Update: This is hella old and my routine is definitely not this complicated or as long as it used to be. I’ve learned a lot more in terms of product knowledge and skin since then, but I’ll leave this up for posterity 😉
Here’s an outline of my current skincare routine. Our skin is always changing, so every once in a while I’ll switch up products to target specific concerns that my skin is facing at that time. As of now, I’ve found a pretty solid and simple routine. (Update: I thought this was a simple routine!?)
The focus of my routine is mainly acne care and dehydration, so I tend to use products that are soothing and hydrating. Of course, my prescription treatments are the main acne fighters for my routine.
Note that this isn’t a review of any products here, but simply a breakdown of what I am using at the moment. I’ll probably do in-depth reviews of some of the products I mention here in the future.
About my skin
I’m acne prone, so I’m always careful what products and ingredients I put on my face. I always research and patch test products to make sure it has no acne triggers for me. Despite my best efforts, breakouts are still bound to happen.
I tend to break out mostly along my jawline and parts of my cheeks. Whenever I do breakout, it’s always painful papules or pustules. And because of my skin tone, I’m very prone to hyperpigmentation marks.
My skin type is oily/dehydrated and acne prone, and during the day my entire face will usually feel pretty oily. I do find that if I don’t layer enough hydrating toners or essences, I sometimes end up with some dry, flaky patches on my mouth or cheeks.
I don’t usually have a lot of time in the morning, so I try to target the most important things for my skin before running out of the house: Acne, hyperpigmentation, hydration, and sun protection.
1. Cleanser – Cosrx Low pH Good Morning Cleanser
I start by applying a small amount of cleanser onto palms. I foam up my cleansers in my hands and apply the foam to my face, rather than lathering the product on my skin directly. I do this to minimize the amount of irritation on my face so I’m not rubbing it too much.
This is a mildly acidic cleaner that has a ph level of around pH 5.0 ~6.0, so it helps minimize the tight drying feeling after cleansing. The low pH level also helps my breakouts slightly because of the small amounts of tea tree oil.
Low pH cleansers help maintain the acidity of the skin’s barrier functions by preserving the integrity of the acid mantle. Because the skin on the face is always slightly acidic (around 4.5-5.5), anything that’s higher will generally strip your skin. Do you know that “squeaky clean” feeling you get after cleansing your face? That’s actually your acid mantle being stripped and compromised, which can lead to dehydrated or irritated skin. Acne thrives on alkaline skin, so maintaining your skin’s acidity and barrier is important.
2. Vitamin C – Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum
I’ve never used a vitamin C serum before, but I’m really loving the Drunk Elephant Vitamin C serum that I’ve been using since December. There are many benefits for vitamin c such as fading marks, reducing fine lines and wrinkles, and smoothing out skin texture. My main reasons for getting one was to help brighten my skin and add an antioxidant to my morning routine.
3. Toner/Essence – Whamisa Organic Flowers Deep Rich Essence Toner
After I’m done applying my vitamin c serum, I splash a few drops of the Whamisa toner into my palm and gently pat it onto my face and neck. My skin is always a little dry right after I wash my face so this really helps add hydration back into my skin.
Different varieties of toners exist, ranging from pH balancing toners, hydrating toners, to cleansing, astringent type toners.
This particular toner is an essence toner, meaning it has the properties of both an essence and a toner in one. Really it’s all marketing and you could use this as one or the other. For me, I do use this as my toner step.
With the rise of Kbeauty, there’s been a shift in how toner formulations are made and marketed in the US. Western toners used to be very harsh and astringent, with high amounts of alcohol to strip the skin and remove any leftover oil. Nowadays they generally tend to be quite hydrating and are used to add hydration and nourishment back into the skin after we strip it from cleansing.
4. Prescription – Aczone 7.5% gel
Aczone is the brand name for dapsone, a topical acne treatment. My dermatologist prescribed this to me a couple of summers ago when I was having awful cystic breakouts. I use this to combat existing and future breakouts that might occur during the day.
5. Moisturizer – Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb
I recently switched over to gel cream moisturizers to help with my oiliness. I apply small dime-sized amounts to the major parts of my face: Cheeks, chin, and forehead. It leaves my skin soft and plump with just the right amount of hydration without a heavy greasy feeling.
Lastly, I apply a generous amount of sunscreen all over my face and neck. Sunscreen is one of the most important steps and I never leave the house without it. I don’t really stick to one particular sunscreen, so here are 3 of the most used ones that I have so far.
All of the sunscreens that I have are either Japanese or Korean because they’re more cosmetically elegant than American or European formulations. I prefer how lightweight, watery, and hydrating they are compared to the usual thick, smelly, and greasy sunscreens that we’re used to here.
Asian sunscreens also display the PA rating or Protection Grade on the bottle, a system that indicates the level of UVA protection it has. UVA rays cause aging, such as wrinkles and fine lines.
You can see that the sunscreens here have PA ratings of PA+++ or PA++++. The more pluses denote stronger UVA protection with quadruple plus being the highest Protection Grade available.
I could go into a whole separate post about this, but for now, that’s the general gist of it.
I have more time in the evening to pamper and treat my skin with extra steps. Your skin heals and repairs itself while you sleep, so I make sure to take extra care of my skin and prepare it for the next day.
The concept for my PM routine is essentially the same as the AM.
1. Oil Cleanse – Kose Softymo Speedy Oil
I always double cleanse in the evening to help break down oil on my face and sunscreen. I’m not particular with oil cleansers, I just pick up whatever is cheap at the Asian grocery store. As long as it does the job, I don’t mind which one I use.
2. Cleanser – Cosrx Low pH Good Morning Cleanser
After I oil cleanse, I follow up with a foaming cleanser to finish the double cleanse and break down any oil that might be leftover.
(Optional) Face mist – Ariul 7 Days Vitamin Mist
Sometimes I’ll use a face mist to add a boost of hydration after I cleanse. It’s not a necessary step for me, but it feels nice and refreshing. I like this one by Ariul because it doesn’t seem to have any particular scent to it and leaves my face feeling nicely hydrated.
3. Exfoliant – Nooni Repair Therapy Turnover Peel Pad
I love chemical exfoliants and this one from Nooni has been amazing for my skin. It contains both BHA and AHA to help unclog, smooth, and brighten my skin.
BHA, or salicylic acid, is an oil-soluble acid that can penetrate into the pores to help unclog sebum and dead skin cells, which is perfect for my acne-prone skin.
AHA helps slough off dead skin cells on the surface of the skin, to help fade dark marks, brighten your skin, and help reduce fine lines. This product uses both glycolic and lactic acid for it’s AHA.
4. Toner – Whamisa Organic Flowers Deep Rich Essence Toner or Dr. Jart Ceramidin Liquid
I’ll switch it up with either the Whamisa toner essence or the Dr. Jart Ceramidin Liquid in the evening. The Ceramidin liquid is runnier compared to the Whamisa toner. So depending on how my face feels, I’ll either use the thicker Whamiser toner or the lighter Dr. Jart liquid.
5. Essence – Cosrx Advanced Snail Mucin 96 Power Essence
I love, love, love this stuff. Cosrx is one of my favorite Kbeauty brands known for their simple yet effective formulas. Most of their products are geared towards sensitive and acne-prone skin. I’ll apply a few pumps of this onto my face to help hydrate, reduce inflammation, and soothe my skin.
6. Prescription – Onexton
This is the main product I use to fight my acne. It’s a mix of benzoyl peroxide and clindamycin, an antibiotic. It helps to reduce inflammation from any breakouts that I’m suffering and kill acne bacteria. I’ll apply a light layer all over my face to help with existing and future breakouts.
7. Moisturizer – Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb
And lastly, I’ll seal everything in with the same gel-cream moisturizer that I use in the morning.
And that’s my current routine!
I know a lot of people might think this is too many steps, but I actually find it very relaxing and therapeutic. I enjoy taking care of my face, so doing 6-7 steps isn’t a lot to me.
My routine is always evolving, so I’ll probably update this list or make a new post in the future if I find other products that I enjoy using in my routine.
Thanks for reading! ✨