From a very young age I have been treating my skin and complexion like the ultimate investment. Not just as a financial investment, but also as a time investment. Being proactive and working diligently to achieve glowing, healthy skin early on has proved nothing short of beneficial 20 years later. Fast forward to being in my early 30’s, I receive both praises and inquiries about my complexion with the ultimate confidence booster being placed in the 22-25 years old bracket – without a trace of makeup on. It’s one of the little victories, and small ego boost let’s be honest, I enjoy choosing to become obsessed with my grandmother’s blue tin of Nivea at a really young age.
While many of those around me seem in awe of my dubbed “flawless” skin, it truly is anything but that. Regardless of how much money or time I have invested in my complexion, it is not off-limits to everyday skin issues or concerns. Hormonal pimples, scarring, congestion, texture problems, etc., I’ve either dealt with it or am still dealing with it. Which is why I dismiss and cancel the term “flawless” all-together, and like to use healthy instead. Flawless is unattainable, pretty much impossible. Healthy on the other end, is not and all it requires is a little persistence, a whole lot of patience, maybe a few tears, and choosing quality over quantity when it comes to skincare. Healthy allows our skin to have flaws but on the surface appears in a good state.
Every year, every single season my skincare routine is constantly evolving. I’m always testing out and experimenting with the newest as well as classically great staples, and honestly while harrowing, it is one of my favorite parts of being a beauty blogger to be able to do so. But no matter what I test, I always find my way back to a select few hero products knowing that these guys keep my skin in check regardless of what it needs or is going through at that very moment in time. These are the products I always find myself repurchasing once they’re empty and find my way back to even when something shiny and new has come along.
Cleanse, Exfoliate & Treat
Double-cleansing is a really important step in my routine to help deep clean and clear my skin. Over the years, I’ve double cleansed with a wide variety of oils, gels, traditional washes, foams, waters, etc. In Korean Skincare, it is recommended to start the double cleansing method using a cleansing oil because it is really the best way to remove all traces of makeup and other impurities. One that I love in particularly is the Tatcha Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil ($15 – $48) as it is one of the very few cleansing oils that does not clog my pores. This is a gentle two-in-one makeup remover and cleanser with camellia oil that gently melts away impurities, even waterproof makeup, leaving behind pure, silky soft skin. Without stripping natural moisture, this does a really good job at removing makeup but I still think a follow-up cleanser is necessary since makeup residue can embed itself deep into the pores if it really wants to. It does not contain mineral oil, so the liquid emulsifies completely and leaves no residue behind. This leaves the skin feeling moisturized and clean.
I rotate between regular cleansers almost daily depending on what my skin needs. One day it could call for hydration, the other day maybe something balancing, or brightening. the next day something that is medicated. An important feat of creating a well-rounded routine comes down to being in tune with your skin and being able to listen to its needs as they could possibly vary from day to day. While the same names usually don’t make a recurrence and I move on rather quickly, there’s one cleanser that I always keep on-call, the Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Cleanser. This is a gentle liquid formula that cleanses without over-drying or stripping the skin. Among other skin improving derivatives, it contains apricot kernel oil that moisturizes and softens the skin while helping retain clarity and suppleness. Avocado oil helps restore skin’s natural moisture; and squalane, Kiehl’s signature ingredient, keeps skin extra soft and supple. For me, this one is pure love.
Bliss Micro Magic is the only facial exfoliator that I endorse, swear by, vow and commit my life to. The Bliss Microdermabrasion treatment contains powerful and soothing ingredients that scrub away dead skin cells and any leftover impurities that may contaminate your pores that regular face washing couldn’t get. While the Aloe and mushroom extract reduce inflammation and calms the skin, the peppermint extract refreshes and revitalizes. It is super gentle and non-irritating enough that it can be used twice a week. It won’t leave the skin feeling tight and digs up deep-lying impurities to assure a total complexion clarification. I also feel like the effects are more immediate vs. long-term with use as skin is instantly brighter and smoother afterwards.
A second exfoliant I use is the Kiehl’s Clearly Corrective Skin Brightening Exfoliator. This I use more for brightening of old acne scarring and correcting any unevenness in skin tone. It has white birch extract that increases skin’s elasticity levels and collagen production resulting in restored skin density, volume and thickness, and peony extract works with activated vitamin C to facilitate the reversal of discoloration for skin clarity. For 30 seconds I will gently massage it all over the face in an upward and outward circular motion, avoiding the eye area, then rinse with cold water. I was hesitant at first straying from my tried and true Bliss Micro Magic, however, it’s gentle enough for my temperamental skin. So far I’ve been using this once a week for the last couple of months and I really like it as I’ve been seeing some significant results in the suppleness and overall texture of my skin.
Toning is absolutely essential to my routine, I do it twice a day and in the morning it functions as a face cleanser in lieu of an actual cleansing product. Toners are the product that dampens your skin and balances its pH levels. My go-to toner for years has been the Mario Badescu Glycolic Acid Toner but a few months back I fell in love with the Etude House Moistfull Collagen Facial Toner. It’s a gentle but effective toner enriched with super collagen and Baobab water to provide moisture while rebalancing your skin’s pH. It has a gel-like formula that is quickly absorbed into the skin. The formula refreshes, renews, and rejuvenates the outer layer of the skin, perfect for after a day laying poolside. After the first week my complexion appeared to be noticeably brighter, rebalanced, even, more plump and felt so much softer.
Essence is considered the heart of the Korean Skincare routine. Previously, I always felt like this was such an unnecessary added step but once I became fully committed and disciplined about everyday usage, the results truly impressed me. My go-to for right now is the COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence, which is formulated with 96% snail secretion filtrate for super intense repair and hydration. This is similar in concept to the SK-II Facial Treatment Essence but at a much more affordable price. While snail mucin does not sound particularly appetizing, it has the ability to repair everything from dry patches, to acne breakouts while helping zap hyperpigmentation, so with consistent use your skin will glow to look its healthiest. This is good for all skin types but in my opinion this may be a lifesaver for those with chronic dry skin as well as acne-prone skin. You use this on the skin applied with fingers or a cotton pad. It adds moisture and glow to the skin and is packed with concentrated hydrating, anti-aging, and complexion-enhancing ingredients. This far exceeded my expectations in terms of how it has transformed my complexion within literally the first week.
Face mists play a huge part in my skincare regimen. In fact, I can’t think of a more versatile beauty investment. Caudalie Grape Water is my lifetime go-to and I use it every single night in my before bed routine. This is a great treatment for calming certain skin concerns like soothing rosacea, reducing redness and sensitivity, and calming rashes. Rich in moisturizing polysaccharides, mineral salts, and potassium, Grape Water provides an immediate benefit of improved hydration and diminished skin sensitivity upon use. According to Caudalie, this is also suitable for sensitive skin but since I cannot attest to that fact I suggest doing a test run in stores first to make sure you will not experience any reactions. Caudalie Grape Water is one of the best refreshing toner mists that I have tried and I believe has a major voice in keeping my skin clear as well as optimally hydrated.
A serum that I seriously can’t live without is the Murad Advanced Acne & Wrinkle Reducer. Ever since I started using this it has been a complete game changer for me as far as serums or concentrates are concerned. The dual-focus formula works to prevent blemishes while reducing the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Here’s where the whole anti-aging and anti-acne criteria is matched. The formula is infused with salicylic acid, which helps the product penetrate deep into the pores to help clear and prevent breakouts. Another main ingredient is the powerful Kombucha Collagen Defense, which reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. The Retinol and glycolic acid accelerates skin cell turnover to keep the face looking healthy and glowy with a smooth texture. I truly believe that the Murad has either in combination or solely cured my skin of cystic acne flareups. I have not experienced a full-blown breakout or flare-up since 2015. Every now and then I will encounter a stray hormonal pimple but that’s about it. All I’m left with now are fading acne scars and I know that only time will heal those.
Detox & Hydration Masks
Youth To The People Age Prevention Superfood Mask is an anti-aging cream mask enriched with superfood ingredients to improve the look of fine lines and wrinkles while visibly firming skin. This is a purifying, wash off mask with a super luxurious feel and a scent that is addictively divine, like freshly juiced greens. Out of all the masks I’ve used, this one feels the most organic and refreshing. This is by far my favorite face mask for being a traditional wash-off as it makes my face feel smooth and look brighter instantly.
I’m completely obsessed with sheet masks and consider them a total skincare staple – I use them 2x per week standard, sometimes depending on how my skin feels I might even use more. Check out my favorite sheet masks in this broadly detailed post. I always keep a stash of sheet masks laying around consisting each of which either target different skin concerns or for the sake of experimenting with a new type or brand. One of the best sheet masks I have ever tried is the SK-II Facial Treatment Mask. This one is formulated to revitalize, comfort, and provide intense hydration and I think it works wonders to plump the skin. After using it skin feels smooth and almost lifted. The skin is radiant, glows and looks noticeably brighter. With prolonged use I noticed that redness around certain areas was reduced drastically and it appears to shrink pores around the nose area as well as in between my eyebrows. I would most definitely call this one life changing. For 1 sheet mask it is kind of a luxurious splurge but worth every single penny. I don’t think I’ve ever been so in love with a mask in all my life.
For my everyday eye cream, I’ve been loving the Youth To The People Age Prevention Superfood Eye Cream. This is an Age Prevention nourishing cream that delivers vital nutrients with a proprietary superfood blend, aloe, ultra-emollient sunflower oil, and an army of reparative vitamins. So far I find the cream very hydrating. As far as reducing the look of fine lines and wrinkles, I have noticed a small improvement with lines appearing less defined.
Secondly, I use the Belif First Aid 360 Eye Care Mask (reviewed here) every single night as a leave-on mask. Before I even started incorporating the above eye cream, my eye area was making tremendous strides thanks to the Belif eye care mask. The First Aid 360 Eye Care Mask is a leave-on, intensively moisturizing mask with a pudding-like texture that provides 360-degree eye care for delicate and sensitive eye areas. It has a cooling and hydrating formula that instantly cools, relieves puffy and tired eyes and prevents visible wrinkles by improving the resilience of the skin around the eye by replenishing its moisture levels. From the first use my general eye area looked noticeably brighter, more supple and the wrinkles caused by dryness had decreased tremendously in appearance. By night four, they had completely disappeared and even my dark circles started to look lighter. Never in my life have I encountered an eye product that I loved this much and I honestly hope they never discontinue it.
Hydration is such an important element of my everyday routine because the more hydrated your skin is, the healthier, radiant and more youthful it appears. So it’s important to find a moisturizer that works for your skin type equally for your skin concerns. My favorite moisturizer is the Tatcha The Water Cream (reviewed here). This is a oil-free, anti-aging water cream that releases a burst of complexion-improving Japanese nutrients, powerful botanicals and optimal hydration for poreless and flawless-looking skin. Formulated with Japanese Wild Rose, Japanese Leopard Lily and hadasei-3 (a proprietary blend of green tea, rice, and algae), The Water Cream delivers a luxurious spa-like experience balancing hydration as well as clarifying and refining the skin by tightening pores and smoothing out texture – all the while restoring and boosting healthy-looking radiance by imparting a subtle, shine-free glow with a touch of 23-karat gold. It’s a refreshing moisturizer that I have fallen head over heels in love with.
There you have it! My everyday skincare routine for healthy, glowing and just overall a radiant complexion. Naturally I’d love to hear about if you babes have a go-to routine for healthy, glowing skin or if there are any specific skincare products you swear by for the best complexion ever. Let me know in the notes below!