An EPIC Skincare Chat Part I – Daily Routine
Hello ladies!! *waves*
Grab a cup of coffee, tea and some cookies because this will be a very long WORDY post! So, where do I start? I guess I shall start with a little background of my skin and my current concerns, then share some products that I have been using and how they work for me.
The Importance of Understanding Your Skin..
Everyone’s skin is different, even though there are generic categorisations like Oily, Normal, Dry, Combination, Normal to Dry, Normal to Oily, etc… These categorisations are merely guidelines because there can always be variations and combinations of skin type. Our skin type can also change over time, the fundamental condition of our skin is highly dependent on our genes. Yes, look at your parents, you are very likely to have one or both their skin type. Skin also changes with age, the hormone levels and prolonged exposure to certain types of environment can alter the skin. This means that you will need to pay attention to your skin and know what you need to focus on, what works and what doesn’t work for you.
These days, it is very easy to get a skin analysis done at skincare counters. SK-II, IOMA, Biotherm provide some pretty detailed analysis to help you better understand your skin’s needs.
Don’t hate me, but I am one of those lucky people who are blessed with fundamentally good skin. My parents have really good skin, so do my siblings so I guess I’m just normal in my family. It was awesome when I was in school because I was one of the very few teenagers who did not suffer from acne or pimples. I had some bumps but that was it. Because of the maintenance free skin, I used to think I didn’t really have to bother too much about it because I don’t have issues, no enlarged pores, no pimples, nothing..
As the years went by, I started to learn more about skincare, about how normal to dry skin without sufficient oil production will age prematurely. You see, God is fair, you either have oil and youthful skin for longer or no oil/pores but ageing skin earlier.
The biggest concern for me have always been my eyes – eye bags, puffiness and fine lines. Then over the years, facial fine lines started peeking through, first as laugh lines, that make you look like a happy person.. but then these lines start to settle. Then there was dehydration, living in the UK in my 20’s definitely did not help because the perpetual cold winds just constantly sucked what little moisture I had in the epidermis.
It also doesn’t help that I love beach holidays, and we all know that the sun is THE number 1 culprit of premature ageing! Dark spots, sun spots, sagging. Argh.. the list goes on.. As a result, I embarked on a journey to not only shield my skin from environmental free radicals but also to lock-in my skin’s age. Think of it like putting the skin into a cold box and freezing it’s current state. “Current” being the time when you start nourishing it 😉
My Skin… NOW?
- I would say my skin is normal and dehydrated. Yes, not dry because I would associate dry skin to those that have flaky skin. Mine’s just dehydrated with little to no oil. Anyway that hydrates like crazy would do well for my skin.
- Freckles peaking through at the top of my cheekbones – all that sun exposure 🙁 So whitening is important to me.
- Fine lines – those annoying nasolabial folds around the mouth
- Sagging skin – ok my skin doesn’t sag (yet) but if fully lifted, the nasolabial folds wouldn’t be that obvious
Splurge On Skincare – It’s An Investment
INVEST MONEY – 10 years ago, I bought my first bottle of SK-II Facial Treatment Essence. That led to trying out the full range. At that time, I had only started working and was in my first job, spending $300-$400 on skincare at a go was pretty heartbreaking, but it had to be done! 10 years on, I’m glad I did splurge on all that skincare.
INVEST TIME – This is possibly one of the main reasons why people don’t splurge on skincare. It’s not so much the money but the time taken for these multi-step routines. Yes, it can be very time consuming, but if it keeps you looking younger than your peers, why not? I used to laugh at my mom because she used to spend at least 15minutes at her vanity prepping her skin before bedtime. Looking back, I have her to thank for my obsession with skincare!
Ok, enough blabbering.. let’s start!
Clean Skin = Happy Skin
I cannot stress enough how important cleansing is. We all have days, or rather nights when we just want to jump into bed and sleep, but it is very VERY important to clean off our makeup and nourish the skin so that they can breathe and rejuvenate themselves when we sleep.
BIORE MAKEUP REMOVER FOR EYE AND LIP
This is THE BEST and most economical eye makeup remover! It removes even the toughest, most waterproof eyeliner and mascara without having to tug at the skin around the eyes. This is always my first step when I cleanse my face.
BIODERMA CLEANSING WATER
Eversince I was introduced to Bioderma by Eliza over a year ago, I have been consistently using it religiously as the first step to remove my makeup. I always use the one for sensitive skin, but recently tried the hydrating one and I was surprised how much I like it. Best of all, it does not sting my eyes like the sensitive one does! (hooray) I have not tried removing eye makeup with this but I’ve heard good things about it. I would soak 2 cotton pads with Bioderma and wipe off all the makeup from my face. Although this works well as a makeup remover, it does not remove 100% of the makeup. You will need to use another cleanser to ensure you have completely makeup-free skin.
BALANCE ME CLEANSING BALM
Once makeup is removed, I would rinse with water and then follow up with a second cleanser. I don’t really like foam cleansers because they are pretty drying and gives that tight feeling which I don’t like. This is one cleansing balm that I really love. It has got little micro oatmeal bits which lightly exfoliates the skin to double cleanse and remove any leftover makeup that Bioderma fails to remove. One thing to note about this cleanser is that it has a pretty thick oil which you can’t just emulsify and rinse off. You will need to use a muslin cloth to wipe the balm away. I guess this is a good thing because it keeps me disciplined – no shortcuts allowed.
I find it works best with 3 wipes – first wipe down the balm with a hot muslin cloths, rinse the cloth in warm water and wipe the face again, then rinse it in cold water and wipe for the third time. Your skin will be squeaky clean but still feel hydrated and luxurious. I only use this cleansing balm at night.
IOMA CLEANSING MILK
This is a new cleansing milk that I have been using in the mornings before work. I love how light and hydrating it is. It’s pretty fuss free, just 3 pumps, spread onto dry skin and emulsify with a little bit of water before rinsing and drying. I think it’s as good as any other cleansing milk, does the job well and smells nice.
FLUSH IT CLEAN ONCE A WEEK
Cleaning the skin is like cleaning the house. We do daily and regular cleaning, mopping the floor, cleaning the kitchen, packing around the house but once or twice a year, we spring clean! Get rid of things we don’t need, and corners or dirt where we might not usually clean on a daily basis. Well, it’s the same for our face! We need to give it a deep cleanse once a week (at least).
CLARISONIC MIA AND PHILOSOPHY PURITY CLEANSER
Some people say the Clarisonic is like an exfoliator but I tend to think of it as more of a deep cleanser. It gets to the crevices and deeper layers of our skin that our fingers fail to reach. I like using this with my Philosophy Purity 3-in-1 cleanser because it does emulsify and foam up a little more than most of my other cleansers. I’m using the Deep Pore Cleansing Brush Head at the moment and kind of love how clean my face feels. I think if you have problem skin or oily skin, you might want to use this twice a week just to minimize clogged pores from building up. I really love this and feel that it is a good investment 🙂 Of course mine is in this beautiful turqouise shade!
TONE & PREP FOR OPTIMUM ABSORPTION
I remember when I was a teenager, my mom used to tell me that toner is necessary to close up the pores (which are being opened when we cleanse our face) and that if a toner is not used, pores would enlarge over time.
I hate to say this, but I am doubtful about my mom’s rational, because if you think about it for a minute, if your pores were all closed, how do you nourish the deep layers of your epidermis with serum and subsequent skincare? Also, Japanese skincare typically does not have a “toner” step so I really doubt this pore closing logic. In fact, I think we need to use products that ensure there is a clear, unblocked and direct path into the deepest layers and core of our epidermis. This is why I use what I use! 😉
ALBION SKIN CONDITIONER
This was a discovery I made last year and it’s appeared on a number of my blog posts. As the name suggests, this is a skin conditioner – much like how hair conditioners work for our hair. I like to think of this as a balancing toner which sets the stage and prepares the skin for subsequent skincare. It is the star product from Albion and this is my second bottle. I love how it hydrates the skin and leaving it supple after use.
The Albion Skin Conditioner can be used as a toner or as a quick mask to bring back “life” to the skin. You can mask with this by soaking one Albion cotton pad and separating each layer of cotton onto parts of the face. This helps to knock the unbalanced, dehydrated, tired skin back into shape in just 5 minutes. I do that once a week as a booster before the rest of my skincare.
The closest comparison to this is the SK-II Mask-in Lotion which I have also used over a year ago. Personally, I prefer the Albion Skin Conditioner because it really leaves the skin feeling very hydrated and supple. It also has a really pleasant scent that I love so much! It’s available at Takashimaya although, it is much cheaper when purchased from Japan. So if you have any friends traveling to beautiful Japan, get them to CP a bottle back 😉
SK-II FACIAL TREATMENT ESSENCE
This was my first skincare splurge 10 years ago and also my best investment to date. The FTE has the same balancing properties as the Albion Skin Conditioner but I think it does more than balancing our skin’s pH. It prepares the skin for optimum absorption of subsequent serums and products. Think of it as coating the deep layers of the skin and making sure that their chemistry is prepped for absorption.
The bottle in the picture is wet because I store the big bottle in the fridge and use only a decanted vaporiser bottle. This keeps the product fresh. The FTE does have a funky scent that smells like fermented yeast, but if you can get over the smell, you are in for a good skin journey. I don’t use a cotton pad with this, just spray onto the face and pat in.
BIOTHERM LIFE PLANKTON ESSENCE
This is a new product that I only very recently started trying out. It is filled with deep sea waters properties that serve to hydrate and prep the skin for serum. This reminds me of the time when my skin would look really clean and naturally awesome after each dive trip in the Maldives. The water there is filled with plankton which forms a large part of the formula for this product. I have been replacing my SK-II FTE with this and it seems to be working well so far. Then again, it’s only been about 2 weeks so whatever I see now would be superficial. Our natural skin renewal process has a 28 day cycle, so I will probably have to wait another 2 weeks to see if my skin has really improved.
That said, DO NOT get swayed by reviews or products that promise to work in 7 or 14 days because scientifically, that period of time is not enough to change the structure of our skin cells. Whatever changes or benefits are just superficial.
LIFTING AND FIRMING
You can probably skip this step if you are in your 20’s, but if you are in your 30’s, I would recommend incorporating this into your routine. As we age, we lose collagen and our body also produces collagen at a much slower rate compared to our younger self.
CLARINS DEFINING EYE LIFT
This is the only thing that I use to reduce puffy eyelids. I have been using this for a while and to be honest, I don’t really see much of a difference on a daily basis. BUT, when I stopped using this for a couple weeks, I started to realise that my eyelids looked off and tired. I guess the difference is so subtle that I would need to stop using this to notice. Decided to continue using this so that I would not feel frustrated looking at my droopy eyelids in the mirror. Haha.. Ok, I would mark this as a psychological essential!
CLARINS SHAPING FACIAL LIFT
Want the V-shape jaw line? Use this! It’s a gel that serves to lift and firm up the skin. I don’t use this all over the face, and clearly do not follow the instructions and recommended massage by Clarins. With an extensive skincare routine like mine, I really don’t want to spend another 10 minutes massaging the face to firm and lift it. I only use this for the chin (double chin) and jaw line. Basically, use one pump, rub both palms together to spread the product and cup the bottom and sides of the face with your palms. Hold for a couple seconds and spread the product in an upward movement.
KATE SOMERVILLE DERMAQUENCH LIQUID LIFT
This is my second bottle! I have a detailed review of this from a previous post. Read it here! What can I say about this? Well, remember I mentioned above how I don’t use the Clarins Shaping Facial Lift for the entire face? That’s because this does the same thing, for a fraction of the time spent. It minimises those nasolabial lines by hydrating the skin and lifting the skin so there are no folds to form the annoying lines! I don’t know if this product would continue to work if I stop using since it has such a superficial immediate effect. Honestly, I wouldn’t mind using this for as long as I live if it keeps the fine lines at bay. Definite thumbs up from me!
TARGET YOUR CONCERNS WITH SERUMS
I know.. it’s getting really draggy, like what the hell? How long is this skincare routine??!! We are reaching the core of the routine. Trust me! So, up to this point, we have cleansed our skin and prepped it well. Now it’s time to feed it with the good stuff. Stuff that focuses on targeting our concerns. That’s what serums do, serums are usually filled with a higher concentration of active ingredents which penetrate deep into the skin to combat issues. Think of it like medication for specific illnesses. You don’t want to take flu medicine when you have a tummy ache, right? You want panaflu that specifically kills the flu bug. At least, this is MY THEORY! I always incorporate 2 serums in each of my routines (day and night) to combat different concerns.
LANCOME GENIFIQUE YOUTH ACTIVATING CONCENTRATE
I first tried this (the original formula) when it was first launched back in 2009 (I think) and I honestly did not think much of it. I decided to give it another try since the formula has been reformulated and wow, I do like this. It does what it says, promote youthful radiant and smooth looking skin. One pump each routine is all you need. I like using this together with the Lancome Visionaire. This is a light gel formula, so it’s always the first serum I use.
This is a power serum that does it all, wrinkles, pores and unevenness. Usually, when I see a product that claims to do more than one thing, I get skeptical because if it sounds too good to be true, it very often is. However, it’s not the case here! I was surprised how much I love the Lancome power serum duos when used together. This helps to further hydrate my skin and plump it up. It has also minimised the pores on my cheeks – awesome! Because this has a slightly creamier texture, this is used after the Lancome Genifique.
GUERLAIN BLANC DE PERLE
This is the new whitening serum that was launched by Guerlain several months back. I have been using this to help minimise the freckles on my cheekbones. Again, it’s a very light gel formula that seems to have micro shimmers which adds some superficial radiance to the skin when first applied. It’s also got a pretty strong sweet scent that I’m not a fan of. I tend to only use this in the day routine but have since stopped using this since I’m trying to test out the Lancome duos.
I believe I had consistently used this for about 2-3 months but have not seen any improvements to my skin. In fact, when I went for facial, my therapist commented on the increased number of freckles on my face 🙁 Arghhhhhhh I think I will still use this once my Lancome duo finishes but this is not something I would repurchase. For whitening, I like the SK-II Whitening Spot treatment!
SK-II STEMPOWER ESSENCE
This is the newest serum added to the SK-II range and was launched last year. First of all, this feels like a serum, not sure why it’s named an essence. It’s meant to have anti-aging properties – which again, equates to minimising wrinkles and help with sagging skin. To be honest, I got this because it was new and I’ve always heard good things about the Stempower cream. Did it work for me? Maybe it did but not good enough for me to notice a significant improvement in my skin. At best, it was maintaining the condition of my skin. Don’t think I will repurchase this once I’m done. I currently use this in my night routine as an additional serum in addition to the Lancome duos.
EYES – THE ONE AREA TO SPLURGE ON
My eye area has always been a huge concern since my JC days. Eye bags and dark circles seem to run in my family. Oh yea… good skin but terrible eyes! 🙁 I am always on the look out for really awesome eye products. I just want my eyes to look firm, bright and awake.
LANCOME GENIFIQUE EYE ILLUMINATING YOUTH ACTIVATOR
Have you seen the applicator of this serum? It’s like a tear-drop and on-so-cute! This serum is meant to improve the overall contour around the eyes by firming it and brightening it through massaging motion using the applicator. I don’t use the applicator though, apart from using it to smear some product under the eyes. It deposits way too much product if used directly and massaged in at the same time. I either use my fingers or a separate battery operated eye serum massager (shown here) to blend the product in. I do like this because my eyes have been doing pretty well eversince I started this eye combo.
LANCOME GENIFIQUE YOUTH ACTIVATING EYE CREAM
This is a lovely lightweight gel (although the name calls it a cream). The gel looks and feels pretty luxe with micro shimmers. I have found this to be quite hydrating, even though it does not feel as rich as some other eye creams I’ve used. I never used to like gel texture anything because to me, gel = lightweight for oily skin, I have this notion that I should only use heavy duty creams. But boy was I wrong. This gel does a good job at keeping my eyes hydrated and it seems to diminish fine lines over time too. Really loving it so far. Oh.. it’s also great under makeup! Not all eye creams work well under makeup, some cause creasing, but this does not do that at all.
MOISTURISE AND SEAL IT IN
Yup! As the name suggests, the purpose of moisturisers (again, my theory) is to seal all the essence and serums you have drenched the skin with and to seal it all in and keep them in for the next 10 hours. Recently, I have been incorporating oils in my routine for this very reason – to lock in moisture! Basic science… with oil as a top later, water cannot evaporate, likewise the moisture from our skin. 😉
KIEHL’S MIDNIGHT RECOVERY CONCENTRATE
This oil needs no introduction. It’s filled with pure essential oils which helps repair and rejuvenate dehydrated skin. I love the scent of this oil, it’s very soothing and great for a pre-bedtime routine. This oil is pretty rich so I tend to use this only at night. I would mix 2-3 drops of this into my La Mer and spread it onto my skin.
SKINTECH CAMELIA RECONSTRUCT
When I was first introduced to this product, I was a little doubtful because it’s an indie brand and still being constantly improved, formula wise. I got curious after a while because I could see the vast improvement in my sister-in-law’s skin. Her pores got visibly smaller and her skin brighter and smoother. I was sold! Met up with her friend, who’s the brains behind this oil. He initially mixed the formula to help his mom’s skin but it’s so amazing that he’s continued with his research to perfect it. I think what I’ve got was a version 5 and boy oh boy, it is the BEST OIL I have ever used. Believe it or not, I even stopped using my La Mer as a night moisturiser.
If you are curious, camelia oil is tsubaki oil from Japan and it’s a fairly costly oil that is used very sparingly in many of the skincare in the market. This, however has a much higher percentage of the active ingredient camelia oil, thus the outstanding results. I will talk more about this oil at a later stage as there are other items in the range which I’ve yet to try.
What I love most about this oil is it’s ability to be fully absorbed into the skin within minutes. I can even wear it under makeup during the day! YES! An oil under makeup.. what does that give me? Full hydration all day and trust me, makeup adheres to it beautifully without slipping or separating. I have even used this under my eyes and…. no milia seeds! Woohoo! More on this in a later post!
CREME DE LA MER
One of the most highly criticised luxury skincare product, ever! But, I love it! This is my second tub and although it’s been criticised and measured against the Nivea cream, I still think that this product does what my skin requires, it’s rich, luxurious and moisturising. Remember? What I need is an agent to lock in moisture, and this does it really well. Not only does it lock in moisture, it leaves the skin feeling so soft and supple the next morning. LOVE LOVE LOVE! Although it’s expensive, it lasts forever because I only use this at night.
We all know that the sun is THE NUMBER ONE cause of premature ageing skin. It is so important to ensure we are protected all day, especially in Singapore’s all-year summer sun!
YSL TOP SECRETS UV SPF50++
This sunscreen is pretty light, not oily and blends easily into the skin. It’s got a slight tint but doesn’t show up onto the skin. I especially love the scent. However, I don’t think it has very good lasting power because I seem to have developed more freckles. I’m guessing it’s because the protection wasn’t enough. Since it’s SPF50++, it should be sufficient, so the only assumption I can make is that it might not have been very long lasting. I might go back with my favourite Shu Uemura UV Armor SPF 50+++ after this one is done.
So there you have it… my daily routine. If you made it this far, THANK YOU! Apart from daily skincare, I also believe in some weekly rituals to rejuvenate the skin and keep it healthy and well pampered. Check that out in Part II of my skincare series here.