Joey’s skincare routine for sensitive bitches
By “bitches,” I mean your skin.
September 24, 2021
Dry skin, eczema, rosacea everywhere on the body — I’ve got it all. Check out my simple six-step skincare routine featuring affordable products to integrate into your daily (or nightly) self-care regimen.
This is a pretty straightforward step. It’s important to wash your face every morning and every night to get rid of sebum, makeup and dirt build-up. If you don’t wash your face yet, please do. My favorite face wash is COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser. It’s super gentle and is unscented. Other favorites include: DHC Deep Cleansing Oil, Innisfree’s Olive Oil Cleansing Oil and Heimish’s All Clean Balm. While COSRX is a water-based cleanser, DHC and Innisfree are oil-based and Heimish is a balm-based cleanser.
What’s the difference between them? Water-based cleansers work by emulsifying in the lather of the surfactant and rinsing off the skin. However, they also take away some of the oils on your skin. Oil-based cleansers work by breaking down your makeup and sebum and are best for those with dryer skin. Balms work like oil-based cleansers, but emulsify once heated up in your hands and in contact with water.
Pro tip: Note that I didn’t suggest any foam cleansers, which are a type of water-based cleanser. If you’re not going to invest your time in learning about skin care or choosing your skincare products, I suggest you ignore them. Though many foam products have improved lately, there are still many on the market that can be harmful and irritating, especially for those with sensitive skin.
Another pro tip: I suggest using a water-based or oil-based cleanser if you’re impatient. Balm-based cleansers are extremely gentle, but they take time to melt and absorb into the skin, making for a time-consuming self-care session.
There has been a lot of debate about whether we need toners or not. Toners are essentially used to balance skin and clean up excess shit off your face after washing it. Incorporating a toner with BHA or AHA — two categories of gentle acids — not only wipes away residual sebum, makeup, and dirt, but also gently exfoliates your face.
What’s the difference between AHAs and BHAs? AHAs are used for those with normal to dry-prone skin and are water-soluble, meaning they exfoliate the skin on the surface level. BHAs like salicylic acid are oil-soluble; they penetrate through the lipid layers between the skin more readily and penetrate the skin deeper than AHAs like glycolic and lactic acid. BHAs also have calming effects as they exfoliate the skin gently enough for those with sensitive skin. Both are gentle acids that penetrate the skin to unclog pores, reduce wrinkles and brighten skin tone. It’s just a matter of finding the right one for you.
My personal favorite is Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant. Other affordable options include COSRX AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid and The Ordinary Glycolic Acid 7% Toning Solution. You may also want to incorporate AHAs and BHAs into your face wash. My favorites include The INKEY List 2% Salicylic Acid Cleanser and COSRX Salicylic Acid Daily Gentle Cleanser.
Pro tip: You can use toners once a day at night or once in the morning and once at night. Just remember to always wear sunscreen after applying a toner with acids in the morning to avoid toasting your skin in the sun.
Another pro tip: Glycolic acid not only works great as a scar-reducing toner, it’s a great (and budget-friendly) alternative deodorant!
Essence is a Korean skincare secret. It’s a water-based product that helps absorb serums and moisturizers. It also adds extra moisture to your face for those who really struggle to get hydration from moisturizers alone. My favorite essence is Belif Hungarian Water Essence. This is a higher-end product that could hurt your wallet, so you might consider affordable alternatives such as Laneige Water Bank Hydro Essence, Innisfree’s Dewy glow toner with Jeju cherry blossom moisture-infused toner and PURITO Fermented Complex 94 Boosting Essence if you don’t want to spend too much on skincare.
Pro tip: I sometimes use it in the shower when my pores are opened up to let the essence penetrate my skin.
Another pro tip: Essence mixes well with foundations and concealers to provide that dewy skin effect.
Serums, particularly hyaluronic acid and vitamin C
Hyaluronic acid is a sugar molecule that’s found in our skin. It works by binding water in the air to collagen in your skin, taking in the moisture in your environment. Therefore, it cannot be used in dry conditions. If you’re in New York, you’re good, but the moment California girls jet back to their home state, they need to stop using it. My favorite hyaluronic acids are Mizon Original Skin Energy, Hyaluronic Acid 100 and Vichy’s Minéral 89.
Vitamin C is an antioxidant that defends against UV light damage. It helps skin turnover, reduces blemishes, calms sensitive skin and boosts collagen production, which is especially important as you age. My favorite vitamin C’s include Kiehl’s Freshly Juiced Vitamin C Drop and Rohto Mentholatum’s Melano CC Concentration Measures Essence.
Other serums you might want to consider are ones with antioxidants, which is anti-inflammatory and helps protect against the environment, ceramides, a lipid that makes up about 50% of our skin barrier and helps us retain moisture, and niacinamide, which helps manage acne, rosacea, pigmentation and wrinkles.
Just moisturize. Period. If you aren’t moisturizing, please do better. On top of two moisturizers, I also use sunflower oil — it’s packed with vitamin E, antioxidants and linoleic acid that help retain moisture and protect against premature aging. My favorite moisturizers include Belif’s The True Cream Aqua Bomb and Laneige’s Water Bank Moisture Cream. For brands that are cheaper but still high quality, I recommend Hada Labo’s Gokujyun Hyaluronic Acid Hydrating Milk, ETUDE HOUSE’s Soon Jung 2x Barrier Intensive Cream and LaRoche Posay Toleriane’s Double Repair Face Moisturizer.
Pro tip: Other great oils for your face include safflower oil and jojoba oil. If you’re going to use oil on your face, make sure to only use half a dime-size or your face and hair will get really oily.
Sunscreen is great — 10/10 recommend if you don’t want to age as quickly or get skin cancer, or do want to protect yourself from the sun’s UV rays. My favorite sunscreen is Bioré’s UV Aqua Rich Water 50g Sunscreen SPF 50 +/ PA ++++. It has a light, almost watery texture, and is super gentle on the skin. Furthermore, it’s a great base for makeup. The one drawback is that it has a strong smell of alcohol — but otherwise, it’s fantastic. Other budget-friendly alternatives include COSRX’s Aloe Soothing Sun Cream and ETUDE HOUSE’s Soon Jung Mild Defence Sun Cream SPF 49 PA++. I also recommend Shiseido’s Annessa Essence UV Sunscreen Mild Milk SPF 35 / PA+++, MAKEP:REM’s UV Defense Me, Daily Sun Fluid Sunscreen Sunblock SPF 50+ PA++++, and La Roche Posay’s Anthelios Ultra Light Fluid Facial Sunscreen if you want to spend a little more.
It can be frustrating finding a set skincare routine, especially if you have dry or sensitive skin like me. The worst part is definitely spending a shit ton of money just to only end up using a product once because it’s too irritating for your skin. Unfortunately, creating a solid skincare routine for yourself requires a lot of trial and error, but hopefully this helped a little.
Contact Joey Hung at [email protected]