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My Personal Skin Care Routine (+ Tips to Make Your Own)

Skin first, make-up second.

A year after my life-changing education on skin care, I’ve skipped the daily medium to full coverage foundation and opt for a light tinted moisturizer or BB Cream – except on the occasional whole day event. I forego the thick cream concealer, sans the acne, and use a brightening liquid concealer to highlight my under eyes and the bridge of my nose. Bumps on my forehead are gone – thanks to my Aloe Vera Gel – and my dry skin looks healthy, radiating with a natural glow. My skin’s never been at a better state (no jinxing please), and I have to thank the 10-Step Korean Skin Care Routine.

Before anyone else, especially if you’re a beginner, attempts to create her own regimen, know that you don’t need 10 steps to achieve good skin. Layer if you must, but know that skin may be sensitive and can get agitated. Certain products can counteract one another, and the list goes on. If you break out from new products, stop using it immediately, and give it away! I suggest for you to read The Little Book of Skin Care by Charlotte Cho, and do your own research by religiously following The KlogWishtrend TVLiah YooGothamista, and The Beauty Breakdown.

If you want a personal regimen designed for you, I suggest to:

  • Identify your skin type, first and foremost.

What works for my dry skin may not work for your oily/combination skin. When shopping for products, you’ll discover that brands produce lines to cater to every skin type. Choosing the right products for you becomes less overwhelming when you acquaint yourself with the state of your skin. Choose well, and save your money, energy, and time.

  • Know which skin issues need to be treated.

Stubborn acne, pigmentation, premature aging, rough texture, dullness? Evaluate which needs to be treated, and keep building your routine with that in mind. A good serum and/or essence is your best bet!

  • Most of all, be patient. 

As with all things, good skin takes time. You won’t see instant results, and it can get frustrating. Be consistent with your routine, hydrate, eat good food, and cut back on the full-coverage foundation. Enjoy the process! Keep listening to what your skin is telling you, and you’ll see a great change overtime.

I’ve patterned *some* steps from the intimidating but highly effective international phenomenon. Given the state of my skin at present, I’ve simplified a bit and let go of essence, serum, and sheet masks. My daily routine consists of all-natural products – mostly Korean – through constant research and trial and error. Shall we get to the products?

Make-up Remover

Micellar Water

Garnier Skin Natural Micellar Cleansing Water in Pink (Watsons, P249; Night)

Because my crazy skin care lady double cleanse (cleansing balm and cleanser) isn’t enough, the first step of my (nightly) routine is to remove my eye and lip make-up with cotton pads soaked in my holy grail Garnier Micellar Cleansing Water. It’s the best and most gentle drugstore option I’ve tried! This is no match for my smudge-proof liquid lipsticks and waterproof mascara. I still can’t believe that the 400ml bottle is this affordable. Get the travel-size (125ml) for P149 if you want to test it or bring it for travel.

Disclaimer: I’ve heard stories about this particular product carrying the substance Polyaminopropyl Biguanide (PHMB) which should, apparently, be banned because it’s believed to be carcinogenic but still appears in make-up removers, lotions, and creams. Please do your own research as a consumer to see what you feel about it!

Cleansing Balm 

Banila Co. Clean It Zero Sherbet Cleanser in Purity (Shop Pibu, P890; Night)

To start off my double cleanse, a non-negotiable in my routine, I use the Banila Co. Clean It Zero Sherbet Cleanser which I find to remove make-up more effectively than the Heimish All-Clean Balm. A cult favorite from Korea, the oil cleansing balm hardly needs any introduction! It goes on a solid balm then melts into a milky consistency, dissolving impurities and excess make-up. I finished a big tub of the Classic version at the beginning of the year and thoroughly enjoyed it. At present, I use Purity (for sensitive skin) after suffering from stubborn acne for a few months. It could *almost* be perfect if it were not for the blurry sensation it leaves when near the eyes.

Cleanser

Banila Co. Clean It Zero Foam Cleanser (Banila Co. or BeautyMNL, P595; Day and Night)

After emptying 2 bottles of the Cetaphil Gentle Cleanser, a basic yet non-drying cleanser from the drugstore, I’ve loved using the Banila Co. Clean It Zero Foam Cleanser. As the last step of the double cleanse, this thick cleanser removes oil residue left from the cleansing balm. The price tag may seem unreasonable for such product but you only need so little that it can last for months!

Make sure to always cleanse your face properly, especially if you apply a lot of make-up and sunscreen, to avoid clogged pores and irritation. A clean face is the best foundation for all the other products to work. Make that extra effort, and you’ll see (and feel!) fantastic results overtime.

Exfoliator/Face Masks

Innisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask (BeautyMNL/Althea Korea, P560; 1-2x a week)

I have repurchased this after my skin went crazy upon emptying it. The Innisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask detoxifies and pulls out impurities from skin. It also rids it of excess sebum and minimizes the appearance of pores – because you can never really make it disappear. Unlike other face masks, this leaves skin feeling cool and hydrated. This is perfect for your next pamper sesh!

Lush Mask of Magnaminty Face and Body Mask (Lush, P425; Once a week)

This isn’t only for your face but also your body! Primrose seeds and Aduki beans both act as natural exfoliants, scrubbing away dead skin cells to increase cell turnover. It’s luscious and smells sweetly of chocolate! My favorite thing about this is how fast it dries – less than 5 minutes – best for days when I don’t have all the time in the world. I personally wouldn’t recommend this if you’re dealing with any stubborn breakouts, as with other harsh scrubs that can agitate acne even more rather than healing it. Again, don’t over-exfoliate and only use 1-2x a week.

Watch: Lush How It’s Made: Mask of Magnaminty via LUSH Cosmetics

Toner

Dear, Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner (BeautyMNL/Althea Korea, P880; Day and Night)

My love affair with the K-Beauty multi-tasker, Son&Park Beauty Water, has officially ended after months of bliss, and I’ve gotten to know the equally raved about Dear, Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner. I’m a fan of viscous toners so this is such a treat to use! Not only does it balance skin’s natural pH levels but it prepares it to absorb the products to follow. This deeply moisturizes and leaves face squeaky clean!

Useful tip: Soak up your cotton pads with product and apply on face then use your hands to apply another layer for extra plump and hydrated skin.

CosRX One-Step Moisture Up Pads (BeautyMNL/Shop Pibu, P900; As needed)

For a gentler exfoliator, I use the One-Step Moisture Up Pads, a recent release from CosRX after the much raved about Acne One-Step Pimple Clear Pads. The pre-soaked pads are perfect for days when you have extra dry and flaky skin – either before applying make-up or after removing it! Cut it in half with a pair of sterilized scissors to save your money! This is good for everyday use but because of its price tag, I only use this 1-2x a week.

Eye Cream

Mizon Snail Repair Eye Cream (BeautyMNL, P294; Day and Night)

Our under eyes are the most delicate part of our face so it needs extra TLC! This is the first eye cream I’ve ever tried so I’m honestly still on the search for a better product. This has effectively lessened my lines because of the snail mucin and gives it that extra moisture but hasn’t really lessened discoloration. This is also great for wrinkles so I use this on my smile lines.

Buy the 25ml tub (P750) from Shop Pibu.

Moisturizer

Nature Republic Super Aqua Max Fresh Watery Cream (Shop Pibu, P680; Day and Night)

I can heavily attribute the change of texture of my dry skin to Nature Republic’s Super Aqua Max Fresh Watery Cream. This is fantastic for the weather in the Philippines because it seeps into skin, and it won’t leave you sticky or oily. Packed with humectants, this restores and seals hydration. I also still stand by my love for the St. Ives Collagen Elastin Moisturizer, which is a great option from the drugstore for those on a budget.

Sunscreen

Nivea Sun Protect Aqua Gel SPF 50 PA+++ (Japanese Drugstore; Day)

For daily sun protection, I never leave the house without slathering my face and neck with the Nivea Sun Protect Aqua Gel, my favorite drugstore find from Japan. If you ever find yourself in the area, don’t leave without hoarding a few! Never take this step for granted because sun rays age your skin. A locally available alternative is the Bioré UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence, a lightweight, non-greasy water-based sunscreen. It’s just like you’re applying moisturizer on your face!

What’s your personal skin care routine like? Any tips for beginners? Leave them in the comments below. 💙


Plump, Hydrated Skin with SON&PARK Beauty Water

(SON&PARK Beauty Water from Shop Pibu, P1,200)

If you’ve been neglecting a toner in your routine all these years, it’s about time to include one! It restores your pH level – retaining moisture to the skin – and prepares it for the rest of the steps leading to better absorption and protection. You basically add back what you lose during the cleansing process. It also wipes away grime and residue left. Some Western (astringent) toners tend to be drying because of the alcohol content so I personally prefer Korean brands.

Watch: Everything You Need to Know About Skin Toning via WISHTrend TV

The SON&PARK Beauty Water is liquid gold for all skin types. I’ve heard so many Korean beauty gurus and experts rave about it – even Soko Glam #GirlBoss, Charlotte Cho, author of The Little Book of Skin Care. TBH, this wasn’t love at first swipe. I first tried it during my Osaka trip in January where it was winter. My skin was so dehydrated, and I was underwhelmed. Back in Manila where it was summer, it worked fantastic.

What is Beauty Water?

A brain child of Son Dae Sik and Park Tae Yun who are both famous Korean celebrity make-up artists (Jeon Ji Hyun, etc.). You can think of the product as a bridge between cleansing and the other steps. It works amazing as a toner but it also functions as a make-up remover (think micellar water), a gentle exfoliator, and a facial mist. It’s also made of natural plant extracts!

Use it after the double cleanse (morning and night), before you apply make-up, or when you just need a clean canvas. You’ll end up with hydrated, plump skin! This allows make-up to look so much better. It’s so gentle that you can layer the product multiple times. Use it with a trusty cotton pad or your bare hands. I’ve been using this since January, and it’s still half full; talk about a bang for your buck!

Get the travel-sized bottle (60ml) for P450. I bought this from Althea Korea during its release (P1,269).


Skin Care Products to Treat and Prevent Acne

I never had to go through bad acne as a teenager – it’s probably my dry skin and genes (thanks, Ma!) – so when I had the *worst* breakout of my life in February which lasted until May, I didn’t know what to do. After panicking trying to figure out what caused it (most likely a barrage of new products I was testing) and feeling completely insecure – people kept pointing out how bad my skin was – I researched and finally found products to effectively treat and prevent acne. I also discovered how to fade acne scars!

First, let me get this straight. As much as media, myself included, bombards – even pressures – one with the idea that a multitude of products (10 steps, anyone?) promises best skin, that may not always be the case. Skin is different for everyone; what may work for your favorite b/vlogger may not work for you. Skin can get over-irritated, products (especially acids) may counteract each other, weather changes, and the list goes on.

I advocated this overwhelming regimen, which worked for me at the time but after the entire drama, much has changed. Especially if you have sensitive skin, it’s best to keep to the basics: the double cleanse, a toner, moisturizer, and sunscreen – at the very least. You can keep it simple, and it’s also best to do your research. Layer if you must (yes, sir!) but know what works for your skin. Moderation is key! Introduce new products slowly; let your skin adjust. And, please give your skin a break once in a while, and cut down on the full-coverage foundation. Okay?

Watch: Is 10-Step Korean Skin Care Routine Popular in Korea? via Liah Yoo 

Toner & Exfoliator

COSRX One-Step Moisture Up Pads (Shop Pibu, P850)

A sure way to agitate your acne is manually exfoliating it with harsh scrubs (anything that has beads or rough texture *cough* St. Ives Apricot Blemish Control Scrub *cough*). I plead with you, don’t do it. If you want to eliminate dirt and dead skin cells, a weekly clay mask like Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Mask is fantastic. For gentler everyday exfoliation – which works as a toner as well – the COSRX One-Step Moisture Up Pads are wonderful. Being a fan of the COSRX One Step Pimple Pads for the longest time, I knew I had to get the product!

The pre-soaked cotton pads sweep away filth and leftover make-up that the double cleanse didn’t pick up. It contains hyarulonic acid, which is a humectant (a moisturizer) so it’s good even for those with sensitive skin types. The propolis extract (honey) in it functions as a disinfectant, great for fighting acne. It’s also formulated with BHA to help clean pores.

Oil

The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil (The Body Shop, P795)

For spot treating, I used to apply The Body Shop’s Tea Tree Oil directly on my pimple. It would decrease the acne size overnight but it dries it out and produces a nasty acne scar. Now, I mix it with my moisturizer (St. Ives Timeless Skin Collagen Elastin Moisturizer) as the last part of my skin care routine at night and before my sunscreen in the morning. It makes all the difference! I’ve shared this with my twitter followers and a number have messaged me to say that this cleared out their skin!

You can get the smaller bottle (10ml) for P495.

Cream

COSRX Centella Blemish Cream (Shop Pibu, P900)

For acne-prone skin, the COSRX Centella Blemish Cream is magic in a tub. Centella asiatica is commonly known as an antibacterial which treats acne and even heals wounds. It also fades acne scars! Use it to target blemishes day and night after moisturizer. This deflates the size overnight! The only downside is it’s a thick cream that can leave a white cast, just like a sunscreen would. This is life-changing especially if you’re going through major, stubborn breakouts.

Patch

COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch (BeautyMNL, P180)

Now, this is where it gets really interesting! The COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch includes 24 patches in different sizes. It shortens its life span because it removes whatever pus is inside (provided that it’s “open” and not just a big lump). This is also much better than drying up a pimple with Tea Tree Oil or the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion via spot treatment because again, there are less chances that you’ll get an acne scar that will haunt you for months! It even acts as a protective shield from 1. your stubborn finger and 2. elements that can worsen its state. This is so effective (!) for emergencies, and it’s also travel-friendly!

Be kind to your skin, and don’t stress about it too much. Acne isn’t forever; it just takes time to treat! Here’s to hoping this list helps in any way! 💙

What products work best for you when it comes to treating and preventing acne? I would love to know! Leave them in the comments below. ✨


Korean Skin Care 101: The Double Cleanse

In the age of magical cleansing and micellar water, removing make-up is easier than ever. Now, why would anyone of sound mind want to complicate their lives with a 2-step method to add to their already staggering daily checklist? Elisa, can you not?

What is the double cleanse?

The double cleanse is a staple for Koreans for their skin care routines. Removing make-up, sunscreen, and filth from your face after a long day is absolutely essential since skipping this will lead to premature wrinkling, congested pores, and breakouts. The first step is the solid cleansing balm or cleansing oil to be followed by the second step, which is the cleanser. I personally do the double cleanse only at night. If you want great skin, incorporate this in your regimen!

How do I do the double cleanse? 

Get the cleansing balm or cleansing oil with your hands (or a spatula, if provided), and massage it on your face until it emulsifies. Rinse with water. For heavy duty make-up, you can repeat this step. Follow it with a cleanser to remove any residue left. Once rinsed off, don’t pat your face dry with a towel for a damp canvas. This is also more hygienic! Continue with the rest of your skin care routine.

Watch: Double-Cleansing Routine: The Tutorial via The Klog

Products Used:

Heimish All Clean Balm (Shop Pibu, P850)

The Heimish All Clean Balm is impressive! YouTubers say it’s even better than the bestselling Banila Co. Clean It Zero, which is my holy grail. Word has it that the creators of the new brand were former Banila Co. employees so they improved the formula. I personally think that they both do the job well although Heimish doesn’t give you the uncomfortable blurry eyesight, and it has more product in the tub (120ml) compared to Banila Co.’s (100ml) for the same price.

The cleansing balm dissolves into a milky oil consistency, and it works even for stubborn make-up. The super lightweight balm contains Citrus Herb Oil to brighten skin plus Coconut Extract, Shea Butter, and Donkey Milk for that extra moisture! It also contains a plastic spatula inside, which is more sanitary than, let’s say, using your finger. That packaging is also *kawaii!* I just wish they used less…fonts (says the design student who doesn’t know how to design).

Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser (Watsons, P180)

Ever since the worst breakout of my life, I’ve simplified my routine and use more gentle products targeted for sensitive skin. I’m currently using the Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser, which does the job. It doesn’t strip my face off moisture, which a ton of generic drugstore products do.

I just discovered the best place to buy Korean skin care products in the Philippines! It’s called Shop Pibu, and they have pretty competitive (cheap) prices compared to BeautyMNL and Althea Korea e.g. Heimish All Clean Balm is P850 and in BeautyMNL, it’s P975. What did I tell ya? They carry the newest in skin care, and most of the time, the products I want are in stock, which isn’t the case with others. Check them out! ✨


Fading Acne Scars with Dear, Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop

Dear, Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop (Althea Korea, P1,010)

I’ve been suffering from the worst breakout of my life since February. It started with a huge pimple on my nose, then it transferred on my cheeks and chin. The constellation of distressing acne’s made me so insecure. I took a break from my BB Cream and went back to my full-coverage foundation, the Flormar Mat Touch Foundation. I lessened my use of *blinding* highlight because it accentuates texture on my skin. Most days, I don’t wear make-up at all. Trying to find the cause, I’ve reduced my skin care routine to the basics – cleanser, toner, eye cream, moisturizer – and removed any new products I was trying – essence, sunscreen – during the period when it all began. I stopped drinking coffee for a while and drank tea. I slept, a lot. I find it so strange, considering just a week before said dilemma, I had the best skin of my life.

My skin is healing with the help of the potent The Body Shop Tea Tree Oil – diluted in my moisturizer but, as per usual, I’m left with very bad scarring and hyperpigmentation. From past experience, these fade in months so I eventually gave in and purchased the much talked about K-Beauty multitasker: the Dear, Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop. It was 30% off during Althea Korea’s Trendy Best-Sellers Sale! I’ve incorporated it in my regimen for the past 2 months, and let me tell you something, it is liquid gold.

How do I use it? 

I immediately used it the day it arrived after my (recently emptied) Inisfree Super Volcanic Pore Clay Mask. The combination is divine; I’ve never had smoother skin in my life! Once applied to the face, it feels warm and greasy but the slight discomfort fades. This makes my skin extra dewy. Great amount of pure Vitamin C can be harmful to skin, so I use this once a day (night) as a serum all over my face – after my toner and before my eye cream and moisturizer. Half the dropper is more than enough! If you plan on using it in the morning, don’t forget to apply sunscreen since you’re more susceptible to UV rays.

Read: Ingredient Spotlight: Vitamin C via The Klog

What does it do? 

It evens out my skin tone – from all the years I refused to wear sunscreen. It’s made my skin so much brighter that I became a foundation shade, or two, lighter. This may be a big no-no for some people, so just a head’s up. In a few days, it changed the texture of my skin; my face feels like a baby’s bottom! In a few weeks, it’s recognizable how my acne scars have faded; others have completely disappeared! It contains Centella asiatica, commonly known to treat wounds. This claims to shrink pores but I can’t attest to that because I already have small pores. This is recommended, even for sensitive skin types, but if you’re wary, you can always mix it with your moisturizer to dilute it.

If you have stubborn acne scars or pigmentation that just won’t go away, this really does the job. Believe me when I say that it’s magic in a bottle!

Get P350 off on your first Althea Korea purchase. Use my link!