(Featured picture is 전지현 Jun Ji-hyun’s ad for Hada Labo)
The art of skincare is a subject on its own.
Skincare is, and should be, a vital part of our everyday lives. Taking care of your skin doesn’t merely involve slathering it with products, but also taking in the right substances to allow your body to repair skin cells from within.
I most definitely am not a dermatologist nor a skincare expert, the following “tips” and “suggestions” are purely from personal experience and research. Please also note that I have dry skin, period. Not combination, not normal, not oily. Dry. Hence, if you have a skin type different to mine, certain products or steps might not be applicable to you. Some products recommended below are also ones that I’ve tried and haven’t worked the best on me, but have worked wonders on a lot of people, thus why I’m recommending to you.
My skincare regimen has changed drastically over the years. I used to be the girl who does not give one bit of sh*t about skincare. As long as I have a cream that will keep me from feeling like my skin is about to crack, I’m good. I have to admit, I am very blessed. I’ve never had major problems with my skin (especially my face), but have suffered from eczema on my body when I was very young.
When I first started putting on makeup, I was fascinated by the power of these babies, how I can hide those dark circles and redness on my face with just a touch of concealer, open up my eyes with eyeliner and mascara, and give my face that blush and glow with blush and bronzer. Skincare didn’t seem to matter that much. However, as I grew older, it struck me that it should be the other way round and if I could choose, I would love to step out of the house makeup-free and still look fabulous. I hate the idea of having to wear tons of makeup to cover my facial blemishes and to give others an illusion of how I actually do not look like. To achieve the goal of wearing minimal makeup, it is exceptionally crucial to put in the effort to maintain my skin.
I’ve had my fair share of experience in the skincare product market. I obviously haven’t tried out every single product/brand available out there, but from drugstore to high-end brands, I’ve given a good amount of products a try. Disappointment is always what I end up feeling with skincare products. Some people are privileged in a sense that their skin reacts well with minimal and reasonably priced or even cheap products, while some people, aka moi, need to explore different brands and a variety of products to see what actually work on my skin.
My hunt will keep on going, but recently, I have begun to discover products (and in essence a skincare brand) that works really well on my skin. I have also realized that my skin is very asian, in a sense that it does significantly work better on skin care products from asian brands, especially Korean. Some of the products mentioned below are slightly pricey, but from my point of view, I’d rather be spending more money on taking care of my skin than to spend money on covering my skin.
Enough rambling, let me run you through my daily skincare regimen.
(If you are interested at an even more in-depth run-through of what you should do to optimize the skincare products you use, Korean actress 고현정 Go Hyun-jung’s book “Go Hyun-jung’s Texture” is the way to go if you know how to read Korean, if not, you can click this link: http://beautyswatch.com/beauty-secrets-from-koreas-skin-goddress-go-hyun-jung/ to read a summary of it, which greatly inspired me)
Disclaimer: All images from internet sources.
1. Pre-cleanse: whether or not you wear makeup, the exposure of your skin to the air, especially if you live in the city, will cause dirt and chemical to pile up. The first important step is to use an oil-based cleanser to melt away any chemical build-up on your face, especially if you wear a substantive amount of makeup. Do not be afraid to use oil-based products, even if you have oily skin. You will be surprised how these products actually provide the right amount of moisture you need, and in fact balance your oil levels without turning you into a grease ball!
Eve Lom Cleanser
Tatcha One Step Camelia Cleansing Oil
Netrogena Deep Clean Cleansing Oil
2. Cleanse: use a gentle and non-drying foaming cleanser (which is quite hard to come by) to then give your skin a further deep cleanse. A Clarisonic will make the job done even better! For two to three times a week, use green tea (soak 5-6 tea bags in hot water and let it cool) to rinse off the cleanser and let the tea’s antioxidants rejuvenate your skin (do not rinse again with clear water, simply pat your face dry).
If you have zits or pimples, use salt and lukewarm water to wash your face to sanitize the area and prevent the breakout from getting worse.
Amore Pacific Treatment Cleansing Foam
3. Exfoliate: 2-3 times a week, the dead skin cells need to be removed from your face to allow new skin cells to generate and emerge to restore brightness to your skin. Facial skin can be very delicate and it is not advised for one to use abrasive exfoliators, just as how it’s not beneficial to exfoliate your skin everyday, this will damage the skin cells. I use enzyme powder to give my face a gentle exfoliation. However, exfoliators with larger exfoliating particles are beneficial to remove the blackheads and dirt around the nose area!
Amore Pacific Treatment Enzyme Peel
Tatcha Enzyme Powders (for different skin types)
St. Ives Apricot Scrub
4. Tone: a good, alcohol-free toner shrinks your pores, hydrates your skin, refreshes the skin, restores the skin’s pH balance and acts as a protecting and foundation layer for the subsequent products that you will be applying to your face.
Netrogena Alcohol-free Toner
Hada Labo Goku-jyun Clear Lotion
Laneige Power Essential Skin Toner
Amore Pacific Treatment Toner
Amore Pacific Time Response Toner
5. Essence: essence is not serum. It is to, in essence set and lock in the moisture from the toner. It should be a light liquid that kicks off the products that you will be applying to your face according to your skin concerns. I personally don’t find this step to make a huge difference, but due to my easily dried out skin, I make sure that it is as moisturized as possible, hence I do not skip this step.
Laneige Balancing Emulsion
Amore Pacific Hydrating Fluid
Amore Pacific Time Response Skin Renewal Fluid
6. Serum: serum is never a one-product step. Think of serum as a boosted moisturizer without the moisturizing effect on the surface. Serums are products that penetrate into your skin to provide it with the concentrated “nutrients”. Hence, it is vital for you to have your own serum regimen. For example, my skin needs hydration, brightening and pore tightening (still looking for a pore shrinking one) – I then look for serums that do these things and apply them accordingly. This is the step that attacks your skin’s main concerns and gives your skin that extra boost.
Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum
Clinique Smart Custom-Repair Serum
Amore Pacific Moisture Bound Rejuvenating Serum
Amore Pacific Luminous Effect Brightening Serum
Amore Pacific Future Response Age Defense Serum
7. Moisturize: moisturizer is the final product to seal everything in and ensure that the skin stays hydrated throughout the day/night. I use a different moisturizer for day and night, the latter being thicker to act as a mask overnight so my skin stays moisturized throughout the 7-8 hours of lack of hydration. I’ve tried many, and I mean many, moisturizers out there on the market, and most don’t really do anything to my skin – it goes back to looking dull and dry in minutes. Even Creme de La Mer works just like the Nivea creme, nothing special and not worth the money. However, the products that I’m recommending below have really blown my mind and if you have dry sensitive skin like me, these might work for you!
La Roche-Posay Toleriane Ultra (Day)
Eve Lom TLC Cream (Night)
Amore Pacific Moisture Bound Hydration Intensifying Cream (Day)
Amore Pacific Future Response Age Defense Cream (Night)
8. Eye cream: the skin area around your eyes is the most delicate part of your entire body and needs to be handled with care. Never tug or rub it with force, use tapping motions when applying eye cream. I unfortunately am still on the hunt for a good eye cream because I have fairly dry skin and horrible dark circles. A gentle massage around the orbital bone area daily will also help reduce dark circles!
If you have a good eye cream recommendation that hydrates and lightens dark circles, please let me know!
9. Masks: I’d like to think of masks as an a la carte to my skincare regimen. A single sheet of paper mask can do wonders for your skin, and just like serums, tailor your choice of masks to what your skin needs. I try to use a mask 3-4 times a week, sometimes for 6 consecutive days if my skin is feeling extra dull and dry, after toner and fluid. Make sure to use a combination of hydrating and nourishing masks to yield the best results.
Mediheal Collagen Impact Essential Mask
Amore Pacific Refreshing Ampoule Masque
10. Sun protection: UV rays from the sun are extremely damaging to the skin. I’ve already been gifted these small but very adorable sun spots on my cheeks from my swimming training days back in high school. Before you apply your makeup and head out for the day, make sure you apply sunscreen to protect your skin from the sun!
BB/CC creams/cushions these days come with the right level of sun protection which you can consider using in substitute for your regular foundation (although most foundations do come with SPF as well)
Depending on your level of diligence, your skincare regimen can range from 10-17 steps, or if you prefer to keep it simple, just extract the key steps (cleanse, tone, moisturize). Remember, everyone’s skin is different, just as we all live in different places with different climates. There is no universal skincare regimen, there is only the one regimen that you discover to best suit yourself.
Lastly, step 11, or perhaps step 1, is to eat right.
First, need I not say more, drink lots of water. I make sure I drink at least 3 liters of water everyday to keep my skin and body hydrated. Put in lemon slices to add more benefits. Don’t underestimate the magic of H2O, it can do wonders.
Otherwise, here are some foods that help improve the skin:-
- Blueberries, strawberries
- Chocolate (yes, a moderate amount of chocolate is good for you!)
- Fish (salmon is a great source of fatty acids and omega-3!)
- Hazelnuts, almond, nuts and seeds
- Flaxseed oil, linseeds, walnut and rapeseed oil
- Porridge (oats)
Antioxidants: helps skin cell development
Collagen: restores skin cells and strengthens capillaries that supply the skin
Vitamins A, C, E and K: some are antioxidants themselves and some produce collagen
Monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats: provides natural fatty acids to the skin that act as a moisturizer from within, which sometimes also come with vitamin E
Omega-3: essential fatty acids that cannot be made in the body and must be obtained through diet and supplements
Zinc: produces oil through the functioning of the sebaceous glands and helps to repair skin damage
Low-GI carbs: carbohydrates that release sugar into your blood stream at a steady pace, as opposed to high-GI carbs like sugar and biscuits that rush sugar into your bloodstream, invigorating the production of insulin. Excessive insulin will accelerate fat storage, damage collagen and causes wrinkles
You should opt to include these nutrients in your daily diet, not just for your skin but for your overall health. The list above is not exhaustive, and I am by no means a dietician. Please eat according to your preferences and health conditions, and consult a doctor if needed.
I hope this post has helped you gain a brief glimpse of how to take care of your skin. In this bustling city with the constant problem of air pollution, excessive alcohol intake, unhealthy diets and lack of quality sleep, your skin needs the extra care.
The above are simply what I have personally experienced and researched, please kindly do not take my words as professional advice but merely as a reference to adapt to your own research and experiments.
I wish you all great skin and health!
Until next post –