2015 Skincare Part Two, Layers

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We all have different skin. Skin type, skin tone, needs, concerns. Not one regimen works for everyone. Hell, that same regimen can fail to work on the same person depending on the season or the state the skin is in. For years, I've stuck with the most basic routine of "Cleanse - Tone - Moisturize" and it has worked well. But lately, my skin has begun acting up like it never had before. It needed more than moisturizer to combat these problems.

The catalyst for this change was this magical product called, Maybelline Baby Skin primer. I call it magical not because I like it. Quite the contrary, I dislike it so much that I'm afraid of it. It's "magical" because it single-handedly altered my skin's texture. And not for the better. I ranted on that in the post I linked above so you don't have to sit there and have me reiterate it here.

People use makeup to enhance... and hide. But what is a good makeup product if you don't have a good canvass to work on. We all want nice skin and if makeup is your way of achieving that, by all means go ahead. You're beautiful no matter what. Personally, I prefer keeping my face makeup at a minimum. I don't like that heavy feeling of piling stuff on your face.

Okay, that sounds so ironic because this new skincare routine that I've been practicing for the past couple of weeks is all about layering products. We all know about the importance of "Cleanse - Tone - Moisturize". It's like breathing... you have to do it. (Well, some people don't but that's on them.) Even if you don't wear makeup, you have to wash your face. If you're not sure about toning, then that's okay. But you have to moisturize. If you slather lotion all over your body, why not skimp on the skin on your face?

Now, I tap into my Korean influences once again during my time of need. What happened because of that primer fiasco scared me so much. I've never had a skin problem that bad and that sudden. It was awful, but in a way, also a good thing to happen. In my laziest moments, I will still go back to the "Cleanse - Tone - Moisturize" routine but as much as possible, here is my full Daytime/Nighttime/Weekly skin care routine.

DAYTIME

1. CLEANSE. Really, it can be as simple as splashing water on my face. I know it looks bad that already I'm cheating on this first step but I'm still in the process of looking for a very gentle cleanser to use in the morning. For now, the littlest bit of my "nighttime" deep cleanser works. But most days, water and a face massage with my fingers do the trick.

2. TONER. I've used a lot of different toners in the past. Unfortunately, my least favorite one is a cult favorite, witch-hazel. I always have a bottle at home but I've stopped using it as a toner/astringent. It leaves my face feeling sticky. And it shouldn't do that. Toner gets rid of dead skin cells and residue that the cleanser missed while prepping your skin for the other stuff that you're going to put on your face. Depends on which product that I use, I either apply it with a cotton pad or pat the product on my face with my hands. Also, I do this IMMEDIATELY after towel drying my face. I read somewhere that toner is most effective a mere 3 seconds after washing the face and the effect lessens the more I wait. It's crazy, I know but hey... it wouldn't hurt to try. I usually wait 1-3 minutes before going to the next step.
The Beauty Department

3. EMULSION. This is the newest addition to my daily routine. I didn't know this was a thing until I looked closer at Asian skincare secrets. I've been seeing this at Skinfood but I never actually asked about it. It's a water-based, very light moisturizer designed to give and lock in extra hydration. I think this made the biggest difference when I was having that severe dryness issue. I then give it a good 4-5 minutes to skin into my skin before applying the next product.

4. SERUM. They say that when you enter your 20s, you should start using eye cream, if not already. Serum is the new eye cream. Not really, but you know what I mean. I noticed the change literally overnight. Serums are slightly thicker than emulsions and they're formulated to target different skin concerns. Some people use more than one serum on different parts of their faces. I use only one though. It feels gel-like and absorbs into the skin like a dream. For this one, I wait a solid five minutes before putting on the next cream.

5. MOISTURIZER. Y'all know about this, right? Skip everything but this.  Remember to consider SPF of at least 15. If not, putting on sunscreen is step #5.5.

6. EYE CREAM. I used to scoff at the use of eye creams. I mean, what's the difference between using your moisturizer vs a separate eye cream? Answer: a world. Eye creams are formulated differently. Like serums, eye creams are concentrated to deal with the delicate skin around the eye area. It might not be much but it does make a difference. It even has its own way of application (see above). It is definitely worth the extra step.

This change in routine definitely cut my "lounging" time in the mornings. I usually wake up at 7AM and roll in bed checking my social media for another 15 before getting up and starting my business. Now, if I have to be out the door the same time as before, I have to be up and running before 7:10AM to have enough time to do all of these, put makeup on, and whatever else I need to do before leaving the house. It does require more effort and a certain amount of dedication. At night, I am tempted to cheat but unless I'm completely knocked out, I will go through the whole routine from start to finish.

NIGHTTIME

My nighttime routine follows pretty much the same steps as daytime except for the very first one.  There is something called the 424 FACE WASHING METHOD. Four minutes massaging your face with the cleansing oil. Two minutes with the facial wash. Four minutes rinsing with water. I don't follow it to a T but I definitely love the massage.

1. PRE-CLEANSE. As I understand, the term is used mostly if we're talking about the Asian skincare regimen. In Western skincare jargon, it's the same as "makeup removal". That's basically it -- makeup removal prior to washing your face. I've heard it called "double cleanse".  For some, washing your face IS makeup removal but I found out that pre-cleansing is a more effective way. If I'm wearing heavy eye makeup, I use a separate makeup remover. On light makeup days, I use a makeup wipe. On full-face makeup days, I cleanse with a cleansing oil before washing my face. So it's not just one step. Just to help the face wash along for a deeper clean.

2. CLEANSE. After I get the oil mostly off my face, I get it totally off with a face wash. My face never felt cleaner. I rinse with warm water and end with a splash of cold water.

3. TONER. Same as above.
4. EMULSION.
5. SERUM.

6. NIGHT CREAM. I can use the same moisturizer in the morning but that has SPF that I don't need. And night creams are thicker than daytime moisturizers. And they have more anti-aging properties. I love to slather on a luxurious night cream at the end of a long day.

7. EYE CREAM. Nighttime routine is about anti-aging. Eye cream is an important part of that.

I try to be consistent with this skincare thing. So far, so good... and I am loving the results. I'm comfortable with my bare skin in general, maybe a thin layer of BB cream or tinted moisturizer. But ever since I started with this multi-step routine, I've gotten compliments from other people. I feel more confident and I love the glow my skin now has naturally.

But it doesn't stop there. You might go to work five days a week but skincare works on weekends too.

WEEKLY

A. SHEET MASKS. These pre-moistened paper masks are HUGE in Korea. They're saturated with essence that is good for your skin. It's a poor girl's spa facial treat. They usually go for less than $5 per sheet, some come in packs. And there are so many to choose from! You unfold the sheet and fit it to your face. There are holes punched out for your eyes and contours of your nose and cheeks. Look like a cute mummy for 15-20 minutes before taking it off and massaging the remaining essence into your skin. I do this once a week, usually on a Saturday night.



B. WASH-OFF MASKS. Also on a once a week basis, I swear by the Skinfood Black Sugar wash-off mask. I would request this a samples every time I make a Skinfood store purchase. This exfoliates and leaves your skin softer and brighter. I don't use a sheet mask the same day that I rub this on my face. I usually leave about 3-4 days in between. Same procedure, massage the wash off mask on your face while avoiding eye and mouth areas; leave on for 15-20 minutes, rinse off with warm water.

These mask steps are taken AFTER cleansing during the nighttime. Then proceed with toner step and onwards. I used to use one of those Freeman Cucumber Peel Off masks but it left my skin tight and dry.  I'm currently looking into SLEEP MASKS. Laneige has a "cult favorite" one and since I use a lot of their products already, I might give it a go. I'm just not sure yet if it is worth the splurge.

C. NOSE STRIPS. I finally found one with a price that I could justify. I don't do this weekly per se. Twice a month maybe. Or when I start to notice the blackheads.

As for products, don't feel like you should have go with strictly Asian brands. Asians have a different perspective towards skin - color, specifically - so don't be alarmed if you keep seeing "skin whitening" in the claims and ingredients. It's not a necessity for everyone but it's not harmful either. I don't mind it but if I can find other products with benefits that I can actually use, I'd go for that over whitening.

I planned to include specific product recommendations in this post but it's a novel as it is. In Part Three, I will show you the products that I actually use. When I originally planned out my skincare post, I thought I could get away with one entry. But that turned out to be a full blown rant. Then as I was composing this one, complete with photos of products, I can't keep it concise. So it calls for a separate post. In that way, I can include first impressions and reviews of the products. And since that first post, I've slowly transitioned to 50/50 Asian and Western products to mostly Korean products. Yes, it can get a bit expensive but it's a good investment to make.