One of my cousins reached out to be recently to ask for advice about skincare.
My immediate reaction was to ask what her skin type is and what her goals were. Knowing these two things make building a skincare routine to be more effective.
There are a lot of blogs and resources out there explaining the 10 step Korean Skincare routine, these are just my personal notes and preferences.
Starting out: I advised that at the very least she should get a cleanser, moisturizer, and sunscreen.
And does it matter which one she should spend more money on?
I said cleanser. There should be nothing stopping you from getting this first important step in your skincare routine.
If your facial cleanser and cleansing routine is not good, then all the products you apply afterwards will not be effective and essentially a waste of money. A good cleanser gets the job done. I know there is a lot of fuss out there over PH levels, laurel sulfates, etc., but there are a few things I keep in mind that categorize a cleanser as good in my view:
- It does not sting my face
- It does not make my face feel super dry
- In the process of using it, I don’t make a huge mess in my sink
Now these are just some of the basics and does not include make up removal; I am a believer in the double cleanse for when I wear makeup. There is such a huge variety of water based cleansers out there that there is very much a possibility of finding a great one that is on the budget side. And because of that, there’s no need to settle on something that works
Moisturizer is the next step in a basic routine. There are some general rules that I go by when incorporating more steps that I also apply to moisturizers:
- Less than 20 ingredients
- I am ok with more than 20 ingredients when the list is clearly listing various plant extracts
- Dimethicone, silicone, or fragrance is not high on the list
The type of moisturizer you choose also depends on the environment you live in. In dryer climates you will likely want to use a cream based moisturizer, where as in the summer humidity you may opt for a gel. There is also the workplace to consider, air conditioning, air movement, going in and out of hot, cold, humid, dry, zones, etc. Knowing where you are going to be for the day can also determine which moisturizer you want to use.
My general rule of thumb: just put some on, your face will thank you.
Sunscreens! Just like facial cleansers there are so many great Asian sunscreens available that sometimes it is really hard to choose just one. Please remember that a bb cream or foundation with spf in it is not a good replacement for this step. In general you should be using a large pea size, 1/4 tsp, amount to cover your face. There are a lot of great youtube videos demonstrating just how much product that is and how cakey your face will look if you try to do that with a color correcting product.
When purchasing a sunscreen you also want to make sure you are reading the spf description: broad spectrum or bust. There are three types of sunscreens: physical/mineral, chemical, and mixed. Usually I opt for mixed when looking for a good daily basic, then after that I go for a physical/mineral type. The 100% chemical type I’m not really a fan of because of the smell and the likelihood of it having unsafe ingredients, which I’ll go into more detail later in this post.
A physical/mineral broad spectrum sunscreen is your best bet for long lasting coverage with minimal side effects. But it is also most likely to give you a white cast and flash back in photos. To combat that, I like to use the mixed type. The mixed type also has the advantage of the chemical sunscreen formulas that are more liquid and easier to spread on my face.
The rest of the 10 step routine:
So there are also the serums, essences, beauty waters, moisturizing toners, acid toners, face masks, sheet masks, blackhead strips, etc. And they are all products for specific purposes. At this point you want to really focus on making sure you are:
- Reading product descriptions
- Read reviews from other users,
- Read ingredient lists
- Make sure you are not clashing any product ingredients: don’t use a physical exfoliant and then a chemical exfoliant.
- I find it easier to choose one skin issue to fix at a time: redness, pores, blackheads, overall texture, dark spots, brightening, etc.
- Especially if you have sensitive or reactive skin, spot test on the back of your neck or somewhere on your upper arms before your face.
Now for the fun parts: once you figure out what ingredients work for you and what combination of products works, you budget can be cut way down because you are no longer spending money on various products to test. And also, my favorite part, all the limited edition packaging! 😀
My Current Favorite Brands:
My Current Routine:
Cleanser: Dr. Jart Micro PH Foam Gel Cleanser
Serum: Stratia Rewind
Moisturizer: Stratia Liquid Gold, Innisfree Cherry Gel Cream