Over the years, there have been loads of questions about the products I use regularly; people wanting to know what my skin care routine is and — this is actually the most frequently asked question — what are my must-haves. Well there is no real quick question to this as the product I use each day depends on 1) my skin condition at that moment, 2) how much time I have, and 3) what I’m testing or into at the time.
I know a lot of people have umpteen ritualistic steps but that, quite frankly, is really not my cup of tea. In general I would say that my routine is fairly simple, especially in the summer. My basic routine is Cleanse + Exfoliant or Lotion + Serum + Moisturiser and/or Sunscreen (Whether I use a moisturiser or not depends on how my skin still feels — it’s middle of summer of right now so most nights I skip it. If I’m using a mattifying sunscreen milk, I would use it just to counteract the potential drying effect.)
Bear in mind, please, that I’m in my early 30s and I have quite good skin that’s very resilient to begin with. It generally feels just fine on its own and I don’t have any major skin concerns. I’m not boasting, just being frank — what suits my skin might not suit yours. So here we go with some of my most used products in my summer skin care routine. You can probably expect a few skin care routine posts, now that I’ve gotten the ball rolling!
I don’t remember the last time I actually use a face wash in the morning — I simply splash with water. At night, I always double cleanse (do read my detailed post on double cleansing for more info) with a cleansing oil followed by foaming face wash. I’ve just finished my jumbo 500ml bottle of Pharmaact Deep Cleansing Oil, which I have been using on my body as well to remove tenacious sunscreen. Now, I’m in the midst of trying to use up all the leftover cleansing oils I have lying around. Probably not helpful for those hoping for more specific product names, but I’m really not picky with my cleansing oils whatsoever. If it doesn’t irritate my eyes and can completely melt away waterproof mascara quickly, I’ll use it up.
A foaming face wash that I’ve rediscovered (and also just about finished) is the Skinlife Acne Facial Foam by Cow Soap Brand as it’s non-stripping and leaves skin feeling very fresh but comfortable. Biore Skin Care Facial Foam in Moisture (2014 formula) is also a very nice, gentle one that I’ve used loads — I just bought a new tube.
2. Exfoliate / Prep
I use salicylic acid (BHA) daily to keep skin unclogged. Since summer 2014, my BHAs have been mainly from Paula’s Choice because they have a wide variety of formulas. I apply them directly after cleansing. Most mornings I use Resist Daily Pore-Refining Treatment 2% BHA (US$30). It feels very lightweight, non-oily, and sits quite well under everything. I use Resist Weekly Retexturizing Foaming Treatment 4% BHA (US$35) every two or three nights, and I usually don’t follow with anything else. I’ve used Neostrata Toning Solution Level 2 (CDN$29) for years — I still turn to it on some nights.
Wait time? Personally, I find it makes absolutely no difference. I apply my BHA immediately after cleansing and I just wait long enough for it to be absorbed — no more and no less.
If I’m skipping BHA, then I use a regular hydrating, “first-step” type lotion. Kohaku-hada Lotion (in Moisturising) that I’ve reviewed beginning of the year is one that I always fall back on. It’s hydrating and fast-absorbing. A Korean one that I find myself reaching for the most is Cosrx Galactomyces 95 White Power Essence (US$19.87 from Amazon Prime here). To be honest, it doesn’t actually do much — but it feels quite soothing and super lightweight on hot summer skin, so I have been using it quite a bit. (I like it enough to finish it, but I wouldn’t repurchase.) If I’m being lazy or short of time, I give my face a quick spray of the Meishoku Organic Rose Moisture Soda Mist.
Some might find it surprising that I’m pretty committed when it comes to serums. I use just one and I stick with it for at least a few weeks — because otherwise you can’t truly tell what is and isn’t working.
A new one for me, Clinical 1% Retinol Treatment from Paula’s Choice (US$55). I’ve been using it almost nightly for three weeks and it’s absolutely brilliant. Skin looks happy and plumped-out, minor imperfections are ironed out. As this also contains Tetrahexyldecyl Ascorbate (a stable, oil-soluble form of vitamin C), it satisfies my “fix” for vitamin C in my skin care routine.
I’ve been using Hada-Labo Shiroshizuku Whitening Serum on and off during the day since winter. It’s a nice, water-like liquid that layers very well — during the winter, I’d layer a hydrating serum over. Since that is nearly done, I’ve also been dabbling with Superfacialist Vitamin C+ Glow Boost Skin Serum (UK-exclusive, £15.99). Both brighten up the skin quite nicely!
Again, I skip moisturiser in the summer if my skin feels fine without it. The ones I most reached for the most tend to be reasonably straightforward rather than anything targeted. The Mizu no Tenshi Skin Treatment Gel that I reviewed last year is a total winner for lightweight hydration. I have a big jar of it. The Acmedica Medicated Acne Care Gel Milk is a nice low price-point ones that also get quite a bit of use. It has been discontinued though.
For drier areas, I really like the Horse Oil Medical Cream by Jun Cosmetic. It soothes irritation and rids flaky skin but it still feels lightweight enough for summer. Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré is a trusted old favourite that I turn to when skin feels dry — I usually mix a small dab with a lightweight lotion to give it a lighter, fresher texture. It also doubles as my eye cream, neck cream, hand cream… an all-in-one cream, really.
4. Sun Protection
What sunscreens I have been using the most this summer? I usually use three to four different sunscreens each time — a slightly moisturising essence/gel formula for the entire face, a mattifying milk over the T-zone, a waterproof moisturising formula for the exposed limbs, and something that has a cooling sensation for the neck area. That does seem like overkill and it also isn’t feasible for most people. But I do have countless Japanese sunscreens in my beauty cabinet, so there! You can browse through all the Japanese sunscreens in this site for info and reviews.
Well, that’s enough for now! I’ve gone on and on when this really is supposed to be a very short, simple post on the skin care products I’ve been using the most this summer!