Skin-Care. Routine/Reviews/Tips (incl. Korean Skin-Care)

So mostly I write about random stuff on here - like coffee places I went to, thoughts I had on the train, books I like, photos I took...

But I have become a bit obsessed recently with trying to take care of my body and soul a bit more.

I don't usually write so much about beauty stuff, but since I am trying to take care of my body more, I have decided to invest more time in learning about skin care, and natural body care where possible, and simple things to keep your skin happy.

This was the video that started it all -

then this -

My name's Catriona, and I'm a skin-care-oholic.

After trying and testing various skin products since around December 2016 / January 2017 time, I think I have found a pretty good routine which seems to be working for me.

I never had problems with my skin particularly, and just used a few Clean & Clear products and that was me. However, after living in Bosnia in the summer of 2015 (aged 22/23), I came back with pretty sun-damaged and acne-prone skin, which has been problematic for me ever since. It may well have been a genetic thing, but anyway.

I have found that, in general, simple is better, and that your skin usually freaks out if you put too many products on. Repetitive routine means that your skin can get used to it and regulate itself more. I have also worked out more-or-less where you can save, and where it makes sense to spend a little more.

My routine is based roughly off of the crazy Korean 10 step routine, but with my own take on it (and not as many steps).

I feel quite conflicted because I am trying to consume less, and support smaller or local companies where possible, as well as trying to use more natural/seasonal things where possible. I suppose skin-care has turned into my last weakness where that is concerned (I like to think I am pretty low maintenance ish with other things). I think I like the routine of it, and I find that having bad skin made me feel really bad about myself. I would rather not have to wear lots of make-up, and would like to feel like the best version of myself, without having to paint on a new mask. (If I find smaller companies, or more ethical versions of any of these products in any way, I will update this blog)

Anyway, enough justifying.

What I would recommend for a simple (ish) evening skin routine - 

1. Garnier Micellar water
(if wearing make-up)
use with a cotton pad

2. Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser
would recommend using with warm water - massage into face and rinse off

2.b. Optional (If having a bit of a bad skin day - Superdrug Glycolic Acid Pads, and/or the La Roche Posay Effaclar cleanser / toner / exfoliant. Or - if on a budget - the Clean and Clear Blackhead Cleanser)

3. Simple Toner
pat this on with fingertips, rather than wipe /drag with a cotton pad

4. Origins Original Skin Essence
again, pat on

5. The Ordinary
rotate between acids or retinoid on alternate nights / depending on what you need

6. Mizon Good Night White Sleeping Mask (and Boots eye cream)

(Of course you might not need / want all this, but in general I would recommend definitely going for the Micellar water, Simple toner, and some sort of night cream if you are on a budget)

What I would recommend for a simple (ish) morning skin routine - 

1. Garnier Micellar water
if feeling a bit gross

2. Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser
it feels quite luxurious in the mornings

3. Simple toner
pat on!

4. Origins Original Skin Essence
again, pat on

5. Superdrug vitamin E cream
dot a load around your face and gently pat in

6. La Roche Posay SPF 50+

7. (optional) Botanics All Bright Radiance Balm

(Again, for a budget version I would say: Micellar water, Simple toner, and some sort of day cream or foundation with an SPF should do you fine)


More in-depth info on each product in routine - 

1. Garnier Micellar water
A really good make-up remover, and general cleanser. I can't remember the exact "science" behind what micellar water is, or what it is meant to do - but it feels light and clean and isn't too pricey. I like it a lot.

2. Liz Earle Cleanse & Polish Hot Cloth Cleanser
I love the way this smells, really luxurious and kind-of smells a bit botanical and menthol-y.
I have the mini airport-hand-luggage version, and I don't use much. Just wet my face with warm water, massage this on, and rinse off with warm water (warm water opens the pores).
This is based on the Korean idea of "double cleansing" - usually they would use an oil-based cleanser (Simple do one, and the Korean one everybody raves about it is Clean it Zero), and then follow with a foaming/soap-y type cleanser. I found that sometimes I would do that but use Bio Oil then the Effaclar Cleanser, but the mix of the Micellar water and creamy Liz Earle cleanser works quite well for me right now.

3. Superdrug Naturally Radiant Glycolic Acid Pads 
These are a much cheaper alternative to the popular Nip + Fab Glycolic pads which seem to be all the rage right now, they have almost the same ingredients (you can see this on the linked product pages).
Basically they are the same as an acidic cleanser, but it is already pre-soaked in cotton pads

4. Effaclar cleanser
(above on the left) 
A neutral Ph face wash. I bought this as part of a set with the cleanser, toner and duo cream

5. Effaclar toner
(below on the left)
I haven't been able to find this outside of the set, but I really liked this because it has Salicylic Acid in it. I've run out now, and don't feel it's worth buying the whole set again for it. They seem to sell another product with the same ingredient which might be good - which is their Medicated Gel Cleanser

6. Effaclar Exfoliant ("Clarifying Lotion")/   Clean and Clear Blackhead Clearing Cleanser
Both of these are "chemical" exfoliants (as opposed to "physical" ones - which are the ones with little sugary scrub / sandy bits in them). 
They give a very "clean" feeling on the skin, but actually generally your skin shouldn't feel quite so squeaky clean, it should be more balanced. So if you use this, it's important to tone and moisturise afterwards.

7. Simple toner
It's simple and does the job. You just want to splash this onto the face to freshen up and close the pores. (The link takes you to Boots website to buy it, but I think you might be able to get it cheaper elsewhere eg. I have seen it in Wilko, Semi Chem, and supermarkets)

8. Origins Original Skin Essence
This smells amazing, and is basically a serum. Christine was the one that made me want to buy this in the first place, and it feels really nice on the skin, but I didn't notice such a HUGE difference as she did. But perhaps it's more that the combination of products has made the difference to my skin, rather than one single item. I really like the Origins brand in general.

9. The Ordinary

9.a Hyaluronic Acid 2% - this is for hydration, it is just like a clear serum, but it helps to plump up your skin from deep down. It's good for anti-aging, and can help really dehydrated skin.

9.b Azelaic Acid Suspension - this is good for getting rid of acne/spot scars or hyper-pigmentation. It is like a cream, and initially I really didn't like the way this felt and wasn't sure if it was doing anything. I realised after though that it was because there is silicone in it, which is what feels a bit too smooth (a bit like a primer, if you have ever used a make-up primer, that kind-of poly-filler feeling), and I think it's something to do with how that acid needs to be packaged in order to keep it "stable" (I don't totally understand) - but anyway, I noticed that it did actually start to fade any scars / marks on my face from old imperfections/spots. I like this now, although I felt that the tube wasn't filled very full.

9.c Advanced Retinoid 2% - this is good for skin cell renewal - heals the skin, and good for anti-aging. Retinol is a big deal in skin care because of what it can do for both acne and wrinkles. (Here's a WebMD (doctor's wikipedia) article about it. ) The Ordinary Retinoid smells a little bit like something you might use in cooking (like for making bread or something haha), and is a thin water-y yellowish consistency. It has worked amazingly on my skin.

These should all be used at night only, because the retinoid in particular can make your skin more sensitive to light in the day time. It's best to use it at night, cleanse in the morning and add an SPF (even if it's not really a sunny day).

I first got into The Ordinary through This Video by Fleur de Force. Have a watch. I found it really helpful. I have watched some helpful reviews since then on The Ordinary too. You can find them here, here, here and here [the review on the last one only really starts at 13:45]. (Some of these women are insanely well-educated on skin care chemistry jargon and can be a bit intimidating at times, I just decided to take what I could from them and do what felt right for me).

I really like The Ordinary because it is no-frills skin-care. What is on the bottle is exactly what you get. They explain well on the website what each thing does. I love the design, and perhaps most of all, I love how affordable and effective it is.

10. Mizon Goodnight White Sleeping Mask
This isn't really a mask, it's more like a gel moisturiser which smells faintly of lavender.
Don't be put off by the word "whitening", what they mean is that it evens out skin tone.
Nice and cooling on the skin.
I love the awkward English on the packet too: "White as the snow comes onto your skin! Your ultimate skin, and the purest skin will come true" (hahah what)

11. Boots Time Delay Wrinkle Reduce Eye Cream
It's simple and does the job. I am hoping to replace this soon with the Origins Ginzing one.

12. Superdrug Vitamin E Moisturisig Day Cream SPF 15
This is great. It does the job of a day cream perfectly. It's a fluffy sun-cream-y texture,
but more dewy. I don't know how to describe it. It's quite simple, and it works for me.

13. La Roche-Posay Anthelios XL SPF 50+
It's basically just a sun cream, but lighter, so more of an SPF fluid. Works fine under make-up. It's a little pricey but I think it's worth it because it doesn't give you that white residue that you get from suncreams, and you don't even feel it once you rub it in. I see this as a skin investment. My skin in 10 years time will thank me. I think.
This is really especially important if you are using retinoids

14. Botanics All Bright Radiance Balm
I'm not sure if this counts as skin care or make-up - but its a really nice thing to pop a little of on top of your skin - especially if you are having a make-up free day. It just gives you a bit of a glow.
It smells really floral (which I usually don't want in skin-care because I prefer things to be as simple and clean as possible) - but I see this almost like the finishing touch, like spritzing a perfume on just before you leave the house. This is the same for me. It's an extra little oomph to your skin, and I really like it when I am trying to have a no-make-up day, but want to look a little alive. It's also cheap and nice.


Other bits and pieces / special occasions - 

Mario Bedescu facial spray
I think I enjoy the smell and "experience", but the actual impact it has on your skin, I'm yet to be convinced of. I like the packaging and the way it looks sitting in my room, and it does feel really refreshing.

La Roche-Posay Effaclar
La Roche Posay is a French pharmacy brand, and I first heard of it through Sonya Esman:

Although Lisa Eldridge also spoke about picking up La Roche alot when she was living in Paris.

The Effaclar Duo was in the set which I got initially from La Roche Posay. I used it consistently with the whole set until around maybe November time. I found it nice, and especially helpful to use when I was worried about using a moisturiser when my skin was really bad. However, I do think that my skin needs more moisturising now, so I will only use this on occasion. Usually I use serums/essences and "real" moisturisers instead now.

I first got into Elemis after getting a facial at PURE in Edinburgh, as a treat (I can't remember if it was a birthday or Christmas treat). After that, I got the face mask that they used / recommended and the "flash balm" (basically moisturiser) that they recommended.
More recently I tried the Elemis Pro Collagen Marine Cream as it came as a freebie with some magazine. I found that I would add it in on particularly dry skin days, but I wasn't blown away by it.
Not overly impressed, but their stuff might suit your skin.
The mask was the Fruit Active Rejuvenating Mask (they seem to have changed the design since I bought mine) and the moisturiser was the Pro Radiance Illuminating Flash Balm - I like the lemon-y smell of the flash balm alot, but I am not sure if it really did anything to my skin.
(I think I got both of these cheaper on Amazon. Even though I am morally against Amazon. Anyway)

Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid
This Korean brand is being raved about by everyone into Korean beauty on the internet (people seem to say it like "Cos R. X.")
I will often put this into my night routine after the Simple toner.
This is supposed to be good for blackheads but doesn't feel the same "clean" way that clean and clear products might. It smells like something you might have in a school first aid / medical room, and although you can feel it working, it stays kindof serum-y on the skin. I don't really know yet whether this works or not, but I've been using it every few days in my routine especially on bad skin days and it seems to be working OK. It smells slightly medicinal, like something you might find in a primary school first aid room. It's very different from any other blackhead treatment I have used, and I think I like it - but the jury is still out.
Other people rave about this.

This video explains really well the difference between AHAs and BHAs:

Mizon Black Snail All in One Cream
So there is this weird trend in Korean skin care with using snail mucus as a skin product. It sounds quite disgusting but is supposed to be really good for your skin.
I decided to try this and quite liked it, but it's not absolutely amazing, just quite good.
I would sometimes alternate between this and the Goodnight White Sleeping Mask cream thing.
The concept is weird, but it is quite satisfying to use and sinks into the skin quickly.
Also Mizon in general is a popular Korean brand -

Bio Oil / Bio Oil replacements
I used to put this everywhere, even on my face, after every bath/shower - now I only very occasionally would put it on my face, but it is absolutely fantastic for the body. It's supposed to be for fading scars and generally good for the skin. Lots of people have commented on how soft my skin was after using it. I have found that a few places do kind-of "fake" bio oil, which seems to have almost the same ingredients, but for much cheaper.
Superdrug Restoring Skin Care Oil 
SemiChem Re-gen Oil (it's significantly cheaper but I don't like the smell as much)

Benefit 'Instant Comeback' serum and Benefit 'It's Potent!' eye cream
But I got the mini ones
I'm not really sure if these were that great, but I loved the packaging and they would make good presents.



Cream masks
Caudelie Masque Creme Hydrant
I quite like leaving this on over night, and washing the residue off in the morning.

Charcoal masks

Yes To Tomatoes Detoxifying Charcoal Mud Mask
Pretty good, but I think some of the cheaper ones might be better

Quick Fix Facials Purifying Charcoal Mask
This is almost half the price of the Yes To Tomatoes one, and I think it might actually even be better.

Boots Tea Tree & Witch Hazel Charcoal Mask
This one is pretty cheap, and actually works pretty well. I've been using this one a lot lately.

For the above three, I would recommend steaming your pores either by having a hot bath /shower, or by splashing your face with hot water, then applying the mask (so either in your bath or after your shower), letting your skin cool (close pores) and mask dry, and then wash off with warm water. Then follow with cold water and/or toner. 

Carbonated Bubble mask by Milky Piggy
Another Korean invention.
This one, I am not so sure it actually does anything, but it feels quite nice on the skin with it's bubbling sensation and is great fun to do. I did this with my sister on her birthday and it was hilarious. Great Snapchat content.
Basically it bubbles up into a foam, and then bubbles even more so that you look like some creepy monster from the deep. It's hilarious.
I got mine on Amazon.

Acid masks 
Nip and Fab Glycolic Instant Fix Mask
Really good. Might make more sensitive skin a little bit red initially, but eventually calms down.

Clay masks
Elemis Fruit Active Rejuvenating Mask
Dead Sea Spa Magik Delicate Boosting Mask
These are both alright but I think you can find pretty decent clay masks cheap ish in the supermarket / boots / superdrug. I don't think you necessarily need to splash out on clay masks, but maybe I've just not used a really good one.

Sheet masks
Mizon Enjoy Vital Up Time Elastic Calming Mask - I found this really cheap in TKMaxx, I couldn't find it online - but I would say that there are some other cheap masks to be found here.
Oh K! Avocado Sheet Mask
I also have a Hello Kitty one which I got in Japan
I've not actually used any of these yet - they are supposed to be really nice and moisturising. Sheet masks seem to be the latest fashion, so I felt that it was worth mentioning them.


I would recommend researching reviews, and find some people that you trust that may have similar skin to yours.


Things which have been recommended to me:

Kiehls midnight recovery concentrate
Glamglow gravitymud
Banish pumpkin enzyme mask
Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser
Origins Original Skin Mask
Origins Gin Zing Refreshing Eye Cream
Clean It Zero purity for sensitive skin
Rosehip oil
Glossier mega greens galaxy mask
Glossier moisturizing moon mask
Anything from Aesop 

Drunk Elephant skincare

Please do let me know if you have any recommendations or thoughts. 

I'm actually terribly embarrassed that I just wrote so much about skin-care - I feel it was probably one of the most superficial blogs I have done, but I felt that since I took the time to research it, I may as-well share it in the hope that it might help someone else.

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