Tutorials, Guides, and How-To’s

The Great Italy Cloth Experiment|Create Your Own K-Spa at Home!

Photo Credit:Soko Glam


Ever since Charolette Cho gave a rundown of jimjilbang (Korean spas) in her book, The Little Book of Skincare, I’ve had a serious case of the wanderlusties. 
I’d love to be planning a trip right now to go visit one and indulge in all the hot herbal baths, cold plunges, and suanas, all while munching on killer Korean delicacies, but no, no naengmyun and patbingsoo in a hot tub for me.

Ironically, out of the all the glorious assortments of treatments, the simplest one caught my eye: the K-spa body scrub.

  Even when there are clay suanas with literally a warm clay bubble pit to bury yourself in, I’m all for having a person in, (I must quote Cho as she says it best) “maximum-coverage black granny panties” scrub my entire body down with an Italy cloth until little grey pills of dead skin fall off. Jade steam room? Nah, not when I could be scrubbed!

Now, it’s not the granny panties drawing me in here, it’s the level of exfoliation that happens with these aforementioned Italy cloths. Cho in her book, and a large number of people on the Interweb, always recount and emphasize the ridiculous amount of dead skin sloughed off their bodies with these babies.

Large balls of dead skin coming off my body? Where do I sign up?

Photo Credit:Lipstick Alley…this is exactly what happens…but EVERYWHERE!


Since a trip to NYC or Seoul is not exactly in my budget, I went about acuring the next best thing to this K-spa treatment a la broke college girl: Amazon. Two days later and a package of 8 Italy cloths were in my greedy paws.

While it’s true that you can just stand in a piping hot shower for a few minutes, get to work, and see some results, for maximum effectiveness (and skintertainment), it’s best to soak in a bath with water as hot as you can stand it anywhere from 15/30 minutes to an hour. By soaking in hot water, dead skin has a chance to soften and separate from the healthy skin below. The longer you allow this to happen, the more skin can come off.

I boiled myself in the tub for a solid 45 minutes before letting the Italy cloth anywhere near my skin. Go big or go home is the motto here. What Cho and everyone else was saying was delightfully true. Big grey balls of dead skin were just rolling off like some sort of giant Baby Foot peel for the entire body.

Photo Credit: XO Vain…cuz I sure as hell aint taking a picture of me in the bath!


I’m not exactly a walking callous, but man, this thing made my skin feel INCREDIBLE! I lost about a small child’s worth of dead skin off my legs alone, and the remaining skin on my body was that of a newborn’s behind. Like, I won’t ever need to moisturize again type of soft.

Where have these things been all my life?

It also made everything very shiny as well-another side effect of the scrub people always mention.

Photo Credit: eBay


Since I got the green type of towels-the roughest- most people recommend to use them only on the body and not on the face. I very gently (key words here) used it on my face with a ton of foaming cleanser. The results were again, amazing and baby soft, but I definitely agree: if something is rough enough to take off my foot skin with ease, it really shouldn’t go anywhere near that delicate facial skin. 

So while I don’t have some auntie in black granny panties scrubbing me down until my skin is redder than a strawberry, I can still achieve that enviable softness at home on the cheap. For skin this soft and shiny, these things are well worth the 5.49$.

Managing Your Moisturizing Routine

Welcome back to another installment of the Beauties on Fire collaboration! This week’s voted theme is the four elements: water, earth, fire, and wind. 

Photo Credit:Byrdie

Being the skincare slut that I am, I of course have to discuss the element that is the backbone of any successful skincare routine: water! Without sufficient water content, not only will you, well, die, but your skin will become dry and problematic, making it look older and more tired than it may really be. 

So how do you ensure your skin remains looking youthful and healthy? One word:moisturization. 

Photo Credit:@peachandlily

Why the Western world thinks only one measly moisturizer is enough to maintain let alone create good skin is a total mystery to me. Once I got off that 3 step routine train and incorporated more and more moisturizers into my routine, my skin changed drastically for the better. I attribute a big portion of success in eliminating my (mild) cystic acne to proper moisture levels as well as many other smaller skin successes.

Moisturizing is an essential part of what makes the Korean approach to skincare so different and effective. Regardless of skin type or even skin concerns, layers of moisture are going to constitute the majority of any effective routine. But moisturizers are not created equal. So how do you figure out what’s going to work and what’s going to be a big waste of time and money?

Let’s start with the basics.

Moisturizers are divided into three classes:

Photo Credit: Into the Gloss

Humectants: these guys work like magnets, attracting and absorbing (aka forming Hydrogen bonds with) water from deeper layers of skin (and sometimes from very humid air) which in turn increases the amount of moisture your outermost layer of skin (the stratum corneum) can hold. Humectants can provide an instant plumping/wrinkle-smoothing effect due to the increase in moisture. Long-term use can fight signs of aging.

This category can be further broken down into two additional categories-synthetic humectants and natural humectants. These names pretty much describe it all. Synthetic humectants which draw water up from the skin include urea, hexylene, butylene, and propylene glycol (“the glycols” is how I’ve remembered them). These will help moisturize the skin, but tend to only draw water up from the deeper layers of skin, providing short term moisture. These can potentially dry out the skin if other moisturizing agents aren’t used (they just suck water upwards, but don’t replenish).

Natural humectants not only moisturize the skin, but deliver other beneficial nutrients to the deeper skin layers, providing more long-term moisture. You’ve probably heard about many of these natural humectants: honey, aloe vera, hyaluronic acid, and AHA’s in smaller doses (think glycoloic, lactic, and malic acids…AHAs also occur in the natural world like in fruits and milk). Many of these natural humectants have secondary benefits: everyone knows about the anti-inflammatory properties of aloe, the anti-microbial wonders of honey, that AHA’s provide exfoliation if used correctly…and so on and so forth.

Photo Credit: The Beauty Lookbook

Emollients: Emollients work like a lubricant, lending skin a smooth softness by filling in the gaps between skin cells. Any flakes get smoothed over as well. Emollients also give that “slippy” feel to the skin (think of a pore filler). Emollients can provide a slight film to keep water in as well-much like occlusives but to nowhere near the same extent.

The texture of emollients is easily spreadable and generally thin. Most emollient ingredients also provide additional benefits to the skin like antioxidants and have anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory properties. Many also help strengthen the skin because emollients often contain fatty acids as they are often oil-based (a big help for those with dehydrated skin!).

Emollients are generally plant/animal-based oils. These include almond, coconut, jojoba, olive oils, etc, but also animal-based oils like emu and horse oil (which I personally detest and discourage the use of especially given all the other plant-based alternatives. But my opinion of animal testing and the cosmetics industry and what-not is for another time and another place. YMMV and you are entitled to your own opinion. But I personally think the thought of something like pig collagen on my face sounds nasty to begin with…)

OTHER emollient ingredients include things like glycerides and squalene/squalene (not derived from shark liver for me of course, but rather olives or the like…).

Photo Credit: Peach and Lily

Occlusives: This category of moisturizers strives to do pretty much one thing and one thing only: prevent moisture loss. Water loss is the main culprit in both dehydrated and dry skin and its when we lose water that we start looking so suddenly tired and aged. Oily skin may not struggle with water loss as much as other skin types because of natural sebum production preventing moisture escaping.

This moisturizing class works by creating a physical barrier (generally, a thin film) over the outermost layer of skin, effectively sealing good things like water and other products in by slowing down the process of evaporation. Occlusives work best when applied over wet skin (or humectants) as occlusives must have something already there to seal in to do much good. Unfortunately, many times these formulas can be a bit “greasy” or “oily” looking on the face so I personally have relegated them to night-use-only. I have found that the occlusive “film” doesn’t typically play well with my generally “light and sheer” approach to makeup.

Ingredients include pretty much any vegetable-based wax (and also beeswax), or plant-based butter (cocoa, shea, etc) as well as well-known mineral oil and petroleum.

Photo Credit: Sokoglam


Some Rules of Thumb
If you tend to lean on the dry side, dry skin will benefit most from occlusives applied over humectants to draw up/in moisture, then seal it in. Emollients can also help reduce some of the flakiness dry skin types can experience as well. Oilier skin types along with more combination skin types should avoid thick occlusive formulas and heavy-handed use of emollients and stick to lighter, humectant layers. Normal skin types have free range, but should probably stick more to the lighter end of the scale.

Selecting moisturizing ingredients based on skin concerns can also be a beneficial strategy. If you are acne-prone, obviously avoid thick formulas which may clog pores and maybe try an ingredient with anti-microbial properties, like honey. Dehydrated skin should head straight for emollients due to their oil/fatty acid content. And so on and so forth.

Your Skin Knows Best

Everyone’s skin is different and often changes through the seasons and with lifestyle factors like chronic stress and hormones. Once you know what each type of moisturizing class does and what main ingredients to look for, finding where to start for your skin type becomes a breeze.

To read the other collab posts, click the picture below!

Haul Like A Virgin: A Newbie’s Guide to Their First Time

While it may be tempting to get caught up in the excitement and buy All The Things in your first ever K-beauty haul, it’s important to remember not to go overboard, especially when it comes to establishing the essential products in your daily skincare routine.

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What Should I Buy?

A newbie hauler should focus on four main products in their first ever haul:

1) Oil Cleanser-the double cleanse in an integral part of the Korean skin routine. You are going to need something to remove your makeup and that fancy sunscreen you are about to buy.

My Recommendations: Nooni Snowflake Cleanser, Banilla Co. Clean It Zero, The Face Shop Brightening Rice Cleanser, Memebox I’m Oil Cleanser for (Your Skin Type: Oily/Combo or Dry)

2) Foaming Cleanser-getting something low pH will do wonders for your skin. Honestly- if you don’t believe me, buy two and do a comparison test. It won’t dry your face out while still removing impurities and getting pores clean.

My Recomendations: CosRX Good Morning Low pH cleanser

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A note on low pH cleansers: while more and more companies are (slowly) providing more options, the information out there on the actual pH of products when mixed with water is highly, well, mixed. Take CosRX’s Salycilic Acid Exfoliating Cleanser for example: the website mentions the pH being somewhere around an ideal 5.5, however under a certain blogger’s pH test, it charted at a super-high 9.5. It’s one of those things that everyone will react differently to, so if at first you don’t succeed, don’t sweat it. If it’s cleaning and not leaving your face tight and dry, you don’t have to chuck it immediately into the trash can. Just take note and keep moving forward.

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3) Moisturizer-your first moisturizer is probably going to be depressingly Plain Jane, but don’t get discouraged. All those fancy serums, ampoules, and essences will come later once your skin is healthy and showing its true needs. If you need instant gratification, go for something with an “exotic” sounding ingredient that has a lot of popularity like snail or propolis (bee vomit).

My Recomendations: CosRX Snail 96 Power Essence, Goodal Phytorain Murumuru Hydraseed Serum (dry skin), Etude House Moistful Collagen Cream, Scinic Snail Matrix Cream (oily skin)

4) Sunscreen-this is probably one of the best investments money can buy. Sunscreen keeps you looking younger for longer if you can be bothered enough to properly wear it everyday. 

If you wear makeup, Asian brands generally are more cosmetically elegant than American brands, but often contain alcohol (to make them aforementioned cosmetically elegant) which can dry/irritate some people’s skin so be careful when looking over ingredient lists.  

Frankly, as the driest skin person to probably ever roam the earth, my skin can handle it my my sunscreens (so long as nothing else I’m using contains a lot of it). I think it gets more of a bad reputation than it deserves.

My Recomendations: Missha Sun Milk SPF 50|PA+++, Biore Aqua Rich Sun Essence SPF50|PA++++

Only FOUR Things? I Thought This Was A 10+ Step Routine!

These four things form the main structure of the Korean skin routine. After using these first products for 2-3 months (let skin cells turn over and renew a few times), you will be able to better tell what sort of special products your skin actually needs now that it’s healthier and more stablized. The 10+ step claim to fame is essentially additional actives, moisturizers, and targeted treatments that vary person to person.

Quick Note: It can be helpful to know your skin type before going in for the (credit card) kill, mainly for finding the right moisturizer. Someone with dry skin does not want a sebum controlling moisturizer and someone with acne-prone skin does not want a thick, emollient cream.

Often times, things are not as bad as they once seemed after following just the four basic steps for awhile. Acne, dehydration, and such tend to resolve themselves (or at least get better) as skin gets healthier. If you find your skin has issues requiring heavy duty products such as AHA’s, Vitamin C, and the like after the “trial period,” you will need to have this four step routine on lock to avoid damaging the skin.

Actives: Don’t Just Yet

For newbies (and veterans alike), actives can seem cool and like the only things that will solve their skin problems. Don’t listen to their siren song!

More often than not, actives do a lot more damaging things than helpful things if not used correctly and not given proper follow-up care. (Photo sensitivity and dryness anyone? ) So something as highly touted like Vitamin C may be the first thing you think you want to buy, but have you researched how finicky Vitamin C is yet? That can oxidize in sunlight, sometimes needs refrigeration, and requires strict, certain pH levels? (Like do you even own litmus strips yet?) What about its burn-y, sting-y ways? 

Probably not too Kbeauty-virgin-friendly, just saying ๐Ÿ˜‚

Can’t Get Over That “Just 4” Rule?

If you are a newbie, dying at the bit to make that first haul, and the thought of only four products makes you a little sad, take advantage of sheet masks and haul as hard as you’d like on those. Go wild. Get masks with diamond powder, snail mucin, unicorn piss, you know the drill. Whatever makes your heart beat faster.

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but with sheet masks…

I would also say (from way, WAY too much hauling experience) that something like Cure Natural Aqua Gel or TonyMoly’s Tomatox Brightening Massage Pack (some sort of generic, not too crazy or specific,  once-twice per week usage item) could be added on, although it would be in your best interest to probably wait.

Alright, so now that you have your shopping list, where should you buy it?

If you live in the US, Memebox, while generally more on the expensive side, will be the fastest option. Amazon also is a good place to score select products on the cheap and buy sheet masks in bulk (but watch out for fakes).

SokoGlam, run by Charlotte Cho, occasionally carries skin routine “starter kits” and mask boxes, as well as keeps a steady stock of cult classic products. Prices are solidly mid-range.

Glow Recipe is your one-stop shop for cool, natural ingredient curations. The famous YuriPibu Artichoke essence was first curated and sold by them. Your wallet may weep a little when it’s checkout time. Just a heads up.

Sephora and ULTA, while they do carry Korean products like sheet masks, are ridiculously overpriced, and the range is so painfully limited, I just don’t see the point. But maybe one day..,.

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If you are willing to wait the 30+days and deal with heavier shipping fees (but lower product prices), I recommend buying from the vendors themselves, especially during sale times. A few months ago, Etude House had their old formulation of the I Need You sheet mask on sale for 1$ or less and a flat shipping rate to the US that was around 30$ if I remember correctly.

While I haven’t personally used them, Jolse and Rose Rose Shop are commonly mentioned in the Asian beauty portion of Reddit.

Bottom Line: Wherever you buy from, do a quick search and read a few reviews before handing over your hard earned cash (and card number-safety first!)

Don’t be afraid to price compare either. Certain sellers are better for different products. The market is super competitive and is constantly changing so always look around to avoid overpaying!

Finally,

This is meant to be fun, as it should be and as it will 100% be, but you can’t forget to spot test, and introduce things gradually. This whole process can be total <insert choice word here>, especially to the impatient and enthusiastic, but your skin will literally thank you in  the results you’ll see a few months down the road.

Then you can add all the fancy serums and such you want…just one at a time of course!

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Do you remember your first haul? Are you about to embark on the K-beauty journey? Tell me about it in the comments below!

*no links here are affiliated; only put in for your convinience*

Pore You: Banish Blackheads and Clogged Pores for Good

Regular dead skin cell maintenance  is a vital component in maintaining healthy-looking, glowing skin. Reducing dead skin cell build-up also lessens the formation blackheads, clogged pores, and other forms of acne. In addition, regular use of pore masks, BHA’s, and exfoliants can help with textural and tone issues in the skin.

At the start of September, having been slacking more than I’d care to admit in the exfoliation department, I jumped on a pore-cleansing bandwagon, whipping out some old favorites and trying some new products guaranteed to pull out blackheads by the roots and liquefy clogged pores. Over the course of the month, my skin showed some major results. All that extra attention really paid off! I learned a lot in the process and discovered a few new products worthy of incorporating into my regular routine.

Three Step Nose Packs:

Pig nose clear blackhead 3 step kit

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This kit uses a 3 step process to remove those pesky nose blackheads. The first step is cleansing, the second is an actual peel-off pore strip, and the third is a hydrogel mask just for the nose area. Each step is worn for 10-15 minutes.

Step 1: It was strongly citrus scented (much like the household cleaners type of citrus) and had a cooling effect. It had a good fit, but was slippery. I had to lay down to keep it on my face.

Step 2: Remove step one, wet nose area, apply the peel-off pore strip. The adhesive side was an adorable shade of pink. It didn’t feel uncomfortable or tight as it dried. It fit only around the nose area, and adhered to all areas (no bubbles, etc).

Step 3: Slowly peel off step two. Apply the hydrogel mask. Wearing this for a full 10 minutes was hard because it smelled so bad. It was something I couldn’t quite place other than something normal skincare product mixed with industrial plastic. Bad combination, especially when it is literally surrounding your nose!

 

The results:

This took out blackheads in their entirety (no half a pore’s worth here), especially around nose edges where the blackhead population tends to grow the most. However, the strip only grabbed the biggest of the blackheads (the “ripe” ones most ready to come out so to speak), but not many of the medium-sized to smaller ones.

It is definitely a step up from the usual drugstore pore strips, and I love the idea of a three step approach that preps and soothes. I also was impressed with the amount of blackheads it removed from the sides of my nose-an area the larger strips tend to neglect.

In all honesty though, these are just not as good as BHA+ Elizavecca Hell-Pore Clean Up Mask combination I usually rely on. This pack maybe hit 1/2-2/3 what that combo does on my nose area.

3.5- I may buy this again in the future, but I definitely won’t be relying solely on these for blackhead management.

Ettang Peeling Soothing Mask:

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This is a two step mask, featuring a mild chemical peeling gel that is followed by a soothing, moisturizing mask.

Step One: The peeling gel comes in a small, detachable packet. It gets rubbed into the face for 30 seconds, then needs to be rinsed off.

This step blew my mind. I am not kidding. Once the gel hit my face, so much, SO MUCH, dead skin and pore gunk started turning white, lifting, and balling up. I honestly wished I had filmed this step because the amount of dead skin that was coming off my face was so large, it was actually scary. I have to now revoke my love for my old holy grail product, Cure Natural Aqua Gel, in favor of this peel. That’s right. It has replaced my longest standing holy grail it is so amazingly awesome!

Since its a chemical peel, many people would expect some painful/annoying side effects. However, there was no stinging, burning, etc during application. After I rinsed off what looked to be my entire face’s worth of skin down the sink, there was a very slight hot/tightly sensation, plus my face was very faintly pink. At the ends of the day, this product is incredibly gentle for how effective this peel is. Frankly, Vitamin C hurts a lot worse.

Step 2: This mask is built to soothe, nourish, and hydrate. The mask is super generous with material, making it a very versatile fit. It reached up to my hairline, had ample under eye coverage, and there was enough material around the chin area to almost completely cover my face underneath.

The mask was also deliciously soft, which is a necessity if following a peel. Good call, Ettang!

The essence was a milky white, containing ingredients such as soothing aloe, nourishing silkworm, and protective and hydrating medowfoam extracts.  It was to be worn for 20-30 minutes, but it was still so wet after the 30 minute mark, I went ahead and wore it for another 20 min. The mask was still damp enough to wear for maybe an additional 15 minutes, but I was in (dire) need of food. That kind of wear time (and without a silicone mask sheet to help!) is amazing.

Taking the sheet mask off, my skin was unrecognizably soft and smooth. It wasn’t pink, irritated, or showing any sign of having lost so many dead cells. My face felt ridiculously clean and hydrated…on levels I don’t think I’d ever experienced before.

That sort of clean feeling is downright addictive!

1-I need this in my life, once a week, indefinitely. Holy Grail, hands down.

Elizavecca Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask

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This product is as fun as it is effective. The smile it puts on my face every time I use it would be worth the repurchase alone, even if it didn’t reduce the appearance of my pores and bubble gunk to the surface.

It tickles like crazy as it foams up, but is a lot more comfortable to wear than my beloved Scinic All Day Fine Pore Mask. I think the bubbling “technology” that supposedly allows the clay to stay in a more nutrient-delivering state (over quickly drying up) for longer, meaning more nourishment for the skin, actually works. 

It doesn’t give that tight, clean feeling like traditional clay masks, but leaves the skin soft, moisturized, and visibly cleaner looking. A better clay mask alternative for us dry skinned folk, but honestly, any skin type could use this with great results.

2-it’s too fun not to use on a regular basis, plus I’m growing addicted to the softness and smoothness of my skin after using this.

And, in a post about pores and their maintenance, I would be committing a sin if I didn’t mention Ciracle’s Sebum Control Powder. Acne forms when dead skin cells, debris, and bacteria become trapped inside of a pore because excess sebum has essentially “glued” them together, inside the pore. When this cocktail is exposed to air, it oxidizes and turns black, forming a, you guessed it, blackhead. 

This powder not only has an amazing, budge-proof hold that can be a lifesaver for setting/preserving makeup (even in Florida summers!), but really helps manage oiliness (sebum) throughout the day without being drying in the slightest. This effect can help prevent the formation of acne by helping control excess sebum which may clog pores.

Regular attention to pore maintenance and dead skin removal can make an amazing difference in skin texture and appearance. A routine that incorporates exfoliation and specific pore products around 2-4 times per week will make skin healthier and give it a natural glow, no makeup required. Many of these products are really fun and unique as well; skintertainment at its best!

Top 5 Essential Fall Skincare Products|My Sample Fall Skin Routine

Hello all and hello fall! 


With cooler weather already here, it’s important to make sure you and your skin are fully prepared for the chillier months. 

I’ve put together my top 5 essential fall skincare product picks and also a sample fall skincare routine that includes not only my personal products, but my rationale for each choice as well in this post.

Enjoy and Happy Fall Y’all!

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This week’s Beauties on Fire collaboration theme is fall and I could not be happier…even though it’s still in the 90’s here in Florida. Gotta love that crisp fall air from the Gulf of Mexico!

We are always accepting new members so please join us if you want to belong to a fun, supportive,  and diverse blogging group. We have gone way beyond just a “basic collab,” now providing blog/blog post promotion, blogging help, discussion on weekly beauty/fashion/blogging topics…and literally so much more I physically can’t list it all here.

You can also vote on next week’s theme via Twitter.

Last week, I saw a really cute fall tag post on Emily Mae’s blog that totally got me in the autumnal spirit (not that I need any help with that of course…look at this intro if you need further proof). 

It reminded me of how much I love fall for all the basic reasons: the fashion, the food, the pumpkins, the holidays, the certain Starbucks beverage that’s over 5$ a pop, but also reminded me of how much I love it when my skincare routine gets super exciting with even more layers (like the clothes) and how I can get all sorts of nerdy and creative with my chronic overspending at Memebox and Amazon. (Yes, I am 100% completely aware I have a problem and need urgent help).

I could honestly go on and on (and on and on) about how and why I love fall so so much, and how I wish it were the only season to exist, but my Ode to Fall would be longer than an unabridged copy of Les Miserables, and frankly, I care about you all enough to not do that to you๐Ÿ˜ฐ

I tried to make this post as helpful as possible, and if you have any questions, concerns, or love/hate, please let me know in the comments below (you know the drill). 

**My Top 5 Essential Fall Products**


1) An Effective Exfoliator

I personally like to keep both a chemical and physical exfoliator on hand at all times. Since I have dry skin, I like to use a gentle chemical exfoliator 2-3 times per week to keep my skin as soft and smooth as possible, then I use a physical exfoliator 2-3 per month (basically as-needed) to banish any flaky patches and do some heavy duty exfoliating work.
I also just love having the best of both worlds: the awesome fun of watching your dead skin ball up and fall off, then the lovely clean feeling of a good old fashioned scrub.

2) A Glow-getter
As skin dries out between the effects of cold weather and indoor heating, it can become dull and lifeless, making you look older and more tired than you actually are. To counteract these undesirable effects, add in products with glow-inducing ingredients like:

-propolis

-yeast ferment filtrates

-rice

-glycolic acid

-kojic acid

-vitamin c

-azelaic acid

-niacinamide

-arbutin

(To only name a few)

The drier you skin tends to get, the more products with glow-boosting ingredients you’ll want. So for someone with oily skin and a healthy moisture barrier, maybe one product will do the trick. If your skin is naturally dry like mine, it might take 2 or more products to achieve that natural-looking inner glow.

3) Sunscreen 

Even though the days may be getting shorter, it doesn’t mean anyone gets to start slacking on this step (insert typical Kbeauty sun damage fear mongering here). Given the drier weather, finding a formulation without alcohol can help offset unnecessary drying effects.

4) A Trusty Sleeping Pack

If you want to truly say you woke up like this, include a sleeping pack in your routine

As full-blown winter approaches (for those reading this who actually experience seasons unlike where I live), having a tried and true sleeping pack (or a heavy, preferably occlusive moisturizer) to fall back on when your skin starts to get uncomfortably dry will become something you don’t know how you managed without. 

5) A Heavy Hitting Daily Moisturizer

It doesn’t really matter if it’s *technically* a moisturizer, serum, ampoule, or something else; what matters is that it consistently gives your skin the amount of hydration, nourishment, and protection it needs. 

It will probably be the final layer of a routine, and somewhat occlusive (think of a sleeping pack’s lighter cousin meant for daily use). It should seal in anything applied underneath, and protect your skin from water loss. 

**A Sample Fall Morning Weather Routine**


I don’t use the same products every day, preferring to reach for whatever my skin needs that day (using my skintuition, eh?), so this is by no means my full, actual routine (as I really don’t have one, just a slew of possible products to apply any given morning or evening), but rather a possible routine I might use.

Exfoliate (Optional)

If my skin is looking rough with any signs of dryness (I have a 100% flake-free policy), I’ll use a gentle chemical exfoliant like Cure Natural Aqua Gel to start the day off with a clean (smooth) slate.

Cleanse

I never skip a good cleansing session using my trusty CosRX Good Morning Low pH foaming cleanser. Because of its lower pH, it won’t further dry my skin by stripping it of (what little) moisture my skin already has.

Smooth

After patting my face dry, I apply straight up galactomyces ferment filtrate (currently using Ramosu’s version, but will be trying out an actually-labeled-as-a-first-treatment-essence-FTE soon) to my face to help smooth out texture, provide nourishment and moisture, and most importantly, deliver some glow.

Tone

I like to use a hydrating toner next to prep my skin for the oncoming layers of moisture. Right now, I’m currently liking the Hyaluronic Acid toner by Its Skin, but want to try their collagen version once I run out. If I’m broken out/feel some spots coming on, I typically use Papa Recpie’s Trouble AC toner. It helps the issue without being too drying.

**This part forward of my routine tends to be the most variable for those who may be curious**

Treat

-D’ran Wonder Tea Tree essence: to prevent spots and lighten scars/PIH.

-CosRX Propolis Light Ampoule: this guy is just getting introduced into my routine (how I love testing out new things!), and so far the results are pretty instantaneous. If all continues to go well over the next 2 weeks, it will be a “glow” product in my collection/hoard.

Moisturize

-Goodal Murumuru Hydraseed Serum: I knew I loved this stuff, but had forgotten exactly how much I freakin love it until It arrived at my doorstep again. It’s incredibly nourishing and protective and I am so glad it’s back in my routine again. One of my favorite winter products. 

-CosRX Advanced Snail 96 Serum: this stuff is a total cure-all. I think I’ve ranted enough on this blog how much I love it already.

-If my skin has gone super-dry on me, I might add an extra moisturizer on top like the Broccoli Clearing Lotion by Innisfree, or something like Scinic’s Snail Matrix Cream.

Seal

-To seal everything in, I like to layer on CosRX’s Brightening Rice Overnight Spa Mask, or Etude House Moistful Collagen Cream. It keeps all my hard work locked in while helping protect my skin from moisture loss due to the cold, or moreso, indoor heating.

Protect

And no proper skin routine would be complete without sunscreen. I generally wait a few minutes after applying my final skincare step to allow it to fully absorb, then apply my sunscreen, wait another 5 minutes minimum, and then apply any makeup. It may seem annoying to wait, but frankly, I just do my hair or eat breakfast, that sort of thing while it sinks in.

This is what a typical fall routine might look for me. I’m typically indoors so I worry most about the artificial heating sapping moisture from my skin (hence lots of hydrating layers and a heavy-handed application of an occlusive barrier).

Cold weather can be really hard on the skin, so the more damage you can prevent, the better.


What’s your favorite thing about fall? Bonus points if it’s related to skincare ๐Ÿ˜Š

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And, of course, this post wouldn’t be complete without the Beauties on Fire link-up. If you’d like to read more ๐Ÿfall-themed posts๐Ÿ, just click on the picture to be taken to the main page ๐ŸŽƒ

How I Fixed My Keratosis Pilaris

YYQ3XBYDAPMany people struggle with a skin condition called Keratosis Pilaris. This skin condition causes tiny, acne-like bumps and dry patches to form on the arms, thighs, cheeks, and buttocks; the bumps form due to an overproduction of a protein called keratin which can block pores. It’s by no means a serious condition, but it can be annoying and unsightly. Its also not really curable: it can only be managed and subdued.

I’ve struggled with these little bumps on my upper arms ever since I can remember. In grade school, I was always so embarrassed to wear short sleeves or go sleeveless. A couple of times, kids would ask “eew, what are those?!” and for my middle school self, comments like those did nothing for my self-esteem. I’ve tried countless methods over the years to eradicate these stupid SOB’s but nothing really worked. I spent my middle school and high school years in 3/4 tops and sweaters, embarrassed and self-conscious (in only the way a typical teenager can be) about my bumpy arms.

It was by no means severe (except in my teenage mind, which, well, we’ve all been there), but I didn’t register that fully until I hit true adulthood (and had other bigger things to worry about like college finals, bills, real health problems, and, of course, adult acne).

As most of my readers know, Asian (well, Korean) skincare is more exciting to me than the creation of pre-sliced cheese and bread. Along the way down that rabbit hole, I picked up two products (I’m getting to them, I swear!) that in a true stroke of luck/fate/whatever have you, I combined and applied to my arms and was like “whoa!”

Status: keratosis pilaris remission achieved!

Now that all that background is out of the way, here is the method that took my upper arms from full-on granola mode to sleeveless-ready.

I use two products: Papa Recipe White Flower Clear Up 8% AHA Gel and Let’s Cure C-ster High Performance Powder.


The AHA gel stinks to high heaven (and much MUCH worse than a typical AHA which will smell like butt to begin with) and that rotting fish odor on my face was just something I couldn’t tolerate even for the sake of skincare…and that is saying something. Being the ardent “waste not, want not” stingy person that I am, I had to find another way to use it.

Within this time frame, I also picked up my first, very sad attempt at Vitamin C and wound up with a powder formulation that was supposed to be mixed with whatever moisturizer of choice. I didn’t know anything about pH or using vitamin C at the time, and when I used it on my face for 2 months, several times a week, and was not seeing anything that resembled results, it went into the same pile as the AHA.

And then I got creative and decided to mix the two. I had noticed that the Vitamin C powder helped neutralize the scents of whatever it was mixed with and lend it a gentle citrus-y note. Figuring the AHA couldn’t get any worse, I went ahead and mixed it as a 1:1 ratio (as per the C-ster powder instructions) and slathered the slightly less terrible solution on my upper arms where it wouldn’t be directly under my nose.

To use these two products up and get them off my valuable counter surface real estate, I mixed this solution up every night fresh and applied it. Within about a month of doing this, I started noticing how soft and smooth my normally rough upper arms were getting. Within two months (the products you don’t want always last the longest right?), my arms were 98% clear-the most “normal” arm state I ever remembered achieving.

Its now been three months since arriving at this lucky fusion of crap products and my arms are totally tank-top appropriate. They are also ridiculously soft. While I do have to apply sunscreen to my arms now in addition to my face, its worth the newfound texture.

I have yet to totally decide whether or not the Vitamin C powder actually works  (its just sketchy as hell y’all), the AHA definitely does as its not only at a powerful 8% concentration, but also a powerful exfoliator which keeps keratin from building up and forming bumps.

Before I conclude this post, I just want to say that I am no doctor or scientist and I’ve also been very bad and not done any research on if these two formulas can be mixed together without preservative measures cancelling out the other, etc. I figured (for my own safety, when I first played mad-cosmetic-scientist on my vanity) that the C-ster powder could be mixed with any moisturizer of choice, and since that territory was pretty broad, I figured why not a gel? If the C-ster powder actually does work, it would work with a product with similar pH needs. When it didn’t burn my arms off or anything, I think just mixing it up fresh, every night is safe enough for my own self. I would NOT recommend keeping a bottle of this stuff pre-mixed as, despite the fact these are acids, who knows what might want to play petri dish? (And geez, whatever would grow in THOSE conditions, I would NOT want on my face even more than just typical compact cushion/hangbang serum dwellers). The powder as well, should you choose to buy it (I honestly don’t know if it does anything other than minimize the day-old fish market “scent”), you’ll find that the amount of mixing will make successful bottling near impossible.

If you do try this method, know that YMMV, I am not a doctor or scientist or any kind of person that is qualified to be doling out this sort of information, and that if anything bad happens, I refuse to be responsible (although I will feel bad, probably cry a lot, remove this post, and send you lots of care packages).So if you attempt this, you do so AT YOUR OWN RISK and release me from any sort negative consequences like legal action. Love you guys!

Anyway, now that I’ve made this sound super scary and serious (lol, sorry, you just never know!), this very strange, very lucky, and in hindsight, very stupid adventure with two products that my stingy self just couldn’t chuck in the bin led to a very nice discovery and some very nice results. Just in case anyone who reads this is struggling with managing this skin condition, I thought I would share my findings here online. To perhaps try this method at their own risk ๐Ÿ˜‰

If you do so happen to try this method, please let me know how it went. I am very curious to see if this is just a me-thing or if I’ve actually stumbled on something weird-but-super-helpful. I can only tell you in this case that it gave me my arms back in about two and a half months from a M/W/F application schedule [and with wearing sunscreen on them during the day (so no burns or anything from AHA and Vitamin C photo sensitivity)].

This post is finally over, and I hope it was helpful. Please let me know if you’re interested in tying this method or know of something that worked for you! Have a wonderful rest of your day/night everyone! *mwah!*

Banish Blackheads for Good with Elizavecca’s Hell Pore Clean Up Mask


The Elizavecca Milkypiggy Hell-Pore Clean Up Mask is an oldie but a goodie. Its essentially a liquid pore strip that you can put wherever your face might need a little pore-cleaning love. Once it dries, just peel it off and rejoice as you stare in strange fascination at the gunk its pulled out. Even though this product is no new release-its over a year on the US markets-its so effective that I want to be sure to spread the word!

This mask is supposed to help manage excess sebum, blackheads and whiteheads, and dead skin. When used over time, it can help minimize the appearance of pores (as they are kept clean and unclogged).

Ingredients:

Water, Polyvinylpyrrolidone, Alcohol, Polyvinyl Alcohol, Charcoal powder, Titanium Dioxide, Salicornia Herbacea Extract, Rhus Semialata Gall Extract, Diospyros Kaki Leaf Extract, Prunus Serrulata Flower Extract, Nelumbo Nucifera Flower Extract, Camellia Japonica Flower Extract, Nymphaea Alba Flower Extract, Rosa Hybrid Flower Extract, PEG-60 Hydrogenated Castor Oil, 1,2-Hexanediol, Caprylyl Glycol, Butylene Glycol, Illicium Verum Fruit Extract, Aluminum hydroxide, Silica, Methyl acetate, Lithium Magnesium Sodium Silicate, Tetrasodium Pyrophosphate, Fragrance, Cosmos Bipinnatus Callus Culture Extract, Saccharomyces/Caragana Sinica Root Ferment Extract

Click here for the CosDNA analysis of this ingredients list.

This product has two main types of ingredients: skin moisturizers (mainly the plant extracts) and thickening agents (silica, polyvinylpyrrolidone, alcohols, etc). Please note that many people do find alcohol (and similar ingredients) to be irritating, so use with caution if you know or suspect you may have a sensitivity to said such ingredients.

Some ingredients of interest:

Charcoal is known for its absorbent properties. In skincare, it “sucks” gunk out of pores.

Titanium Dioxide is, of course, a sunscreen. Chances are it is being used for its pigmentation and/or thickening purposes in this product though.

Salicornia Herbacea Extract is also known as glasswort. This plant has potentially moisturizing properties. Prunus Serrulata Flower Extract, Camellia Japonica Flower Extract, Rosa Hybrid Flower Extract, and the like are all essentially moisturizing ingredients as well.

Rhus Semialata Gall Extract is a plant found in traditional Chinese medicine. It is used for its antibacterial and antioxidant properties.

Nelumbo Nucifera Flower Extract is actually made from lotus flowers. They are known for whitening/brightening of the skin and (more symbolically than actually)its purification. Similar to this is the ingredient Nymphaea Alba Flower Extract, or white water lilly, which is also know for its skin lightening properties.

Illicium Verum Fruit Extract is also known as anise. While it is a potent anti-acne ingredient, it is often a potential irritant.

What’s “sand” doing in here? Silica is often used in skincare products as an absorbent and thickening agent.

The last  ingredient is yeast-based, fermentation being a popular trend in Korean skincare. Rumor has it this “obsession” with Saccharomyces and Galactomyces stems from the large portion of the Korean diet that consists of fermented foods. Fermentation seems to have a positive effect internally, when ingested, so why not try it on the face? It appears to solve a large number of common skin care woes (much like snail or starfish), and almost all brands have a yeast-based ferment first essence or toner to hop on this trend.

In all honesty, this ingredients list is nothing to write home about, at least, in my opinion. Unlike a serum or daily moisturizer, where subtle blends of ingredients can make or break a product for someone’s skin (especially over time), with a product that is meant to latch onto nastiness lurking in my pores in under 20 minutes, all I care about is whether or not it does just that. Its a lot like a cleanser or a cheap sheet mask; as long as they do the job placed in front of them, I’m happy. Anything more is considered an added bonus.

The Results:

I’ve been using this product for around 8 months now, about 1-2 times per week. It works partially like a clay mask, in that it leaves your skin smooth, but free of excess sebum. I tend to need most of my facial oils (sounds so weird when put that way, doesn’t it?) as my skin is quite dry, but for oilier skin types, using this mask 2-3 times a week would definitely help manage that “oil slick” feeling. I actually recommended this product in my oily skin shopping by skin type series a while back-you all should know it works!

It also functions much like a pore strip that you would traditionally put over a wet nose and then peel off once it hardened (and then stare at the aftermath for longer than you would like to admit to yourself). When you pull it off, clogs and blackheads (and peach fuzz-oh my!) will be standing up like little soldiers much like you would find with any other sort of pore strip.

Here is the process taking place on my hand (no one needs to see the contents of my nose pores on the Internet just yet):


Tips and Tricks

While this product will pull stuff out of your pores if applied to clean dry skin, why not get the most bang for your buck (and the maximum peel-off grossness) and allow a BHA to work its magic 25 minutes or so before using this mask? It ensures that every last bit of whatever nastiness is lurking within your pores will “loosen up” so it can easily be pulled away, and pulled away in its entirety. This method is especially effective on stubborn clogs and blackheads. One and done.


This product can be pretty brutal on the more sensitive areas of your face. While it won’t actually rip out your eyebrows, it will definitely feel like it is. This product is designed to remove dirt and impurities from deep inside your pores. Upper lip peach fuzz doesn’t stand a chance to put it mildly. If you wouldn’t put a Biore nose strip on the area, then you sure as hell shouldn’t put this product there.

Ripping it off like a waxing strip of band aid doesn’t work that well from my own personal experience. If you want big chunks or a full-face portion of mask to ogle over at what just came out of your face, then speed is definitely not an option.

If you apply the mask too thin, it won’t pick up very much in the way of pore debris and be a b**** to try to get off. If you apply it too thick, you will be waiting a very, very long time for it to dry (both from personal experience everyone). The ideal medium is really the thickness of a Biore pore strip or a business envelope. You’ll want just enough product to do the job and still be able to be pulled off intact.

Redness afterwards should be expected. You just peeled something stuck to your face off of your face after all.  However, go ahead a show it a little love with a light moisturizer or sheet mask. I treat it much like waxing or shaving. If you don’t want irritation, throw on some oatmeal or snail or something.

You don’t have to put this on your entire face all at once. Sometimes just a nose, chin, or T-zone application is all you need. This product is harsh so don’t fix what isn’t broken (its a, um, peel-off mask, so… yeah). You may being saying “well, duh,” but you would be surprised how many people see the videos and ads for this product, featuring full-face masking, and think that that is how they have to use it each and every time. Think outside the box, or tube, in this case.

At around 12 $ for a whole tube of this stuff, it puts traditional pore strips (which around here cost about 12$ for a package of 8) to shame. It is not only slightly more effective, but much more versatile, not to mention so much cheaper. Even though I have dry skin, this product keeps my skin smooth and clog free (they’re bound to happen when you use 20,000 moisturizers a day just to stay flake-free). However, knowing so many people who use this (or perhaps I may have made them use it and gotten them hooked for life like some sort of K-beauty crack dealer) on their not only oily, but acne-prone skin. Its pulled out stubborn blackheads and clogs that they had been trying to remove for weeks, months even, in just under 45 minutes. A quick session with a BHA of choice to loosen up the gunk, and then the attack from the Hell Pore Clean Up Mask, gets their skin into a much smoother, clearer state after just one or two uses.

Rating: 2.5-I have major doubts if I will ever find anything more grossly satisfying…

Rating Scale:

1:Holy Snails! Its a Holy Grail!

2:Current-routine worthy (would buy again unless I found something better)

3:Meh, it was worth a try

4:Bleh, this was terrible. Donโ€™t buy this. Ever.

So that’s it for me, singing its wonderful, peely praises. Have you ever tried this product before? Would you want to?