I was washing my face this morning and realized it’s been a long while since I shared skin care reviews. I am still on the Korean multi-step skincare routine but have incorporated a lot of new items in the last few months. I’ve gone through many products and either continued using or replaced them with something new. My cabinet is full of stuff that I’ve acquired here and there for face care, but I am not in a rush to use them all at once. It’ll take me some time to get through them and figure out which ones are the best skin care products because as you can see, I have plenty of stuff!
I got click-happy and was ordering one item after another online, while others I picked up overseas when I was traveling. Read on to find out what I’m using in my daily skincare routine and my skin care tips.
In the past, I couldn’t be bothered and did not spend much time when it comes to morning skincare. Remember how I used to pour every skincare product into my palms all at once (including sunscreen), then smash and rub them onto my face? I don’t do that anymore. These days I find that when I don’t pay proper attention to morning skincare and allow myself time to apply the products sequentially, it results in dehydration and my skin feels like crap afterwards.
I came across a blurb from a celebrity makeup artist who says that in a typical professional makeup session, conditioning the skin can take half hour to an hour while the makeup itself takes merely ten minutes, tops. I found that rather intriguing. I’m sure there’s an exaggeration in his statement but the point is, I should be spending more time in prepping my skin and it’s an important prerequisite to makeup (which I can then spend less time on). I put this theory to the test and yup, when my skin is properly conditioned and adequately hydrated, my makeup that day tends to perform better and last longer. But to be honest, it’s challenging to achieve that perfectly hydrated stage in the morning coz I’m usually rushing through every step. :x
Even so, I do my best to give morning skincare the TLC it deserves. Here’s a summary of the steps that I’m taking during the daytime.
Simple, straight-forward and not too many steps, right?
Step 1: Cleansing
Product: Son & Park Beauty Water
Truth be told, most mornings I simply splash my face with water and move on to the next step of toning right away. But if my face is feeling particularly greasy from the night before or I’m planning to wear makeup that day, I reach for this bottle of Son & Park Beauty Water. If you’re at all familiar with the world of Korean skincare products, you’ll know that this is a cult fave amongst pro makeup artists and it’s been a bestseller for the last couple of years. At first I wasn’t able to get one coz they’re sold out everywhere, but finally managed to order one online.
Initially I thought it’s a toner but turned out it’s a multi-tasking beauty water that can be used as a gentle cleaner, or toner, or refresher if your skin needs a bit of perking up in the middle of the day. This product has mild exfoliation ability to help sweep away dead skin cells ever so gently, revealing brighter skin tone and smoother texture. I use a few drops on a regular cotton pad and gently sweep upwards on my face. Needless to say, it’s hydrating too so it softens and conditions the skin at the same time – and that’s the reason why I like this product.
As you can see, I’m already halfway through my first bottle and I’m planning to get a second bottle soon because who knows when this product will be sold out again due to overwhelming demand.
Step 2: Toning
Product: Kiehl’s Iris Extract Activating Treatment Essence
I had this bottle of Kiehl’s Iris Extract Activating Treatment Essence sitting in the fridge for too long and decided it’s time for me to start using it. A product that promises anti-aging and nourishing properties, I find the texture a lot heavier than what I’m used to. It’s more concentrated and not as watery as the other toners (Korean brand) I’ve used and my skin feels very slippery afterwards. It’s as though my skin is not absorbing this and the essence leaves a slick filmy texture behind which I’m not entirely comfortable with. However, since I’m currently trying to hydrate my skin as much as possible, this essence works very effectively for that purpose. My face looks visibly moisturized but not too shiny, and after patting in whatever remains on the skin surface, the slippery feeling diminishes after a minute or so. This essence is one of the best products for dry face, IMO.
Product: La Lune Multi-layer Facial Cotton Pads
I picked up this box of La Lune multi-layer facial cotton pads from Watson’s in Taipei and I’m so excited to share about this awesome product!
Unlike the Watson’s store-brand cotton pads (which I’ve been using for years and only now realize how inferior they are compared to this), these La Lune facial cotton pads hardly fray and shed as much. The cotton fibres are densely packed together but the texture of the cotton pad is still soft. And the best part is, you can peel off five separate thin layers from one sheet! So what I do is splash the Kiehl’s essence onto a pad, peel off the five separate layers, place them all over my face for 3-5 mins and give myself a mini sheetmask session.
I read in an Asian beauty magazine the other day that when you use a toner in this manner, it gets absorbed into the skin much more effectively than using hands to apply. At the same time, the skin is being prepped to receive all the nourishing and boosting goodness that comes with the next steps.
As for multi-layer facial cotton pads, this product is popularized by The Japanese Skincare Revolution, a book authored by aesthetician and beauty consultant Chizu Saeki in 2012. She introduced the concept of DIY lotion mask, which is pretty much what I’ve described above. (Toner, essence, lotion = same same, kinda.)
As far as I know, the La Lune multi-layer facial cotton pads aren’t sold in Singapore (bleh) and I haven’t found sources online, sorry. If you come across this, leave a comment and share the info with other readers please. In the meantime, if you can’t wait to get on board with DIY lotion mask-ing, then check out this other Japanese brand that can be ordered line.
Step 3: Boosting
Product: Bskin Vita Advanced Intense PAF Concentrate
Step 4: Moisturising
Product: Bskin Vita Advanced Active Day Cream
I picked up these Bskin products at a launch event not long ago. Bskin is a new Singapore brand but the skincare products are developed and formulated in Korea. This Vita Advanced line is designed for anti-aging and is rich in Vitamin C.
The concentrate is a powerful serum that causes an immediate warm tingling sensation on my skin, so those with sensitive skin are advised to mix this into the day cream but I use the two separately. I love the fragrance of the concentrate, it smells like lavender (very spa-like).
The day cream is a lotion which becomes watery once it glides onto the skin. A tiny pea-sized amount goes a long way and it feels moisturizing. I like this texture and find it very suitable for daytime use, especially on humid days.
Step 5: Eye Care
Product: Laneige Perfect Renew Firming Eye Cream
I finally got around to using this Laneige Perfect Renew Firming Eye Cream from this post! I enjoy using this as it’s hydrating, keeps the delicate skin around eyes moisturized and soft, without leaving a sticky or greasy film behind. I find the creamy texture quite light and watery so my skin absorbs this nicely. While I don’t think it is very firming, it is an excellent eye cream that works well for me in terms of hydration and I plan on getting it again.
The first step I normally take when I’m putting on makeup is to apply an undereye concealer, so this eye cream sets the canvas for me. Maybe I’ll write about my makeup routine in another post when I have time. (Although I don’t technically have a routine because I avoid wearing makeup whenever I’m staying in, which is pretty much all the time actually.)
After all these months, I gotta say that I have gotten really fond of the routine of thoroughly cleansing my face at the end of the day and I very rarely skip this (even on days when I have no makeup on). It’s truly a very nice calming ritual to have and there’s no rushing whatsoever; I think that’s what I appreciate and enjoy the most. I am more than okay with cleansing my face in several steps using different products – three, four times even. Maybe I’m just obsessed about cleansing these days. It can feel cumbersome, lengthy, and time consuming sometimes, sure. But at the end of it all, when I take one last look in the mirror before I switch off the bathroom lights, I feel so gratified knowing that my face is pore-level clean and that I’m going to wake up with good skin the next morning. Good skin as in no sudden acne breakouts or dry, crepe-y texture. And maybe, if it’s not too much to ask, a more even-toned complexion and firmed appearance too please. :)
Step 1: Cleansing
Product: CNP Cleansing Perfecta
When I first reviewed CNP, this cleanser was not my fave but I have since changed my mind. I love it so much that I am now in my fifth tube. Those buy-1-get-another-at-50%-off sales that happen from time to time at Guardian definitely were an excellent time for me to stock up on this item. I remember exactly the moment when I changed my opinion on this mild non-lathering cleanser; it happened one evening when I felt I had too much BB cream piled on my face and was feeling soooo tired from a night out. I massaged this onto my face and it was so soothing, I felt like I was giving myself an impromptu pampering facial. This cleanser, with it’s thick lotion-like texture, “melted away” the makeup I had on my face in a gentle calming manner, leaving me feeling relieved, refreshed and revived.
Just like I’ve written before, this cleanser is part of a two-step cleansing process. In other words, don’t count on it alone to deeply cleanse your face because it won’t. Think of it as a lotion makeup remover (it removes all traces of waterproof tinted sunblock, BB cream, foundation, concealer, etc) and facial massage facilitator in a tube, then proceed with additional cleansing using something else. Which brings me to…
Step 2: More Cleansing
Product: Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick
Again if you’re familiar with the world of K-beauty products, this Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick from Su:m37 is a highly-coveted item that was previously sold out. I’m so psyched that I got my hands on this now that it’s been restocked, and sure enough, this cleansing stick lives up to the hype. Packaging design-wise, I kinda wish it’s a bit more high-end coz the plastic tube is not luxe at all. The product feels pretty luxe though.
Raved by many beauty bloggers and YouTubers, this stick cleanser contains natural ingredients, including bits of rose petals plus fermented damask rose extract which imparts a delicate natural floral scent when it starts lathering up.
Use by applying the stick directly onto wet face, the massaging action helps to improve circulation and after rinsing with plenty of water, skin feels gentle and clean. Not squeaky and taut clean, more like supple and hydrated clean. That’s a great feeling. This is an affordable product, one stick can last a very long time. It makes for a great gift for sisters and gal pals too!
Step 3: Exfoliating
Product: Dermalogica ChromaWhite TRx Powerfoliant
I hardly use Dermalogica skin care products, but twice a week I use this exfoliant. It is an interesting product that comes as two separate components: powder and liquid, which you have to combine into the bottle, shake well to mix, before applying to your face. One bottle can last about maybe 10 applications or so, depending on how often and how much you use this exfoliant. I use about a dime-sized quantity each time because it tingles on my face which means I shouldn’t overdo or overuse it. As the name suggests, this powerfoliant is strong! But it works really well and I believe it’s the one product I’ve tried that truly lives up to its promise of brightening and whitening when used continuously.
What I love most is how unmistakably smooth my skin feels immediately after I wash this off my face. It even leaves a radiant glow behind and my complexion looks evened out in a good healthy way. I think my pigmented spots and acne scars have considerably lightened too. Definitely a serious and very efficient at-home exfoliant/peel product. I’d say it works as well as the chemical peels I’ve done before at an aesthetic clinic.
Step 4: Toning
Product: Kiehl’s Iris Extract Activating Treatment Essence
After using the Dermalogica exfoliant mentioned above, I use this essence to calm, soothe and recalibrate the PH level on my skin.
Step 5: Boosting
Product: Avene Retrinal 0.1 Intensive Cream
Step 6: Eye Care
Product: Avene Retrinal H.A.F. Firming Gel
Avene’s Retrinal collection is an intensive, physician strength skincare range designed for aging skin. The formula in this range boosts the skin’s foundation to enhance its existing structure and reduce the appearance of deep lines and wrinkles. The key ingredient is Retinaldehyde, clinically shown to be more effective than Retinol (same family), and a study stated that usage of 0.05% Retinaldehyde formula resulted in a “significant” increase in epidermal thickness and elasticity. Thankfully I don’t have deep lines or wrinkles yet, and this range is seriously hardcore but hey, it’s never too early to start when it comes to using anti-aging products. Everywhere I look, this particular range from Avene has gotten raves and excellent reviews online.
I use Retrinal 0.1 Intensive Cream on my face – and only at night, as all retinol-based products are to be used at night only – to prevent wrinkles, improve skintone, restore elasticity, and increase radiance. So far, I find that this is still working gradually (read: slowly) for me. The only notable difference I felt is during the first week, when my face felt firmer and texture was definitely smoother after this product was introduced into the routine.
The Retrinal H.A.F Firming Gel is a spot-treatment that I use around the eyes because this product is effective for crows feet and fine lines; you can even use this to target other areas such as nasolabial and marionette lines (which I probably should start doing too). Unfortch, this product has been discontinued… :(
Since I read that retinol-based products work well with Vitamin C-based products for boosted efficacy, I’m using this to complement what I’m using during the daytime. So far so good and I find that my skin texture is improving.
Step 7: Moisturising
Product: Laneige Time Freeze Intensive Cream, Laneige Time Freeze Eye Serum
I’m almost finished with these two items and since I am already using Bskin Vita Advanced Day Cream, I use the Laneige Time Freeze Intensive Cream for night time. It is not very heavy but provides a good level of hydration (I sometimes apply a night pack over this but currently I’m out). I like that this cream doesn’t leave a sticky film behind, rather it gives a soft dewy finish so I was using this as day cream before too.
The Laneige Time Freeze Serum is a very light lotion that I tap onto the eye area before I layer on a bit of Perfect Renew Firming Eye Cream (that I use during the daytime) as the last step.
And that concludes the list of items I’m using for my daily skincare routine day and night. I don’t want to jinx myself but I’ve been getting an intolerable zit or two on my chin from time to time (blast those hormonal surges and late nights) that’d grow rapidly overnight and stayed that way for weeks (WEEKS!); the most recent occurrence taking place about two months ago. Thankfully it finally cleared up, hasn’t revisited since and I don’t wish for it to do so, which is why I’m diligently cleansing my face and amping up the hydration factor as much as I can these days.
SKINCARE PRODUCTS FEATURED:
- Son & Park Beauty Water (S$24.90)
- Kiehl’s Iris Extract Activating Treatment Essence (US$78.00)
- Bskin Vita Advanced Intense PAF Concentrate (S$158.00)
- Bskin Vita Advanced Active Day Cream (S$121.00)
- Laneige Perfect Renew Firming Eye Cream (US$35.58)
- CNP Cleansing Perfecta (US$39.45)
- Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick (S$28.50)
- Dermalogica ChromaWhite TRx Powerfoliant (US$14.99)
- Avene Retrinal 0.1 Intensive Cream (US$69.00)
- Laneige Time Freeze Intensive Cream (US$48.93)
- Laneige Time Freeze Eye Serum (US$49.98)
Oh, I should have included one very important step into this post and that is sunscreen. I have several different ones that I use on a rotating basis, depending on my mood. Putting on sunscreen is my other obsession now and I’ve been looking for the right one. I’ll write a separate article on that soon.
Man, this has been one hella long post that’s taken me daysss to put together. It’s honestly the reason why I don’t blog as often nowadays as it takes a big chunk of time to craft a proper informative post on skincare and it’s tiring yo. I hope that it can get readership, and here’s how you can help make that happen: If you’ve enjoyed this post, please share on your social media and invite your friends to come check it out – thanks!