Putting your products in order, including pH dependent acids

One of the questions I hear the most often from new Asian beauty product fans is what order to place their products in, especially if they are using actives like Vitamin C serums or acids, which are pH-dependent.  After many individual responses, with the same questions over and over, I realized it needed its own post.

Skincare product routine in order
This is understandably overwhelming for many people. Image from: K-Beauty on Amazon: Rebuilding a 15+ Step Routine if My Stash Caught on Fire
There are some general rules that cover 90% of skincare, but once you add powerful actives like Vitamin C antioxidant serums and chemical exfoliants, things get a little more complicated.  This guide will cover them all.

In this post:

There is a lot of understandable confusion, because the product names don't really make sense or they are misleading: i.e. 'First Essence' that doesn't actually go first, a 'Lotion' that has the texture of water, and the even more mystifying-named 'Skin'.  (What??)

Korean beauty product routine order
Now fit in 2 cleansers, 3 actives, and a partridge in a pear tree!
It makes you want to pull out a dartboard and let fate decide.

Basic rules on the order that applies to all your skincare

You can do this, I promise.  First, remember that you can layer products and strategically apply them; you don't have to put a thick coating of a single product all over your face.  You can learn more about why people layer products in my post on Skincare Layering.

Here are the basic steps:
  1. Cleansers
  2. Actives
  3. Hydrators
  4. Occlusives
  5. Treatments/Protection
It's that simple.

Need a visual example?  I frequently post my daily routines on Instagram, along with the products + their order of application. You can also check out these posts, with photos of example products put into order:

Korean beauty product routine
click image to view post
Korean Beauty Products for Oily and Acne-Prone Skin
click image to view post
Nonetheless, you can totally do this with your own products, I have faith in you!

Before you start applying products to your face, you need to take off what's already there.  All of these steps go after 'Basic Cleansing', which you can read more about in my Cleansing Megapost: Double Cleansing, Cleanser Types, Tools, & Techniques.

As long as you can keep in mind the following excerpt from my layering post, and apply the logic to the texture of your products, you'll be 80% there, no matter what product you are unsure about:
Layer 'fat over lean', like a oil painter.
I noticed when you layer, it's a lot like the technique you use for oil painting of putting 'fat over lean'; meaning you start with thinner layers of pigment suspended in turpentine or other thinners, and as you build the layer of colours, you increase the amount of linseed oil or oil-based medium in the later layers.  If you start with a 'fat' layer, the 'lean' medium can't penetrate through to the canvas or adhere to the lower layers, resulting in peeling layers, damaged paintings, and dullness.
Same with the moisturizers-- you put the thinner/watery/more easily absorbed moisturizers on first to ensure they sink easily into the skin and build hydration, then you put thicker/richer/cream-type moisturizers on top, and only in the areas you need them.  This keeps my cheeks wonderfully moisturized and keeps my forehead from becoming greasy.
So when it comes to any and all hydrating/moisturizing products, (note: this does not include actives such as LAA Vitamin C serums, retinoids, BHA, AHA, or PHA!  I will cover those later) the above applies.  This includes (in order):
  • 'First' Essences, such as the Missha First Treatment Essence, Mizon Skin Power Original First Essence, and any other product that has instructions to be applied first after basic cleansing.  If you have multiple 'first' type products, use the 'fat over lean' rule above.
  • Hydrating Toners, such as the Hada Labo GokujyunMizon Mela Defense White Boosting TonerHolika Holika Don't Worry Bee Care Calendula Toner, Skinfood Gold Kiwi Toner, and all 'toners' that are meant as a layer of skincare, bringing moisture or nourishment to the skin.  Note: these are very different than 'cleansing' type toners, which would be included in your 'Basic Cleansing' steps.
  • Serums, Essences, Ampoules, Lotions, Milks, Skins, Creams, Balms, Oils: all of these fall under 'fat over lean' because frankly, you can have a 'cream' that feels like a serum and an 'essence' that feels like a thick night cream,  So, always start with the thinnest/wateriest product, and layer them in order of increasing thickness/oiliness.

There are a few exceptions, such as the Mizon Snail line:
Korean beauty product routine order
As you can see, the 'cream' is listed first, but in reality, it's more like a whipped essence than an actual cream and provides very little moisturization.  It's hydrating, but it's not heavy.

The Ampoule is a medium weight, and gives more intense hydration than the 'cream', and then the Snail Recovery Gel Cream isn't a cream at all, it's definitely a gel.  It's also The Precious, my most purchased skincare product ever (review). It's being used as a 'sealing' step here, locking in the hydration from the earlier steps.

But that's the exception!

A note on toners:

I mention above that ‘hydrating’ toners should go on after the ‘first essence’ type products, and that’s because they’re not really ‘toning’ anything, they’re nourishing the skin.  Asian toners are very different than western ones.  If you are not using a ‘first essence’, you would move straight to the hydrating toner.  Thus, you aren’t applying a product only to wipe it off with the toner, the toner is the next layer.

If you are using a ‘cleansing’ type toner, it’s probably redundant if you are doing actives or a ‘first essence’.  If you aren’t either actives or a ‘first essence’, you would use them as the last cleansing step.

So where do you use a 'cleansing' toner if you are using actives + ‘first essence’?  Short answer: you don't, unless it’s also a toner meant to lower the pH of your skin in preparation for later steps, and has a low enough pH, such as the Mizon AHA & BHA Daily Clean toner that I use to force down the pH of my skin after cleansing and before applying actives.

You will also have a few AM vs PM differences: in the AM you will be finishing with sunscreen (and makeup, if you wear it), and possibly a mist throughout the day if you're into that, and in the PM you may add a sheet mask (during the serum step, so before your heavier/occlusive creams), night masks/sleeping packs, and spot treatments.

Confused?  Need a visual reference/ELI5 version?  Check out this post: Multi-Step Korean Skincare Routine, which includes visuals of the steps and the order they go in, along with an example routine.

As long as you keep in mind that products with a lot of lipids (oils, fats) in them will block absorption of water/hydration into the skin, you will be able to apply this rule to most of your skincare.

That brings us to:

How to incorporate 'actives' which are pH dependent

'Actives' are products with ingredients that have direct, active results on the skin, usually with a serious science pedigree.  Actives are the only ingredients that cause true purging. [source] ** These include antioxidants such as Vitamin C (LAA - L-Ascorbic Acid), Vitamin A (retinoids such as retinol and tretinoin), and acids like Alpha Hydroxy Acid (AHA), Beta Hydroxy Acid (BHA), and Polyhydroxy Acid (PHA).  I will eventually be doing a post about various acids and their use, but if you're reading this to find out where/when to incorporate them, that's probably old news to you.

**If you are 'purging' from a product that doesn't contain actives in the concentration % and pH needed to be 'active', it ain't purging.  Flee.

Actives do not apply to the 'fat over lean' rule, because they go after basic cleansing and before any hydrating steps, including all those 'first' essences.  So if your product says to use it immediately after basic cleansing and before any other products, and you use actives, ignore those instructions and use them after the actives.

In fact, you can consider any 'actives' as an extension of cleansing, if that makes it easier, because they are often prepping your skin to make your skincare more effective/absorb better.  (I actually sometimes 'cleanse' my skin after my actives are done, by swiping with my Mizon AHA BHA toner on a cotton square to remove any residue, and dirt, sebum, or dead skin that the acids dissolved off my skin.  I want that slurry of goo off my face before I start moisturizing, ugh!) They're also pH dependent (meaning that they need your skin to stay at a specific pH while they work) so you need to get them done before you stay layering anything else on your skin.

You may have heard that Vitamin C should not be combined with niacinamide, or that it doesn't matter, that the pH doesn't matter, or that the pH matters, that you can layer things on top of one another, that you have to wait 20 min between everything, and other contradictory statements.  It really depends on which form of Vitamin C you are using (LAA is both pH dependent and also should not be combined with niacinamide, so best to wait 30 min in between using those two), and what is the pH range of your specific products.

So why that specific order?

The order of your pH dependent products

Most common actives require a 15-20 minute absorption/activation window in the right pH for that product, and in the event that you include multiple actives in a single routine, you'll want to follow an order of lowest pH to highest pH.

For people who use LAA-based Vitamin C serums (which are pH dependent), that will usally be Vitamin C >> BHA >> AHA.  (For how to incorporate retinol into an Asian skincare routine, I recommend you check out skinandtonics.com, as I don't use any retinoids.  (I do now!  You can read more here.)

Click image to view: What's In My Skincare Wardrobe: Actives (Prescriptions, Antioxidants, and Acids) Edition
Pictured in order on bottom row: pH adjusting toner > Vitamin C serum > BHA > AHA > non-exfoliating acid treatment

You can use all  3 in a single routine, but 1. that's a lot of waiting in between them, and 2. that's a lot of exfoliation in one go. Even though Vitamin C isn't technically an exfoliant, since it's a low pH and it's an acid, it may be too much for your skin if you are also using acid exfoliants.  I personally use Vitamin C in the AM and BHA and AHA in the PM, which is a lot, but I also pay close attention to my skin and skip any of the above if I feel like I need to step it down a bit.  Many people use only 1 or 2 out of the 3 daily, or on alternate days.

I also use AHA at night because it makes your skin photosensitive correction: AHA makes you photosensitive, period.  AHA directions often say to use it at night, but it's actually no safer to use it at night vs the day, as studies have shown that a 10% AHA has photosensitivity effects for up to a week. [source: full text, additional source: abstract with conclusion]  I have not seen any studies measuring lower concentrations of AHA, but the one I use is 8% and I can't imagine a 2% difference is magically mitigating the sustained photosensitivity effect.  Conclusion?  You're going to need sunscreen no matter what time of day you apply it, which was my original stance even before I learned this new info.

I slather on high SPF/PA sunscreen during the day if I go out.  Sunscreen is necessary.  If you can't commit to sunscreen, chemical exfoliation is not for you.

I received this question from someone about the order of Vitamin C, BHA, and AHA, because I had advised to use them in that exact order, with a 20 minute wait time in between them.

They asked:
  • if there was a reason for that specific order
  • was the wait time necessary
  • and if they all function at a low pH, can't they just apply them one after the other?  

They also mentioned they cleanse, then use the Hada Labo toner I linked above, then an AHA, waiting 1-2 minutes, then an LAA Vitamin C serum, waiting 20 minutes, and then continuing with the rest of their routine.  (Please note that non-LAA Vitamin C serums are not impacted by the below factors, so disregard if your Vitamin C is not LAA.)

I realized that they were struggling with information overload, so I had to change up my approach.

Borderline NSFW analogies if the technical terms are making your head spin

Actually, I get this kind of question a lot, and I too was overwhelmed when I started delving into the sciencey side of skincare, so I decided to go for a less technical approach in my reply:

The reason for the order has to do with the relative pH requirements of the different products. Vit C and the other acids need to be at different pHs to be effective. Think of it as cooking temperature- different meats require different temperatures, right? So say that you are cooking beef and pork to medium-rare. 
If you cook them both together at the same temp, you are going to get into trouble - beef needs a temp of 130-135 but pork needs a temp of 145-150.  So if you cook them at the 'beef temp', the pork will be undercooked, but if you cook them at the 'pork temp' the beef will be waaay overcooked. So you have to do them separately.  Does that make sense?

Also, your Hada Labo is hydrating so it will contain moisturizing ingredients that will block the acids' ability to access the skin. It should go after all your acids. 
Start with the lowest pH dependent product, which is the Vit C. It needs to go on a 'bare' face, and it's so low-pH-dependent [link] that you either have to wait 15-20 min after washing your face for your skin to naturally go back down to pH 4.2-5.6 on its own [link], or force it down with a pH adjusting toner (I use Mizon AHA BHA toner, which is around 4.5, so on the low end of 'natural' skin pH) if your skin will dry out too much for waiting. 
The harder your Vit C has to work to get your skin to a sub-3.5 pH, the more wasted effort- when the Vit C could have been working its magic on your skin, instead it's burning its efforts on lowering pH. Vit C needs 15 minutes ~alone in a candlelit room with smooth jazz~ with your skin (and by that I mean Vit C has a 15 min absorption time/effectiveness window), and if it's gotta waste time pleading at the door for you to lower that pH and let it in baby! Then that's minutes of antioxidant sexytime that you are giving up. 
However, BHA has a higher pH effectiveness range, of 3-4, so you really don't want it crashing your Vit C party. AHA is higher still, all the way up to 4.5. So since your Vit C is ~sensitive~ you want to take care of it before you start flirting with higher pH products like BHA and AHA, because it will get huffy and sulk off. 
The reason you want BHA before AHA is less about pH (unless your AHA is between 4-4.5 in which case it's going to mess up your BHA) and more about oil. BHA is oil-soluble, AHA is not. So, you need the BHA to go in first and battle the sebum in your pores and clear them out, so it's not in the way when you apply your AHA.
Yep, I just equated Vitamin C serum to a petulant, jealous, emo boyfriend.  But hey, it worked!

If you want a more technical explanation, you can check out my recent post on pH testing with a digital meter where I talk about the specific ranges of BHA and AHA, and how the pH of my particular BHA and AHA of choice forces me to stagger them with 20 min in between.  If any of your products are not finicky about the pH they are in, or within the same pH range, I don't see any reason why you couldn't layer them, but I prefer to err on the side of caution.

Some last notes and warnings

LAA-based Vitamin C serums oxidize when exposed to light (or heat, so store it in your fridge between uses) so I wouldn't recommend waiting out the 20 minutes in front of a large window (or you may end up looking like Snooki until you wipe off the residue).  Some people apply it and wait in the dark, like ultra-glamorous bats, but I've never gone that far.

AHA makes you photosensitive, so for the love of anti-aging, wear sunscreen.  Don't just put it on at night and then expect that it will be safe to go out sunscreen-less the next morning, because we're talking an overall shift in your skin.  Not only will you lose out on all the goodness an AHA gives you, you will be making things worse.  You should already be wearing sunscreen daily no matter what, but you may need to boost up the strength when you add actives, AHA, BHA, LAA, whatever you are using.

BHA has to be in higher concentrations to work (1-2% at minimum, and I have seen suggestions as high as 3-5% is needed for those with very clogged/oily skin), but I have heard that Korea has limits on OTC (over the counter) products containing more than 0.5% BHA.  Hence my rage and frustration with the Sidmool Dual Effect BHA Gel and the explanation as to why it wasn't doing anything.  So do some extra research to make sure your product is high enough.

AHA (well, BHA too) comes in many forms, the most common is Glycolic Acid which doesn't agree with some people's skin.  That doesn't mean that you have to give up AHAs, you just need to find alternatives, such as Mandelic acid.  Same with BHA; if your skin doesn't like Salicylic Acid, you may have to dig around to find a BHA that works for you.

Do your research before trying any actives, because unlike the creams and lotions and potions you are used to, you can actually damage your skin if you goof up.  They're magical and wonderful and they're skincare mana from above, but don't mess with them.  Research.  Research!

Lastly, that's also my disclaimer: I am not a licensed medical professional, I am just a skincare nerd with an unhealthy love of google scholar and a willingness to devote hours into research.

All the best,

Did this post help you put your products in their place?  Hit me up on Facebook or Twitter and let me know!

Have something you'd like to share with me in general?  Snap a pic and tag me on Instagram at @snowwhiteandtheasianpear because I'd love to see it!


  1. Hi, quick question about the pH of cleansers! Is the lower the pH the better? OR as long as it's below 6 the cleanser has the same effect? Thanks!

    1. Hi,

      Any cleanser with a pH in a low-to-normal-skin range would be fine. There are cleansers formulated with BHA and AHAs, but acids need a good 20 minutes on your skin to take effect, so the temporarily lowered pH of those cleansers will not have a significant impact as they are on the skin briefly. Obviously you don't want to go tooo low, but the lowest cleanser I have seen is 3.5, so that tends to be less of a concern than too high. Generally, I aim for cleansers that are 5.5 or below, as natural skin is 4.2-5.6 for healthy skin.

  2. Wow this post is all over the place. I've read it four times and still can't work out what the advice is. Why not just write it out as an ordered list?

    You say "Start with the lowest pH dependent product, which is the Vit C. It needs to go on a 'bare' face."
    --> This implies that you put on Vit C serum first and AHA BHA second.

    Directly after that you say that before you use Vit C you want your skin as low pH as possible, so you should either wait for it to lower naturally or you should force your pH down - and that you use "Mizon AHA BHA toner pH 4.5".
    --> This implies that you use AHA BHA first, and Vitamin C second.

    Directly after that you say "So since your Vit C is ~sensitive~ you want to take care of it before you start flirting with higher pH products like BHA and AHA, because it will get huffy and sulk off. "
    --> This implies that you use Vit C first, and AHA BHA second.

    Which is it? Can you please just state clearly something like
    1. cleanse
    2. Use vitamin C and wait 20 minutes,
    3. Use BHA or a toner with a pH between 3 and 4.5
    4. Use Hada Labo Gokujyn Hyaluronic Acid
    5. etc etc etc

    The way it's written now you've got a lot of contradictory advice and I think the confusion could be eliminated by making a numbered list.

    1. Hi,

      I can definitely place it in order for you, but I think the misunderstanding comes from identifying the Mizon AHA BHA Daily Clean Toner as an actual BHA and AHA exfoliant, which it is not. The pH and the concentrations are too low for that function.

      Here's a basic list, as you asked for:
      1. Cleanse
      2. pH adjust your skin*
      3. Vitamin C (if LAA) and wait 20 minutes
      4. BHA and wait 20 minutes**
      5. AHA and wait 20 minutes**
      6. Use Hydrating Toner like Hada Labo HA, etc
      7. Use the rest of your routine

      * = pH Adjusting of your skin can be done two ways, one is waiting for your skin to lower pH naturally, the second is to use a pH adjusting product formulated for that task. The Mizon AHA BHA Daily Clean toner is one such example, but there are others.

      ** I am not recommending that all 3 actives be used in a single routine, as people need to be cautious with exfoliants, but if one was looking for what the order hypothetically would be by order of pH, this it it.

      I hope that helps clarify the confusion!

      Take care

    2. HALP. Still confused.

      Are you wiping the Vit C off? With what? You said something about it oxidizing, so not to stand by a sunny window "until you wipe the residue off."

      I need the serious, hand-holding ELI5 version, I think.

    3. It's ok, I am here for you! *holds your hand*

      You don't have to wipe off Vit C, but if you find that you have turned the colour of really bad fake tan orange because you used too much Vit and you look like an Oompa Loompa, don't worry.

      After you have given then Vit C it's 20 minutes of ~alone time~ with your skin, take a look at your skin. Do you suddenly look orange? If so, feel free to wipe down your skin to remove the Snooki-coloured residue.

      If you plan to use more acids, use a pH-adjusting toner to wipe down the orange goo off your face, and carry on. If you're done your pH-adjusting acids, wipe down your face with whatever you want. :)

      Some forms of Vit C don't require a low pH, can be mixed into other products, and won't oxidize with light, so you don't have to worry about turning orange. :)

      Let me know if that helps!

  3. I use the Missha Time Revolution Essence underneath Poppy Austin Vitamin C & Hyaluronic Acid Serum. I recently read that when the NIACINAMIDE in the Essence interacts with the Vitamin C Serum both products are automatically cancelled out .. rendering both products to become useless(no benefits) I am so confused .. please help!!! :(((

    1. The issue with Niacinamide + LAA is that it can convert the Niacinamide to Niacin, which can be irritating.

      As long as you are waiting in between your LAA Vit C product and your products that contain heavy amounts of Niacinamide, you should be fine. There is also some info out there about how when layering an LAA with a Niacinimide product, the conversion to Niacin is a lot slower than people commonly think:

      That being said, I personally prefer to err on the side of caution and wait 20 min after applying my LAA Vit C before moving on to other products. If you are applying a Niacinamide product next, you could either wipe off any residue (as I like to do), or extend your wait until from 20 min to 30 min if you were feeling extra cautious.

  4. Hi Cat!

    Thank you very much for the reply! I contacted Poppy Austin .. instead of LAA they use Sodium Ascorbyl Phosphate. Do i still need to wait the 30mins before applying it after the Niacinamide product (Missha Time Revolution Essence)???

    1. From my understanding and cursory google search to double check, it looks like SAP and Niacinamide are fine to use together and in fact some brands describe them as working in synergy, although that may just be marketing hype. I haven't looked deeply into the non-LAA Vit C options as I'm happy with the one I have, but I've only seen LAA called out as a flag in combination with Niacinamide.

  5. Hi Cat

    Thank you so much for all your posts, I love in depth writings that you do we all appreciate it. :)
    I wanted to ask a question regarding adding my Vitamin C to my evening routine. (I have dry skin with normally hormonal break outs that are usually closed comedones) and hope you might be able to guide me if possible?

    Evening Routine
    OST Vitamin C (wait 30 mins)
    Missha FTE
    Paula's Choice (at night I use the 1% BHA Lotion)
    Hada Labo Hyaluronic Acid Lotion
    Benton Snail Bee Essence
    Hada Labo Milk Lotion
    Benton Snail Bee Steam Cream

    Am I in the right order?
    Should I use a toner before the Vitamin C?
    [I also use Paula's Choice 2% Salicylic acid in the mornings.] \

    I hope I haven't inundated you with too many questions. xo

    1. "I hope I haven't inundated you with too many questions. xo" Neverr! ;)

      Here's what I personally would do if I had your routine:

      1. Cleanser
      2. pH adjust skin (15 min wait time, or pH adjusting toner)
      3. OST Vitamin C (wait 20 min)
      4. Paula's Choice (at night I use the 1% BHA Lotion) <- (wait 20 min)
      5. Missha FTE (will have been 40 min since LAA OST, so no Niacinamide issue)
      6. Hada Labo Hyaluronic Acid Lotion
      7. Benton Snail Bee Essence (Base these two off consistency, put heavier one second)
      8. Hada Labo Milk Lotion (See above note, whichever is heavier put second)
      9. Benton Snail Bee Steam Cream

      As far as what you do to let your skin adjust after cleansing, do whatever works best for you; I personally use a pH adjusting toner so I can skip letting my skin adjust naturally as my climate dries out my skin almost instantly. :( But, if your skin is OK with chillin' for 15 minutes after you cleanse, you don't need a pH adjusting toner.

      Let me know if you have any other questions! :)

    2. AAHHHH! Thanks Cat, this will help me out totally!!!

      I think I would definitely need to get a PH adjusting toner (I'm looking at your spread sheets, and you use the Mizon AHA / BHA toner, and I've just finished reading your review of it against the Cosrx) So I will look into buying that in 2 weeks or so (since I just did an AB haul ;/)

      For now I think I'll just have to wait for my skin to adjust, which like you uncomfortably dries out super fast as well.

      I've also since before followed our advice and suggestions on going from thinnest to heavier layers.

      Can you if possible review my morning routine I am p.sure I need to adjust the order of my steps.

      Right now it's
      Morning Routine
      Missha FTE
      Paula's Choice 2% Salicylic acid
      Hada Labo Hyaluronic Acid Lotion
      Benton Snail Bee Essence
      Hada Labo Milk Lotion
      Benton Snail Bee Steam Cream
      Paula's Choice Resist Super Antioxidant Serum (I use this as a makeup 'primer')
      Hada Labo Sunscreen

      Are my steps correct here? Any significant wait period?
      Again I just want to say thanks for the in depth responses you give, honestly it's super appreciated. XOXO

    3. Your acids should be considered an extension of your basic cleansing, so any 'first essences' like the Missha FTE need to go on after acids. :) You would also want to wait after your PC acid to allow it to work before you apply the FTE.

      If your skin dries out after cleansing, you can just pat your skin dry and apply the PC right away, just know that it may be less effective. I find the drying out quite damaging for me, so I'd sacrifice some of the efficacy for preventing a skin dry out. But YMMV! :)

  6. Hi Cat,

    I'm also looking to add in the OST Vitamin C serum into my routine as well as the MUAC mandelic acid toner (which has a ph of 2.5). I was told to not use them together because it may be irritating, but now I'm wondering if I should use it as a pH adjuster..which goes against your order of Vitamin C-->AHA. What level pH should your skin be to use the OST vitamin C serum? How do you know if you need an adjustor?

    My current routine:
    1. Double cleanse with Face Shop Rice Cleansing oil (PM only) and Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Daily Cleanser (not sure of pH, but I've seen someone say it was around 5)--I sometimes use a Clarisonic to cleanse
    2. Benton BHA toner
    3. Benton Essence
    4. Benton Aloe Gel
    5. Benton steam cream (usually PM only)
    6. L'Oreal SPF 50 sunscreen (AM)

    So basically, I want to figure out where to insert the Mandelic Acid toner and the OST Vitamin C serum. I was thinking of using Mandelic Acid toner in the AM and the OST Vitamin C serum in the evenings just to keep from overexfoliating.

    1. "MUAC mandelic acid toner (which has a ph of 2.5)."

      I would worry that might be too robust to work as a simple pH-adjusting toner; you just need something to lower your skin back down to a good range, it's not necessary for it to dip down into intense exfoliation pH levels. I would also worry that it would be too harsh to combine with other exfoliants, as you were advised.

      Also, the contents of a pH adjusting toner are not really of great concern (i.e. it does not have to contain an AHA or BHA, it just needs to have a good pH and also leave no residue on the skin that would block absorption of your pH dependent products) so I really don't consider it an AHA (or BHA) in terms of product order, because at such low concentrations, it's not going to be accomplishing much. :)

      "What level pH should your skin be to use the OST vitamin C serum? How do you know if you need an adjustor?"

      Your skin ideally should be within the natural range, meaning 5.6 or lower. How do you know you need an adjustor? Well, since it's recommended to wait 15 minutes after cleansing (assuming you used a low-pH cleanser) for your skin to return to normal before applying LAA Vit C, if your skin dries out too much while you wait, consider getting a gentle pH-adjusting toner to help speed things along. ;)

      That's why I use one, because the weather here is so dry.

      I think your plan of spacing things out is a good one, although I recommend you look into the concentration of your Mandelic 'toner' to find out if it's really just a toner (low concentration of active ingredient) or an actual exfoliant (thus needing a lower pH, although 2,5 seem really low to me.)

      You might even need to scale things back/space them out further, if you feel like it's too much for your skin. Many people only use actives a few times a week, so it's best to err on the side of caution.

    2. My face would feel too dry waiting the 15 minutes. Does witch hazel toner (Dickinson's Pore Perfecting Toner) work as a pH adjustor? I read on a forum that witch hazel has a pH of 3. I can't find pH information on the the toner itself.

      Also, the mandelic acid toner has 5% mandelic acid, which I heard isn't much. Regardless, I'm definitely not going to use it at the same time as the OST serum.

      Thanks for all your help!

    3. "My face would feel too dry waiting the 15 minutes. Does witch hazel toner (Dickinson's Pore Perfecting Toner) work as a pH adjustor? I read on a forum that witch hazel has a pH of 3."

      It would depend on whether it leaves any residue behind that might block your actives.

      "Also, the mandelic acid toner has 5% mandelic acid, which I heard isn't much. "

      5% is plenty! I'd classify that as a straight-up exfoliant, not a 'toner', as those tend to be 0.01-0.5%.

  7. Hi, I submitted a comment, but I don't think it went through.... If it did, I'm so sorry for the double posting.

    I've read this about four times? but I just wanted to confirm that I really understand it, so that I don't end up harming my skin (which has suffered enough)

    1. Double Cleansing (Oil, then foaming/milk/etc.)
    2. Wait 15 minutes for PH to lower/ use toner that does this
    3. If LAA, use Vitamin C (then wait ~15 min)
    4. BHA
    5. AHA (although, usually, one doesn't use all three, correct?)
    6. 'First' Essence
    7. Hydrating Toner
    8. Serums, Essences, Ampoules, Lotions, Milks, Skins, Creams, Balms, Oils ( in order of thin to thick)
    9. Sunscreen?

    My only remaining questions are:
    1. How long to wait after BHA and AHA?
    2. Do emulsions fit into the "serums, essences, etc." category?
    3. What should be different in AM vs PM routines?

    Thank you so much for your thorough research!

    1. Also, I forgot to add that I have more questions (so sorry about this)

      More Questions:
      4. Where do the following also fit into the routine?
      a) Eye creams
      b) sheet masks
      c) spot treatments

    2. "1. Double Cleansing (Oil, then foaming/milk/etc.)
      2. Wait 15 minutes for PH to lower/ use toner that does this
      3. If LAA, use Vitamin C (then wait ~15 min)
      4. BHA
      5. AHA (although, usually, one doesn't use all three, correct?)
      6. 'First' Essence
      7. Hydrating Toner
      8. Serums, Essences, Ampoules, Lotions, Milks, Skins, Creams, Balms, Oils ( in order of thin to thick)
      9. Sunscreen?"

      Perfect, and you are right, one does not normally use all 3 in a routine (your poor face!) but that would be the order.

      Wait times after actives (LAA Vit C, BHA, AHA etc) is usually 20 min.

      Emulsions are definitely in the same 'hydrating' category as serums, essences, ampoules, creams, etc. :) I have an Emulsion that's thick like heavy whipping cream, for example, so I put it on after my thin/watery layers and right before my fatty creams.

      AM routines are usually lighter and more about prepping the face for makeup, oil control, and sunscreen. PM routines are about thorough cleansing, intense care for the skin, and pampering yourself ;)

      "4. Where do the following also fit into the routine?
      a) Eye creams
      b) sheet masks
      c) spot treatments"

      Eye creams - I'd probably put these after watery layers, around the time that I apply my other creams, because I don't put my creams up under my eyes (I find it causes clogs) but since you're not layering cream over eye cream, it really doesn't matter. I do put my watery layers up there, and then you can 'seal' them with eye cream the way you 'seal' them on the rest of your face with a more occlusive cream. But, whatever works for you!

      Sheet masks are infused with essence/serum so I put them on during that step. If you had a full out every-single-step routine, it would go on like this: First Essence > Hydrating Toner > Any serums that you use as a 'treatment' (like I use a tea tree essence for acne) > sheet mask > fatty products.

      Think of sheet masks as a super intense serum/essence step, so it goes in the same spot. I like to layer all my watery essences and serums and ampoules etc etc, then slap on the sheet mask, and then I layer any fatty/occlusive layers that I feel I still need (very thin/few of them as usually my face is happily moisturized by that point and I only need a tiny amount of seal it all in) and away I go. ;)

      Spot treatments depend on what they are. In the case of the Mizon Pink Spot http://snowwhiteandthepear.blogspot.com/2014/11/review-mizon-acence-blemish-out-pink.html I put it on at the very last because if I layered anything over it it would 'wet' the drying powder. If it's something like the Cosrx A-Sol, which has both BHA and AHA, I put that at the end of my acids and before my hydrators, because it's more like a skin treatment and needs to penetrate into the skin.

      Hydrocolloids I tend to put on either bare skin or after my acne treatments have sunk in all the way, because they can't 'stick' to skin that is wet/has residue. I have also wiped off the areas I need to put HCBs on if necessary.

  8. Hi! So I was wondering, if I have these three products..

    OST C20 Serum
    Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid
    Mizon 8% Peeling Serum

    I know the OST is everyday and I plan on doing that only at night. So about BHA and AHA, I know they shouldn't be used in the same routine, but can one be used in the day and one at night? Can those be used everyday? Or 1-2 times a week?

    Thanks so much for all the info so far! I was way more confused before finding this

    1. "but can one be used in the day and one at night? Can those be used everyday? Or 1-2 times a week?"

      The answer really depends on your skin. :) My routine at the moment is this:

      -OST Vit C serum in the AM every other day
      -Cosrx BHA with 4% Betaine Salicylate (a mild form of BHA) in the AM every day

      -Cosrx BHA with 4% Betaine Salicylate (^ see above ) in the PM every day
      -Mizon 8% AHA Peeling Serum every other day, or every 3rd day

      So, as you can see I really load up on BHA, albeit a very gentle form, 2x a day, and then space out my Vit C and AHA a bit so I don't over work my skin. If my skin feels up to it, I could use the OST daily, but right now my top priority is keeping my pores clear and preventing congested skin, so for that reason I need to focus on BHA.

      Also, I have worked up to this level through 8+ months of steady acids use, but I was pretty cautious in the beginning.

      Your priorities will be different, and therefore you need to adjust what you use and how often you use it depending on what goals you have and most importantly, how your skin feels. :)

      I hope that helps!

    2. I should also add that I'm not recommending that people this many actives/so frequently in their routines as a general rule; the best thing is to incorporate things slowly especially since they can cause purging, and only step it up if you feel like your skin actually needs it.

      In my case, my skin clogs up if I don't use BHA (even though it's an uber gentle form and not Salicylic acid) twice a day, but if I was using a harsher form, it might be different 1. I might not need to use it 2x a day, and 2. it might be too much for my skin to use 2x a day. So it's really YMMV based off your skin, your goals, and your products. :D

  9. Cat could you please recommend a "gentle pH-adjusting toner" so i do not have to wait 15mins for my skin PH to lower???

    My skjn gets very dry whilst waiting for 15mins!


    1. I like the Mizon AHA BHA Daily Clean toner, but it's out of stock. I have tried the Cosrx AHA BHA toner but it actually irritated my skin:

  10. Hi Cat - Thank you for the various informative posts (e.g. pH of cleansers, product routines, reviews, etc.)! I would like to try adding Vitamin C serum into my routine and was wondering if you have any suggestion on a 10% and 15% serum or what you use when you first start. Most serum out there are 20%. Thanks! -mt

    1. Unfortunately the only Vitamin C serum I have used is the OST c20 which is 20%. You could look into an SAP Vitamin C Powder that you could mix into your serum before you apply it?

    2. I'm lazy and pretty much non-adventurous on the mixing part :-) so I think I'm going to cross my fingers and give "NuFountain C10 10% Vitamin C Serum" a try first. The ingredient list includes: Water, 10% L-Ascorbic Acid, Magnesium Sulfate, Glycerin. pH of 2.5. -mt

  11. Hi! I'm newbie if it comes to BHA so your posts were really helpful for me :). Since I started to wait 20 minutes after using my Paula's Choice BHA I could see it works way better but I do have some question because I'm not sure if I get this whole pH thingy ;).
    1) Before using BHA my skin should have ,,natural" pH which is around 4,5? Does it means I can't use BHA right after washing my face but I need wait 20 minutes to let it adjust itself or use toner with pH around 4,5?
    2) You mentioned that you like to use Mizon AHA BHA toner after using BHA. So would that order be correct: cleansing face -> Mizon aha bha toner -> right after paulas's choice bha 2% -> 20 minutes later again mizon toner -> right after rest of skincare ?
    3) If I use BHA in the night do I need to be careful with SPF durning the day?
    4) Now I use BHA only once a day because I feel my skin gets really dry if I overdo but in other hand my nose seems to be clogged. Having that in mind I was considering using Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid in the morning. I heard betaine salicylate isn't that harsh as salicylic acid, so I thought it wouldn't dry my face that much, what do you think about this product?
    It turned out to be more text to read than I planned, sorry! ^.^'

    1. Ask away! :)

      "1) Before using BHA my skin should have ,,natural" pH which is around 4,5? Does it means I can't use BHA right after washing my face but I need wait 20 minutes to let it adjust itself or use toner with pH around 4,5?"

      Natural pH of skin is between 4.2-5.6, and generally cleansing does raise the pH a bit (partly because people's water is not 'neutral' as they are not using inert pure water like labs do) so pH adjusting (waiting or a pH adjusting toner) gives your actives a head start on buffering your skin down to the level that the active needs for it to work.

      "2) You mentioned that you like to use Mizon AHA BHA toner after using BHA. So would that order be correct: cleansing face -> Mizon aha bha toner -> right after paulas's choice bha 2% -> 20 minutes later again mizon toner -> right after rest of skincare ?"

      The order would be:
      1. Cleanse face
      2. pH adjust skin (waiting, or pH adjusting toner)
      3. BHA applied as soon as skin is ready
      4. Wait 20 min for BHA to work
      5. Optional - wipe off any gross residue if you want/applicable
      6. Rest of your routine

      "3) If I use BHA in the night do I need to be careful with SPF durning the day?"

      You always need to be careful with SPF/PAA regardless of what you are using. BHA is not photosensitizing per se (like AHA is) but if you are exfoliating your face through any means, your tender new skin layers still need to be protected from sun damage.

      "4) Now I use BHA only once a day because I feel my skin gets really dry if I overdo but in other hand my nose seems to be clogged. Having that in mind I was considering using Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid in the morning. I heard betaine salicylate isn't that harsh as salicylic acid, so I thought it wouldn't dry my face that much, what do you think about this product?"

      I use Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid with 4% Betaine Salicylate in both AM and PM, and I have used a stronger western BHA with 3% Salicylic Acid in my very clogged areas. I find the Cosrx to be very, very gentle. The 3% is not a daily product, it's technically a 'peel', so it needs to be used cautiously.

      I hope that helps! :)

  12. Hi! I stumbled upon your blog while looking for Blackhead Power Liquid reviews.. Halfway through the post and I fell into the pH rabbit hole. You got yourself a new fan. Can't wait for your review on sheet masks!

    I have a question on the Blackhead Power Liquid. I have seen a review where she said that she experienced better results upon using Blackhead Power Liquid rather than Paula's Choice 2% BHA Liquid, and since it is cheaper by volume, I ordered two bottles.
    But since you said that the Blackhead Power Liquid is very very gentle, I am starting to worry if it will be too gentle to work on me! The main reason I'm adding BHA to my routine is mainly to battle blackheads and whiteheads, I rarely got acne.

    What do you think? Thanks in advance :)

    1. <3 Welcome to the Rabbit hole, and the sheet mask review collection is up!

      I am currently using Stridex BHA in the red box, which is 2% like the PC, and I do find it much harsher than the Cosrx BHA. I found the best balance for my skin was the Cosrx BHA all over, and then a stronger BHA in my oily/super congested zones. I found this gave me the oomph that I needed in my 'hot zones' but didn't irritate the rest of my face. I have been out of BHA for a long time and am impatiently waiting for the new bottles to arrive!

  13. Hello, thank you for this wonderful article. I've just discovered your blog and it's full of interesting stuff :-)
    I've some questions:
    - I would like to use the Cosrx blackhead toner, but is it considered an active or a toner? If I use the mizon AHA serum, will the Cosrx come first or may I use it after the mizon serum?
    - If I don't use a vitamin C serum, how many time must I wait to use the BHA or a AHA serum: more than 15 minutes (time to make the ph of the skin ok for the vitamin C) or 15 minutes will be just fine?
    - I use the Hada Crie machine. As I understand, I must then: wash my face, wait 15 minutes (or more?) to apply the serum (now the ost vitamin C but after that I would like to use the Mizon AHA). For the fistr step (cleanse) I don't need specifically a cleaning toner, a treating one will be just fine: may I use the cosrx blackhead at this moment?
    For the step 2 (micropat): what do you think of the centella cosrx toner or the sana hadanomy mist?
    -Step 3 (moisturize): hadalabo gokyujun or Yamano (black).
    - In which step do you use a sleeping mask: before or after the cream?
    - And finally, which toners could work as the mizon: what do you think about the it's skin soft supersize peeling softner or Unt acne Med?

    Thank you very much for your answers!

    1. I am not sure what you mean about Cosrx blackhead toner? Do you mean the Cosrx AHA BHA Clarifying toner (which I reviewed) or the Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid? The former is a toner, the latter is an active.

      The wait time for actives is usually 15-30 min (I do 20) for most actives unless it's a prescription, in which case you should follow the directions of your dermatologist.

      You can pH adjust your skin for pH-dependent actives by either waiting for 15-20 minutes after cleansing (to my knowledge, which I do not do) or use a pH adjusting toner if you are sure it does not leave behind residue that might affect the actives' penetration abilities. I use the Mizon AHA BHA toner, but there are others out there.

      I have not used either the centalla or the hadamony, so I cannot answer that, I am sorry!

      I don't use sleeping masks, but I do use sheet masks. I use them in my hydrating steps as a serum, which you can see a visual of here: http://snowwhiteandthepear.blogspot.com/2015/04/multi-step-korean-skincare-routine.html which should help!

      Unfortunately I have not used either of the two last products you mentioned, so I cannot comment on their suitability. :(

      Take care!

  14. Hello! I really appreciate your wonderful article! I have a Major problem i recently purchased different products for my oily skin and i created a routine including ost c20 vitamine serum and i got an allergic reaction (my face got really irritaded) I'm new in this skin routine world and i really need help by doing the right steps in my skin routine! My night routine consist in:
    Step 1: Cleanser Clean it zero
    Step 2: Cleanser Cetaphil
    Step 3: Toner Time Revolution clear toner by Missha ( I also have Cosrx AHA/BHA Clarifying treatmenr toner and Aloe BHA skin toner)
    Step 4: Essence Missha First Treatment Essence
    Step 5: Serum ( Time Revolution Night Repair by Missha and ost vitamine c20 serum i also have Cosrx BHA summer pore minish serum)
    Step 6: Moisturizing Cream ( i have dermatological, clinique and aloe propolis soothing gel)
    Step 7: Eye Cream
    Step 8: Spot treatment Circle
    Step 9: Sleep mask ( i have ost vitamine sleep mask)
    I feel I'm doing it wrong and because of my non-knowledge :( i have a really bad reaction and i have pain in my face. Could someone please here help me by enlighten me with information on which steps and which products i should apply on my face? Thank you so much!

    1. Your order seems fine, so if you skin is reacting, your best bet is either seek out advice from a dermatologist, or if you are unable to see one, go back to a base routine that does not cause a reaction and then slowly add products back in, with a few weeks in between them, to measure what is or is not working for your skin.

  15. Hi there! Your posts on Asian skincare have helped me out immensely, especially since I'm currently using a mix of Korean and Western products. I just have a question about when to use my toner. I just bought the Missha First Treatment Essence and want to make sure I'm using my toner right so I don't undo anything the FTE is doing. I use pure rosewater as toner, no additives. So is that cleansing or hydrating? Or does FTE replace the rosewater toner?

    1. Hi Cara,

      I am so sorry! I missed this comment.

      The FTE is your first hydrating step. So if the rosewater is acting as a 'cleansing' toner, then yes, the FTE will be applied afterwards.

      Let me know if you have any other questions :)

  16. I kinda understand you post and kinda don't. But I feel like I am getting there! I just have a few question....

    1.) You said that it necessary to wait 15min after cleansing face to apply vit C because the pH lvl is too high, and you need to bring it down so the Vit C will do it jobs, is it because most cleansing thing are too high pH?( I use banila Co clean it zero, than klairs Black Sugar Charcoal Soap to do my double cleansing)
    2.) So after waiting 20min for vit C to absorb, I can directly put on my BHA product? do I need to lower the pH again? If so, how?
    3.) I uses Benton Aloe BHA... Toner, would you consider that a cleansing toner or moisturizing? And do you know if this toner lower you pH like the Mizon AHA BHA toner? And can you list some other toner that will lower your pH lv like the Mizon one you mention but on the cheaper side?
    4.) I have heard...from someone I don't remember that to not cleans your face with cleansing product in the morning and just water. Is that true? And why if possible? And should I cleans it anyways with cleansing product, if I were to put active in the morning such as vit C?

    Lastly.... I have sort out a kinda routine for day and night, can you check it for me >.<?

    Cleansing Routine(Just night? Maybe day time too?)
    - Banila Co Clean it Zero (Oil cleanser)
    - Klairs Black Sugar Charcoal Soap( Foam cleanser)
    - Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner( I heard the rumor, but I already brought it so *cross finger!*)

    Morning Routine(After cleansing or just water)
    -Wait 20min to adjust pH
    - C21.5 serum( it is LAA I believe) + 20min wait
    - Sunscreen ( should I add anything else? like a lotion or something?)

    Night Time Routine(definitely after cleansing)
    - Wait 20min or toner to adjust pH
    - C21.5 serum( Vit C) + 20min wait
    - Cosrx Blackhead Power Liquid(BHA) + 20min wait
    - 23YEARS OLD Badecasil Cream 7 in 1 Solution( This is also a active right?) +20min wait?
    - La Roche-Posay Cicaplast Baume B5

    And if I would like to add tea tree oil in my night routine, where should that go?

    SORRY for this LONG list of question! And thank you for spending you time and reading it!!!!

    1. Hi there,

      I am not familiar with all the products you are using, so I am afraid I cannot put them in order for you, but if you follow the guides on thinnest-to-thickest and watery-to-oily you should be fine. Your pH-dependent products will follow the order of this guide. :)

      I can, however, answer your other questions:

      "1.) You said that it necessary to wait 15min after cleansing face to apply vit C because the pH lvl is too high, and you need to bring it down so the Vit C will do it jobs, is it because most cleansing thing are too high pH?( I use banila Co clean it zero, than klairs Black Sugar Charcoal Soap to do my double cleansing)"

      Vit C serums that use L-AA (L-Ascorbic acid) are pH-dependent so yes, you need to restore your skin down to a normal pH (5.5 or lower) and preferably a bit lower than that if you can, because L-AA Vit C needs to be below pH 3.5 to work properly so the serum will waste time lowering your skin down to below 3.5. If your skin's pH is already low, it doesn't have to work as hard to get down to the right pH, meaning it can get more done before it loses its effectiveness window.

      "2.) So after waiting 20min for vit C to absorb, I can directly put on my BHA product? do I need to lower the pH again? If so, how?"

      Nope, your L-AA Vit C is lower than what BHA needs, so even though your skin will have returned back to a more normal pH after the 20 min is over, your skin is already in a good zone for BHA.

      "3.) I uses Benton Aloe BHA... Toner, would you consider that a cleansing toner or moisturizing? And do you know if this toner lower you pH like the Mizon AHA BHA toner? And can you list some other toner that will lower your pH lv like the Mizon one you mention but on the cheaper side?"

      Neither, Benton Aloe BHA toner is a Hydrating toner and is not a low enough pH to function as a pH-adjusting toner. Also, Benton only uses natural preservatives and they themselves warn on their packaging to keep them away from heat, cold, and light, so there is no guarantee the preservatives are still stable by the time they internationally ship to your doorstep. For that reason, although I know that their products are otherwise excellent, I do not recommend them to people unless they live in Korea and can ensure the product has remained at safe temperatures from Factory to their Fridge.

      Mizon is the only pH-adjusting toner I have used and liked, so I am afraid I do not have other suggestions for you. Peachandlily recently confirmed on Instagram that Mizon toner is back in production although there is no stock date.

      "4.) I have heard...from someone I don't remember that to not cleans your face with cleansing product in the morning and just water. Is that true? And why if possible? And should I cleans it anyways with cleansing product, if I were to put active in the morning such as vit C?"

      This is going to be YMMV. I personally sometimes clean with just water and a konjac sponge, sometimes with a foaming cleanser, it's all dependent on how my skin feels. If you are using a low-pH gentle cleanser, and you feel that you need a better clean than just water in the AM, there is no reason not to cleanse your face. It's all dependent on your skin.

      Sometimes I cleanse my face with just the Mizon AHA BHA toner in the morning on a cotton pad. If I do use OST in the morning, I always pH adjust my skin no matter what I used to cleanse, because my tap water is very dirty and pH 7.55, so there are many foreign substances in it that will affect the pH of my skin. Unless you are using distilled water, don't assume that any old tap water will also be 'neutral' enough not to affect the pH of your skin. It's not going to be a LOT, but this is why people recommend either leaving your face alone for 20 min to let it naturally adjust, or use a pH-adjusting toner like I do if they do not want to wait.

      Take care! :)

  17. Hi Cat! Recently just came across your blog and so glad I found it because I would have never known the importance of using a low pH cleanser :o Do you have any recommendations for a low pH cleanser, other than the MRCS? :)) I can't seem to find anything around the web on my own haha halllppp.

    1. Hi Annie!

      I recently reviewed the Su:m37 White Award Enzyme Powder Wash, which was low pH, and there is a Missha Micro Bubble Something Something Long Name Aqua Something Something (seriously Missha what is up with these impossible names??) which is low pH but I did not like it as it was too stripping. There is also a Hada Labo cleanser in a pump (not the tube version) which is low pH and very popular. :)

  18. Hi! I came across your blog a few months ago and it is delightfully insightful! I have been suffering from acne breakouts every since I was 16 (25 now...) and i'm desperately in search of a good skin care routine! I am completely amazed by the importance of using a low pH cleanser - it's so obvious but makes so much sense! What are the basic products you would recommend for combination skin (normal-dry cheeks, oily t-zone with acne breakouts on forehead/between eyebrows and chin). Thank you so much! Love from England x

    1. Hi Annyapple,

      Although I cannot make specific product recommendations, I have just recently posted a routine for Dehydrated, Combo-Oily skin that might be helpful to you! http://snowwhiteandthepear.blogspot.com/2015/07/beginners-korean-skincare-routine.html

  19. Hi! I love your blog and your posts! Really informative <3. I'm just a little confused about this post and hope you don't mind checking if I've got my routine in the correct order?

    1) Cleanser: Rohto Hada Labo Gokujyn Hyaluronic acid cleansing foam
    (now steps 2 and 3 below is where I start getting muddled up as to which should come first, the toner or the Vit C serum)
    2) Toner: Rohto Hadalabo Gokujyn Hyualuronic acid lotion (moist)
    3) Vitamin C serum: OST Original Pure Vitamin C20 Serum (wait 20 mins)
    4) My own Olay moisturisor
    5) Sun screen: Biore Sarasara UV Aqua Rich Waterly Essence Sunscreen SPF50

    1. Hi there! The Rohto Hadalabo Gokujyn Hyualuronic acid lotion is a Hydrating toner, not a pH-adjusting toner, so it needs to go after the Vit C. OST Vit C is pH-dependent and the hada labo lotion is way too hydrating/thick/residue-leaving (I have it) to be used before OST or any pH-dependent products, imo.

      Move it after the Vit C and you should be good! :)

    2. Ohhhh, I see! Thank you!!

      There is just one more thing that I don't understand regarding pH-adjusting toners:
      after reading your post on the importance of a low pH cleanser (hence my Rohto Hada Labo Gokujyn Hyaluronic acid cleansing foam), I also noticed in many other people's routines that they use a pH-adjusting toner after the cleanser. Since the cleanser I've chosen is already at a good pH for the skin (5.5), will ph-adjusting toner still be necessary? I'm unsure if I should add that step too to my routine.

    3. Many people's water (including mine) is full of foreign substances such as chemicals from the water treatment plant, minerals, etc. So although pure water is pH neutral and does not contain much in the way of buffers (aka the things that drag the pH higher or lower) most people's tap water is definitely not inert. Normal, healthy skin should self-adjust within 20 min, but many of us prefer to give our acids a head start by using a pH-adjusting toner.

    4. That makes sense! The fact that after I use my low pH foam cleanser, which then gets rinsed off by water that raises the pH back up a bit, hence needing a toner to get it down again. Cool! Thanks for the reply!

  20. Sorry... I just suddenly remember one last question....Recently I have been having a few white head poping out everywhere all over my skin, they are not sever, they are tiny and most go away after 2days but this rarely happened to me before(OR I just never pay attention before?) I was wondering if you would know the reason to that? Could it be because I just introduce the Cosrx Black head BHA liquid to my face(3days ago) and using it with Vitamin C serum at night which is too much acid for my face to handle? Or just lack or sleep or poor diet or?

    1. It's hard to say as I am not a dermatologist, but it doesn't sound like descriptions I've read of purging. It's possible that you have aggravated your skin with overexfoliation of course, but it could just as easily be anything else. Maybe try scaling back the exfoliants overall (including vit C if it's an L-AA type) to just a few times a week, and see how your skin likes it?

    2. you are right! I will try to stop the active and add them back one at time slowly! Thank you. And you said that waiting out in the sun after vit C will(might) turn you into snooki, but I thought Vit C was suppose to brighten/whiten skin? In this case, wouldn't it be better not to put it in the AM? And do I put sun screen right after application of vit C, or after the 20min wait?

    3. The Vit C I use (OST/C20 which is L-AA) does oxidize in heat or light, turning an orange colour. This includes on my face if I use a lot of it and then expose it to light, so the residue will turn orange while on my face. :) The Vit C effect on the skin is whitening, but residue can turn orange so if that happens, just wipe it off with toner on a cotton pad after the 20 minutes is up.

      If you are referring to chemical sunscreen, I can't advise you on the steps for use as I do not use chemical sunscreen, but I would recommend giving your Vit C (if it is an L-AA type) a full 20 min alone with your skin before you add anything else to the party. :)

  21. Hi Cat! Love your blog so much, it really helps! I was wondering if the Biologique Recherche Lotion p50 can be used with Cosrx BHA and AHA? I'm thinking of the p50 after vitamin c in the morning and the BHA and AHA at night? Is this dangerous? Goodness, I'm not even sure if the p50 is a BHA or just a toner to use after cleansing? I'm so sorry for all the questions, I don't really understand BHA/HA stuff :(

    1. Hi there,

      Unfortunately I have not used the P50 so I cannot comment on where it would be placed/what it would need to be combined and/or not combined with. I am sorry! :(

    2. Hi there‚ I am using it and as far as I went with my research, I understood that it works as the mizon aha bha toner. So you use it after your cleansing products.

  22. Hi! quick question, where do I use the Laneige Skin Refiner? Im kinda confused whether it's a hydrating toner or a ph lowering toner. im currently using AHA and vit c alternately so i dont know if i should use the refiner before or after these actives. im planning to add missha fta to my routine as well. thanks in advance for the help! :)

    1. Unfortunately I have not used that product so I can't advise on where it goes/what it is, but if it leaves zero residue on your skin and also has a pH below 5, it should work as a pH adjusting toner. If it is either leaving residue behind, or has a higher pH, I would assume it's a hydrating toner.

      Missha FTE would be a First Essence and go in that spot listed above. :D

  23. Hey there! Firstly thanks for this post; I recently introduced actives and always come back here as a reference guide. I finally splurged and bought the Biologique Research P50 Lotion since I've read so many great reviews and my skin is a warzone of hormonal acne right now. I was wondering where I should include this in my routine since it is an active toner? I realized some use before their BHAs and some after but right before their regular skincare.

    Here's where I am at right now:

    Double Cleanse > Mizon AHA & BHA Toner > CosRx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid > Missha FTE > Reg Skincare

    Thanks for your help!

    1. Unfortunately I have not tried the P50, but I know that skinandtonics uses it for a pH-adjusting toner, although I know she also spaces out pH dependent actives so I would recommend that you check her blog for more details.

      Your current lineup order is perfect, though! :D

  24. Hi Cat! I found your blog through reddit and I must say that I think your blog is EXTREMELY informative and helpful. Thank you so much for enlightening me with your asian-beauty-mixed-with-chemistry knowledge! I'm really curious, though, as to how I should incorporate my topical prescription acne medication within this routine. I'm on clindamycin (gel) + bp (creamy texture).Since they're "actives", should they be placed before the hydration aspects of my routine? What about AHA moisturizers? From what I surmise from your blog post, I think my evening routine should look like this:

    DHC cleansing oil
    Hada Labo cleansing foam (wait 15 min to lower skin's pH)
    OST vitamin c (wait 20 min and wipe off excess with water soaked cotton pad)
    Paula's Choice 2% BHA (might consider using this, but I have to ask derm first if it's ok; wait 20 min)
    clindamycin+bp (wait another 20 min)
    Missha FTE
    Hada Labo Gokujyun Lotion
    CosRx Racist essence/Benton Snail Bee essence
    Mizon Hyaluronic acid 100 serum
    Alpha Hydrox 10% AHA souffle (is this placement correct?)

    I'm so sorry for the long comment and all the questions, but I would truly appreciate your input! Thank you!!!

    1. Hi Naila,

      If you are using a prescription product, your best bet is to consult with your dermatologist to determine where your Rx should go and where to place the product around the Rx. I am not sure about the AHA 'souffle', as that sounds like a cream product but if it's AHA it would be an exfoliant ... unless it's too high of a pH or too low of a concentration, or there is too much oil in the product as AHA is not oil-soluble.

      Also, I recommend that you discuss your products with your dermatologist; Benton does not contain regular preservatives so there is a risk of spoilage if it is exposed to heat, cold, or light (according to their packaging) and that might be something you want their assessment on before using.

      I hope that helps!

  25. Hi cat ! I just stumble upon your blog , which is really helping me :3
    But can i ask for your help again? This is my night routine :
    Double cleansing (oil then foam with konjac sponge)
    Wait 15 min then i use my ost vit serum
    Wait 20 min then apply my benron snail bee high content essence, wait 15 min and then i use my secret key night repair ampoule, then i finish it of with my papulex hydrating cream(which is really rich).
    Am i in the right order? Also if i want to add my sk galactomyces starting treatment essence, what order should i use it? Because all this time i use it right after my cleansing and then i put my ost vit c
    Please help me cat, youre the best! :

    1. Hi Sumayyah, can you shoot me an email at snowwhiteandthepear at gmail.com, so I can answer your question? Thanks! :D

  26. I found this to be very well written. The only question I am left with is: should I use my Missha time rev. 1st treatment essence after my COSRX A-sol or should I use the Missha in the morning and the COSRX in the evening? I know that they serve different purposes, I just wonder if they would be more effective as stand alones. Thanks!

    1. Hi lulabell,

      If I was to use both in the same routine, I would put the A-sol on first so there was nothing hindering the (albeit tiny amounts) of BHA and AHA, and then apply the Missha FTE.

      If you want to split them up, that would be fine too. I consider the A-sol as my final 'active' step and the FTE as the first 'hydrating' step, but you could experiment and see what order your skin likes best?

  27. Hi Cat,

    I found this post through reddit, and I must say: THANK YOU. :D I have some passable understanding of the underlying chemistry, but I could not, for the life of me, decipher if Nature Republic TFE goes after Shiseido Ibuki Softener (but it's heavier...) or COSRX AHA Whitehead Power Liquid (doesn't the acid go first?). Or if TFE falls under the same "essence" that goes with serums and ampoules. Heh. This post is skincare GOLD.

    But just to make sure I got it right, is this what my routine should be? (*my precious Ibukis will likely be dethroned as soon as they run out. :p)

    1. Shiseido Ibuki Gentle Cleanser
    2. COSRX AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid (wait 20 mins)
    3. Nature Republic The First Essence
    4. Shiseido Ibuki Softening Concentrate
    6. Missha Time Revolution Science Activator Ampoule
    - Mask (at night, as needed)
    8. Shiseido Ibuki Refining Moisturizer
    9. - Sunblock in the morning
    - Night cream in the evening

    Plus, I'm looking at getting the Olay Regenerist Night Resurfacing Essence, but it's supposedly a serum with sufficient amounts of AHA (glycolic) and at the right PH... Will that still go before TFE, during the serums, or should I just forget about it for this routine?

    Thank you so much!

    1. Hmm, it's hard to say because I am not familiar with the Shiseido Softening Concentrate. What is its function? Does it have any instructions about where it would go?

      Also, the Olay is probably an all-in-one type product that is meant to multi task (exfoliant + moisturizing) but I am not a fan of multi taskers as it usually means they do each task less well than their unitasker counterparts. YMMV of course. :) Were you planning on replacing the Cosrx with the Olay as your AHA step?

    2. The Shiseido Softener as far as I've used it feels like a hydrating toner; I've been using it after FTE for a week now and nothing bad has happened. lol

      Yup, the Olay does seem like it is... And nope, I was thinking of using them in tandem...? But I'm yet to use the AHA (beach trip next week, will wait as not to compromise resulting photosensitivity) and just started the COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid a few days ago (impulse buy I do not regret; my skin was so smooth the following morning).

      Been reading extensively since my initial post; I'm now leaning into the idea that the Olay should be, hehehe, skipped in this (or even in most AB?) routine, mostly because the multi-tasking purpose gets in the way of efficient product/ingredient sequence... I think...

    3. Ah, then the order of the Shiseido seems fine. :) And yes, those multi tasking products are tricky to layer because they stretch across multiple steps and can meddle with the absorption of products that are designed to be layered.

      It's a good idea to wait on the AHA, not just because of your beach trip (I would do the same, I skipped AHA for the weeks I knew I would be in and out of the house all day moving and packing and driving and blah!) but also to give your skin a chance to adjust to the acid (BHA) you have already introduced. :)

  28. Hello! First of all, I love your blog.
    I was into asian beauty before but now because of your amazing blog I look at the ingredients lists more. And now I'm very concern with the pH of my products.
    Well I have a question for you if you can answer me.
    Yesterday I've bought a new moisturiser with aha and bha but I didn't remember that I've ordered the AHA power liquid from Cosrx. So now I'm wondering if that is gonna be too much AHA in my routine...
    I also use a soap free cleanser with a pH of 3.5
    And yes I use sunscreen every day :)

    I just wanted your opinion about the AHA, if it is too much or I can use both products (after my skin gets used obviously).

    Sorry if my english is not the best, is not my first language >. <


    1. Hi Sara!

      Thank you for the kind words! It's possible that it might be too much, but also keep in mind that AHA is not oil-soluble, which means that it cannot fight through oils to penetrate the skin. Creams tend to have a lot of lipids in them (oils/fats) so I would want to find out if AHA is effective when it's in a cream form.

      Since AHAs in an Asian skincare hybrid routine would go before any hydrators, and creams would go in the occlusive section, having a multi-step product like an occlusive active would not really fit with this flow. That's not saying you can't use it!! Just that these rules won't necessarily apply anymore.

      As for too much, that's really a question only you, or a dermatologist, can answer. I would hesitate to double down on a single type of acid but that's just my personal opinion for my skin.

      And your English is great ;)

      I hope that helps! :D

  29. Thanks for such a great post!

    First question: (if its too much of a bother you can ignore the rest, I wrote a lot)
    Have you ever tried the Etude House Wonder Pore toner? I'm thinking of using it and I'd really like your opinion :)

    Ok, sorry, I know this is unrelated but you seem to be the only korean beauty blogger who thoroughly responds to comments, so I was hoping you'd be able to give some advice. I also know I'm pretty young to be trying such an extensive ski care routine, but I figured its never too early to take better care of your skin :)

    I am a 16 year old girl who lives in America, but I visit Korea to see my grandmother in the summer. I’m looking for a not very expensive system to control my oily all over skin with mild acne (blackheads/whiteheads/pimples/closed comodones) mainly on my T-zone.

    I currently use the Tony Moly Egg Pore Shiny Skin Soap, which is probably not at a good Ph-I need to test it, an American moisturizer (Clean &Clear oil-free Dual Action moisturizer) with 0.5% Salicylic Acid, and the Tony Moly Mango Skin Food Sunscreen, which is better than nothing, but my skin is still oily with blackheads on my nose, pimples and closed comodones on my forehead and sometimes elsewhere, and the occasional whitehead, though my pores have definitely gotten smaller with the egg soap. I don’t wear makeup other than sometimes (not often though-somehow I can rationalize getting up half an hour earlier to fix my skin, but not 5 minutes to put on makeup) mascara, so that’s not clogging up my pores.

    I would love some advice on an affordable full day and nighttime routine to get next time I go because I’d really rather not have to buy anything online. Can you recommend a good sunscreen too? I’m thinking that one of the pore refining/oil reducing ones may be better because the one I’m using is making my skin shiny. At the very bottom I've put together a list of products I'm interested in and any guidance would be great. Sorry these are a lot of questions and I thank you in advance for any advice you can give.

    Skinfood peach sake pore serum
    Skinfood apple pore sun cream/peach sake sun liquid
    Étude house goodbye pore ever pore primer essence
    Étude house wonder pore toner
    Too cool for school pumpkin sleeping pack
    Cosrx blackhead BHA

    Reddit-claimed Ph ok:
    Skinfood black sugar scrub foam
    Étude house wonder pore whipping foaming
    The face shop rice water bright cleansing foam
    Innisfree bija anti trouble gel cleanser
    Face shop blemish zero bubble foam cleanser
    Skinfood steam milk bubble mask
    Face shop neo classic homme black essential all in one cleanser
    Nature republic the first bubble cleanser
    Innisfree calming gel cleanser
    Nuganics apple pore bubble cleanser
    Clean and clear deep action

    1. Hi Katia,

      I have used the Etude House Wonder Pore and didn't really like it, although I didn't hate it. My strongest impression of it was from the alcohol in it. I know some use it as a pH adjusting toner.

      As for the other question, because you are legally a minor, I don't think I can really answer those questions about skincare (not that I really could if you weren't!) in lieu of recommending that you consult a medical professional.

      If you are looking for sunscreens, I have talked about a few (you can find them under the sunscreen tag in the sidebar on my blog) but unless your skin also hates chemical filters, I would not choose all-physical sunscreen as I do. They are a bit of a pain to work with, and the chemical-physical combo ones seem much better, if your skin can tolerate them.

      Take care! :)

    2. Is it legal and safe for me to say which products on this list that I've personally used and liked?

      I like the Etude House Wonder Pore, though it's not the most amazing thing to happen to my face or anything like that. I LOVE the Skinfood Black Sugar Mask Wash Off, which I use both as a mask and just as a scrub. I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be using it that way but it works for me.

      If you have not yet been introduced to oil blotting sheets, please get yourself some.

      As someone currently in Korea, I will say that Cosrx isn't the easiest to obtain, so it's actually probably easier to order it online. Unless you've found it before, in which case, please tell me where I can get it lol. Same for Nuganics.

      Sorry to butt in, and hopefully this is an okay comment?

    3. Hi Grace,

      I think it's fine to add personal comments and experiences, as long as you aren't recommending things for others- for example, I can't say "X product will whiten your dark spots" but I can say "X product whitened my dark spots" because I'm commenting on a personal experience, not making a claim on what effect it is going to have for others. :)

  30. Hi Cat,

    Thanks so much for this post! It was exactly what I was looking for and really informative. I have one question regarding this part:

    "Start with the lowest pH dependent product, which is the Vit C. It needs to go on a 'bare' face, and it's so low-pH-dependent [link] that you either have to wait 15-20 min after washing your face for your skin to naturally go back down to pH 4.2-5.6 on its own [link], or force it down with a pH adjusting toner (I use Mizon AHA BHA toner, which is around 4.5, so on the low end of 'natural' skin pH) if your skin will dry out too much for waiting."

    I've been reading posts about using a low pH cleanser and if we are already doing that, do we still need to wait 15 minutes/use a pH adjusting toner before applying our actives?


    1. I think it's a matter of personal preference, and whether you are concerned about how the efficacy might be affected. I use pretty mild or unstable products (mild BHA, unstable Vit C) so I tend to baby them and try to create as close to ideal circumstances as I can, to ensure I am getting the maximum benefit. Also, the water in my new home is ravaging my skin so I absolutely do need a pH adjusting toner to rebalance my skin, despite using a low pH cleanser. That has nothing to do with the cleanser. and everything to do with the terrible water.

      I hope that helps!

  31. Yikessssss! So I guess I absolutely shouldn't be mixing my vitamin ost with my missha fte????

    1. Hm. I would personally separate them just so the OST can chill out at it's preferred pH, but if it's working for you, maybe the mixture isn't knocking it out of the 'golden zone'?

  32. First off, thank you for this amazing post! It's cleared up a lot of questions that I had about some of my products.

    I just recently got my Vitamin C serum, so I'm starting to incorporate it into my routine, but I had a question about the whole niacinamide and LAA issue. I use CeraVe's Foaming Facial Cleanser which contains niacinamide and then I use Be The Skin Botanical Pore Toner to adjust my pH level. At this point, I would use my Vitamin C serum, but I was wondering, should I be changing my cleanser to one without niacinamide at all? I'm not quite sure how much it contains, but it's kind of in the middle of the ingredient list. (Currently waiting to see if CeraVe will tell me the percentage of niacinamide in the cleanser.)

    Also, separate question, have you tried Be The Skin's Botanical Pore Toner/what are your thoughts?

    Thank you!

    1. Hi Chris,

      I've seen conflicting information about the niacinamide and L-AA Vitamin C question, so unfortunately I can't offer you even an opinion on whether I'd avoid it or disregard it. I would recommend doing some research on the flushing concern, and whatever information you feel is the most substantiated, go with that. I have not tried that specific toner, my apologies!

      Take care!

  33. Hello!

    I am wondering if you can advise me, I am a bit confused (I am always confused anyway but you know...)

    So I recently added the Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid to my routine, seems ok despite having sensitive skin. I'd like to add the OST serum for pigmentation, so would it go like this?

    - Cleanser
    - AHA toner (I have only tried the Pixi Glow Tonic which made my face itch so far, do you have any other recommendations?)
    - OST serum
    - Wait 15 minutes
    - BHA Serum
    - Wait?
    - Everything else

    Does that make sense?!

    Thank you!


    1. Your order looks good! I personally wait 20 min after my OST but that's just my personal preference. BHA would also have a wait time.

      Unfortunately my favourite pH adjusting toner is currently not in production, so I'm afraid I don't have any recommendations right now. :(

      Take care!

    2. The toner she is using is the type that makes your skin HP balance out right?
      But how do you generally know what your skin HP is compared to the products?

      A few more questions >__>

      How often should you use the acids, is it more of a personal preference based on skin condition? What is OST serum, and how do you know how many serums you need in general? Don't wanna buy too many products lol.

      Also you said AHA is photosensitive up to a week, so if you're going on a vacation and are planning to sunbathe or whatnot, should you stop using it a week before and not use during the vacation?

      Thank You :p

  34. I just have the quickest question for anyone who can answer it. Would I use Mizon 8% AHA first then the Benton BHA toner or the other way around.

    Cause right now I'm just doing this:

    Banila Clean It Zero
    Laneige Foam Moisturizer Cleanser
    Benton Aloe BHA Toner
    Missha Night Repair
    Josie Maran Argan Oil.

    I want to incorporate the Mizon AHA but unsure of the order to place that product it.


  35. Wow, you're becoming quite the guru!

    Unfortunately I have more questions and they might be redundant (if so sorry, point me to a post where you've answered them!)

    1. How often do you use the clairsonic? Do you use it after you've removed the makeup? Do you use BHA/AHA right after even if you've used the clairsonic?
    2. Did you ever hear of the Japanese Revolution lotion mask? It helped me a lot. I do it right after I come out of the shower (wetting cottons squares and then putting a Japanese lotion on and letting them sit on my face). I do this because I find the moisture is sealed into the skin instead of my skin drying out right after the shower but with my vitamin C (high potency serum by Cellex-c) and the BHA and AHA I have no idea how to use them. According to your nifty post, I should be using the C then the BHA and then the AHA, and only then the mask... But it seems a bit counterintuitive. What do you think?

    My skin is in horrible shape and it's only improving slightly since introducing the lotion mask and the Cellex-c serums (B5 one is kinda jell-like so even though it says to layer it right after the C I'm assuming it should come after the BHAs, correct?)

  36. Hi! I was wondering if you could review Papa recipe's Bombee Skin? it's on wishtrend and I want to buy it but the PH level is said to be 5.50.
    Is it too high? The ingredients sound good.

  37. Thank you for such an informative article. I've only discovered your blog very recently and I have been reading through all your posts, including the long comment threads. I commend your effort and enthusiasm in replying to questions!

    I hope you can also help me with my routine. I use the following products in this order:

    (1)Biologique Recherche Lait U Vegetal Cleansing Milk, PH: 5 >>> (2) Cosrx Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol, PH: 4.3 or Paula's Choice Resist Weekly Retexturizing Foaming Treatment 4% BHA, PH: 3.2-3.8 to thourougly clean the pores first >>> (3) Biologique Recherche Lotion P50 (AHA toner), PH: 3 >>> (4) OST Vitamin C20 Serum >> wait for 15-20 minutes then rest of routine.

    I know that's a lot of actives but I usually skip one. But suppose I'll be using all of them, what do you think is the most optimal order?

    Thank you in advance for your reply!

    1. I think the P50 makes it tricky because that is a blend of acids and sort of defies being put in a specific order. It's also quite strong, and I would personally put it as its own exfoliant instead of treating it as a toner.

      The A-Sol is a spot treatment, not an exfoliant, so I personally place it at the end of my actives, but ymmv of course!

      Take care.

  38. Love the blog, very informative! I have a question though about pH in regards to BHA and AHA. Since the Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid has a pH of 3.5 and the Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid has a pH of 4.0, shouldn't the AHA go on first, according to the pH rule?

    1. Hi Chris,

      Because the BHA is in such lower concentration than the AHA, it would still go first. There is also a rule involving strength of concentration but I haven't gone into that as it's adding even more complexity to an issue that is already complicated. For the most part, BHA products are in the 1-2% range, maaybe 3-5% whereas AHA tends to be in th 10% range (usually 7-12% is what I've seen) so the AHA is almost always stronger and would go second. Also, BHA helps to break up the oily goo in your pores, possibly helping the AHA work better as it will be unimpeded by skin oils. Theoretically.

  39. Man, I love your blog. It's a gold mine of skincare resources.

    So I have a question. I've decided to start using a Vitamin C serum since apparently that's awesome for PIH and brightening your skin in general. However, I'm using the It's Skin Power 10 Formula VC Effector, which I believe uses tetra-c not l-aa. Does that mean it's not an active? Should I basically just follow the thinnest to thickest rule for this or should this go immediately after cleansing? Thanks in advance if you reply :)

    1. Hi Grace,

      I checked with Chel from Holysnails, since she formulates Vit-C serums, and she said tetra-c is oil-soluble so it could be used in the regular, non-pH dependent steps.

  40. Thank you so much for such detailed information. Could you please advise on my current routine and let me know if I need to change products or switch up the order of the steps?
    1) Remove makeup: natural coconut oil
    2) Cleanse: The Face Shop Mango Seed Cleaning Foam
    3) Tone: Primera Organience Water
    4) Actives: OST 21.5 serum
    Actives:COSRX Blackhead Power Liquid
    5) Occlusives: Kosmea Natural Rose Hip Oil

    Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Lien,

      Your order seems fine, but I notice that you don't have any hydrating products. If that's what your skin likes, though, there is nothing wrong with that. :)

  41. Love your blog.

    Just started using OST C21.5 Serum, BHA and AHA. Can you please tell me the step and the order? Also the order for AM and PM routine?

    I just bought these: (mostly COSRX products)

    Cosrx low ph God Morning gel cleanser
    Cosrx AHA/BHA Toner
    Cure Natural Aqua Gel exfoliator
    Cosrx BHA Blackhead
    Cosrx AHA Whitehead
    Cosrx A-sol
    Cosrx Galactomyces Essence
    23 Years old cream 7-in-1 (bought this on wishtrend)
    Hada Labo Gokujun Hyaluronic Lotion Moist
    O.S.T. C21.5 serum
    Green Tea Emulsion
    Mizon AHA 8% Peeling Serum

    I've read about Cosrx products and that they're good. So I bought quiet a lot.

    Thank you.

    1. Hi Joimee.

      If you are using all 3 in a single routine (and I would not recommend that, as that's a lot of acids in one go) it would be OST, then BHA, then AHA.

      I would look at breaking them up and doing them on alternating days or routines, and err on the side of caution. Some people's skin can only handle 1-3 acid uses per week, total, regardless of the kind used.

      I have used a fair number of these products, so if you click on the Routine and Spreadsheet tab at the top, you can browse through routines I've used and see where I place my products. :)

  42. Hi, I'm thinking to incorporate p50 and Mizon AHA 8% into my current routine but I realized no-one is using the products I use so I'll like to clarify before I get started on them. Don't wish to get adverse effects on my face.

    My current night routine:
    Shu Uemura cleaning oil
    Sulwhasoo Snowise Whitening Cleanser (waiting for my Su:37 Miracle Stick)
    SKII Clear Lotion
    SKII Facial Treatment Essense or Sulwhasoo First Activating Serum or both
    SKII R.N.A serum or SKII Whitening Power Spots Specialist
    SKII Stempower or Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Cream

    Appreciate it.

  43. Hello, thank you again for such an amazing post. If it is alright, can you please take a look at the order of my rountine. I think i have way too many products and have a hard time to put them in the correct order.

    My skin type: combination and oily on Tzone and cheek.
    Skin concern: acne/blemish, whitening/brightening

    Sum:37 Rose Stick cleanser
    Cosrx pH adjuster
    OST vitamin C/ Insta-natural vitamin C
    Cosrx BHA blackhead
    AHA Cosrx Return A-Sol
    Hada Labo Shirojyun Lotion (Toner)
    UNT Pore Refiner
    Missha FTE/or Benton Snail Bee Essence
    Missha Ampoule Long Name
    UNT Acne Med
    Emulsion (need recommendation)
    Day Cream (need recommendation)

    Double Cleansing (Banila Clean it Zero + Sum:37 Rose Stick)
    Cosrx pH adjuster
    IASO AC Booster
    Cosrx BHA blackhead
    Hada Labo Shirojyun Lotion (Toner)
    UNT Pore Refiner
    Missha FTE/or Benton Snail Bee Essence
    Missha Ampoule Long Name
    UNT Acne Med
    Emulsion (need recommendation)
    Night Cream (need recommendation)

    Please correct me if the order is wrong, and I'm pretty much open for any of your favorite HG and I also need brightening/whitening elmusion and day/night cream.

  44. Hi Cat,

    Thanks so much for your blog. I'm using it to build up my own routine and have incorporated many that you have recommended. However, I am having trouble finding the Mizon AHA BHA toner for a reasonable price and even friends in Korea can't seem to find it.

    Just wondering if there is another alternative? Besides the Cosrx one you've reviewed (and didn't like).

    Thank you!

  45. Hi, my new-fave-person-ever!
    I know a lot of girls have asked you about their specific routine, so I'm just gonna forget my uniqueness as an unrepeatable individual and join the crowd.

    My current rutine includes only one product with "actives", which is Cosrx - Aha/Bha clarifying treatment. Now I'm learning it doesnt seem to do much... Anyway, I'm sitting next to my front door waiting for the mailman to arrive with OST C 20 Original Pure Vitamin C20 Serum
    -which I planned to use by night, not sure if before of after the aha/bha-doesn't-do-much-stuff and COSRX Galactomyces 95 White Power Essence to use by day. I though of using it like instead of an ampoule -between my rose water toner and my moisurizers-, but now I'm reading it works more like a first serum and probably wont do much by itself... anyway, can you help me with the right places to put those? Also, I'm thinking on getting the COSRX AHA 7 WHITEHEAD POWER LIQUID to use some nights on localized areas (I have keratosis pilar on my jaw, so pretty #not), I thin it should go right after the actives?
    Sorry if this is a bit confusing; I swear I've done my research, but maybe it was too much on a signle night and now I'm overwhelmed (and sugar-drunk because of Halloween candy).
    Thanks, I love you from the distance <3


  46. Hello from Norway!

    I was so happy when I stumbled upon your blog, its sooo informative, and I have learned alot, thank you! However, I am a bit confused. I’ve been reading your posts about pH-testing and putting your products in order, and just when I think I got it, I get confused..

    So, Vitamin C (OST C20) needs a pH-level of 3.5, doesn't this mean that the closer to 3.5 you can force the pH level to, the better it will work?

    Also, you wrote that the Cosrx AHA/BHA Clarifying treatment toner has such a low pH (3.85), and that it makes no sense. But wouldn’t this just be positive for prepping your skin before OST C20? And the Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid has an even lower pH-level (3.37), isn’t this a good thing when using OST C20?

    What I’m wondering is, when using actives like OST C20, in what range should the pH-adjusting toner bring your skin down to? Will the C20 serum be effective in the pH-range of 3-4.2?
    And what about AHA and BHA?

    Thank you!
    Benedicte :)

  47. Hi there!

    I just recently found your blog. I'm introducing the OST C20 soon in my routine (late bloomer I know! but better late than never :D) and I was wondering if you can help me out with the order of the routine I must do in order to get the maximum benefits from the serum. Before I get into that though, I also have a couple of questions if you don't mind. I'm currently using the ole henriksen vitamin c serum though and I'm almost out of my 1st bottle that's why I ordered the OST because it's a lot stronger (or so I've heard). Given that I'm already using a vit c serum on my routine, does this mean that my skin is already used to having vit c applied on it and I can start using the OST 1x daily? Or do you still think that it's best to start slowly at first (3x a week) then increase to 1x daily after a week or so? Also, since I've heard that the OST is sort of like an exfoliator, how do you apply it on your face? Do you pour it on your palm (and how many drops) and simply pat it all over your face or do you rub it on your face like how you do it when you're exfoliating?
    I'm planning on using the OST c20 at night as I have more time to wait than in the morning.
    Here's my AM routine:
    1) Laneige Deep Pore Cleansing Foam (I use mia 2 clarisonic every 2 to 3 days or so)
    2) TonyMoly AC Control Toner
    3) IOPE bio essence intensive skin conditioning
    4) TonyMoly AC Control Serum
    5) TonyMoly AC Control Whitening Emulsion

    PM Routine
    1) TonyMoly Timeless Ferment Snail Foam Cleanser (now I'm not sure if this lowers the ph level on my skin or not. I have googled this for reviews but no one mentioned the ph level on it)
    2) Should I wait 15 minutes before applying my OST?
    3) OST C20 vitamin c serum
    4) Wait 30 minutes
    5) TonyMoly I'm Real Rice Smooth Toner (I'm not sure if this is a hydrating toner or cleansing toner honestly and whether it lowers my ph lvl on my face or not)
    6) IOPE bio essence intensive skin conditioning
    7) TonyMoly floria whitening capsule essence (I'm almost out of this one so I'll have to find a good essence/ampoule that has whitening on it)
    8) TonyMoly Tea Tree Sebum & Pore Lotion
    9) And a sleeping mask once a week.

    Thank you so much! :D

  48. Hello :) This article was very helpful, thank you writing it! Also, I wanted to ask about the actives. I use an exfoliating product with glycolic acid in it (12%) but the problem is, it's not liquid like toners or essences but it's a cream, and I have no idea if I should use it before my toner,essence etc or after that and together with moisturizes?

    1. I forgot to add that the cream is more on the thicker, creamier side (but it can be drying on the skin actually, i´m guessing it´s due to the acid). Also, if it helps besides the cream, the products I use are - Skin Watchers Pore Control Toner, Benton Snail Bee Essence, Nature Republic Aloe Gel and Innisfree olive mist (sometimes I add Cosrx BHA A-sol on some days) and I´m really getting confusing by all the steps, and I don´t want to make the other products less effective just because I added the glycolic acid cream on the wrong step :/

  49. Hi
    Only just came across your blog and read the ph level post and now this. All very interesting. I started a koren skincare regime about 7 months ago. Oil cleanse/foam cleanse/tone/essance/eyecream/moustize and spf. Mixed in with weekly exfolication and Vit C. My skins never looked so good.
    I have however been diagnoised with Acne Roseca. I already have a half face birthmark.
    Im struggling to work out where to go from here. Having read your posts on ph and the above I am wondering if now I need to change and go for a ph lowering routine to assit with my acne roseca. But having this means my skin can be sensitive.

    Can you suggest anything to try? I saw in the ph post with regards that acid cleansers are good for roseca.

    Any help would be great feeling a bit lost.

  50. Hello from sunny Malaysia,
    I just wanted to say thank you for this very enlightening post. I am 38 and was still in a limbo over my skin care product. I had just recently included both Paula'a Choice BHA 2% and Resist AHA and am liking them very much. Truly chemical exfoliants are a life changer. However, this makes me wonder when I should be using the sheet masks that I so love. You have help me a lot in this very informative article. So thank you again.

  51. Hi so I'm using shangpree long lasting toner - says that it lowers the ph as well as retains moisture....so is this considered a cleansing toner? or hydrating toner?

    1. This would really depend on whether you feel it leaves residue behind or not. :)

  52. Hi:) Im just new about this korean skin care. I wanted to ask:

    If I use MIZON AHA & BHA Daily Clean Toner, do i need to wait 15min. to rest my skin or I can apply right away my OST Vit C20 serum after toner?

    I do have more more black dots on my nose and cheeks i dunno if it's a whiteheads or blackheads but when I tried facial, the attendant said that it's more whiteheads than a blackheads so Im confused of the two. My question here which one I need more, is it COSRX BHA BLACKHEAD POWER LIQUID or AHA LIQUID?

    When I use these product the Vit C serum and BHA or AHA liquid, do i need to rest my skin in between for 15 mins? before i can proceed another product. Like for example, Vit C serum-15mins rest-BHA liquid?

    Hope you can help me.
    Thanks & God bless!

    1. Hi there! The Mizon AHA BHA toner means you can skip waiting after cleansing and go straight to your actives, such as the OST C20.

      Generally, BHA is thought to help prevent clogging of the skin, whereas AHA is scaling off the top layer of skin which can help bring existing clogs to the surface.

      YMMV, but I like to give my actives a good 15-20 min on their own to work before I start throwing more products on my face, but that's my personal preference.

      I hope that helps!

    2. Oh thanks! One more questions, which one i use first tha BHA or AHA?

    3. Actually, the BHA and AHA order is discussed above in this post, so you're already in the right place! ;)

  53. Thank you so much for your post. I still have a little trouble with the order of my night routine and I was hoping you could help me out. Right now, it goes:

    1. SkinFood's Black Sugar Cleansing Oil
    2. Hada Labo Tokyo Hydrating Facial Cleanser
    3. Neutrogena Toner
    4. OZ Naturals Vitamin C Serum
    5. Mizon AHA 8% Peeling Serum
    6. Olay moisturizer

    I'm a little confused as to whether I should switch my AHA and Vitamin C around, and where the toner goes. I always thought the toner would wipe off the Vitamin C, so I put it first, but looking over everyone's routines, it seems like toner goes after the Vitamin C? I don't know, LOL. Hopefully, you can help me. Thank you so much!

    1. Hi 7989,

      Unless your Vit C is L-AA, it will not be pH dependent. Also, I am not familiar with your toner, so I can't advise if it's a pH adjusting/prepping toner or a hydrating toner. A hydrating toner would go in the hydrating toner spot (ie. after actives) but it depends on what yours is.

      Take care! :)

  54. Hi Cat,

    Do you know where a prescription Hydroquinone cream would fit best within an AB routine? I have Hydroquinone 4% cream (no other active ingredients in the formula) and I'm not sure if I should put it at the end of my actives in my evening routine or use it as the first of my evening creams. Hydroquinone itself is not oil soluble, but since it's formulated as a cream I'm assuming it should be able to penetrate through my other products if I used it as a cream step? Or should I consider it an active since it's a prescription product and use it as the last step of my actives?

    My dermatologist said she didn't *think* it matters when I apply the Hydroquinone, but that I should just do what I felt like, which was rather unhelpful. I'd appreciate your input on this!

    1. Unfortunately, as I am not a medical professional, I do not. I'd have to defer you to your doctor. :(

      Take care!

  55. Hi Cat,

    Please help. I also have a combination type of skin, can you please tell me the good oreder on how I can use my korean products here:

    Apieu deep cleansing foam
    Etude wonderpore cleanser
    Nature republic aloe gel
    Mamonde soothing gel
    Corsx BHA blackhead
    Corsx clarifying toner
    Isa knox ideal ringer astin c drop
    Galactomyces 80 eye cream
    Pure derm tea tree toner
    Secret key starting treatment essence

    Please please help! Thanks!

    1. Hi there! I actually have a post about a simpler way to put things in order with your specific products here: Beginner's Dilemma: Overwhelmed on the Order of Your Specific Products? http://www.snowwhiteandtheasianpear.com/2015/12/beginners-dilemma-overwhelmed-on-order.html

      Take care! :)

  56. Hi, Cat!

    First I just wanted to say how helpful your blog is! Love your blog so much!

    I'm a brazillian (living in Brazil) so I don't have any information in my language, K-beauty didn't get here yet :( , I buy all my produtcs from ebay and it takes forever to get to me (the sad is I'm not even exaggerating, still waiting for my Mizon Snail recovery I bought in november...)

    But anyway... Could you help me some questions?

    -Even if I'm using a low PH cleanser I need an adjusting toner to use actives?

    - I'm currently using Missha time revolution clear toner, I read somewhere that the PH is between 3.8 and 4.8, so it is an adjusting toner? And how I know if a toner is PH adjusting or hydrating?

    Sorry for any english mistakes and Thanks!


    1. Hi Daniela,

      I am glad it's helpful! On your question about whether you need to use a pH adjusting toner before actives is really going to come down to your preference. I like to use really gentle acids that need a bit of a boost from the toner, but some people use stronger acids and/or find that it's totally fine without it! My skin gets really grumpy without my toner so I prefer to use it. :)

      As for whether Missha is a pH adjusting toner, that's really going to depend on whether you feel that it doesn't leave residue behind. As to how do you know which is a pH toner and a hydrating toner, that's harder to determine. :( If it has words like "hydrating, nourishing, moisturizing" etc, it's probably a hydrating toner.

      Take care! :)

  57. Hi There!

    This was EXACTLY the post I was looking for! I do still have one question about product order and if you could help me I'd be so grateful and love you forever.

    So far I have this:

    Double Cleanse
    COSRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner

    Confusion area: COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid, then COSRX Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol (because it has AHA and BHA?), and THEN the COSRX AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid (but maybe not every day)?

    Misha Time Revolution FTE Intensive
    Its Skin Hyaluronic Acid Toner
    Mizon Snail Recovery Gel Cream
    Etc., etc.?

    Thank you so much!

    1. Hi Britni,

      The A-Sol is not an exfoliant- the concentrations are too low and the pH is too high. :) So, I place it at the end of my actives, but that's just how I do it. :)

      Take care!

  58. Hi Cat,

    I am 24 years old this year and trying to incorporate a night cream into my PM routine. I have combination skin (dry chin, oily T-one with occasional break-outs). Do you have any recommendations?


    1. Hi Stephanie,

      Although I cannot recommend specific products to you as I am not a medical professional, I also have combination skin, so if you check out the tab above that says "Routine & Spreadsheet" you will be able to see what I'm currently using.

      You can also see other bloggers' routines by going to "Recommended Reading" and checking out the blog links there. :)

      Take care!

  59. Hello, I've just came across this post and I've been using cosrx bha blackhead liquid for a week. I apply the acid right after I cleanse without waiting 15mins to adjust ph and wait for 20-30mins before I carry on with the rest of my routine. Will the acid work without waiting ph adjust?

    1. If not waiting and not adjusting is giving you the results that you are looking for, I'd say carry on. :) I like to give my weak acids a boost with pH adjusting, but that's just my preference.

      Take care!

  60. Oh my goodness. Not sure if my first comment was posted but here we go again. Hello! I am new to the Korean Skincare routine and this year I wanted to make sure a take care more of my skin hahaha. I plan on buying a few products (not really few but a lot....) on wishtrend and I was gonna purchase the aha bha and vitamin c from klairs. I was wondering if you could help me arrange a skincare (morning and evening?)routine using the products i picked as well as the waiting time (cause I saaw you need to wait for ph things for a bit..) I am so sorryyy about this ;o;

    Here are some of the products I am planning to purchase:
    - [KLAIRS] Rich Moist Foaming Cleanser
    - [KLAIRS] Gentle Black Sugar Facial Polish
    - [KLIARS] (Upgrade) Supple Preparation Facial Toner
    - [KLAIRS] Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop
    - [KLAIRS] Rich Moist Soothing Cream

    Thank you in advance! :D

    1. Hi there,

      The order tools in this post should help: http://www.snowwhiteandtheasianpear.com/2015/12/beginners-dilemma-overwhelmed-on-order.html

      Take care,

  61. Hi Cat. I'm joining the Chemical Exfoliation bandwagon and I need a bit of help.

    My routine goes like this:
    1. Cleanse
    2. Adjust ph with mizon ahabha toner
    3. Mizon aha or cosrx bha on alternating days
    4. Wait 30 mins
    5. Missha fte
    6. Hada labo hydrating toner
    7. Serums, ampoules
    8. Klairs rich moist cream
    9. Laneige sleeping pack

    I'm using Mizon AhaBha Toner to adjust my ph, do I need to wait before applying actives or do I apply it immediately after patting the toner dry?

    How do I apply the actives? With cotton pads? Patting with bare hands?

    1. As I mentioned in the post, the pH adjusting toner allows you to skip any pre-actives wait time. I would apply your active as directed by your dermatologist, or per the packaging instructions. :)

      Take care,

  62. Hi,
    I have a question on moisturizing. Do I also need to wait like 20 min between an active and moisturizing? I only use one active per routine (Vit C or BHA)

    Besides I do not see the point in using the Aha&Bha daily clean toner which is pH 4.5. Healthy skin is 4.2-5.6 and cleansers should be below 5.5. So the pH of my skin will never really rise above 4.5. What is the added value of the toner especially if I used a cleanser with a low pH?

    1. It's really going to depend on what you personally feel is appropriate for you. If you don't feel the pH toner step is necessary, skip it. If you feel that it helps, keep it. :) Everyone's skin is different.

      Take care,

  63. Greetings from the UK, Cat! Thanks so much for this post - I have just started getting into AB and have ordered a number of products, and am gradually starting to use them. I have a few questions about my routine order, if you don't mind me asking!

    Micellar water
    Face Shop light rice oil
    Innis free pore cleansing foam
    Missha snail ampoule
    Laniege water bank eye cream
    Moisturizer/ mask

    My confusion is in relation to some products I am waiting to arrive (whoo hoo!): missha FTE, shara shara honey bomb and innis free green tea serum. May I know what order I should slot these three products into my PM routine? (:

    Also, some general skincare questions I was hoping you might help me with:

    1) I have quite dry skin, and have just started using the laniege bb cushion. Despite heavy moisturising + water mist after makeup, my skin still flakes badly (esp. under eye area) during the day and is very unsightly ): May I know if you have any suggestions/ tips? ^^

    2) I am 22 this year, but am beginning to see fine lines on my forehead and possibly smile lines as well ): Have no idea what to do about this! As I don't think it's time to start intensive anti-aging yet, and don't want to ruin my skin prematuring by overdoing it - but I want to prevent aging as best as I can (:

    3) I have just started using an eye cream (also from laniege), and the one I used first gave me milia under my eyes (only found this out when I visited another laniege store and the salesperson said that the one the first lady recommended me was too rich for my age/ skin). Any thoughts/ recommendations as to an effective eye cream for my age and skin type (dry, dehydrated, occasional pimples)? Also, I have these red/ greyish blemishes on my face from old pimple scars ): Never used to have them until about a few years ago, and they are not disappearing despite me applying Kiehls acne blemish treatment at least one a week and a pink drying pimple solution from Etude House daily.

    4) Am looking to get a brightening/ hydrating sleeping pack with nice ingredients! Have been searching for ages, but there doesn't seem to be one holy grail standout that I feel like is 'the one'. I considered COSRX's rice mask, but there have been some reviews that it really didn't work for people, which makes me a bit apprehensive. I have just ordered Innisfree's new whitening pore sleeping pack. Was really torn between that and Innisfree's white tone up sleeping pack, as the tone up sleeping pack had really great 'natural' ingredients like berry extract, green tea, plus niacinamide (which I hear is great in preventing darkening of skin from sun exposure, which I want as I'm going on holiday to sunny Spain in a few months). Do you think I made the right choice?? Also, any recommendations? ^^

    Thanks so much in advance!! Really love reading your blog posts and suggestions (:

    1. Try pumpkin sleeping pack from too cool for school

  64. How are you carrying the whole vit C serum application in the morning? Are you never exposed to the sun? I ask because I'm planning to be on it because I've read about its amazing acne scar fading capabilities, and I wanna use it at night. However, in the morning, I guess from 6:30am to 7:00am, I walk my dogs and I'm confused as to whether I need a sunscreen just for that. Sorry if it's so specific :))

    1. Vit C is not photosensitizing, and in fact it may boost the effectiveness of your sunscreen. I would absolutely not go out without sunscreen, or a hat large enough to protect my face from the sun, but that's a decision only you can make.

      Lots of people use it in the PM instead, whatever works best for you! :)

      Take care,

  65. My daily routine is

    1) hada labo aha bha cleanser
    2) hada labo aha bha mild peeling lotion
    3) hada labo whitening lotion
    4) hada labo whitening milk
    5) Sunplay spf50+

    If I want to include serum vit C c20 and paula choice bha 2% liquid, can you give me suggestion the order of the routine for AM and PM. Thank you.

    1. Hi there, I have made a post about how to put your specific products in order, you can find it here: http://www.snowwhiteandtheasianpear.com/2015/12/beginners-dilemma-overwhelmed-on-order.html

      Take care,

  66. Hi,

    My questions are similar to the previous poster's, just that her routine is vastly different from mine.

    My daily routine is as follows:
    1. Innisfree Whitening Pore cleanser
    2. Thayers Rose Petal Witch Hazel toner
    3. Paula's Choice 2% BHA perfecting liquid
    4. Innisfree Green Tea Seed serum
    5. Innisfree Green Tea Fresh cream

    I was thinking about getting the MISSHA First Treatment essence and the Paula's Choice C15 Booster (vitamin C), but I'm not sure if any of it would clash with my current BHA liquid.

    If they don't clash, what order should I use them in? MISSHA first or BHA first? When does the C15 come in? I NEED YOUR HELP LOL

    I'll probably stop using Thayers once I get the MISSHA.

    1. Hi,

      Actually, both Vit C and the Missa FTE are mentioned by name in the post. ;) FTE is your first hydrating step, and Vit C is in the Vit C spot if it's an L-AA Vit C type, otherwise it goes in with your serums.

      Take care,

  67. Hi,
    Your posts are amazing! They have really helped me. Although I was hoping you could explain where I would put a COSRX BHA/AHA toner and skin returning a-sol in my routine.
    The products I use are
    1. Oil cleanser (only in the evening Liz earle cleanse and polish)
    2. Foam cleanser (In the morning klairs rich moist foaming cleanser, in the evening 23 years old pergillus 15 second cleanser).
    3. Astringent (Nivea micellar water)
    4. Toner ( AHA/BHA clarifying treatment toner)
    5. Toner / first essence (Klairs Supple preperation facial toner)
    6. Essence (Corsx Natural BHA Skin returning A sol)
    7. Klairs Freshly Juiced vitamin drop (contains vitamin D)
    8. Moisturizer (Klairs rich moist soothing cream)
    9. Suncream (Corsx SPF 50 Suncream in the morning)
    9. Lioele sleeping pack in the evening
    (I use simple eye cream and freederm spot cream somewhere in there)

    I'm really confused about how I should order these I would be really thankful about how I should order these.

    1. Hi there,

      If you are having issues with putting your specific products in order, I do have a guide for that here:

      I use an AHA BHA toner (though not the Cosrx, it was too harsh for me) and the A-Sol so you can also see where I place mine in a multi step routine. :)

      Take care,

  68. Hi, I use the cosrx bha blackhead liquid and I was told that I need to use a low ph toner before using the bha for it to work better. Im planning to buy some products and was wondering if you can recommend a product after ASol or do I have to use something before using Asol??

    I have a simple routine right now.. I'm lazy >< skin type:really really oily tzone with a lot of blackheads. I dab some teatree oil to get rid of pimples

    cleanser > cosrx bha blackhead liquid > faceshop chia seed moisture cream

    **I plan to buy
    cleanser > **cosrx or mizon bha/aha toner > bha blackhead liquid > **cosrx returning asol > **???? > faceshop chia moisture cream
    what next step should I do? essence/serum/ampoule??

    I'm really sorry for bothering you. I'm a noob with skincare and no matter how many I read the step I still get confused x.x

  69. hi! i already have hada labo mild exfoliating toner.
    i'm a bit confused. does the hada labo toner is considered as pH adjusting toner?
    and another thing is, does buying both ph adjusting toner and hydrating toner is necessarily?

    the thing about my skin is after i wash my face and used hada labo toner, my face becomes much more oilier, thus i thought that my skin need more moisture as that is the reason my skin produce more oil.

    i can't use astringent as i'm sensitive to alcohol. can u give suggestion on how to control the oil mess? i'm sick of waking up in the morning with greasy mess all over my face and fyi my face looks like i'm been putting cleansing oil on my face when i'm wake up.

    1. The only Hada Labo toner I am familiar with is the Gokujyun, which is a hydrating toner, not a pH adjusting one. Whether you feel your actives need the boost of a head-start via the pH toner or not is up to you. :) Any low pH toner can be pH adjusting *IF* it does not leave any residue behind on your skin that could interfere with the actives.

      As far as suggestions on how to treat your skin, I am afraid I cannot answer that as I am not a medical professional. Balancing the water and oil of my skin made a big difference for me, but I can't say whether that would be applicable to others. You can read more about it in the Recommended Reading tab; look for the dehydrated skincare routine. :)

      Take care,

  70. Great post!! I'm still pretty confused, wondering if you could please enlighten me! I live in South America and have spent a fortune shooing on the Internet to build a nice routine but now I can't put it together, my doubts is, I have the ost c20, the cremorlab essence and the p50 lotion, the 3 products say they should be used after cleaning (I use the Kings berry oil and the sum rose stick), so, on what order should I wear these 3? Before moisturizing... I would greatly appreciate your help. Thanks

    1. I think of actives as an extension of cleansing. The P50 is supposedly an acid toner but it's more like an exfoliant, so I would be very cautious when adding it to a routine that already has exfoliants in it.

      Take care!

  71. hello, if my curology subscription has tretinoin in it would this go in the actives step? here's how i think my routine goes, let me know if it's right.

    morning: cleanse > ph balancing toner > vitamin c > bha > rest of skincare routine
    night: cleanse > ph balancing toner > aha > curology > rest of skincare routine

    1. I would definitely reach out to them and ask! That's what they are there for. :) I don't use any actives with my Rx, so you'd definitely want to check with them.

  72. Hello Cat!

    I feel like one of those whack-a-moles popping up on various pages of your blog, dropping you comments and questions.

    I love how nerdy you get about skincare, and your spreadsheet is my bliss. Between you and Tracy, I feel I have found some really good guidance to get a handle on my skin!

    My question is about how to simplify, or minimize time in my AM routine purely so I don't have to wake up 20-40 minutes earlier. I have just incorporated the Mizon AHA/BHA toner so that's saving me time, but I am not sure about whether I am using my LAA the way I should.


    1) Tap water rinse, swipe with cotton pads using Mario Badescu Cleansing C lotion
    2) Mizon toner
    3) LAA 15% by Skin Actives
    4) uh I don't really wait for 20 mins
    5) devita lightening serum
    6) Cosrx Galactomyces Whitening power essence
    7) hyaluronic acid serum
    8) Cosrx snail mucin repair essence
    9) LJH tea tree 90 essence
    10) SN plant T cell cream
    11) biore watery essence SPF 50

    Do you have any wisdom to impart on how to smartly and time consciously use actives in the morning? Or perhaps, tell me if I cannot dedicate 30 minutes to getting ready in the morning, to skip it altogether?

    The second part to my now gargantuan question is whether you have any thoughts on the current order, or products I am using. I read your post about using micellar water in the am when you are not feeling like using a foaming cleanser and thought why not do the same.

    Thank you, thank you, thank you. I wish I could contribute to your skincare hauls in some way because you do so much for the community!

  73. Hi Cat,

    Just read through this & discovered how important the pH level is for our face. I'm jumping right on this wagon & start my skincare routine properly.

    Would like to ask though, how do we differentiate a "cleanser" toner & a "hydrating" toner? I'm confused on this.

    Thank you!

  74. Just stopping by to say I've used this post as a reference several times, and every single time I LOL at the "ultra-glamorous bats" bit. Thank you for the helpful information and the laughs! :D


  75. Hi Cat,

    I have a combination skin, prone to breakout, with dark spots caused by acne. I've also been dealing with adult acne for 3-4 years. I'm a skincare newbie so I actually have no idea if my routine is correct, but with my current routine, I have been acne-free for almost 6 months now. My skin also feels softer to the touch. Dark spots still very visible, tho. I'm just wondering if you can correct my PM routine, and if there are some more products you'd like to suggest for me. Sorry if this has been asked before.

    1. Micellar water cleansing
    2. L'Oreal Revitalift Milky Cleansing Foam (the only cleanser I've tried so far that leaves my skin soft and doesn't dry my skin)
    3. Paula's Choice Skin Perfecting BHA 2% Liquid
    4. Paula's Choice Resist C15 Super Booster
    5. Clarins Double Serum Complete Age Control
    6. Dr. Jart+ V7 Relief Vita Drop Moisturizer

    I'd like to try SK-II FTE and Mizon Snail Repair Cream, but I'm not sure where to put it in the routine. Thanks for the feedback!

  76. Hi Cat,

    Help! I have oily skin, hormonal acne, PIH and sun spots. I was just wondering if you could see if my PM routine is correct :)

    1. DHC Cleansing Oil
    2. Hada Labo Gokyujin Foam
    3. Etude House Wonder Pore
    4. OST Vit C 21.5 (wait 20 minutes)
    5. CosRx BHA (wait 20 minutes)
    6. Missha FTE
    7. Hada Labo Whitening Lotion
    8. CosRx Snail Mucin Essence
    9. Missha Long name ampoule
    10. Sheet mask (not every night)
    11. Naruko Green Tea Night Gelly
    12. Hada Labo Hyaluronic Acid eye cream (somewhere in between)

    my questions:
    - I'd like to try the LJH Tea Tree Essence, CosRx AHA and maybe a Rosehip oil. where do i incorporate these steps?
    - are my products redundant? if yes, which ones do i replace or which ones are being redundant?

    Would really appreciate your help! thanks so much!

  77. Hi I would like to ask if my routine is in correct order / if it needs some changes :)

    1. The Face Shop Brightening Rice Cleansing Light Oil
    2. Innisfree Real Olive Cleansing Foam
    3. Toner- not sure of its ingredients but is this considered as an active if it results to peeling . Its called "Rejuvenating Toner"
    4. OST Vit C serum (wait 20 mins)
    5. OST sleep cream *should i wait another 20 mins?
    6. Missha FTE
    7. Snail Cream
    8. Collagen Eye Cream

  78. Hi!

    What if about I use BHA then my first essence contains niacinamide (I use Missha First Essence)? I heard that Niacinamide work in higher pH. Do I need another pH adjusting toner? Or I could go on in 20 minutes after my BHA?

    Thank you :)

  79. Thank you very much for this! I've read all the comments too to clarify myself. I've noticed people asking the same questions over and over again. You are such a kind person! Love your blog.
    I'll make sure I learn more and research more and do my homework before I ask you something :)
    Fabiana 😘

  80. Hi, I have a question. I sometime get confuse about which to layer first, you mention that it is best to layer thin/watery first over heavy stuff. How do you confirm the exact consistency of the item. For example, you have a cream that feel light and absorb really fast however, the consitency is thick and you have a lotion that is runny but feel heavy or tack on the skin and it hard to absorb. Do you base the consistancy on how face your skin absorb it or by the product texture and spreadness. I'm apology for such a noob question

  81. Wonderful post. Thank you for sharing. I've noticed a reduction in the redness of my skin (I have rosacea) just in the couple of days I've been following the Ph order. I do have a question, though...where would Hyaluronic acid slot in? With the actives? As a hydrating toner? Any help would be appreciated!

  82. Hi there, could you maybe help me out on my routine order? Hehe thanks!

    1. Cleanse with Cosrx's Good Morning Low pH
    1.5 Sometimes I wear masks (3 times a week)
    2. Mamonde Rose Water Toner (is this a ph adjusting toner)
    3. OST Vit C
    4. Wait 20 mins
    5. COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid
    6. Wait 20 mins
    7. Missha FTE
    8. Hada Labo Hydrating Lotion
    9. La Roche Posay Effaclar duo (it's definitely not heavy, light weight, more like a spot treament, but it makes me face tingly, is this an active? I use it as my moisturiser in the am as instructed by the product, would this be in the right order?)
    10. COSRX Snail Essence
    11. Missha Long name ampoule
    12. Eye Patch

    Thank youuu so much!

    1. Hi Dhania,

      Since I'm not personally familiar with all the products you've listed, I recommend checking out this post for a tool on how to put them in order: http://www.snowwhiteandtheasianpear.com/2015/12/beginners-dilemma-overwhelmed-on-order.html

      Take care!

  83. Hi there from Canada,
    I've been reading and learning so much from your blogs and other highly recommended ones. First all, thank you for all the info! I'm fairly new in Asian skincare but learning fast (I think) and with gusto! So much so that my husband and I opted to go to Seoul for our anniversary...lol. My first question is if one is not sensitive to Cosrx aha/bha toner, would it be the most compatible with a vitamin c serum like the o.s.t. since a vit c serum needs a very low ph? Secondly, I'm also using an active treatment/routine on my upper arms to treat bumps which look like comodones. With great success using the Cosrx bha power liquid. Is it still recommended to wear sunscreen or sunblock when wearing long sleeves? I only asked because sunscreen and sunblocks give me a clog pore or two once in a while despite double cleansing or trying out different sunscreens or sunblocks (Western or Asian brands). Thank you so much for everything!
    (I just realized this is my husband's phone! My phone died going through your blogs...lol) But you've earned a new subscriber! Regards from Canada!

  84. Hi,

    Could you help me with my order of skincare? I have the following items in such order for my pm routine.

    1) Makeup remover
    2) Cleanser
    3) Cosrx BHA
    4) Missha FTE [after 30mins]
    5) Moisturizer

    I just recently got a C21.5 Vit C from wishtrend. Could you advise which step i should insert this serum? Also i have a Cosrx AHA BHA Toner. Kindly advise which step i should use this toner? Lastly, Could you advise me for an AM routine too? Totally confused on the ph level. hehe


  85. Oh my gosh! You are a beauty saver. I've just started looking into Korean skin care and stumbled upon your blog and the Snail Cast. Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge and experiences. I've just purchased a toner, an essence, an AHA and BHA exfoliant, after reading up extensively on your blog, fan serviced and a fiddy shades of snails blogs.
    Now on to put them in order and test them. Wish me luck. P.S. I love the layout of and how pretty your blog is. In my quest to improve my skin I've gone through a lot of blogs but yours is one of the best designed.

  86. Amazing post! I only needed to find out if I should apply my OST C20 vit C serum before my COSRX BHA Skin-returning A-sol (turns out I should, btw, vit c before BHA a-sol) but I learned so much more. I'm planning to add essences and an oil cleanser in my routine so this post was more than enough to equip me with the necessary knowledge to optimize these products' benefits. Thank you so much! May the skincare gods smile upon you everyday! <3

    1. I'm glad it was helpful! May your routine bring you happy skin & clear pores! :D

  87. Love your blog.

    Just started using klairs juicy drop serum (it says: LAA-that's most effective at a pH below 3.5 ), mizon AHA/BHA, missha FTE, and belif moisturizer. Can you please tell me the step and the order? Also, can i mix the serum with belif moisturizer?

    1. Hi there, I would double check on the concentration and the pH of that product, because I think I've read that it's either too high a pH, or too low concentration, or both? If it's a good pH and a good concentration, and it's L-AA, it would follow the above order. To recap, that's Cleanser > Toner > Actives > Rest of routine. :) As for whether it can be mixed, I'd check with the seller, but L-AA is normally put on bare skin for maximum absorption. :)

      Take care,

  88. Hi There,
    I have just started putting acids in my skincare routine but I am not sure which one I should add in my routine first (I am planning to use only Cosrx BHA, Mizon AHA and OST Vit C but I'll add in slowly to prepare time for my skin getting used to). It would be lovely if you can give me some advises :). I have combination skin like you, oily T-zone and a bit dry cheek, however I have terribly big pore,especially on my nose so, of course end up with many ugly blackheads.

    P/s I have read your blog for a while and you have saved me huge time in building up my own routine. Thank you so much and hope you have a good time :)

    1. Unfortunately, as I am not a medical professional, I cannot give you specific advice. :( However, if you are looking at BHA, AHA, and Vit C, and you are not sure which one to start with, I would look at what you want them to do.

      I use BHA to clear my pores and exfoliate my skin so my pores don't become clogged and then break out, I used AHA to exfoliate my skin to remove shedding and flaky skin and to bring existing acne to the surface, and I used Vitamin C serum to fade the hyperpigmentation of old acne and as an anti-aging product. ;)

      I hope that helps!

  89. Hallo....I'm a beginner at korean skincare and i have a couple of question for you, i hope it's Ok :)

    So the products I currently have at home are:
    - Cleanser
    - Cosrx Natural BHA Returning A-sol
    - Cosrx Natural BHA Returning Emulsion
    - Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Cream

    My questions are:
    1. Could you tell me the right order for my skincare routine?
    2. I want to incorporate Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop on my routine, in which order should I put it? And should I use it on AM and PM? or just on Am? or just on PM?

    Thank you so much and hope you have a great day :)

    1. Hi there,

      I'm not familiar with the BHA emulsion and the BHA power cream, so I would use those as directed on the packaging. I use the A-Sol after my actives, as it is too low in concentration to be a BHA exfoliant and is more of a spot treatment.

      As for the Klairs Vitamin C, I've heard that it's too low in concentration and/or too high in pH for an L-AA serum, which is why I avoid it. A Vitamin C serum can be used either as an AM or PM, as it is not photosensitizing. :)

      Take care,

  90. this was so helpful! Now I know to wait 20 minutes after aha hehe

  91. Hi! I'm a total newbie regarding skincare and is currently waiting for my cosrx low ph good morning cleanser and cosrx bha power liquid to arrive.

    I ordered these products without researching on whether they suit together T_T

    SO what do you think? do I need to have other products when i use these two together?

    1. I used these products as my primary routine in the summer. :) Whether they are enough for you or if you need more product is 100% dependent on your skin and how it reacts, so you will have to explore and see. :)

  92. Hello! I was wondering, as I'm new to actives and have recently added a vitamin C serum into my regime, where a mud/clay mask would go? Normally after cleansing and before toning I would use a clay mask to to tighten my pores and try draw out any extra impurities. Now that I have an active, can I still use the mud clay mask and where would it go? Might be a long stretch since I'm not that knowledgable on skin care but if I do happen to use a mud mask after the serum I don't want to draw the serum out.

    1. I don't use clay masks regularly, and if I did, I would personally avoid doing anything else harsh that night to avoid overexfoliating my skin. On the occasions that I do clay masks, because they have to be washed off, I would do a very light cleanse just to remove anything on the surface of my skin, then the clay mask, and after rinsing it off, cleanse as normal and do the rest of my routine, just with no actives.

      I hope that helps!

  93. Hello! Just stumbled onto your blog and LOVE all the information you have available.

    I wanted to do an entire new skincare routine and decided to purchase most of your recommendations. I'm not 100% sure what order I should use and if it'd be too much products. Also because most products are new how do I introduce them into my skincare routine.

    Original Skincare Routine:
    * Cerave Foaming Cleanser with Clarisonic every night
    * The Face Shop Calendula Essential Moisture Toner (I'm not sure if this is a cleanser toner or hydrating toner and belongs in the hydrator section)
    * Ole Henricksen Vitamin C serum (Almost Out)
    * The Face Shop Calendula Essential Eye Cream

    The only thing I would like to keep in my new skincare regime would be the eye cream and the Cerave foaming cleanser.

    I was just wondering where my new vitamin C (Amazon's TruSkin VitC serum) would go, before or after the BHA/AHA products (I'm buying the cosrx bha and mizon aha 8% that you recommended)

    My NEW plan would look like this:

    * Banila Co. Clean It Zero (NEW to my skincare regime) +Days that I wear makeup/sunscreen
    * Cerave Foaming Cleanser
    - I would also use Clarisonic Mia with the Cerave to exfoliate my skin (every night)

    * Mizon BHA/AHA toner (NEW to my skincare regime)

    Actives: (ALL items are NEW to my skincare regime)
    *COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid
    *Mizon AHA 8% Peeling Serum
    *TruSkin VIT C serum ??? (I don't know where this one would go, before or after the BHA/AHA)

    Hydrators: (ALL items NEW to skincare regime)
    *LJH Tree Tea 90 Essence
    *Mizon Snail Repair Intensive Ampoule
    * Face masks every other night

    Eye Cream:
    * The Face Shop Calendula Essential moisture eye cream

    * Mizon Snail Recovery Gel (NEW to skincare regime)

    Does this sound right? I'm so new to korean skin care regime lol. Please help!

  94. Hi, I want to ask. I'm currently using Klairs freshly juiced vitamin C. Is that an actives product since it said its an LAA? So if it an actives product I need to tone down my ph level right? Because my cleanser is ph7. Can I use Benton aloe bha skin toner to lower my ph? Thank you in advance!

  95. Hello,can you give me some advice please. I use a first essence after my cleanser. After which, i uses toner and emulusion. May i know if i want to use BHA in my skincare routine, do i use it straight after my first essence or after my toner just before i use my emulusion? Thank you!

  96. Hi Cat, how do you consider/incorporate COSRX's One Step Pimple Clear Pad in this routine? I'm on oily-acne prone type and I want to begin with the Korean skincare regime. Thank you!

  97. Wow, this post is AMAZING! and it's going to completely change the order of my routine.I have a few product specific questions, to help place them in the new order, which I haven't been able to figure out by myself so hopefully you can help:
    1. The bitamin C serum I'm using the the Klairs (silver bottle), I think it's no LAA. where does this figure in? same order (first of the actives), or as a serum?
    2. Toners - I have the Missha first treatment clear toner, and the Son & Park beauty water - are they hydrating toners? I also have the Cosrx aha/bha toner which I understand is a cleansing toner.
    3. do the Cosrx acne patches go over all of the other products? the instructions for the products say to lay it on clean skin with nothing on it... when is the best order for this?

  98. Hi! I am seriously AMAZED by your post! It's so informative! I just started to incorporate BHA exfoliat into my skin routine, so I really have minimal knowledge about it. But your post really helps me to understand the concept behind! Instead of asking you if the routine is correct, may I know
    1. Kiehl's Calendula Herbal Extract Alcohol-Free Toner is considered as a hydrating toner or cleansing toner?
    2. IOPE bio essence is an ordinary essence or first essence?

    Thank you so much... =)

  99. This post has been such a great help! I need your expert opinion though, I use tretinoin at night and I want to incorporate Lancome Tonique Douceur in my regimen (i think it hydrates and at the same time cleanses), should I apply it right after my second cleanser as it also cleanses, because it might "cleanse away" if I put it after tretinoin?

  100. Hi cat, could you please advise whether my pm routine order is correct or not.

    Pm routine:
    1. Double cleanse
    2. Cosrx aha/bha clarifying toner
    3. Cosrx snail mucin 96 essence
    4. Klairs freshly juiced vitamin drop

    Please let me know. Thanks in advance

  101. Okay, I'm new to this .... Please bear with me!

    I'm 25 and trying to get into preventative anti-ageing skincare and as part of that I bought this Vitamin C cream recently: https://www.indeedlabs.com/products/vitamin-c24. I realise people tend to use Vitamin C serums but I just saw 'Vitamin C' and thought 'Great, that'll do it!'.

    I quite like it so far, although at the moment my routine is this:

    PM 1) Oil cleanser 2) Vit C cream 3) Eye cream
    AM 1) Wash face with water (too much cleansing makes me break out) 2) Vit C cream 3) Eye cream 4) SPF 45

    When I bought it, all I knew was that Vit C was good for the skin, so I just assumed that because it's a cream it's automatically a moisturiser (duh). It's sort of moisturising, in the sense that my skin doesn't feel dry after using it, but people seem to trying to inject as much moisture as possible into their skin, so I'm wondering if I should add a step? Obviously, I don't use a toner yet either, so that'll need to be added. Ultimately, I have 3 questions:

    1) Can I use any toner to lower the PH of my skin? Do I have to do that in the AM too, even though I've only washed my face with water? Should I get a moisturising toner? (Is that even a thing?)
    2) What's the best way to inject more moisture into my skin? Should I get a moisturising serum or just a normal moisturiser to put on after the Vit C cream?
    3) Ultimately, does it make more sense to use a Vit C serum and a normal moisturiser afterward? I'd like to finish the tube but I don't want to re-purchase it if a serum would be more effective.

    Thank you :)

  102. hi im new on korean skincare. not sure of the routine im thinking to follow. pla help. i have included their ph for whatever use it will be. i dont understand the ph thing :(

    1. Cleanser – Cosrx low ph good morning cleanser (5x a week) ph5
    Scrub Cleanser - Cosrx salicylic Acid Exfoliating Cleanser (2x a week) ph8.9
    2. Toner – Cosrx centella water alcohol free toner ph6
    3. Acid – Cosrx natural bha skin returning a sol ph4.5
    4. Serum - Dear, Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin drop
    5. Moisturizer – Cosrx advanced snail 96 mucin power essence ph6.5
    6.Spot Treat - Cosrx centella blemish cream (bought one already) ph7
    7. Cushion – Laneige bb pore

    1. Oil cleanser - virgin coconut oil
    2. Cleanser – Cosrx low ph good morning cleanser ph5
    3. Toner – Cosrx centella water alcohol free toner ph6
    4.Acid (exfoliator 2x a week)– Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid -wait 30mins ph4
    5. Serum - Dear, Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin drop
    6. Moisturizer – Cosrx advanced snail 96 mucin power essence ph6.5
    7.Sheet Mask (2x a week) - ??
    8. Spot Treat - Cosrx centella blemish cream ph7
    9. Night Cream – Cosrx advanced snail 92 all in one cream ph5.5

  103. This post was super helpful, thank you! I feel I will be revisiting it often as I incorporate different products into my routine.
    Currently, I am thinking of getting the Skinfood Black Sugar Perfect First Serum, I find this confusing because I have the general understanding that essences go before serums. Should I just treat this product as a "first essence"? I already have both an essence (Benton Snailbee) and serum (Innisfree Green Tea Sea) but I thought I would venture myself into using more than one targeted treatment in my skincare. I really hope my face doesn't explode.

    Sorry if this post is too all-over-the place! Thanks in advance for any help you can provide :)

  104. Hello!

    I'm not sure if this was already asked, but if I am using CosRX Low PH good morning cleanser, that would mean my skin will be in 3.5 ph level, right? Does that mean I can straightly apply vit c, BHA or AHA without wait time?

    Thank you!

  105. Hi, Cat! Your post is helping me a lot. Quick question, if I want to use sheetmasks that contain L-ascorbic or mandelic acid, should I use them right after cleansing or after I use my serum? thanks :)

  106. Wow, your blog is AMAZING! I've spent HOURS reading it the past month! I'm trying to convert over to an Korean skincare routine but still use up some western products I already have. So my question for you is this: Where would I use western "serums" or "gels" that have ingredients like salicylic acid or glycolic acid? They're definitely thicker and more gel-like but they have those actives in them. Should I use them with the actives and then risk my later products not absorbing properly? Or should I use them after my more liquidy Essences and toners? (things like CosRx 95 Galactomyces Essence and Hada Labo Super Hyaluronic Acid Lotion) Or should I just wait until I finish using these products to add in essences and traditional asian skincare? Thanks! <3

  107. I hope this isn't redundant, but I didn't have the patience to read ever comment above. Can you please explain "Non-exfoliating acid treatment", I can't seem to find a post that contains it. You mentioned it in the "Order for pH Dependent Products", or you could send a link to save you time.

  108. Hi, Im currently using the Klairs Supple Preparation toner, it does have hydrating properties, should I use this after my kliars vitamin c? please do let me know, thanks

  109. Hi! I am not sure if you still reply to comments from older blog posts, but I will give this a shot:

    I am 31, and a few years ago I started getting really bad hormonal cystic acne due to PCOS. I'm pretty sure FANSERVICED-B is my skintwin, actually. That being said, I'm aware that because I have PCOS, topical skincare can only do so much, and that my diet & balancing my hormones are MAJOR KEYS for keeping my skin happy. Anyways, I've tried a lot of different things to eliminate or at least calm my hormonal acne to no avail, some things work better than others and I admit that I aspire to have a minimalist, all natural skin routine- but right now my skin has erupted in moderate to severe cystic acne + comedones, in addition to tons of PIH. Until my regular supplements start working their magic (I foolishly stopped taking them for 4 months despite how much they helped my skin), I know that my skin needs more healing than essential oils and shea butter alone can provide. I started researching Korean skincare and I am working on my own routine based off what I've learned from you, Fanserviced-b, and others.

    I apologize for such a lengthy preface to my question, I know you cannot exactly recommend products but I am hoping you can weigh in on my skincare routine. Right now I am only using a few products, but I plan to integrate more as time passes until I figure out what will work best for me.

    1. Double Cleanse
    -Oils: Hemp + Castor Oil mix
    -Cleanser: COSRX Low-PH Good Morning Cleanser
    2. Essence: MISSHA FTE
    3. Toner: Paula's Choice Skin Balancing Pore Reducing Toner**
    4. Serum: Holy Snails Shark Sauce
    5. Moisturizer: MIZON Snail Recover Gel Cream
    6. Cream: Raw Shea Butter + Tea Tree Oil

    *As of posting this comment I have only been using this routine for 2 days, so results/irritants are TBD
    **PC Toner does absolutely nothing but hydrate and I'm just waiting to run out of product

    Planned Routine:
    1. Double Cleanse
    -Oils: Hemp + Castor Oil mix
    -Cleanser: COSRX Low-PH Good Morning Cleanser
    2. PH Balancing Toner: MIZON AHA/BHA Daily Clean Toner
    3. Vit C: OST C20 Serum*** [WAIT 20 MIN] ***EVENING ONLY
    4. BHA: COSRX BHA Blackhead Powder Liquid [WAIT 20 MIN]
    5. AHA: MUAC 5% Mandelic Acid Toner (pH 2.5) [WAIT 20 MIN]
    6. Essence: MISSHA FTE [or] COSRX 96 Snail Mucin Power
    7. Hydrating Toner/Mist: Heritage Rose Water
    8. Serum: Holy Snails Shark Sauce
    9. Moisturizer: MIZON Snail Recovery Gel Cream
    10. Cream: COSRX Ultimate Moisturizing Honey Overnight Mask [or] Raw Shea Butter + Tea Tree Oil

    My main concern is the MUAC 5% Mandelic Acid Toner, yet coincidentally it is the product I am most excited to try based on the rave reviews and testimonials by other cystic-acne sufferers. I really don't have the patience to wrap my mind around all the sciency stuff, but the 2.5 pH sort of scares me. I have used Salicylic Acid products most of my life and I really don't feel like they do much good, which is why I'm not bothering with any of the Paula's Choice BHA products for now. In fact, I was on the Paula's Choice CLEAR system for about 2 years and I really didn't get great results, which is what led me to the diy all-natural route and now down the K-skincare rabbit hole.

    Before you freak out - I fully intend on waiting 2 weeks before introducing each new product in the planned routine :D However, in context of my skin concerns, I was wondering what your thoughts are on the routine I have planned and whether or not I should switch up the order or whatever. I know that I shouldn't use too many exfoliating products at once, so I plan to do the AHA/BHA's during the day and the Vit-C at night. DOES THAT SOUND REASONABLE?! HELP!

  110. Hahaha love your NSFW example >:D!

    I was wondering though, where can I find information on the ph levels required for different skincare ingredients to work? I know AHA and BHAs require ph<3.5, but what about other ingredients like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide etc?

    I've been searching all over - no luck :'(