Step 1: Take the makeup off.
I’m all about the double-cleanse. I’ve written about this magical stuff before. I LOVE Farmacy Green Clean Cleansing Balm. It easily takes care of both eye makeup and face makeup, which I’ve found to be a rare quality. It smells lovely, feels even lovelier and it works.
Step 2: Cleanse.
I oscillate between cleansing with raw honey or Drunk Elephant’s Beste No. 9 Jelly Cleanser, which I mainly use in the shower a couple of times a week.
StEp 3: Toner
I used to skip toner because I had it in my mind that toner was always drying. As with so many of the finds on this list, I got a free sample, used it for weeks and now I’m a believer in the Belif Aqua Bomb Hydrating Toner. If a toner is doing what it is supposed to, it is actually moisturizing and balancing pH. I don’t know if my pH is balanced, but I like the way this feels.
Step 4: Apply Essence of… WTF.
A couple of months ago, I would’ve rolled my eyes at essence. It feels like water. It feels like NOTHING. But by gawd, I can tell in the morning if I don’t use it at night. From what I can gather, this popular step in Korean and Japanese brands of skincare is like witchcraft to protect and prep your skin for moisturizing. So far, I’ve used two different kinds (trial sizes) and I like both way more than I thought I would. I can weirdly tell in the morning if I don’t use it.
First Snow Essence is from Holy Snails, which is a brand that I’m pretty sure might be an American K-beauty blogger making stuff by herself, and it’s good stuff. First Snow is made ceramides complex, hydrolyzed oats and essences like ginseng, horse chestnut, chamomile, centella asiatica, calendula, licorice root and more.
I’m now using Primera’s Miracle Seed Essence, which is a Korean brand from AmorePacific. The bottle says the heavy lifting on this essence is done by lotus seeds, which are good for hydration and protecting from environmental stressors.
Step 5: Apply a SERUM or two. Or NONE.
Sometimes I use a serum and sometimes I skip this part.
My current favorite serum is Innisfree Green Tea Seed Intensive Hydrating Serum. It’s (no surprise) a Korean brand. It’s (surprise) quite affordable in comparison to almost everything else in this post). It’s a really solid, silky and seems like it would be good for a lot of different skin types.
I also liked Volition’s Snow Mushroom Water Serum. The ingredients are intriguing. Sea water (billed as “Atlantic marine water” because it’s fancy sea water) and snow mushroom, which apparently can retain 500x its weight in water. Like the Innisfree serum, I suspect this one would be great for lots of people.
Shark Sauce is a serum from Holy Snails, and kind of went viral on Reddit. It’s intended to reduce redness and brighten skin tone, which I need because I get post-breakout hyperpigmentation that will last forever. The active ingredients in this serum are niacinamide and n-acetylglucosamine and I apply it as a hyperpigmentation spot treatment.
Step 6: Moisturize.
As I wrote about before in my honey washing post, I moisturize mainly with sweet almond oil.
I often blend in a little bit of Dermalogica Ultra-Calming Serum (not a natural product but it’s honestly my skin’s best friend forever). This serum has a calming and cooling effect, so it feels like it’s working and does work. I’ve been using it for close to a decade. In the morning, my skin is so much more chill and calm than when I don’t use it. I know this for a fact because I just ran out last week and I can definitely tell the difference in redness. BRB just ordered a new bottle.
If I need even more moisture, I’ll add a little bit of Drunk Elephant Marula Oil into the potion I make in my palm.