Wednesday, July 17, 2019

Summer Skincare Routine

Let's get the scary part out of the way. Here's how my skin looks now. On a better day, that minuscule pimple on my nose wouldn't exist, the raised bumps on my right cheek would magically disappear, and I wouldn't have two random gashes on my forehead. But it's important to acknowledge that this is still a good skin day. Impossible expectations have a way of weighing us down, let's try not to do that to ourselves!

Skincare has always been a ritual for me. I grew up watching my mother slather creams on her face day and night and dutifully started doing the same when I was a teenager. I disliked Clinique's astringent toner as soon as I tried it, precipitating years of being annoyingly meticulous about the textures and effects of what I use on my face. I've finally reached a place where I think my skin is as good as it gets without more drastic intervention.

As with all talk of skincare, your mileage may vary (YMMV). What works for me may not work for you. I subscribe to the belief that skincare is part science part psychology, which is why one person's HG is another person's dud. Here are the products that work for me.

Mr. Plant Pot says hi!

The two in my current rotation are Tatcha The Essence and Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Water. The Tatcha essence looks and feels just like water out of the spout, which makes applying it without spilling a couple precious drops an exercise of dexterity. Ironically, the Sulwhasoo water is viscous and requires a good ketchup shake to get out. It's stickier but doesn't bother me, and sorts of smack you in the face with its delicious ginseng scent (which, unghhhh, give it to me).

One of the hardest things to definitively answer about a skincare product is "how do you know it works," which my partner brings up every few months as he puts on whatever toner's on our vanity. I notice the difference this step makes to my skin because I usually skip it when I'm traveling and my skin is less... good. Nothing would be outwardly wrong, I just know it would not be up to its usual standards. And I can safely say it's the essence step because the rest of my skincare pretty much stays the same.

If there's one item I wouldn't like to be without, it's this $21 miracle worker Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence. It's a tad slimy, which might take getting used to, but every time I put it on my skin soaks it up like it's been thirsty for days. The fact that it costs a fraction of the other stuff in my routine is icing on the cake.

Close on its heels is Holy Snails Double Shark Sauce (or its OG Shark Sauce or Sauce du mois variants). Preventing age spots and unevenness is my #1 goal, and having a healthy dose of niacinamide (10% in the double!) is key. I'm partial to supporting Holy Snails because she started out as a blogger and created this product for her friends. I would caution that form factor aside, it doesn't travel well. I've had at least two heartbreaking instances of shark sauce blowing up in the plane.

The Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Serum is pure decadence for me. Do I have clinical, scientific proof that ginseng does something for my skin? No. Do I like the hanbang smell and does it make me feel extra fancy? Yes. The optimist in me hopes that the anti-aging stuff is true, and maaaybe that's why I don't have wrinkles and fine lines. But I'm also 30, so that sounds like a stretch? You know what, it's okay to just do a thing (that doesn't make anything else worse) because it makes me happy. Pardon me as I sniff the ginseng off my face.

I've started incorporating vitamin C into my routine since learning that it's one of the few ingredients in skincare that has been clinically proven to reverse signs of aging. I haven't gone all out and optimized for concentration and pH yet, mostly because I'm using up what I happen to have at home. Currently going through Glo Skin 15% Vitamin C Serum, which is as straightforward a vitamin C serum as it gets, housed in a bottle with dropper that repels sunlight. I apply to face twice a week or so, but I'm gauging effectiveness by putting it on a blemish on my knee caused by an errant curler.

Eye Serum
I dismayed when trying a sample packet of the Sulwhasoo Timetreasure Renovating Eye Serum and seeing my eye bags vanish the next day, because the $260 price tag is hard to swallow. Fortunately, my brother's girlfriend was on a trip to Korea and got me one for less. I use this sparingly and only on days I didn't get enough sleep or want an extra boost. In my experience, the effects are more pronounced when used overnight.

I question whether the occlusive layer is strictly necessary in summer, but I do it out of habit anyway. I'm using Tatcha The Water Gel to give myself the lightest of watery layers.

I'll go more into sunscreen in another post, but please! Apply it every day, rain or shine, and put on way more than you think is necessary (like 1 tsp just for your face). Preferably SPF50 and broad spectrum, every two hours that you spend outdoors. I've repurchased many tubes of Tatcha Pore Perfecting Sunscreen throughout the years because it's scentless and I happen to like its creamy texture for the face over other, more aqueous Japanese sunscreens. But the best sunscreen is the one you would use.

This might sound like a lot, but it takes no more than a couple minutes to complete and I've come to relish that bit of time that's wholly for my self-care. We'll talk about acids and exfoliators and masks and cleansing another day. In the meantime, I'd love to hear about your own skincare HGs and journeys!


  1. Do you know how much the serum costs in Korea?

    1. Hmm I don’t remember, but one way to check is through the Shilla duty free website. Keep in mind that you can pile on discounts so an item is usually 30% less than the price originally shown

  2. It's nice to be able to read your blog posts again :)

  3. I would love to see all your favorite peachy blushes! Blush is such an important step in my makeup routine!


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