2016 in Review, My Asian Beauty Journey so Far!

Another year casted off to the sound of people cheering and champagne bottles popping to fill the cringing silence of Mariah Carey’s NYE performance that will surely be 2016’s final meme. While I’ve been taking care of my skin for quite some time, 2016 saw a vast difference in how I treated my skin – it marks my plunge into Asian beauty. I’ll be reflecting on this years lessons and products that stood out to me

I went into 2016 with a few problems that carried over from 2015. My skin was oily to the point that I could smell my own face oils by midday. Acne was also a concern. I had breakouts scattered around my face and a ton of closed comedones that made my skin texture uneven and bumpy, making my forehead looked like a minefield. I still had the habit of picking at my face, leaving my skin inflamed, bumpy, and downright angry. There was a period where I was so uncomfortable with my skin that I’d abuse Facetune to cringe worthy levels.

In the past I remember stumbling upon the r/skincareaddiction and r/asianbeauty subreddits. Both of them were helpful but a little overwhelming at first, but after multiple visits I found myself getting caught in tab-storms of so many helpful and informative post from the wonderful people at r/Asianbeauty. I’ve learned SO much about skincare from them, which sparked my own thirst for knowledge on the subject. I’m forever in debt 🙂

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Since my main skin concerns center around congestion, proper cleansing and the use of acid exfoliants have been life changing. I regularly wear sunscreen and BB cream, both which need to be washed off thoroughly to prevent them from clogging pores. Part of my problem was that I was not giving my face a very good wash. I was using a clay based face wash that was great for sweeping away oils, but it didn’t remove much else.

Now I’m an avid fan of the double cleanse; the use of a cleansing oil to break down makeup and sunscreen, followed by a foaming cleanser to sweep everything away. My skin is left thoroughly cleansed, and thanks to my low pH cleanser, it’s a gentle process that doesn’t strip my skin.

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Acid exfoliants were the game changer of 2016 for me. While properly cleansing my skin helped a lot to prevent issues with gunk building in my pores, the use of a BHA (beta hydroxy acid) helped to clean out any trash that decided to linger on my face. I should’ve poured some of this shit on my ex in 2014. I briefly explain the function of BHA’s in this blog post, but they help to clean out the lining of the pore. This helped to tame my random breakouts, but also to prevent close comedones from forming, which evened out my skin texture.

It kind of became a positive feedback loop. Once I started having less breakouts, it was easier to break the habit of picking at my face, which helped make my skin look smoother because it wasn’t constantly irritated.

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Tosowoong snail masks are good, but I honestly prefered Etude House’s

2016 also marks the year I discovered snail, a much hyped korean beauty ingredient. Snail mucin has helped my skin feel incredibly soft by providing moisture that isn’t heavy, while also giving my skin a slightly dewy and smoother look. It’s one of those hypes that I have totally fallen for. If snail freaks you out, maybe start with a snail sheet mask for baby steps. My intro were the Etude House snail sheet masks (the old ones before the air therapy line) and from there I was hooked. I like it. You might not like it. It’s ok 😀

Shout out to the MVP’s each you and every year: sheet mask. In part to my natural skin type, and in part to being a swimmer who is constantly in chlorinated water, I have dry skin that leaves me with tightness and flakey patches. Some mornings I wake up looking a bit…. Scaley. While my routine provides the moisture I need to not leave my skin painfully dry, sheet mask provide me with a moisturizing emulsion that allows my face to drink up all the moisture it can get! Tosowoong masks are a favorite because of their cheap pricing and good quality.

Products I really liked:

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Scinic Honey All In One Ampoule: a cult favorite. It’s a honey, royal jelly, and propolis serum that comes in a huge jar. Thanks to all of the bee products, it’s a great humectant that helps to  hydrate and brighten up dull skin. It’s a little thick and smells of… honey… So it can be off putting for some people. I’ve gotten into the habit of putting it on top of my lotion, using that barrier between the serum and my skin on purpose so that it doesn’t feel as intense sitting on my face. I’ll usually still get pretty decent results this way.

Skin&lab Red Serum: This serum helped to brighten my skin, a lot. I usually have a rather dull complexion, so I’m always looking for something to give my skin that extra glow. It’s mainly focused on being an antioxidant serum with fruit extracts that help to brighten and fight free radicals, combined with hyaluronic acid to help keep skin moisturized. The one con this serum has is that it sometimes dries with a slight film, so I’ll only use it at night to avoid having that feeling during the day.img_3772

Jeju Petal sheet mask: These two step sheet masks use a facial oil as your first step, followed  by a sheet mask that forces everything into your face. I got to say, this concept kind of had me going “eh” at first, until I used it. We all know sheet mask are just a boost to your routine, but this one was a BOOST. My skin was dewy, soft, hydrated, and deeply nourished. Definitely going to keep a few of these on hand as my “SOS my skin is flaking” backups.

img_3073Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Cream: A million times yes. It smells like cucumbers and has an easy spreading texture that’s thick, but not gloppy. This cream strikes the balance of deep hydration without feeling oily. I always wake up with baby soft skin the next morning. It’s kind of expensive so I’ll sub it with the CeraVe Moisturizing Cream quite often. The Fresh cream is for those nights where I’m in a “treat yo self” mood.

Laneige Multiberry Recovery Mask: On one hand, I forget about this product quite often. On the other hand, when I do use it I wonder how I forget about it and why it’s not brought up more often. It leaves my skin SO soft, and my skin just -feels- calm. It’s rather scented, as most Laneige products are, so I can see where sensitive skin types would stay away. This wash off mask just makes my skin happy and smooth, and that’s really all I want. It also has a great texture that makes massaging it into the skin a pleasure.

Products that just didn’t work out for me:

CosRX Honey Ceramide Full Moisture Cream: CosRX is one of those brands that the internet loves, and I’m kind of scared to say anything bad about them. This cream was just too intense for me. It caused instant whiteheads and was rather greasy. I usually am drier in the winters, with flakes of skin around my face, but my face just did not play nice with this cream. I now get my ceramide fix from CeraVe.

Processed with VSCO with c2 presetAcwell Licorice pH Balancing Cleansing Toner: I’ve heard that people like this toner. I am not one of those people. I didn’t mind the fact that it smelt strongly of licorice, but it left a film on my face that just felt dirty.  I layer a lot of skin care on my face during the winter, and if my toner is already making my face feel weird it’s game over.

Innisfree Sheet Mask: I mean…. At least the material they’re made out of is nice? Honestly, if you want a cheap sheet mask that’s popular, I think Etude House beats Innisfree hands down.

Processed with VSCO with c2 presetTonyMoly Ferment Snail Lip Treatment Stick: Apparently this was a really popular product, and I have no idea why. It is way too glossy and has a horrible taste, which I think can be attributed to the SPF (the taste smells like TonyMoly sunscreen, if that makes sense.) The lip treatment just sits on your lips and never really sinks in. Once it gets wiped off of your lips, they are dry again. Much like a super cheap chapstick, constant use of this actually left my lips more dry and reliant on a chapstick. And it was $15?  Next.

Confusing product of the year


Processed with VSCO with c3 presetAveda Tulasara Radiant Oleation Oil
: Your product description sounds like you’re supposed to be used like an oil cleanser, but you don’t emulsify, but you’re also a crazy cocktail of oils that are highly scent but kind of work well for a face oil?! WHAT ARE YOU

Resolutions!

It’s not a new year if I don’t make a few promises to myself that I’ll half attempt to keep for the next two months! I’m glad to say I’ve mostly stopped picking at my face, so that means one of the biggest resolutions is out of the way.

For the most part I’ve become a responsible consumer and have stopped impulse buying products. That being said, I also have a pretty large stash to draw from at the moment, so maybe I’m just temporarily sated…

I need to keep my workouts consistent. Mostly I’ll average 3 days at the gym. I need to go into full on crazy person mode and get 5 days in. My skin looks better whenever I’m consistently working out, and I just FEEL better. I sound like I’m like two weeks away from selling detox tea on my Instagram.

Need to stop having lazy nights. Falling asleep without cleaning my face is just a no no, and I do it about once or twice a week. I wake up with breakouts and flaky skin that takes a day to get back to normal. Wash and hydrate, Eugene. Every night.

Screw the caps on your serums all the way. You’ve left bottles half open way too many times and you’re going to end up growing a fungus on your face and die.

Closing thoughts on 2016.

  • I’ve seen a huge shift in western makeup to be dewy, a shift I have personally embraced, and it makes me happy.
  • Sometimes my lips are naturally very dark and red. I kind of want to try a lip stain to make them that color on the days they look more pale…
  • I made my hair grey this year, and that was fun and trendy. Never doing it again though. My hair and scalp were destroyed to get there, which I kind of expected since I have jet black hair.
  • Donald Trump was elected president of the United States. So there’s that.
  • Wash my neck more! With sunscreen and occasion BB cream on my neck, I need to cleanse it more often. I get breakouts on my neck near my facial hair, and I bet cleaning would help tons.
  • Stop spending time trying to force friendships or relationships. We are all too cute and special to waste time on someone who doesn’t put forth the effort to reply to a text message, or only reply with one word. Use that energy towards existing friendships.

You should strive to make every day as great as possible, even if it’s just baby steps! Hope everyone had a good new years eve, and hope everyone is gearing up for another year of skin care!

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-Genie

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