The last time I told you about my skincare routine was when analyzing Dr. Hauschka’s products. Unfortunately, despite the excellent results I had with this routine in Europe, as soon as I went to Asia, the Dr. Hauschka products proved to be too oily and not watery enough for the hot and humid climate + pollution in Asia.
Japanese products are more numerous because Japan has a hot and humid climate in summer and arid and cold in winter. Their products are particularly suitable for travelers like me. The Korean products that I use are the best sellers in their category, and I choose them because there are no such good products on the Japanese side.
And as soon as I arrived in South Korea, I immediately understood why Korean women were so keen to moisturize their skin and have a portable humidifier at the office: even when it’s 29°C, the air is super dry here.
Here is my new 9 step routine. Don’t worry. I don’t use it all every day. It’s heavier than my backpacker routine during the world tour, but I’m less constrained by weight since I’m a digital nomad. And this routine is more moisturizing and nourishing for the skin in the long run.
You can read more about the basis of layering here (why double-cleansing etc.)
Prices of Korean products are marked in won: 10,000won = 7.8€
Prices of Japanese products are marked in yen: 1,000yen = 7.7€
If you are in France, most of the products below can be bought on Korean cosmetics websites such as Yesstyle, Testerkorea, Jolse, Olive Young… Japanese products can be bought on Yesstyle, Amazon, Testerkorea, Pretty or Takaski.
Most of the links here are to YesStyle, Jolse, and Oliver Young, all based in South Korea: YesStyle is a reliable site with many Korean/Japanese products. Delivery is done at 2-3 days for the most popular products, very soft prices besides, customs fees (if any) are refunded. There are always plenty of gifts and samples. The advantage is that they sell both Korean and Japanese products.
Jolse is a reliable site selling Korean and Japanese cosmetics. Shipping costs are a little high at the moment because of Covid, but normally they are free if you spend a certain amount. There are always plenty of gifts and samples. They sell more Korean products than Japanese.
Olive Young is the equivalent of our Sephora. They have been delivering overseas recently. It’s swift, and there are some products that even YesStyle and Jolse don’t have. Free shipping starting at 60$
Step 1 : Make-up removal
1a.Clean it Zero – Cleansing balm purifying (Korean product, 22,000won): I use it to remove my makeup, only if I have a complexion product or feel particularly dirty. Otherwise, I use the above oil. In South Korea, you can only find them online or in the brand’s stores (Banila Co.), especially in the Myeong-dong district, where there are 3-4 stores in question (Yesstyle link, Jolse link)
Lately, people prefer Heimish All Clean Balm (Korean product) because the texture is more pleasant and makeup removal is more effective than Clean it Zero (Yesstyle link)
1b. Fancl – Mild Cleansing Oil (1,700yen): I use it to remove sunscreen and all dust. It’s the #1 make-up remover oil in Japan. It’s on sale everywhere in Japan, even in convenience stores like 7eleven, Lawson… (link Yesstyle)
Step 2: Cleaning
2.Evita – Beauty Whip Soap (1,200yen): this cleanser from Kanebo isn’t only pretty (you get a foamy rose) but also cleanses well, leaving the skin feeling soft. Attention, its pH is higher than 5.5. You must use a toner immediately afterward.
Step 3: Scrub (once a week)
3. Cure – Natural Aqua Gel (1,200yen per 100g): it is the best physical scrub without grains. I have tried many products, and this one, ranked No. 1 in Japan, deserves its place. The skin is very soft afterward, to be used preferably on dry (but clean) skin. I took the 100g version because you don’t need a lot of product each time. I have tried many equivalent Korean products, but none of them equal the original Japanese version. If there is only one product to buy, it is this one (buy from France)
Step 4: Toner
This is really the essential step because the skin must regain its pH after cleansing. If this isn’t the case, it will feel attacked, and many problems will appear, including acne… because its natural acidic barrier no longer protects the skin. If we were to invest money in a product, it would be in a good toner. At the end of the world tour, I didn’t have anymore, and it was impossible to find one in South America. I can tell you that my skin quickly deteriorated.
4. Mamonde – Rose Water Toner (Korean product, 15,000won): This toner, with an ideal pH, alcohol-free, paraben-free… is fresh, moisturizing, and smells really good ( Yesstyle link, Jolse link). I like it a lot! Besides being natural, another very famous product is the Organic Flowers Deep Rich Essence Toner by Whamisa (a Korean product, twice as expensive, in the 35,000won range).
Step 5: Essence
5. SK-II – Facial Treatment Essence (9,000 yen for 75ml) : (buy the test kit here) also called “miracle water,” this miraculous essence, based on Pitera (a bacteria extracted during the fermentation of sake), prepares the skin to absorb better the moisturizing products that will follow. To avoid wasting product, I use it with cotton from Unicharm Silco (on the right in the photo, Yesstyle link). This essence is particularly recommended for the famous Japanese lotion mask. For this, I use the cotton on the left, which can be torn in 5.
Step 6: Mask (every 2-3 days)
I have tested many moisturizing masks and my four favorites are (I use them every 2-3 days)
- MINON Amino Moist Face Mask (Japanese): this mask deeply moisturizes the skin. The next day, it seems to have erased all imperfections and redness in one night. Tourists buy these masks by the dozen in Japan, despite their price (2€ per mask anyway!) and their texture (gel). I haven’t found a mask as effective as this one.
- Yeast sake mask from My Beauty Diary (a Taiwanese brand): it’s challenging to find even in Japan, but they are sake-based like SK-II. I use them when hormonal changes abuse my skin.
- Mediheal (Korean): all Mediheal masks are rich in essence and so pleasant to use. I’m currently using Collagen Impact (because there’s a special offer), but I also like the original version with hyaluronic acid. It’s just as good. The skin is super moisturized afterward, sometimes I get so lazy that I put on this mask, and then I don’t put any more cream on the back (buy from Europe)
- Kiehl’s – Turmeric & Cranberry Seed Energizing Radiance Mask: turmeric-based anti-spot mask. Admittedly, it isn’t an Asian product, and it isn’t a sheet mask, but it is so effective that I have not found an equivalent in Asia. It illuminates the skin and reduces spots while having a small exfoliating effect thanks to the small granules inside.
Step 7: Serum
7. HAKU – Melanofocus V (10,000yen for 45g): For Asian skin, aging is seen by the number of brown spots, not the number of wrinkles. As a result, Japanese women have hyper-effective products against spots. This product is also on sale everywhere, and there are ads for HAKU, Shiseido’s sub-brand in all magazines, and POLA, the White Shot, which looks very effective. But I’ve only tried HAKU. I did a skin analysis before and after 1 month of use, and you can see on the machine that the spots have disappeared. Note: Most of my spots come from acne spots, that’s why it disappears so quickly, but for brown spots, it takes more time, eh. I noticed that the brown spots are darker at first, and then they slowly fade after 2 months. On the price side, I paid around 80€ for 45g. It’s very economical because 2 drops are enough for the whole face. In addition to being effective, this product is also very moisturizing. If it is too hot, I only use it in the evening. (Yesstyle link)
Step 8 : Moisturizing cream
8. Minon Amino Moist – Moist gel back (1,200yen): I couldn’t afford to buy masks at 2€ each all my life, so I preferred to invest in Minon’s moisturizing gel (same brand as my favorite mask). The skin absorbs the gel in record time, and it doesn’t leave an oily residue, perfect for wet weather in Asia. MINON products are designed for sensitive skin, so the ingredients are also of high quality. The gel is so light that I also use it for the eye area.
Step 9: Specific care
9. Clearasil (Japanese version): I still have some buttons due to the rules. I apply over this gel, which does not have the same formulation as its American or French equivalent: the Japanese version does not contain benzoyl peroxide at all – and it is lightly tinted. Hence, it helps to camouflage the small pimples.
Korean women don’t hesitate to camouflage buttons with transparent patches. It’s perfectly acceptable to walk around with this “bandage” on your head. You have the Dr. Wonder version (only available in Korea or online: link), which contains thin round patches (11,000won for 60 rounds) or the cheap version (two 7x10cm rectangles to cut) of whatever brand. I find them particularly effective in making pimples go away faster (they absorb all the dirt hidden inside) and protect them from pollution or dirt (especially at night when the skin is in contact with pillows, etc.).
In France, you can find an equivalent product from COSRX (Korean brand): COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch, they are thicker and less discreet but are very effective in protecting pimples (Yesstyle link, Jolse link, Olive Young link). If you can’t find them, you can buy the foot blisters at the pharmacy (Compeed brand) and cut them into small pieces.