My (12-Step!) Skincare Routine


“You never really know what you had until it’s gone.”

In my case, this was… bad skin. For most of the past 8 years of my life, my skin was plagued with acne, scars, dry patches, and more. I learned to accept it as part of my genetics throughout high school. Although I did try to battle my acne with Proactiv, Murad, Neutrogena, and more, all of these brands left my skin worse than before, so I started to just ignore and try to forget about my skin problems as the years went by… T T All I could do was hope that time would heal!

By the time I began college, most of my acne was going away, but I was still left with occasional pimples and the dreadful aftermath of acne stars. I felt encouraged as  I saw results as my skin improved with better care, exercise, and sleep.  I never realized how many problems my skin had until they were gone! Today I’ll share my current skincare routine and what I love about each part of it. Please remember however that the most important factor I found in having healthy skin was hormonal balance (sleep, stress, exercise), and that every person has different skin types ^^ Here we go!

Me, sophomore year of high school (top) and now as a sophomore in college (bottom). Look at that dramatic skin improvement! 

I have combination skin that is oilier in the summer/spring and drier in the winter/fall. My main problems today are occasional acne, very uneven skin tone due to scarring, and some dry patches around my nose and chin.

My summer in LA vs. my winter in New England.

Step 1 ♡ Double Cleanse

Good skin starts with clean skin! I use the famous Banila Co. Clean it Zero to start off my night routine, which removes makeup and oils in one simple step. Unfortunately, this cleansing sherbet is sometimes not enough to sweep off my super-waterproof Kiss Me Heroine Mascara from Japan, so I occasionally go over my eye makeup with Maybelline’s Clean Express Dual-Action Waterproof Makeup Remover with a Q-tip to get the last residue off.

sum37-miracle-rose-cleansing-stickOf course, I skip the oil cleanser step in the morning because it’s primarily for makeup removal. My second cleanser is the Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick. In retrospect, I’m not quite sure if this cleanser was worth the $24 I paid for it… ^^; It smells good, but in my opinion it’s honestly just a very gentle and fun-to-use bar soap in twist-up stick form. It does feel luxurious, and leaves my skin feeling smooth but not stripped-of-oils after use, so I really do like it. On the bright side, a little bit of product makes a lot of lather, so it will probably last me a whole year!

On days when my acne is acting up, maybe once a month, I use the Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Cleansing Foam with my Memebox I’m Brush. I highly recommend this cleanser if you suffer from oily skin and acne, but only if you have good moisturizers since it is not very gentle. I also LOVE the Memebox face brush, but I simply don’t use it on a daily basis because the Su:m37 cleanser already exfoliates and isn’t quite as conducive to a rich foam.

Step 2 ♡ Exfoliate

11b5e5b9ed005056b72cf2I exfoliate only about once every 2 to 3 days because over-exfoliating gives me really weird red bumps. > < I’ve been using the same exfoliating product for three years now: the famous SkinFood Black Sugar Mask! You’re supposed to leave it on your face for at least 10 minutes, but I usually get lazy and rinse in about 3 minutes. I still find it very effective and it leaves my face really soft. The lemony sugar smell is also lovely.

I also occasionally use the Fresh Sugar Lip Polish at this time too. Fresh’s polish seems to have finer granules and this product is meant for lips alone, so I do this separately.

Step 3 ♡ Toner/Essence


I live by the Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence. When I first bought it, I wasn’t sure if it was the essence or my other products that were helping my skin, but I’ve deduced it’s this fantastic product doing the work! The effects aren’t immediately noticeable, but after about 2 to 3 weeks of use, you will notice a huge improvement in your skin texture. I used to always have moderate bumps/visible pores on my skin no matter what I did, but the FTE changed that. It made my skin super smooth and silky with continued use. I even bought my mom one and she loves it too!

I love using it right after cleansing, before all my other products, because it really preps, primes, cleanses, and hydrates all at once ^^ It also feels luxurious thanks to the sleek frosted glass bottle. It may be a little pricier than most other Korean essences, but it is super worth the price. (I don’t use it with a cotton pad as many others do – I just pour some into my palms and pat for absorption. I feel like my skin “drinks” it better this way and I waste less.)

Step 4 ♡ Mask


Even as a kbeauty lover, frankly, I’m not a huge fan of masks. It may just be that I’m an impatient person, but I hate leaving them on my face for so long since they keep me from doing normal household tasks T T; Anyway, when I do use one (once every two weeks?) I always use them after my toner/essence because your skin needs to be properly balanced for it to work right. My favorite mask so far has been the Leaders Coconut Gel Masks. It’s the one mask I’ve used that isn’t too disabling, because it really adheres to your face, as opposed to paper/cotton sheets that tend to fall off once they dry out a bit.

Step 5 ♡ Serum


This serum is one of the latest additions to my skincare routine! It’s the Klairs Vitamin C Freshly Juiced Serum. The vitamin C content is not as high as many other V-C serums, but I chose it because it also has many healthy nutrients, natural extracts, and moisturizing qualities that I really needed for the winter. This product also does not have immediately noticeable effects, but after a few weeks of use, I definitely see that my skin has gotten brighter and my scars are gradually fading more. The only thing I dislike about this product is the low viscosity/texture. I need about 4 to 5 drops to cover my face completely, so I’m running out much faster than I anticipated. : (

Step 6 ♡ Ampoule


I only use this ampoule at night (hence the name). This is the famous Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator Ampoule, sometimes known as the dupe for the Estee Lauder night ampoule. This always makes my skin feel much softer and look more awake in the morning when I wake up! I also simply love the texture so, so much – it feels like a light, non-sticky syrup that glides over your face easily. You only need about 3 drops for your face, and the bottle + dropper itself also feels very luxurious. It also has anti-aging properties, making it a popular choice for many!

Step 7 ♡ Emulsion

I only use this emulsion on days when my skin feels51aswxifmdl-_sy355_ a little dry. It’s SkinFood’s Royal Honey Emulsion ^^ Personally, I don’t feel it has any major effects, maybe helps a little with acne – I just use it for a boost of moisture. The bottle could also use a better design… you have to shake it and dump it on your hand harshly to get the product out.

Step 8 ♡ AHA/BHA Care

s-l300 I never realized how important AHA/BHA care was until I received this emulsion as a gift! I don’t really like the scent – it smells like tea tree oil-but it is super effective. I think I have to credit the Cosrx BHA Returning Emulsion for eliminating my acne for (almost) good. I highly recommend having at least one AHA/BHA care product in your routine if you struggle with acne, blackheads, or oily skin.

Step 9 ♡ Moisturizer/Cream

821_kem_duong_missha_m1665_super_aqua_cell_renew_snail_creamIn the summer, I like to use Missha Super Aqua Snail Cream, but I find that it’s too pricey to use all year at $40+ per jar,  and not moisturizing enough for my skin in the winter. I only buy it when I’m back in LA for the summer. I highly recommend it if you live in drier climates and have the money though, because the texture is amazing, and the benefits of snail mucin are really noticeable.


In the winter/most of the year, I use the Cosrx Full Moisture Honey Ceramide Cream. As my friend once said, it makes your “skin feel like it just took a big gulp of water”. I attend university in Providence, and my skin hates the New England winter weather T__T It’s too cold, too windy, and too dry! My hands get cracked just walking back and forth from class to class. This cream does wonders for locking and sealing in moisture for me the whole day. I noticed that this product takes a while for my skin to fully absorb and turn semi-matte, so I usually dry my hair or wait a few minutes before going on to my next step in my routine.

Step 10 ♡ Sun Care


Of course, this step only happens in the morning! Sun care is super important, regardless of how sunny or cloudy your region is, since UV rays are ~everywhere~. I use Missha’s Mild Essence Sun Milk ^^ It smells wonderful (light floral scent) and I actually really like the milky-liquid texture because I feel like if I put on another creamy-type product after my moisturizer, it will be too much for my skin, causing it to break out.

Step 11 ♡ Lip Care


This is also a very recent addition to my routine. I recently received a gift set of the Fresh Sugar lip treatments for Christmas, so I’ve been using the Fresh Sugar lip serum. It makes my lips so. soft. I then finish with either the Rosé or the Advanced Therapy lip treatment, depending on whether if it’s morning or night. I love these so much and plan on buying the full sizes in the future! Fresh is the first American brand I’ve liked this much.

Step 12 ♡ Sleeping Pack


I don’t always use a sleeping pack – again, only if my skin feels extra dry, or if I exfoliated that day. When I do, I often mix the Lioele Waterdrop Sleeping Pack with one of the two following products to make my own “custom” sleeping pack: Mizon All-in-One Repair Snail Cream, or Dear Enprani Melted Cheese Cream. The reason I mix them is because the Lioele pack itself only provides moisture, but its texture is amazing. On the other hand, I don’t like the texture of the other two alone, but I got them at one point as gifts or was too lazy to return them. The Mizon one is super sticky once it dries, and the Enprani one is a little too thick (kind of like a paste or ointment feeling) for my liking. I use the snail one if I exfoliated (for the skin regeneration properties) and the Enprani if my skin feels extra dry.

Final Remarks ♡

I actually didn’t even realize my routine had 12 steps until I wrote this > <; Skin care has become a hobby of mine in these past couple of years and I’m super excited to share my knowledge and interest with others. Thanks to my changes in routine and care, I’m able to go to class often without any foundation on during the day, feeling confident, beautiful, and fresh! Thanks for reading my first post, there will be more to come (with even better pictures) ♡


My (12-Step!) Skincare Routine

4 thoughts on “My (12-Step!) Skincare Routine

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