A few of my favourite things - Skincare
Let me tell you a bit of a backstory. It has taken over 20 years for me to get to where I am at with skincare, considering I started at age 11.
My evolution -
Teenage years, I had acne prone skin. It never cleared up, always in the T-zone.
Post-teen years, I worked as a cabin crew. Which meant eternal jet lag, ridiculous food choices and climates, never enough sleep, crazy schedule. Finally after struggling with unhappy skin forEVER, I went on birth control pill. And BAM. Happy, smooth beautiful skin, not too dry not too oily, too good to be true**. However my family doctor would only prescribe me 6 months at a time and it was 6 months on the pill, 6 months off the pill. His explanation was that because I flew all the time, he was worried I’d get bloodclots. That made no sense because something like deep vein thrombosis (“economy class syndrome”) only happens if you don’t move for a long time, but as crew we basically walked the whole flight over the Pacific Ocean to the destination. Anyway I wasn’t going to argue with the doctor so I did the 6-month-at-a-time deal.
**Too good to be true was right. I had pulmonary embolism (blood clot in lung) years later and had to stop taking the pill, forever.
The 6 months OFF the magic pill made me so anxious because the 6 months ON, was so amazing. So naturally I wanted to make sure my 6 months OFF was not disastrous. That was the time I discovered Beautypedia, a research-based review site, that also got me interested in ingredients. Skincare shopping got easier because I can read the ingredient dictionary before I buy a product. Soon after I was using a lot of Paula’s Choice products, particularly the exfoliants. Over the years they have gotten a lot more expensive, and lots of other brands have emerged with simpler formulas, so I now no longer exclusively use their products but I do go back to read up on ingredients and I still use some irreplaceable products. It also got me to think a lot more critically of products. When I watch reviews on YouTube, I no longer care for the ones who talk about how smooth the texture is (easily done with silicones, inexpensive fillers), or how nice the product smells (fragrances, natural or synthetic are generally skin irritants), or how this new cream has some new magical exotic rise-from-the-dead-abilities plant extract (I’ll stick to well researched, clinically proven ingredients thank you).
I have gone from about a 7-step skincare routine to now 3-4 steps. I don’t set my routine in stone because my skin constantly changes. Below, I’ll list all my favourites in each category. **I also have written about how to find your skin type, and whether you have dehydrated skin in more depth to explain the categories “hydration (serums)” and “moisturizer” below.
My general approach is, cleansers are washed down the drain, so it only needs to clean my face. I don’t need any other anti-aging benefits or anything else in it because I’m not keeping the cleanser on my face all day for those benefits to work.
I prefer chemical exfoliants like AHAs and BHAs, over physical scrubs. They are gentler and don’t create micro cuts on the skin that lead to more breakouts. Though I do have one for the especially gross days when I want to scrub off a layer of skin.
I use toners to add a light layer of hydration, not to balance ph, because my skin does that on its own anyway.
I prefer fragrance free products because I have reactive skin and don’t need more irritants, but if the product is really good, then I don’t mind the fragrance. Same with alcohol.
I leave all the problem-solving and heavy-lifting to my serums, since they are more concentrated and works better at what they do. That’s why I don’t use anti-aging moisturizers and only use moisturizing moisturizers, especially when my skin leans more oily combination recently.
Some of my favourite exfoliants are -
Treatment Enzyme Peel by AmorePacific
Amino Moist Clear Wash Powder by Minon from Dokodemo*
for oilier, acne-prone skins - 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant by Paula’s Choice (daily)
for drier skins - 8% AHA Gel Exfoliant by Paula’s Choice (daily)
for oilier, acne-prone skins - Resist Advanced Pore Refining Treatment 4% BHA by Paula’s Choice (2-3 times a week)
Exfoliants need to be in the right pH range in order to work as an exfoliant. That is why not all products that contain AHA/BHA CAN exfoliate properly. I stick with the Paula’s Choice ones because they are formulated at an optimal pH range of 3–4. I don’t have the patience to pH strip test every product on the market to see if they would actually work so I just go with the ones that are scientifically proven to work.
rare exception since I almost only use chemical exfoliants, but when I feel extra gross like after a day in a high smog area or wearing heavy sunscreen while excessive sweating, then I resort to a physical exfoliant. Even then I choose one that dissolves because the scrub is sugar. Sugar Strawberry Exfoliating Face Wash by Fresh.
Exfoliants need to be used with care in terms of frequency, and it’s basically trial and error but err on the side of caution. If you use chemical exfoliants in the day, you must wear a sunscreen, and be careful with your retinol concentration. When used correctly, it’s the best.
Some of my favourite facial sprays are -
Superoxide Dismutase Saccharide Mist by NIOD as hydrating toner
Grape Water* by Caudalie
Moisture Bound Skin Energy Hydration Delivery System by AmorePacific
**Some of my favourite moisturizers in various textures are -
Some of my favourite lip balms are (I have chronically dry lips so I tried A LOT of lip balms, these are only SOME off the top of my head) -
Lip Serum by Hydrafacial Perk
Lip Fetish Lip Balm by Pat McGrath
Honey Lip Balm by Nuxe
Super Lip by Guerlain
Lip Glowy Balm by Laneige (in Pear)
You might notice I don’t put anything about eyes here, because I don’t specifically use anything for eyes. While the skin around the eyes are thinner and are pulled in all directions, making them work harder, my face products do a good enough job and aren’t too heavy for my eyes. Typically I massage serums into my face and I press whatever is left around my eyes. It’s been doing great.
I don’t always use masks, but when I do -
Bioesque masks. Very simple lineup, only 2 masks. One brightening and other other anti-aging, both VERY hydrating. The mask itself is a bio-cellulose material, commonly used as artificial skin for burn treatments, which is more eco-friendly than paper masks. They stay snug on the face leaving me free to do other things, and the serum doesn’t evaporate off. Owner is a local woman (I have a thing for supporting local businesses, if quality of their products is exceptional.), gives back to BC Children’s hospitals and other single-mothers and children’s non-profits.
What are your skincare favourites and why? Leave them in the comments below!