Over the years, I’ve tried to take care of my skin. I stay out of the sun and I moisturize. I do no wear any makeup except lipstick. A couple months ago, I began a journey to delve into better skin care. This is both for health and as a hobby. I have followed and tried Asian beauty products in the past, but this was the first time when I really researched and took it to the next level.
This is a new series in posts as I explore this beauty and health regime and hobby. Warning: this is a long post with mini reviews of several products.
Skin Profile: Dry/Normal – In the winter and for most of the year, my skin tend to be one the dryer side. Not very flakey, but definitely not oily. I drink a lot of water during the day and my skin not dehydrated. My skin does like humid weather more. In humid summers, it will become more Normal. I’ve never had really oily skin so my skin has become more dry as I get older. I do get flakey on my chin due to rosacea.
MAC Shade: NC20 – I do not wear face or eye makeup, but frequently wear lipstick. The lightness of my skin tone means I’m not too bothered by white cast in sunscreens, but pigmentation does show up on me.
Hormonal Acne Rosacea: For the last couple of years, I have been getting hormonal breakouts around the chin area. The pimples happen almost every month and they are mostly manageable. Occasionally, they will become very painful, inflamed, and itchy. The area then becomes dry and damaged. A family physician diagnosed me with rosacea and prescribed a gel for it. My chin is the most damaged and driest part of my face. My rosacea is minor compared to other rosacea sufferers.
Dryness: Some dry patches especially in winter and around problem areas. The lower half my skin around the chin, mouth, and jaw tend to be driest.
Post-Inflammatory Hyperpigmentation (PIH)/Sunspots: Dark spots from sun and acne/breakouts.
Skin Routine and Products
The following products are what I’ve been using since August 2016 when I started to get serious about my skin again. I do not use all of these products daily. My goal is to simplify my routine and use about 6-8 max per routine. I want to find the best products for my skin available in the West and in the East. The routine should be relatively affordable and not have major issues of availability.
These entries will log mini reviews of the products and what I have used. As this is a hobby of mine, I enjoy trying new products and writing out about it.
Repurchasing skin products is not common for me. While many products work or do not break out on me, I like trying new things. HG is rare for me too and I think it should stay that way since products and skin changes over time. While my skin is not as sensitive, the dryness and rosacea issues does limit what I can try.
1/5 – Holy Fail. This sucks and I won’t finish it. Rare.
2/5 – It’s ok/below average. May finish or give away.
3/5 – Decent or Good. Unlikely to repurchase, but will usually finish.
4/5 – Very Good/Great. High chance of repurchase if nothing else better.
5/5 – Holy Grail. Consistently great and works for me. Rare.
I never regularly cleansed my face with any product until this year. I found most cleansers too drying and left my skin feeling tight. I introduced the double cleanse method because I wear and prefer waterproof/sebum proof sunscreens.
In the mornings, I will cleanse with water. In the evenings, I use the following:
The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Rich Cleansing Oil – Score Pending. I have a local The Face Shop, but they never had the rich version of this in stock and it was cheaper online. As of this writing, I have used it for almost a week. So far, no breakouts or issues. It does remove my sunscreen and I’ve grown accustomed to the smell. No dry issues. Right now it’s hovering at 3.5-4/5. Boring but works.
CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser – 4.5/5. Affordable, easily available, well formulated. Does not leave my skin feeling tight. Good for shaving too. I am wary of trying anything else since this works well enough and I don’t have to order it online.
Nature Republic Snail Solution Foaming Cleanser – Sample. Did not use this on my face because I tested the pH and it is about 8. Very high. However, nice scent, foams up well, and good for shaving.
In the Queue
DHC Cleansing Oil – Decanted Sample. This is an expensive oil, but I got the chance to buy a decant and see if it lives up to the hype.
No exfoliation since I’m too sensitive for AHAs and BHAs. I want the rest of my routine to be great first before I even try lighter AHAs such as lactic and mandelic acid.
Metro gel 1% for Rosacea – 3.5/5. This does minimize inflammation. It is very expensive but I only use a little bit a few times of month if I get a bad flareup.
First Treatment Essences
None at the moment. Not really sure how necessary this step is. However, I have read good things about a couple of the CosRX ones.
Hydrating Toners and Lotions
Essencia Pure Rose Floral Water – 3.5/5. Used this for years. I like it as a way to prep my skin. Will not repurchase soon since I have other options to try. Good backup.
Kiku-masamune Sake Skin Lotion High Moisture – Decanted Sample. Excited to try this after reading almost near universe reviews about how great it is as toner. Great for value too since the full size is 500mL. I may use it instead of the Hada Labo if I like it more or there is a chance I’d like them together.
Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium Hyaluronic Acid Lotion – I ordered this before the Kikumasamune sample, but it has not has not arrived yet.
Vitamin C Serum
Indeed Labs Vitamin C24 – 3.5/5. Technically more exfoliation than others, but I like to layer this first after a hydrating toner since it’s a stable Vitamin C. I use to make my own Vitamin C serum years ago and I did not want to do that anymore or buy ones that oxidize. Cost is affordable and is available locally. It lasts a few months. However, it can sting and contribute to some dryness so I only use it every other day or about 3-4 times a week. I was going to keep using this to monitor for about half a year; however, I ordered the serum below.
The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA 2% – On the way. Created by one of the original founders of Indeed Labs. This is 23% over C24’s 22% and silicone free. It is still Canadian and it is even cheaper even with shipping.
Waiting to finish testing the cleansers and toners before adding the essences.
Mizon All in One Snail Repair Cream – Decanted Sample. Tried this once already. Very light whipped essence. Not sure if it’ll do much.
Guerisson 9 Complex Essence – On sale at T&T. Read some reviews inidcating that it was hydrating which will good for winter.
Superdrug Simply Pure Hydrating Serum – 4/5. – I don’t know if this serum actually does anything in the long term, but I like it. It seems hydrating. It absorbs well, has good ingredients, and is cheap. It is a cult item for a reason. However, I can’t repurchase since I am no longer in the UK. I would repurchase if I ever get the chance.
The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% – May only be good for sebum control and not brightening. Lately, I have suspected that I am sensitive to high levels of niacinamide so we’ll see if this works at all. I’ll use it on my body if it doesn’t work out.
The Ordinary Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA – Initial reviews indicate that this is the brightening product and excited to try it.
Many years ago as a uni student, I used jojoba oil as my primary moisturizer and it worked very well. However, as I got older, my skin got dryer and needed more product. I’ve dabbled with coconut, olive, castor, sweet almond, argan, shea butter, and sea buckthorn oils. I continue to be interested in oils.
Emu Oil – I actually did not put this on my face because it was rancid and smelled pretty bad. What a waste. I left too long. I likely won’t buy emu again. It’s expensive and turns rancid too easily. Mixing with essential oils to use on my hands, feet, elbows, and knees this winter.
The Ordinary 100% Rosehip Seed Oil – Score Pending. Faint fish scent in a pleasant way. Testing first by itself, but this is a dry oil. It is most effective when mixed with jojoba or argan.
Homemade Facial Oil – I want to create my own facial oil with jojoba oil, frankincense essential oil, rosehip seed oil, sea buckthorn oil, and maybe a couple of other oils.
None at the moment. I’ve read good things about Scinic Honey All in One Ampoule.
Sheet Masking is not really my thing. I’d only do it for travel and the occasional treatment every few months.
Nature Republic Snail Mask – Gifted from a friend. Good reviews.
My Beauty Diary Imperial Bird’s Nest (Red box) – On the way. MBD has a lot of fans. Their masks sold in boxes of 10 are available to me at my local T&T. I ordered one and probably order a couple of others to test them out before buying a full box.
The first of three sections on moisturizers. This category of products is the one I have spent the most on over the years since I have always been obsessed with moisturizing.
Pure Aloe Vera – Lily of the Dessert Gelly – 4.5/5. Best in the humid summer for face and works fantastically on mosquito bites. Dries matte under sunscreen. On hold until summer on face, but I like this as a post waxing moisturizer too.
CeraVe PM – 4.5/5. Used CeraVe AM earlier this year and enjoyed it. Read great reviews. When I wore the AM, I think my skin was slightly brighter and less red. I like the texture of this product even though I think the AM is creamier. This product absorbs well. It’s inexpensive and easily available. May need to cut it down to once a day because of the niacinamide and all the other products I am using for it.
Mizon Snail Recovery Gel Cream – 4/5 for now. My first snail product. I use this as a spot treatment because it’s not that moisturizing and there is not a lot of product in each tube. It pills under sunscreen so I use it on my problem areas at night and then more during the day when I have a rosacea flare up or breakout. I had read that it helped with diminishing redness and helping to heal acne or flaking. This does that for me. It is not a miracle worker or overnight success, but other than my prescription rosacea gel (which is 7x the price), this has worked better than most things I’ve tried. However, I did notice that in the area where I applied this, I got tiny red pimples dissimilar to my standard ones. I am not sure if this was a one off, but I will continue to monitor it.
This includes occlusive moisturizers which seal in the previous steps.
Skin Food Weleda – 2.5/5 for face. 4.5/5 for hands. Too sticky for face and expensive if purchased outside of Europe. Fantastic for hands. Will finish mostly as hand cream.
Nivea Soft Creme (German version) – 3.5/5. Bought in Germany last year to try it out. Non hygienic small tub, but it works fine as an occlusive at night and during the day. I use a little to seal things. Absorbs well. Unlikely to repurchase as I have many other moisturizers. I think the Canadian versions of Nivea are similar to the German ones, but I need to double check. I’d be willing to buy it again when I’m in Europe.
CeraVe Cream in a Tub – I do like the CeraVe line. I got an added value tub on sale so I couldn’t resist.
Vaseline Petrolatum Jelly – Useful for the cold winter months.
Cosrx Honey Ceramide Full Moisture Cream – Decanted Sample.
Cosrx Hyaluronic Acid Intensive Cream – Decanted Sample. It’s unlikely I’d repurchase since I already have enough HA products.
Looking into Laneige, CosRX, Rosette Ceramide Gel, and a couple more to see if sleeping packs are for me.
Lanisnoh Lanolin – 5/5. HG lip treatment for night. Not useful during the day or under lipstick, but this is the best lip treatment.
Tea Tree Oil – 4.5/5. Acne spot treatment for years, but I am using it less now that I have the Metrogel and the Mizon Snail Recovery Gel. It can be very drying even when mixed with a carrier like coconut, castor, or jojoba oil.
This is the category that I have obsessed about as much as moisturizers. I have worn some form of SPF almost every day for over 12 years. I usually have a supply of 2-3 sunscreens. I do not burn easily, but I prefer to stay pale. I will tan and get pigmented spots if I don’t put on sunscreen. I like the outdoors and run as well. In the summer, I wear hats and long sleeves whenever I can in addition to sunscreen. Even in winter, I will wear strong SPF because snow is highly reflective.
Hera LePorts SPF50 PA+++ – 4/5. Finished. This was my summer sunscreen and the texture of it was lovely. A friend got it for me from Korea when she found out I used the testers. It is pricier than the other sunscreens on this list, but I did not find it drying. I am unsure how well it protected me since the PA rating is lower than Japanese ones. It also stings my eyes a little when I used it for running. However, this is a great sunscreen and if given the chance, I would repurchase.
Nivea Sun Protect Plus UV Milky Essence SPF50 PA++++ – 3.5/5. It’s not as moisturizing as I hoped. At the end of the day, my chin and mouth area pilled and flaked if I did not wear sufficient moisturizers underneath. Other than that, it dries quickly due to the high alcohol and does not seem to have any white cast. Does not sting when I used it for running. Can see it working in the summer. Will finish.
Badger Balm Organic Unscented Sunscreen Cream SPF30 – 3.5/5 – Pure, biodegradable physical/inorganic sunscreen with only five ingredients. The white cast is strong. I’ve used this on runs; it’s okay. It is good when I have redness and breakouts. It doesn’t pill. Unsure if I will repurchase as I like physical only sunscreens and the small ingredient list. Wish it was in a higher SPF rating and better absorption.
Ombrelle Kids – 3/5 – Body sunscreen. This is the sunscreen that I got on clearance and use for outdoor activities. I usually have an Ombrelle or La Roche Posay as a waterproof body sunscreen. They are broad spectrum and I have used them both for years. I usually buy the kids version since there is less alcohol and milder formulations. This formula is runny, needs to be carefully applied to avoid streaking, sometimes pills, and takes time to absorb. However, it is moisturizing, not sticky after drying, and it does not sting my eyes much when sweating. Unlikely to repurchase this one as I think I prefer the LRP Dermo Kids more.
Olay Total Effects Fragrance Free SPF15 – 2/5. Have used many Olay moisturizers over the years. Picked the 100 mL from Costco. I tried this for a couple of days on my neck and once on my face; it stings. I did not find it particularly moisturizing either. I gave it to my mother as I prefer other moisturizers and separate sunscreen.
Sample AM/PM Routines
- Wash face with cold water and lightly pat dry with towel
- Rose Water
- Simply Pure Hydrating Serum
- CeraVe PM
- (Spot Treatment: Mizon Snail Recovery Gel Cream)
- Nivea Soft
- Nivea Sun Protect Plus Milky Essence
PM Routine without breakouts
- The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Rich Oil (if I have worn waterproof sunscreen)
- CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser
- Rose Water
- Indeed Labs C24 (3-4x a week)
- Simply Pure Hydrating Serum
- CeraVe PM
- (Spot Treatment: Mizon Snail Recovery Gel Cream TTO)
- Nivea Soft
- Lansinoh Lanolin for lips
If anyone wants more in depth reviews or questions about any of the above products, please let me know in the comments.