I first started following an Asian skincare routine about six months ago, after reading this amazing post from Skin & Tonics, which is a fantastic blog with incredibly detailed reviews on products. In that time, I’ve noticed an amazing improvement in the texture and pigmentation of my facial skin, and a reduction in the appearance of fine lines that are unfortunately developing as I age.
In this post, I’m going to talk about my skincare routine and try to highlight what I think is working for me.
First off, I have normal skin (not dry or oily) with minimal blemishes and no real acne scars. My skin tone is fair to light: I’m not porcelain fair and I do tan, but I burn easily. I have sun spots (freckles) along my nose and one that’s been growing darker this year on my cheek.
I start when I get home from work with the single greatest trick for combating zits: the double-cleanse. I first use an oil-based cleanser (right now it’s Skinfood Sparkling Apple) to remove most of my makeup. As I move into the colder months, I’ll swap this out for a cream cleanser (ordinary Pond’s Cold Cream, although the Banila Cleanse It Zero gets rave reviews). I take eye makeup remover and swipe my eyes and lips if I’m wearing a lip stain to get all the mascara and liner off. Then, I cleanse again with a foaming cleanser (right now it’s Missha Chocolate Latte). I use a konjac sponge most of the time, but sometimes I’m too lazy even for that and I just use my fingertips.
The double cleansing routine gets every last trace of makeup off my face. This is probably the single biggest turnaround for me in terms of limiting blemishes to hormonal changes. My skin is squeaky clean, and since I immediately add moisture back in during the next steps, it doesn’t get dry. The cleansers are gentle enough to use twice a day without reddening my skin, but if you have sensitive skin, you may want to only double cleanse at night and just use water in the morning. I usually just use water in the morning, but if I have time, I use a cleanser (right now it’s Evas Vitamin Cleansing Dessert Magic Cream Soap) and my Clarisonic while in the shower.
Next is toner. Unlike western toner, eastern toners encourage moisture and prep skin for the next part of the routine. In the morning, I use Skinfood Black Pomegranate toner, and in the evening, I use TonyMoly Floria Whitening. I only do this to use a variety of products, not for any particular skin benefit.
The next step is to apply essences/serums. In both the morning and evening, I don’t want to waste a whole lot of time. The proper way to do this is apply each product and lightly tap your fingers across your skin to encourage absorption. I have things to do and a dog to walk, so I pump all the products together into my cupped hand, mix them between my palms, slather my face, and tap. Then I go do something else for a couple of minutes while it absorbs, like brush my teeth or change my clothes.
I use a variety of products. Currently, my rotation includes Missha MISA Geumsul First Essence Booster (gold, ginseng), Benton Snail Bee Essence (snail and bee venom extracts), D’Ran Wonder Serum (fermented extracts), and Wonderuci Propolis (honey byproduct for sealing cells of a hive). All these ingredients hydrate, heal, and plump skin to reduce signs of aging and make skin appear healthier. I know Benton has had issues with their products lately, but I got this before the contamination scare, and I swear it’s the single best product I’m using.
Step four is to moisturize. Again, I mix my products to save time. In the morning, because I’ll put on makeup next, I mix emulsion (a lightweight moisturizer) with a finishing serum to get radiant skin. I currently use Skinfood Black Pomegranate Emulsion and Missha MISA Geumsul Finishing Serum, both for the anti-aging ingredients. After work, instead of the emulsion/finisher, I apply a thicker cream for all-night moisturizing. Currently, I’m using The Skin House Snail Wrinkle cream, which is crazy thick and stringy like melted cheese. When I apply moisturizer of either weight, I massage it into my skin with my fingertips, paying special attention to the sides of my nose and mouth, and my jaw line, two places that tend to get a little dry on me.
Almost done! Step five is trouble spots. I use a spot treatment after moisturizer in the morning, and before moisturizer in the evening, because the cream moisturizer is too thick for the spot treatment to penetrate fully. Products depend on what my face needs. I’m using Cotterang Aesthetic Reparative-K Cream on a couple of blemishes to tame the redness of those areas. I use Skinfood Black Pomegranate Wrinkle Filler along my smile lines (connecting nose to mouth) and between my brows (I frown at work pretty often). I also use the Wrinkle Filler under my eyes in the morning to combat crepey skin texture before I apply makeup. In the evening, I use regular eye cream; right now I’m using Skinfood Black Raspberry — I apply this under my eyes, up along the outer corners, and over the brow bone. I also rub a little bit into my lashes before I go to bed; I found this helps make my lashes grow longer and thicker, although I don’t know if that would work if your lashes are sparse to begin with.
So now, if it’s the morning, I’ll fix my hair while everything absorbs. If it’s evening, I’ll apply a sheet mask before I moisturize, and a sleep pack before bed.
It all seems like a lot, but once I got into the rhythm of it, it’s become natural. I’ll be honest that sometimes I’m too tired to go through the whole evening routine, but the one thing I never, ever skip is double-cleansing my face. Going to bed with makeup on is one of the worst things you can do for your face, and ever since I made it a mission to double-cleanse at night, I’ve had good luck at restoring the mostly blemish-free skin I used to have before I started teaching.
So this is a picture from about a year ago. Notice the smudges under my eyes and the little bumps everywhere. Under my eyes is the worst, with the skin lined and fragile looking. You can see fine wrinkles around my eyes, nose, mouth, and forehead. My overall skin tone is dull and a little dry.
In this picture, taken a few weeks ago, I’m actually wearing less face makeup than in the first picture! Under my eyes has smoothed and lightened up, and the fine wrinkles and bumps are mostly gone. My skin is brighter and dewy. (Also my brow game is seriously upped. Hooray for brow polish!)
So that’s my routine. As I finish up products, I switch in others, but the basic routine is about the same. I hope someone out there finds this helpful!
Up next: Memebox Earth and Sea!