Happy New Year!! 明けましておめでとう!! I hope this blog finds everyone happy and well in this new year!
As a child in Japan, my favorite holiday was New Year’s. I always had so much fun visiting my Japanese family, playing special New Year’s games with my cousins, and eating good food, which always included lots of mochi! Oh, and of course receiving otoshidama (little envelopes filled with cash) from my family and my mother’s friends and coworkers wasn’t bad either!
In Japan, like everywhere else in this amazingly wide world, New Year’s is a time for reflection, gratitude, joy, hope and excitement for what the future will bring. And it’s because of this sense of hope and excitement that I always make a New Year’s Resolution every year. Even if I don’t keep the resolution for the entire year, I think that it’s a great way to make (or attempt to make) positive changes in your life, and what better time to do it than at the beginning of a New Year? So the following are my skin care resolutions – Skinsolutions – that I’ve decided to do in 2015.
My skin has already improved SO MUCH in these last few months, and I hope to continue to see more improvements as I continue to follow these skinsolutions. I hope that they’ll help your skin too!
1) Use a low pH facial cleanser
Probably one of the best decisions that I made was to switch to a low pH facial cleanser. This is so important to protect the acid mantle of your face (which acts as a barrier to protect the skin from bacteria, viruses, etc…). The biggest culprits to the break down of the acid mantle are harsh cleansers, so make sure you switch to a low pH facial cleanser of 5.5 or lower. You won’t see results right away, but over time with consistent use, you will notice your skin improving!
I have to remember that even when my skin breaks out from a bad product I have to keep using my low pH cleanser and stay away from anything higher, even if it temporarily feels like it cleans better.
My favorite: Cerave Facial Foaming Cleanser has a pH of 5.5 and you can buy a big 12 oz. bottle for less than $10.
Others: Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick has a pH of 5.5 (I want to try this product so badly, but it has been sold out everywhere!) You can find others online. I found a great list of cleansers and their pH levels here.
2) Do the double-cleansing method
I know that Korean skincare methods and products can be an intimidating and confusing world to navigate. But if there’s only one thing that you try, then it should be the double-cleansing method! It is the best way to fully cleanse dirt, grime, and makeup from your face without stripping it. It’s simple, and takes only a minute more in your night routine: Rub a little cleansing oil or balm on a dry face, then wet your hands and lather your face some more. Wash the cleansing oil/balm off your face and then follow up with a low pH foaming facial cleanser.
It may take a little bit of extra time at night, especially when you’re tired, but it is so worth it!
My favorite: Banila Co. Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm (review will come soon!)
3) Test to see if you’re sensitive to certain ingredients
I had no idea that the skincare that I was using for years was part of the reason why I had ultra sensitive, oily, and acne-prone skin. Then, for about a month, I stopped using any products that had cetyls and stearyls, and its related ingredients. Which is a lot of ingredients! And in a lot of products! In fact, almost all American and European moisturizers rely on some of these ingredients. Even ones that are supposedly safe for sensitive and acne-prone skin. Happily, I have found that many Korean skin care products don’t include these ingredients!
Since I stopped using these ingredients, my skin improved dramatically! Then, as an experiment, I started using a cream that had several cetyls and stearyls in it, and within a week my skin broke out in terrible acne that took a couple weeks to clear. So now I know, that even if an ingredient is generally safe for most people to use, it may not be right for my skin. (I will write more about this topic sometime soon after I do more research.)
So if you suffer from oily, sensitive, or acne-prone skin, the solution could be as simple as staying away from certain ingredients! Test to see if you’re sensitive to silicones, cetyls, stearyls, waxes, essential oils, or anything else you can think of. Do some investigating, try removing an ingredient from ALL your skin care for a month, then go back to using that ingredient. See how your skin responds!
I am so thankful that I found out I was so sensitive to cetyls and stearyls, because it’s in so many products! And as long as I stay away from these ingredients, I feel like I can happily experiment with skincare with minimal problems! I will definitely keep experimenting with other ingredients to see if I’m sensitive to any others!
4) Stop using harsh physical exfoliants
Hello, my name is Kabuki Girl, and I was a scrubbing exfoliant junkie. I always suspected that the scrubbers were a huge cause of my sensitive skin and also caused micro tears through which bacteria could enter into my skin, later causing acne. But I loved the way the scrubbers left my skin feeling smooth and squeaky clean immediately afterwards. It’s taken several months to break my terrible habit, but I feel that I am finally free from the need to exfoliate my skin with harsh physical exfoliants.
Trust me when I say that most physical exfoliants are too harsh for your skin! Instead, rely on a very mild chemical exfoliant and use a soft cloth or konjac sponge every other day. That is all the exfoliation your skin needs! I have to keep reminding myself to stay away from scrubbers, especially now that my skin is smooth and my pores have shrunk.
5) Use a mild BHA exfoliant every night
Since I started my new skincare journey, I chose to rely on chemical exfoliants instead of physical ones to better protect my skin. Since I made the switch, my skin has become clearer, brighter, and so much more resilient! This was a huge game changer for me, and my pores are now thanking me for the everyday mild exfoliation.
The BHA exfoliant must be between 3.0 pH and 4.0 pH in order to exfoliate the skin, and it must be mild to reduce any irritation to your skin. I try to leave it on for 30 minutes every night after my toner and before I follow with my essences, serums and creams. I know that some nights it’ll be difficult to keep it on for 30 minutes, but I have to make sure to keep doing it because my skin loves it!
My favorite: Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA liquid. I’m sure there are others out there, but when you’ve found the perfect product, why bother? It’s a cult favorite for a reason!
6) Use a snail extract product
There are so many crazy hype ingredients and beauty trends out there in the skin care world, and a lot of them I ignore or I’m quickly disappointed with them. But not so with snail mucin extract! Snail extract definitely helps your skin restore and repair itself. It even dramatically helps with my cystic acne! If there’s one new ingredient that you try this year, it should be snail extract!
My favorite: Mizon All in One Snail Repair Cream boasts an amazing 92% snail mucin. This product has been so great for my skin, I don’t think I’ll ever be without it again!
Others: I’ve also read good things about Missha Super Aqua Cell Renew Snail Cream and It’s Skin Prestige Creme D’Escargot.
7) Moisturize, moisturize, moisturize
All my life I thought my skin type was “oily,” then “combination/oily” in the last few years as I developed rosacea in my cheeks. I’ve always had crazy oily skin, so I just assumed that I didn’t need much in terms of a moisturizer. Then, one boring day a few months ago, I decided to lather on the moisturizer repeatedly, and see how my skin reacted. To my surprise, by the end of the day my skin looked significantly less oily, healthier, and my cheeks were less red. After only one day!
I did more research, and I realized I didn’t have oily skin. I had very dry skin, and my pores would create extra sebum in order to moisturize and protect my skin. When I added extra layers of moisturizers to my skin, my skin stopped creating sebum, and my skin gradually improved every day.
Even if you think you don’t need extra moisturizers, just do your skin a favor and lather it on! Repeatedly! Your skin will thank you for it, and you will likely see some improvement in your skin, as well as reduce signs of aging as you get older. Repeated layering of moisturizers is a huge part of Korean skin care because you can really see amazing results from this very simple change.
8) Use a sheet mask at least once a week
I love sheet masks!! Yes, I may look like Halloween’s Michael Myers and get weird looks from both my boyfriend and my dog, but I really don’t give a damn! I love how sheet masks feel and leave my skin plump and dewy (at least for a while) afterwards. It’s like having a spa facial for 30 minutes while relaxing at home! It’s seriously the most addicting, amazing feeling ever!
Even when I get really busy, I try to put on a sheet mask 2 times a week for at least 30 minutes each time. Try one and you’ll become a sheet mask junkie like me! (Seriously, I have dozens packed into my drawer in the bathroom because I always want a variety to choose from.)
My favorite: The Face Shop probably has my favorite sheet masks. (Review will come soon!)
Others: Missha and Nature Republic also make some good ones!
9) Experiment with products
I used to hate experimenting with skin care. Yes, I was always trying new products, but I really didn’t want to. I just did it out of necessity because I couldn’t find anything that really helped my insane skin problems. If a product was effective for my acne, then it made my rosacea worse, and vice versa. Generally, I was frustrated and disheartened by the lack of improvement in my skin even after trying so many different products, and I was sick of constantly being on the search for something that would help. But now, I experiment with different products because I truly love to do it!
After doing extensive research into nurturing my skin, and experimenting with a few select products, I now have a great base routine with (mostly) Korean products that have dramatically improved my skin (which I will reveal soon). This routine gives me the freedom to experiment with other products without worrying too much about damaging my skin. My skin is highly reactive, and I now use that for my benefit rather than to be frustrated with it. I also know what type of ingredients or products I need to avoid, so I feel comfortable enough to happily experiment.
So now I’ve learned to embrace experimentation, I want to keep doing it through the next year! Korean skin care is amazingly varied with so many high quality ingredients, and I’m so excited about search and trying new products!
10) Use only mild products
This is probably the most important thing to take away from Korean skin care. Korean skin care is designed to work with and nurture the skin’s natural barrier to improve your skin, and not to override it with harsh chemicals and medicine. Ever since I stopped using harsh products, I can see improvements in my skin every day: clearer, brighter, no acne, rosacea has gotten significantly better, and overall healthier. During my last visit, my mom even enthusiastically commented several times how great my skin looked. I even caught her a few times staring at face, studying it with amazement! This is all from using mild products to nurture the overall health of my skin, not to battle individual problems.
So I have a good example of how harsh ingredients are actually bad for your skin’s overall health. During my last visit with my mom, the night after I got off the airplane I was worried that I would break out in acne, so I decided to use Proactiv’s Pore Targeting Treatment on my skin after my essences and before my moisturizers. I haven’t used any Proactiv products in about 4 months, but I decided to give it a try just for that night. And oh my god did I regret it! Immediately after I put it on, my skin started to get red, stinging, super itchy, and felt incredibly hot. And it would not go away! I contemplated washing it off and doing my whole skin care routine again, but I was so tired I went to sleep with it on. And in the morning, I woke up with what looked like a rash on my cheeks and around my nose. My skin overall turned red and irritated-looking. It took several days of sheet masks and extra moisturizers to bring my skin back to normal.
I’m sure my skin reacted that way to the 2.5% benzoyl peroxide that’s in this Proactiv product. Benzoyl peroxide is effective for acne, but it is incredibly hard on your skin. Something that I was not aware of until I got this terrible reaction! I’m not allergic to it, but my skin reacted so strongly because it is an incredibly strong medicine that’s not good for your skin’s moisture barrier. And it’s interesting to note that even after researching hundreds of Korean skin care products and their ingredients, I have never come across benzoyl peroxide in a single one of them! This was a great lesson that I need to stay away from harsh products and ingredients.
From now on, I have to constantly remind myself “mild, mild, mild” and to stay away from harsh products. My skin is so happy and healthy now, and I want to keep it that way!
Well, that’s it! My biggest lessons from 2014 that I will continue to do as my Skinsolutions in 2015! I hope some of them will help you, too. What do you do for better skin? Please leave suggestions and comments!
Happy New Year again to everyone, and I wish you and yours a wonderful 2015!!