My Routine in Excessive Details.

Happy skin = happy me. I'm very easily satisfied lmao. 

So I was readjusting my AM/PM products to take in warmer weather that's hitting Boston (note the -ing cause its still not fully warm yet. Last night was still 0°C wtf), and I thought I'd do an in-depth routine post with all current rotating products. I find new ways to kill myself slowly each day. The editing and taking of pics took like, 2 hours today. Excessive is me.

It got to the point where I had 17 tabs of journal articles opened when I realized I gotta stop. 

Ever since I started on SWAP's blog, I've been classifying my routine her way and I find it easier to decide what products I want to use and which step it goes into. The extra research is just for my own clarification. 

Her way breaks down the multi-step into 4 short headings and it just makes things a lot more comprehensible. I know not a lot of u are gonna be crazy like me and spend my time researching so I'm here to simplify all that for ya~

U would think the number of products decrease with warmer weathers but there's still slight winter leftover lah hahaha I'm always on the defense when it comes to wind in Boston.

So here is one giant shelfie of all my current rotating products (excluding leave-on masks), but not applied all at once. I always feel like I need to add this or people's gonna just take off screaming. 

Since I've just went really in-depth into my extremely long-winded cleansing post (previous post), I'm gonna skip right past that. How many times can u read about me cleansing my face anyway right.

If there's an AM/PM use, it's indicated by the ☀️/🌙 

Let's jump straight into one of my all-time favourite section - Actives or rather, acids.

I get so many questions about acids but the main one has got to be:  

Must I really wait?

No cause technically, I can't force u to do it. But I can explain to u why you're doing it and what benefits it has. The decision is still entirely up to you. 

I'm gonna try and summarize what I read and I hope I don't get any terms wrong lmao. I HATED chemistry and idk how I even passed JC Chem till this date. 

The order of actives always go from the lowest pH to highest. Acids all have their own ideal pH called 'pKa value'.

 🤓 pKa Value 🤓 

pKa Value is the ideal pH value the acid works best in. 

When the pH of an acid is equal to the pKa (e.g pH 3.8 = pKa 3.8), it is completely balanced. If pH rises above the pKa (due to formulation or mix of diff ingredients that alters pH), then less of the acid is available in its free form = less of the acid is gonna be working on ur skin aka useful.

Since pH does affect absorption, pH of BHA at 1.5 is 99.72% useful but just cause it's stronger, doesn't mean it's better. In fact, it could be more irritating. The best concentration of BHA for daily use of 2% is pH 3.5 and below. U can't use a pH 1.5 BHA without annoying the shit out of ur skin. 

It's like why we can't use pH 0 on our face. Sure it's gonna get absorbed. It's also gonna melt the skin off. 

Active products are formulated to work at a certain % and pH so if u mess up the ideal pH that it's supposed to work, then it just means that your actives have to work extra hard and by the time it gets to the root of the problem, it has alr exhausted all its potential benefits and is now useless. So instead of getting a full 20mins of super powerful Vit C, you're now only getting 2mins' worth. 

My point is, why spend $39373 on a super powerful expensive Vit. C/AHA/BHA and only letting it work for 2 mins when u can get better results if u let it work for the full 20 minutes of potential it has? 

° ° °

My skin clogs easily & gets breakout during TOTM. Blackheads are a norm and pretty distinct pore size from horrifying skin condition + congestion last time. These all were major problems for me that I choose to target first. 

The reasons I use acids are to reduce pigmentation, help with texture and clear my skin.

The current actives in my routine and the order I use them in. 

1. Mizon AHA/BHA toner (as pH adjusting toner) 
2. CNP Invisible Peeling Boost (PHA for overall boost) 
3. Glossier's Super Glow (Vit C on cheeks ☀️) 
4. La Roche Posay Effaclar K (BHA on tzone ☀️🌙) 
5. Dr Wu's Daily Renewal Serum with SA (AHA on cheeks 🌙) 

I went on a long google search regarding PHA's properties & pH levels and I can't find a solid answer for the latter anywhere. I believe (don't quote me on this) that it's somewhere between 3-5. 

I've never measured CNP's one and no one has tested it on reddit too, so I'm not sure. CNP formulated it with active concentration of PHA at 10%, which is relatively high. However, it is gentler in properties so it's not irritating. 

As a standalone product, it works wonderful as a boost to my other products but for specific target of problems, I still have to seek out OTHER actives. CNP is wonderful for people with normal skin looking for a gentle active but for someone with more issues pressing, I wouldn't count on this alone. 

I like to use it as a pH-adjustor + boost for my other actives which explains the position it takes. I pump one pump and tap it all onto my face.  

Reason for pH-adjusting toner: do I NEED it? 

After cleansing ur skin, it's pH (normal skin's pH is 5.5) is messed up cause of the water (water's pH is 7) and normally, a few minutes is necessary for our skin to return to its regular pH. By using a pH adjustor, u skip the 'waiting time' it takes for your skin to normalize. 

The reason why u want your skin's pH to normalize is so the main acids/actives you're using can work it's full potential for X mins (as explained above), instead of wasting its time bringing down ur skin's pH to a norm.

If u don't use actives, a pH-adjusting toner is not necessary. 

° ° °

First acid to enter after I balance my skin's pH is the one with the lowest pH and it's normally Vit C products. Vit C has the lowest pH and it normally works on brightening properties.

I am currently trying out the Glossier Super Glow which has 2 actives - Vit C and magnesium. I just started this so I'll review it after I tried it out longer. I only use this in the morning and on my cheeks. 

For my blemish and pores, I use a regular dose of 2% BHA from my beloved LRP Effaclar K (which I'm freaking out cause I think it's discontinued). BHA is oil-soluble so it should enter first before AHA. 

Since this is only on my tzone, I normally apply my Vit C or AHA on cheeks at the same time and wait it out for 20 mins. If u r layering all on the SAME area, then yes, 20 mins of wait time for each acid is best. 

At night, I switch out my Vit C for a dose of gentle AHA. Mandelic Acid is waaaaay gentler than glycolic or lactic acid and I've been loving it. 

Pls wear sunscreen if u use an AHA.

My 2nd fave section! Again, no, it's not necessary to include all the steps. Out of all these, I would advise a hydrating toner and maybe a serum if u want somewhere. Brands like Naruko and Innisfree carry serums at affordable prices!

On lazy days, a hydrating toner and a sheet mask is all I do. On hardworking days, I do first essence, hydrating toner, 2 serums on cheeks, 2 serums on forehead, sheetmask and then more. 

It's UP TO U and how ur skin feels. Don't rush into buying all and then feeling lost and frustrated. Re-evaluate your routine and see what u lack. 

First essence take on multiple names and amongst those, the most common one is FTE. SKII FTE - familiar right. First treatment Essence, facial treatment essence, fermentation essence are just basically - first essence.

To be specific, first essence are thin in consistency, almost watery. It is hydrating and usually has claims of brightening due to some fermented ingredient. (Think of how SKII smells 😣) 

Fermentation shows potential for skin brightening and treatment of hyperpigmentation but seemingly requires large quantity for the product to work. This is why a lot of people say it doesnt show results with use of it on cotton pad. Swiping on the product in that amount won't show effects (supposedly). 

I just emptied out my HolySnails Snowbang Essence and I loved it. It's made of hanbang (traditional herbs etc.) and my skin feels so soft and soothed upon patting it in. I can't describe it but I loved it. I didn't see much brightening effects with it but the hydration and soothing effects were super nice. I would definitely repurchase after I finish my current testing round of other products. 

Estée Lauder Microessence has always been my go-to first essence, before I discovered Snowbang. I did notice a brightening effect when I use this and it contains 'micronutrient bio-ferment to nourish and energize the skin' (Honestly, idk what micronutrient bio-ferment is??) 

I'm currently on the famous SKII FTE. I've tried it once before but pretty sure I didn't use it the right way so retrying it again to see if it's worth it's hype. 

Hydrating toner comes in so many forms and drugstore carry so many brands from Asian brands like Naruko to western ones like La Roche Posay. I've stuck to the Laneige Skin Refiner (Moisture) for the longest time now and it serves all my needs. It is in a slightly watery-gel texture and it is super cooling upon patting it in. Luvvit. Hydrates my skin just nice to prep for the next step. 

This is where the fun comes in: essence/serum/ampoule - applied in lightest to heaviest consistency. 

I own a whole range of serums, essences and ampoules and I switch them out. Out of all of them, only 2 are 'new' items I'm trying out to review and observe and they are applied on diff parts of the face. I like to test new products on its own just to see if it stands up to what it claims. 

Laneige White Plus Renew Original Essence_EX
• cheeks + forehead
• evens out skin tone

Laneige White Dew Original Ampoule Essence
• cheeks + forehead
• hydrated plus brightens

MISSHA Time Evolution Night Repair Science Ampoule Borabit Ampoule
• forehead + laughlines
• properties of this is barely observable and acts more as a preventive measure (similar to Estée Lauder ANR)

Glossier Super Bounce
• forehead
• still trying out

Shiseido Micro Lucent Microtargeting Spot Corrector
• cheeks
• still trying out 

Note how the Korean/Jap companies produces products with that insane long name lmao. Izzit the longer the name, the more effective the product? Hahaha it's always SO long! So don't get confuse by the name. It's gets easier to identify once u familiarize yourself with the diff categories and such. 

Sheet masks are now fast-becoming an addiction. I look forward to this so much every night. Sheet masks are a cheap and fast way to inject hydration into your skin and at the same time, provide skin-loving benefits. I personally love My Beauty Diary range even tho now Korean hanbang ones are stealing my heart and all the money in mah wallet

Why do u apply your sheet mask so late in the step?? Got use meh?

I apply my sheet mask after my last serum and the reason why is that the mask prevents a good part of the stuff applied from just evaporating into air and allows the products to penetrate deeper, working its magic into the skin.

How true this is -idk but it sounds legit and it makes sense in the step. The essence in masks are good stuff too so adding it as an extra layer of oomph is no harm?

What do u do after sheet-masking?

After removing the mask, I like to fold it in half and apply it across my neck for 2 mins. Then I would pat until all the leftover essence are absorbed/evaporated before deciding if any extra occlusives is needed. I also keep the remaining leftover essence in the packet for another use with cotton pads to maximize it lah. 

I don't use any sheet masks with alcohol (I just am not comfortable with it) so I like patting and leaving all the good stuff on my face and I feel fine with it. I'm not too sure how I would deal with a sheet mask with alcohol in it tho.

And lastly, my range of occlusives. Occlusives are meant to seal all the hydration in as a final step. It lays on top of ur skin and prevents moisture from escaping. 

I personally classify the Dr Jart Ceramidin as an occlusive instead of hydrator, even tho it's a serum because firstly, it has dimethicone in it. It also has ceramide which are a lipid that retains moisture in skin. So I feel like it's really more of a very light moisturizer but heavier to be classified as an emulsion??

I use it on really days when I feel like my steps infront are alr providing enough moisture and I don't need a lot more. 

The Laneige Water Bank Gel Cream is enough for me on windy days and I like how light it feels too. It doesn't cause me to become oilier faster and is just so nice on my skin. I love adding this cause it's super cooling lah. 

The CosRx Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Spa Mask (really this name ah) is supposed to be an overnight mask but I use a thin layer as a moisturizer during really dry days. I don't know about brightening properties yet but it makes my skin so soft. 

I'm still trying out the AmorePacific Essential Creme Fluid so I'll be back with a review for that. 

If u r dry and would like to add an oil, u can just use 2 drops at the final step or even add it into ur moisturizer! RHO FTW lah. It's really still my favouritest oil on earth. Get from iHerb! Cheaper than Watsons.

I also get a lot of questions on blemish treatment but here's the thing, I expect my BHA to be able to work on my blemish and kick its ass even before all the hydrating products go in. 

But after everything, I still want to make sure the area is anti-bacterial so I like to just use a cotton bud and dab over the blemish gently. Since I use TTO and it's an oil, it's at the very last step. 

For regular blemish treatment, if it has BHA or active ingredients to treat blemishes, then it should go on immediately after cleansing, just like a regular active, I would assume.