OK I am pumped about this post! A few days ago on insta-stories, I talked a little bit about the crazy changes that I've been seeing in my skin after only a few weeks of implementing my new Korean skincare routine. Specifically, a complete elimination of the perpetually clogged pores in between my eyebrows, a shrinking of the pores at the end of my nose (seriously, it's so smooth, feels like a baby's butt right now), an evening of skin tone, and zero of those sporadic breakouts that I would get on my chin from time to time.
Like, major major strides for me!
Like, major major strides for me!
My skin is still by no means perfect. I went to go get my first facial the other day, and the facialist strongly recommended microderm abrasion to even the texture and tone of my cheeks. But man, if I'm experiencing this kind of a response in my skin after only a few weeks of using these products, what does a year of care look like?? Is this turning into a soapbox now?
I do realize that k-beauty isn't exactly a new concept in the beauty world, but it took me a hot second to hear about it. When I first heard about the traditional 10-step routine, my first impression was,
This may have something to do with the fact that my own personal nighttime routine has traditionally involved a solitary make-up wipe, and some moisturizer. But I had long-admired the skin of the women who were now raving about their experience with the routine, and so I did some research, made the investment and went for it.
I HAVE. NO REGRETS.
One of the first things I learned, what that it's not ACTUALLY a full 10-step routine every single night. Some of the steps are only implemented once or twice a week. And it's totally customizable to your own needs or preferences. Like so far, I've totally skipped doing the face mask step (although I'm headed to Ulta to grab some soon). And I've also left out the spf step too, because I've relied on other products I use that already have spf in them. So anyway. You do you girl! And I'll walk you through exactly everything that I've been doing, and the skin science behind them.
Here's my counter right now. Is the sheer amount of product shocking to you? Because it's shocking to me. I'm still getting used it. But getting used to it in the way that one gets used to basically getting a facial every night. I'm not struggling.
Before I ordered each item, I did a ton of research and read SO-HO many reviews. So know that each of these are well loved and tried and true favorites in the skincare community. And for good reason, I've discovered!
K! So here's it is.
// DOUBLE CLEANSING //
When I first heard that you're supposed to clean your face twice, my initial reaction was, WHO HAS THE TIME.
But now it makes sense. And it's honestly one of my favorite parts. The first step is to cleanse with an oil-based cleanser. Most of our make-up is oil based, and since oil and water repel each other, when I was only water-based cleansing, I was leaving behind a lot. I've been using Banila Clean It Zero, and it's lived up to every bit of hype.
Then, even though I'm left feeling pretty clean, I water-base cleanse with Kiehl's Ultra Facial Cleanser to remove the leftover stuff like sweat and dirt and whatever my two-year-old wiped on my face that day.
The result is skin that is so SQUEAAAKY clean, it's been a bit of an eye-opening experience how not clean my skin has been over the years.
// EXFOLIATOR //
This step, depending on the sensitivity of your skin, only needs to be done 1-3 times a week. Right now, I exfoliate twice a week using Neogen Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Wine. And dude. Your initial reaction after opening the lid might be to drink the stuff, because it smells SO GOOD, but try to restrain. The lactic acid on the pads really gets in there, removing dead skin and debris from your pores, with the star ingredient being reservatrol, which naturally comes from red wine and helps prevent pigmentation issues and wrinkles. Rave reviews on this.
// TONER //
Toner preps the skin for the remaining products, shrinks pores, balances your skin's PH levels, and protects, and moisturizes. So a super hero basically. I use Pixi Skintreats Glow Tonic, and I actually read about the cult following of this toner last year, purchased it, and then just didn't use it! I know! I have tried a sampling of a couple other toners since getting into a routine, and this is by far my favorite.
// ESSENCE //
So I had never heard of Essence before learning about the 10-step routine. But it is the very heart of the skincare within the Korean culture, and is considered one of the most important parts. I use Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence, and with both the toner and the essence, I drop a small amount in my hand and pat evenly over my face instead of wasting product on a cotton pad.
// SERUMS AND BOOSTERS AND CREAMS //
This is when it starts to feel like you're throwing everything on your face at once, but there's a method to the madness. First, I smooth on a retinol cream called Resurface. I got it after seeing it over and over and over again on the beauty counters of celebrities whose skin I admired. It softens and smooths and lightens pigmentation in association with photodamage ... which I have a lot of because of my freckle-inclined skin type.
Then in my palm I combine a few drops of Biossance Squalane + Vitamin C Rose Oil, and Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin C Serum and press it in evenly over my face. I've used Biossance's pure squalane as a moisturizer for years now, and loved it even more after reading a few months ago that my skin idol Hilary Rhoda claimed squalane as one of her secret weapons. Like... have you SEEN her face.
Squalane is incredible and has been a staple in the K-beauty market for a long time. It's is a mega-moisturizing molecule that instantly hydrates while locking in essential moisture. It's the natural moisture we were born with, but as we reach our late 20’s (hi!), our natural production significantly decreases, so adding back in plant-derived squalane helps boost cellular regeneration and heal dry skin. That, compounded with the heavy hit of oil soluble vitamin C ( which is 50 times better than ascorbic acid just by the way) brightens and evens, and protects everything. It's one of my most essential products.
Then, Kiehl's Powerful-Strength, Line-Reducing, Eye-Brightening Concentrate, which is POWERFUL holy crap (only use a little bit) and so so effective. The puffiness and darker skin tone around my eyes has always given me trouble, and I feel like I've already seen such an improvement.
And Kiehl's Midnight Recovery Concentrate, which has had a cult following for a while now, so I had to see what the hype was about. It smells like essential oils, and has an incredible list of ingredients to back it up (including squalane!). In the mornings, I've started getting used to waking up with brighter, plump, super "awake" skin. Totally normal, it's fine.
// MOISTURIZER //
The first week or so that I was going through this routine, I got to the moisturizing step and I was like, seriously if I put one more thing on my face, it's going to start dripping. It felt like such an excessive departure from my one-and-done mentality. But, somewhere between a change in mentality and an actual, real, physical change in my skin, when I got to the very last moisturizing step, there was suddenly "room" in my skin for more. The last layer of moisture didn't feel excessive, or like it would drip off my already layered face, it actually absorbed EVERYTHING. And continues to, both morning and night.
These are my holy grail moisturizers.
Because Squalane is such a heavy hitter in the skin department, I love using Biossance 100% Squalane oil in combination with pretty much everything. With my nightly face mask and with daily face creams, as a face prepper before applying make-up and as a full-on replacement for a body moisturizer. Which P.S. if you want to try a sample, they'll actually send you a really good portion right here for $4 shipping!
For a day cream, my husband and I both use and love Kiehl's ultra facial cream, and for night, I am obsessed with the Laneige Water Sleeping Mask, which I first ordered after reading the raving reviews on Amazon and have it loved every since (I'm about out!) It's so light and dries quickly and is not at ALL what you think of when you imagine a "mask".
And that's it people!
(She says ... thirteen products later ...)
I know everyone's skin is different, and not everyone is going to respond the same to every product and genetics and hormones and all that can really mess with a person and how their skin behaves. But I've loved feeling free to go without make-up, and this routine and what it's done for my skin so far, has kinda changed my life in that way.
Hopefully it can help a few of you too!
Let me know if you end up trying and loving anything!!