Two years ago, the Korean 10-step skincare was all the rage. I tried to join in on the bandwagon but I had just hit my mid-30s and was struck with hormonal imbalance and PCOS. It was the worst time for my skin and no matter what products I used, pimples just kept coming and refused to go away.
I have since discarded my quest for poreless glass skin, sold or given away all the products that did not work for me or did not use, and have streamlined my skincare routine. I also had a baby and currently breastfeeding so the products I use have to be breastfeeding-friendly. My current obsession revolves around natural and organic skincare products and I try my best to align with that. I am not totally into using vegan and cruelty-free products just yet as that involves a lot of research and reading ingredient lists but I hope to get there too.
These are now my seven essentials for great skin.
I am lucky to not have sensitive skin so I can use any facial cleanser but these days I stick to Beautederm’s papain facial soap. It lasts me about six months even with washing twice a day. I like how portable soap bars are and the fact that I have fewer items to separate and take out of my carry-on bag every time I have to pass through airport security.
The other cleansers I have are the Clarisonic refreshing gel cleanser, a Clinique foaming sonic facial soap, and a Laroche-Posay Hydrating Gentle Facial Cleanser.
I rarely go out so most days I am completely make-up free, but on the days I do put a little bit of make-up on, I make sure I do a double, or even a triple cleanse, just to be sure. I have Garnier Micellar water and La Mer Cleansing oil for that. I use these two before washing my face with soap.
I do gentle exfoliation twice or thrice a week and it has improved the softness, smoothness, and general appearance of my skin. I use Liz Earle Gentle Face Exfoliator, La Mer Refining Facial, and my Caolion Pore Cleansing and Tightening Pack duo for this. When I find myself with more time, I try to do an Aztec clay mask with ACV but these days that’s rare.
When I went to the Limoni store to get a Smashbox primer, I asked the sales attendant which variant I should get, she looked at my face and said, “Perhaps a pore refiner?” which came to me as a suggestion that I should improve the size of the pores on my face. One of the samples from Sephora that I got with a purchase was a Caolion Pore Pack and I liked it. I ended buying the full-sized duo pack as well as the Pore Tightening Memory Sleep Mask. I love Caolion for it’s inexpensive but it works! It’s one of those things that prove to you that expensive doesn’t necessarily mean best.
After experimenting with various high-end brands for my toner, I finally settled on a simple witch hazel toner from Thayer’s. I still have my La Mer Oil Absorbing Tonic though from the days I hoarded La Mer products and I use it once a week during summer, spring, and fall. All year except winter because during winter my skin needs all the natural oil it can get. When my bottle of La Mer toner is finished, I plan to use a simple mixture of water and apple cider vinegar as my toner for two to three times a week.
4. VITAMIN C SERUM
Since I was pregnant and breastfeeding, I get my dermatologist and OB-gyne to approve any skincare products I want to use. I have been advised against anything that contains most acids except hyaluronic acid so anything with glycolic acid and salicylic acid as well as retinol are off-limits for me. Since I know that I can use Vitamin C, I have mostly stuck to these products: Clinique’s Fresh Pressed Daily Booster with Pure Vitamin C, Vichy LiftActiv Vitamin C Face Serum Brightening Skin Corrector, and Kiehl’s Powerful Line-Reducing Concentrate. My skin adapts well to any Clinique, Vichy, and Kiehl’s products so I tend to buy their products. Vitamin C has a very short shelf life and even with a 10ml Vichy serum with a shelf life of 1M, it lasts me 2 months. I only apply 4-5 drops of the serum so 10ml goes a long way. This is important information for when I buy any Vitamin C with more than 10ml. Kiehl’s Powerful-Strength Line-Reducing Concentrate serum with 12.5% Vitamin C and hyaluronic acid comes in either a tube or a bottle with a pump and comes in cream form than liquid. It also has a long shelf life of 12 months. My skin reacts very well to vitamin C and I think if there ever is a product I would hesitate to give up, this would be it. My skin has brightened and my acne scars have gradually faded.
In the mornings I use the CBN Hydra-Extreme 2 moisturizer my mother-in-law gifted me with five minutes after I put on Vitamin C and before I put on my sunscreen. At night before I go to bed, I use Caolion’s Pore Tightening Memory Sleeping Mask thrice a week and the rest I use La Mer’s Moisturizing Soft Cream. I have tried the entire range of La Mer’s moisturizers and I find the soft cream works best on me.
In the summer, I do not use any creams and simply use Lily of the Desert Aloe Vera jelly. Otherwise, my skin gets too oily and shiny.
6. EYE CREAM
Even though I use La Mer’s Lifting Eye Serum and La Mer’s The Illuminating Eye Gel and I absolutely love them, I have used other eye creams before from Mario Badescu and Kiehl’s and I think that as long as you put on eye cream and you are young enough, you are okay with using any eye cream that suits your skin and budget. If you are already a bit too late and you already have crow’s feet and other eye area skin concerns then you better invest in some expensive and powerful eye cream to try to reverse some aging effects. We all know that prevention is better than cure so you better start putting on some kind of eye cream as early as your 20s.
Sunscreen is supposed to be a girl’s best friend so I put it on every time I have to go out. I use both Kiehl’s and La Mer. They’re supposed to be the best according to this but I had them before I even knew so I was happy. Kiehl’s has titanium dioxide as its active ingredient and because of that, I use it when I have to go to the beach. La Mer has oxybenzone so I only use it under make-up. With it, my make-up routine is simple as I also use my La Mer foundation, concealer, bronzer, and loose powder.
Nice to haves but non-essentials:
I have a few products that I find are non-essentials but are nice-to-haves for some added skin benefits if you have the money and time for it.
Clarisonic Mia 2
On the days that I exfoliate, I try to use this along with the Clarisonic gel. It’s got great benefits though I think that I can even live without it and just stick to regular exfoliators.
Lifetrons Beauté Ultrasonic Cleanser
I bought this on a whim on a Singapore Airlines flight and I do love it as I feel like I am at a skin salon having a facial treatment every time I use it. It has many features but I use it mostly for helping my skin absorb better the products I apply to it. I wrote a review of it in my other blog some time ago.
La Mer Renewal Oil
I love my La Mer Renewal Oil and it was one of the very first products I bought when I was obsessed with skincare. It is so light that it acts more like a serum so I can even put it on my face before I put on my moisturizer. I do only use it when I do not put on a Vitamin C serum as I try to not put too many layers of products on my face these days. It is also multi-purpose as I put a few drops of it on my hair too. It is, like any La Mer product, crazy expensive but a 30 ml bottle lasts a very long time. I also refrain from using it during the summer. My summer skincare is stripped to the most basic and I think that’s great because my skin takes a break. My winter skincare is more rigorous to combat dryness caused by heaters in our home and the cold air outside.
If you are in the Philippines, I highly recommend the entire set from Beautederm. I tried a travel set first when I was there last year and I had no bad reaction so I went ahead and bought the premium set which includes papain soap, a Night and Day toner, a day cream, and three-night creams. If I was still in the Philippines, I’d just stick to these products and use nothing else. They’re not recommended for pregnant or breastfeeding women but my OB-Gyne has cleared me for using them as she said as long as I do not ingest any of those and just apply them topically, they are okay.
What about you? What are your to-go brands for skincare?
If you only had one product to live by, what would it be?
Stay tuned for my essentials for hair care and my makeup essentials. Coming soon! I should also come up with baby essentials because I’ve lots to say on that! Thanks for dropping by and please don’t forget to leave a comment below. Thanks!