I started looking into Korean beauty products a few months ago when I picked up a couple of sheet masks from Tony Moly at Ulta. Since then, I’ve been doing this weird blend of Western and Asian skin care, complicated by the fact that it isn’t very popular here. I’ve liked the products I’ve tried, but haven’t gotten to try very many yet. I’m posting here so that I can look back as I add things in.
I have combination/dehydrated skin, meaning that my skin tends to lose water content. (This isn’t the same thing as dry skin, where it doesn’t produce enough oil.) Skin can’t produce its own water, so in an attempt to compensate, it produces extra oil. So it will be flaky, patchy, and oily all at once, if left to itself. The solution for me has been the Korean double cleanse method, which involves an oil cleanser followed by a water based cleanser. I can hear you now: “Wait, didn’t you just say your skin gets oily? So why are you putting oil on it?” But the rule to remember is that like dissolves like, so an oil-based cleanser is the perfect thing to dissolve makeup, excess sebum, and whatever other grime ends up on my face. It’s the same principle as spraying hairspray on a shirt to take out an ink stain, because the ink and the hairspray are both alcohol based. Then I follow it up with a water based cleanser to wash off any residue left behind. Right now I’m using Palmer’s cleansing oil and Cetaphil gentle cleanser, but I’m looking for better alternatives. The process works great, but the problem is that the second cleanser needs a pretty low pH, because skin is naturally slightly acidic and needs to stay that way in order to hold moisture. Add to that the fact that I’m allergic to the same coconut derivatives that make suds in most cleansers, and it’s hard to find one that works. (Seriously, screw coconut in all its forms. It could go extinct and I wouldn’t object. Allergies suck.)
The next product I use is quite possibly the cutest thing ever: Tony Moly Pocket Bunny Moist Mist. There are conflicting instructions on how to use this; Sokoglam markets it as a toner, which is how I use it, but a number of other sites describe it as a refresher mist, which goes on at the end and is spritzed on throughout the day as a boost. It smells great, and it makes my skin feel so good!
I haven’t added in an essence yet, but I have an idea of which one I want to try first. As gross as it sounds, one of my favorite skin care ingredients so far, and one of the reasons I’ve gotten hooked on Asian products, is snail mucin. I have an eye cream and several sheet masks that have snail mucin (aka snail secretion filtrate) in them, and it makes my skin so soft and smooth! Snail mucin is the slime that snails produce to protect themselves from irritation, and it contains glycolic acid, hyaluronic acid, and copper peptides, all of which are commonly used in skin care anyway. CosRX makes an essence that is 96% snail mucin, and it’s probably the next thing on my list to try.
I’ve got a couple of different serums I like. The main one I use is an argan oil and retinol serum with hyaluronic acid that I found cheap at Marshall’s. Retinol is a form of vitamin A that supposedly helps the cells communicate better and resist aging from the sun, and hyaluronic acid is SO important for dehydrated skin, because it draws in water. The other serum I use has hyaluronic acid and Matrixyl 3000, a peptide blend that is supposed to rebuild collagen and keep wrinkles from forming. But if I’m really feeling like pampering myself, instead of doing a serum, I’m going to hang out with a sheet mask. I get a lot of them at discounters like Marshall’s and TJMaxx, but my favorite lately came from Target, of all places. It’s by Mizon and contains–you guessed it–snail mucin.
Next step is my very favorite product currently. It’s also the most expensive in my routine, sadly, but every so often Sephora has trial sizes as a points bonus. Dr Jart+ Water Drop moisturizer is quite possibly the best moisturizer I’ve ever used. It’s lightweight and hydrating without being greasy. This is also the step where I use my Mizon Snail Repair Eye Cream.
In the morning, the next thing is my sunscreen. I’m currently looking for one I like, because the one I’ve been using is loaded with dimethicone, which is a pore-clogging ingredient that can cause me to break out. I’m open to suggestions, if you have one you like. At night I’m still using Night of Olay night cream, which makes my skin feel great, but it’s heavily fragranced. I’m concerned about having too much fragrance on my face, because that skin’s delicate.
My routine is still very much a work in progress. I’m slowly adding and replacing products, but it’s restricted as much by cost as it is by not wanting to bombard my skin with new stuff all at once. I’m bound and determined that I’m not going to age the way my mother and grandmother have, with no attempt to take care of myself. My grandmother has had to have her eyelids lifted, not for cosmetic reasons, but because she had so much sagging that it was interfering with her vision. (Her skin care routine also starts and ends with Dove soap.) Not something I’m interested in dealing with. So if you have suggestions on products I should try, feel free to email me at email@example.com or catch me on Twitter, Instagram, or Pinterest at @whatstephyloves.