“I said to myself, you can’t shatter open.” A sentence in Esme Weijung Wang’s The Border of Paradise. I told myself this often enough, I cannot shatter; even the smallest cracks weren’t allowed. And then. Not cracks. No shattering. Disintegration. Myself, my world and the chilling after-waves, still rippling across everyone and thing I was near. Some after-waves choking and drowning some, sometimes happily or sacrificially so. Time, opportunities, trust: long since washed away.
It’s a sudden break, a pause or even a total standstill of your live checking yourself into a psychiatric hospital. It’s alienating, expensive, the food lacks spice, boredom and loneliness are more tangible than ever. And hospital is so expensive you’re scared just to go out for a bit just in case you might spend those euros glittering on the bottom of your purse. And almost inevitably your purse doesn’t even sing one cent jingles but grumpily crunches supermarket bills.
I keep wondering where are you? But then again, where was I these past few years? Nowhere near you, nowhere near myself.
Good wishes and best of health to you xXx say a bunch of cats lined with glitter with Hallmark indent. A bar of chocolate on my birthday. Perhaps next time? Or the week after the week after the day and month after that? Plastic electric blue upholstery. Overcooked vegetables. Still, a paradise. Llamas, goats too bloated for words, a tiny forest, a field of grass. A tree with initials carved circa 1946; stroke it and your hand feels the healing effect of time. Insight, practice, advice from peers and professionals alike.
Suffocating, liberating, painful, essential, lonely, constructive. And progressing. Then suddenly, sometimes:
I, for the first time, felt the natural poetry of the night breeze brushing my face.
Skin, skin, skin! It’s been my top obsession these last two years.Foremost as an excuse to exhume the ghost out of my shell and melt together in one. Mindfully pat-pat-patting my skin reminded me I am flesh, bones, and sinews too. Skin structured my morning and night routine, almost feeling like a well-rounded person. Chaos got structured and filed next to adult-like files I just know nothing about. My skincare started simple, grew to routine evolving in structured days. Adulthood I cried tears of joy! And all the while excessive consumerism convinced me I need not money, not skin care, not anything. Hate to break it to the capitalist powers that be but I must say I really do love my skincare.
For two years now, I have been reading, searching, learning and obsessing. And I believe I have found answers to my needs. Can I share them with you!!? I just really like my pots and creams and weird jelly-like textures y’know? I’ve found the answers to my needs.Nothing of this is one hundred perfect applicable to just about any skin type, of course. but I hope you’ll enjoy catching a glimpse of my personal stash. If not, feel free to laugh at my vanity or click away.
This post took longer than expected so please consider this my first installment on my skincare obsession posts! Today I’ll detail my routine! Later posts will include my favorite ingredients, a bunch of knowledgeable sources. I’d like to collect wonderful articles and If I feel brave I might truly open up on the calm and comfort I find in my philosophy of skincare.
So here goes…
First off; let me mention my skin is very sensitive (I’m clueless on what exactly though – maybe butter, maybe strangers accidentally touching me, maybe myself). But one thing I know for sure is that most skin freaks out when trying too many things and products at once. This is, therefore, one of the golden rules according to redditAB.*. If you want to read up on some good rules or are interested in getting to know the world of skincare the AsianBeauty reddit thread has written up some smart rules here that everyone needs to read or re-read occasionally. And another important golden rule is to NEVER, ever, start with more than one new product: introduce products slowly. A good rule of thumb is to wait for two, to three weeks (or more) to see if the product is working. If you incorporate too many products at once your skin might panic and you’ll have a hard time recovering and figuring out which ingredient was the one who caused the problems.
So with that warning start off with my routine! I’ve been slowly building this over two years or so. (probably not coincidentally going through a very intense shopping mania period.) For accessibility I have separated every step/product in the order I apply it. This line will also make it easier to jump from one step to another and jump to the ingredient list at the bottom of every product.
Oil massage: A relaxing massage with oil is my favorite thing. It gets rid of dry skin, makeup, grime and probably a much more. It also reduces stress, especially when during the massaging you try to think of nothing else but your fingers softly moving and softly touching painful pressure points. It’s not always easy to do but Lisa’s Eldridge massage routine never fails to guide me. in a My favorite oils are squalene, rosehip (help reduce redness!) and jojoba. But I use a ton of others like linseed oil and avocado oil (perfect for very dry skin). I love all pure oils. I do not like cleansing oils because I find them too stripping.
My favorite oils are squalene, rosehip (help reduce redness!) and jojoba. But I use a ton of others like linseed oil and avocado oil (perfect for very dry skin). I love all pure oils but I do not like cleansing oils because I find them too stripping.
Cleansing water: After my oil massage I use Bioderma Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micellar Water + Demak’Up Original Cotton Pads (they’re very soft).
Before Bioderma I was and still am a faithful a fan of Garnier’s Micellar Water, but when Bioderma was two-for-one in the pharmacy and my mom supports me eying quality pharmacy products instead of online Korean purchases she gifted me the two for one discount. And, kind of to my chagrin, after reading the ingredient list I was attracted to the skin-soothing ingredients that Bioderma had to offer. Considering my sensitive skin and Garnier wasn’t all too gentle for me, I have to admit I love Bioderma more. For your info are the ingredient comparisons at the bottom of the post.
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Missha First Treatment Essence I love this toner. My first love. This one seems like water but is not only magically hydrating it also has interesting ingredients that all seem to combat the persistent on my nose! Among which is ‘Saccharomyces Ferment Filtrate’. Something… fermented? When I started using Missha’s FTE I didn’t think it was doing much of anything. Then tragedy befell: I had finished my first bottle and the bitch was back: my bright red reindeer nose. But this product recently caught my eye and it seems good enough to drop my FTE… Cue the drama, mystery & suspense:
COSrx Galactomyces 95 Whitening Power Essence Basically: this is cheaper. But basic too: the ingredient list. Simple but is it effective too? Sure seems so… I’ve let myself believe that Niacinamide helps restore skin, fade redness and marks. Sodium Hyaluronate is extremely hydrating. Allantoin and adenosine also either helps with redness and/or is a skin “brightener” (not to be confused with skin whitener! – Google it!). Once I’ve scraped all my pennies together I must try this one.
3. Vita Verde orange blossom water Honest: smells nice, is super hydrating and cheap. My favorite ingredients! It soothes too, both emotionally and physically. During exam-horror-stress months I continually reapplied this. My mind flaked, my skin glowed.
4. Kikumasamune Sake Skin Lotion High Moisture The selling point for me: this smells like sake. Look at that cute humongous bottle. Also it has ceramides, which is good for a reason or other. If you decant it in something smaller, It is the perfect toner to carry whenever, wherever. Need a refresher for your dried out sandpaper skin Kiku is here to help. She’s my best friend.
Why feel the need to slowly burn your flesh away with chemicals. Well first, it’s the most Cronenbergesque way to live for cheap. Second, when used correctly this stuff is gentler than granulated manual scrubs.
WARNING: when using it slowly incorporate in your routine. Paula’s Choice recommends every other day, I recommend starting at maximum once every two weeks – but to each their own.
Paula’s Choice 8% AHA Once of the less harsh chemical peels. Other than that is jam-packed with calming ingredients and one of my has my favorite ingredients: Sodium Hyaluronate, The Hydrator. Use for lackluster skin and extra glow.
Paula’s Choice 2% BHA My Battlestar for pimple-control and defeating redness. A tip that works for me: if you have one of those pimple patches just add a drop of the 2% BHA before sticking it on a pimple. In one two three (if it’s a cyst) days it can have completely disappeared. Also, use this all-over whenever you feel the need but beware for destroying your acid mantle.
Vitamin C C20 (20% vitamin C) This is a tricky friend; I can only wear it for long or else my skin will be damaged. These days I wear it as a 20-minute mask and then take it all off by a good oil massage and ooh- and aahing at all the dead skin that comes off with it. Why bother? Note sure, really? But I heard Vitamin C helps redness and decoloration.
Well didn’t I just say manual exfoliation can be too harsh? The multiplicity of identity, OK. Who can resist peeling your dead dirty skin off? Not me.But you only need the softest of scrubs. Walnut chunks, everyday use, scrub-rubbing until red are strictly prohibited. Softness smooths and soothes. Soft scrubs take away the gunk, harsher scrubs may take away necessary skin layers.
Dr. G. scrub Seems to use pieces of cotton or other wooly cloud-like material to gently scrub the skin.
Qiriness Bought in a feverish desperation when I’d forgotten all my exfoliators. The salesperson said something something, enzymes, something, rice. So this one is a little harsher but kinda fun..
ESSENCE / AMPOULES / SERUMS
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Ambrosia reserved for the gods has finally arrived in the capitalist markets. These goopy textures make you glow while soothing and repairing your skin.
COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence I’m not sure I can believe in the supposed healing powers of snail excretion. But It’ does what it does: Calms my skin, reduces red spots and hydrates. And it gives me that glow. Yet the product is almost nothing but snail. It also has Betaine, Sodium Hyaluronate, Panthenol, Arginine, Allantoin and more.
SCINIC Honey all-in-one ampoule It’s HUGE. It’s HONEY. It’s CHEAP. And it’s good. Not mind blowing but good. It’s soothing and hydrating and there is A LOT of it. I purchased this last year and still have half left. The one I have finished this I do have my eyes on the SCINIC Aqua all-in-one ampoule (look at this stunning ingredient list).
Mizon Snail Repair Intensive Ampoule Though COSrx may have won me over snail-wise, I still yearn for this Mizon snail. When using this I had the best skin: blemishes disappeared in the wink of an eye, my hydration levels were off-the-charts. Sadly, the bottle is just too damn itsl for it’s price.
Pure Aloe Vera I mainly use this for the cooling effect on my face during a stress breakout. (Even better when paired with my orange blossom toner!) I use any brand I can find that seems like it has a decent amount of aloe in.
(SHEET) MASKS – – – – – – – – – – – – –
Honestly? I use any and all I can afford. I dream for gold foils, ultra-thin masks, …. all the variations. My last splurge was Tosowoong Pure Propolis Mask and though I liked it I have yet to meet a mask that truly impresses me. Alas, the most miraculous sheet masks seem a bit too overpriced. And non-sheet masks put too much emphasis on harsh clays. I need soothing ingredients and intense H Y D R A T I O N. Do I ask for too much? (Please consider this a cry for help (or free samples). Thank you)
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LA ROCHE POSAY LIPIKAR BAUME AP+
This just saves me every winter from a flaky and irritated skin. Helps restore my frequently stressed out skin that seems to be prone to eczema. And most importantly gives me a beautiful glow throughout my day. My pharmacist recommends it for sensitive children. Needless to say, it is my one and true die-hard skincare love. It’s there whenever I need it, in sickness and in health.
SUNSCREEN – – – – – – – – – – – – –
And most important of all and especially when you incorporate actives in your skincare a sunscreen is a must. At this point, I’d like to mention I hardly know anything about sunscreens so educate me if you wish. Personally, I use a mashup of brands but my favorite is Louis Widmer and La Roche-Posay (Anthélios). I’ve been eyeing the Japanese Bioré sunscreen but I just can’t bring myself to order it. Recommend me some sunscreens, please!