My Skincare Routine – A/W 2019

If you have a dry skin type or are in the need for new effective skincare products, then this post is for you! My skin often gets extra-dry and irritated in the winter, but the combination of all products (featured below) has been leaving my skin so soft and happy! I alternate products depending on my skin need and what I feel like that day.

Step 1: First Cleanser

Whenever I have heavy makeup on, an oil-based cleanser is a must! 

I typically wear a full-face of makeup on weekends for outfit shooting or on parties/event days. An oil-based cleanser works effectively at melting down all layers of makeup in the matter of a few minutes. I use about two cotton squares to wipe it all off before jumping in the shower.

POND’S Cold Cream Cleanser: Cold cream is an emulsion of high concentrations of mineral oil and bee waxes in water. Although it helps retaining moisture while effectively removing make-up, it is not recommended to be left on for long time. Read more about it, here. I like using this cold cream only on days that I have heavy makeup on as it just melts all of my make-up including water-proof mascara. Thanks to this, I can save from having to buy makeup remover wipes, and as you all know that they are not cheap.

CLINIQUE Take The Day Off: This one is my recent discovery! I got this tiny pot from a 100-point perk from Sephora, and I was surprised by how good it actually was! I hear people talking about this product a lot on Youtube, but I would never think to invest in cleansing balm product like this. It goes from balm to oil to milk to melt away every trace of makeup. I love this balm even more than the POND’S cold cream since it is much less greasy (less mess!) and more lightweight. I am sure I will invest in a bigger $30 jar once I run out of this little one. Think about it in a long run, it is still much cheaper than having to spend on makeup-remover wipes.

Step 2: Second Cleanser

This step is a must for me every day! I usually have on a light layer of foundation or tinted moisturizer, eye make-up, and mascara (not water-proof.). On lighter make-up days like this, I’d do this step in the shower. I feel like I can cleanse my face and neck better with running warm water, especially at night! After that, I lightly pat my face dry with a micro-fiber face cloth.

Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser: I leave the Glossier bottle in the shower and like to use it with the Konjac sponge. I love its creamy gel formula that never leaves my skin tight. And there is something nostalgic about some of the Glossier products. I’m sure it has something to do with the rosewater that they have in there!

NEOGEN Green Tea Cleanser: I got this from my first Soko Glam order. Soko Glam was found in 2012 by Charlotte Cho, author of the Little Skincare Book that I talked about the intense 10-step Korean skincare routine. This cleanser got many positive reviews on the Soko Glam website, so I had to give it a try. It is a foam cleanser and very light weight. My skin is on a dryer-side, so I find a pump amount is good enough! At first, I did not like the tight feeling that it left my skin feel, but there were days that I appreciated it. I love that it is a pump dispenser and the fact that there are actual tea leaves inside. Funny when I looked up the ingredient list on the Soko Glam website, there are more than 100 things in there which really gets me confused, here! Regardless, I still highly recommend this cleanser to anyone, especially if you have combination or oily skin types!

Step 3: Exfoliator/Masks

If I have time that night and feel like my skin needs some love, I’d pop a quick mask on my face. I have been enjoying chemical exfoliators much more than regular sheet masks or physical exfoliators lately. 

The Ordinary Lactic Acid 5% + HAThis is a very gentle acid-exfoliator that is perfect to give your some ‘acid tolerance before you can start on more concentrated stuff. I like the fact that it does not smell like anything and can be left on skin. However, for some particular reason, I don’t reach for this one as often as I’d like. Perhaps it is too light that I do not notice any visible difference?

The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution: This one I’d say is one of the strongest chemical exfoliator I have ever used. Alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) exfoliate the skin’s topmost surface, and Beta hydroxy acids (BHA) further penetrates deeper and helps with clogged pores. This one really stings my face, but I do see the difference in my skin texture after using it. I take it off immediately with warm water after 10 minutes and follow with SPF in the next morning, as directed. It has a berry-red color, quite scary looking on the face, but I kinda like it since the color reminds me to time and take it off. I only use two to three drops and once or twice a month.

Bioré Charcoal Self-Heating One Minute MaskI have recently done a blog post campaign with Rite-Aid and shared how I use this mask, here. A box is retailed for $6 and comes in 4 single-use packs. I especially love this one since it heats up as I rub it on my skin, quite soothing. It does not dry up and leaves my skin so clean after I rinse it off. The mask is an example of physical exfoliator since it contain fine particles that I believe are charcoal powder? I have recently used up all of the sheet masks that I have, so I hope this one will do!

Chemical exfoliators are effective at giving instant smooth and soft skin result, but please do research prior and use them in moderation. SPF is an absolute must because the skin tends to get extra sensitive after its usage. I have heard great things about the Drunk Elephant T.L.C. Babyfacial. Let me know your thoughts if you have tried it in the comment section below.

Step 4: Triple Cleanse &/or Toner

After the shower or the exfoliator/masking step, I always like to go over my entire face and neck with a cotton square soaked with micellar water from Bioderma or Garnier or the Beauty Water.

Garnier Micellar Water: I got two of these micellar cleansing water bottle awhile ago when they were on sale at Ulta. This one is cheap, so I do not mind using a lot of it a time. It sure lasts a long time, and I am glad I am almost done with it! I find it leaves my skin slightly oily (very slightly though!), so I often have to rinse my face with water afterwards.

SON&PARK Beauty WaterI love multi-tasking products like this one! It is a toner. Toner helps balancing skin pH level and removing excess dirt. It removes makeup and even water-proof mascara. And the best thing is that it does not need to be rinsed off with water! I find this one is slightly drying for my skin, but other than that it does not irritate whatsoever. In addition, similarly with the NEOGEN green tea cleanser, this beauty water has a very long list of ingredients. I see the trend with these Korean skincare products! Should I be concerned?

Bioderma micellar water: This French-brand micellar water is a miracle water. I love this one the most out of the three under this category. I dispense a smaller amount of it, and it goes with me everywhere. Simple product. Gentle and easy to use!

DAISO Cotton pads: DAISO sells a box of 150 of these cotton squares for only $1.50, the cheapest and the best I have found! If you live near a DAISO store, definitely stock them up! I have to include these because they are essentials in my makeup routine. I love that they are so soft and don’t come apart easily compared to the MUJI ones I’ve featured on the blog before. I use this to wipe off my makeup in step 1, soak micellar water or toner and wipe my entire face and neck in step 4. And the Q-tips are must-haves for removing makeup in the corner of the eyes, clean the ears after the shower, or fix any make-up mistakes.

Step 5: Essence:

Putting on essence is my favorite and crucial part of my skincare routine. Essences typically contain ingredients that are rich in vitamins, organic acids, minerals, and amino acid, or all of the good stuff that hydrate and promote skin cell turnover. My ideal way to use essences is to pour a few drops directly into my palm, shares it with the other palm, and apply it into my cheeks, forehead, and bring it to my neck. My skin loves this stuff!!!

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence: This kit I got for $99 was not the cheapest but still a much better deal than buying the Essence alone. SK-II Essence is another very popular product in the Asian households. I remembered my aunts and uncles would non-stop talk about this product a couple of years back, and I’d dream to one day be able to afford and use it. I see the baby soft skin results from a few other women I know, so I know this product is really worth the hype!

Costco sells the 11 fl oz bottle for $199.99 while Sephora has it for $290. $100 difference, I know! Costco only limits 2 per purchase, fyi. The one I have is a smaller bottle of 2.5 oz, and it is retailed for $99 already! It is so expensive that I only use it once in awhile to ‘save’ it for ‘special’ occasion, hah! The only complain I have is its weird stinky smell once it comes in contact with my skin, but other than that, my skin drinks it up!!!

* I really wish SK-II lowers the price so that more people would get to try this product. Feel free to read on the SK-II website and read about their technology and their signature, Pitera.

NEOGEN Real Ferment Micro Essence: This product is exclusively sold at SOKO GLAM, and they talk about the ‘Honey Skin,’ achieved by using this essence. Skin is glowly, supple, soft and healthy (read more on their blog, here!). This essence contains more than 93% naturally fermented ingredients, 17% birch juice, 9% rice extracts, and other ‘good’ ingredients. After about two months of using it consistently every night, I can assure you that this essence does that to my skin. I love how it so much and would repurchase! $30!!!

Step 6: Serum

Serums contain highly concentrated ingredients that hydrate, tone, and improve the look of fine lines and wrinkles. An all-in-all good product!

I find that essence and serum serve the same benefits. I am lucky that I have normal, not too sensitive nor acne-prone skin. It makes it easier to try out different products without upsetting my skin. However, I have to do tons of research and only buy products that suit my skin type and needs.

The Ordinary ‘Buffet’ serum: This ‘buffet’ is one of the most expensive products from the Ordinary. However, it is still quite in-expensive compared to many serums out there. Its ‘buffet’ name implies the ‘technologies’ that this tiny bottle contains. Read in details, here. I would not say I see dramatic results from using this over the past year. I might need to use it in consistency in order to notice any improvements?

Drunk Elephant B-Hydra serum: Anything that Drunk Elephant makes is absolutely genius! I got this little trial-sized serum at Sephora and absolutely enjoyed every pump of it. This one gets really great reviews from acne-prone and oily skin people. It is formulated with pro-vitamin B5, pineapple ceramide, and a fruit bend. I might purchase a full-sized or would like to try the Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum for the daytime instead.

Step 7: Oils

Face oils come in all forms, sizes, and day to night uses. I like to add a few drops either directly on to my skin or mix it with my moisturizer. 

The Ordinary Rose Hip Seed Oil: This oil is yellow and quite thick! It is another strongly smell product, but it has the herby after-scent that I do not really mind at the end.

wanna try: Sunday Riley Luna Oil: An oil that’s also a treatment serum because there’s retinol in it! Apply it at night to improve the look of fine lines, redness, and pores, and don’t forget to apply sunscreen the morning after.

Step 8: Moisturizer

My must-haves!

FRESH Lotus Youth Preserve Moisturizer: This is my first Fresh product purchase and won’t be my last! I love how it coats my skin in such luxurious silky texture. Love!!!

DRUNK ELEPHANT Lala Retro Whipped Cream: This Drunk Elephant moisturizer is another genius product that I have continually repurchase through the years. I love its pumping mechanism that helps getting all products out without exposing it to air. This contains a blend of 6 rare African oils, hence, it feels rich and silky. My skin loves this stuff!

Step 9: Eye cream

Use a generous amount on the lids, bring it up and down and all around the areas around the eyes!

Bobbi Brown Extra Repair Eye Cream: I’m almost done with this eye cream after almost a year of using it! It has the richest consistency out of all eye creams I have tried before. I love that it is so rich and lasts so long! Definitely a repurchase for me!

OLE HENDRIKSEN Banana Bright Eye Creme: A product inspired by the popularity of banana powder, its tinted yellow and brightening effect. After a few uses, I find that I’d much prefer a thicker consistency for eye cream on me, like the Bobbi Brown one! I still like to use this under for the eye area prior to makeup as it instantly brightens and helps with the concealer’s longevity. Plus it dries super fast!

Step 10: Lip mask

I cannot go to sleep without some hydration on my lips.

LANEIGE Lip Sleeping Mask: I adore this product! It comes with the cutest scooper/applicator, and I enjoy the product itself so much! Im the pot, it looks like the color of the packaging but goes on clear and quite sticky. It stays sticky until the next morning or whenever I take it off. I love that it does not smell like candies or heavy bee wax like many lip balmy products out there! I’m addicted!

Congrats for making it till the end! I hope you will give some of the above products a try! As mentioned, I do not follow the exact 10 steps everyday, but I like to do it all as often as I can. I alternate and switch out products all the time to make sure my skin does not develop tolerance to any ingredients. Ever since I switch to using silk pillow case and wash it often, I do notice that it is much gentle and cooling on my face compared to the cotton one that I used to have. And you know one more secret to my healthy glowy winter skin? A glass-full of water before going to bed and lots during the day!


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Check out my other beauty-related posts:

Best of 2018 – 5 High-End Beauty Products Worth the Splurge

10 Best Amazon Finds – Beauty Edition

Stuff That Got me Through Winter 2018

Photos by Toan Chu Photography

An Trieu

Currently based in Seattle, Style & Senses is my digital life and style journal of all things that inspire my senses and beyond. Hope you stay inspired, as always! - An Trieu.

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