Multi-Step Korean Skincare Routine: Winter/Spring 2015, Part II: Current Products

In Part I, we looked at the basic steps that make up a multi-step Asian routine, and how I customize my routine based off how my skin is feeling.  

I also mentioned that you don't have to use Asian products, although I have found that Asian products are best suited to a multi-step routine.  Multitaskers are actually not always a good thing; sometimes you want the right tool for the job.

It's a rabbit hole, though, because sometimes you find yourself wanting a cream for oily days, one for normal days, and one for dry days, and then maybe a mist for a little extra hydration, and that whitening serum looks promising, and you haven't found an oil cleanser that works for you just yet, and the next thing you know, your daily lineup options look like this:

It's just as terrifying the second time, isn't it? (Click image for large size)
So do you really need all of that?  Of course not.  But it is possible to use it all and make your skin happy by doing so, as long as you only use what your skin actually needs, and you don't open more products than you can actually use up in 3-6 months.  (So says skin goddess Go Hyun Jung, if you google image search her, you'll see why I listen to her wisdom.)

In this post:

My current product lineup for each step

1. Cleansers

The double cleanse is a mainstay of the multi-step Asian skincare routine.  You can read more about the double cleanse here: Cleansing Megapost: Double Cleansing, Cleanser Types, Tools, & Techniques.  In a nutshell, the double cleanse is a makeup/sunscreen removal + regular skin cleanse, not actually cleaning your face twice.

On days I don't wear sunscreen or makeup, I don't double cleanse, since I have nothing to remove.

Here are my current cleansers:

Note: I will at most use one 1st cleanser, one 2nd cleanser, and the Mizon cleansing toner at a time.
From Left to Right:

Bioderma Crealine H2O Solution Micellaire: French, cleansing water (1st cleanser)
Used on: mornings when my skin doesn't feel like it needs a foaming cleanser, when I am feeling lazy, or as a first cleanser if I am wearing minimal makeup.
Micellar waters supposedly contain oil/fatty acid esters which assist in breaking down makeup and sunscreen like an oil cleanser, and don't need to be rinsed off.  You apply it with a cotton pad and wipe down your skin to cleanse it, but I don't find it as effective as oil/balm cleansers for removing heavy makeup or sunscreen.  It's very handy in the mornings, however, when I can't be bothered to clean my face thoroughly and just want to swab it down with a cotton pad and be done with it. (Nearly empty.)
Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Oil: Korean, cleansing oil (1st cleanser) [review]
Used on: nights when I need to power through makeup or sunscreen, or I want to oil massage to clear my pores.   
Asian cleansing oils are formulated with emulsifying ingredients so they react with water and can be rinsed off.  I find that oil cleansers really clog up my skin unless I do the traditional double cleanse and follow them with a foaming cleanser. (Nearly empty.)
Mizon Real Oatmeal Cleansing Sherbet: Korean, cleansing balm (1st cleanser)
Used on: nights when I need an oil cleanser for makeup/sunscreen removal but my skin is crabby from the last time I oil cleansed; I find this doesn't pull things out of my pores or emulsify as cleanly, but it also is less likely to get trapped in my pores and cause breakouts.   
Balm cleansers are just like oil cleansers, but they are solid at room temperature and 'melt' only when they're on your skin, so they are less runny/messy to deal with than traditional oil cleansers.  From my experience, 'sherbet' cleanser seems to be no different than the balm cleansers I have tried. (Nearly empty.)
Mizon Almighty Cold Cream Cleansing & Massage: Korean, cream cleanser (1st cleanser)
Used on: nights I need to remove makeup/sunscreen but I don't want to use an oil cleanser or balm cleanser, or I want to do a facial massage to clear out my pores.
This is a retro-style cold cream that has to be tissued/wiped off and followed with a foaming cleanser, because it does not contain emulsifiers that react with water. I am going to be honest, I got this because I was searching for an oil cleanser that did not break me out, and at first I didn't like it.  Then I became determined to use it up (which is why it's in this lineup) and I discovered something unexpected about its massage properties, but I'll save that for the review. (Nearly empty.)
Mizon Oil Bubble Deep Cleanser: Korean, oil bubble cleanser (unknown)
Used on: nights when I want to once again attempt to figure out what the heck this is supposed to be.  Is it an oil cleanser?  Apparently not.  Is it a foaming cleanser?  Nope, it doesn't do that either. 
I need to corner a chemist to analyze the ingredients because I am still unclear from a function-testing standpoint which step this cleanser is supposed to belong to.
Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick: Korean, foaming cleanser (2nd cleanser) [review]
Used on: a twice daily basis, as both my AM cleanser and my PM cleanser, specifically my 2nd cleanser if I had to double cleanse that day due to wearing makeup or sunscreen.
Foaming cleansers need to be both gentle and a low pH to avoid weakening your skin barrier, and the Su:m37 is still the best low-pH foaming cleanser I have tried.  You can read more here about Why the pH of Your Cleanser Matters.
Mizon AHA/BHA Daily Clean Toner: Korean, pH adjusting and cleansing toner [comparison review]
Used on: a twice daily basis, as the final cleansing step.  Regardless if I have done a simple cleanse or a double cleanse, I always follow up with this cleansing toner to remove residue and refresh my skin.  
It also has the added perk of being a pH-adjusting toner, so it does double duty as prep for my actives, which comes next! 

2. Actives

As I mentioned in Part I, 'actives' are products that have a scientific pedigree when it comes to their benefits for skin.  Since I have so many skin troubles (acne, large pores, clogged pores, sun damage, hyperpigmentation, uneven skin tone, wrinkles .. *sobs*) I have a routine heavy in actives.

You have to be careful with them, as you can easily overdo them and irritate/damage your skin.  You can read more about adding actives to your routine, and where to put them, here: Putting your products in order, including pH dependent acids

Here are my current actives:

Note: You'd never actually use all these in a single day, but if you did, this would be the order they'd be in.
From Left to Right:

Mizon AHA/BHA Daily Clean Toner: Korean, pH adjusting and cleansing toner. [comparison review]
Used on: a twice daily basis.  Sometimes more, if my actives leave a layer of dissolved goo that I feel I need to wipe off before finishing the rest of my routine.
Why does it appear again here?   Well, I use it as my final 'cleansing' step, but it's also important (for me) as an actives-prepping step.  Because I live in the desert, my skin cannot afford to wait around for 15-20 minutes after cleansing to buffer itself back down to a normal skin pH, and therefore be ready for pH-dependent products, which need to lower the pH of my skin even more before they can start working.  I like to give my pH-dependent products a 'head start' so they waste less time buffering down my skin, and more time doing their job.  I might use it at the very end too, after my acids are done, if there is dead skin sludge I can feel under my fingers.  Gross.
OST C20 Original Pure Vitamin C20 Serum: Korean, L-AA (L-Ascorbic Acid) Vitamin C serum
Used on: a once-daily basis, usually in the AM.  
I use Vitamin C serum for lightening darkened areas from PIH or sun damage, general brightening of skin tone, and for reducing the appearance of fine lines.  I won't get into all the details of Vitamin C serums because that's a whole other blog post, but because I use an L-AA Vit C, it has the lowest pH of my actives and needs to go first if I am using more than one active in a routine.  If I just confused you, read Putting your products in order, including pH dependent acids and it will all make sense.
Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid: Korean, Beta Hydroxy Acid chemical exfoliant
Used on: a twice daily basis, unless my skin needs a rest because I did something stupid to it, like a clay mask and forgot to remove it in time. HYPOTHETICALLY.  Totally did that.  (Nearly empty.)
Before you freak out, know that Korea does not allow Salicylic Acid (the most common BHA) in concentrations over 0.5% to be sold OTC. This product uses 4% Betaine Salicylate which is very, very gentle.  In fact it's so gentle that a Western brand reformulated their 2% Salicylic Acid product into a 5% Betaine Salicylate formulation for sale in the Asian market.  BHA is recommended at a 1-2% concentration, with up to 3-5% for those with 'congested' skin.   
This is the Canadian of BHAs; instead of ordering those squatters out of your pores, it apologizes for the inconvenience and attempts to engage in a friendly and polite dialogue implying that maybe it would be a good idea for them to consider vacating on their own volition, if it would suit them and it wouldn't be too much trouble?  That's why I use this 2x a day, and it's still not enough to control my grit problem, which is why I sometimes use:
MUAC 3% Beta Hydroxy Serum: American, Beta Hydroxy Acid chemical exfoliant
Used on: days when my skin feels like it's bristling with thousands of angry grits rising up in rebellion against their epidermal overlord.    
Technically this is a 'peel' and should only be used 2-3x a week, and be rinsed off after 3-8 minutes.  I followed the instructions, cut out all other exfoliants, and worked it into my routine ultra cautiously, expecting my skin to spontaneously combust at the slightest misstep.  I was then reminded that you need to do what is right for your skin.  As I mentioned above, I have read that those with 'congested skin' need a 3-5% BHA, and after using a 'real' BHA, I can only conclude that my skin needs all the de-congesting it can get.  This was a 3%, so on the low end of the 'recommended' range for 'congested' skin. After paranoid cautious, extended testing, I have determined that my skin doesn't require it to be rinsed off, nor am I limited to 3x a week, and I've found a happy medium/where to use it on my skin that works best for me. That being said, unless you're the sort of person who is ready to spend a few minutes twice a day meditating on the mood of your skin, stick to the instructions. (Nearly empty.)
Mizon 8% AHA Peeling Serum: Korean, Alpha Hydroxy Acid chemical exfoliant
Used on: a weekly or twice weekly basis, when my skin feels rough/flaky or I have closed comedones that need to be brought to the surface. 
AHAs are good for exfoliating dead skin, lightening hyperpigmentation, reducing the appearance of fine lines, and uncovering closed comedones that are lurking under a layer of skin. Since I need so much BHA action and use L-AA Vitamin C daily, and I don't need a lot of skin resurfacing anymore, I don't need to use this as often as I used to.  I used AHA more often at first, but after I stabilized my skin after years of neglect, my need for AHA tapered off.
Cosrx Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol: Korean, Propolis acne treatment
Used on: a twice daily basis, as the final 'active' step although this is firstly a Propolis product (60%) and contains only a small amount of BHA and AHA, and is too high of a pH to exfoliate.

Since AHAs and BHAs have other benefits that aren't tied to pH like exfoliation is, they can still be good for the skin but make sure you research BHAs and AHAs as well as the concentration and pH of your products so you can be sure your product is going to do what you need it to do.  I use this as an acne prevention product, but it's designed for 'spot treatment' so as with all actives, be cautious when integrating them into your routine, especially if your skin isn't used to them. (Nearly empty.)
Things I will repurchase on this list: Everything other than the MUAC.  I plan to try Stridex (red box) BHA next, because my grit situation is ... dire.  Curse you, desert, with your ever-pervasive dust and high winds!

3. Hydrators

As someone with Dehydrated skin living in a dry climate, hydrators are my best friends.  Like the sponge analogy from Part I, I need to suffuse my skin with hydration before I layer any sealant products over it.

Here are my hydrating options:

Not only do I use sheet masks every day, sometimes I use them twice a day!
From Left to Right:

Mizon Mela Defense White Boosting Toner: Korean, hydrating toner [review]
Used on: days where I feel like I need to wipe off residue after actives, because there is a layer of dissolved grime gooped on top of it. 
I've almost succeeded in using up the last of this; it didn't work as a pH-adjusting toner but it's perfectly nice on a cotton pad to swipe off aforementioned goo layer and lightly hydrate my skin in preparation for the next step. (Nearly empty.)
LJH Tea Tree 70 Mist Toner: Korean, facial mist
Used on: days where my skin feels a bit dry after actives, but I don't need to wipe with a toner-soaked cotton pad, and I want to  prep it to absorb the next products/so they will spread more evenly.
I'm also quite close to finishing up the last of this too.  It would probably work for a summer mist for those in more humid climates, but I find it drying if used on its own.  I suspect this is due to it being a tea tree/acne/oil control product. (Nearly empty.)
Mizon Snail Repair Hydro Mist: Korean, facial mist
Used on: days like the above, but my skin feels too dry to use the LJH; also used as a post-powder mist if I am wearing makeup
This is much more hydrating than the LJH mist, and I'm currently testing it out but I don't use it daily.
LJH Tea Tree 90 Essence: Korean, essence/serum/ampoule.
Used on: a twice daily basis, sometimes more!  Love this stuff.  It's my staple daily hydrating step.
This is called an 'essence' but it's really more of a serum consistency, and it's glorious.  I grabbed this after reading fanserviced's review, and even though she's broken up with Memebox, it's readily available in a few places online and I've bought 3 bottles of it so far.  It's nothing like the harsh 'tea tree' products of my youth; this is a light, refreshing, gentle serum that makes my skin happy.  I apply it before my sheet masks because I want it to have maximum penetration into my skin, but I have applied it after as well, especially if my sheet mask fell a bit short on the hydration front. (Nearly empty.)
Sheet Mask: Varies.  I use both Korean and Japanese masks.
Used on: a daily basis, sometimes twice a day. These are my primary source of hydration, because my climate is so arid that watery products evaporate off my face before my skin can absorb them. 
Since I use so many, I review any new masks I try on my Instagram:
So many sheet masks!  I put my mask reviews on Instagram to avoid cluttering up my blog with mini-reviews.
I have, uh, quite a stash as I use these daily!  You can read a review of my HG masks (and budget alternatives) here: Sheet Mask Roundup and Holy Grail: Spring 2015
Esthetic House Gold Snail Hydrogel Eye & Spot Patch: Korean, hydrogel patches for under-eye or spot areas
Used on: the rare occasions where I don't want to wear a full-sized mask but I want to target the skin under my eyes or specific areas for a boost of hydration. (Nearly empty.)
Mizon Rice Wine White Toner: Korean, Hydrating 'toner', is actually a thick essence
Used on: days where I want to load up on a heavier essence/serum because my skin feels dry, but I don't want to layer on anything heavy or rich.
This is also the product I was 'testing' for two weeks while writing this review; as you may know I feel really strongly about products being properly tested before review, which includes a 2 week 'isolation' period where it is the only new product in my lineup, followed by at least a month's usage overall before I review it.  As soon as I am done the testing phase, and review it, this is gone outta my hair.
Things I will repurchase on this list: LJH Tea Tree 90 Essence, and Sheet Masks. That's it, at least until I have tested the Mizon Snail mist more.

4. Occlusives

To prevent letting all that delicious, delicious hydration escape into the air, I follow up my hydrating steps with some occlusives to retain the moisture in my skin.

Here are my current occlusive options:

Korean Packaging; making your routine a pleasure to do, day after day.
From Left to Right:

Mizon Multi Function Formula Snail Recovery Gel Cream: Korean, thick gel. [review]
Used on: days where my skin feels oily, or the weather isn't dry (for once), or when I feel like I need to seal in my hydrating steps but my skin doesn't want anything heavy or rich.
I only layer creams/occlusives in the areas of my face that are normal, or dry.  If I stray out to the oily areas of my face, I'm asking for things to get messy, fast. #CombinationSkinProblems.  This is a staple, although I tend to use this as my occlusive in the summer, when I am so hot and sweaty that getting out of my chair makes a noise like someone peeling off a strip of duct tape.
Beauty of Joseon Dynasty Cream: Korean, face cream. [review]
Used on: a twice daily basis.  I say it's a "face cream" like it's just some run-of-the-mill faceless face cream that could be swapped for anything else, but this stuff is amazing at sealing in my hydrating steps without making my skin feel heavy, and is itself a hydrating (yet emollient?) cream. 
I even use this as an eye cream, because I like it better than my actual eye creams; this is why my routine is conspicuously missing one. 
LJH Tea Tree 80 Cream: Korean, face cream.
Used on: days I feel guilty about leaving it for the Joseon cream, or days when I'm too tired to go digging around in my box of stuff for the Joseon cream and it's the first thing I see.  (Hey, just being honest!)
I like this cream just fine, and I was almost out of it before I fell hopelessly in love with started using the Joseon cream.  I always leave a 2 week buffer of a product left before I start testing something new, just so I have something to fall back on if my skin hates the new product. (Nearly empty.)
Buyonghwa Jeonghyo Wild Cream: Korean, face cream. [reviewed]
Used on: the rare occasion that I need something heavier on my dry areas, or in the winter.
I am almost finished this cream, which was part of February's Hanbang Experiment, but I rarely need to use it since the weather is warming up and I just don't need a thick, occlusive cream anymore.  It's fairly rich and I only used it in my super dry areas. (Nearly empty.)
Hankook Cosmetics The Prestige Gold Oil Essence: Korean, facial oil
Used on: the occasions I feel like I need that extra oomph of a facial oil in my dry areas, becoming increasingly rare now that Winter is over.
I actually decanted a fair bit of this because my skin doesn't need a lot of oils (it's Dehydrated, not Dry other than the apples of my cheeks) and I couldn't see myself using it up in 3 months.  You can read more about my decanting bonanza here: Turning your Discards into Decants (Nearly empty.)
Things I will repurchase on this list: Mizon Snail Gel, Beauty of Joseon Dynasty Cream.

5. Treatments/Protection

As I mentioned in Part I, the final steps of one's AM and PM routines will be very different.  AM's final step is sunscreen, especially if you are using AHA.

AM Protection:

The last sample of the IOPE left from the pack I purchased; I have the full size en route from Avecko.
From Left to Right:

IOPE UV Shield Sun Mild Clinic SPF25 PA++, Korean, physical-only sunscreen [review]
Used on: days where I will be indoors with the window blinds open.  
If it seems excessive that I wear sunscreen indoors, consider that I am a Fitzpatrick Type I, my windows are untreated, and I live at an altitude of 3,200+ feet; then go read this blog post from someone who knows her way around scientific studies:  Sunscreen series: The numbers game.  Then factor in the fact that I use AHA on the regular, which requires full spectrum sun protection due to its side effects.  That being said, I am indoors, getting indirect light (albeit really strong indirect light) and it's physical so unless I sweat or wipe it off, I am probably ok.  Probably.  Sunscreen data makes my head hurt.
Sunkiller Baby Milk SPF45 PA+++, Japanese, physical-only sunscreen [review]
Used on: days I go outside before nightfall.
I can't wear makeup when I wear this, other than concealer, but if I need to go out under the harsh burning sun of the Texas steppes, I know I can slather this on and protect my AHA-compromised face. 
Dr. MJ Real Mucin Restore Cushion SPF50+ PA+++, Korean, cushion (makeup)
Used on: days I want to wear base makeup instead of bare skin.  My skin is steadily improving since I started using Korean skincare (and an Asian approach to skincare in general) but I've got a looong way to go before I feel comfortable wearing a bare face in public.
I know I said in my Missha Magic Cushion Case review that I hated the idea of cushions, and I still kinda do, but learning from blogger adoredee that rubycell puffs are anti-bacterial, I am a bit less squicked out than I was, but I still rotate out my puff after every use so I can wash them.  Also, snails. You know there had to be snails involved.  I know it has SPF/PA, but I put it on so thinly (that's kinda the point of cushions) that I am getting negligible sun protection.
Things I will repurchase on this list: IOPE sunscreen.

PM steps focus on nourishing the skin and treating spots with things not meant for the public eye.  Although I personally don't use any sleeping packs/overnight masks, this is where they would go.

PM Treatments:

Check out the handy 'easy peel' feature of the Nexcare stickers.
From Left to Right:

Mizon Acence Blemish Out Pink Spot: Korean, spot treatment [review]
Used on: nights when I have a pimple that is threatening to rear its ugly head.  I use this to call its bluff; either they grumble away by the next day, or they bluster into a real pimple that I can then open (google how to do this safely please!) and slap on the next thing in the list. 
Also, this leaves a pink blob of paste on your face, which is why I use it at night, and after my husband has already gone to sleep.  (Nearly empty.)
3M Nexcare Blemish Clear Cover: Korean, hydrocolloid acne sticker [review of Taiwanese version]
Used on: nights where I have an open blemish that I want to drain/flatten by morning.
These leave a noticeable circle on your face, but just like their Taiwanese version, these marvelous little bandages pull out all the 'wound exudate' out of a pimple, leaving it flat and empty of ammunition.  These are amazing; every time I use one on something I know was desperately trying to mutate into sanity-shaking mountain of angst on my face, the HCB thwarts it by morning. (Last sheet)
 A'Pieu NonCo Tea Tree Spot Patch: Korean, acne sticker (not hydrocolloid)
Used on: nights (or even days) when I have something on my face that I want to keep my fingers off of, because I have a terrible unconscious habit of scratching at things on my face that are irritating my skin.  
I will often slap these on something that was drained by a HCB, and is still open but I don't want to waste another HCB as they are expensive.  They keep air, bacteria, and your wandering fingers away from any blemishes and are subtle enough that you can wear them during the day, although you can't cover them with makeup and it's clear so you can see the blemish below.  
Aritaum Ginger Sugar Overnight Lip Mask: Korean, overnight lip treatment [review]
Used on: a nightly basis, to protect my poor lips from the ravages of the dry air.
This is too thick to be used as a regular balm (unless you aren't bothered by the heavy, semi-sticky texture) but it keeps my lips soft and supple overnight, without cracking or becoming chapped by morning.
Things I will repurchase on this list: Everything but the A'Pieu patches.

Things to take away from Part II:
  • It's ok to have multiple options for a single step, but
  • Don't open more products than you can use up in 3-6 months
  • It's ok to have products designed for a specific purpose
  • Don't throw everything at your skin, only give it what it wants
And with that, we're done!  Since this ended up being a two-part megapost, I'll be skipping next weekend's post, or perhaps just posting something small and fun, like my giant stash of empties ... we'll see what happens.

All the best,

**Disclaimer: All products mentioned are 100% purchased with my own money, with the exception of the Sunkiller sunscreen which was a Christmas gift from a friend, and my opinions are entirely my own.  This blog contains  both affiliate and non-affiliate links, and clicking the former before you shop means that this blog may receive a small commission to assist in this blog supporting itself.  Please see my Contact Info & Disclaimer policy for more information.


  1. I have one question: what difference does it make, when using for example sheet masks directly after toner, instead of after you essences and serums? Is it mainly because of the pH you put them in the hydration step?

    1. Since sheet masks are just essences/serums infused into the mask, they can go anywhere in your essence/serum/ampoule step. I like to put on my LJH Tea Tree Essence (which is really a serum) before my sheet mask so it can be absorbed into my skin before I start loading up on hydration from the sheet mask.

      I put sheet masks in the hydration step because they are watery, rather than oily. :) Is that what you meant?

  2. Okie, glad I found ur blog.I have just started layering technique 2 weeks back.Here's the list of things that I use:
    Origins white tea cleanser+day cream(soap and glory multiaction lotion 6 in 1) and sunscreen(bioderma photoderm spf50)

    1.Shu Uemura cleansing oil
    2.Origins white tea cleanser
    3.Lotion p50 toner( with damp round cotton pad)
    4.Rose water mist
    5. French brand cream with low dose of AHA for wrinkles and diminishing small breakouts.

    When I introduced Lotion p50 2 weeks back,I purged like nobody's business.Mostly tiny whiteheads.Then I was told to dilute and the breakouts has somewhat subsidized.It has been 2 weeks now,I could visualise any impact overall, but noticed my spotmarks is rtking longer than usual to heal?Thus, I feel there's something I need to either change my method or add a product
    Please advise tq

    p/s- before the new routine, my PM routine wud be just cleansing oil>cleanser>any spot treatment .Twice a week ill use sleeping mask and in between any scrubs.My skin was relatively clear with open pores and uneven tone.I just boosted this active toner since i notice dullness in my skin lately.

    1. If you seem to be having a reaction to a product/notice that your marks are taking longer to fade, your best bet is to reach out to a dermatologist for some professional advice.

      I do use products to fade my acne marks but it's worrisome that your marks are taking longer, which means that something is affecting your skin- time to get out the medical expert advice, I'd say

  3. Hello, how many minutes do I have to wait before applying my actives if I don't use a pH adjusting toner?

  4. Hi, I am really overwhelmed by the incorporation of actives into my skincare routine. My skin is normal-combination and really clog prone (*sobs*)
    Could you check out my current skincare routine and see if I got it right? (Hopefully I did...)The ones with (*) are the ones I'm planning to incorporate. I am really afraid of putting acids on my acid virgin face and I would really appreciate the help.
    Sorry for bombarding you with such a long comment!

    Morning routine:
    1. Laneige deep pore cleansing foam
    2. Vit c serum (*)
    3. Mamonde rose water toner
    4. Green tea seed serum
    5. Etude house collagen eye concentrate
    6. Laneige water bank gel cream ex
    7. Sunscreen

    Night routine:
    1. Bioessence tri action cleanser (planning on changing)
    2. Clarifying treatment toner (*)
    3. Bha blackhead power liquid (*)
    4. Hada labo light lotion or Nameraka Honpo Shittori Keshousui NA
    5. Missha first treatment essence
    6. Green tea seed serum
    7. Etude house collagen eye concentrate
    8. Laneige water bank gel cream ex
    9. Sometimes (laneige water sleeping mask)
    10. Sometimes facial mask

    1. Hi Nerdy (hehe)

      I get this question a fair bit, and I've actually just written a post that should help:

      I'd give those steps a try and if you still have questions after you've labelled the products, please let me know! :)

  5. Hi - I've just found your blog and love it!
    I use a combination of Japanese and Western skincare.
    It was interesting to learn about PH sensitive products - I probably need to read again to take it in though.
    I have a question - where would I use a product like Dr. Dennis Gross Triple C Peptide Firming Oil? It has vitamin C but is also oil based. Should it be straight after cleansing or after hydration?

    1. Hi Kate,

      Unfortunately I am not familiar with that product, so I recommend following the directions of use on the package. :) Oil-based products, though, are unlikely to be pH-dependent.

      Take care,

  6. Dear Cat,

    I am a newbie in Asian skincare regimes. Finding your blog was a serendipity amidst confusion on deciding how to put different products in correct order.

    I have questions, I hope you do not mind to answer: where should I use product like Hada Labo milk? It is a thicker emulsion compared to the Hada Labo lotion. I usually use it after serum/essence.

    Sometimes I also use The Body Shop Vitamin E serum-in-oil which is an oily one. Should I put it at occlusive step or hydrator? So confused.

    Thanks a lot for your help!

    1. As I haven't used that product, I really can't advise where it would go. I would experiment and see where it works best for you. If it seems more like an emollient oil (like a facial oil) than an occlusive oil, you could treat it like a facial oil.

      Take care!

  7. Hi Cat,

    Hope all is well! Your blog is a gem!!

    I was wondering if you use toners and mist all over your face and beauty dynasty to only on your dry area? You wrote occlusives on dry areas at snail gel part, that's why i got confused a bit, b/c It seems after I began actives, my pores are more visible (i mean cleaner but visible, is it even normal^^), so I guess, I need to mouisturize, but don't know what to use:( My skin is like yours, so I was wondering how are you using, or do you think toners/emulsions/lotions would be enough for the famous T-zone?

    Thank you in advance and sorry that it's a bit long!

    1. Well, this is really going to be a YMMV thing. I personally find it best to load up on hydrators with just a thin occlusive in my oily areas and save the heavier stuff for my dry areas. Congrats on getting clearer pores! I feel your pain though- once they're empty and they're not tiny bumps, they can leave craters behind! :(

      Take care!

  8. Thank you for the reply! yeah, do you have anything for those crates? I mean I'm cleaning them properly and minimal moisturizing, and don't know what else to do, do you have any advice for them:) Have a great one!

    1. If you mean acne scars, unfortunately you would need to go to a dermatologist because I din't think anything topical will help with those, sadly. :(

  9. I have heard that you need to wait in between steps. How long between each step?

    1. If it's not a pH dependent step, I don't really wait at all. If it is, I follow the wait times for those products. :) You can read more about those specifics here:

  10. Hi there Cat!

    Was wondering if I can use both the Cosrx Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol and Mizon Acence Blemish Out Pink Spot on the same night?

    Thank you so much!

  11. Hi Cat. I just want to say how your blog was so extremely helpful for Asian skincare entrants like me. I'm thinking of buying Hada Labo Hyaluronic Acid Lotion, but where do you think should I put in my regimen? Here's my current regimen:

    *DHC oil cleanser
    *foaming cleanser
    *vit c. serum
    *Cosrx blackhead power liquid
    *tonymoly essence
    *(is this where I need to put my hylauronic lotion?)

    Also, for the nights. after I used my essence, what cream should I take? Because I go straight to my facial scrubs/masks after. I have combination-oily skin type. Thanks.

    1. Hi there,

      The Hada Labo HA lotion is a hydrating toner, if that's the product I am thinking of, so it will go in the hydrating section of your routine. I'd put it either before or after the essence, depending on which one is thinner/more watery. Go from watery to oily, thinnest to thickest, and you'll be all set. :)

      I don't use scrubs with chemical exfoliants, because they make skin more fragile. I'm not sure if I understand what you mean by taking a cream, but if you are looking for products you might want to add, I have a series on kbeauty beginner kits here: :)

      Take care,

  12. Hey Cat! Just stumbled upon this post and this has really helped me organize my skincare routine recently. Just a question though. Since you mentioned that you use the Cosrx BHA Skin returning A-sol as a final "step" in your actives, do I still need to wait for like 15-20 minutes before I proceed with my essences and what-nots? Thanks so much.

  13. Hello, I know this post is kind of old so I might not get a response back, but I was wondering if my order was wrong :o I usually use a sheet mask, then toner, then my prescribed acne medication. Is that right? Or should it be toner, sheet mask, and then acne medication on top of the sheet mask? O.o or would I wash off the sheet mask essence before applying acne medication? Thank you!!! :o

  14. Hello!
    I am new to asian skin care, found your blog and am excited to dive in. I am not acne prone but do have large pores and clogged sebaceous glands/blackheads in my T zone area. BUT I also have large pores near my nose and that area is dry. I am confused what I should introduce first: an active (looking at Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid) or an occlusive or hydrating toner? My face is so thirsty and I'm not sure if I need to unclog the pores first or go straight to hydrating. Could you shed some light on where I can go from here?

    My current routine:
    AM- garnier micellar cleansing water (pink cap) and sunscreen
    PM- banila co and bareminerals butter drench
    *have tried hado labo foaming cleanser and lotion cleanser as my second cleansers but they were both too drying.

  15. Hi Cat!

    Love to have found your blog. It's very informative. I have a couple of questions if you don't mind. Sorry, this is going to be a long post.

    I have been a long time double cleansing girl with moisturizers and spot treatments since my college years and I am now in my early 30's. People say that I still have good skin and still look like in my early to mid-20's. Needless to say, I still get the occasional cystic acne about 2x/month and always always on my chin which leaves me with post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation that takes forever to go away. Literally. My nose is bothersome for me because of the pores which I have never been able to "fix." I still have, from what it looks, capillaries that have always been visible on my face and I don't know if there's a way to ever make them less visible. My dark undereyes have been there since childhood. Redness around the nose is also an issue, and just basically an overall uneven tone of my skin.

    My skin is also now changing thus I have been slowly adding new products into my very simple daily routine. I used to be overall oily which became combination and is now leaning towards combination-dehydrated. I'm starting to get patches of flakes around my nose and my chin, sometimes my forehead too, which was never the case. My cheeks are showing signs of foundation separation too. I have read thru the rest of your blog and the skincare advice tailored to different skin types, but was hoping you can critique my routine and help me add only what is needed.

    - Most of the time I only water wash my face. I try not to use any cleansers or exfoliators as I feel it may be too harsh for my skin. If my skin is peeling for whatever reason, I use a soft face towel and try to gently exfoliate my skin with my cleanser (sometimes just water too).
    - Toner: Etude house wonder pore (almost gone so I just bought the Son&Park water which I've never tried before)
    - Lancome moisturizer (almost gone so I just bought Belif Aqua bomb which I've never tried before either. Although I really want to try the Beauty of Joseon cream)
    - Shiseido sunscreen spf50+ followed by my makeup

    - Shu Uemura cleansing oil
    - Olay foaming cleanser (these two products have been with me for about 10 years. I'm debating if I need a change)
    - Neogen wine or lemon pads, or St Ive's beads as an exfoliator. I use depending on what I feel like I need. Or sometimes I use a washable clay mask especially if my skin's feeling extra rough.
    - CosRx AHA/BHA toner
    - Missha Time Revolution Essence
    - Sometimes I'll follow up with a sheet mask here (my beauty diary or a japanese one, or I use the Laneige berry one that's washable)
    - CosRx ceramide eye cream
    - Amore Pacific moisturizer (almost gone and I just bought the Belif moisturizing cream to try)
    - Laneige sleeping mask

    Phew. Seems a lot already. But the whiteheads on my nose are unremitting so I sometimes use pore strips. I'm also wondering if I should add another BHA into my routine just to focus on that (debating per your blog's recommendation of the CosRx BHA Liquid or the A-Sol). I'm also wondering if I need to add a Vit C serum or any serum for that matter, as well as an AHA.

    Sorry for this very very long post. Would really love to get your input. - Christine