For months, I had been stuck in a skincare rut. Nothing was really working for me, and while I have never had terrible skin, I was beginning to wonder if the money I was investing in my skin really was worth it at all. I’m sure that if you are into your skincare products, this is something that has happened to you once upon a time.
I’m lucky in that I don’t suffer from any acne and have relatively normal skin, which leans on the dry side more than anything – but I have natural red-tinged, flushed skin. Big problem for me in social situations…you’ll instantly be able to tell if I’m embarrassed or nervous! I’m very self-conscious of this redness, and have made it my life’s work to reduce it with the help of beauty products. It’s the reason I’ve rarely left the house without make-up on.
However, these days I’m feeling much more confident about my skin, and am even – shock-horror – tempted to go make-up free some days. Why? The answer is in my skincare routine. I’ve finally found the things that work for me. I’ve finally hit that YES! moment with products that I can actually see doing what they are supposed to do. I’ve got a winning combination on my hands, and I can’t wait to share it with you.
I use a different routine in the morning to the one I use at night, but I believe it is the one I use at night that really makes a difference to my routine. I do chop and change sometimes, but here are products I’ve mostly had in circulation for over two months and can finally say that they really do work well for me. They are:
Cleanse: Nooni Root Energy Cleansing Water, Kokoyurdo Cleansing Oil, CosRX Good Morning Low pH Cleansing Gel.
I first go in with the cleansing water, and wipe off make-up with it and a cotton pad. The Nooni cleansing water removes make-up easily and is gentle on the skin, while smelling fresh and leaving skin smooth rather than dry. It’s a non-irritating, quick way to remove the first layer of make-up. The only problem I have with it is that it hurts my eyes, so I have to be careful with it if I use it to take off eye make-up.
I then use the Kokoyurdo Cleansing Oil, which smells beautifull of lemons and removes make-up easily. It takes off even my waterproof eyeliner and mascara, but I have to be careful, again, around my eyes. This is a popular cleansing oil in Japan, and I picked it up on a trip there when seeing it was rated highly in a number of stores. I like how it cleans my skin and the fragrance makes it pleasant to use. It’s relatively runny and thin, which I like as I don’t know what it is about thick oils, but I don’t like putting them on my face even for cleansing. My skin doesn’t do well with oils so that is probably the reason for the aversion. It uses eucalyptus and orange oil, which explains the lovely smell, and why it’s not an irritant for my skin during a cleanse.
The last thing I use is the CosRX Low pH Cleansing Gel. I had never tried a cleansing foam/gel with a pH lower than 7 before, and after reading Snow White and the Asian Pear’s blogpost about why having a low pH cleanser is important, and reading various other discussions about the benefits, I decided I also needed to try. This cleanses my skin very gently, and I don’t feel tight or dry after using it – but the most significant difference for me has been the amount of breakouts I’ve had since I started using the gel. Next to none. In two months or so, I have had hardly any breakouts, which is amazing to me. Before I was getting them almost weekly, and big red angry spots, too. I love this cleanser and what it’s done for my skin – and if you can hack the tea-tree medicinal smell (which I like, but a lot don’t), I highly recommend it!
Prep and tone: Skinfood Black Sugar Essential First Serum, Orifera Hydra-energising Toner with Coconut Oil*
The Skinfood is a more recent addition to my skincare routine, replacing the SKII Facial Treatment Essence, which I ditched after finally accepting it was doing nothing for me. Therefore I won’t go into it too much, but I do notice significant difference between it and the pricy SKII FTE. It brightens my skin, giving my skin a good base and ensuring the following products I use absorb more easily. As a combination with the other products I’m using, it’s definitely a winner, and an affordable one at that.
The Orifera Toner was sent to me by Amabie Beauty in exchange for my honest review. Amabie sent me three products to try (a self-foaming mousse cleanser, and an all day cream), but this is the only one of the three that did anything for my skin. You might have noticed before that I said my skin didn’t absorb oils very well, so I was a little nervous about this product. However, I had nothing to worry about. While it contains coconut oil, it absorbs well into my skin, and really deeply hydrates to say that it’s a toner. This toner is easy to dispense as it comes in a spray tube, so a few spritzes on the face and I’m good to go. I love how it brightens my complexion and makes my skin more supple. It’s a very good toner and I’ll be sad to finish it.
Balance and hydrate: Berrisom The Prestige Essence* and Eye Serum*, Hada Labo Premium Lotion
Both of the Berrisom products were sent to me by the brand in a review package, and I was intrigued as I had never used any skincare from Berrisom before. I’d only used their lip tints and face masks, which I was really pleased with and use regularly (I recommend the Berrisom Skingel Green Tea mask, which is one of the first ones I bought from them and one I go back to a lot).
The Berrisom ‘The Prestige’ line says that it helps your skin find ‘its optimal balance’, which means that it hydrates, soothes, and nourishes in order to help skin become brighter and more youthful looking/more healthy. It contains liquorice extract, which is good for reducing redness, and aloe vera, which is very naturally moisturising and is a calming product. I wanted to try the products out separately to see how they performed individually, so I started with the eye serum and incorporated the emulsion later.
The eye serum is very thin, and is pretty much in liquid form. It’s cloudy in colour, and you only need to apply a little underneath your eyes, and in my case I also apply it at the sides as I experience redness and irritation/dryness in the corners. If you’re looking for an eye product that greatly reduces bags or signs of aging, this won’t work wonders – but if you have dryness around the eyes, like I do, it’s a really nice product to use. Before using, I used to have red itchy patches at the sides of my eyes, and now these are entirely gone. They only come back if I do something to greatly irritate my eyes, like wear too much eye make-up. The serum also hydrates the under eye and soothes/cools tired eyes, so is great as a perk up when you’re feeling under the weather. I don’t have heavy bags or crow’s feet, so I can’t comment on this, but I would say this serum works well for alleviating dryness and for soothing.
Next up is the essence, which has the same properties as the eye serum, but comes in a thick, almost gel-like consistency. It smells very strongly of aloe vera, and I don’t really like that smell, but perhaps that’s a draw for some people. I use a couple of pumps, and spread around my face, where it absorbs quickly. If I’m having a day where redness is more noticeable, or need to soothe my skin, I make sure to use this, as it’s been very good in improving my skin tone and calming redness in my cheeks. I believe that this product and line would be good for those with dry skin, as it’s really helped my dry forehead, and would be good for those with redness – I notice more of a healthy glow in my skin since using this essence. I can’t speak for its anti-aging abilities as that’s not on my radar yet – and hopefully won’t be for a while!
Last but not least is the Hada Labo Premium Lotion, and this is hands down my favourite product out of everything I’ve listed here. I absolutely am in love with it. It’s one of the best skincare products I’ve ever tried. If you’ve ever used the Hada Labo Gokujyun Lotion, you’ll know that it is a very hydrating toner, providing your skin with moisture that lasts. Well, the Premium Lotion is the next step up. It’s almost gel-like in texture while still being a liquid, and feels very thick but smooth. I use this morning and night, and I spread a little around with my fingers, then pat it into my skin or rub it smoothly. If you are looking for the dewy glow then THIS. THIS PRODUCT IS IT. Glowy dewy goodness in a tube. This has FIVE DIFFERENT TYPES of hyaluronic acid, a humectant which retains water in your skin. If you have dry skin then humectants are the place to be. Hyaluronic acid penetrates your skin vdery deeply, and because this has FIVE DIFFERENT TYPES of it, theoretically they can penetrate into different areas of skin because of the varied molecular weights. If that’s too sciencey for you – basically this product is da moisturising BOMB! I realise I have used capital letters a lot in this paragraph.
The HL Lotion has given me a shine I never thought possible – my forehead practically blinds me when I look in the mirror, plus my make-up, if I do wear it, stays on much longer and the glow can even be seen through. The only drawback to the lotion is how thick it is – I have to use this later on in my routine than you normally would a toner (as Japanese lotions are toners). Products used after this won’t absorb as easily, so make it later on in your routine – you should still see the benefit.
Seal: Holika Holika Lazy and Joy Gudetama Ceramide Cream, Too Cool For School Fresh Gore Sleeping Mask
I bought the ceramide cream more recently, so haven’t used it for as long as two months, but it’s almost finished already! It’s a very small pot and because I love it so much, I’ve been using it pretty much all over my dry patches even on my body (elbows, neck, ankles)! Ceramides are known for retaining moisture and keeping your skin plump and hydrated. During the cold months, this is especially important – so a good ceramide cream would be a nice investment! I wasn’t expecting to like this cream, because it was so cheap, and it was Holika Holika. It cost me about 13,500 won, and while you only get 50ml, that’s a decent amount of product for what you’re paying. I only bought it for the Gude, so I’m pleased with it. It isn’t insanely thick, but has a nice creamy texture and has small pieces of what looks like lemon peel in it. It smells very lemony, too, so if you don’t like scented skincare I don’t recommend it. As you rub, the little lemony pieces disappear, and the cream absorbs. It doesn’t take too long and it leaves you with some long-lasting hydration. My make-up doesn’t pill over it, and it leaves my skin very smooth and soft, so I’m impressed. I won’t repurchase, but that’s not because I don’t like it. It’s just because I want to test some other things out first.
Finally, we come to the sleeping pack I’ve been using – Too Cool For School’s Fresh Gore. This is…
A cream transfused with the secret beauty of vampires.
…so naturally I had to buy it. I thought they were having a laugh when I picked it up in the shop, as the packaging says that it contains Dragon’s Blood…but it’s actually Dragon’s Blood Tree extract. It is a real tree! The resin from the tree is what’s special, apparently used for its soothing properties by hosts of Amazon warriors. TCFS say it is a moisturising, soothing, and brightening mask. It comes as a clear red jelly, in a squeeze bottle, and smells faintly fruity, like berries. It contains niacinamide which is a well-known ingredient in many brightening products. You spread a thin layer over the skin before sleeping, and wake up to plump, bright, happy skin. It’s that simple. I really like this product. It doesn’t dry sticky, and dries relatively quickly (I like to put quite a thick layer on before bed). When I wash it off in the morning I notice my skin is clear, bright, and hydrated. I’ll definitely repurchase, as I have really enjoyed using it – and let’s be honest, the packaging is pretty cool.
So there you have it – my current wonder routine. I’ll attach a picture here of my current skin state. It may not look much, but I can notice the shine and the glow, and I’m able to see the effects on a day to day basis. A lot of my large skin marks are reduced, and particularly the area around my eyes is looking a lot healthier. I tried to find some decent old pictures for comparison, but it’s very hard to show the difference with my skin – I don’t have hugely visible problem skin. My redness comes and goes – but let me assure it goes more often nowadays with this routine!
My skin about four months ago – you can see some redness around the eyes. This is where it was very dry and irritated. I also have quite a few big freckles and blemishes which have now almost disappeared – not quite sure how I feel about the big freckles going!
Above is now, with healthy and happy skin. It may not look like much, but I can assure you it looks better out of pictures! My forehead is glowing like a lightbulb these days!
As always, do not hesitate to contact me or comment if you have any doubts or need to ask any questions about the products mentioned in my review.
Disclosure: products marked with an asterisk (*) were provided to me in exchange for my honest review. This has not influenced my review in any way.