17 September 2016

Innisfree Glow Tint Stick Review - #2 and #3

Summer is over and done, and I finally feel like wearing makeup again!

Seriously, July and August were entirely dedicated to sunscreen, waterproof eyeliner and beloved liptints, if anything. Some of these beloved ones are shown below~

This review has been a long time coming - it's for the Glow Tint Stick by Innisfree, which I've previously reviewed both for shade #6 and shade #7. I loved these so much that I grabbed #2 and #3 when there was a buy one, get one free event back in May.

While I've worn both colors a lot during summer, I never had the opportunity to use them together with foundation and actual makeup so I didn't take pictures until recently.

Since I've already introduced the principles of the Glow Tint Stick in my previous reviews, this is more of a shade comparison. Some of the shades do look quite similar and the official swatches aren't very reliable, so I thought I'd throw my own swatch pictures into the mix.

From left to right: #2, #3, #6, #7.

Shade #2 and #3 are both coral shades, and they do look quite similar at first glance. I was a bit worried that they'd be too similar to #6 as well, but their subtle differences are actually a lot more obvious once applied on the lips.

As a lover of corals and orange lip colors, this whole Glow Tint Stick color selection is a dream come true. According to innisfree, the colors were inspired by Jeju's sunsets, so... yup, might just be true.

I spot some #2 somewhere in there...!

Arm swatches - again, from left to right #2, #3, #6 and #7.

Shade #2 is called 'Clementine Spring Sunshine'
This coral shade is actually a truer orange than I expected, with hints of clementine (Jeju is famous for its clementines, so the title is a double fit). While it's a lot lighter and leaning more yellow than #6, it's still bright and saturated and perfect for summer days!

#3 is kind of hard to translate - 일렁이는 코랄빛 호수, which is the rippling waters of a coral-colored lake. There ya go.

This is a more peachy and milky coral shade. Where #2 is bright, this one is more muted, but the pigmentation and coverage are great anyway! It also holds up surprisingly well when it comes to staining power, with the lips tinted peachy even after meals. 
Korean's use the term 'lovely' for makeup looks a lot, and this color fits the bill for that. 
Swatch comparison! 

I also really like to combine the lighter shades with the darker ones for slight gradation lips. While I hate gradation looks where the outer edge of the lips is covered with concealer or completely nude, I do like to experiment with color combinations. The texture of these works really well when it comes to layering and blending, and due to the Glow Tint Stick's thin form, detailed application is easy even without a lip brush. 

The colors are pigmented and cover well, without feeling heavy on the lips.

How girly does #3 look? I hope I can still pull this off - by Korean age counting system I'm nearing my thirties. :')
It's a bit too peachy to count as a MLBB color, but I do use it quite like one.

#2 is a fun, bright shade that I love to wear with simple eye makeup. Since the staining power of this is great (especially considering that it's one of the three lightest shades in the collection) it's great for outdoors-y days.

These Glow Tint Sticks are just some of my favorites in general. Easy to apply, great colors, great pigmentation, light-weight texture, easy to transport (no leaking, no breaking), beautiful staining power, no settling in lip lines... I kind of want to get even more shades! Maybe something deeper for winter/fall? Don't tempt me, innisfree, don't tempt me.

31 July 2016

Korean Summer Survival Makeup Favorites

Summer in Korea. I wake up in the morning to 30°C in my bedroom-office aka coolest part of the house. It will only get worse. Air-conditioning sucks our wallets dry. 

We persevere. My makeup mostly doesn't.  ( ╯°□°)╯ ┻━━┻

After some trial and error over the last few years, I think I've got my makeup routine for 95% humidity levels down.

Most of the days, it begins and ends with sunscreen, liptint and eyebrows.

I've got two sunscreens on rotation, one being the the Nature Republic California Aloe Sun Block in SPF50 PA+++. It's one with a glowy finish but slight white cast. I like to use it on its own, since it has any base makeup layered on top melt right off again. The glowy finish does look a bit oily after a while, but for the first two to three hours, my skin looks radiant and evened-out. Perfect for stints in the garden or quick trips outside. Careful though - this sunscreen has a habit of making my eyes tear up if I get too close to that area.

The second one is the Innisfree Eco Safety Perfect Sunblock in SPF50 PA+++. This one is the opposite of the Nature Republic one above, with a matte, slightly drying finish that absorbs into my skin really well. It works well on its own, but also works really well as a makeup base. While it's too drying for me normally, it's perfect for the months of July and August.  It helps keeping moisturizing or glowy foundation formulations in place.

On days when I'm moving about a lot, I powder my eyelids/eyebrow area, my nose and forehead with the Innisfree No-Sebum Mineral Powder (the loose version). This works like a charm for everything, even as a quick-fix dry shampoo and improvised eyeshadow base.

For additional staying power (especially if I'll be applying some sort of foundation/cushion) I prime with the Innisfree No-Sebum Mineral Primer. Some previous pore-hiding primers that I've tried were a bit of an over-kill, drying out my skin to a point where the foundation on top looked flakey and overly dry. This one strikes a nice balance of evening out skin texture, keeping oil under control but not making a desert out of everything.

If I don't finish with a cushion (normal days), but want something that looks good all day long without touching up, I reach for this wonderful thing:

The Espoir Nude Fit Liquid Foundation. This one is magical for summers. It doesn't dry out (stay away from the 'Powder' version of this product if you tend to have dry skin, though: That one's way more heavy-duty), has better coverage than cushions but looks really natural all the same, with a satiny finish. It's the perfect foundation for long days outdoors, in the city, hopping from overly air-conditioned places to the humid air outside and back. It stays put. No budging. Hair doesn't stick to it.

I've had this for a year, and I'd use this every day if it weren't a bit too expensive.

Espoir in general has great foundations with a lot more shades available than other Korean brands. This particular one comes in five shades, but their Pro Tailor Foundation, for example, comes in eleven shades total.
I use 'Porcelain', which is lighter than even the #13 option by Innisfree, but with yellow undertones.

For color, I've got two recent favorites I reach for all the time for daily makeup.

The first is my trusted Vivid Rouge Tint by Innisfree (favorite for years and years), in a new 2016 shade #11 called 'Sun-dried Peach'. It's a slightly muted, 'dried out' pink-coral that looks good with just about anything. In summer, when I go away from my usually gray-black-white wardrobe, matching lipstick colors to shirt colors becomes an actual thing, and this one is a safe bet. It brightens up my complexion, looks cute while still being work-appropriate.

My other daily choice is a shade from the Innisfree autumn release of 2015, the Real Fit Lipsticks. I went to swatch their five new shades released for the Spring/Summer season, but fell in love with #6 Latte Cup Coral instead. Similar to my #8 Rosy Latte, this one is a muted version of a coral shade, walking the line between a beige and orange for the perfect hint of color that doesn't overwhelm. It's perfect for a put-together work look, combined with beige or yellow clothing, and for sleek looks that focus on just eyeliner (I've been doing these a lot lately when I'm trying to actually look my age...).

The last new addition to my summer makeup favorites is an eyebrow product by Mamonde. They released a combination of a eyebrow tint and eyebrow mascara on a single wand - using the doe-foot like tip to fill in the brows and then the mascara brush attached below to keep everything in place. I was afraid it would be a hassle to use, but it's a quick, fuss-free if not very precise way of getting my brows done. Looks really natural and is waterproof.

That's it for my summer survival makeup favorites. I'll probably be making a review complete with swatches for the Real Fit Lipstick since the shade is just that gorgeous, but do tell me if you'd like to see some other product in more detail! Thanks for reading!

If all else fails, at least there's ice cream!


25 July 2016

My Cushion by Innisfree - Old vs New Comparison

Well, ain't this embarassing. It's nearly the end of July and this is my first post this month...! A cushion haul this time. Lots of rambling, but a coherent line-up of everything in the My Cushion line by Innisfree at the end of the post. 

I actually had an ugly interaction with seafood a couple of weeks ago (they sneak those shells into soups and stuff all over the place and I'm allergic) and wow, did I not want to take pictures of my face. Especially the mouth area, which kind of sucks when all I normally do is review lip products. :'D

But I wanted to weigh in on the whole re-release craze of cushions that happened here in Korea over the last few months. A lot of the big players (Iope, Laneige, Innisfree...) have switched their old cushion designs for new ones, resulting in pretty packaging, sleeker forms, new (and better?) formulations AND re-fills that don't fit anywhere anymore.

I don't plan on replacing my Iope one, because the price tag there is a bit too hefty and I still own an old refill for the old case, but went ahead with the Innisfree ones. Their cushion formulations aren't the very best out there (Iope, Hera & Co win) but they out-perform cushion foundations in the same price range and the slight yellow undertones of their lightest shade has always been perfect for me. Their cushions are 'daily makeup' favorites of mine.

When Innisfree released their slightly crazy amount of 100 different cushion cases for the 'My Cushion' line, I was a bit disappointed since a lot of the patterns were rather repetitive. But there's some beauties among the 100, and they did upgrade the case design itself, too. I decided to go with a simple sky blue one, because mint and blue colors make me happy.

Already they have some limited editions added to the innitial 100, so beware of even more future possibilities to empty out your wallet.

The original cases were already on the slim side, a lot less bulky than other cushions (Mamonde, Iope, Missha (small circumference, lots of height), Laneige) and perfect for storing in small bags and pouches, but the new ones are even tinier. They feel a lot more luxurious, too, thanks to the metallic accents and streamlined design.

The reason these babies are so slim? They have literally a hole in their case.

Nothing there.

Once the refill is inserted, you can actually still see the refill's casing, which has the nice effect of being able to read which formulation and shade you've inserted. If you're frequently switching between refills and get confused like me, you'll thank the K-Beauty gods. The expiration date is visible as well.

 The refills themselves are slightly different from their old counterparts, too, so they won't fit in the old innisfree cases. Innisfree cushion parts were never really interchangeable with other brand's, either.

I went with the Ampoule Moisture Cushion, an old favorite of mine. While it's definitely not meant for summer, I really wanted to compare the new formulation to the old one. Their Long Wear Cushion is a bit too drying for my skin, and I have a nearly empty sponge of the Waterglow Cushion still in use.

While summers are very, very humid here in Korea, work days mostly mean sitting in climatised rooms and my bedroom has an actual air de-hummidifier, so I appreciate a splash of moisture-preserving foundation anyway.

Innisfree did change their color selection. Instead of the old system of having a shade #13, #21 and #23, they now differentiate between 'cool' and 'neutral', too. The available colors are C13, C21, N21 and N23. That scared me a bit - I love their warm but super light #13! Why make it cool-toned and possibly ghostly?

Luckily for me, they didn't go all-out on the pink undertones. I'd say this is more on the neutral side, cool-toned mostly just in comparison with their old shade selection. The yellow-ish #13 fit me perfectly even in summer, but this one is a bit too white to go with the tiniest bit of summer tan. I'll keep it for winter usage and stick with my old Water Glow one for the moment.

The formulation itself is a bit heavier than their old Ampoule cushion, which was delightfully light while being very moisturizing. This feels a bit more creamy and sticky, and has slightly better coverage.

- VERY low coverage
- lightweight but moisturizing

- Low coverage
- Even more moisturizing
- Sticky feeling

It's a question of preference, really. Some people may have hated the nearly not-there-coverage of the old formulation, but I really liked that for daily makeup, and occasional smudging wasn't even visible. The heavier texture of the new one will work out better in winter - whenever I go outside into the heat wearing this (without primer and/or powder) it does slide around horribly after a few hours, so be careful.

I'm so sorry for how ugly the old one (left) is. No excuse. 

The 'My Cushion' products include different kind of puffs, as well. There's a new version of the classic Air Magic Puff, now dubbed the one for a 'glowy' finish. They're now slightly smaller and thicker, which isn't the best thing to be honest. While the old ones left my foundation without any annoying border/stroke lines, I have to be careful with the new one. It works best if I only use the center of the puff. The finish is gorgeous as ever with the Air Magic Puffs, so it's mostly a question of getting used to the slightly stiffer texture.

The other Air Magic Puff innisfree came out with is a brown one with a denser texture that's supposed to enhance the adherence and coverage of the foundation. The finish turns out more matte, too.

There's also a stamp-like sponge for maximum coverage, but that one doesn't fit into the case.

I really like the concept for these puffs - instead of switching out foundations, switching just the puffs can already make a difference. Since these retail for about 2000 Won, that's a lot cheaper than buying two different formulations. I used both for swatching in store and will hopefully get my hands on the brown one soon - I'd like to see how these work out when used simultanously (as in, brown one for the T-Zone and blue one for cheeks).

As of now, I went with the limited edition ones that were free with a cushion case purchase. How cute are these patterns?

I have to admit, I kinda just caved and bought the cushion a few weeks ago because of these little puffs. They make me happy.

Color-coordinating everything here.

So, to recap:

The My Cushion system by innisfree focuses on individual preferences, making every step adjustable.

- 100 different cushion cases (plus 3 limited edition ones as of now), each 8000\

- 4 different cushion 'refills' in 4 different shades: C13, C21, N21, N23,
  ~ Water Glow Cushion
  ~ Ampoule Moisture Cushion
  ~ Long Wear Cover Cushion
  ~ Long Wear Waterproof Cushion
Plus a new addition of a sunscreen-only cushion refill, with SPF 50.
Each 12000\ for 14g of product

- 2 different Air Magic Puffs, one for coverage and a satiny finish, one for a glowy finish
(With some limited edition patterned ones)
Each retailing for 2000\

- Tools like a cushion foundation brush (10000\) and high-coverage sponge (5000\)

What will they throw at us next? :D (a N13 shade, pretty please? And some darker ones because hellooo, N23 is still pale by non-Korean standards.)

Before we get darker foundation shades, I guess they'll bring out the cushion blushes and highlighters for this line, though.

If you're still bored with the a-bit-more-than-hundred different cases, I did print stickers. ;)

9 June 2016

Oil Tints Review - Innisfree Treatment Lip Tint and The Saem Tint in Oil

Oil tints are a huge questionmark in my life. (Really.) I'm not sure if I should make a detour around them and wait for the next new thing in lip products (because there will be a next wave) or buy every single one my budget allows me to.

On one hand they sound icky, way too close to lipglosses: Sticky, gooey, oily. On the other hand? I love shiny, glowy finishes and my lips are terribly dry, so in theory, these should be perfect for me.

Well, guess what, I went and bought some, or else we wouldn't be having this review.

Both products are on the lower end of the pigmentation scale, so I'll be showing some ways I use these mixed with some old lip sticks to create shiny new ones! (because I'm cheap like that) :')

So I'm posting this with the theme of the ABSEE blog party in mind: New!
Oil tints aren't the newest thing in the lip product world, but they are a fairly recent addition. I'm always on the lookout to find new application methods or ways to make my older products more exciting! 

Join the blog party! :D

I did grab the Innisfree Treatment Lip Tint back when it first came out, because winter wasn't kind to my lips at all. I got shade No.1 (of two available choices, the second one being an orange) which is called 'Cherry submerged/flooded in Honey' literally, but I'd go with just 'Cherry in Honey'. These retail for 10000 won in Korea, as do most of innisfree's liptints. Slightly less expensive than their lipstick lines, but more expensive than their lip balms or Eco Flower line.

I'd expected it to be a nice pink for daily wear with the added bonus of moisture.

Well, the color didn't live up to my expectations at all.

Innisfree Treatment Lip Tint in #1.
Just take the 'Tint' out of the name, please.
There. That's it. A slight hint of rosy color.

Disappointed, I kind of let this one sink to the bottom of my pouch, but oh boy, did I change my mind about the product over the following few days:

I was in Seoul at the time and had forgotten to bring any chapstick with me, and Seoul's winter is just brutal. Dry, windy, chilly temperatures. I used the Treatment Lip Tint out of sheer desperation and it actually moisturized them better than any chapstick or lip balm I'd tried before, in that the effect was long-lasting. When using lip balms, I have to reapply them often, but this treatment tint actually seems to sink into my lips while still leaving a moisturizing film on top for extra protection and shine.

Despite my initial disappointment in the 'lip tint' part of the Treatment Lip Tint, it's since become a staple for daily use, since it works so well with a bare face/sunscreen face, or on top of drying lip products like waterbased tints or matte lipsticks (more on that farther down).

It just makes my lips look as if they're naturally that rosy and healthy.

I really like the applicator for this one - a little knob is the best description I can come up with. Or maybe a balled fist that will box the lip product onto your face?

The applicator works really well with the sticky texture of the product, because sticky it is! It feels like liquid honey, so while I'm reviewing it as an oil tint (because in its function, it is exactly that) it doesn't really feel oily. 

When the stickiness gets in the way of my life (aka eating and drinking, but sometimes I just leave it on as it actually adheres to the lips quite well) I'll just dab it away using my fingers or a tissue - the moisturizing effect and slight tint stay behind.

The packaging does allow for a little bit of leaking, so be careful if you're like me and throw this around in your bag! Since I discovered the slight leakage, I just keep it standing on my desk instead of taking it along with me when I go out.

Left: Innisfree Treatment Lip Tint in #1
Right: The Saem Eco Soul Tint in Oil OR02

The second oil tint product that I got is a recent purchase. I'd heard good things about The Saem's lip products in general and REALLY like their concealer, so when I had to rebuy the latter I grabbed one of their Eco Soul Tint in Oil products, too.

The OR02 'Pure Orange" Tint in Oil looks very orange (even slightly yellow) in their official swatches, but the real-life result is a more toned-down orange-coral. While it is more pigmented compared to the Treatment Lip Tint, I'm still let down by the color payoff, since the difference when compared to the official swatches is just so stark. Even when I apply several layers, the pigmentation doesn't go above this:

Two layers of the Saem's Eco Seoul Tint in Oil for maximum (?) color (???)

It does leave a tiny bit of a stain behind, but in general it has the same effect as the Treatment Lip Tint: Making my lips look natural and shiny, with an added punch of color.

The moisturizing effect of this one is more of a surface level thing - I'd not consider it as an actual replacement for a good lip balm, but it does work wonderfully on top of chapped lips, hiding the unsightly edges.

This actually does feel oily and more slippery (where the innisfree one is more on the sticky side), so I absolutely have to wipe off the oily film before drinking or eating or I'll just feel gross.

The color is beautiful, but really looks more coral-rosy than orange on me, which makes me sad. I'd definitely consider getting another color from the Oil in Tint line, since once I take away my orange-color-sadness, I like the product very much.

The applicator for this one is a classical doefoot one, which works well with the more liquid oil texture. (You see that orange-yellow oil? That's what I wanteeed!)

The packaging all in all feels very luxurious - hoping that this won't have any leakage problems, though I have yet to put it to the rigorous travelling-and-handbag test.

I use both the innisfree and the Saem one on their own a lot, but I've also found that they work well on top of other lip products.

Don't try to layer them on top of creamy or glossy lip products, since everything will just be a huge mess. But to freshen up a dried tint stain or blend out a matte/dry lipstick? Workin' great!

For examples, I've put the Innisfree Treatment Lip Tint on top of my Innisfree Real Fit Lipstick in Rosy Latte - a combination I've been using a lot this spring. The Real Fit lipsticks sometimes accentuate my dry lips, so I like to apply a sloppy layer on the inner part of my lips and then blend it out with the Treatment Lip Tint.

Since the Treatment Lip Tint doesn't have a lot of pigmentation going on, it works on top of nearly every shade. I've combined it with corals, pinks and reds, and it just adds a bit of a rosy hue to each while still allowing the original shade to shine through.

While I sometimes love bright matte lips, this makes for a great way to use those colors on lazy makeup days, with reduced maintenance and more moisture.

The other example, this time with the The Saem Eco Soul Tint in Oil:

Very sloppy layer with my Mamonde Creamy Tint Intense #12 Matte Pop Orange...
Love the color, but oh boy is it hard to apply on less-than-perfectly moisturized lips.

And the Tint in Oil on top.

The Innisfree Treatment Lip Tint actually picks up the color of lipsticks applied previously and mixes them into one shiny new lip color. The Saem's Eco Soul Tint in Oil is more slippery, so instead of getting all mixed up it applies as a seperate layer on top, so it works better for a gradient look.

With dried lip tint stains, both oil tints give a great gradient lip - just really need to wait until the tint has dried down or the applicator will get messy.

All in all:

Oil tints seem to work really well for me, both on their own as moisturizers-with-benefits and as a way of recycling old lip color favorites. I'll probably dry a darker shade of the Saem's Tint in Oil to see if the pigmentation of those holds up better.

Innisfree's Treatment Lip Tint:

- Very moisturizing
- Sticky like honey
- Very low pigmentation
- No staining power, but lips still look better than normal after all the product is gone
- Moisture sinks into lips instead of only working on surface level
- Mixes well with other products
- Only two shades available

The Saem's Eco Soul Tint in Oil

- Moisturizing
- Oily and slippery, transfers very obviously
- Low pigmentation, buildable
- Stains lips slightly
- Official color swatches seem inaccurate...?
- 5 shades available

Thank you for reading! :D

5 June 2016

My Korean Skincare Routine - 6 Years of Progress

It's been a year since I've started blogging and, slowly, have gotten into makeup reviews. But I've been scared of posting anything about skincare, as I'm really no expert when it comes to ingredients or skin types, and the whole subject strikes me as so much more complex than just gawking at colors and textures of my lip products.

I'm taking the plunge today in presenting my very basic routine that I'm slooowly expanding, and showing a bit of my skin history to lay a foundation for future skincare review posts.

While I've been living in Korea for nearly three years now, I did take my first baby steps into Korean beauty long before that (maybe six years ago...?), if mostly by accident. A friend of mine had really pale skin and discovered Asian BB creams for herself before they got popular or easily accessible, so to save money, we ordered online together one day.

In retrospective, that Missha BB cream didn't work at all for my skin (gray cast, dry flakes AND oily swamp) but compared to what I'd been using previously? A whole new world free of too dark and orange foundation shades. When we re-ordered I added some lip tints and skincare out of couriosity. This is how I first discovered my staple brand, innisfree, through their Vivid Rouge Tints and some basic cleansing foam.

I'd never been good at makeup, mostly since most trends or available products back then in Switzerland or Germany where really not working for me. Always the pale vampire, I tried to at least reach the lightest affordable foundation shade by tanning (aka what is sunscreen?) and due to droopy eyes neither cat eyeliner nor thin, arched eyebrows were in any way flattering. So while I didn't fall head over heels for K-Beauty (that wasn't even in my vocabulary back then...) I definitely was intrigued since the products seemed to be catered towards me.

SO HARD to find pictures from that era, but maybe 2010? 2009? So, my late teenage years?
I was going for the burnt by dragon fire look.

EDIT: Obviously, these old pictures were taken with a worse camera and worse lighting compared to the ones down the line... though that means you actually don't see most of the bad stuff happening, so it's not really a draw. :') Also, I'm probably wearing some sort of base makeup in all of these, because picture-
taking-days were failed-makeup-days? But you can still see my general problems. Yay. :D
Sunscreen came into the equation once I noticed that MAYBE it wouldn't be too bad to have just pale skin instead of constantly sunburnt skin. My skin was dull and dry as a desert.
When I then traveled to Japan and Korea (with the same friend, actually) about two years after our first purchase, we went a bit crazy. While my travel goal had been Japan because, well, I'm a manga artist first and foremost, it was Korea that took my heart and money away.

2011 - it's still hard to find pictures from that time! I'm sure I'm wearing sunscreen here,
and maybe some BB cream? That has melted off throughout the day?
Overall really rough and uneven skin.

From then on I had what could be considered an actual skincare routine in place, with a sunscreen (thank you to the random Japanese drugstore with the cheap Biore bottles ready to the rescue while traveling), an oil cleanser, a cleansing foam and a lotion. I still tried to use products from German brands like Alverde because of easier access, but just found that Korean products from the same or lower price range worked compareably better for me. Was using a lot of Skinfood (blah), Innisfree and Etude House (never again) at that time since those were the easiest to be found.
My skin was still clogging around the mouth and chin, generally dull and dry, BUT the inclusion of SPF and proper cleansing had reduced the redness and my cheek area was looking better, at least. Dry flakes and general itchiness were going away as well, and my skin color looked more even. I also re-started using base makeup like BB cream.

Skin situation in 2012. BB cream doesn't help much when there's little hills and
valleys all ove the place... But mostly, dull and rough.

THEN there was the whole case of Korea having not only taken my heart away in the beauty/skincare sense, but me meeting my now-husband while traveling. So once I moved to Korea (leaving everything that couldn't fit in my 23 kg suitcase behind) I had to restart from the beginning.

My husband had a longer, more ritually obeyed skincare routine than me at the time. I stole his essence and skin and toner and slowly realised that some of those were actually the very same thing. I became better at cleansing, added a cream or the odd sheet mask...

My skincare looked like this in 2014 after a year in Korea, with a mixture of Banila Co, Innisfree, Mamonde,
Missha (the FTE actually didn't do much for me...) and Mizon.

It was only three days before the wedding, about a year later, that the skin clinic we went to for the special occasion told me I actually had very, VERY dry, dehydrated skin, plus accumulated sun damage from the first twenty-five or so years of my life.

(By the way, my skin on my wedding day? After a Korean skin care spa experience? No words. Never looked better.)

I started getting into makeup (brows! foundation!) after having gotten it done for my traditional
Korean wedding in spring 2014. 
That little warning call had me getting into actually CARING about skincare. Before, I'd mostly just stumbled along, adding on to a at first non-existent routine slowly but steadily and getting good results probably just from the fact of getting the basics right.

My main concerns at that point were my still red-flushed cheeks and nose area from irritation and/or sundamage, the major dehydration still going on and closed comedones. Breakouts were mostly just a hormonal thing, with my chin and mouth area getting the worst of it.

This ain't no innisfree commercial...
I started to be a lot gentler to my skin, using minimal pressure when cleansing, soft tapping motions instead of vigorous rubbing, and layering on the moisture. I also stepped up my sunscreen game for prevention purposes, especially since the harsh sun on Jeju island and me spending a lot of time outside were pushing my sunscreen to its limit.

By spring in 2015, my skin had evened out, though there's obvious sun spots to be found all
over my cheeks.

So, I reached the point where I was comfortable enough with my skin to make applying makeup fun, and me starting to blog about it in a very limited way.

My skincare routine was still quite basic, since I've only been dabbling in actives from autumn 2015 onwards. Me using mostly innisfree isn't really a call for you to go out and purchase everything from them - it's more that their stuff works well for me, not breaking me out even once (something that has hampered my motivation in trying out other brands) and that I'm on a budget, so sticking to one brand while living in Korea gives me the advantage of reaching VVIP status there (thanks, friends and family that used my point card~) which results in monthly 30%-50% sales, free gift sets and all that jazz. I did also use a lot of Mamonde skincare while I had a membership at Aritaum (Laneige, however, didn't work for me...) and enjoyed Hanyul and Iope products while that lasted, but now that this membership is basic again, I keep to innisfree.

So, as to how my current skincare looks like:

Scary. It looks like a lot when I put it all together like this, but it's not like I use all of these on a daily or even weekly basis.

My daily routine would be this:

A cream cleanser (oil cleanser were a bit much for my dry, clog-prone skin, and I've been going for cleansing creams ever since the nice lady that made my skin look great for my wedding told me to...) to take off sunscreen/makeup. On rare days when I wear a lot of eye makeup, I'll use a Lip & Eye makeup remover (by Aritaum).

I've used the Banila Co. cleansing balm for the longest time, both the sensitive and the radiance version, but using that on my mostly just sunscreen-and-liptint face was like throwing bombs at mosquitos. Overkill. Switched to the Apple Juicy Cleansing Cream by innisfree some months ago which works perfectly fine.

A new addition is the Bija Trouble Cleansing Gel. I've been using the Mamonde Lotus Micro Foam until recently, but wanted to switch to something less harsh and, mainly, low PH after that tube was empty. So far I'm loving it, even though I miss having actual foam.

After cleansing, I use a Toner/Skin, at the moment the Jeju Orchid Skin by, who would have guessed, innisfree. I also own their Broccoli Clearing Toner (free gift set, yay) that I use on cotton pads to swipe down my nose and mouth area after hot days with heavy makeup or to swipe off vitamin C (more on that later). The orchid line works really well for me (I tried the Orchid Enriched Cream, the Night Cream and the Lotion previously and loved them all) but the Skin is the only one I'd use all year round, as it isn't heavy despite being very moisturizing. Love the texture of this! But I'm eyeing their White Tone Up Skin, because Niacinamide.

As for essences and serums, I switch it up a lot depending on the season. I've been using the Ginger Oil Serum Rich all winter long, and a recent clearance sale made me switch to the Jeju Mineral Sparkling Essence Rich which is lighter but still moisturizing. Doesn't do anything fantastical beyond that, but the foam texture sure is fun and I love the scent!

I DON'T expect my basic routine to do any wonders, just moisturize and calm my skin. I'll probably switch back to my staple summer serum - the Green Tea Seed Serum - soon and then switch back to this one in autumn.

For cream, I'm using The Minimal Moisture Cream that I bought because it would be easy to travel with (last winter) and which surprised me positively. Calms down redness, moisturizes, but works well under makeup. I've also got their Oat Mild Moisture Lotion (free gift set, again), which works similarly but is a bit lighter and fragranced.

So, after getting these frankly kind of interchangeable basics out of the way, here come my non-daily things. Routines similar to this one (3-6 products + sunscreen) are actually what most of my Korean friends are doing - I only stumbled upon actives and in-depth analysis on the Asianbeauty subreddit.
The price point might be a reason, too: Keeping up those heavily promoted 12-step-routines costs money, and products that are cheap from some countries' perspectives can be quite hard to purchase and maintain from an average-income Korean's perspective.

Sheetmasks! What fun would all this be without them? I try to not use them too often from a packaging-waste point of view, but still like to get in at least one or two per week.

I keep some basic Innisfree It's Real Squeeze Aloe or Green Tea ones in my fridge for days when I had to spend a lot of time outside and even re-applying SPF 50 couldn't keep my skin safe. Their Rice one also works really well for me - similar effects can be achieved by splashing left-over water from washing rice on my face, though. ;)

My skin doesn't like to meet chemical exfoliants too often (found out the hard way) so for a BHA, I'm actually using a sheetmask from innisfree's Skin Clinic line once a month or so. I don't even know if the PH and ingredients are sufficient, but hey, it does make my skin more even, my pores look clean and I'm happy with that.

Some other sheet masks I like are the hydrogels by Mamonde, the cotton ones by Illi, the fancy ones by Aritaum Salon Esthe (and their Modeling Masks), the occasional MediHeal when I stumble upon a sale - and some glorious hydrogels by a brand called Cel-Derma that my mother-in-law gave me en masse. No idea where to repurchase those, though.

A lot of other brands are more of a hit-and-miss thing for me, and I'm not very adventurous because the risk of breaking out isn't worth it for me.

I don't do BHA beyond that occasional sheet mask mentioned above, but I did start using an AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid by CosrX about nine months ago (after sampling some other stuff that was way too harsh). The thing is, my skin really doesn't like it when I go overboard on anything, so my AHA usage is still just a once-a-week thing. I use it more like a spot treatment around my mouth than all over my face, too. And wash it off after 15 minutes.

The Volcanic Clay Pore Mask by innisfree has been a staple for over three years now. It saves my pores during the humid summer (using it once or twice a week), and is gentle and non-drying enough to be used even in winter, about once in two weeks. Definitely a holy grail product for me!

Vitamin C, on the other hand, is a fairly new addition. I've had several samples from another brand, but went with the Sidmool (Sidmul) Vitamin C ampoule since it was cheaper and I'd read some great reviews on their entire product range in the Korean bloggerverse. I hope that this will take care of my hyperpigmentation, and already I've seen some brightening and lightening happening! Fingers crossed. I use it about two times a week, since again, I don't want to overdo it. I also swipe off the sticky residue after 15-20 minutes with a toner.

Oils... Facial oils are my saviours in winter months. I've been using the innisfree Canola Honey Oil all through last fall and winter, and a flood of samples of their Green Tea Seed Oil the year before. Oils are the only way I've been able to withstand the freezing, dry winters of Korea, especially when visiting Seoul and bad air gets thrown into the mix.

A new addition, purchased with the Vitamin C ampoule, is the Vitamin E by Sidmool. Supposed to help with sustained sun damage (antioxidants and such) I bought this to use in conjunction with my Vitamin C. It's heavier than the Canola Honey Oil, so I only use it at night, when it feels very relaxing, nourishing and calming, while the Canola one works fine even when used under makeup. Can't say much about its other properties, since I've been only using it for a month.

Since I'm now 28 by Korean age counting system (turning 27 for the rest of the world) I'm more concerned about fighting off fine lines. While my mother-in-law does keep me kind of flooded with a variety of Sum37 and Sulwhasoo samples (YAY for the Ajumma-Network!), I do also own a proper eyecream in the Innisfree Eco Science Wrinkle Spot Essence. It isn't very moisturizing and thus not heavy at all, and I do see the difference whenever I forget using it for a while because I'm lazy. Especially when my eyes are tired from squinting at drawings and screens all day and night...

The other product from the Eco Science line I own is the cream. It has a peculiar texture, very heavy and occlusive but not oily or greasy at all. It's cooling and feels tightening on my skin, and I use it in the evening on top of my moisturizing layers to seal everything in. Also works really nicely for facial massages, though tapping is the way to go to get good absorption. Will repurchase both (I'm on my seconde tube of the spot essence and the cream lasts me forever!).

So that's what my skin looks like currently, while wearing sunscreen. It's become a lot smoother compared to my old pictures (in which I'm wearing sunscreen and/or BB cream), and even my stubborn CCs around the mouth and chin have been reduced a lot. While I wouldn't say that my skin is glowing (maybe the Vit C will help?) it does feel healthy and firm and soft, and the permanent redness on my cheeks and nose is gone except for the maybe-broken capillaries around the nose...

With a thin layer of Cushion foundation (Innisfree Water Glow, half-empty cushion that I keep around
for very thin makeup days)
My skin does also work better with makeup now - in the beginning, everything would sink into lines or pores or stick to dry patches, and having a better canvas to work with (and better base makeup products/skills) definitely made a huge difference! I've never even had to use that mint-green base product to balance out redness after the first year of purchasing it! :D

Of course, I've also aged more than half a decade since the first skin close-up picture in this post, so there's some fine lines around my eyes. I should really start wearing sunglasses... Full cheeks are a thing of the past, too.

I find that what helped most was having a basic routine in place that wasn't doing any miracles, but kept my skin calm and moisturized. Being generally gentle while cleansing and applying products still gives me immediate differences as opposed to days when I'm kind of just rushing and rubbing my way through stuff. Eating and drinking are a whole other subject, but definitely have an impact as well...

Only when I had the basics in place did I venture out into fancy things like actives, and I'm glad I took the time to get to know my skin before I did.

Hopefully I'll get rid of the last closed comedones and hyper-pigmentation one day, but mostly I'm happy with my progress and will keep on taking baby steps instead of rushing ahead.

Anyone still here? Anyone still awake?
So. Wow. That was one hell of a long blog post - but I just wanted to get all this out of the way before I start actually doing reviews of skincare and base makeup products, especially since I'm actually new to the whole 'Asian Beauty' internet culture, despite dabbling in Korean skincare for a long time.

There's so many different skin types and situations (climate, allergies, sensitivities, life/stress) that influence how products work for different people, so you might look at this blog post as some sort of disclaimer: This is my skin. It's come a looong way. I'm still learning.

BE NICE TO YOUR SKIN! And see you next time with a sheet mask review, a haul or something else, less rambly. :)