My monthly favourite for August is my new and improved skincare routine.
Ever since being exposed to the Korean skincare routine(yes... Korean... again...) (don't leave me please) and reading and listening about the huge hype, I decided to try it out. A friend also told me to try out Asian skincare as opposed to the Western skincare seeing how our skin type might differ from the Westerners. Never even thought about that so I'm glad someone told me.
So as Tania and I went to Seoul, we decided we should revamp our then skincare routine to a Korean one. Which required us to go shopping. And that's hardly ever a chore. Korean skincare lines are actually surprisingly affordable compared to the likes of Kiehl's and Mario Badescu and Dr. Murad (in which I've tried all and the only thing that's ever effective for me is MB's Drying Lotion - other than that, it was all a waste of moolah for me). From The Skin Food to Missha to Laneige to Tony Moly to Nature Republic, there were so many brands to choose from so what Tania and I did was try to get as many products from as many brands.
Since there are so many Korean brands, it was quite difficult to choose what to get because seeing how competition was stiff in the market, it is presumed that every brand would try to innovate and create the best product in the market. And all at a low price.
So how does the infamous Korean skincare work?
I gotta admit, I've been slacking on my skincare (so it really is my fault) and the only thing I put on my face is moisturiser and eye cream. Obviously, that works perfectly for a lot of people (you lucky &*%$#@!, you!) but my skin is a little bit more high maintenance than that and I just wasn't bothered.
There are 10 steps, sometimes even more according to what you like, in a typical Korean skincare routine so I'll share it here. I've been reading on this a lot lately so I'll try to summarise what I've learnt !
1 Make-up remover / Cleansing oil
This is such an important step because make-up is usually the culprit for acne. If you don't clean it properly, your pore gets clogged with the foundation and powder you wear and it doesn't really matter what you put on your face after, it's just not gonna work.
I'm still very loyal to my Garnier Micellar Water and I use it although sometimes I steal from Tania's cleansing oil - the Banila & Co.'s 'Clean it Zero' which is their best seller. It's such an interesting product though - you apply it clear but when it comes in contact with water, it turns a bluish purple colour and thus, melts away all traces of make-up. The Koreans are big on the gentle approach when it comes to washing their make-up off so they don't believe in rubbing your make-up with a make-up wipe or even with a cotton wool. How people use Clarisonic is beyond their comprehension!
2 Foam cleanser
If you're unaware of the 2-step cleansing system, this is what it's about. To ensure all dirt and sweat and excess oil and make-up and all that dirty stuff is completely off your face, the Koreans cleanse their face twice! For some people, this is already a step too many. But this was something I was already familiar with because I wear make-up and so I always wash my face twice to ensure that my face is as clean as it can get! It's said that you're supposed to allocate the same amount of time to wash your make-up as much as you allocated time to put in on in the first place. So if you take 20 minutes applying make-up, that means you should take 20 minutes off your time to wash it all off.
I'm currently using and absolutely loving Nature Republic's Snail Foam Cleanser. Yeap... snail. It's the newest biggest thing in Korea and every skincare brand has a line of snail products. Sounds icky and it is quite icky if you think about it - it's made of snail mucus but it's been acknowledged as one of the best cure for dark spots, wrinkles and age lines as well as acne so if you're aiming to have nice even skin, this is the best out there for you. For every shop we went, we were highly recommended the snail line and it is slightly more expensive than the other lines but I was curious to see how it worked!
I don't do this daily but I always get excited using it. Why? Because you can literally see the dead skin peeling off from your skin. I'm using the one from Bio-Essence and it's the deep pore exfoliator. You won't use it too much though because then you'd be ridding your skin of its healthy nutrients. I do it about 3-4 times a week. I got myself a small bottle to test it out but I'm loving it loads. Your skin feels so much smoother, you just want to caress it all day. It also means that your skin is now properly prepped and primed for the following steps.
Guys, I found the BEST SMELLING toner around!!!!!!!! It's an Aloe Vera one from Nature Republic and my God, it's probably my favourite thing to put on my face out of my entire routine because the smell is ridiculously good.
I chose to get an Aloe Vera one because of its calming properties. My face tends to get very very red from all my spots and sometimes, when my eczema flairs up, I turn an awfully ladybug-like red. So, I wanted something that could help tone it down.
It's worked amazingly for me because now, my face isn't as red and I think it's largely thanks to this.
And did I mention it smells like a little piece of heaven? I still have lots of it left but I'm going to get a few more bottles before I leave for the UK again.
The Koreans deem this as their most important step in their routine. The essence. It is meant to accelerate your cell turnover rate so this is particular very good for those who want to get a smoother and more even skin. Most people find that adding this step to their skincare routine has been incredibly helpful in clearing the skin of dark spots. The one I'm using at the moment is the Belif Anti-Aging Essence. A lot of young people stay away from 'anti-aging' thinking how it's not meant for them just yet but this is not the case with Koreans. A lot of them include anti-aging products into their routine because they strongly hold the belief that prevention is better than cure. Which is why there are so many Koreans who look so so so so so so much younger than what they really are. To them, it's better to start early than to kelam-kabut guna bila dah ada wrinkles and lines. Not that there's anything wrong with that, obviously, it's natural to have wrinkles but has it ever hurt when someone tells you you look much younger than you really are? Didn't think so.
The serum I'm using is by Missha and it's the Super Aqua one so as the name would suggest, it's super moisturising. A lot of products in Korea treat single issues - so for instance, there'll be a line of products specifically for moisturising and then there'll be one specifically for anti-aging. Here, you're meant to create your own little mixture and layer the serums. Some people go as far as using three different types of serums for three different types of problems. Sounds heavy but obviously, you don't have to use so many serums - one is enough, I'm sure.
7 Sheet masks
I read somewhere that the purpose of these sheet masks is to ensure that the products you've piled on so far don't go anywhere. It's like a seal, you're trapping all your products for the next 10-15 minutes and letting it completely absorb into your skin.
And, it's fun as heck shopping for these. Koreans are huge on masks - they have stores just dedicated to masks as in they don't sell anything other than these masks which is pretty crazy if you think about it. They have so many different types of masks, you won't know where to start. My favourite ones are from Nature Republic, they are so moist and so cooling when you put on. You use it about 3 times a week. But I don't think there's a rule anywhere in the book that says you only have to adhere to specific number of times - it's pretty flexible and whenever you feel like having a mask day, you just go have yourself a mask day.
Even if you're not into Korean skincare and you're just reading this 'cause of me (thanks, luv u), try out a mask! Your skin gets so plump and so sedap after that, promise! I highly highly HIGHLY recommend the masks over at Nature Republic ; they are the best for me, they're so moist and so cooling to wear and they don't tend to dry out as quick as some other masks. Go get it, use it and thank me later.
(and yes, that's a SHINee mask that I've not used because I don't want to tear open their perfect faces)
8 Eye cream
This is a step that I'm sure we're all familiar with. I was using a Murad one before this but it ran out just in time for me to switch to a Korean brand. I'm currently using the collagen one from Etude House. Eye cream has always been an important step because the skin around our eyes is thin and therefore delicate so it's vital to have them moisturised and taken care of.
We're finally at moisturiser!!
By now, my skin is so sticky and so shiny from the products I've applied but moisturiser is still moisturiser, you still have to have it on. When your skin is dehydrated, your body will produce more oil to your skin in order to have it moisturised. But it is often this oil that accumulates and comes in contact with bacteria that'll bring you acne. So, moisturise!
I'm topping it all off with my snail cream moisturiser from Nature Republic. I love this line, it really is living up to its hype. This particular moisturiser is made up of 70% snail mucus which can be quite off-putting to some but you don't really think that when you see it. There are just so many snail moisturisers in the market but I decided to stick to the same brand as my foam cleanser to see how these two work out. So far, going great!
Seeing how it was super hot in Seoul, I couldn't live without SPF. Thankfully, because of it, I didn't get as tanned nor burnt as I thought I'd be. Also, because of all my dark spots, it's very important to religiously put SPF on to prevent them from getting darker. I've actually been quite good with my SPF so this was just like adding another familiar step into my routine. The one I've been using for the last few months is by Kiehl's and because you only use the tiniest amount of it, it lasts you a long time so it's really good value for money.
It's always been the case for me where skincare is not something you should be stingy about. Spend your money, if anything, on reputable skincare brands because it shows on your face in the long run. Also, you never know what they have in cheap skincare so always invest in proper skincare.
So far, this skincare routine, although a bit heavy and tedious, has been working well for me. I haven't had a pimple in weeks (I hope this isn't a jinx!) and I'm just loving it. Leaves my skin feeling really clean and smooth and moisturised. Once you've gotten used to the routine, it doesn't take much time (sheet masks aren't for everyday use anyway) nor effort. In fact, getting my skincare routine on is my favourite time of day because of how therapeutic it can be.
I'm no expert when it comes to skincare, obviously, but everything I've spurted out in this blog post is all entirely things that I've read online from accredited sources and learnt from doctors and sales assistants. I'm all too familiar with skin problems so I educate myself by reading a lot of articles on skin in my free time and it's also actually oddly interesting.
Moving on to music, I've just realised I've not properly listened to an english song in ages that whenever I turn on the radio (hardly ever these days), it's like I'm listening to newer and newer songs every day when actually in fact, they've been on the radio forever.
And then shortly after, I'm reminded why I don't listen to english songs anymore. I do, however, feel bad for abandoning my once much loved english TV shows. There's been so much hype for Suits these days, and to think I was a huge fan once upon a time! I think I shall try to catch up with it.
LOL I say this as I watch another episode of We Got Married and Running Man. I've currently been so hooked on this show called The Genius, a variety game show, where 13 (?) members are gathered and each week, there's a game and it's all about tactic and alliances and betrayal amongst the contestants. It's so smart and so good with loads of unexpected twists. It's been on for 4 seasons now!
Ok, so the music I've been listening to a lot lately;
I couldn't find this song on Soundcloud but give 'Unforgettable' by 2BiC a listen. It's made me cry so many times now! Such a sweet melodic song with lyrics worthy of your tears!
Ok, enough Korean in one blog post!
Hope you're having yourself a great day!