Your Skincare Questions, Answered by Me!!!

I first wanted to make this post in the form of an IGTV and I actually did film it… But then it turned out to be a cumulative video of about 20 minutes of me talking to the camera frantically jumbling around my vanity for products to show you guys. A blog format made more sense for all the skincare questions you guys sent in. There were a lot of repeat questions so I’ve consolidated them to the best of my ability. I also tried to answer almost all of them. Leave me a comment if there’s anything else I can answer?

One of the biggest perks of being an “influential” person in this space is having access to a lot of samples, product gifting and mailers. And while I’ve discovered some incredible products through gifting, my skincare routine and journey has come from years of buying products on my own and going through some shit with my skin.

A little background on my skin type: I have oily/combination skin, but it definitely errs more on the side of oily. I had a bout of pretty bad hormonal acne as a teenager. You really can’t tell now but I’ve been through hell and back with cheek acne, unforgiving forehead bumps and impossible-to-get-rid-of blackheads. I have never openly spoken about this but if I’m really being honest about how my skin got to be the way it is today, it’s that I took a low dosage of Accutane in high school. I’ve read that Accutane, as a brand, is no longer on the market, but the generic drug isotretinoin can still be prescribed today. Isotretinoin is a really powerful medication so when I say I took a low dosage, I really want to emphasize that I took like a baby serving of it everyday because my acne was nowhere near clinical or what American dermatologists would think is severe enough. Korean dermatologists, on the other hand, handed these pills out like candy. I believe I took 10mg/day; to put things into perspective, patients with cystic acne typically go on 70-100mg/day. Accutane not only cleared my skin, it gave me glowing, soft, supple, bouncy, dewy skin I dreamed of. Yes, even with this micro dosage of Accutane, I suffered from side effects which included extremely chapped lips, a rash that developed on the back of my hands and a feeling of constantly feeling dehydrated. I took it for about six months and it was all I needed to have radiant skin, free of any major breakouts for the rest of my existence (and counting…)

I’m a big proponent of clean and natural beauty, but when some things just aren’t working for you, getting some help from modern-day technology will do you a solid. I had to then mend my skin to be scar and hyperpigmentation-free and the products that have helped me are outlined below. If perfect skin is what you’re going for, go get it!!!! I hope this helps.

So here are your skincare questions, answered by me:

How do you handle hormonal breakouts? What do you do when your skin gets angry?
Hypercolloid patches. These things are miracle workers. After washing my face and using a toner (right now, I’m using Circumference Active Botanical Refining Toner), I’ll stick these patches onto my pimples and then follow up with my regular nighttime routine. The hypercolloid patches need dry skin to adhere to in order to work effectively. I use patches from Hero Cosmetics and Truly Organic (available at Urban Outfitters).

Products for acne scarring and discoloration?
Chemical exfoliators and acids are your friend. The key is to be consistent with your products and test a bunch of different ingredients that work for you. I swear by vitamin C serums and glycolic acid and use these interchangeably. Opt for isolated ingredient serums because the simpler the formula, the more effective. When I was actively trying to get rid of my hyperpigmentation, I religiously used Paula’s Choice Vitamin C Booster during the day and Drunk Elephant Glycolic Night Serum at night. Don’t layer these together!!! Acids like AHA (which glycolic acid is) and BHA exfoliate dead skin which eventually gets rid of discoloration over time, which is why acids are perfect for hyperpigmentation. Sometimes, I favor vitamin C at night as well (in lieu of the glycolic acid) and am currently using CLE Cosmetic’s Vitamin C Elixir, which is an oil-serum hybrid and I’m obsessed with the formula — putting it on my face feels like a seal, perfectly locked in for the night.

How to get rid of small bumps/skin texture?
Chemical and physical exfoliators. Don’t go overboard with using all these different exfoliators at once in a routine, but rather space them out. For example, I’ll use NEOGEN’s Biopeel Lemon Gauze one to two times a week. The lemon and lactic acid lighten dark spots and even out both my skintone and texture. Alternatively, I’ve been introduced to Go-To Skin’s Exfoliating Swipeys which also uses lactic acid to target the skin’s surface and support cell cell renewal. It also has aloe vera to soothe the skin simultaneously. Beyond maintenance, if my skin is going through a ROUGH patch, Paula’s Choice 10% Niacinamide Booster, essentially isolated vitamin B3, is also a great serum to achieve smooth skin — I don’t use this everyday, though.

Do you get facials? What are your favorite facials? How many facials do you get a year?
I get extraction facials about 3x/year in Seoul and dermalinfusions once every two months of so from GLO Spa. The extractions are for ensuring a smooth, breakout-free face and the dermalinfusions are for maintaining that clear canvas by sucking out any debris and gunk from your face. At-home facials are your best wallet-friendly bet and you can fully customize the facial to fit your needs! Invest in products that you can incorporate into a weekly at-home facial. My friend even informed me that you can buy a dermalinfusion kit at home!!

Moisturizers, thick creams, oils, etc… What’s best?
The type of moisturizer I use depends on the weather and what my skin condition is like at the moment. Generally, gel-based, light moisturizers for the day and thicker creams and face oils at night. I also like doubling my sheet mask as a moisturizer for nighttime. In my current rotation are Drunk Elephant Polypeptide Cream, Trilogy Rosehip Oil, Circumference Pure Balancing Botanical Face Oil.

Can you talk about layering serums?
The general rule of thumb is to go from thinnest to thickest in consistency for maximum absorbency. For serums that have more or less the same consistency, apply the ingredient that you want your skin to get the most of first. So if your biggest concerns are dark spots, apply your vitamin C serum first. After my vitamin C serum, I layer Glossier Hyaluronic Acid Serum for hydration and then Dior Capture Youth Matte Maximizer Serum for a good base before putting on sunscreen and makeup for the day. It also has great anti-aging effects.
(Allow me to emphasize again that mixing vitamin c serums with BHA/AHA acids are harsh on your skin and depending on the vitamin c serum’s pH, the acids can “denature” their efficacy)

Everyday routine?
Refer here for my winter routine. My summer routine will be a separate blog post :)

How does food play a part in your skincare? What foods do you avoid or eat more of?
To be honest, I have yet to figure out how my diet plays into joy skin health. The obvious thing that I can say for certain affects my skin is WATER. If I don’t drink enough water, I can literally feel my face, especially my lips, dry up to an uncomfortable degree.

How often do you change out the products you use?
I am trying out new products almost weekly. That’s because I’m getting sent so many products so I’m constantly introducing them into my life. Usually after a week of trying out a product, I’m able to decide if it’s going to go into my daily routine and I try to stick to that routine for several months… I would say a full routine switch up once every season is the way to go.

SPF Moisturizer Recs?
I swear by Bioré’s UV Aqua Rich Sunscreen. I stock up on these whenever I go to Japan, but you can actually also buy them on Amazon. A close dupe in terms of texture and feel is Glossier’s Invisible Shield. Both are so light, almost scentless and sheer on the skin. Perfect for hot summer days where you want your face to feel as naked as possible. Supergoop! also has some incredible products that take sunscreen to another level. I love their Body Butter, Glow Stick and Shimmershades!

Face masks!!
Sheet masks > any other kind of mask for me, personally. I love the idea of just putting on a sheet mask and forgetting about it and when you’re sleepy af, all you have to do is take the sheet off, (chuck it on the floor, if you’re me), tap the product into your face and go to bed. The idea of washing anything off after having it on your face for ~20 minutes seems tedious. My favorite sheet masks are in the fourth picture above: Cremorlab, VT, LuluLon, Dr. Jart. They’re all Korean and Japanese. I do every step before my cream and just use the mask as my night cream. I spray ohii’s Skin Quench Spray Serum as a last step before the mask goes on for a good base for the mask to bind onto.

Most important skincare tip or product?
This is a controversial statement, but I do believe that more is more. The whole idea of a “minimalist”, less is more approach to skincare has not worked for me and I honestly believe that your skin will benefit from a meticulous, curated routine. Also, vitamin C serum, ALWAYS!!!

did i answer everything? :)