My transition into Korean skincare has been a slow one, for financial and precautionary reasons. As exciting as it might be, it’s expensive to buy a ton of product at once and introducing a lot of different products at once can be stressful on your skin. Patch testing is always important when using new products, making samples perfect for testing. Each person’s skin reacts differently to ingredients in a product, and you never know if a cream that works like a charm on your friend will make your skin breakout or rash. So always patch test! Most retailers are good about returns in the case of bad reactions to a product your purchases, just be sure to read up on their policy!
ANYWAYSSSSS, what this means is that I have a lot of western products in my routine because I want to use them up before replacing them. I figured this would be a good time to show what products I like that are easily accessible in the states, especially for people who don’t want to jump into the world of Asian skin care just yet.
I’m not here to incite a Western vs Asian skin care battle, both sides have good products. Even before embracing Asian skin care, I already had a pretty sizable collection. Here are some of my Western favorites that I currently use in my routine.
Dermalogica clay face wash
This face wash has been a favorite for a few years now. I’ve also tried their sensitive skin face wash, and it was good, but it didn’t really help with my oily spots. What I like about this clay wash is that it is gentle on my dry spots but also absorbs and washes off excess sebum on my oily T-zone. This also doubles as a clay mask, proving a nice cooling effect when drying on the face. After using this face wash my face is always a little brighter which can be attributed to the lemon and green tea in the clay. Over all, this cleanser is a favorite that is good after a day that I’ve been sweating and producing extra face oil.
A common complaint about Dermalogica is that their products tend to be overpriced, which I can’t argue against. However, in the case of their cleansers I feel like it’s a pretty good deal because they come in huge 250ml bottles that last for months and months. You only need about a nickle size amount to wash your whole face, and my bottles easily last 4-6 months.
Dermalogica Skin Prep Scrub
This exfoliant is what you think of when you think of the typical gritty exfoliant. It gets rid of all traces of dead skin and gets you ready for the rest of you skin care routine. To be completely honest, this scrub is a bit abrasive. Even when using a gentle hand, which you should always when physically exfoliating, I feel like it’s just a little to rough – like scratchy. After including a chemical exfoliant I never really use this scrub due to fear of over exfoliating. Would not recommend for sensitive skin. For the size and averageness of this product, it definitely falls into the “way to pricey” category, being $36.
Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid
BHA stands for beta hydroxy acid, more commonly known as salicylic acid. BHAs are used to chemically exfoliate the skin by penetrating the pores to reduce inflammation and kill bacteria. Chemical exfoliants aren’t actually very common in Korean skin care, so I turned to Paula’s Choice to get mine. One precaution to take when introducing a chemical exfoliant is to make sure that you slowly incorporate it into your routine. Using it only three nights a week at first should help acclimate your skin, and from there you can decide to use it more or less often.
Paula’s Choice is another brand that is criticized for being over priced for the amount of product you receive, but since you need so little of the liquid formula to be effective you can make it last for a while. I’ve been using mine for about 8 months, plus spilt once, and I still have about half a bottle. I would suggest putting about two or three drops of this product on your bare hands before spreading it on your face. A cotton pad would absorb this product because of it’s water like texture and leave you wasting a good bit of it.
A word on active ingredients: AHA, BHA and vitamin C are all active and somewhat unstable ingredients (especially vit c.) After cleansing and toning, it is recommended to wait 20 minutes after applying your chemical exfoliant before continuing on to your next step. This is meant to allow your product to do it’s work, as the pH of other products can neutralize your active. Vitamin C follows the same routine, wait 20 minutes before putting anything else on or risk neutralizing that entire step of your routine.
Aveda Botanical Kinetics Energizing Eye Cream
This eye cream is gentle, has no scent, and is lightly hydrating. Other than covering the basics, I don’t really have much else to say about it. It claims to diminish dark circles and puffiness under eyes, but I’m not sure if I actually see it. It’s bare bone and it’ll do for now is all I can really say. In all truth, I forget to put on eye cream most of the time so maybe it’s more user error…. This would be good for most skin, but wont be enough hydration if your under eye is dry or flaking.
Burt’s Bees Radiant Royal Jelly Night Cream
This night cream has just worked so well for me since day one, and it’s super convenient since it’s cheap and a store brand. It’s thick without being oily, spreads easily and evenly, and leaves my skin glowing in the morning. That being said, it could be a possibly bad choice for sensitive skin. It is heavily scented and some of the ingredients in it can be problematic for skin that is easily irritated. I sweat a lot in my sleep, so I usually wake up dry and dehydrated. This cream is thick and rich enough to help prevent my face from being dry upon waking up, and is good for winter too when my skin is naturally in a much more dry state.
CeraVe Sunscreen for Face with SPF 50
Sunscreen is -vital- for your skin care routine. It protects your face from UV damage that can accumulate over the years and cause wrinkles, hyperpigmentation, and possibly even cancer. I always keep a dedicated sunscreen, regardless if some of my products already have SPF in them. I don’t believe in all-in-ones or the staying power of a lotion with a measly SPF of 15. That being said, finding a good sunscreen is like finding a good man – you like one for a few days until you find that one flaw that makes you block and delete their number. I’ve always battled with sunscreens for my face because they leave me oily, sit super heavy or leave me with a white cast.
CeraVe gets a good bit of praise all around, so I figured I’d give them a try. This sunscreen contains ceramides and niacinamide, which are both great for repairing and nurturing your skin’s natural barrier. I do still have some problems with it though; it’s a little heavy, leaves a slight white cast and I can see it being a problem in the heat of summer when my oil production is at it’s highest. On the positive side, I wasn’t too oily after two applications in one day and it gives me a matte blur look similar to a primer. It’s not perfect, but it’d do. I can imagine people more on the oily side being uncomfortable with this sunscreen though because if it’s weight and it possibly making them oily.
And that’s all of my western products I’m currently using! I’ll be doing more in detail reviews about some of them later on, so keep an eye open – especially if you want to know more about my cleanser or the BHA exfoliant I use.