Current Nighttime Skincare Routine: Winter 2019

I feel like this post is so long overdue because one of the most frequently received questions I’ve been getting is, “What do you do to your skin?!” For a skincare junkie, there is no better compliment than someone praising your skin. I love writing and taking photos, so you can expect regular skincare routine updates right here on my website, especially as the seasons change. TIP: Your skin deserves regular routine switch-ups, dependent on the weather conditions outside.

I must preface by saying that I’m not a “low-maintenance” girl who claims, “I just drink water!” My skincare routine is a culmination of years of trying out different products, procedures and even medications (I had a bout of hormonal acne as a teen). My routine is disciplined (I NEVER skip a night, no matter how tired, late and/or imbibed), lengthy (many steps) and calculated (researched, trial and error). I must also note that besides this routine, the only other thing I do is facial extractions about 3-4x a year in Seoul. Extractions are a procedure where an esthetician squeezes pimples, blackheads and pores either manually by hand or with a metal lancet tool. Very painful. Very effective to keep the skin clear. It’s then followed by ultrasound treatments and a mask to finish.

I genuinely find joy in getting “unready” before bed. It’s worth the extra time and effort, and when it becomes a part of your routine (just like eating breakfast or brushing your teeth and flossing), it becomes not any time or effort at all. Probably important to note that this all takes me just 10-15 minutes a night. So let’s do this :)

  1. Remove Makeup

    This is the first step of cleansing. This step is so important because using a standard cleanser isn’t enough. Double cleansing is the most important part of my skincare routine. To remove my makeup, I like using oil cleansers because they melt away every bit of product on my face, even stubborn waterproof mascaras. I’m currently loving Caudalie’s Make-Up Removing Cleansing Oil. I apply a dime-sized amount on my palm, warm up the product and basically work it into my face, like a massage. Rinse with lukewarm water afterwards.

    Alternatives: For those who don’t like oil cleansers, Estee Lauder Gentle Eye Makeup Remover used after Simple Cleansing Wipes all over the face.

  2. Double Cleanse

    This is when a gel-based cleanser comes in. This is my favorite step because I love the texture and feel of a good, lightly-foaming gel cleanser. The cleanser I swear by is Dermalogica’s Special Cleansing Gel. I discovered it at my dermatologist in Korea. It saved my teenage skin and continues to be my holy grail cleanser after many years. It’s gentle, smells amazing and removes any leftover stuff from the first step of cleansing.

    Alternatives: Drunk Elephant Jelly Cleanser

  3. Exfoliate*

    Chemical and physical exfoliators keep pores cleans and tackle dead skin cells. I alternate between using Etude House’s AHA Berry Exfoliator, Ole Henriksen’s Lemon Peel and Drunk Elephant’s Babyfacial. I exfoliate 2-3x a week.

  4. Tone

    A toner is the ultimate prep product. It preps your skin for all the moisture to come while making sure there isn’t any leftover residue from cleansing. Our skin is like a sponge: it’s easier to rehydrate it when it’s a little damp than dry. I like using my Circumference Active Botanical Refining Toner on a cotton pad and sweeping it across my face. You can also tone your face using sprays and mists, which I’ll often do if I’m feeling quick and lazy. They also double as setting sprays! I’m currently obsessed with the ELEMIS Superfood Kefir Tea Mist — it smells like an herb garden.

  5. Serum/Essence

    The liquids that do wonders! Serums and essences are basically like concentrated treatments that do the magic your skin needs. There are a million different serums for different skin concerns. Or maybe you don’t need a treatment serum and just want a balancing, generally moisturizing one. Play around with these and find one that works for you. I’m currently obsessed with Ground Plan’s Energy Essence. It’s a natural Korean brand and everything they make smells incredible. Can you tell I love herbal-smelling products?!

  6. Ampoule*

    Ampoules are slightly thicker than serums and essences. A great ampoule will not only moisturize your skin even more but also target certain skin concerns, so it’s important to choose one that fits your skin type! I’m currently using AZN Labs’ Afterglow Ampoule. The key ingredient in this ampoule is astaxanthin, a freaking powerful antioxidant that’s found in natural occurring rainwater algae, created as a byproduct of stresses like excessive sunlight. It has replaced my vitamin C serums for now and I honestly love what it’s been doing to my skin.

  7. Moisturizer

    For sealing in the moisture. The main step. In the wintertime, my skin is straight up DRY so I’ll opt for an oil or a super-concentrated cream. Oils if my previous products are well-absorbed and non-sticky. Creams if my skin is tacky and dewy. I’m trying to use up this super expensive cream I bought from my dermatologist in Korea before opening up a new one lol. But the oil I’m loving currently is Circumference’s Botanical Face Oil. I also love rosehip oil, which you can buy anywhere — Amazon, Whole Foods, any health/wellness/vitamin store.

  8. Eye Cream

    Self-explanatory. I don’t care how old you are — if you’re not using eye cream, you’re doing it wrong. The skin around the eyes is the most delicate so it’s super important to protect and nourish it. I’m loving Dr. Hauschka’s Eye Balm for my nighttime routine. Use your ring finger (to apply the least amount of pressure) to gently dab the product into the skin. Absolutely no rubbing ever!

  9. Mask*

    If I choose to do a sheet mask for the night, it usually replaces the moisturizer step as I find that the moisture from the mask is enough. I have an entire fridge shelf full of various sheet masks I’ve picked up from Korea and Japan. Come to think of it, I’ve never used a non-Korean or Japanese sheet mask. In the wintertime, I need a sheet mask with a thick, creamy texture for maximum moisture. See photos above for ones I love! I sheet mask (yeah, it should be a verb) about 2-3x a week.

* indicates steps you don’t need to do everyday