Skincare was my obsession last year and it seemed to be everyone’s too because I saw a lot of skincare Instagram posts from bloggers that never used to post about skincare. I have always loved taking care of my skin, I couldn’t afford not to because I have severe oily skin which is also acne prone. But I have never been a skincare fanatic…well, until last year when I started doing routines that I have never even heard of before.

When it comes to my skincare in the past, I used to do the bare minimum like cleanse, tone and moisturize and then maybe mask once or twice a month when I remember. The most I will do for SPF is use a moisturizer that contains SPF. So, you can imagine my surprise when I found out there’s a separate step and product for sun protection.

My skincare obsession started after I joined a skincare group on Facebook. This group introduced me to several skincare routines, brands and products that completely changed and improved everything I knew about skincare. I went from limiting my cleanser to only AcneFree because that was the only cleanser my oily, sensitive, eczema and acne prone skin would allow me to use otherwise I break out, to using different cleansers like Skinfood Egg White cleansing foam, Skinfood Rice Brightening scrub foam, and Neogen Green Tea real fresh foam cleanser. And to warn my acne to back off because I was done playing with her I started using acids like salicylic acid (used as a serum) and glycolic acid (used as a toner). The Facebook group is strictly for people of color only and it’s called PoC Skincare: The Group. I have practically added all my friends to the group because I can’t be the only one with glowing skin 🙂

Fast forward to this year, I’m still going hard on my skincare, my husband can testify because I occupy the bathroom sink and mirror whenever he wants to use it lol. My goals this year are to stay consistent because I sure do love the improvements I have seen and all the compliments my husband, friends and colleagues at work give me, and also to discover more brands with great products because I am a true product junkie. Reminds me of when I started my natural hair journey years ago 🙂 

Lessons learned from being a part of the PoC Skincare Facebook group

Below are a list of some of the techniques and steps I have learned so far since landing my footprints on this God-sent Facebook group.

Double cleansing

Did you know that you can cleanse your face first with oil before cleansing with a water-based cleanser? Apparently, oil dissolves oil so if you have oily skin like me you will benefit so much from oil cleansing. Double cleansing is a two-step cleansing technique that is very popular in Korea. It requires you to first wash your face with an oil-based cleanser to remove impurities like sebum and sunscreen, and then you wash your face again with your favorite cleanser preferably a foam cleanser that will remove water-based debris like sweat and dirt. I have since incorporated double cleansing in my skincare routine and my skin loves it. One of my favorite oil cleansers is the Palmer’s Skin Therapy cleansing oil, this holy grail right here cleanses off makeup and oil and leaves my face smooth and clean. In fact, sometimes it’s tempting to not even go to the next step but it’s necessary that I also cleanse my face with a foam cleanser because doing both steps have really helped me to prevent breakouts. 

Serums, Essences and Ampoules

I have heard of serums before but have never heard of essences and ampoules until I joined the skincare group. I used to buy all my skincare products from Sephora and my go-to brand then was Murad which always included a serum in my package. Serums contain some active ingredients that help to brighten the skin, fade dark spots and wrinkles. I incorporate so many serums in my routine thanks to The Ordinary and their extremely affordable and great products. Some of my favorite serums are the Alpha Arbutin, which reduces dark spots and hyper-pigmentation, Niacinamide, which minimizes skin blemishes and congestion, Mandelic Acid, which helps to remove dead skin cells and is a great anti-aging, and Granactive Retinoid, which reduces signs of aging. Essences are like serums’ little sister. They have lower concentrations of active ingredients and are applied immediately after toner to add an extra layer of hydration before applying serums or ampoules. My only favorite or basically the only one I have used and continue to use and I don’t even care about trying anything else is the Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence. This product is cult favorite and it’s affordable. Ampoules are like serums on steroids. They have higher concentrations of active ingredients and are supposed to be used for a short time as a booster or when your skin is acting up and needs a quick fix. My favorite is the Mizon Snail Repair Intensive Ampoule. It leaves my skin feeling like a baby’s butt, and it’s very affordable compared to other equally great ampoules like the Missha Time Revolution Night Repair New Science Activator Ampoule, which I have tried and loved.  

Chemical exfoliators

All my life I have only ever used physical exfoliators like St. Ives Blemish Control Face Scrub Apricot, which I found out were very bad for my skin because they tear the skin and expose it to infections and irritations. No wonder I used to always breakout and my skin was extremely sensitive. On the other hand, chemical exfoliators, say hello to one of my new favorites, The Ordinary AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution do not tear the skin, they help reduce the appearance of lines and wrinkles, smooth skin texture, hydrate the skin and even treat acne.

Sheet masks

Sheet masks are made to imitate the shape of the face and are soaked with concentrated serums. Unlike face masks, sheets masks are removed after about 20 minutes and the extra serum is patted on the face instead of washing it off. Sheet masks assist serums to soak a bit longer into the skin and depending on the kind you use, they help to brighten the skin, treat acne and improve elasticity. I use them at least once a week. I love how they make my skin feel so smooth and plump. 

Sleeping masks

Sleeping masks are applied once or twice a week and only at night. They intensely hydrate your skin while you sleep and you can apply them instead of your usual night cream.

7 skin method

This is a skincare routine that requires you to layer your toner and pat it on your skin 7 times. This increases the moisture level of your skin thereby leaving skin hydrated throughout the day. My favorite toner to use for this method is the Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner. It’s a moisturizing toner that leaves my skin very supple and smooth. 

Sunscreen

Some of us melanin infused folks think sunscreen is not for us. But that is a misconception that really needs to end right now. Everyone benefits from sunscreen and I didn’t know I could layer sunscreen after my moisturizer. As previously mentioned, the most I have done to protect my skin from the sun was to use a moisturizer with SPF. And some of these moisturizers do not have SPF above 30 and when I use them they make my face look so greasy. But now, I use a sunscreen with SPF 50 that mattifies my skin and keep oil at bay. The downside of using a sunscreen though especially as a dark skinned black woman is that it can leave a white cast on your face, making you look like Casper the Friendly Ghost. But using a small amount is key and also using a sunscreen that’s specific for your skin type. I currently use The Saem eco earth power no sebum sun cream spf50+ PA+++. This leaves my face matte all day while shielding me from the sun’s harshness. Even though, it’s winter, you still need a sunscreen so don’t dull. 

How I have incorporated everything I’ve learned into building my own skincare routine

I now diligently follow the 10-step Korean skincare routine. However, I don’t do the entire step daily especially in the morning when I’m time pressed to leave for work. But the steps are a great guide that help me to stay on track with my skincare.

My day skincare routine:

Cleanse – I use the Skinfood Egg White Perfect Pore Cleansing Foam or the La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser (this is especially good for dry skin). I don’t double cleanse in the morning because my skin is still clean and well moisturized from my extensive night routine.
Toner – I use Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner and I also use this toner for my 7 skin method. To be honest, I don’t do the 7 skin everyday, definitely not in the morning when I’m trying to rush out the house for work. Sometimes I do 3 skin method.
Essence – I use Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence, which is a cult favorite and very good.
Ampoule/Serum – You can actually do either ampoule or serum but I do both. For ampoule, I use the Mizon Snail Repair Intensive Ampoule, and for serum, I use a couple (don’t judge me lol) and I alternate my serums to ensure I include all my many serums in my routine. When I’m breaking out especially during Aunt Flo, I use The Ordinary Salicylic Acid 2% Solution combined with TO Alpha Arbutin 2% + HA.  
Eye Cream – I use TO Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG. This helps reduce puffiness and dark circles.
Moisturizer – Since this winter I have been using two moisturizers to combat my dry skin. I also alternate my moisturizers just like my serums because I have different types for different skin concerns. I first apply The Ordinary Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate 10%, this helps brighten my skin, and then I apply La Roche-Posay Toleriane Double Repair Face Moisturizer, which really moisturizes my skin. If you have dry skin, I highly recommend this moisturizer.
Sunscreen – To conclude the step, I apply a tiny amount of The Saem Eco Earth Power No Sebum Sun Cream.

My night skincare routine:

Double Cleanse – I double cleanse with Palmer’s Skin Therapy Cleansing Oil, which helps to remove excessive oil, sunscreen and pollutants that my skin has accumulated throughout the day. I follow it up with either Mizon Snail Repair Foam Cleanser or Skinfood Rice Brightening SCrub Foam.
Exfoliate (Once a week, preferably on weekends) – I alternate between TO AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution and Skinfood Black Sugar Mask, I use it more often than the peeling solution.
Toner – I alternate between Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner and TO Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution, I don’t use this on days that I apply mask because it’s an exfoliating solution so, I don’t want to risk over-exfoliating my skin. I also don’t use it on days I apply acids for same reason.
Essence – I use Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence. I want to try Missha Time Revolution First Time Essence
Serum/Ampoule – For ampoule, I use Mizon Night Repair Seruming Ampoule, this regenerates my skin while I sleep. I use different serums by The Ordinary. My favorite serum to use at night is the Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion, which helps brighten my skin and reduces signs of aging.
Sheet Mask (Once a week, preferably middle of the week) – I am currently using a set of sheet masks that I bought from The Saem store in China Town. They are for oily skin and help plump my skin.
Eye Cream – I am currently using Etude House Moistfull Collagen Eye Cream. I have heard good things about Missha Misa Cho Bo Yang Eye Cream and Shiseido Benefiance WrinkleResist24 Intensive Eye Contour Cream, but it’s too expensive for my liking.
Moisturuzer – I love Origins High-Potency Night-A-Mins Mineral-Enriched Renewal Cream. I also love The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA
Sleeping Mask – I use sleeping masks only once a week and there are weeks I don’t even use them. My favorites are Laneige Water Sleeping Mask and Etude House Moistfull Collagen Sleeping Pack. In addition to face sleeping mask, I also use lip sleeping mask, my favorite is Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask, which really helps moisturize my lips while I sleep and prevents me from having dry lips during the day. 

I am still learning how to better take care of my skin and I am still incorporating useful methods and trying good products from amazing brands. Please drop a comment and let me know what you do to take care of your skin. Let’s learn from each other 🙂

Skincare
This is my skin now with no makeup or filter. I went from having acne and acne scars, dark spots, and eczema to this. My skin isn’t where I want it to be yet so I will continue to obsessively take good care of it 🙂