I have done so many reviews of products, and talked about how I’ve solved individual skin problems, but I just realized that I never blogged about my whole skin care routine. It’s taken a few months of trial and error, but I’ve finally created a routine that keeps my skin looking and feeling its best.
(And I know I’m doing something right when I haven’t had a single hormonal cystic acne for 3 months, now! First time since I was 14 that I haven’t had problems with cystic acne.)
I’m a big believer in living according to the seasons. The activities I do, the food I eat, and of course my skin care routine, reflect the changing seasons. My routine is also slightly different for the day and at night. I also have some favorite weekly treatments, too. But all my skin care products have pretty much one thing in common: moisture. In the winter, I focus on adding extra moisturizers to my skin because nurturing my moisture barrier has been the best way to keeping acne, rosacea, and enlarged pores at bay.
But I am always experimenting with new products, and I’ll write if I’ve decided to permanently include something in my daily or weekly routine. I’ll definitely do a Summer Skin Care Routine update, because I’m sure I’ll have to change some of my products for the changing weather.
This post is definitely going to be long! I actually feel a little overwhelmed thinking about how I’m going to organize and write about all the different products I use on a daily and weekly basis. Some of the products I’ve already written a full review on (and you can click the name of the product to link to the review), but many I haven’t had time to do yet (when I do, I will definitely add the links).
It’s crazy to imagine that just 5 short months ago, I only used 4-5 products daily, and had no weekly treatments to speak of. My skin definitely paid for my neglect. But I’m now a huge fan of the Korean style skin care, and I layer my products like nobody’s business! I put a lot of time and effort into my skin now, not only in my daily and weekly routine but also in discovering products and researching proper skin care. And my efforts have definitely paid off for me with very visible results that came very quickly as soon as I switched to (mostly) Korean skin care products. For the first time in my life, I get compliments on my skin! And I’ve been getting compliments in the dead of winter, when skin is usually at its worst due to the harsh weather conditions.
So I hope that revealing my entire winter routine will help you to figure out how to set up a good foundation for a skin care routine. Skin care routines are extremely personal, and should be different from one person to another. But if you follow the basic universal steps of proper cleansing, gentle exfoliation, and moisturize moisturize moisturize, then I think you’ll have a great foundation! Then to really personalize your skin care, you can add gentle targeted treatments for all your specific concerns. Just remember to layer lightest (liquids) to heaviest (creams)!
This may seem like a lot of steps for the morning when you’re rushed, but really, I can get everything done relatively quickly! I don’t wait long between each step; just enough to let the products absorb.
– Skin Food Black Sugar Cleansing Oil:
Yup, I start my morning with the Korean double-cleansing method. I do this for two reasons: I exercise in the morning and I want to make sure I clean all that sebum & sweat properly. And more importantly, I need to properly clean off my Shara Shara Veiled Beauty Sleeping Mask from the night before (not the easiest thing to clean off!). This cleansing oil is my favorite because it’s cheap, super thick & emollient, cleans even the toughest mascaras, and washes away beautifully clean. I love it even more than Banila Co. Clean It Zero (which is my second favorite)!
– CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser:
Wonderfully mild cleanser that’s at the perfect pH to leave your skin happy and healthy: pH 5.5. Alone, it’s not good enough to wash away dirt and makeup. But after a good cleansing oil, this foaming cleanser is the bomb! It leaves my skin feeling clean, but never stripped due to the addition of hyaluronic acid and ceramides. Oh, and best of all it’s super cheap: I buy it at Target for $10. Stop using other foaming cleansers that have a dangerously high pH (like Skin Food Egg White Pore Foam, grrrrrr….) and switch to CeraVe to maintain a naturally healthy acid mantle.
I love this toner because it’s set at 4.5 pH, keeps my pores happy, but is not drying. Healthy skin is slightly acidic (between pH 4.5 and pH 6), and skin that is closer to 4.5 has actually less problems with acne. This toner is a great way of keeping my acne and enlarged pores at bay. (Other toners are set between pH 5.5 and pH 6) And amazingly, even though it does have alcohol in it, it’s not drying and doesn’t bother my rosacea when I put it on after using my gentle cleanser.
3) Essences & Ampoules:
– Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence:
I know, I know, I need to do a full review of this product. I’ve been using it for 2 months now, and I do like it a lot. I haven’t seen a big change in my skin from this essence, but it is full of great ingredients, so I’m sticking with it! I’m a big believer in fermented foods for a healthy digestive system and body, so I’m also a believer that fermented ingredients and good bacteria can actually do great things for your skin. Also, this essence is designed to help your skin absorb the rest of your skin care, which is a great bonus!
Ah, snails… Don’t know how they do it, but they’re pretty amazing creatures! I’m a BIG believer in snail extract. Their goo is magical! This really helps to stop the acne from forming, and if I do get acne (for example, from a terrible product), this cream really helps them heal faster! Acne gone within a day, and with no dryness or irritation. This is the first treatment essence I use on my skin because that’s the way I see the best results. If I use a different product before this cream, my skin reacts by getting a little bit of acne again. This cream really does work as long as I use it first. Oh, and I get this beautiful glow after I use it, which is an amazing side effect!
– The Face Shop Core Seed Purifying Essence:
Holy glow, Batman! I have no idea how this stuff works (obviously, I will do some more research on it before I write a full review) but this stuff makes my skin look amazing. It’s a light, creamy essence that’s slightly moisturizing, and it makes my skin more even-toned with this crazy lit-from-within glow. Only been using it for a few weeks but I’m totally in love with it and it’s got a firm place in my daily routine.
– Shara Shara Honey Bomb All in One Ampoule:
LOVE this ampoule! Super moisturizing and filled with amazing antioxidants and other products. Many star ingredients in this, but the best part of it is that it has two different kinds of honey extract, royal jelly extract, and propolis extract. It smells amazing (like honey and fresh flowers) and absorbs beautifully into the skin, leaving a wonderful glow on your skin. Seriously, this stuff is the bomb. Will do a full review very soon! I want everyone to try this.
This is my go-to day moisturizer because it’s very moisturizing, has a lot of antioxidants & minerals, and has a lot of silicones to help protect your moisture barrier from the outside elements. Plus, it’s a great price ($14) for a moisturizer that is similar to, yet far surpasses Clinique’s Moisture Surge Cream. Another great, silicone-based day moisturizer is The Face Shop Chia Moisture-Holding Cream.
5) Sunscreen & BB Cream:
This is a great sunscreen for every day use, even though it’s not waterproof. It definitely helps blur out my enlarged pores. Sometimes I feel ok going out of the house with just this one. Most days, however, I mix this with my BB Cream to really give me that Naked skin look. Great stuff! I’ll definitely be trying the Missha Safe Block Waterproof Sun Milk for the summer time.
One of the best BB creams/foundations I’ve ever tried. Mixed with my sun milk, it leaves my skin looking fresh and dewy. My enlarged pores and hyperpigmentation is gone, leaving my skin looking effortlessly perfect. Alone, this color is a little too pink for my skin, but with the sun milk it’s a great color.
Night is usually when I take a little bit more time to concentrate on my skincare, and really let the products absorb. I use some of the same products as during the day but with the addition of other products specifically for night. Night is when I really add a ton of moisturizers to my skin, even around the eyes. Night is also when I’ll do some of my weekly treatments like the konjac sponge and sheet masks (more about that later). But I can also skip a couple steps and rush through this routine on those really late nights (like when it’s 3 am after a show) when I just want to hit my pillow.
– Skin Food Black Sugar Cleansing Oil
– CeraVe Foaming Facial Cleanser
This product has made me a true convert to chemical exfoliation! I used to scrub my face raw with physical exfoliants, and now I know how terrible (and ineffective!) it was for my skin. This liquid is a mild BHA that exfoliates the gunk out of your pores (as opposed to an AHA that only exfoliates the top layer of skin), which is great for anyone with enlarged pores or acne. And it’s safe enough for people with rosacea, too! Please read my full review if you want to know more. Because chemical exfoliants must remain at the right pH level (around 3.5) to be effective, I put this product on after my toner and then let it to work by itself for 30 minutes. 20-30 minutes is enough time to properly exfoliate the skin, so then I follow up with the rest of my skincare. I used to use this liquid during the day, too. But I don’t have enough time during the day to leave it on for that long, so I found it to be useless and a waste of money. My skin looks just as great just using this product at night! I’ve been using this product for 3 months now, and it really helps keep my acne at bay (even hormonal cystic acne!) On the odd night when I come home super late, I’ll leave this step out, but that’s not very often.
4) Essences & Ampoules:
– Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence
– Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Ampoule:
As much as I like to deny it, I am getting older, ever so slightly (*cough*). And even though I don’t have problems with wrinkles and saggy skin now, I know how important it is to start using anti-aging skin care before you actually need it! So I started using this product 2 months ago, and while I love the ingredients in it, I see no change in my skin. I’m not getting the results that other people have written about, so I’m not sure if I’ll stick with this or try something else when my bottle is finished. I’ve been waiting to finish the whole bottle before I write a full review. But anyway, the important thing I want to stress is that by the time you’re 25-30 years old (some people, sadly, need to start earlier than others), you should start incorporating some kind of anti-aging product into your routine. You don’t need to go crazy, just one potent serum like this will do for now. If I have the time, I like to let this product absorb and do its work for at least 10 minutes before I do the rest of my routine.
– Shara Shara Honey Bomb All in One Ampoule
Facial oils are so important for your skin! They add moisture and replenish your skin with fatty acids that are crucial for your skin’s health. And contrary to what you may think, most oils will not cause acne (unless of course you have a specific problem with certain carrier oils like me – carrier oils that are solid at room temperature are the bane of my existence). If you are prone to acne, stick to oils that have a higher percentage of linoleic acid in it, like maracuja (aka passion fruit oil). I’ve also been using kukui nut oil lately, and so far I’m really liking it! Evening primrose oil is another good one. Just make sure that you only get 100% pure, virgin, cold-pressed oil. You can also have fun with this step and make your own blend!
I’m not sure if the starfish extract is actually doing anything for my skin, but regardless, this is a seriously moisturizing cream! And I love it because it has so few irritants for my skin. I only use this at night because it leaves my skin so plump and moisturized, that it looks wet. I use a tiny little bit all over my face (even around my eyes), but it really packs a moisturizing punch! I may switch to something else during the summer because I don’t know if I’ll need as much moisture (also, it’s a little expensive).
This product is AH-mazing. Please read my review and buy it from en.koreadepart.com. So worth the $14+shipping and the wait! This is the best sleeping mask out there (and yes, it even beats cult-favorite Laneige Water Sleeping Mask). Plus, it leaves this protective film to lock in moisture and to keep your products absorbed and working on your skin. If you’re a side-sleeper like me (or even if you’re not), this cream will keep your face protected and moisturized throughout the night!
I use so many products with potent actives every day, so my weekly treatments are actually not very complicated. It’s mostly just mild exfoliation and masks. And some of these products I’ll use 2-3 times a week, not just once a week. Even though I only use some of these products on a weekly basis, they’re all super gentle (no crazy chemical peels here!) and great for nurturing healthy skin.
Looks like a rock, I know, but trust me, this little guy is super soft and great for gentle exfoliation! If you’ve never heard of konjac (aka Devil’s Tongue) before, the root of the konjac plant is actually used quite a bit in Japanese cooking. And now it’s used for skin care! There are many different types to choose from depending on your skin concerns: plain, green tea, red clay, and charcoal. I like the charcoal one because it’s meant to clean out your pores and help with acne. I’ll do a full review soon, but I’ve been using the konjac sponge regularly for about 4 months now, and I love it! It’s a great gentle way of exfoliating the top layer of your skin. I only use it about 2-3 times a week, and it keeps my skin looking bright and happy, without irritating my rosacea.
Oh, sheet masks. How I love thee, let me count the ways… I’ve tried several different brands of sheet masks, and I especially liked several of them. Missha, Nature Republic, Tony Moly, and The Face Shop make my favorite ones. The Face Shop’s Red Ginseng is my particular favorite because it leaves my skin moisturized with a healthy glow. Sheet masks are a great way to add extra moisture into your routine and treat different skin problems or to add extra nourishment. Leave them on for 30 minutes, lie back, watch a movie, drink tea, and you’ll feel like you’re pampering yourself to a little spa treatment in the comfort of your own home!
This mask smells so yummy! It’s like putting fresh strawberry jam all over your face. And the great thing is, is that it’s actually good for your skin! The black sugar and strawberry seeds in this wash off mask allows you to really gently exfoliate your skin. But be gentle with the scrubbing! You don’t want to be too hard on your skin and cause micro tears in your skin. Gentle rub this on and off, wash it away, and your skin will be smooth and glowing. I use this only once a week so that it doesn’t irritate my rosacea.
– Skin Food Egg White Pore Mask:
Skin Food makes great wash off masks! This was the very first one I bought, 4 months ago, when I was still suffering from super oily skin. I still use this occasionally, but only about once a month now. It’s a great clay-type mask that helps absorb excess oil and clean out the pores. I will definitely do a full review soon, because I definitely like it to help any little comedones I may get. I may end up using it more often in the summer time, but for now my skin seems to be happy with only using this once a month because it can be quite drying.
OMG! I’m done with this post! This was a long one for me. (Been working on it a couple hours every day for the last 4 days.) I don’t think I left anything out, but I will update this if I remember to add anything else.
What’s your go-to, will-never-be-without skincare products? Please comment below! I’m always looking forward to trying new products.