- Possibly avoiding moisturizers in attempt to reduce oil production
- Using soap or facial cleansers several times a day
- Exfoliating the face more than once a week
- Using a variety of products per category (using more than one cleanser, several types of scrubs and masks, etc.)
- Often switches from product to product
- Fear of using makeup due to breakouts or rashes
- Often breaks out in hives or rashes from stress or upon contact with common allergens such as cat dander or pollen
- Tight skin after cleansing face (before putting on a moisturizer)
- May sometimes experience breakouts as a result of trying new makeup or skincare products
- Possible psoriasis, rosacea, or eczema
- Possible dry patches on the cheeks or around mouth
- Red and tender skin after cleansing the face
You might be taking care of your skin, but in this case, you’re probably doing too much. You know that phrase, “sometimes too much of a good thing can be a bad thing”? That’s your skin!
It’s very important to allow the natural processes of your skin take place – the skin is a wonderfully intuitive organ that is designed to protect you. When you constantly strip it of its natural defense mechanism (sebum) or constantly exfoliate, you aren’t allowing your skin to do its own thing. Now it’s very confused… and it’s just trying to help you!
Instead of focusing on cleaning and detoxing your skin, let’s focus on nourishing your skin with essential ingredients to allow it to perform its natural processes.
*I am not a dermatologist nor do I have extensive medical training. I cannot prescribe you any medications or drugs to address your problems. I am, however, a licensed esthetician that can recommend products according to your skin type. If you are seeking medical advice or a professional medical evaluation, please speak with your doctor or dermatologist.
Step 1: Remove makeup
It’s very important to cleanse not once, but twice. The first cleanse removes all your makeup, and the second cleanse removes the rest of the leftover dirt and debris.
Contrary to popular belief, using an oil-based makeup remover gives better results, and here’s why: oil has more lubrication, so you’re not irritating or pulling at your skin when trying to remove long-lasting makeup. This is crucial for areas like the eyelids, where the skin is thinner and more fragile. Oil also helps remove sebum build-up inside the pores, so you’re actually getting a thorough cleanse.
The best oil cleanser for you: Banila’s Clean It Zero in Purity is perfect for sensitive skin. It is a hypoallergenic cleanser that applies like a balm, preventing any skin-pulling or irritations from rubbing. It removes even the toughest of makeup.
How to use: Apply a dime-sized amount and remove all face make-up, using circular massaging motions. Be gentle when removing eye makeup. Afterward, use cotton rounds to wipe off the excess oil, paying careful attention to the eyes. To remove eye makeup, swipe the cotton rounds in a downward stroke, following the direction of the lashes. Never pull sideways – this can irritate the thin eyelid skin and cause accelerated wrinkling.
Step 2: Cleanse
The best facial cleanser for you: Su:m 37 Miracle Rose Cleanser. This low-pH cleansing stick is wonderful for people with sensitive skin. It also contains rose flower extracts, which is perfect for parched skin.
How to use: A little bit goes a long way. Lather up a pea-sized amount and massage into the skin.
Step 3: Exfoliate
Exfoliating is a very important step in Korean skincare. A popular practice of exfoliation is scrubbing off dead skin cells to encourage new cells to the surface. However, there are plenty more methods other than abrasive scrubbing. One of the most popular exfoliating methods include gentle chemical exfoliations with acids or peels, and these are highly encouraged in the Korean regimen.
The best exfoliant for you: Mizon Apple Smoothie Peeling Gel. This AHA-based peeling gel is perfect to gently exfoliate thin and loose skin without causing any aggressive abrasions.
How to use: On dry skin, apply a quarter-sized amount and massage onto face. As a general rule of thumb, if you find your skin growing more dry, sensitive, or even extremely oily, you may be exfoliating too frequently. Give your skin a few days to recuperate in between exfoliating treatments.
Step 5: Tone
After cleansing, your skin is stripped of its protective barrier. More than likely, your skin won’t be at it’s normal 5.5 pH level. 5.5 is slightly acidic because the skin actually has what is called an “acid mantle,” or a protective barrier comprised of fatty acids. If your skin tends to be dry and sensitive, this is a sign of weaker acid mantle, meaning your skin is too alkaline. A toner helps bring your skin’s pH levels back to normal and creates a balanced environment for the next step in your skincare regimen.
The best toner for you: Skinfood Gold Caviar Toner. The Russian caviar extract helps nourish and moisturize the skin, making your skin soft and hydrated.
How to use: Using a cotton round, swipe all over face and wait until dry before proceeding onto next step.
Step 6: Ampoule
Ampoules are another leave-in treatment that addresses specific skin concerns. Because it is far more concentrated than both essences and serums, I recommend using an ampoule during your nighttime routine in place of an essence or serum.
The best ampoule for you: Mizon’s Snail Repair Ampoule is one of the star players in my routine. This ampoule has anti-aging, anti-wrinkle, and healing properties thanks to the 80% snail secretion filtrate, which is just another fancy word for filtered snail slime. Don’t worry, there’s no funky smell or texture – it’s just a clear, viscous solution.
How to use: Drop a pea or dime-sized amount onto palm and pat into face until dry. Be sure to avoid physical contact with the dropper to avoid contamination.
Optional Step 7: Sheet Mask
The best sheet mask for you: Benton Snail Bee Sheet Masks. These sheet masks contain snail extract and bee venom, which both help to smooth and tighten the skin. An added bonus is that both help the skin retain moisture.
How to use: Simply stick-on the mask and leave on for 30 minutes, then remove the sheet. Do not rinse the product off – massage into the skin until absorbed. If you feel there’s too much, pat down with a tissue and then proceed to massage into skin.
Step 8: Moisturize
The best moisturizer for you: Skinfood’s Premium Avocado Rich Emulsion is a perfect not-too-mattifying, not-too-heavy lotion perfect for those not trying to further upset their sensitive skin. Avocado extract provides essential vitamins and minerals as well as fatty acids that nourish and moisturize the skin.
How to use: Scoop a dime-sized amount with a clean cotton swab and pat into the face until product is absorbed.
Optional Step: Nighttime Mask
Sometimes your skin is in turmoil and you just know you need to do a little something extra to help it. When we sleep, our body works hard to regenerate and heal itself in every department, and your skin is no exception to that. Incorporating an extra step during your slumber can help boost your skin’s ability to repair itself.
The best sleeping mask for you: Laneige’s Water Sleeping Mask is something I have been using for years. Each time I use this mask I can see a huge difference in my skin when I wake up. My skin tone is much more even and the texture is extremely soft. This mask also claims to have calming properties that aid in sleep. I’m not sure how solid this claim is, but I’ll never forget the first time I put this on and immediately passed out in bed. I think it may have been the light floral smell… or perhaps just the long day I had at work.
How to use: When your skin is suffering or if you’re prepping for a huge event, use this the day before. After your moisturizer is fully absorbed, massage in a pea-sized amount of this mask right over your moisturizer until your skin soaks it up. Since it functions as an extra layer that seals in everything underneath, you don’t want to lay it on too thick and suffocate your skin. Leave it on overnight and then rinse off in the morning, followed with a moisturizer.
Step 10: Sunscreen
Sun exposure is the #1 cause of physical aging in the skin, and is something that is also avoidable. Aside from wearing hats or staying out of the sun completely, sunscreen not only helps you age slower but also helps slow down the process of hyper pigmentation. Did you ever notice that after a day in the sun, your dark spots look even darker? The sun acts like glue to pigment and makes it harder for the spots to fade.
The best sunscreen for you: Corsx’s Aloe Soothing Sun Cream is a soothing sunscreen that is aloe-based, which will help to not only reduce aggravated skin but also hydrate it. It also has a huge amount of SPF and PA. SPF only protects from UVB rays, whereas PA protects from UVA rays. And you see those +’s? That’s actually a PA ranking: the more +’s the better. Just like SPF’s number: the higher, the better.
How to use: Apply all over face, neck, and all other areas exposed to sun. Reapply every 2 hours – no ingredient remains active all day!
Optional Step: BB Cream
If you’re an avid make-up lover and can’t seem to put the foundation down, a BB cream is a great alternative to take care of your skin while getting the coverage you need. BB creams serve as a foundation with hydrating and brightening effects and can also double as a sunscreen. While BB and CC creams have made their debut in America, Korean-brand BB creams have still remained superior to their American counterparts.
Fun fact: Many BB creams have a limited selection of colors, but that’s because they actually change color to match your skin. They may appear gray at first, but give it some time and some window light and the product will oxidize.
The best BB cream for you: MISSHA’s M Perfect Cover BB Cream is my all-time favorite BB cream. Not only is this formula hydrating (which is rare in a foundation), but the coverage is buildable due to its opaque color. You can apply it using your fingers for a natural look, or you can use a foundation brush for medium to full coverage. The second reason why I like this BB cream is that this line has colors in the deeper tonal range, something that most Korean BB creams don’t bother with – east Asians have very fair skin, so Asian manufacturers don’t see a need to formulate darker color options.
How to use: Pump a small amount onto the back of your hand, and using either your finger or foundation brush, apply it to the face as you would with a foundation. I personally like using my finger and blending it over dark spots for a more natural look. Give it time to oxidize, and then set with powder.
I hope you found this guide informative! If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me via email at contact @ theballeronabudget.com. I’ll be checking up on you to see how your skin is soon! In the meanwhile, please check out my other beauty posts.
Looking for more product options? Visit my complete 10-Step Korean Skincare Guide.