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 had to because I have severely 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 to 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 is a list of some of the techniques and steps I have learned so far since landing my footprints on this God-sent Facebook group.
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 after using this oil cleanser 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. Another oil cleanser that I use but which is a bit expensive is Tatcha Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil. This is equally a holy grail but it comes with a steep price which is why I don’t use it every night.
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 from The Ordinary 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.I have also started using other great serums from The Ordinary and they are alpha lipoic acid, which is an antioxidant that improves skin texture; buffet, which is a multi-technology peptide that fights multiple signs of aging; and l-ascorbic acid powder, this is a high concentration of vitamin C so it helps to brighten skin tone. Be careful with this one because it stings and that is why I always apply benton snail bee high content essence before using it to help reduce the tingling sensation. Some of these serums are direct acids so be mindful not to use them every day.
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 a cult favorite and it’s affordable. Well, I’m back to let you all know that I found another great essence also from Cosrx and it is the Galactomyces 95 Tone Balancing Essence. This one has niacinamide so it helps to hydrate and brighten the skin. I have been using it every day since August and haven’t looked back.
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 but didn’t repurchase because I decided to use Mizon both in the morning and at night.
All my life I have only ever used physical exfoliators which I later 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. I have also started using Tony Moly floria brightening peeling gel. It gently exfoliates dead skin cells to reveal softer and brighter skin.
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. They 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.
I get my sheet masks from Amazon and the pack I usually get is Dermal Korea Collagen Essence Full Face Facial Mask Sheet. This has 16 different types of sheet masks that targets and treats different skin concerns. They all contain essence and deeply hydrates the skin.
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. My favorites I always get from Amazon are Laneige water sleeping mask, Laneige lip sleeping mask, and Etude House moistful collagen sleeping pack. And I started last night to use Klavuu nourishing care lip sleeping pack, which I’m realizing nourishes my lips much better than Laneige lip sleeping mask.
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.
I have used countless bottles of this toner. It is the only toner that completely removes the impurities my cleanser couldn’t and nourishes my skin while doing it. I don’t do the 7 skin method all the time in order to cut down on the number of bottles I use a month. I have even got my husband to using toner after cleansing his face and he equally loves this toner.
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 sunscreen so don’t dull. Well, we went through summer and now in fall and I am still using this sunscreen. This is the only step in my skincare routine that I haven’t bothered to try other products. The Saem is just right for me.
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, the La Roche-Posay Toleriane Hydrating Gentle Cleanser (this is especially good for dry skin) or Philosophy Purity Made Simple Cleanser. 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 every day, definitely not in the morning when I’m trying to rush out of 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. I have replaced this essence with another Cosrx essence called Galactomyces 95 Tone Balancing Essence. I realized this new essence closely addresses my skin concern, which is mostly brightening.
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. For the summer, I switched to lightweight moisturizers and one of my favorites is Origins GinZing oil-free energy-boosting gel moisturizer.
Sunscreen – To conclude the step, I apply a tiny amount of The Saem Eco Earth Power No Sebum Sun Cream.
Mattifier – I added this final step into my day skincare routine during the summer to help combat my excessively oily skin. I use Hylamide HA Blur, which has significantly controlled my oily skin when used with The Saem sunscreen. Read about my review and praise of Hylamide HA Blur here.
My night skincare routine:
Double Cleanse – I double cleanse with Palmer’s Skin Therapy Cleansing Oil or Tatcha Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil. Oil cleansing helps to remove excess oil, sunscreen, and pollutants that my skin has accumulated throughout the day. I follow it up with either Mizon Snail Repair Foam Cleanser, Skinfood Rice Brightening Scrub Foam or Tatcha’s the rice polish foaming enzyme powder, which is a luxury because it is expensive and I don’t use it every night.
Exfoliate – I exfoliate once a week and preferably on weekends. I alternate between TO AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution and Skinfood Black Sugar Mask. I use black sugar mask more often than the peeling solution because it doesn’t sting my face.
Toner – I alternate between Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner and TO Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution. I don’t use glycolic acid on days that I apply mask because it’s also an exfoliating solution and I don’t want to risk over-exfoliating my skin. I also don’t use it on days I apply acids for the same reason.
Essence – I use Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence. I want to try the Missha Time Revolution First Time Essence. So, it’s September and I ended up trying Missha. I liked it but not enough to buy it again. I have added Benton snail bee high content essence to my night routine and it has helped tremendously with my sensitive skin.
Serum/Ampoule – For ampoule, I use Mizon Night Repair Seruming Ampoule which regenerates my skin while I sleep. I use different serums by The Ordinary and my favorite to use at night is the Granactive Retinoid 2% Emulsion, which helps brighten my skin and reduces signs of aging.
Sheet Mask – I do sheet masks once a week and 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. I have also started using Dermal Korea Collagen Essence Full Face Facial Mask Sheet which deeply hydrates 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 Wrinkle Resist 24 Intensive Eye Contour Cream. Update: I don’t use eye creams every day/night anymore. I realized they don’t really do much for me. So, instead of eye creams, I just dab my serums under my eyes.
Moisturuzer – I love Origins High-Potency Night-A-Mins Mineral-Enriched Renewal Cream. I also love The Ordinary Natural Moisturizing Factors + HA. Over the summer, I discovered and fell in love with Rose deep hydration moisturizer and Drunk Elephant protini polypeptide cream.
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 facial sleeping masks, I also use lip sleeping masks, 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 have started using another lip sleeping mask, Klavuu nourishing care lip sleeping pack, this packs more hydrating punch than Laneige.
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 🙂
Post was updated on September 7th, 2019 to include new products and routines.
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