My Korean Skincare Routine | For Dry Skin, Anti-Aging Focus (TG2KB Part 6)

Sunday, June 28, 2015


I suffer from acute skincareholism, maybe it's skincarehaulism, whatever you decide to call it, I am obsessed with skincare.

Before we jump into my routine, I want to address MY SKINCARE CONCERNS/GOALS. So flashback to around 2008-2009. I used to commit a lot of skin sins. I would tan for the sake of tanning, and lay out without sunscreen. I drank like a Russian oil baron, and was prone to falling asleep anywhere and everywhere with my makeup on. And because of this, I'd break out periodically. I'd deal with it horribly of course, because honestly who has the self-control to keep their mitts off their spots in real life? And I was left with some mild acne scarring. So if I were to craft a routine for myself back then, I would be addressing this specific set of concerns:
  • Oil-control
  • Treating and healing acne
  • Treating and healing acne scars
  • Reversing sun damage

nonsonoquitter's korean-style skincare routine as of july 2015. treats dry, aging skin. answers the question: how do i choose products? new to korean beauty. beginner to korean beauty. korean beauty secrets. which korean beauty products to buy.
Just wanted to call out on the leftmost photo that that's a nose ring, not a wart lol

But, people change and we move on... sometimes making better decisions, all the while getting older, and our skin changes with us. Fast forward to today, and you've probably seen some of my crazy and sometimes embarrassing #nomakeup selfies  even in just this past month. My skincare woes have completely evolved, and the skincare routine I would have crafted for myself even just 5 years ago would be vastly different from the one I'm running with now.

My current concerns/goals are:
  • Hydration, I have had dry, flaky skin for the past few years.
  • Firming fine lines and wrinkles, I've got some major grooves now baby! Mainly my nasolabial folds.
  • Brightening, a side effect of dry skin is often dull skin.
Note that I didn't really mention pore control or tightening in either instance. Pores don't really open and close and I thought I would save that topic for another day.

Ok, now that I've given you the dirt on my skin woes, and you've gotten some insight into my goals. I'll take you into my routine.


This routine is now a bit outdated. To see my current routine, please go to my About Me page which is kept updated with my latest routine.

My current routine is a Korean-style routine <-link to explanatory post that combines Asian and Western products with the aim of treating dry, aging skin and boosting my complexion with that all important glow. It is rare that my routines are ever truly stable, since beginning this blog and getting addicted to trying many new products, but at this moment, I am happy with the state of my skin, and believe this is a routine I would be happy to carry on for quite some time.

(1) I cleanse with Hada Labo Hydrating Cleanser $7.99.
(2) I wait a few minutes and apply my vitamin C serum, which is currently the Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum $80.00. Reviewed here.
(3) I wait a few minutes to allow the vitamin C to do it's thing and then I apply a light gel-type moisturizer in the Mizon Hyaluronic Acid 100 Serum $15.40 is my light day-time moisturizing serum.
(4) I wait for the moisturizer to absorb, and then I apply my sunscreen, the Atopita Moisture UV Cream 50+ $6.19. Reviewed here.

I put on ALL THE MAKEUP and go about my day.

(1) I oil-cleanse with either coconut oil *warning highly comedogenic*, olive oil, or The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Oil $10.09.
(2) Immediately, I do another round of cleansing with the Hada Labo Hydrating Cleanser from before.
(3) Immediately after that, I spritz my pH adjusting toner, the CosRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner $12.60, to prepare for my actives.
(4) I then follow the toner with a few drops of my Cremorlab Mineral Treatment Essence $42.00
(5) Soon afterwards, I apply my Curology (formerly PocketDerm) Actives Lotion - $20 a month. This product contains my actives which are Retin-A, Magnesium Ascorbyl Phosphate or MAP (another Vitamin C derivative), and Niacinamide. I won't tell you my concentrations, because if you choose to try Curology, an online-only hybrid-retailer/dermatologist network, you will get your own concoction with your own concentrations, as determined by the doctors. The link I provided is a referral that will give you a free one month trial.

BONUS OCCASIONAL STEPS: I'll sometimes use sheet and hydrogel masks from time to time for added hydration. I wear them for 30-60 minutes. I have a post coming up on my favorite bargain sheet masks soon but let's just for the sake of an example say that I use the My Scheming Rose Dew Moisturizing Silk Facial Mask $19.99 the most as it is my current obsession. I also use wash off masks periodically, and the one I am using now that I enjoy immensely is the Renove Pomegranate Enzyme Mask $45.00 though I have my sights on the Skinfood strawberry products next.

(6) Another light round of moisturizer with my Mizon Hyaluronic Acid 100 Serum from before.
(7) Depending on how my skin feels, I'll opt for my Guerrison 9 Complex Cream $17.90 (medium weight moisturizer based around horse oil) or my Mizon Snail Wrinkle Care Sleeping Pack $12.78 (heavy snail-based moisturizer reviewed here).
(8) I then seal in all of the moisturizers with a final occlusive step. I have a bunch of oils that I like to rotate. Some days I will use Rose Hip Oil, other days Marula Oil, and still others Camellia Oil $5.00-$15.00. All are from Garden of Wisdom. Rose Hip Oil is the lightest, then Marula, and then Camellia. Again, oil post coming soon.

I then take a shower because I'm sweating from all the effort I just put in! Actually, I shower before I do my routine. These products are meant to soak in overnight while skin is in regeneration mode.

nonsonoquitter's korean-style skincare routine as of july 2015. treats dry, aging skin. answers the question: how do i choose products? new to korean beauty. beginner to korean beauty. korean beauty secrets. which korean beauty products to buy.

So now you can probably see that I wasn't exaggerating when I called myself a skincare junkie.

With this post, I went with an answer-first approach, showing you the routine before the reasoning, because some folks who have similar skin to me, may just be here to see how someone else treats their problems. I do think it's important to see the reasoning behind each choice and so I'll elaborate a bit on my thought process now...


There was a 4-step method to how I developed my routine and here it is.

  1. I developed criteria for whittling down my product wishlists into shortlists. To do this, I listed out the ingredients I wanted in my routine and I listed out the ingredients I did not want in my routine.
  2. I then searched for products that had my desired ingredients within the top 5 listed on the ingredients list, knocking out anything that contained my blacklisted ingredients.
  3. I did a quick check on whether they were formulated well. Basically, what pH were the products? Are the active ingredients incorporated within the optimal concentration range? I.E. what % of x ingredient is there in the product really?
  4. And from there I selected my favorite formula that met my desired price point.
Just for review, my skincare concerns/goals were hydration, firming fine lines and wrinkles, and brightening.

Step 1. 

For MOISTURE I decided I wanted hyaluronic acid, ceramides, and snails to be involved FOR SURE. Hyaluronic acid holds 1000x its weight in water. Ceramides because they can penetrate skin to add moisture and are relatively cheap ingredients. And snails because they had allantoin, hyaluronic acid, and collagen, all great hydrators. (I also used a propolis, honey, and royal jelly product for some time, but decided not to repurchase it due to texture issues. It's not a part of my current routine, so I'm omitting these ingredients from the discussion for now. I will update you on my experience with these ingredients... it's on the list of posts to do.)

For FINE LINES/WRINKLES, I decided I wanted the 3 most well-documented anti-aging antioxidants which are:
Vitamin A or Retinol/Retinoid/Retinoic Acid/Tretinoin (these are different forms of Vitamin A),
Vitamin B (Niacinamide/Nicotinamide)
Vitamin C (L-Ascorbic Acid, AA, MAP, or SAP)
See? Anti-aging is as simple as A,B,C.

For BRIGHTENING, I wanted to incorporate fermented ingredients especially yeast extract, licorice root, arbutin, and the aforementioned Niacinamide.

My BLACKLISTED ingredients were any form of simple alcohol within the top 5 ingredients of a product. This could be listed as alcohol, ethanol, alcohol denatured because while studies vary on whether alcohol is a potential irritant, I wanted to be conservative and make sure I wasn't doing anything to further compromise my already piss-poor moisture barrier function. Next, I didn't completely knock fragrances, and fragrant or "essential" oils off the list but I did want to take note of them in my shortlisted products because they also have the potential to be irritating. Interestingly enough, I decided to leave parabens be, and remain open to using them. Lastly, I didn't blacklist these ingredients but I decided I didn't want to actively seek out collagen, placenta, stem cells, and venoms.

Step 2. 
I did a lot of blog reading, redditing, and window shopping to pick out products that contained these ingredients and shunned the blacklisted ones. If anyone who runs an Asian Beauty online store comes across this post, please please please consider uploading ingredients lists to your site! It will only make us love you more, and make you stand out from your competition. During this period,, an online ingredients repository, was my friend.

Step 3.
I then checked each product for details on the pH value of the product and the concentration of the featured ingredients.
A quick rundown of pH I guess is in store... There are many resources on why the pH of your skincare products is important, and since it would take too long to explain why in an already long post, I'll just give the takeaways for now. You want your AHA's and BHA's do be around 3.5 to 4. You want your water-based cleansers to be around 4.5 to 5.5 Your Vitamin C should be within a certain range as well. The one I'm using, L-Ascorbic Acid needs to be around 3 to 3.5 to be effective.
Next, I verified the concentrations of the ingredients. For example, the vitamin C serum I chose has L-Ascorbic Acid between 10% - 20% which is actually pretty ideal.

Step 4.
I chose my products!
Mizon Hyaluronic Acid 100 Serum is where I get my hyaluronic acid and ceramides. The Drunk Elephant C-Firma Day Serum is where I get my Vitamin C and fermented ingredients. The CosRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner is my AHA/BHA. My Cremorlab Mineral Treatment Essence gives me a dose of Niacinamide. My Curology (formerly Pocketderm) is my retinol, and double dose of niacinamide and vitamin C. The My Scheming sheet mask I referenced contains the brightening ingredients I wanted like arbutin. My Mizon Snail Wrinkle Care Sleeping Pack is where I get my snails.


Good skin comes from the inside. If you're serious about taking care of your skin, you'll want to eat well, drink less, avoid the sun, drink a lot of water, and get a full 8 hours of sleep. Topical treatments won't cover for these non-negotiables.

Edit: This is outdated as of August 2015 - view my latest skincare routine here with a list of changes, and reasons for those changes.

Hope you enjoyed another #skincaresunday. Did this help? Were there any glaring omissions? ALSO, which sheet mask are you doing today?

If you're curious about my policy on press samples, affiliate links, and sponsors, see my disclaimer and policies. 


Part 1. Introduction to Korean Skincare
Part 2. Introduction to Korean Makeup

Part 3. The Brands
Part 4. The Retailers
     -> Link to a Price Comparison Search Engine (Results from verified sellers only)

Part 5a. Researching Products; How to Figure Out What You Want to Buy - CosDNA, Popular Products w/ International Stockists
Part 5b. Researching Products; How to Figure Out What You Want to Buy - AllofCosmetics, Korean Products w/o Strong International Presence
Part 5c. Researching Products; How to Figure Out What You Want to Buy - Blogs and Youtube Channels

Part 6. My Skincare Routine & Reasoning
Part 7. Wishlists, or "Make Me a Routine"

Part 8. "Advanced" KBeauty - Buying Services & Korean-Korean E-tailers
Using Avecko by SnowWhite&thePear
Using 11st by SnowWhite&thePear
Part 9. Navigating the Korean web: Naver Blogs, Korean Youtubers. Coming soon.
Part 10. Guide to the Hwahae App
Part 11. Beauty Shopping in Seoul 

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