Happy Holidays! I’ve been working on this post for a few days (it got a bit longer than anticipated), and just finished it up during some down time with the family. I also gathered some inspiration from sharing my love of Asian skincare with my Mom and sister. (They may have gotten a few of the goodies below for Christmas!)
Whenever I introduce Korean skincare to an interested friend and they ask to see the products I use, I’m always afraid of showing them my skincare wardrobe for fear of overwhelming/scaring them. You see, much like my actual wardrobe, my skincare wardrobe is vast. What can I say? I like to have plenty of choice in my life.
As I gathered up all of my materials to take pictures, though, I realized the extent of my…collecting.
I know, I know. This looks terrifying and you’re probably wondering how I leave the house in the morning. Well, not all of this goes on my face at once, of course. Or even all in one day. I have multiple products for each step, and use what I need depending on how my skin is doing. Consider this seasonal-themed metaphor: I don’t want to wear shorts in the winter or a turtleneck cashmere sweater in July. And I have a closet with both professional clothes and casual clothes. In the same way, I need products for the different seasons and different skin needs. (Yes, I’m protesting too much.)
Of course, I admit that I have a lot of products. But I’m opening my metaphorical closet doors to show you some of the different products available and what they can do for your skin. I’ll add in links to where you can purchase them, as well as any discount codes I have that you can use for first time purchases as stores like Memebox, Wishtrend, and Soko Glam. Feel free to use them. Or not.
- SW Basics oil cleanser (not pictured): Use in the morning since it’s fast and it means I don’t have to splash water on my face first thing.
- Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing stick: morning foaming cleanser. It’s a low ph (5.5) and has a nice scent to help wake me up in the morning.
- Banila Clean it Zero: Nightly oil cleanser. It takes off all of my makeup and feels lovely to use. My HG (holy grail) oil cleanser.
- Neogen Rose Cleansing water: if needed, I use to wipe off any remaining residue of my makeup. This great-smelling cleansing water has real rose petals floating in it! It’s great for sensitive skin and hydrates as it cleans.
- Cosrx Low Ph Good Morning Cleanser: PM foaming cleanser (yep, use the “good morning” cleanser at night. I am nothing if not a rebel). It has a slightly lower ph of 5, and I want my face ph to be as low as possible for the actives that I use at night.
(Click here for 20% off your first purchase at Memebox.)
(Click here for 20% off your first purchase at Soko Glam.)
Actives/Acids (chemical exfoliants)
- Cosrx AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner: This brings down the ph of my face to prep it for the actives. The lower the ph, the better the actives can do their work. (I’ll do a more in-depth posts on actives later.)
- Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid: A BHA works to clean out the oil and gunk in your pores. This is oil soluble, so it goes on first. I use this every other day since I have dry skin and it is drying. This seems to be often enough to keep my pores clear.
- Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid: An AHA also works to exfoliate by getting rid of dead skin cells and whiteheads. I currently only use this once a week and will move up to twice a week soon. My face has been calm, so I have been holding back on the actives.
- Cosrx Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol: This product is anything but an “a-sol” to your skin (ba-dum-tis). It’s a mild BHA that I use every day, twice a day. I use it after any real actives to bring my ph back up a bit. For those of you who want to test the waters with a BHA or if you have sensitive skin, I highly recommend this.
(As always, click here for 20% off your first purchase at Memebox.)
First Treatment Essence
- Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence: The category of FTEs are marked by their inclusion of fermented ingredients which absorb quickly into the skin to help repair, nourish and provide a distinctive glow. And my face does, indeed look glow-y after I put it on. Sort of like I just came in from walking on a cool fall day. It smells fermented, but in a pleasant way. It is a dupe for the much lauded, much hyped, uber-expensive SK-II.
- Cosrx Galactomyces 95 Whitening Power (cringe) Essence: Yes, this is a terrible name (changed from the worse “White Power Essence”) and no, it does not whiten or bleach your face. If you click the link, you’ll see that Memebox calls this the “Brightening Power Essence,” which is more accurate. Galactomyces are fermented ingredients that do the same kind of work as the Missha. I find it to be a bit more hydrating and absorbs a bit more quickly into the skin.
- Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner: Simply put, the hype on this is real. It has a lovely herbal scent, absorbs quickly, and is quite hydrating. This is a fabulous every day toner, and I use it twice a day.
- Banila Co. Miss Flower and Mr Honey: This is my heavy-duty toner that I break out when my face is needing extra moisture. It’s a thicker, fattier, creamier toner. The heavenly scent is just the cherry on top of the flower and honey sundae. Because it’s thicker, I use this after an essence. (This one I had a bit of trouble locating. I found it on Tester Korea, a Korean site that carries this whole line. I choose Rincos shipping and things usually come within 3-4 weeks. And, in linking, I see that they’re sold out! Fingers cross they restock soon or I’ll start to panic.)
(Click here to get $5 off of your first Wishtrend order or use the code 2713729110 when you register.)
- Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence: All hail the snail! This hydrating essence also works to calm my skin. Since beginning to use it 2x/day every day, the perpetually red spots on my cheeks have almost faded completely. Totally an HG product for me.
Serums and Ampoules
- Shark Sauce: No, it is not made with sharks. It’s a serum that contains Niacinamide (Vitamin B3) and 3% N-Acetyl Glucosamine, which work together to fight hyper-pigmentation. Chel, blogger at Holy Snails, made this because there were no products available with that level of niacinamide. I use this as a spot treatment on my hyper-pigmented spots 2x a day. It has been almost a month, and I have seen a clear lightening of my acne scars.
- Hada Labo Anti-Aging Hydrator: This Japanese serum found it’s way to me via my 3B Box subscription. I have been testing it the past few weeks, and it does an ok job hydrating but leaves my face somewhat sticky. I have a friend who absolutely raves about it, though, so YMMV.
- Mizon Snail Repair Intensive Ampoule: This is one of the first ampoules I bought to fight those pesky red patches on my cheeks. It was light and worked nicely in the summer (not as dry), but I need the daily dose of the 96% snail mucin via the essence to really banish them. I like this ampoule, but I think the snail essence has actually elbowed it out. Not sure I need/will repurchase.
- Mizon Hyaluronic Acid 100: A great, cheap HA serum. I use it exclusively under my eyes before my eye cream at night, which is where I need some extra moisture.
- Scinic Honey All in One Ampoule: This enormous jar of 90% of honey extract, propolis extract, royal jelly extract is a great value. I generously spread this on as a last step before my face cream and it has helped keep my face hydrated even on day when I’m out shoveling for (what seems like) hours on end. I’ve decanted it into a larger airless pump bottle and put the rest into the fridge for sanitation’s sake.
- Banila Co. Miss Flower and Mr Honey Essence Oil: This is heaven in a bottle. I shake it before using so it mix the heavier oils with the lighter essences inside. It’s thick so it takes some time to absorb, but this is my heavy hitter when my skin is dry, needs some calming, or I just want to treat myself. It’s a luxurious oil that I use last (and don’t use in conjunction with the Scinic AIO.)
- Banila Co it Radiant Brightening Eye Cream: This might be discontinued? In any case, I’m not terribly sad. It’s an ok moisturizing eye cream. It contains niacinamide that is supposed to lighten dark circles and crushed pink pearls to lighten, but I haven’t really seen a difference. And it’s not strong enough to keep my makeup from caking in the winter.
- Cosrx Honey Ceramide Eye Cream: While I dislike the tub vs the tube, this eye cream is incredibly moisturizing. I haven’t seen a huge reduction in fine lines around my eyes, but I will give it a few more weeks to see what happens.
- Klairs Rich Moist Soothing Cream: My daytime cream. It absorbs quickly, is soothing, odorless, and plays nicely with my sunscreen. The more I’ve tried other creams for daytime use, the more I realize this might be my HG for winter creams.
- Mizon Black Snail All in One Cream: This is a leftover from later summer/fall (it’s a great light moisturizer for summer). I want to use it up so I’ve been adding it as a layer before I head to the gym. It’s heavy enough to keep my skin hydrated but light enough not to clog my pores when I exercise.
- Cosrx Advanced Snail 92 All in One Cream: This is a slightly more moisturizing version of the Mizon Black Snail AIO. It’s a great calming cream, but not heavy enough for me to wear this alone in the winter. I use this at night when I can layer a sleeping pack over it. Might be perfect for summer.
- Holika Holika Good Cera Super Original Cream: A solid cream in that it has a light, fresh scent and keeps my skin hydrated all night, no sleeping pack “needed.” It’s not great under makeup, so it’s a night cream for me. I’ll be measuring other creams that I’ve purchased against it when I try them. This might be a case of FOMO, but I’m not 100% convinced this is a HG product for me.
- Banila Co. Miss Flower and Mr Honey Cream: The sounds I make when I put this cream on are embarrassing and probably not PG. Every. damn. time. It is a super thick cream that glides onto my face. It smells just like honey. This is thick enough that I don’t have to worry about a sleeping pack, and I wake up to plump, soft skin. This is my HG winter night cream, and I will never be without a backup.
- Cosrx Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPF 50: The best sunscreen I’ve found (yet). It’s not drying, absorbs rather quickly, and does ok under makeup. I’m still on the search for my HG sunscreen, though.
Sleeping Packs (PM)
- Banila Co. it Radian Brightening Sleeping Pack: Same review as the eye cream. Feels nice. Doesn’t do much. Disappointment abounds. (No link because I don’t think you should even consider buying it.)
- Mizon Snail Wrinkle Care Sleeping Pack: Yes. I love this pack. It smells lightly of citrus, is buttery-smooth, and helps keep my skin super hydrated. I’m not sure how many fine lines it has corrected, but the moisture is keeps in makes it worth it. A little goes a long way. (But be sure to put it on at least 20 minutes before bed to give it time to sink in. Otherwise, it will all just end up on your pillowcase.)
Whew! Thanks for hanging in there until the end. Just two quick notes. First, you’ll notice that I use many products from the brand Cosrx. I just want to state that I’m not a brand loyalist; however, I have just found Cosrx to be inexpensive and their products work for my skin. That’s what is most important to me. Second, I also have it bad for the Banila Co. Miss Flower and Mr Honey line. I consider this a love affair more than anything else and will make no excuses for it.
Let me know if you have any questions or want more info about a product!