I've always wanted to open a food or skincare blog and I guess it's time I committed! So I will be starting this page with products that I personally use. These are just my opinions of the products (I'm not an expert), so please don't bite if you disagree! I will also post links on where to find these items. If you would also like the ingredients, do ask!
My rating scale: 1- Do not recommend. 2- Does nothing for my skin. 3- Some effects. 4- Good Buy! 5- A fave!
#20 COSRX AC COLLECTION ULTIMATE SPOT CREAM
I ordered this to try as I'd run out of my spot-clearing gel and had read reviews that this collection was doing magic on blemishes. It's very easy and smooth to apply and you only need a tiny amount, the size of your fingertip to cover your spot and it would reduce in redness within 2/3 days. In terms of reducing the actual head of the spot, I found that it didn't do much but when I had a cluster of spots - it proved significantly more effective in reducing the redness and the appearance. I think for a singular spot, the AC Collection Blemish Spot-Clearing Serum may have been the more appropriate product.
I think this product would be considered more effective for individuals with visible acne or rosacea, or as part of the entire collection - there's are 6 items. This collection targets acne-prone skin and aims to relieve redness and appearance of the spots as well as soothe and cool inflammation. I'm fortunate that I don't have acne-prone skin, so overall, I don't think this collection may be entirely appropriate for me and results may be slower and less obvious; whereas reviews I've read have mainly been positive for individuals with acne or clusters of spots.
#19 NEUTROGENA REFRESHINGLY CLEAR MOISTURISER
This is an oil-free moisturiser, lightly fragranced with pink grapefruit. I find this really easy and super smooth to apply onto my face - I squeeze a pea size for each area (both cheeks, forehead, nose and chin). Due to it's oil-free nature, it doesn't clog up my pores, so this may be an option for those with an oily base - moisturiser is still key! This is what I use after my morning and night face wash and serums and it leaves my face bright and radiant, prepped for the day. However, if your skin is on the really dry side, the level of hydration may not be as effective as other creams/gels/oils, because this product aims to target blemish-prone skin (often as a result of over-production of oils, dirt and sebum) and therefore has been formulated to balance.
For me, it was a good option to go for as it was extremely affordable, readily available from the drug stores and by a reputable brand that my mother has always used - for hand cream and face wash, if she'd run out of her Korean beauty products. We've definitely seen Neutrogena evolve as a brand, since I was little - source of ingredients, sustainability, skin commitments and packaging. The pink grapefruit is also a form of Vitamin C, which provides plentiful of skin benefits such as brightening, reduces hyper-pigmentation, boosts collagen production and hydrates. It's a good size and fits in my cross-over bag, so I can re-apply if necessary.
#18 ESTEE LAUDER PURE COLOUR ENVY NIGHTTIME RESCUE LIP OIL-SERUM
THIS IS MY NEW AUTUMN/WINTER LIFESAVER. Since I bought it a couple of weeks ago, it has been with me everywhere. I have been using this instead of my normal lip balm, since the cold weather has been drying my lips out more than ever!
I've mentioned how I don't like the texture of oils on my face, however this one I really don't mind on my lips. It's infused with naturally derived camellia, rose and lavender oils, retains the natural colour of your lips and glides so smoothly with the applicator. It's a small product, so it may be consider slightly on the pricier side - you can find a similar item with Iconic London, who produce 5 different shades at a slightly cheaper price, however I've always found that Estee Lauder deliver (i.e. Double-Wear Foundation, Estee Edit Primer, Advanced Night Repair Collection) which is why I have continuously gone back to them as a brand.
Estee Lauder collaborate with a number of brands and create initiatives that focus on health, environment and education. i.e. Breast Cancer Campaign, Aveda Earth Month, La Mer Blue Heart, Origins Green The Planet, Girls' Education Initiative, Jo Malone Light on Mental Health.
#17 THE ORDINARY 100% PLANT-DERIVED SQUALANE
A big brother shared his skincare routine with me and recommended this as part of his routine. The purpose of this product is to aid hydration. Squalane is the stable form of natural emollient, has antioxidant properties and doesn't block your pores. I struggle with dry skin, particularly around my lips so wanted to use this to target that problem area. But I have only rated it 2/5 as it doesn't seem to have produced obvious results yet, plus it's texture is much more like an oil, which I'm not a huge fan of.
It is easy to apply however, like most of The Ordinary's products - pipette form. This product formula is 100% natural, derived from plants and is supposedly suitable for all skin-types. Despite the fact that this product is lighter/fluid in texture than most oils, it also depends on your skin type and condition e.g. if your skin is naturally oily, you may reconsider using oils, as it may exacerbate your natural oil/sebum production. I have read how some people have applied 1-2 drops to their moisturisers and for those people - they prefer the application of Squalane this way, rather than directly onto the skin. I haven't tried this, so I may give it a go to see whether it changes of my thoughts.
A different purpose for this product, is that if it doesn't work for your skin - you could potentially try it on your hair, for heat protection, added shine and it's meant to reduce breakage. Our hair can become damaged to factors like the weather, heat, hair products, dye and age; so this product can work by replenishing those natural oils and boost moisture to strengthen the bonds and avoid breakages.
If you're interested, at the time of writing - The Ordinary are doing 23% off, so you could purchase it for cheap and try it out to see for yourself.
#16 THE ORDINARY MARINE HYALURONICS
So I had been using the Hyaluronic Acid as part of my skin care routine for quite some time and actually only decided to order this particular product because it had run out of stock everywhere!
This works similarly to the Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5, however the difference is that the Marine Hyaluronics is much lighter and more fluid in texture and the formula is made of naturally/sustainably sources (skin-friendly Hawaiian Red Algae, Blue-Green Algae and amino acids). I find that because of the less viscous texture, there isn't any stickiness or residue and and is easier absorbed into my skin. Although formulae and active technology can be useful to tailor to needs of the skin, I think I'm still in favour of using natural ingredients.
I think I prefer this product and will re-purchase over the Hyaluronic Acid 2% + B5. I've stripped my routine back to 3/4 products at the moment because I felt like I was applying too much in one go and not allowing them to be active. In fact, my skin has never looked naturally brighter and clearer. The Ordinary's products are usually affordable and at current time of writing - there's 23% off on their website, so this is your chance to try it out for cheap if you'd like! There are so many products similar to each other with The Ordinary (i.e. Hyaluronic Acid // Marine Hyaluronics, Niacinamide Powder // Niacinamide 10%; so I'd suggest you do your reading and research before purchasing to meet the actual needs of your skin!
Recently, I was invited to do a Korean Beauty Q&A by a fellow beauty blogger @beautyandmatcha and she's posted it up onto her blog! She was a real dear for asking me to do this with her virtually and you should go and check out her blog and instagram (also if you like matcha!) I would love for yous to all go and have a read - there's a bit more about me, my skincare routine, my favourite products and ingredients and also some of my thoughts on what's going on in the world at the moment.
Please don't forget to give us some love over on instagram and also share this post!
#15 REN SKINCARE GLOW ONE STEP FURTHER TRIO
This Trio includes
1. Glow Daily Vitamin C Gel Cream - daily fixture of skin vitamins
2. Ready Steady Glow Daily AHA Tonic - cleans the skin deep within the pore and tightens appearance
3. Glycol Lactic Radiance Renewal Mask - exfoliates and lessens appearance of dark spots and tames blackheads
The Vitamin C Gel Cream has helped me maintain a smooth appearance, whilst evening out the darker areas on certain parts of my face. It smells of citrus and its texture is super smooth and easy to spread all over the face and neck! This prepares me for the day and. I use Typology's Vitamin C serum at night time. The Toner ensures that the dirt is all wiped away: AHA Works on the skin's surface, whilst the BHA works deeper in the pore. I have to use my moisturiser after it, but it does leave my skin bright and smooth.
I RATE REN skincare because of their mission: TO BE CLEAN to the skin and to the planet! They're a cruelty-free and vegan brand, constantly seeking to become zero-waste by 2021 and expand their portfolio by teaming up with organisations like 'Surfers against Sewers' and 'Plastic Patrol'. They also are a brand who assists smaller sustainable-lifestyle brands to find their feet. Some of their products are quite expensive, so if you'd like to try out their products but not invest in the full tube - have a look for their travel collections/trios and then purchase the real deal if it works for you!
#14 TYPOLOGY TRIO OF SERUMS AND PURIFYING SOAP WITH NETTLE
The Trio consists of
1. Radiance: 11% Vitamin C - reduces pigmentation spots and reinforces elasticity, whilst protecting the outer skin layer.
2. Antioxidant: 3% Ferulic Acid + 3% Reservatrol - fights the dirt, pollution and smoke we're exposed to in the air.
3. Eye: 5% Caffeine + 5% Niacinamide - facilitates blood circulation and reduces water retention/puffiness under the eyes.
I used these as directed on the bottles and I do feel that results have shown through, especially on my forehead and my lower chin where I struggle with uneven complexion and dull aspects! I dislike the consistency of the Antioxidant as it does feel oily, so I choose to apply a lesser amount onto my skin; but the oiliness isn't so obvious once the skin absorbs it. The Radiance and Eye serums are much more fluid and aren't sticky at all and really have made my skin appear less dull!
I haven't managed to try the Purifying Soap with Nettle yet, but they do offer other soaps targeting other concerns: Hydrating and Exfoliating. I like how this is a form of sustainable skincare, also using natural ingredients and it smells so much like mint! The texture of the soap is soft but I'm yet to see how well it works - I'm still in the process of finding a soap dish! I never realised how difficult it was to find one in stores... I can't find one anywhere!
It's not super affordable, however despite each bottle only being 15ml - the pipette size is proportionate! You only need one or two drops on the whole face and I've found that it is sufficient, even though the droplets are much smaller than those of Deciem/The Ordinary serums. Typology is a vegan/cruelty-free French brand, with products created from natural ingredients and botanical blends and they are also passionate about ethical sourcing. They do several collections and 'kits' to target certain concerns such as firming, hydration, radiance and sensitive skin.
#13 COSRX SALICYLIC ACID DAILY GENTLE CLEANSER
I only started using this recently, so I'm not going to plug it massively yet! I've noticed that the smaller pimples on my forehead have slowly shrunk, but since I've been trying out some other new products, I can't say it's this product alone that's doing the magic.
It's similar in texture and lemon scent to Etude House's Baking Powder Foam Cleanser. It's a denser foam and doesn't leave my skin irritated, red or dry after using it to wash my face with. I would consider an affordable product that will last you good time, since you only need to use a small amount each time!
The ingredients include Tea Tree, an antioxidant to increase the skin's immunity and Salicylic Acid to target blemishes and deeply cleanse the pores and reduce inflammation. COSRX is a South-Korean brand that focuses on 'functional beauty' with advanced technology - which is really great for people who need fast skincare to suit their routine!
#12 T-ZONE AUSTRALIAN PINK CLAY MASK
To be honest, I was fairly disappointed by the consistency and texture of this mask, compared to a tester I had tried a while ago. It was a pool of watery grey/pink water that was squeezed out of the tube, not the clay texture I anticipated.
However, the parts that did come out as clay were really easy to apply, with a face-mask applicator! I had used a smaller packet version of this and it had resolved my redness, really cleaned my pores, especially on my nose and tightened my complexion! What came out as clay from the tube also produced these results too!
I probably would not buy it at a full price, but Superdrug always do offers and deals, so you could purchase some of T-Zone other products like the Spot Target Gel or Blackhead Nose Strips? I've used these two previously: I was impressed how quickly it tackled my concerns and how I managed to get them at a bargain! T-Zone is a brand, often found in drug stores like Superdrug or Savers, that targets the imperfections and the blemishes! They do use active ingredients such as charcoal, tea-tree, witch hazel and grapefruit extract and are cruelty-free, so be assured it's not all chemicals and technology!
#11 COSRX ACNE PIMPLE MASTER PATCH
IF YOU KNOW, YOU KNOW HOW GOOD THEY ARE! These are the best short-term relief for a new/growing spot, if you want them gone fast! They suck all the gunk from the spot and reduce the obvious size of it. If you notice a pimple growing, stick one of these on them before you go to sleep. If I'm not doing anything in the day (that requires make-up!), I will keep the patch on for about 24 hours. The patch is translucent, so they're not too obvious! When removing the patch, you'll know if it's done its job by the gunk (or pus!) stuck to the back of the patch. I wouldn't suggest using these for a cluster or persistent acne - you'll need longer-term cleansing and targeting solutions!!
They're not too expensive, so I often buy several packs at a time to have them on hand, when I need them! The patches come in different sizes, so they cover most pimples; but I will sometimes cut a larger patch in half to use on a smaller spot and not to waste! They come in a re-sealable packet, with protective film, so that you can keep them clean. COSRX is a fast-growing South Korean brand, with collections targeting all sorts of skin care concerns i.e. AC Collection (Acne), Blackhead/Whitehead, Cleansing. They are also a confirmed cruelty-free brand!
#10 INNISFREE SEA-SALT JELLY CLEANSER
I started using this a couple of months ago and at first I wasn't sure about the texture and how effective it would be, however, it's a lighter exfoliation, whilst leaving the skin hydrated! The product feels smooth on the skin and because it's a denser foam, it's not messy, it doesn't feel rough and it doesn't leave much residue at all - which is great because my skin can be very sensitive. I wash my face with this every few days and my skin always feels bright and supple, which means it really is able to clear out the dirt and dead cells you've gathered from a day out. I would recommend this as an every day cleanser, but it doesn't target particular skin imperfections i.e. spots, pigmentation, redness, oiliness. If you're looking for something in particular, find a cleanser that targets your problem i.e. Salicylic Acid, Charcoal.
I like how they use Jeju Island's sea-salt and its natural minerals to clear the impurities, not the plastic micro-beads you often find in exfoliants. Sea-salt sounds rough, however this product is really quite gentle and non-drying! This product is part of a collection of cleansers, there is also the Perfect Cleanser and the Whipping Cleanser. Innisfree is a South-Korean brand that only uses natural ingredients from the beautiful Jeju Island and they're currently moving their focus to be even friendlier to their eco-systems, to be even more green!
#9 MALIN+GOETZ GRAPEFRUIT FACIAL CLEANSER
I use this cleanser most nights when I'm washing my face and to remove make-up! I used to use cotton pads with micellar water, but it's not as great for the environment, plus this works great with re-usable cotton pads. The first time I used it, my skin looked really bright and purified (very clean!) and it still feels that way on the regular. I apply it to my face, with wet fingertips, in a circular motion and it's so smooth! This product is also great because you don't necessarily need to use lots of water to remove the product - a wet flannel or towel is enough! I bought it a while back (August 2019) in London and i'm still using the same bottle now, because you only need a tiny little bit and it does the trick! I like the simplicity of the ingredients: a) natural grapefruit extract to cleanse, b) coconut-based surfactants to provide a deeper cleanse without drying, c) amino-acids to rebalance pH, d) glycerin and sodium PCA to hydrate and I recommend this if you're looking for a product that covers several steps of a regimen.
I would really recommend this as part of your everyday routine. It's not an 'affordable' product (£29), however, I would pay a little more knowing that this brand explores the science between natural and active ingredients and outcomes when used on skin! Malin + Goetz was founded in New York, 2004 and sought to 'un-complicate' skincare regimens with their products and I believe they do that with their products! They cater to both men and women - face, body, hair, fragrance and candles - all with natural ingredients and advanced technology. They really do spend time with you to understand your skin type and test, discuss and recommend appropriate products with you - so you can see immediate results in store! Their service is extremely personal and they offered me a number of samples of other products and also gifted me a bottle pump, incase I found it more convenient.
#8 MYCLARINS REFRESH HYDRATION BEAUTY MIST
I use this mist, when I've run out of all my other mists or when I need an extra boost of hydration. This is a convenient size to take out with you, if you carry a bag and as it says on the bottle, it does refresh my skin during the day. The droplets are small, so it feels fluid and lightweight! This has a cooling sensation when applied onto a bare face, so definitely keep it in a cool area, away from the sun! I bought it end of 2019 and it's still lasting me now (summer 2020)!
They state 90% use of natural ingredients including organic coconut water (nourishment), alpenrose extract (detoxify), fig extract (hydration), robina flower water (softening) and acerola seed extract (radiance). Clarins brought this 'MYCLARINS' vegan-friendly collection out early last year and they did a promotion at our university to quickly assess your skin and suggest the most appropriate products.
#7 INNISFREE GREEN TEA MINERAL MIST
I've used different facial mists for a good 5 years now and this is probably my favourite one! I spray it onto my face (eyes closed!) from a distance, and one or two pumps usually covers the whole surface. It's really fluid, therefore fairly lightweight and becomes absorbed quite quickly. Once applied, I usually pat very gently with my hands (base of fingers and top of palm). This was the best thing during Summer - my face turns red very quickly in the heat and this usually relieves the redness due to a cooling sensation. It sets my make-up with a dewy and fresh-faced look, without looking sweaty (what every girl needs!) but also relieved the areas on my face with dry skin AND you can still use this after make-up.
I love Innisfree, a South-Korean brand, who create their products with the natural ingredients of the beautiful Jeju Island. They're committed to sustainability and protection of 'Green Life' of the Island. I don't think they're overly expensive either, so that's a win-win! Ever since I discovered Innisfree, both my mother and I have consistently used their skin-care products, due to their reliability and outcomes. If you like all your products being a part of 'a collection based on one ingredient', Innisfree are really good at that.
#6 SUNPLAY SKIN AQUA SARAFIT SPF 50+ UV MIST
I've had this for a couple of years now, when I last was in Hong Kong (2016), so I'm sure the packaging has changed since then. This is my form of everyday SPF, with added Hyaluronic Acid and Collagen, and only use a thicker form when the sun is blazing (but do we get that often? No!)
It's an easy spray onto the face from a distance and you don't feel any stickiness or any residue and it's fragrance free! I usually do a gentle pat around the face with my fingertips to add a little warmth for the skin to absorb. I usually spray before applying make-up and also take it out with me if I'm spending the entire day out! However, I would suggest having another form of everyday SPF (gel or milk-form if you battle with oil problems) and not rely on this as your sole SPF. Due to it's mist-form, you're likely to miss some the edges of your face or it gets lost in the air - you cannot ensure FULL protection and coverage.
This product is sadly not directly available in the UK. The only location I could find for this specific UV Mist was Ebay (with free international delivery), however Yesstyle UK does stock some alternatives. If you, friends or relatives are visiting Hong Kong or Japan, you're likely to find this in any drugstore i.e. SASA, Watsons, Mannings, Matsumoto Kiyoshi.
So from what I know, everything is still the same but the packaging has changed to a light blue can with a white lid. There is also a 'floral' version, with baby pink packaging (there's a huge rave about rose now!). SPF is super super important, if you don't want early activation of wrinkles, pigmentation or dark spots and with this, you won't feel like it's a chore to apply. SUNPLAY is a sunscreen collection of Japanese brand, Rohto Mentholaum. Their products maintains a translucent matte finish with Double Silky Powder 'Technology'. They do several versions of daily SPF: Tone Up (SPF 50+), Super Moisture (SPF 50+), Essence (SPF 50+) and also extra protection SPF: Sport (SPF 120+), Kids (SPF 60+), Body (SPF 130+).
#5 LANEIGE WATER SLEEPING MASK
This would be the product I would hope I have with me, if I were to be stranded on a desert island. It comes with an tiny plastic applicator (I don't use, simply because I own a larger face-mask spreader) but I suggest using it, so that your face receives all the product, rather than your fingers/hands. It's very light on the skin, super, super hydrating and cooling and has resolved ALL my dry skin problems. I apply a thin layer morning and night and once a week, apply it to my neck also. With this considered, one pot lasts me usually at least 10/11 months and I've used this for about 4 years now.
It is a breathable overnight mask that aims to restore the skin's moisture levels, infused with hydro-ion mineral water, hunza apricot and evening primrose root to reduce the look of fatigue as you sleep. There is also a 'Sleepscent', containing orange flower, ylang ylang and sandalwood oil that relaxes and promotes a rejuvenating sleep; but these are really really subtle (if you're no a fan of herbal/essential oils). LANEIGE is a South-Korean brand, one of my favourites, due to their focus on 'moisture' and 'beauty'.
#4 THE ORDINARY HYALURONIC ACID 2% + B5
I use this after the Ordinary's Niacinamide and Zinc and this provides my skin with another layer of moisture (yes, I'm afraid of dry skin). This is lightweight, so only two small drops suffice for me and I rub it smoothly into my skin and leave it to dry. It is also affordable and one bottle does last me around 4 months. I have used this without the Niacinamide, without my first step (COSRX Clarifying Treatment Toner) and in replacement of my Laneige Water Mask and it still has proven effective.
Hyaluronic Acid is found in the skin naturally and can absorb up to 1000x its weight in water, and further skin surface hydration is supported by Vitamin B5. The Ordinary is a brand from DECIEM, who specialises in "functional beauty" chemistry and bio-chemistry. I do feel with this brand, that there are so many products available, not all are necessarily the best for your skin, so do your research, ask store assistants for their recommendations regarding your skin information or test products out if your friends do own them!
#3 THE ORDINARY NIACINAMIDE 10% + ZINC 1%
I've starting using it at the beginning of lockdown and haven't noticed any really obvious results. I think I'm lucky that I currently have clearer skin at the moment (with spots popping up individually), however I think this may have been more useful when I had bad acne over my forehead 2/3 years ago. I bought this product as a part of a promotion with the Ordinary's Hyaluronic Acid2% +B5 (see next post). It's definitely an affordable product and one bottle lasted me about 4 months. It does leave a slightly sticky feeling after application, so I always wash my hands before applying my next layer.
Niacinamide is meant to boost the skin's immunity and strengthen the skin's retention of moisture, whilst Zinc encourages the production of collagen to heal damaged skin. These two ingredients together aim to improve the look of existing blemishes and decongest pores. The Ordinary is a brand from DECIEM, who specialises in "functional beauty" chemistry and bio-chemistry. The only thing about pipettes I dislike is the difficulty of reaching the last few drops right at the end.
#2 COSRX LIGHT FIT: REAL WATER TONER TO CREAM
This product I fully swear by - hands down! I have combination skin and you're meant to apply an essence or cream right after a toner, but this can act as both! The texture of this product is half-way a gel and a cream, which makes it lightweight and silky smooth to apply. I wouldn't consider it "the most affordable product", but does last a very good length of time (6-8 months), dependent on the amount you use. With this product a mini pea-size squirt for each cheek is enough.
I apply this to my skin after toner to ensure maximum hydration after cleansing. It also manages sebum production (the oil skin produces, what gets stuck in your pores) and soothes sensitive skin. Although there is massive debate over 'brightening or whitening' products due to the matter over race/skin colour, this product does nourish the skin to create a clearer complexion. COSRX is a South-Korean brand.
#1 COSRX AHA/BHA CLARIFYING TREATMENT TONER
I've used this for a couple of years now and it really helps clear up red patches after a breakout, soothes the skin immediately after cleansing and enhances natural moisture. I didn't notice much of a difference at its early days, but I noticed that my upper lip became very flaky/dry at certain times of the year when I didn't use it. Some people spray toner onto a cotton pad, but I spray it onto my face directly and pat, rather than rub it into my skin.
This is the first thing I spray onto my face after I've washed it, morning and night. This product has both AHA, which works on the skin's surface to enhance the skin's natural moisturising ability and also BHA, that works deeply inside the pores and has calming properties. COSRX is a South-Korean brand and South-Korean skincare is known for its efficacy and results.