my totally radical, transformative, borderline spiritual skin experience with my new korean beauty routine

Monday, March 27

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! 
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, 
woah, INTENSE. 
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.

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.

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.

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.

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.
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.
 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!!

This post was in partnership with Biossance, a company whose products I am obsessed with and use daily.  Like I mentioned before, if you want to try a sample, they'll send you a really good portion right here for only $4 shipping!


Script and Posy said...

im so excited to try out these products! been looking for a new skin routine and found the jackpot with all the research done for me! you also mentioned that your husband uses your moisturizer, and i was just wondering if you have any tips for mens skin? my boyfriend has EXTREMELY oily skin and large clogged pores? any suggestions?

Unknown said...

Wow! That is a LOT of products! I've never heard of that type of skincare routine. It's very interested! I'm the same way. I just wash and use moisturizer. I'd love to implement some of these products into my routine. Maybe my boss will give me a raise to go towards my new skincare purchases Lol! -Katie

Loren Lately said...

Thank you for sharing. Is this (all these products) the reason for removing the lash extensions? I have them and already have a pretty heavy routine (as I consider it) and to be honest, doing all this w/ lash extensions can be a pain. Especially rinsing off the oil cleanser. Do you think its just worth getting rid of the extensions to make sure you are cleaning your skin thoroughly... it is becoming quite the chore trying not to damage my lashes... but as you can attest... How awesome to wake up and be "awake" w/ just lashes :) :)

Kelda said...

I got into K beauty about 2 years ago and never looked back. Love it!! You HAVE to check out The Ordinary Skincare, all these amazing actives for an amazing price (hyaluronic acid, niacinamide, Lactic Acid, Rose Hip oil, to name a few :)) . I've added about all their products to my routine, obsessed! Also Biologique Recherche P50 lotion (I like 1970 best) is the best exfoliating toner you will ever use. I use to use pixi but this beats them all! This will for sure even out your skin texture!! Loved the post, thanks for sharing!

Veronica said...

Do you do this routine at night or in the morning?

Juli said...

I am also obsessed with the K-beauty routine. Love all your product recommendations. Julia

Amy said...

I have been starting to dabble into the Korean skin routine. With your blog, I've got a few new steps and products to try. Do you do all of this in the morning too?

Unknown said...

Do you have any suggestions for those that only have a budget for about 1/2 the products? Which would be the best to start with or last the longest, etc.?! I've been wanting to find a skin care routine that works and that I can stick with. I realize that in itself is an investment but where do I start if I can't swing it ALL:)? Thanks!!!:)

MonicaLeeBlog said...

I've been waiting for this post!!!!!! I have the same question as Casey! This is definitely an investment which i'll need to save up for, but if you had to pick a few must haves, which ones would you recommend we purchase first??

Anonymous said...

Your skin looks amazing! Very glow-y. I will have to try some (so pricey$$) of these products! I also love you without the eyelash extensions! you look so natural and beautiful. No more spiderwebs on your eyes! Ha! I'm only kidding, but you do look so beautiful fresh faced.

Anonymous said...

I ordered the free samples of the Biossance oils....super excited to try them! I LOVE using oils for my skin. Thanks!

Anonymous said...

I needed this post in my life right now! Thank you for all of the recommendations- most of which I had never heard of! I, too, have the same question as some of the other ladies above. I'd love to slowly change up my skincare routine. Which items do you think would be great to start with?

Anonymous said...

Thank you so much for this post! The skin problems you described - clogged pores on nose, freckle-prone skin, periodic breakouts on the chin - are exactly where my skin is at right now. I've come a long way as I used to suffer from cystic hormonal acne and have finally got it under control, after at least 5 years suffering! I'm so glad you shared this routine and am definitely going to spend some time researching this method (which I've also never heard of, I'm a pretty low key skincare and makeup kinda gal with a dream of getting a complexion that doesn't need makeup over it lol), and will definitely keep all your serums and creams in mind. Btw, the wine one sounds amazing, it may have to be my first purchase 😉 for me, jut implementing a vitamin c serum morning and night after I wash my face and before I moisturize has AMAZED me with its improvement of the texture of my skin! Grab an inexpensive bottle at marshalls and believe me you'll feel like you never need to exfoliate again.

Anonymous said...

Great post! Did you order the essence and the banila clean it zero from amazon? I'm so nervous to order face products online without trying them out first but I really want to try these!

Kelly said...

I just got back from living abroad in Korea for two years, and I can confirm this routine is addicting! I cannot rave enough about Mizon snail cream (eye, or total face). If you like langeige's water pack, check out their lip pack for winter!

Unknown said...

What mask would you suggest?

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