Following the huge success of my “best Korean products for troubled skin" blog post, I decided to write a new version. This one is a little different as it also contains Japanese products, and is mostly based on my own failures and successes.
The routine, step by step
Product hype comes and goes, yet the Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick is still one of the most popular Korean cleanser. Over two years ago I gave in to all of the reviews and decided to purchase it, and it’s still a part of my daily skincare routine to this day. I recently shared a more in-depth review of this beautiful cleanser yet I can’t help but give it another mention.
This luxurious mild exfoliating cleanser is formulated with 90% natural ingredients, and I found it offers gentle cleansing with absolutely no stickiness or residue left behind – and, importantly for us sensitive types, no irritation. It leaves the skin thoroughly cleansed, soft and supple with a great hydrated glow all while banishing excess oil from those problematic areas. While Coconut and Olive oils can be two acne-triggering ingredients, I received nothing but positive feedback from acquaintances with oily and problematic skin types.
Considering I haven’t found another Korean cleanser that won’t leave my skin unnecessary tight and feeling stripped, the Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick is one I’ll always come back to. Also available here.
Another high-end cleanser I absolutely love is the Hera Silky Cleansing Mousse. Astonishingly, I don’t think I’ve ever heard anyone talk about this cleanser, yet it’s beautiful cloud-like texture feels dreamy on the skin and the subtle feminine scent makes it an all-round winner. The Silky Cleansing Mousse is great for those with sensitive and delicate skin : it increases skin’s resistance, decreases skin’s sensitivity and minimizes signs of irritation.
The Rec:ipe Slowganic Cleansers are formulated with 98% of natural ingredients to deep cleanse the skin without drying it out. I was intrigued from the get go by the luxurious mousse-like texture and by the ingredients, and I can tell you I absolutely adore them. They come in three versions, each of which caters for a different skin concern.
-The Green Tea version is primarily formulated for oily skin and contains a lovely assortment of purifying and soothing ingredients such as Green Tea Water, Green Tea Powder, Green Tea Oil, Almond Oil, Chamomile and a blend of Citrus oils.
-The Lemon version key ingredients include mainly Citrus oils, to reveal a brighter and more radiant complexion.
-The Adlay version, on the other hand, is primarily formulated for dry and mature skin and leaves the skin moisturized and baby-soft. It contains a blend of essential oils, vegetable oils and Job’s Tears to soothe and moisturize the skin, but also to prevent dehydration. Even though this cleanser is primarily formulated for dry and mature skin, I find it to be an excellent choice for sensitive, dehydrated and irritated oily skin.
Now, if you’re looking for a highly effective cleanser that leaves the skin squeaky clean and thoroughly cleansed, I can recommend you the Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Cleanser. This cleanser is probably one of the most popular Korean cleanser in Asia, and once you try the entire line it’s not hard to understand why everyone loves it. Volcanic Clay is known as an excellent anti-sebum ingredient as it acts like a magnet to draw out impurities. Truth be told, I don’t really like it : it’s the typical Korean cleanser that leaves the skin feeling slightly stripped, very tight and dry. With my love for moisturizing mousse cleansers, you probably understand why the Jeju Volcanic is not a favourite of mine. But like I said, it is immensely popular and very effective at deep cleansing clogged pores and at minimizing excess sebum production. If, like me, you prefer less drying cleansers, I can recommend the Etude House Wonder Pore Whipping Foam Cleanser or the Cosrx Low Ph Good Morning Gel Cleanser. (The Cosrx cleanser is also available here)
Another cleanser that can really improves oily skin’s appearance and helps minimize & prevent blemishes is the Etude House AC Clean Up Cleanser. I’ve spoken before about how most Korean cleansers tend to leave the skin squeaky clean with the stripped feeling, and that’s exactly what to expect with this cleanser. Having said that, the formula works with Lauric Acid, Tea Tree Oil and Salicylic Acid to deeply cleanses the skin, leaving it soft and fresh. I wouldn’t recommend it as a daily cleanser for those with dry or combination skin as it is quite heavy duty, but it’s perfect for acne-prone skin.
The Hada Labo Tamagohada AHA+BHA Exfoliating Face Wash is a cult classic in Japan, and for good reasons. The hassle-free mild formula works with Glycolic Acid and Salicylic Acid to gently exfoliate the skin, revealing a brighter and clearer complexion, but also refined pores. It is an absolute treat to use for those with combination to acne-prone skin. This cleanser was actually my introduction to Japanese skincare years ago when I was dealing with acne myself back then, and it’s still a part of my skincare stash to this day.
If I had to pick my favourite Japanese cleanser it would be the Hada Labo Gokujyun Foaming Face Wash, and while it isn’t raved on about too often lately, I still love it. Recently reformulated, this super gentle self-foaming and hassle-free cleanser is a promising choice for those with very sensitive and reactive skin. It contains Hyaluronic Acid and Glycerin, and is fragrance-free, sls-free, oil-free, colorants-free and vegan. Having said that, I can guarantee you this cleanser is the perfect choice if your skin lacks hydration or is irritated as it leaves the skin hydrated, soft and smooth.
Info : Korean and Japanese toners are a little different than Western toners as they are used to prep the skin to receive other cares.
The Laneige Trouble Relief Toner is, as the name suggests, a gentle mild-exfoliating and refreshing toner formulated to deal with adult acne. It removes dead skin cells, refines skin’s texture, purifies, calms and soothes irritated problematic skin. Although it doesn’t control excess sebum much, it still does a great job at minimizing and preventing blemishes, at removing daily grime and pollution, and at revealing a brighter, clearer and more radiant complexion.
I haven’t heard anyone ever talk about the Papa Recipe Trouble AC Toner, but from the moment I checked the ingredient list I just knew I was going to love it, hence immediately ordered it in full size. As mentioned in my current skincare routine, I am currently using the Bravura London Revitalising Ginseng Toner and I absolutely adore it. The only downfall of the Bravura London is that it can be a little on the drying side to use if you have dry skin, therefore I use it alternately with the Papa Recipe. The formula contains Glycolic Acid, Salicylic Acid, Azelaic Acid, Tea Tree Oil and Centella Asiatica to eliminate impurities within the skin and keep any excessive oil production at bay, while Chamomile Extract and Wakame Extract sooth and moisturize the skin. Whenever my skin is looking dull or lacklustre I know I can rely on these two toners to turn things around!
I’m well aware of the hype surrounding the Son & Park Beauty Water these days, and I have to say it’s an excellent investment if you’re still searching for a good and versatile cleansing water, but also for a pH adjusting toner. I’ve been using it myself for the past few months, and I absolutely adore using it as a first-step cleanser to remove oil and dirt on days when I go makeup-free, or to freshen up my skin after a workout. This mild exfoliating toner contains a lovely assortment of ingredients such as Damask Rose water, Papaya extract, Willow Bark extract, Citrus oils and Lavender extract. That being said, the primary reason I recommend this toner/cleansing water is it’s low pH. I’m all about chemical exfoliants, and from the moment I started using this toner I have noticed a much welcomed increase in the performance of my exfoliants.
Truth be told, my love story with the Beauty Water as a toner is now almost over as I have found a much better exfoliating and pH adjusting toner (the Bravura London Calendula Toner), but I still use it religiously as a cleansing water.
I thought I’d mention the Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Toner as a cheaper alternative to the Laneige Trouble Relief Toner, but also because just like the cleanser of the same line it has become a firm staple for many. Formulated with Volcanic ash (documented to be a natural exfoliator, and to be very effective at minimizing blackheads and enlarged pores), I really like how refreshing and slightly tightening this toner is, yet still leaves the skin feeling moisturized and baby smooth.
The Etude House Wonder Pore Freshner is more or less the same as the Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Toner, but even more moisturizing (thanks to the Hyaluronic Acid). Granted, I don’t have oily skin but I can definitely see why this is a firm favourite amongst those with a more combination to oily dehydrated skin.
The Etude House AC Clean Up Toner is a heavy-duty toner formulated to deal with teens acne. Formulated with Hinoki False-Cypress extract, Papaya extract, Tea Tree Oil and Salicylic Acid to treat imperfections and redness. If you’re someone with blemish-prone, dehydrated and sensitive skin, this could be well worth looking into.
I’m well aware of the hype surrounding exfoliating pads these days, and while there are plenty of excellent pads at the moment, like the Nip+Fab and First Aid Beauty, I, however, very much prefer the Cosrx One Step Pimple Clear Pads. The Cosrx pads are very effective, sensitive skin friendly, convenient to use and travel-friendly, making them the perfect pads for the ultimate lazy girl. They feel refreshing and soothing upon application, and contain Willow Bark Water and Betaine Salicylate to eliminate impurities within the skin and smooth skin’s texture. The formula also contains a few moisturizing and sensitive-skin friendly ingredients such as Sodium Hyaluronate, Glycerin and Panthenol.
I’m not using these pads at the moment, because I don’t find them strong enough for my skin (I’m currently using Cane + Austin 20% Miracle Pad) but when I remember how they delivered fantastic results I can only recommend them.
My favourite Japanese inexpensive toner of all time hands down goes to the Naturie Hatomugi Skin Conditioner. It contains Dipotassium glycyrrhizate, a popular skin conditioning agent that reduces skin’s dryness and helps restore suppleness, and Job’s tears, packed with (Hatomugi and coix seed. Hatogumi is rich in vitamin B1 and B2, making it perfect for a whole host of skincare troubles, including soothing irritated skin, minimizing acne scars and hyperpigmentation spots, improving skin texture and elasticity, brightening dull skin and tightening pores. Not only does it do all that, but you can use it as a toner, a lotion mask, a mist or a body moisturizer! The huge 500ml bottle and affordable price make it a perfect choice for the woman on a budget who needs a multitasking product. The price of the Hatogumi Skin Conditioner fluctuates quite a bit over a few different websites, but if you’re interested in picking this up the cheapest I’ve seen it is on Ebay for $15.99.
The Innisfree Green Tea Fresh Skin is, as the name suggests, a refreshing and weightless toner with an uplifting herbal scent for combination and oily skin. The formula contains Willow Bark extract to eliminate impurities within the skin and control excess sebum, but also a high percentage of Green Tea extract to prevent dehydration and hydrate the skin. Having said that, those with combination skin or dehydrated skin might prefer the Balancing version as it is little more moisturizing.
The Mentholatum Acnes Medicated Powder Lotion is one of the very few anti-troubles toner I still buy regularly, along with the Laneige Trouble Relief Toner. Formulated with Aloe vera, Zinc Oxide and Lactic Acid to smooth the skin’s texture, reduce redness and eliminate blemishes. Whenever my skin is feeling a little greasy, especially in the warmer months, I love to use it on my T-zone to keep my skin fresh and clear all day long. A glance at all the rave reviews shows how effective this toner is for oily and acne-prone skin.
I’ve mentioned quite a few times on my blog how much I love the Hera Cell Essence. It’s a pretty expensive product to invest in, however I can guarantee you it’s really good. Immensely popular among celebrities, makeup artists and bloggers, this carefully crafted skincare product is like magic in a bottle. This multi-benefits essence revives dull skintone, smooths rough skin and exfoliates dead skin cells, moisturizes and soothes irritated skin, reduces skin’s sensitivity & redness, strengthen skin’s barrier, plumps & firm tired saggy skin, and balances sebum production. Like I said, magic in a bottle. Using this product for the first time is certainly a new experience if you’re not used to essences, but the results it provides are just as described! Some may argue that essences aren’t needed in a skincare routine, but if you suffer from tired and dehydrated skin like I do I can tell you this is exactly the kind of product your skin may be crying out for. Knowing as well as I do Hera’s extraordinary abilities to create truly outstanding products, I can’t recommend this essence enough despite the eye-watering price tag.
I have a couple of excellent lotions in my skincare cabinet, but the Hada Labo Gokujyun Hyaluronic Acid Premium Lotion is by far one of the best hands down. It seems to have reached cult status within Asia and it’s not hard to understand why! I have to say, it’s one of the longest withstanding product to remain in my daily skincare routine. In fact, I have 4 unopened bottles in my skincare cabinet just in case it is ever discontinued. Perhaps 4 is a tad excessive, but this lotion is an undeniable game-changer when it comes to hydration. I won’t overwhelm you with the details, but this affordable lotion contains five types of Hyaluronic Acid, which locks in and replenishes moisture.
Using this product for the first time is certainly a new experience if you’re not used to toners, and the sticky-gel consistency might feel a little unpleasant at first, but the results are utterly worth it.
Having said that, the Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium Lotion will leaves your skin visibly brighter, feeling moisturized and baby smooth. However, if you’re a teenager or just find the Premium version a little bit too rich for daytime use I can recommend the Light version.
I have been lusting after the Sekkisei Lotion for over a year now, and I finally decided to bite the bullet and add it to my skincare collection. This is by far one of the best Japanese lotion I have ever used, not to mention it definitely lives up to the hype! Apart from the formula, the brightening results remind me of the Hera White Program Water. While I don’t find it absolutely necessary in a skincare routine, it still works wonders to resurface and brighten the skin for a clearer and more radiant complexion. Due to its versatility, this lotion can also be used as a lotion mask to replenishes and soothes the skin. It’s an excellent lightweight and non-greasy moisturizer for all skintype.
I introduced the Su:m37 Secret Essence into my daily skincare routine about a year ago and I’ve already confirmed it as a firm staple. I’ve used various skincare products from this brand in the past, though a few of them left me disappointed and underwhelmed by how little they did for my skin. The Secret Essence, however, was a game changer for me and for my skin, and that shouldn’t have been a surprise since I’ve been nothing but blown away by every single product of the Secret line I’ve tried! This stuff is just like liquid gold to me : it leaves my skin feeling so supple, plump, smooth and hydrated. Also available here.
Expect a few peeling serums like the Laneige Clear-C Peeling Serum, Cosrx BHA Blackhead Liquid Power, Mizon 8% AHA Peeling Serum and Cosrx One Step Pimple Clear Pads, I don’t really find any Korean anti-trouble serum to be truly worth looking into. The BHA Blackhead Power Liquid eliminates blackheads and excess sebum for a smoother, even-toned complexion. Truth be told, I only use this serum on my legs to avoid ingrown hairs : I don’t find it sensitive skin friendly, nor very effective for my deep, stubborn blackheads. It’s pretty much a cheaper (but also less effective) option to the fabulous Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid. Same goes for the Mizon 8% AHA Peeling Serum, I very much prefer Cane + Austin 20% Miracle Pads or the Mad Hippie Exfoliating Serum in terms of results.
However, if you’re new to acids you can definitely try out the Laneige Clear-C Peeling Serum or the Mizon AHA 8% Peeling Serum.
If you’re looking for some excellent non-Asian acids, I can recommend a few. However, since this post is all about Japanese and Korean skincare you can skip this part and focus on moisturizing and skin-soothing serums if you’re not interested in Western skincare products.
Mizon 8% AHA Peeling Serum came into my possession last year, but as I was already using up my Mad Hippie Exfoliating Serum I ended up using it for only two months. I initially loved it at first, but it ended up being too harsh and rather ineffective for my congested skin. Needless to say, this serum is not something I use nor love, but I still decided to include it in this list as I find it to be a good acid starter. If you’re unfamiliar with acids, go for it, otherwise just try the Cane + Austin Pads or the Mad Hippie Exfoliating Serum.
The Laneige Clear-C Peeling Serum is the newest addition to my exfoliator stash, and I already like it. Formulated with fruits extracts and fermented plants extracts to smooth skin’s texture and brighten tired complexion. When my skin is feeling a little tight because of glycolic acid, I reach out to this mild serum instead. I noticed that recent acne scars faded pretty fast, all while still leaving my skin smooth, supple and soft. It’s an excellent gentle peeling if you’re new to acids, or if your skin is too sensitive for glycolic acid.
Moving onto moisturizing and skin-brightening serums, I can’t recommend the Hera White Program Biogenic Effector enough. I’ve already published a full in depth-review of this brilliant skin-lightening/brightening serum here and it has been stated numerous times on my blog and social medias so I won’t bore you again with the details, but it basically brighten your skin like crazy, minimizes acne scars and lighten dark spots. The formula contains a fair amount of Niacinamide and Licorice extract, two excellent skin lightening/brightening ingredients.
During last summer, I went through a troublesome phase with my skin where I kept breaking out because of the heat and excess sebum, but luckily the Su:m37 Waterfull Rebalancing Gel Lotion came to the rescue.
I absolutely adore using this product in Spring/Summer as the lightweight gel-type formula melts beautifully into the skin and contains a lovely assortment of fermented ingredients such as Bamboo Water, Red Clover Flower, Gold Silver Flower and Hibicus Flower to deeply hydrate, nourish, refresh and illuminate the skin without clogging pores. The Rebalancing Gel Lotion doesn’t truly tighten pores or deal with excessive sebum, but it is truly a beautiful lightweight moisturizer for those with sensitive and delicate combination, acne-prone and oily skin.
I somehow hesitated before including the Cosrx Oil-Free Ultra Moisturizing Lotion here as it doesn’t truly fall under the serum nor the emulsion category. It’s more of a very lightweight, versatile and universally likeable moisturizing product. It’s lighter than your regular emulsion or lotion and can be used as a somehow moisturizing “serum", or as a daily moisturizer in Summer. I can see how this product can easily become a firm everyday staple for those with oily or acne-prone skin.
Formely known as AC Clinic Gel Lotion, the Etude House AC Clean Up Gel Lotion is a lightweight moisturizer formulated enriched in purifying ingredients to deal with teen acne. The formula works with Cypress Extract, Tea Tree Oil and Salicylic Acid to purify the skin by eliminating excess sebum and preventing blemishes, while Papaya extract gently smooths skin’s texture. That being said, it doesn’t feel drying on the skin which is a huge relief for those with dehydrated skin.
I have a couple of excellent moisturisers in my skincare cabinet, but the Hera Aquabolic Moisturizing Emulsion is by far one of the best hands down! It’s a tad lighter than your usual moisturizer or emulsion, but very hydrating and easily absorbed into the skin. Housed in a frosted glass pump-style bottle, this gorgeous emulsion is truly a God send for all skin types, including oily and acne prone skin, which is perfect if you’re on a market for a lightweight non-greasy moisturizer. The best part? The formula doesn’t clog pores and leaves the skin fresh, with a truly radiant complexion. I’ve been using it underneath my daily moisturizer for the past two years and my skin absolutely adores it. If I had to choose only one moisturizer, I would undoubtedly pick this one!
Formulated with a blend of Berries extract, Hyaluronic Acid, Witch Hazel, Sweet Almond and Niacinamide, the Skin&Lab Red Serum is an all-in-one serum that fades acne scars and replenishes dehydrated skin. I love how convenient this is for lazy nights when you can’t be bothered with multiple skincare products, and the subtle scent of jasmine is something really delightful too. Skin looks visibly more youthful, radiant, even-toned and hydrated after only a few uses. Funny enough, I find it to delivers similar results to the Kiehls Midnight Recovery Serum and the Estee Lauder Advanced Night Repair Synchronised Recovery Complex II.
The Innisfree Jeju Bamboo All-In-One Fluid is another emulsion I wholeheartedly adore. I have sensitive skin and sometimes I tend to go a bit overboard with exfoliation : that’s when this emulsion comes to the rescue. Formulated with an assortment of flowers & plant extracts, and Bamboo water instead of distilled water, this weightless emulsion uses gentle ingredients to tone, soothe, hydrate and purify the skin. I bought this in replacement of another emulsion I had used up, the Nuxe Soothing Emulsion, and I can tell you the Innisfree offering is by far superior for sensitive skin and irritated skin. Aimed at moisturizing and soothing the skin, this emulsion can be used with or instead of your usual moisturizer. However, if your skin is dry be sure to use a rich moisturizer on top.
Su:m37 Flawless Regenerating Lotion is specifically formulated to deal with troubled dehydrated or dry skin. I find it to be very moisturizing but lightweight enough for oily skin, and the sumptuous silk-like formula contains 80 kinds of fermented herbal extracts to nourish and brighten the skin for a more radiant and plump complexion. For those of you after a radiant and hydrated complexion, this lotion is your go-to skincare treat.
Whenever my skin is being problematic and overly dry, I love nothing more than pampering myself with a good beauty oil, and at the moment I’m utterly over the moon with the Banila Co Miss Flower & Mr Honey Essence Oil and the Su:m37 Secret Oil.
Is there anything more satisfying than finding a holy grail beauty product for an incredibly affordable price? Whilst higher-end brands typically spring to mind when weighing up your facial oil options, I was thrilled to find an alternative to my Hera Age Away Oil at such an excellent price. Packed with nourishing ingredients such as Royal Jelly, Propolis, Adenosine, Niacinamide, Plant extracts and even Vitamin C, the Banila Co Miss Flower & Mr Honey Essence Oil is a lightweight serum-like hydrating and brightening oil has quickly become an essential as it gives my complexion a naturally radiant and dewy glow. By mixing a drop or two in my nighttime moisturizer or as a top coat to seal in previous skincare products, it’s much easier to wake up with a glorious and radiant skin.
I still haven’t heard anyone talk about the fairly new Su:m37 Secret Oil, and I really wonder why. This is probably the best anti-aging and skin-plumping beauty oil I have ever tried, and I can tell you those with dry, tired, dehydrated and mature skin would absolutely love it. With a beautiful lightweight and almost watery consistency, the formula contains a lovely and luxurious assortment of fermented botanical extracts and even olive oil squalane, which all work to nourish, soothe and plump the skin respectively. That being said, I highly recommend it to those of you with adult problematic skin.
Two others beauty oils I would like to recommend are the Hera Beauty Boosting Facial Oil, and the Oil Serum Magic Formula. Now, I can’t really say that the Oil Serum Magic Formula truly falls under the beauty oil category as it is, as the name suggests, both an oil and a serum. As you may already know Hera is my all-time favourite brand and I’ve been nothing but blown away by every single one their products I’ve tried.
It is safe to say that in the recent months, I have fallen head over heels in love with the highly moisturizing and firming formula of the Oil Serum Magic Formula. The brand contacted me upon release, and as soon as I knew exactly what this product was I knew immediately that I had to have it and that I was going to love it. There’s nothing that excites me as much as a new Hera product, but this serum is on another level! From the moment I started using this serum I became seriously hooked as the lightweight gel-like texture that turns into a nourishing oil that quenches skin’s thirst – and without clogging pores. The Hera Oil Serum Magic Formula is truly magic in a bottle for dehydrated skin in search of intense hydration as it moisturizes even the driest skin from the very first application.
The Beauty Boosting Facial Oil is, as the name suggests, a glow boosting facial oil. Formulated with Coconut Oil, Argant Oil, Jojoba Oil, Rosehip Oil and Olive Squalane to illuminate and moisturise the skin, this beauty oil melts quickly and beautifully into the skin without leaving any greasy residue behind. I love to use in the morning on top of my daytime moisturizer to seal in previous skincare products, but also as a subtle highlighter when I decide to go for a makeup-free look. This is a promising choice for those who aren’t sensitive to coconut oil.
The Laneige Water Bank Gel Cream EX is making waves in the moisturiser department lately! It works to replenishes and sooth the skin, reduce the signs of ageing, and improve the complexion’s radiance. The formula locks in moisture, but also increases cell-turnover and boosts radiance to reduce fine lines and imperfections.
Another Laneige offering I swear by is the Trouble Relief Cream. This moisturiser is luxuriously thick and wonderfully hydrating, leaving the skin looking refreshed and revitalized. Although aimed for adult problematic skin, the Laneige Trouble Relief Cream is also perfect for combination skin, and the ingredients all work to hydrate, soothe and purify respectively.
The Pink Vital Water Cream is the product that rekindled my interest in Etude House. The formula is packed with anti-oxidants and vitamins which works to deeply hydrate the skin, boost radiance and improve the overall complexion. The skin looks refreshed, plump and revitalized. Although those with dehydrated skin will probably find this moisturizer not rich enough, those with oily skin will certainly enjoy it as it is an optimal lightweight cream that replenish and give the skin the nourishment and intense hydration it craves throughout the day without leaving any greasy residue behind.
Although aimed for oily skin, I really can’t imagine a skin type not getting along with the the Etude House Moistfull Collagen Cream. It is formulated with, as the name suggests, collagen and has a lightweight gel-like consistency which instantly melts into your skin, giving a burst of fresh moisture without leaving behind any greasy stickiness. Skin feels soft, supple, and hydrated after application. On hotter days, I love to pop it into the fridge for a few minutes before use for a wonderfully refreshing feel.
The Etude House Moistfull Collagen Half&Half Cream is a, somehow, two-in-one product as it has two different textures. The left side contains the Moistfull Collagen Cream mentioned above and aims at hydration, while the right side contains the Moistfull Collagen Deep Cream and aims at moisture and nourishment with a thicker, almost balm-like consistency. I find this dual cream fabulous for all skintype as the two sides can be mixed together to obtain the perfect texture of your choice depending on your preference and skin’s needs.
In the Summertime, I tend to reach for a lighter moisturizer for an extra boost of freshness and hydration. The Su:m37 Waterfull Timeless Moisturizing Gel Cream is a glorious hydrating treat formulated with fermented plants extracts to promote clear skin, deeply replenish dehydrated skin and fade acne scarring. Those with oily skin might find it a little too rich for daytime use in humid weather, but if they leave it to work its magic overnight they will wake up with the most beautiful glowy, supple and hydrated skin. I originally purchased the Waterfull Skin&Lotion Special Set, and I ended up loving it so much I ordered another jar just in case. It may be ridiculously expensive but it’s definitely worth the investment.
The Innisfree Jeju Bamboo All-In-One Fluid is another moisturizer I wholeheartedly adore. I have sensitive skin and sometimes I tend to go a bit overboard with exfoliation : that’s when this emulsion comes to the rescue. Formulated with an assortment of flowers & plant extracts, and Bamboo water instead of distilled water, this weightless emulsion uses gentle ingredients to tone, soothe, hydrate and purify the skin. I bought this in replacement of another emulsion I had used up, the Nuxe Soothing Emulsion, and I can tell you the Innisfree offering is by far superior for sensitive skin and irritated skin. Aimed at moisturizing and soothing the skin, those with combination and oily skin will highly appreciate using this emulsion instead of their usual moisturizer in the Summertime. You can also top it with an anti-trouble cream like the Laneige Trouble Relief Cream I mentioned above or the Cosrx Centella Blemish Cream for an extra boost of moisture. Containing ingredients such as Centella Asiatica Leaf Water and Tea Tree Oil, the Centella Blemish Cream helps to minimize those pesky blemishes and acne scars.
However, if you prefer gel-type moisturizers the Cosrx Aloe Vera Oil-Free Cream and the Innisfree Jeju Bamboo Soft Balm are also well worth looking into!
I still haven’t heard anyone ever talk about the Skin&Lab Red Cream, and I really wonder why! The Red Serum counterpart has been a favourite of mine for a good couple of months now, and I find the cream absolutely perfect for adult problematic skin. The formula is packed with Niacinamide to brighten the complexion and to minimize dark spots, Fruits Extracts (antioxidants) to boost the skin, to protect the skin from free radical damage and early signs of ageing, and with Damask Rose Stemcell to deeply condition the skin. While it doesn’t really contain any anti-acne ingredients, it’s still an outstanding moisturizer for those who wish to incorporate an effective anti-ageing product in their skincare routine. The texture of the Red Cream is an almost cream-gel hybrid, and despite it’s lightweight formula I find it moisturizing enough even for dry skin.
Have I ever mentioned how much I love to use the Mizon Watermax Aqua Gel Cream in the Summertime? It really does work wonders to hydrate, soothe and refresh the skin all while reducing redness and excess sebum. I love to pop it in the fridge for an extra boost of freshness in the warmer months! The formula works with Licorice and Niacinamide for brightening the complexion, Glycerin for hydration, Witch Hazel and Watermelon for sebum control.
Housed in a sumptuous sturdy white and pink glass jar, the Blossom Jeju Pink Camellia Soombi Blooming Cream is a rich, seriously hydrating and nourishing moisturizer perfect for those of us with dry to normal skin. It contains a blend of emollient dry skin pleasing ingredients such as Camellia Oil, Plant-derived Squalane, Camellia Flower Extract, and even Niacinamide & Licorice Root Extract (two superstars among skin-brightening/lightening ingredients) which work to repair the skin’s barrier, brighten dull skin, even out uneven complexion, minimize dark spots, minimize & prevent irritation, and prevent moisture loss. The ingredients will assuredly benefit those who, like me, need serious extra moisture and intense hydration. Although those with oily skin will probably dislike the rich, heavy texture of it as a daytime moisturizer, they will however certainly enjoy it as an overnight skin treatment as a rich nighttime moisturizer is an optimal way to replenish and give oily skin the nourishment and intense hydration it craves throughout the day.
Masks – Scrubs
Peeling gels and creams are, as the names may suggest, more gentle than regular scrubs. Those are my favourite types of exfoliators as they are non-abrasive for sensitive skin.
I introduced the cult classic Cure Natural Aqua Gel into my routine almost four years ago, and it has remained a staple in my routine ever since. This fragrance-free water based exfoliator helps to gently refine, resurface and refresh skin, and is gentle enough even for the most sensitive skin. A cheaper but just as effective option would be the Innisfree Oat Mild Moisture Peeling Gel.
Others peeling creams and gels I swear by are the Su:m37 Amazing Peeling Smoother, Iaso Triple Action White Peeling Gel, NoTS 28 Remedy Aqua Brightening Peeling Gel, Iope Moisture Skin Soft Peeling Gel, Laneige Multiberry Yogurt Peeling Gel, and lastly the Hera Brightening Peeling Gel. There’s not much difference between all of them expect the formula, but I have to admit that I have a preference for the Su:m37 and the NoTS 28.
However, if you’re more into grainy scrubs I can recommend the Mentholatum Acnes Medicated Dual Action Scrub, which is formulated for oily and acne-prone skin, and the Etude House Berry AHA Bright Peel Perfect Scrub. I would also like to recommend a cleanser-scrub hybrid : the Hera White Program Foam Cleanser. As the name suggests it is a cleanser, but the papaya extract in the formula is used to smooth the skin’s texture and to reduce scarring. I wouldn’t recommend to use it every single day as it is still a scrub, but it’s really nice and refreshing to use it once a week.
There’s also another “scrub" I like to use from time to time and it’s the Kose Sekkisei Cleansing Cream mixed with just a little bit of cane sugar. It does the job perfectly and leaves my skin extremely smooth and soft, and unlike most cleansing creams this one doesn’t break me out. Sometimes I also use the Iaso Aroma Clear Cleansing Cream or the Su:m37 Melting Balm, depending on my skin’s condition and my mood, also mixed with a touch of cane sugar or grounded oatmeal.
Moving onto masks, I recently fell in love with the Su:m37 Water-Full Aqua Sleeping Mask. I’ve been using it for the past few months and I’ve already confirmed it as a firm staple within my skincare routine. Housed in a sumptuous sturdy blue jar, this divine sleeping pack is seriously hydrating, moisturizing and brightening. The dreamy formula will assuredly benefit those who, like me, need serious extra moisture and intense hydration but don’t want to wake up with a greasy/oily face. Every single time I use this sleeping pack, I wake up with the most beautiful radiant skin and I just can’t stop staring at my skin. It’s a little expensive, but the glowy and baby soft skin morning results are totally worth it. And the magnetized spatula is just wow. Just WOW. Guess who ordered three boxes just in case it is discontinued? Me. Perhaps three is a tad excessive, but this sleeping pack is truly incredible and I don’t ever want to be without it.
Another sleeping mask I adore (but not as much as the Su:m37) is the Sulwhasoo Overnight Vitalizing Mask. It took me a long time to jump on the Sulwhasoo bandwagon, but now I can say the results are totally worth the hype and the price. The formula works with a dreamy blend of plants extracts such as Ginseng Root, Green Tea, Licorice Root, Mulberry Root and even Hyaluronic Acid and Shea Butter to minimize irritation, brighten the complexion, firm and hydrate the skin. The only downfall is the strong ginger scent, which I find a tad unnecessary and not so pleasing.
If you’re a teenager or simply on a tight budget, the Etude House sleeping masks are also a great option. I’ve been testing the Bubble Tea sleeping packs and the Berry AHA Bright Peel Sleeping Pack for a few months now, and I can safely say they’re doing a great job : they’re ridiculously hydrating and effective for the price!
The latter is basically a gentle leave-on exfoliator, and the formula works with Lactic Acid and a blend of fruits & plants extracts to smooth and brighten the skin. It also contains a few hydrating and soothing ingredients such as Hyaluronic Acid, Beta Glucan and Shea Butter. So far, so good.
Moving onto the Bubble Tea masks, can we just take a moment to fully appreciate the packaging? They’re a real treat for the eyes, but also for the skin. The strawberry version is my favourite out of the three, as it brighten the complexion. The green tea version is for pore and sebum control, and the black tea version for elasticity. Once washed off in the morning, the skin is left feeling supple, bright and hydrated.
I was introduced to Innisfree a few years ago through the much loved blogger favourite Jeju Volcanic Pore Clay Mask, and it’s still a part of my skincare routine to this day. The formula works with Volcanic Ashes, Bentonite and Kaolin to draw out impurities, reduce excess sebum and give the skin a deep cleanse for a smoother complexion. I was initially put off by the reviews that said it wasn’t drying/tightening enough like a typical clay-based mask, but it actually ended up being the selling point for me. Once or twice a week depending on my skin’s condition, I apply a thick coat of this mask all over my face and leave it for about 20 minutes. Skin is left refreshed, thoroughly cleansed and soft all while banishing excess oil from the T-zone. That being said, skin doesn’t feel unnecessary dry, which is a huge relief for those with sensitive combination or dry skin. Two others clay masks I adore are the Laneige Mini Pore Waterclay Mask and the Mizon Pore Clearing Volcanic Mask.
Another Innisfree wash-off mask I wholeheartedly adore is the Ginger Oil Warming Mask. The mask itself has a rich, wax-like consistency with an unnecessarily strong ginger scent that I deeply dislike. However, for the nice skin nourishing qualities I can let it slide. The formula works with Ginger Root Oil, Olive Squalane and Camellia Oil to exfoliate and nourish the skin, and just as the name suggests it warms the skin upon application. I love to massage it for 2 to 3 minutes all over my face, then let it sit for another 15 minutes. It leaves the skin feeling so supple, smooth and nourished, and it’s a great stress reliever. It also works absolute wonders to help brighten the complexion. However, I would recommend to use it at nighttime only as it leaves a thin oily film on the skin. From time to time I like to add a touch of cane sugar to gently exfoliate my skin.
Not too long ago every beauty blogger in the blogsphere couldn’t get enough of the new Body Shop Masks and I would lie if I said I didn’t succumb to the hype too. However, even if they’re not ridiculously out of my budget I still find them a little too expensive. Fortunately for us and our wallets Innisfree recently released four masks and on top of it at a very decent price! I’ll start off by mentioning the Real Grapefruit mask, as it is my absolute favourite mask at the moment. The refreshing scrub consistency works with Grapefruit Extract and Centella Asiatica to give your pores a deep cleanse pores and brighten the complexion. It smells delightfully fruity, and the refreshing jam-like texture is a real treat for the skin. The Real Rose mask is a pretty standard one that doesn’t really do anything special other than hydrating the skin but is still very nice to use if your face is feeling a little sensitive or dry. The Real Quinoa mask is somehow similar to the Grapefruit mask as it also smooth the skin and has also a scrub-like consistency, expect it’s a little more nourishing and sensitive/dry skin friendly. The last mask of the Real Pack collection is the Real Peppermint mask, and it’s primarily aimed for oily and acne-prone skin. Unlike your typical clay mask, this one is moisturizing and has a cooling effect on the skin. While I’m not a huge fan of it, mostly because my skin doesn’t like Menthol, I can’t deny the efficiency of the formula when it comes to sebum and pores.
I’ve had the Sulwhasoo Clarifying Mask in my stash for at least 6 months, but I only started to use it a few weeks ago. I was initially put off by the ginger scent and the whole peel-off mask process, but all that changed when I tried their fabulous Overnight Vitalizing Mask. With its thick, beautiful golden syrup-like consistency, this peel-off mask helps draw out impurities and decongest the skin and the complexion is left feeling soft and smooth. The formula works with a blend of herbs extracts such as Gingseng root, Paeonia lactiflora and Licorice to purify and decongest the skin, while Japanese Honeysuckle and Glycerin hydrate and smooth the skin. The Sulwhasoo Clarifying Mask may be a little bit expensive, but definitely worth the results.
On days my skin is looking particularly dull and dehydrated, the Laneige Multiberry Yogurt Repair Pack is my go-to mask. With a thick yogurt-like consistency and a delicate strawberry scent, this mask is a must-have in a proper pampe session. I feel like I could almost eat it right off my face! The formula works with Glycerin, Shea Butter, Olive Squalane, Yogurt Powder, Niacinamide and Berries Extracts to replenishes the skin and to reveal a radiant, healthy and glowing complexion. It also helps to reduce fine lines, while improving the skin’s firmness. This is a mask I’ve been using for a good couple of years now and is a definite staple in my skincare routine.
Kose Sekkisei Medicated Herbal Gel is another great Japanese product with multiple benefits. This hydrating gel is formulated with botanical extracts to improve skin’s radiance and calms inflammation. It’s lightweight but packs a powerful moisturizing punch. You can use it as a moisturizer, a massage cream, or make the most of its promise of eight hours’ of continuous hydration by using it as a night cream or a sleeping mask.
Quality First All-in-one Sheet Mask are the number one sheet masks in Japan, and once you try them you quickly understand why. They contain a bunch of super moisturizing, skin-plumping and skin-firming ingredients like hyaluronic acid, hydrolyzed silk, glycerin, platinum powder, botanical extracts and many more. Like the Naturie Hatogumi Skin Conditioner, these masks are great multi-taskers: they act as a toner, as an essence, as a serum and as an emulsion. Even better, they are sold in boxes of 50!
I’m not an expert when it comes to sheet-masks, but I can tell right away when one of them is truly worth the splurge or not. The Whamisa Sea Kelp Mask is a next-generation sheet-mask is made of 100% real sea kelp and is infused with a 100% natural rich serum that promises a great deal: to improve wrinkles, brighten dull skintone, take down a puffy face, tighten pores, refine skin texture, deliver intensive moisture and hydration for 72 hours and finally to make the skin more luminous. One sheet-mask costs 9.50£, which is incredibly expensive for a one-use product, but I love to use it twice a month along cheaper sheet-masks like the ones from Innisfree or Quality-First to maintain my skin’s condition.
I don’t have that much different sheet-masks in my stash, and I don’t feel the need to. I’ve been using regularly the Innisfree It’s Real Squeeze Masks for about a year now and I’m completely happy with them. Containing a number of natural ingredients such as fruits and plants extracts, these sheet-masks deeply nourish the skin, restore moisture and quench skin’s thirst. There are two versions for problematic skin, the Tea Tree and the Bija. I would also like to recommend the Rose, Strawberry, Cucumber and Pomegranate versions for hydration care.
Photo by Takaraboxx