube videos or something. These are some of my favorites:
The Benton Snail Bee High Content Mask Pack is particularly awesome for soothing angry skin – if you have a breakout or something this one is AWESOME and does amazing things for healing it quickly! The Sephora green tea one is also good for that. I love all the Sephora face and eye masks, particularly the eye ones. I like to put them in the fridge for a bit before using them, it creates such a nice cooling and soothing effect. Then the Tony Moly I’m Real masks are also really good, my favorite one is this Makgeolli one for brightening.
Then I have my collection of clay masks! I do these usually at the beginning of the routine, after my cleanser, or on their own. I particularly love that Aztec Secret one (I’ve talked about it before) but it is SO intense, you can literally feel your face pulse lol. I also really like the L’oreal clay one and the GlamGlow GravityMud (the purple one).
And that’s pretty much everything I use on my face. I know it is VERY excessive, but I really like trying new things and I get a lot of skin care samples in all my subscription boxes okay!!! I’m too lazy to do all of them some nights but most days I do 🙂 I hope you enjoyed this post and thank you for reading as always!