Your skin is the biggest organ on your body. It is what you stare at every day and what other people see every day. So take good care of it and invest in it yourself!
What you need to know before reading:
You need to double cleanse if you wear makeup. Otherwise just skip to water cleanser.
Toner + exfoliation are key for clear pores. Give yourself time and stick to your routine.
Eye cream may not be necessary now, but pick one out of essence/serums.
Never. Skip. Sunscreen.
Sun cream during the day
Masks: For treating yourself! Both exfoliating and moisturizing ones.
Where to find all products
CVS, Amazon, Sephora, SokoGlam, Ulta, Dermstore. Thankfully most of these have pretty good return policies.
Do I really need expensive products?
No. A lot of skincare is figuring out what works for you. Some I have found are more worth expensive than cheap such as in the moisturizer section (I recently got some eczema so I have been using Avene). I personally think that high prices are only worth for medical grade products (recommended by dermatologists and usually have higher concentration of their active ingredient) which are usually Skinceuticals, Avene, Obagi, etc. Their high price tag is due to the premium on their patents. But they are also most 'safe' and 'strongest'.
My skin type:
Combination, super sensitive (hence why I care about skincare this much), with occasional breakouts and eczema if I'm really stressed. Luxury eye bags <3
Take off your makeup with an oil based cleanser (if you wear makeup)
Never use makeup removing wipes. Those dry out your skin and the pulling motion across your face gives you wrinkles. Instead, use an oil based cleanser to dissolve the makeup. Apply the balms below on DRY skin with the makeup still on and watch it melt off. Rinse with water. My favorites:
Banila Co Clean It Zero ($19) - They have versions for sensitive skin (Purity) and more
And Then I Met You Living Cleansing Balm ($38)
Farmacy Green Clean Makeup Removing Cleansing Balm ($45)
Cleanse with a water based cleanser
The number one cause for most skin concerns is clogged pores so now that you've taken off your makeup, yes you need to clean your face again with a gentle water based cleanser to get off all the debris! If you didn't put on makeup just start here.
Cosrx Low pH Morning Gel Cleanser ($12)
First Aid Beauty Pure Skin Face Cleanser ($15-$28 depending on size)
Klavuu Pure Pearlsation Revitalizing Facial Cleansing Foam ($30)
Fresh Soy Face Cleanser ($20-$49)
If you are prone to clogged pores, exfoliation is KEY! All of the ones below are gentle. Start out by trying it every night or every other night then amp it up if you feel comfortable. Also, DON'T pick at your face even though I know it's really hard not to. Keep up a routine for several weeks and if there is not even a single sign of improvement, it would be best to see a dermatologist to get things professionally sorted out.
There are generally 2 types of exfoliators: Physical and Chemical/acid. In the chemical/acid category, there are AHA's and BHAs. I won't go into AHA's vs BHA's vs Lactic Acid vs Glycolic Acid vs Salicylic Acid (different types of acids) but let me know if you want a TL;DR explanation!
Neogen Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling - in Wine, Lemon, and Green Tea ($27) - VERY gentle
Swipe across face. Rinse face with water.
Skinceuticals Micro-Exfoliating Scrub ($31)
Apply a small amount to damp face and massage for a minute. Rinse with water.
Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant ($59) -physical, can be used daily
Mix half a teaspoon of powder onto wet hands. Make a paste and massage on face for a minute then wash off.
The Ordinary Lactic Acid 10% + HA 2% ($6.80)
This comes in 5% Lactic Acid too for a gentler formula.
The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution ($8.70)
As recommended NEXT in "toner section", The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution already has exfoliating properties in it. Check out the ones below if you want even more exfoliation!
Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA ($30) - chemical, stronger
Dispense onto a cotton ball/pad and stroke over skin. OR you can just apply with your fingers. Do NOT wash off.
Exfoliating Masks - Apply once to 3 times a week for glow ups!
Origins Clear Improvement Active Charcoal Mask ($17-$33)
Origins Original Skin Retexturizing Mask with Rose Clay ($17-$33)
Olehenrikson PHAT Glow Facial Mask ($66)
Toner is used to restore the pH and rebalance after you've cleansed your skin which sounds counterintuitive in the sense that you could have just not washed your face to begin with and not messed with it. But toner also provides moisture and vitamins to your skin! Put on a cotton pad and wipe across your faceAffordable
The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution ($8.70)
Acwell Licorice pH Balancing Cleansing Toner ($18)
Son & Park Beauty Water ($30)
Fresh Rose & Hyaluronic Acid Deep Hydration Toner ($33-$59)
Olehenrikson Glow2OH Dark Spot Toner ($21-$38) or Balancing Force Oil Control Toner ($38)
Treatment - Essence and/or Serum
Serums are usually targeted towards a concern such as anti-aging, hydration, acne, etc. Essence is usually watery and more for hydration, brightening, and making your skin supple. Check out the essences and serums below to see if you want to use both or just one.
Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence ($20)
Hanskin Hyaluron Skin Essence ($25)
Neogen Real Ferment Micro Essence ($38)
Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence Intensive Moist ($52)
Vitamin C is for brightening your skin tone. You store it away from sunlight and in a temperature regulated area because it will oxidize. It can be a bit yellow, that is okay. It's a bit complicated but usually E Ferulic, which is for hydration, and is used to stabilize the Vitamin C because Vitamin C can be unstable. It is also used to amplify its effects. I personally do not use this right now but probably will when banking starts (lol).
Timeless Skin Care 20% Vitamin C Plus E Ferulic Acid Serum ($18)
Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin C Drop ($23)
Cosrx Triple C Lightning Liquid ($27)
As we are young I don't want to recommend retinol (anti-aging but quite harsh, sometimes used to treat acne) or anything else. However, The Ordinary has a lot of products that are gentle, effective, and cheap! I have tried several and the one below is the one I can truly recommend.
The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% ($5.90-$10.60) - moisturizing and blemish control
This is obviously to lock in all the moisture to your face. If creams are too thick for you, try a gel moisturizer.
Mizon All in 1 Snail Repair Cream ($17) - gel
Avene XeraCalm Lipid Replenishing Cream ($33) - cream, medical grade, for sensitive skin
Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Lotion/gel ($38) - comes in both
Belif The True Cream Moisturizing/Aqua Bomb ($50) - comes in both
Hydrating Masks - use as many times as you want!
Any sort of sheet mask - I like the Benton snail ones but I change it up a LOT lol.
Cosrx Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Spa Mask ($16)
Laneige Water Sleeping Mask ($33)
Sleeping mask means that you put it on over your moisturizer or replace your moisturizer and just go to bed!
Belif Aqua Bomb Sleeping Mask ($45)
Honestly I think we are a bit young to use eye cream however one can also say that you cannot be too early in the eye cream game (I personally don't use any right now but will soon...) If you are prone to milia (I am too!) try using eye gels instead of thick creams. The thick creams can clog your pores since the pores around your eyes are more delicate and more prone than anywhere else.
Also, yes eye products are very expensive :(
Origins GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream to Brighten and Depuff ($34-$43)
Olehenrikson Banana Bright Eye Creme ($52)
Fresh Lotus Youth Preserve Eye Cream ($59)
Belif Moisturizing Eye Bomb ($60)
Fresh Black Tea Firming and Depuffing Eye Cream ($90) - lightweight
Do you want sun spots and early aging? I think not. This is the one step that you cannot skip, EVER. UV rays are everywhere, including when you sit inside! I use it every day even though I don't go outside (lol). I used to think that sun care clogs your pores and gives you acne but that is often just the waterproof and oily stuff. As long as you cleanse well at night it is no problem.
Fun fact: skin cancer for men is mostly found on their backs and for women is on the legs.
Missha Sun Essence Sun Milk ($19)
Neogen Day Light Protection Sun Screen SPF 50 ($30)
EltaMD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 ($36) - medical grade
Other Treatments and Recommendations
Jade face rollers
Face rollers with two balls
Fun fact: It is extremely common for women to develop hormonal acne in their 20s... acne never ends! We love that!
Salicylic Acid (removes skin cells clogging pores) and Benzoyl Peroxide (kills bacteria) are the two ingredients that destroy acne!
Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch ($14 for a pack of 4 that lasts like a year)
Body acne (besides recommendations above)
Body lotion recommendations
La Roche Posay Lipikar Baume AP+ ($15) - found at CVS
For very dry skin!
Sol de Janeiro Brazilian Bum Bum Cream ($20)
This smells. so. good.
Eczema/Rosacea/Very Dry & Sensitive Skin
Look into medical grade products such as Avene, Skinceuticals, EltaMD, Dermalogica, La Roche Posay, Bioderma, etc. They tend to have less fragrances and other ingredients that may irritate you. They can be more expensive but not always!
When you have some issues popping up, stay away from new products and harsher acids/serums. Just use the basic steps of your routine to let your skin breathe.
Cortisone spot treatment (thin layer), with a strong moisturizer (try Avene Xeracalm). Use the Cortisone sparingly and start out once every other day or do a burst of 3 days then stop. Steroid creams can thin out your skin if used too much!
Ice packs to calm down the heat, no serums, moisturizers with the most basic ingredients (no fragrances, etc.)
Check out the ingredient list of every product you use, and try to avoid fragrances and higher concentration acids. Medical grade products, although often more expensive can be very worth it in this case.
As always, ALWAYS use sunscreen to protect your skin even if you have sensitive/dry/eczema skin!
Any balm you prefer works. If your lips tend to be dry, drink more water and also make DIY scrubs at home with just sugar and honey!
Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask ($20)
Yes it is $20 but I will keep throwing my $20 at this product because I have found nothing more long lasting and more moisturizing for my lips! I use it all day and night.