As it turns out, i had been completely missing out on something pretty valuable and more importantly, culturally and physiologically fascinating, and that is the world of SKIN CARE. That still sounds absurd and bizarre coming from me – someone who doesn’t really do “beauty rituals”, who barely does makeup and whose clothes are chosen for their ability to look good on me without me trying. I’m not a particularly vain person – or at least, my vanity has always been more intellectual than physical. I’m one of those girls that almost takes pride in how little i do to look like myself, in how little i try, in how shitty i should look but don’t. It’s stupid, i know, but i always felt like i had a bit of ascendancy over people that did try because i didn’t feel like i had to.
But age has caught up with me, and i’m beginning to wish i had taken better care of myself at a younger age. My favorite clothes have stopped fitting and my ability to remain skinny despite being sedentary is starting to slip. I don’t remember things as well as i used to. I do not dress my age. I guess i’ve just started to feel like… i could do a bit better for a woman of 29 years.
I always knew my skin care routine was skeletal, but I also thought it practical, basic and functional. Turns out i was not entirely wrong, but i was wrong a little.
I went to HK a few weeks ago with a friend of mine who i had never travelled with before. And sharing a room with her, i noticed she had a significantly more elaborate night time and morning routine than me. I questioned her about it, and we talked a great deal about her interest and adherence to this skin care routine. I thought it was pretty interesting, i went online and googled some of her sentiments and just fell into this rabbit hole of blogs, product reviews and tutorial videos.
There is SO MUCH information out there it’s INSANE. I SERIOUSLY HAD NO IDEA THIS WAS A THING. I thought it was just like a niche thing that some particularly problematic people were interested in, but it turns out, all of Korea is kind of obsessed with it. Like they have a 10-step routine that everyone does to keep their skin looking good, even men. Maybe it’s because because my mother doesn’t do much, she just moisturizes at night. Also my mother is gorgeous and she is a doctor. My derma has never advised much: i only see her when something is terribly wrong (usually my atopic dermatitis or my acne), and she treats what’s wrong, and tells me to wear sunblock. That’s pretty much it. And i don’t think either of those things are wrong, but there’s a lot more going on that i didn’t know about. My skin care routine, from morning to night, used to look like this:
1. BB cream SPF 30 + eyebrow powder (this, plus a shitload of lipsticks, was literally all the makeup i owned)
2. Remove makeup at night
3. Wash face
3a. If treating breakout, apply meds
4. Night cream
Here are just a few things that i found myself corrected about, upon doing some reading!
1. BB cream is not sunblock. Even if it has SPF.
This is probably the most annoying thing i learned. BB cream is makeup, and in order to get the SPF stated on the bottle, i need to apply something like a shotglass full of it to my face. This was particularly annoying because the BB cream I use, i chose precisely because of it’s ultra thin application and great coverage, it feels like i’m wearing nothing and it just looks so natural. I’m so cheap when it comes to makeup, i feel like the products i buy have to do more than ONE THING. It can’t just be foundation, it has to be moisturizer and it has to be sunblock. That is the only way i’ll pay for it. So i guess i just thought, yeah, Clinique is expensive and famous and looks hypo, it should be okay…?
And i’ve been using it for three years. So yeah, fuck, turns out i have just been walking around in the sun barefaced for the past three years?! The fact that my face doesn’t look like a dead coral reef is a testament to my genetics.
2. You’re supposed to wash your face twice a day.
I didn’t really understand the logic of washing my face when i woke up in the morning, because i go to bed at night JUST having washed my face. What could have possibly happened between then and now that would warrant another face wash?! WHY DO WE NEED TO DO SO MUCH OF THE WASHING GUYS. I think the most sensible answer to this for me was that you need to de-oil your face before you put makeup on so that your products adhere better. Also, night creams is formulated to be thicker and richer than daytime moisturizer, so some of it stays on the surface of your skin if it isn’t absorbed during the night, and is comedogenic (pore blocky). What the shit!
3. Toner isn’t bullshit.
I have hated toner with a passion ever since i used Clinique’s anti-blemish line and their bullshit toner with the little specks of dust in it. It did NOTHING for me, it dried me out, and it didn’t even make me feel clean. “What the fuck is this sketchy shit!” said my face. “Just do what the goddamn derma told you to do!” As it turns out, toner is just a generic word used for the stuff you use after you cleanse your face to prepare your skin to accept moisturizer. Western brands typically create astringent toners – which are primarily cleansers also. It’s these alcohol based ones that are very drying and total bullshit. They are meant to “clean” as well as prep, but in doing that, they tend to also suck up a lot of your skin’s natural oils and leave you supes dry. Asian brands typically create toners that are primarily moisturizing – and are oftentimes referred to as freshener or lotion. The best explanation i read sounded like this: If you have a dry sponge, and you put some cream or product on top of it, it’s not going to absorb it very well. But if you wet the sponge first, it then is able to absorb the product way better. “Wetting the sponge”, in this case, is applying toner.
4. You’re supposed to reapply sunblock throughout the day.
fuuuuccckkk but i’m so lazyyyyyy
5. Makeup removal is more than just swiping everything off with a cotton pad.
I never wore that much makeup to begin with so i never felt the need to be that thorough about cleaning my face, but turns out, that’s why i’m STILL breaking out at 29 years old. I’ve been reading about this double cleansing thing and it really sounds like more trouble than it’s worth, especially since i work from home and don’t put that much product on my face anyway. But it kinda does make sense when i think about it. Cleanse with oil first to loosen the initial layer of muck, THEN use facial wash, which is a kind of soap, which repels oil. It feels much less drying than using a stronger facial wash or an astringent cleanser. I have been doing this in tandem with micellar water on occasion, which helps to loosen the more stubborn makeup (like lipstick, mascara or eyeliner) on fancy makeup days.
6. Skin care is cumulative.
I used to think that, as long as i used some form of moisturizer, i was already taking care of my skin. I wasn’t entirely wrong, but as it turns out, i wasn’t entirely right either. Skin care is more than just using a product or a series of product, it’s an actual mindset that I needed to put on – that i need to protect it during the day, that i need to clean it in the evening and that i need to moisturize it at night.
I know that sounds like a lot of snake oil horse shit, but whatever, i’ve been applying this knowledge for the past few months and my skin has looked and felt much much better. I didn’t have to purchase a ton of new products to reup my routine either – i just had to change how i was using stuff i already had. I am so sensitive, and prone to breaking out, so its not like i can use a ton of crazy things anyway. I had a couple products lying around that i either hadn’t finished up or wasn’t really using for one reason or another, so i lined them up, bought some toner and came up with
My NEW Basic Functional Skin Care Routine For My Low Maintenance Life Which I Guess Is Slightly Higher In Maintenance Now Because Of All This Stuff
That’s coming up, and will be my next post! That’s it for now!