I know it’s already 2019, I am catching up!
I compiled a list of my favorites… not just skincare!
Listen to your skin. It’s hard for me to tell the effect of one product, since I switch around and may add multiple new ones at one time. But, I will say that anyone that goes from using nothing to something will see a difference in your skin. Hydrating toners (not the stripping kind that you apply with a cotton pad), cleansers at a right ph, double cleansing, some exfoliating, or essences make a discernible difference. There are always affordable options for every product type.
Favorite Cleanser: Tatcha Cleansing Oil and Cerave Foaming Facial Cleanser. I have tried other cleansing oils during the year (and will continue to) but my favorite is still the Tatcha. I’ve been using the Cerave as a first or second cleanser for a long time. These cleansers clean well and don’t strip the skin.
Favorite Watery Essence: The Amorepacific Vintage Single Extract Essence was on my waitlist for a while.This was a rare product that was sold out on the Lotte Duty Free app so I had to buy in person, but it worked out because I got a ton of gifts. It’s made of fermented green tea (yummy antioxidants!!).
Favorite Vitamin C: My face feels naked in daylight without a Vitamin C product and SPF. I have been using the Drunk Elephant C Firma Serum for 2+ years. I took a break from using this and switched to using the True Botanicals Vitamin C Booster. I can’t say I noticed any extraordinary results from the booster, but I also haven’t found the perfect serum to mix it with. Much later, I noticed that water actually works great as a base so I may find a watery essence to combine this with in the future. In the meantime, I’m back to using the C Firma Serum. This is one product that is very time sensitive and will oxidize over time. Once I start using a bottle, I feel the clock ticking.
Favorite Gentle Exfoliator: I don’t exfoliate daily. The Tata Harper Regenerating Cleanser is a gritty cleanser of apricot seed powder, pomegranate enzyme, willow park, and French pink clay; can be layered with the Resurfacing Mask. Another option is the Amorepacific Treatment Enzyme Peel Exfoliator which consists of papaya enzyme powder. It is great for travel (not liquid) and a little goes a long way – I’m still using a deluxe sample, but did pick up the value set at Sephora after it went on double sale. Lastly, I got a fan favorite chemical exfoliant- Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid. It can be used daily, but I’m wary of overexfoliating. I use this at night as a toner once in a while. The results are immediate but don’t last long.
Favorite Exfoliating Mask: I love the Tata Harper Resurfacing Mask (BHA from white willow bark and pomegranate enzymes) but also quite like the new Peach and Lily Super Reboot Resurfacing Mask (10% AHA, 0.5% BHA, and Blue Agave). I like using one of these or the Amorepacific above before I use a sheet mask.
Favorite Sheet Mask for Glow: Papa Recipe, the original. I also bought the rose honey and black honey to try.
Favorite SPF: Shiseido – Anessa Perfect UV Sunscreen Mild Milk SPF 50+ PA++++ (2018 Edition). This is Japan’s top sunscreen and was reformulated this year. It is pricey but I find it so worth it. It leaves a matte finish and doesn’t dull the glow of my skincare products. Mild = free of alcohol and fragrance. I use SPF that I don’t love as much on the weekends or days I work from home. This includes the Chanel UV Essentiel SPF 50 with a hefty amount of Zinc Oxide.
Favorite Lip Product: The Sephora Lip Scrubber Brush comes with two sides of scrubbers to help make your lips super smooth. Has to be used with other lip products like French Girl Organics Rose Lip Scrub. Also love the Drunk Elephant Lippe lip balm.
Favorite Moisturizers, Serums, and Oils: I don’t have a favorite here, the verdict is out. Notable mentions: The Stratia Liquid Gold is an affordable, unscented lightweight moisturizer/serum. I love most COSRX items. The COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence is a skin multivitamin to build skin resiliency, repair it. It has a thicker, gel like texture (I use as a serum) and I’m too in a rush to wait for it to soak in in the morning, so I prefer to use this at night, especially after acids. The Sulwhasoo emulsions are a great light moisturizer that works even in the summer time.
Favorite Brand: No surprise that it’s Sulwhasoo! I wouldn’t have gotten so many products had I not gone to Seoul and discovered how much cheaper it is through the Lotte Duty Free app and the various promos. I am currently using daily (or almost daily): First Care Activating Serum in limited edition Plum Blossom*, Bloomstay Vitalizing Water*, Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Emulsion, Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Serum*. Periodic use: Overnight Vitalizing Mask, Radiance Energy Mask, Snowise Brightening Exfoliating Mask*. I also got sheet masks and other products on deck. The packaging is very luxurious and durable (some glass bottles have slipped from wet hands and survived), but not travel friendly unless you like to check-in bags. The minis that come as a gift with purchase are great for travel.
(* – not sold in US retail)
Favorite Scent: The Sulwhasoo plum blossom scent, which can be found in the Bloomstay* line and any of the limited edition plum blossom items, is heavenly. I don’t wear any perfume.
Favorite Eyelash Curler: Surratt Beauty. The thing with eyelash curlers is that there is no curler that will last forever. The metal may bend out of shape over time. I have tried Shu Uemura and Shiseido. The latter fit my eye better of the two, but the Surratt is even better.
Favorite Eyebrow Pencil: Shu Uemura Hard Formula in Seal Brown. I do bring my pencils on international travels for sharpening once a year. I got microblading done many years ago and regretted it. I prefer the natural look of the pencil.
Favorite Tweezers: Rubis slanted tip tweezers, ever since Tweezerman stopped making theirs in Switzerland. I have been through at least 7 pairs over the years (the slant does not survive falls) and still go back to them when I need a replacement. I prefer the one that reminds me of Swiss cheese, but am currently using a gold pair.
Favorite Hand Cream: L’Occitane’s original shea butter hand cream is still the best. I prefer the non-scented version. They recently introduced an intensive version which I am testing. Also love Deborah Lippmann’s cuticle cream.
Favorite Hair Products: Uka is a Japanese salon brand. It’s not easily found in the US, I discovered them through Peach & Lily. I like the ‘Wake Up’ products for volume and the refreshing scent. There is a ‘Wake Up Up Up’ line for even more volume but it is much harder to find here. I found it at the Tokyo Ginza Duty Free store. I also like the Shu Uemura Muroto Volume line, which had an amazing BOGO sale of their holiday sets. The conditioner does go way faster than I’d like though. I also like the Oribe Matte Waves Texture Lotion for air drying, but will use it to semi heat dry at times. But, most importantly, a good haircut goes a long way. I go to Dlala in the East Village.
Favorite Towel: I like lightweight towels that dry fast, but don’t feel like a quick dry towel, is lint-free, and is large enough as a bath towel. I really like the Aquis waffle body towel. The waffle texture helps it feel less thin, the normal towel got a bit ratty after a while. I want to try the Onsen or Parachute towels next.
Favorite Massagers: I’m a huge fan of massages. There is an affordable, no frills place near me, but I don’t go as often as I’d like and it’s still an indulgence. My aunt introduced me to Trumedic electronic shiatsu massage devices (previously mentioned). I have the InstaShiatsu+ Neck, Shoulder & Full Body Massager with Heat (IS-3000PRO) and the InstaShiatsu Foot Massager with Air Compression & Heat (IS-4000). I recommend both if you like more intense massages.
I know self-care is so much more than skincare and massages. There is more to add to here for 2019.