Tuesday, March 22, 2016

My Budget Korean Skincare Routine

Hi lovelies! Today I'm going to let you know about my Korean skincare routine. ^^ When I lived in the States, I basically followed the same Clinique 3-step routine I had since high school. That was ok for a while, but when I was in my twenties my skin started to need a little more TLC. Once I moved to Seoul, I became concerned about the effects of the pollution and time spent outside walking on my skin. Luckily, Korean skincare is very affordable, very effective, and VERY available! There are skincare and cosmetics stores on every corner in Seoul! 

One of the distinguishing characteristics of Korean skincare routines is how many steps they have compared to what I used to do. There were essences and sheet masks and tons of stuff I'd never even heard of!

Like wtf is this facial mist everyone is obsessed with?

The trick is to add each step in one at a time and see how your skin reacts to it. My skin has always been pretty clear, but switching to a Korean routine has really helped soften and brighten my skin. Hopefully it's been helping prevent wrinkles too! 

As for the prices of my products, I try to keep them affordable as I'm only working part time these days. When I was working full time, I could afford the more expensive dept store brands...but I've still managed to come up with a great routine for my skin on a budget. ^^

By the way, my skin type is normal-dry depending on how well hydrated I am. It definitely runs a bit drier in the cold months, so my winter/spring products are a little heavier than my summer/fall stuff. 

I'll split the routine into 3 parts, as follows~~~

Part 1: Cleansing

Step 1: remove eye makeup
This is the first step! Use a gentle remover and a cotton pad or balls and softly press down on the eye area. Never use harsh tugging or sweeping motions. 

My choice: My favorite remover is Clinique Take the Day Off, but Korea has some great budget ones. I love the Innisfree Apple Juicy Eye Makeup Remover, but these days I'm actually using a Japanese remover from Bifesta I picked up at Olive Young.

I'm sure many of you have heard that double cleansing is key to a Korean skincare routine. Here's how that works:

Step 2: Oil/balm cleanser
First you need to apply an oil or balm cleanser to dry skin to remove your makeup and sunscreen. I'm using an oil cleanser now, but I usually prefer balm cleansers (they're easier to remove and don't get in your eyes and much). Don't be afraid to take it over your eyes to remove any lingering eye makeup. Then rinse well with warm (never hot!) water.

My choice: I'm using the Innisfree Apple Juicy cleansing oil. As for balm cleansers, I recommend Banila Cleanse It Zero, Lush Ultrabland, and The BodyShop's Chamomile cleansing balm. 

Step 3: Cleansing milk/foam
The next step is to cleanse one more time with a gentle, low pH cleanser. Tbh, I'm not using a low pH cleansing foam at the moment but I'm happy with mine until it runs out. There are tons of options out there though! Hadolabo makes a gentle cleansing foam if you prefer something foaming. I'll look into Missha's Super Aqua cleansing milk next. Whatever you use, make sure it doesn't dry out your skin or leave it feeling tight. I use an all natural konjac sponge from Innisfree to really make sure I'm deeply cleansing. 

My choice: Innisfree Olive Real cleansing foam

Step 4: Exfoliate

Twice a week or so I exfoliate gently with a scrub. I have one with really fine grains for all over exfoliation, then a sugar scrub mask I just use on my nose once a week. If you prefer chemical exfoliant treatments like AHA or BHA, this is when you should use them. I'll probably start adding their into my routine this summer.

My choice: Skinfood strawberry black sugar scrub 
Yes to Grapefruit daily facial scrub

Part 2: Hydrating Layers

This is the fun part where you can really mix and match treatments for your skin type! There are so many options it can get overwhelming, so I recommend starting small. This is also where most of your money in your routine should go. I follow the Caroline Hirons school of thought: pay more for treatments and serums than creams. Do you spend more money on the outfit or the coat covering it up? Let's go!

Step 5: Hydrating Mist
This step isn't super necessary, I just enjoy it. After cleansing, I spray a pH adjusting mist over my face and let it settle for a minute to balance things and give myself a nice canvas for my treatments. If you're not using a low pH cleanser, I also recommend a pH balancing toner. Any hydrating mist you like works though, even Evian. Vichy makes a nice basic one too.

My choice: Dr. G Hydra Fresh pH Mist

Step 6: First essence
Korea has a different attitude towards toners than the US of my youth. I remember the old Sea Breeze days. Even my Clinique Type 2 I used for years had exfoliating properties and contained alcohol. Korea eschews astringent toners and instead uses watery hydrating treatments to prep your skin for moisture. There are lots of options, but the Missha FTE is my tried and true favorite. You can apply it with a cotton square, but that wastes a lot of product. Instead, I put a few drops in my hands and splash it directly onto my face. Pat gently for full absorption.

My choice: Missha First Treatment Essence 

Step 7: Hydrating toner
These are actually usually called toners or lotions and are slightly thicker than first treatments. They're still very watery, however, and I apply them the same way. The one two punch of first essence and hydrating toner is great to prep your skin for the heavier treatments! 

My choice: Actually a Japanese product, and one of my HGs. Lots of other bloggers have written about it! 
Hadolabo gokujyun lotion. You can buy it at Watsons or Olive Young. There's a blue one, which is supposed to be brightening, and a white one which is supposed to be more hydrating. I love them both equally. ^^

Step 8: Eye cream
You should absolutely apply eye cream before any serums or essences that will inhibit absorption in the eye area. I use the same one basically twice a day, but I do have a slightly heavier one (weirdly called a serum) that's very viscous and sticky for a few nights a week. 

My choice: Innisfree Eco Science eye cream
Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator eye serum 

Part 3: More Layers!

Step 9: Serums and ampoules
This can involve however many products you need for your skin. I tend to use just 1-2mornings and 3-4 at night. When layering, apply them in order of consistency: lighter first, then heavier. 

My choice: I change them up by season, but the one I can't live without is the Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator Borabit Ampoule (phew! Long name!) hereafter known as the "purple one" lol. It's meant to be a dupe of the Estée Lauder Night Repair serum, and the ingredients list is similar. Apply that one morning and night. 
I also like: 
The Body Shop Nutriganics Drops of Youth
Scinic Aqua all in one ampoule 
Innisfree Canola Honey serum
Innisfree Ginger Oil serum (especially for winter--that stuff is rich!)

Part 4: Finishing Touches

Step 10: Face oil
This is a step I've gotten into recently, and is not necessary for everyone. I only use it at night tbh. Just put a couple drops in your hands, run them together, then gently press the oil into your face over the serums.

My choice: Dioderma carrot oil (actually it's a German brand, my friend Stella brought me some from a recent trip. Thanks, girl! <3)

Step 11: Moisture cream
You should have a finishing cream to to seal in all your products and make your skin super soft. As I said, an expensive cream isn't very important. Just choose one you like. Your face probably feels like a 10 layer wedding cake with all the products now. That means your doing it right! ;)

My choice: The Faceshop Mango Seed volume butter. I'm so addicted the the scent! It has a cute heart shaped applicator/ facial massager too. 
Laneige Water Bank cream or gel cream (the latter for summer or combination skin)

Step 12: Sleeping Pack
You might ask "Angela, my face is already covered in crap! Do I really need one more just for night!?" I would say, you don't NEED one, but try and see if it makes a difference! I use mine every night because I give no f#%^s, but try a couple nights a week and see what works for you.

My choice: Laneige Water Bank sleeping back
Innisfree Green Tea sleeping pack

Step 13: Sheet masks (optional)
These are crazy popular in Korea, and for good reason. I don't do them as frequently as I should, but they really do give your skin an instant shot of moisture and plumpness. I use these directly after step 8 (eye cream), and nothing else after. Just leave the mask on the directed time then pat all the goodness into your skin right before bed. Don't rinse it off! I recommend sheet masks once or twice a week, but you do you. ^^

Step 14: Sunscreen (NOT optional)
The best thing I ever did for my skin when I moved to Korea was start wearing sunscreen (or sun cream as it's usually called here) every day. I'm serious, rain or shine, put that shit on your face! Even if you're just staying inside, UV rays can come in through the windows. Anti-aging products are awesome, but they tend to make your skin photosensitive. Daily sunscreen is also the best for age prevention, trust me! A good sunscreen will glide over your other products and provide a silly base for your makeup/primer.

My choice: Missha All Around Safe Block Essence Sun SPF 45/ PA+++ (the pink one).

Fresh faced and ready to start the day! :3
Did you make it to the end? Lol. I know, it's a lot. I plan on making some changes later in the year, but this is working great for me for now. Have you tried any of these products? Feel free to ask any questions about products or routine in the comments! 


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