My Morning & Evening Skincare Routine
I truly believe that beauty starts with healthy skin. To be honest, I haven't started taking care of my skin until I graduated from college. As a college student, I found it difficult to commit to a rigorous five to six step skincare regimen every morning and evening when I was immersed in catching up on assignments, running back and forth between rehearsals, and studying for finals. I only cared about keeping my skin clean, and so I would wash it with a drug-store cleanser everyday, and stopped there. Having naturally dry skin, I began to experience a lot flakiness in the wintertime. Breakouts would happen in the springtime leaving stubborn acne scars.
About a year ago, I started out trying out a mix of Korean and American skincare products and applied these products in layers in the morning and evening. I saw dramatic improvements in my skin as it went from flaky and dry to bouncy and hydrated. It became more vibrant and glowy—not to mention my usually dull yellowish skin began to look brighter and healthier. I also experienced fewer breakouts and even when they did happen, a few products in this routine were quick to clear them away. (I purchased the following items all from Amazon and Sephora, but you can also get them from other websites, and some in-store at retailers such as Ulta, Urban Outfitters, Forever 21, and Walmart)
Cleanser: COSRX low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser
This is a very gentle, slightly foamy cleaner that leaves my skin feeling moisturized and refreshed. It has a strong citrus scent that instantly wakes me up in the morning. Skin's natural pH is around 4.5 and 5.5, which is slightly acidic, and this cleanser helps it maintain that pH level. When your skin has a higher pH and is more alkaline, it can dry out and become more prone to breakouts.
I've found that it's super important to cleanse your skin in the morning especially because bacteria can accumulate on your skin while you sleep—either from your pillow or your hair—and this cleanser gets the job done while still being gentle enough to you before you've had your coffee. You need that.
Toner: Son & Park Beauty Water
This is a product created by Korean makeup artists Son Dae Shik and Park Tae Yun, two of Korea's top makeup artists who have done makeup for countless K-pop idols and celebrities. You can attribute the two of them for starting the "dewy" skin trend in Korea which is becoming increasingly popular in the States. This "Beauty Water" is one of their first products and is pretty hyped up in the Asian beauty community, so I was definitely dying to try this out. The best thing is, Sephora carries it! (Make it rain on your beauty reward points) This is a super gentle and refreshing cleansing water that can be used for many different purposes. I personally use it as a toner after my cleanser because I feel that it helps bring moisture back into my skin after I cleanse it. This product can also be used as a makeup remover or a cleanser itself. I love to use this on my skin throughout the day as well, especially if I'm feeling that my skin has accumulated a lot of sweat or dirt on a hot day.
Toner (travel-friendly): COSRX One Step Pimple Clear Pads
These come pre-soaked in a container which is super convenient for traveling. No worries about having to bring a toner under three ounces or stuffing cotton pads in your makeup bag. These pads have a textured side for extra exfoliation as well as a smoother side.
Essence: COSRX Galactomyces 95 Whitening Power Essence
Another COSRX item, I know, I know. But these products really work. Plus, they're gentle on my dry, sensitive Asian skin and are very affordable (mostly under $20). You usually can't get quality skincare from American brands in that price range. Before I tried this out, I was using the SK-II Pitera Facial Treatment Essence to fade acne scars and brighten up my skin. A bottle of that costs at least $99, so this is a much cheaper alternative. Galactomyces (a dupe of SK-II's Pitera) is fermented yeast that can help with decreasing the look of wrinkles and brightening up dark spots. Since this essence has no scent, it is also a good alternative for the the SK-II if you don't enjoy its strong sour fermented smell.
Moisturizer: belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb
I recently received this sample from Sephora's beauty rewards program and was amazed at how long this moisturizer lasted me. I would only apply a small amount in the morning and my skin would still feel super glowy and moisturized after I came home from work. A must-have for those dealing with dry skin.
Sunscreen: Murad Essential C Sunscreen
Protecting your skin from the sun is a super—if not the most—important part of skincare. UV rays can not only cause wrinkles to form, but also turn existing acne scars into dark spots, which may become very difficult to remove. Having a good sunscreen and applying in constantly is a must if you're planning to be out in the sun.
NO FOUNDATION OR POWDER UNDER ANY CIRCUMSTANCES
I've been following this rule for as long as I can remember, and it's partially because my mom drilled this into my head so much when I was younger. She said that wearing foundation/powder on your face will drive you into a vicious cycle of breakouts, which causes you to cover those breakouts with more foundation, and then having that foundation break you out even more. I am also tremendously lazy in the mornings, and so I never bothered to apply a perfect layer of foundation or powder on my face. I must say that I do wear concealer though. The reason being that I have tremendously dark bags under my eyes, and the best way to cover those up is with a nice full-coverage concealer (shout out to NARS and THESAEM).
Makeup Remover: Neutrogena Oil-free eye makeup remover
For my makeup remover, I use one of the classics by Neutrogena. It's important that you fully remove your makeup before you even jump onto the cleanser step. Heavy makeup like liquid eyeliner can be difficult if not impossible to remove with a cleanser on its own. Before I got eyelash extensions, I used to use a heavy-duty oil cleanser (Banilla co Clean it Zero) to ensure that my waterproof eyeliner and mascara were fully removed. Oil cleansers, however, can do a lot of damage to eyelash extensions so I switched over to a oil-free makeup remover to remove eyeliner in the rare occurrence that I do wear it.
Cleanser: Shiseido White Lucent Brightening Cleansing Foam
I'm currently using this in an attempt to fade a few acne scars, but I have to say that it's not my favorite. It does get the work done by thoroughly cleansing my face and creates a rich foam when you apply it, but it might just be a little too harsh on my dry, sensitive skin. In fact, my skin feels rather stripped every time I wash away this product. So I wouldn't say that I use this product every single night—just on nights when I feel that my skin's been through a lot of oil and dirt. Other alternatives I have to replace this cleanser at night are the (1) Fresh Soy Face Cleanser (which is super gentle and has a fantastic smell) and (2) the classic Cetaphil cleanser—which I used throughout high school and college.
Toner: Neogen Dermalogy Real Flower Rose Cleansing Water
First of all, THERE ARE REAL ROSE PETALS IN THIS. The packaging looks beautiful (kinda extra, but whatevs) and the soft smell of roses just takes it to another level. Like the Son & Park Beauty water, this can be used for various purposes: as a makeup remover, as a cleanser, or as a toner. But again, I choose to use this as a toner after my cleanser. I just find it super moisturizing after using a cleanser that may strip away some moisture. I also find the scent of roses to be very calming at nighttime.
Serum: Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin C Serum
This is another product to assist the fading of dark spots that has pretty popular in the Asian beauty community. Vitamin C is essential to brightening the skin, and this serum has a fairly high concentration of it. I can honestly say that this has visibly made a difference on my skin and has lightened the appearance of a few dark spots on my cheek. It is also very moisturizing and gentle on my skin (although a few others have said that they found it to be somewhat harsh—in which case, they recommended applying this product mixed into a moisturizer).
Eye Cream: Innisfree Orchid Eye Cream
Although I don't have any wrinkles (yet), it's never too early to start using eye cream to prevent wrinkles later on. Better safe than sorry. This cream in particular is moisturizing without being too heavy. I've never broken out or seen the appearance of milia (which are stubborn white dots that may appear after using oily eye creams in the fragile under-eye area) after using this eye cream. The skin around your eyes is the thinnest layer of skin you have on your body, so it's best that you start showing it some love.
Sleeping Mask: COSRX Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Spa Mask
This is by far my favorite product on both of these lists, mostly because I can truly see a difference whenever I wake up after using this mask. Rice tends to be super effective in dealing with dull skin and dark spots and this product is full of it. Whenever I wake up after a good night's sleep with this on my face, my skin looks super healthy, glowy, and bright when I first look at it in the mirror. I've also just realized that I've hit pan on this product and that it's time to order it again. Luckily it's not pricey at all.
Annnd that's it! I generally like to save the heavier stuff for the evening, since I believe a lot of work gets done on my skin by these products while I'm sleeping. I also throw in the occasional sheet mask and clay mask once in a while—but that can be explained in another post on its own ;)