health

My Nighttime Skin Routine

I’m pretty experimental with skincare. There are products that I’ve tried and love, but I’m still always on the lookout for new stuff. Why? I can’t help it….I’m a beauty junkie! Another reason is because I think my skin gets too used to ingredients, so it’s good to switch up products periodically. Having said that, most skincare products do take time to deliver maximum efficacy results. Therefore, it’s still important to be patient and have a routine. Without further ado, here’s my daily night routine:

STEP 1: CLEANSING OIL

credit: youbeauty.com

If I’m wearing makeup, I first use CLEANSING OIL to remove all my makeup. There are so many cleansing oils out there but my favorite is, of course, DHC’s Deep Cleansing Oil. Lately, I’ve been using Innisfree’s Apple Juicy Cleansing Oil (3.5 out of 5 stars, it’s not bad but sometimes it doesn’t remove all my eye makeup). I’ve also tried Sephora’s Supreme Cleansing Oil (3 out of 5 stars, too oily and leaves a film). I have 2 friends who swear by Tatcha’s Pure One Step Camellia Cleansing Oil, but it’s too $$$$ for me. A lot of people have recommended Shu Uemura cleansing oils to me…so maybe I’ll try that next!

STEP 2: CLEANSING WATER / MICELLAR WATER

If I’m not wearing makeup, then I skip straight to step 2, which is MICELLAR WATER. Cleansing/Micellar water is popular everywhere now, but it used to be a beauty secret of the French. See, French women don’t use water to wash their face because they believe water is too harsh (I can attest to this. I lived in Paris and the water there is hard aka has lots of calcium and magnesium – which makes your hair look sexy af but can be harsh on skin). So anyway, French women love their thermal water sprays and micellar water. They use the latter to remove makeup, cleanse, and tone. The cult favourite micellar water on the market is probably Bioderma Sensibio H2O. Personally, I’m using Bioderma Sébium H2O, which is aimed for oily/spot-prone skin. I actually don’t have oily skin but I prefer the Sébium version over the one for sensitive skin. I apply the cleansing water on a cotton pad and then swipe it over my face. Easy peasy. There are a ton of effective micellar waters at different price points. You know my preference of course but an alternative recommendation is Koh-Gen-Do’s Cleansing Spa Water – my best friend swears by it.

STEP 3: CLEANSING MILK

Step 3: Ok you probably think I’m cleansing my face too much but after micellar water, I usually wash my face again with CLEANSING MILK. I use La Roche-Posay’s Toleriane Dermo-Nettoyant. If you prefer the squeaky clean feeling after washing for your face, this product is not for you. The texture is fluid and milky and it leaves behind a creamy film. It also doesn’t wash off your makeup so you need to use a makeup remover before this. Cleansing milk clearly isn’t for everyone but personally, I love the creamy/milky feeling and I think it leaves my skin soft and plump. To each her own!

P.S. If I feel like I’m about to break out (I sometimes get hormonal chin acne before my period), I switch immédiatement to a sulfur face wash. Mine is prescribed by a dermatologist. It is the ONLY thing that works and I swear by it. It may be smelly but I’ll take it over having spots.

STEP 4: TONER

Confession: I used to follow the Korean 10 step routine but then, I got too lazy. I can’t commit to double-cleansing, exfoliating, toning, putting on essence, serum/booster/ampoule, sheet mask, eye cream, and moisturizer every day. I can’t. I mean, I can’t even remember all the steps! These days, I exfoliate and do a sheet mask 1x or 2x a week. After cleansing milk (step 3), I use a TONER. Right now, I’m using Etude House’s Wonder Pore Freshner. I like this product a lot but honestly, I haven’t tried other toners in recent years because I’ve been trying to finish this 500ml bottle for the last 3 years. It literally lasts forever.

STEP 5: VITAMIN C SERUM

This is a recent development but I just started incorporating VITAMIN C SERUM to my nighttime skincare routine. It supposedly helps produce collagen, repair signs of aging, fades dark spots, & brightens skin. I bought a random bottle (Brand: Measurable Difference) from the skincare aisle at Ross (lol), so I’m no expert. My friend mentioned that Drunken Elephant’s C-Firma Day Serum is good so check that out. Anyway, I drop some vit C on my fingertips, warm the serum up and rubbing my fingertips together, and dot it on my face. I focus particularly on my cheeks where I have some indented scars. I also slather it generously on my nose because my facialist said it helps with tightening pores. It has been about 1 week since I started using this serum, but I think the pores on my nose already look smaller. I can’t tell if my scars are getting better but topical creams usually can’t do much…so I’m not holding my breath.

STEP 6: RETINOL

This is also a recent addition – RETINOLS! Retinol works great on wrinkles, enlarged pores, scars, etc. I use the A313 Vitamin A pommade (replacement product for Avibon, which was discontinued).

So, I didn’t realize until I was putting this list together but I apparently use a lot of French and Korean/Japanese products lol.

STEP 7: MOISTURIZER

Moisturise, moisturise, moisturise. I use Embryolisse Lait Crème Concentrè. Ahhh it’s my favorite. It’s rich and just sinks into your skin. It is also amazing as a daytime moisturizer because it acts as a good primer. If you have dry, flaky skin – this product is a godsend! It soothes over your skin so your makeup won’t flake.

STEP 8: EYE CREAM

People always advise to start using EYE CREAM early. I totally should have listened. I’m really forgetful with eye cream, which is dumb because I have dark eye circles and really bad allergies…so I rub my eyes a lot (a big no-no because the skin around your eyes is so delicate). If I remember to dab eye cream on (with my ring finger), I use Avène PhysioLift Eyes. I actually don’t like the product, but it’s the only one I own right now. I find the formula too heavy and not moisturizing at all. I’ll have to look for a new product soon. Any reccos?

STEP 9: LIP BALM

Last but not least, lips. I have big lips and they are almost always chapped. I’ve tried about a million LIP BALMS and usually nothing works. People swear by NUXE Rêve de Mie but I don’t think it works on me…maybe I need to use it for an extended period of time. Right now, I use a La Roche-Posay Nutritic lip balm stick. At night, I’m putting Homeoplasmine (an all-purpose ointment and all-around French pharmacie staple) on my lips right now. Happy to report it seems to be working so far. My lips are not chapped!!

So that concludes my nighttime skincare regime. What’s your skincare routine 🙂 ?

 

Things I Love: Laneige Water Sleeping Mask

I’m obsessed with Korean skincare (and makeup). I know I’m generalizing but many Korean ladies (and gents) really know their stuff and are METICULOUS with their massive multi-step skincare routine. Spas, massages, facials, dermatologist appointments, treatments, etc. are just part of their weekly routine. Not to mention…plastic surgery! South Korea is plastic surgery capital of the world.

I half-admire their society’s commitment to looking young and beautiful. I say half-admire because annyeong I too want to look like a gorgeously dewy poreless k-drama actress or k-pop idol. But living in a society where looks are everything is incredibly tough. Appearance matters in most societies, but it’s especially true in East Asian cultures. I say this as an East Asian who grew up in both the East and West. I’d concede that physical beauty is prized everywhere in the world. But in my opinion, one of the more positive things about living in a Western society is that there’s more breadth in terms of beauty ideals (I’m not saying today’s Western beauty ideals are any better, just that there’s more diversity). I find the East Asia’s conception of beauty ideal to be quite narrow (and somewhat unrealistic). I’m wrongly lumping all Eastern cultures together but in general, for women, the trend is to look young, natural, have milky-white smooth skin, double-eyelids, big eyes, small nose, and a slim, oval face.

And fight me on this, but East Asian guys can get away with not looking “traditionally handsome” as long as they’re je-ne-sais-quoi charming, have a high nose bridge, and are above 180 cm. Can we say double standards?? I’m not dismissing that there’s an unfair global prejudice against short men, but nevertheless, it’s still harder to be a woman. Anyway, I think this rigid female beauty standard has extended to the rest of the continent, particularly Southeast Asia. On one hand, as an Asian, I admire the asian-nification and rise of Korean influence on beauty and culture. On the other hand, it’s always hard to look like something you are not naturally. In Asia, is this modern Eastern beauty ideal an improvement over the near-unattainable Caucasian beauty ideal of yesteryears? Or is it merely another incarnation of the latter?

I don’t really know.

I also want to point out that in Asia, people tend to be more openly judgmental and vocal about your looks. Body shaming? It happens. A stranger auntie (stranger danger!) on the street would feel entitled to tell you you’re fat. Let’s just say the body positive movement has not made it to most of Asia. In S. Korea, you have to submit a headshot with your job application and your looks are absolutely judged – just like any of your other qualifications. As an aside, you also have to include your headshot in your CV in France…but my French mentor in HR told me it’s so they can put a face to the application (uh-huhhh sure).

Pretty people in general are at advantage in life. It’s a fact and I’m not bitter about it. You can’t help being born beautiful, just like you can’t help being born smart. It is the hand you are dealt in this life. I just hope that for the sake of our younger generation, we expand the definition of what it means to be beautiful.

Sorry for my long ass ramble lol. Now back to my regular programming….I wanted to talk about Laneige’s Water Sleeping Mask. I ♥ this product!! Getting enough sleep is still the best way to achieving good skin, but if you don’t get enough sleep, have no fear, there’s Laneige water sleeping mask!!

I use this about twice a week; you apply the gel on your face and leave it overnight and rinse in the morning. I don’t know what’s in this product but whatever it is, it’s 100% pure magic. Your skin looks and feels moisturized and revitalized, as if you got 20 hours of beauty rest.

You can buy it online here. In the U.S., Laneige was carried at select Targets, but I think they’re moving out of that distribution and into Sephora! Stay tuned.

 

Things I Love: Castor Oil

In keeping with my evangelical mission (see last past) to promote oil as part of your skincare routine, I want to talk to you guys about magical properties of castor oil.

Once upon my youth, I was shaving my legs when I got an itch for my forehead. Naturally, I went to scratch it….AND SHAVED OFF HALF MY EYEBROW in the process. I shit you not, it never grew back. For 10 years, I lived with an aborted left eyebrow. Tragic doesn’t even begin to cover it, especially since we’re now experiencing a renaissance of thick brows.

Luckily, I found a cure. Or my mum did. She gave me a bottle of Jamaican cold-pressed black castor oil and wished me luck on my journey to having a full brows again. For a few weeks, I religiously applied castor oil to the ends of my left eyebrow and prayed to the gods of hair-growth. Through rigorous application and blind faith, hair slowly but surely grew back in. Yas omg castor oil works!! I am living testimony to its success. As long as you are diligent, you too can (re)grow hair.

You can buy this online or at your local health store (i.e. Sprouts, Whole Foods, etc.).

Things I Love: Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar

I was 16 when my doctor diagnosed me with PCOS (Polycystic Ovary Syndrome). To sum up, PCOS is a hormonal disorder where a woman’s insulin-producing cells create way too much insulin. This doesn’t sound too bad, right? False! Too much insulin causes a shit ton of trouble. For one, it causes our ovaries to produce too much testosterone.  And because of elevated androgens (testosterone and male hormones), women with PCOS often have irregular or no periods. Other symptoms include obesity, hirsutism (excess body and facial hair), infertility, acne, thinning hair, pelvic pain, etc. You may have some of the symptoms or all of them – each woman’s case is different. But the worst news?

THERE IS NO CURE!!!!!

Can you imagine being diagnosed with this incurable disease at your most vulnerable age, when you already feel ugly and unloved and…what’s that you’re telling me? I’m going to be fat and sprouting chin hair forever and can’t ever have children????

Life can be very cruel.

Yet, it also goes on. It has now been over a decade since my diagnosis. Birth control helps with regulating periods, Metformin helps with weight control, and a tweezer gets rid of chin and chest hair. Yes it’s the hairy truth…I have to pluck hair from my chin and my boobs 😦

 

Anyway, from my years of experience, I found that all my PCOS symptoms are lessened if I stay under a certain weight. For example, my period usually becomes regular without the help of birth control pills if I’m under 138 lbs. But here’s the tricky thing – losing weight. Losing weight is SO HARD for most* women with PCOS. Because of our difficulties with insulin and slower metabolic rate, we gain weight easily and struggle to lose weight…even if we eat right and exercise. It’s crazy unfair!!

So, for my fellow ladies suffering from PCOS, I want to share a thing for me that has worked – Bragg Organic Raw and Unfiltered Apple Cider Vinegar (ACV). A few weeks ago, I started drinking ACV in the morning and at night. Here’s my recipe: 2 tablespoons of Bragg ACV + 1 tablespoon of organic honey + warm water. I drink mine quite concentrated (the honey helps) but I think you can also take it cold…just add more water because straight vinegar is disgusting. I didn’t make any drastic changes to my diet or exercise, but still find myself losing weight. I also got my period and just feel more energized and skinny in general. This makes sense since ACV helps detoxify and control blood sugar. So there’s my testimonial! I’m loving Braggs ACV (I don’t think other brands are as authentic or effective, so I recommend buying this specific brand) and have made it part of my daily routine.

Give ACV a try! You can buy Bragg Apple Cider Vinegar at any grocery store or online.

*Not all women with PCOS are overweight, but majority are. I’m actually at normal weight for my height and look slimmer than I weigh, but I still have elevated level of triglycerides and other symptoms of PCOS.