I'm not sure why I suddenly started caring so much about skincare. Maybe it was the realization that I am in the last year of my twenties... or it could have been the fear that years of smoking (don't worry, I quit!) would cause me to wake up one day looking 20 years older than I should. Either way, I went from being a lazy piece of garbage who could barely be bothered to take my makeup off to scouring blogs and Reddit for reviews and product recommendations.
All it took was a quick Google search for "cheap anti-aging moisturizer" when I ran out of the last sample of $150 Lancôme night cream that I had. A few articles about intense, 20-step Korean skincare regimens popped up in results. Right off the bat, that sounded overwhelming, but I was also fascinated and totally drawn in by the allure of affordable, effective products. Korean skincare is starting to really gain ground in Western markets due to relatively low cost and unique ingredients (like snail secretion, which is in a TON of products). There is an entire subreddit that I spent literal hours perusing before I decided on just a few products to try out.
This isn't really meant to be a step-by-step guide on how to start out using Korean skincare products. For one, I'm a complete n00b myself. Also, the whole point of Korean skincare and the multi-step routine is that every person has different skin, with different needs & sensitivities. What works for me may not be good for your skin, even if we have similar skin types! However, I did find it helpful to look at what other people were starting out with, especially if we had similar skin types. So, if you have combo/oily acne-prone skin and want to proactively combat aging, you may like some of these products too. It's probably a smart idea to consult a dermatologist before introducing new products to your skin, especially if you are prone to sensitivity or irritation.
My starter Korean skincare routine
There are three important components to any Korean skincare regimen: double cleansing, adding moisture, and sun protection. I decided my first products would focus on the double cleansing, which was totally new to me, and the moisturizing. Fortunately, the ONLY thing I was really good about prior to all my research was using sunscreen daily.
I introduced new products at a time, using each product for at least a week before I added anything else. This way, I could make sure that I wasn't adding anything that caused irritation or breakouts. I have been using these five products consistently for several weeks now. Overall, I have noticed a pretty noticeable improvement in skin texture and hydration, and I've even had some reduction in breakouts! When I recently got lazy the last week or so and didn't follow this consistently, my skin looked so much worse.
*The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Oil: I was nervous to put this on my acne-prone skin but surprisingly, it has not caused me to break out at all. It took a while to get used to the consistency but I have figured out my application process now. I have noticed that it does struggle with removing waterproof mascara.
*Cosrx Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser: This cleanser is supposed to put your skin at the proper pH balance for absorbing active ingredients in creams or treatments. I'm not sure how it does with that because I can't be bothered to pH test my face, but it's got a nice light scent and doesn't seem to be too drying.
*Mizon Black Snail All-in-One Cream: Here's the first snail goo that I slapped on my face. I am on the fence about this. It's lightweight and has no scent, but with my combo/oily skin it's both too light to provide enough moisture on its own and too heavy to use in conjunction with a sleeping pack.
*Mizon Snail Repair Eye Cream: More snails! I have a hard time evaluating eye creams. I don't really have noticeable lines, so it's supposed to be more preventative in nature. Again, no scene and very light texture, although it does make some eye makeup smudge more easily.
*Cosrx Ultimate Moisturizing Honey Overnight Mask: Another product I was nervous to use on my oily skin, but this is one of my favorites so far. It's super lightweight, and while it dries a little tacky, it's definitely providing the extra moisture I need during winter. I wouldn't use it during summer months, but I've noticed a real change in my skin condition since I added this.
I have since added some additional products and I've continued to use a couple products I already had. I may do a full skincare post at a later date, but I wanted to share my thoughts on these baby steps because I've been so happy with the results and I wanted to share with everyone!
More Resources for Beginners
- Asian Skincare 101 on r/Asian Beauty: This post has a great general breakdown of all the different types of products you can find in Asian skincare routines, as well as some good general advice for someone wanting to start building their own routine
- Fifty Shades of Snails' How To Build Your Own Routine: Build Your Own Routine: Another good breakdown of different steps in routines, with a little more information on some of the more intense steps, like ACIDS!!!
- Snow White & the Asian Pear's Help for Beginners: This is a truly amazing resource with sample routines for different skin types and all kinds of helpful information on adding products and common mistakes
- Fanserviced-B's Visual Guide to Korean Skincare: One of the most complicated and confusing parts about adding Korean products to your regimen is that they should go in a specific order to maximize effectiveness. This is one of the clearest explanations of product order I have found and I've referred to it a lot as I add in different products
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