For regular readers: don’t worry, you’re in the right place.
You didn’t navigate to a beauty blog by mistake.
You are right in thinking, though, that I normally post about books and/or movies or, very rarely, depression and spirituality.
I haven’t recently. I’m in kind of a slump.
I feel trapped in my apartment, work has been stressful, and my dad was hospitalized last week. (He’s out now and doing better.)
In general, I’ve been feeling down, so today I am writing about something that makes me feel good.
GATHER ROUND, FAM. IT’S TIME TO TALK ABOUT SKIN CARE.
BEFORE YOU CONTINUE
- I am by no means a skin care expert.
- I am very cheap and thus buy all my skincare products at the drugstore. (I could buy a 10-Step Routine Kit for $199.00, but I am not that committed.)
- To my understanding, Korean skin care products are far superior to American skin care products and can be purchased from multiple online retailers.
- I got most of my information from Soko Glam and Sam Magg’s essay “Reddit, Retin-A, and Resistance: An Alchemist’s Guide to Skincare” from Becoming Dangerous: Witchy Femmes, Queer Conjurers, and Magical Rebels.
- I adapted the 10-step Skin Care Routine from Soko Glam into my own 8(ish) step routine.
- I learned from Sam Maggs that you should introduce one new product a week into your routine, lest you break out. Guess who DIDN’T follow this advice? (When my skin exploded, I told myself that it was “purging.” Refer back to my first bullet point.)
How I Got Started
So far this year, I’ve been focusing on creating new routines to combat anxiety.
My interest in skin care started after I bought a Korean oil cleanser on the recommendation that it would counteract my normally oily skin – which it did!
I started doing my own version of “casual” research.
There were cost comparisons, budget spreadsheets, and pro-con lists.
(You saw my Taylor Swift post. I go hard.)
I learned that by pursuing healthy skin, I wouldn’t have to wear foundation anymore.
No more agonizing over finding my perfect shade (never gonna happen) or wasting time applying products that clog my pores!
I now have ample time to focus on eye makeup, which is ALL I CARE ABOUT. (Quarantine is giving me a reason to up my eyeliner game.)
I am still new to this whole skin care thing.
As such, my routine is evolving as I discover which products work best for me.
Here’s the routine I’ve developed over the past few weeks.
Step One: Oil Cleanser
I started using Rice Water Bright Light Cleansing Oil from The Face Shop a few years ago.
I love how clean my skin feels after I rinse the oil off.
I only just learned about adding water to emulsify the oil AFTER I rub it into my skin – I was over here immediately washing the oil off in the shower.
Either way, my skin feels SUPER CLEAN.
This product also does a decent job of removing makeup. GOODBYE, FAKE EYEBROWS. SEE YOU TOMORROW.
I recently bought Pacifica Super Flower Rapid Response Face Oil to replace my other cleansing oil. I’ve never used this product; I’m interested to see how it compares.
I’m also insecure that this isn’t actually an oil cleanser, which summarizes how I feel about skin care in general, i.e., that I MUST BE SCREWING IT UP.
That, friends, is called anxiety and is part of the reason why I’m establishing a skin care routine.
Step Two: Water-based Cleanser
Korean skin care, I learned, places a big emphasis on the “double cleanse.”
Here’s a quick tutorial:
First, you remove sebum, sunscreen, and makeup with the oil cleanser.
Then, with the water-based cleanser, you remove sweat and all other impurities.
THAT’S IT. YOUR FACE IS CLEANSED.
I did a ton of research about what constitutes a water-based cleanser and ended up panic-buying micellar water because it was a product I recognized.
Right now, I’m using Simple Micellar Cleansing Water for all skin types.
I read somewhere that micellar water leaves skin feeling “supple,” which is EXACTLY how my skin feels after using this product.
It refreshes my skin without leaving a residue AND removes most of my eye makeup, which is a FEAT.
I bought the Safeway brand micellar water as a refill. Fingers crossed it works as well.
Step Three: Exfoliator
I’m really irritated by skin care products that qualify as more than one thing.
This overlap made finding an exoliator almost impossible.
I have a million questions.
Does salicylic acid scrub count as an exfoliant, a treatment, or both?
Should I use a beaded scrub or a foaming cleanser?
Why include “cleanser” in the name at all? What did that even MEAN???
Spoiler alert: I STILL HAVEN’T FIGURED IT OUT.
That’s why I’m currently using Yes to Tomatoes Activated Charcoal Bar Soap and Clean & Clear Blackhead Eraser Scrub.
I figure, between the two of them, I might remove dead skin cells. (Or maybe the soap qualifies as a cleanser and I’m triple-cleansing every day. SKIN CARE IS HARD.)
I JUST learned that I should ONLY exfoliate 1-2 times per week!
I AM AT A LOSS FOR WORDS.
It seems SILLY NOW that I bought ANOTHER salicylic acid cleanser JUST IN CASE I ran out of the other TWO. (GOTTA KEEP UP THAT TRIPLE CLEANSE.)
I have Biore Deep Pore Charcoal Cleanser waiting in the wings because I’m TRYING NOT TO GO TO THE STORE FOR NONESSENTIALS.
(Speaking of…LEAVE SOME TOILET PAPER FOR THE REST OF US, SEATTLE.)
Step Four: Toner
Toner is supposed to reset your skin’s pH levels.
I don’t really understand how that works, but I love the concept. It makes me feel like a scientist.
I AM NOT JUST WIPING MY FACE WITH A COTTON BALL. I AM DOING SCIENCE.
Because I balk at prices, I bought the cheapest toner I could find. I tell myself it’s supposed to burn so good. I’m not sure if this is true.
(Perhaps I should blame my overzealous exfoliation.)
I currently use Loreal Hydrafresh Toner. It says it’s alcohol free but I HAVE MY DOUBTS.
(Again, any reaction COULD be a result of overexfoliating.)
I bought Thayers Facial Toner, a toner that contains witch hazel, aloe vera, and rose water. Once my Hydrafresh runs out, I’ll switch to this one.
(Optional Step: Face Mask)
The Soko Glam Skin Care Routine includes three additional steps after Toner that I left out of my personal routine.
I was already committing to SEVEN NEW PRODUCTS.
I didn’t also want to learn the differences between ampoules, essences, serums, and treatments.
Also, I’m very confused by sheet masks. How does one stock up on sheet masks? I feel like this is an expensive endeavor.
In lieu of these steps, I use a mud mask 1-2 times a week.
I bought Pores Be Pure Skin-Clarifying Mud Mask on a whim while shopping at Old Navy. (Don’t follow my example.)
I don’t use this product very often and I’m honestly not sure it works. I still feel very fancy when I use it. I like to smooth it over my skin while whispering, “Self-care.”
The mask goes on cold and then it burns for a bit. The back of the bottle says this is normal.
(I should stop trusting bottles.)
In the future, I’ll probably try an ACTUAL SHEET MASK.
If only I could FIND THEM IN BULK instead of in individual packages for a dollar each.
I know that doesn’t sound like much, but buying seven face masks every week seems…ridiculous.
I can’t spend my money on crystal necklaces and vegan mac and cheese if I need to make room in the budget for FACE MASKS.
Step Five: Eye Cream
Every time I use eye cream, I ruminate on my intent: Am I doing this to prevent aging? How do I feel about aging? Am I worried about bags under my eyes? What is the point of this product?
It’s a very existential line of thought for 7:30 AM. I don’t like it.
Also, I just learned I have been applying this product wrong; it should be dabbed onto my orbital bone, not directly under my eye.
I feel a fool.
I’m using Burt’s Bees Sensitive Eye Cream. It uses cotton extract, an ingredient that my skin doesn’t like. (We’re talking burning. But I HATE TO WASTE A PRODUCT. AND IT DOESN’T CLOG MY PORES.)
I’ll start applying this product CORRECTLY and opt for a different kind of eye cream the next time I go shopping.
Step Six: Moisturizer
Do we get to talk about moisturizer now!?
I love moisturizer! It’s my favorite!
That being said, I’ve had trouble finding a moisturizer that works well.
Most of the moisturizers I use tend to leave my skin DRIER after multiple uses and do nothing to clear blemishes.
The last moisturizer I used, Yes to Tomatoes Daily Balancing Moisturizer, contained the dreaded COTTON EXTRACT.
I FEEL LIKE A MOISTURIZER ISN’T SUPPOSED TO BURN OR LEAVE YOUR SKIN FEELING TOO moist.
THAT’S WHY I AM SO GRATEFUL FOR MY NEWEST FIND.
At first, I regretted buying Clean & Clear Watermelon Gel Moisturizer. I HATE the smell of watermelon and rubbing sticky fruit lotion on my face isn’t my idea of a good time.
Also, a GEL moisturizer? Like gel deodorant? Is it here to clog my pores and exacerbate my acne?
Y’all, I was wrong. Gel moisturizers are great.
Unlike with OTHER MOISTURIZERS containing COTTON EXTRACT, my skin actually absorbs gel moisturizer, leaving it feeling soft without being sticky or looking shiny.
If I use too much, my skin feels tacky for a minute or two at most.
I DIDN’T KNOW IT WAS POSSIBLE to use a moisturizer that left me feeling hydrated rather than saturated.
WHAT A WONDERFUL SENSATION.
I’m ignoring the watermelon scent as best as I can. I might even be beginning to like it.
Step Seven: Sunscreen (Daytime only)
Sunscreen is my longtime nemesis.
I HATE IT. I resent how much I need it as a pale-skinned Scandinavian. YOU MIGHT PROTECT ME FROM SKIN CANCER, SUNSCREEN, BUT I DON’T HAVE TO LIKE IT.
I begrudgingly bought Hawaiian Tropic Sheer Touch Lotion Sunscreen after receiving a really bad sunburn at the Fremont Solstice Festival.
Though this sunscreen claims to be “non-greasy,” it sits on my skin like a heavy foundation. I can feel it clogging my pores.
At least it smells good? The strong coconut scent doesn’t mix well with perfume, but IT’S FINE.
I AM STILL USING THIS OUT OF GUILT. I DON’T LIKE TO WASTE A PRODUCT.
I recently picked up two tubes of Walgreens 50 Sensitive Skin Broad Spectrum SPF 50 Sunscreen UVA/UVB and tried a bit this morning.
It doesn’t respond super well to patting (which is how I apply most of my products), but it goes on dry and doesn’t sit as heavily on my skin.
AN END TO GREASINESS IS ALL I ASK.
That’s my routine.
The world of skin care, while fascinating, kind of freaks me out.
I’m reluctant to buy a proper Korean skin care set or look into snail goo and donkey milk.
I want healthy skin, but is it worth all the effort?
At least the routine is comforting.
I like starting and ending my day with this calming ritual.
And, hey, I found a MOISTURIZER I LIKE.
That sure is something!
As long as this virus rages, I’ll keep taking care of my skin and perfecting my winged liner.
Tell me about your favorite skin care products! I would love to hear about them!