Guest Post: Skincare Swap Experiment with Fifty Shades of Snail

You know what happens when skincare bloggers get together? Shenanigans. As some of you already guessed from our Instagram posts, I've dragged my fellow snail Fiddy of Fifty Shades of Snail into some skincare routine-swapping mischief.  You'll find a link to my companion post at the end of this guest post!

My Skin Is a Spoiled Princess: Fiddy's Skincare Routine Swap Story

By guest blogger Fiddy of Fifty Shades of Snail

One of the things that alarms me the most in my blogging life is a reader's declaration that they've decided to duplicate my routine all at once. To me, that's never a good idea. Everyone's skin is different, and no one person's routine should be a template for anyone else.

Which is why, when the lovely Cat asked me if I wanted to swap routines for a few days, I hesitated for a moment, pondered all the ways that things could go wrong, and enthusiastically agreed. What better way could there be to demonstrate the pitfalls of copying someone else's routine format, or to learn that maybe we're wrong and one way really is better than the other?

Who am I and why are we doing this?

This project was inspired by a Refinery29 piece in which two women swapped their makeup routines--and actual makeup products--for clicks and funsies. Cat and I, being sane and germ-averse, and also impatient to get started, decided that instead of swapping actual products, we'd adopt each others' routine steps. This is a record of what happened to me on Cat's routine.

Refinery29's makeup swap video featuring one another's used makeup. Ugh.
Screencap  featuring swapping used makeup from Refinery29s makeup swap video
For those of you who don't know me, either for real or in the way that Mariah doesn't know people, I'm Fiddy, one of Cat's fellow Snailcasters. I usually confine my thoughts to Fifty Shades of Snail. I'm here today at Cat's invitation to share my experience using her routine format, while she's currently camped out on my blog.

You guys are probably already familiar with Cat's skin, which is dehydrated, oily-combo, and prone to acne and clogged pores. Mine, on the other hand, leans dry. I don't have many problems with clogs or breakouts; instead, I'm battling aging and hyperpigmentation.

As you can imagine, our routines look a little different.

This is a typical evening routine for me:

This will be the last night for a little while that my #skincareroutine will look like this. @snowwhiteandtheasianpear and I are planning something that maaaaaay be a Rilly Bad Idea, but we're going through with it anyway! Keep your eye stalks on this space 😆 . #PRsamples: #Amorepacific products provided by @amorepacific_us. #Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX and First Care Activating Mask provided by #Sundayriley product provided by @sundayriley. #Naruko product provided by @narukous. . Amorepacific Treatment Cleansing Oil . Sulwhasoo Snowise EX Cleansing Foam . Sunday Riley Good Genes lactic acid serum . Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Mask . Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX . Amorepacific Intensive Vitalizing Eye Essence . Amorepacific Time Response Skin Renewal Serum . Naruko AMPM Skin Immaculate Duo . #Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence + #LJH Vita Propolis Ampoule . Amorepacific Time Response Skin Renewal Creme . Amorepacific Time Response Eye Renewal Creme . #fiftyshadesofsnail #rasianbeauty #abcommunity #beautycommunity #skincare #beauty #skincarediary #skincareregime #kbeauty #koreanbeauty #koreanskincare #skincareaddiction #beautyjunkie #luxurybeauty #luxuryskincare #antiaging #dryskin #instaskincare #instabeauty #goldenhour
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And this is a typical evening routine for Cat:

This is my life right now, on a good night when I still have the energy to do a routine. Home renovations seem to belong to a separate space-time continuum where the regular laws of time don't apply and this is why it takes you weeks to get done a job you thought you could finish in a weekend. 😭  Exhaustion, harsh construction lighting, and layers of flooring adhesive aside, I've managed to convince @fiddysnails to do something ill-advised and reckless with me, and naturally she's game. Huehuehue. More shenanigans and possibly regrets upcoming. Tonight's PM routine from L-R: 🌙 Double cleanse with @cremorlab_kr Gel Oil (reviewed) and Gentle Foam cleanser 🌙 @Paulaschoice BHA because my pores need jesus to get all this sawdust out (reviewed) 🌙 @holysnails 🍆sauce (aka @thesnailcast nightshade) 🌙 #Lovemore mask to soothe my tired face (reviewed) 🌙 #BeautyofJoseon cream (reviewed) #kbeauty #koreanbeauty #tbeauty #skincareroutine  #snailunit 🐌🐌🐌🐌 #thesnailcast #abcommunity #rasianbeauty
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I think I didn't fully know what I was getting into until I took a good hard look at Cat's routines. K-beauty is very customizable, and my skincare wardrobe is well stocked, but there's a limit to how much hydration, moisture, and treatment anyone can cram into a single product while maintaining effectiveness. That's why I've generally kept my anti-aging, brightening, and moisture steps separate. Unfortunately, I had no way to do that for this experiment, because these are the parameters I was given to work within:

Cat's AM routine:
Minimal cleansing, using either a cleansing water or COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid on a cotton pad
One serum, used as both hydrator and moisturizer(!!!)

My morning routines are actually pretty short as well, but the lack of eye serum and eye cream scared me. I use a dedicated eye essence that depuffs my upper lids, and my eye skin gets crepey if not moisturized enough. Still, okay.

You'd think I'd get a little more leeway in the PM routine, but's not quite what I’m used to.

Cat's PM routine:
Double cleanse, using a cleansing oil and a low-pH cleanser
BHA all over face
A single serum again
Optional: Sheet mask. Thank God.

Looking at these steps, I can tell that I'm going to have to put some of my skin goals on hold, no way around it. A daily use BHA won't do much for brightening or anti-aging, and I've yet to meet the serum that can address all my skin goals in one product. AHAs do more for my needs, but alas! Cat doesn't use a daily AHA. Also, considering how minimal the morning routine is, I'm going to have to focus primarily on packing hydration and moisture in. But, okay. We can do this. It's only for a few days.

Disclosure: Some of the products in my routines were given to me at no charge as press samples. I've marked them in the post with an asterisk(*).


AM routine:
Cleanse: Thank You Farmer Back to Iceland Cleansing Water, followed by a quick splash to remove residue
Serum: Amorepacific Moisture Bound Rejuvenating Serum*
Sunscreen: Laneige Aqua Sun Block SPF 35 PA++*

I'm nervous but also looking forward to a super-quick morning routine. I find the Thank You Farmer cleansing water more moisturizing than any other cleansing water I've tried, so I'm hoping it gives my face an early advantage. The Amorepacific serum is the closest substitute I can find to a proper face moisturizer, since it hydrates adequately but also lays down a lightweight emollient and occlusive film that helps hold things in. And the Laneige sunscreen is moderately moisturizing. I should be okay.

...or so I thought. Around midafternoon, my forehead and neck started to feel a little dry and itchy. Not unbearable, but not great. By a few hours later, the fine line area on my upper cheekbones and around my eyes had gotten noticeably more crepey than usual.

When faced with daytime dryness and dryness-related fine lines, I'd normally replenish my hydration with multiple layers of humectant toner, essence, serum and sheet mask that evening, followed by a nice heavy cream. You know, like this:

Tonight's post-cleanse #skincareroutine is extra colorful and pampering due to my need to recuperate after watching Train to Busan last night. Also, it's #sheetmasksaturday, which my mask choice reflects. . #PRsamples: #Amorepacific products provided by @amorepacific_us. #Sundayriley products provided by @sundayriley. #Naruko products provided by @narukous. #Lherboflore product provided by @beautibi. #Betheskin product provided by . Immediately after cleansing, L'Herboflore Lemon Balm Hydrating Mask . Sunday Riley Good Genes lactic acid treatment, right side of face only . Amorepacific Time Response Skin Renewal #antiaging Toner . Amorepacific Intensive Vitalizing Eye Essence . Naruko Rose & Botanic HA Aqua Cubic Complex EX . Amorepacific Time Response Skin Renewal Serum . 3 pumps #COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence mixed with 3 drops #LJH Vita Propolis Ampoule . Sunday Riley CEO THDA vitamin C serum, left side of face only . Naruko NRK Arbutin Intensive Brightening Mask. This week's letter is "M"; this mask contains Morus Alba (mulberry) bark extract, a natural source of the brightening agent arbutin. . Amorepacific Time Response Eye Renewal Creme . Be the Skin Botanical Nutrition Power Cream, which smells really nice! Like pretty tea. . Play Sheet Mask Saturday with us every week and check out @nourishtheskin @snowwhiteandtheasianpear @modgeek @lotusandthesnail @woodnote_song @kimmie_sings5 @asianbeautyja and @whatstephyloves for more Sheet Mask Saturday posts! . #fiftyshadesofsnail #rasianbeauty #abcommunity #beautycommunity #skincare #beauty #skincareregime #skincarediary #asianbeauty #asiancosmetics #kbeauty #koreanbeauty #koreanskincare #instaskincare #instabeauty
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Instead of doing that, this evening I've got:

PM routine:
Double cleanse: Amorepacific Treatment Cleansing Oil* followed by Sulwhasoo Snowise EX Cleansing Foam
BHA: COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid
Serum: Amorepacific Time Response Skin Renewal Serum*
Sheet mask: Dr. Morita Moisturizing Essence Facial Mask
Cream: Sunday Riley Tidal Brightening Enzyme Water Cream*

The double cleanse goes fine, since those products are the ones I use regularly.

I feel some trepidation about the BHA. I do use BHA, but only on my nose and only when the pores there are looking a little more visible than I'd like. I have no use for BHA on the rest of my face, where the pores don't need extra clearing. Still, the COSRX BHA is pleasant enough to pat on. For the purposes of this experiment, I'm trying to make myself think of it as an extra hydrating layer. Even though BHAs can be drying. It's all about the story one tells oneself. Hopefully.

I chose the Amorepacific serum for several reasons. One, it's the anti-aging serum I'm currently testing. Two, I really don't want to give up anti-aging for even a day. And three, I had noticed some interesting skin texture improvements during a long period of testing this without any actives, so I'm hoping it'll provide some compensation for not using my AHA during this experiment.

The Dr. Morita mask hydrates and contains niacinamide for brightening as well as ceramides, cholesterol,and phytosphingosine, a combination that can provide skin barrier repair and support.

Finally, the Sunday Riley cream also contains brightening agents--arbutin primarily--as well as papain, an enzyme exfoliant that, once again, I'm hoping will compensate somewhat for the lack of AHA in my routine. It's a hydrating, jelly-like product rather than a heavy cream, but maybe the sheet mask beforehand will help get me through the night.

I got through this routine quickly and was able to give Chris Pine's SNL episode my full attention, which was nice. Unfortunately, my decision to mostly forego moisture in favor of using substitutions for my AHA was a bad one. My forehead starts itching before I'm even in bed.


I wake up feeling decidedly dry. Overnight, my cheeks have taken on a rougher texture than usual, and my forehead still itches. Clearly, I need something more. Luckily, I've made a discovery in my skincare closet!

Hyggee Balance One Step Facial Essence* is an unusual product in that in the past, I've found it actually capable of substituting for a basic hydrator + moisturizer routine. It contains 80% water-based, hydrating ingredients and 20% oil-based, moisturizing ones. The Amorepacific Moisture Bound Rejuvenating Serum lacks that oil component; I'm hoping the Hyggee will take better care of my emulsion- and cream-free skin today. After my cleansing water swipe and water splash, I eagerly shake up the bottle and pat the resulting mixture on.

I've never seen my face suck in the Hyggee Balance quite so fast. I usually have to wait 10 minutes or so for the oil components to settle into my skin, but this morning, everything absorbed within a couple of minutes, leaving me ready for sunscreen. I do appreciate the extra time I get to spend zoning out before taking my child to school.

The A'Pieu Pure Block Natural Sun Cream* is one of my new favorite[sic] sunscreens and happens to be one I usually consider moderately moisturizing. That combined with the Hyggee Balance should do the trick, right?


This time, my entire face felt dry by midafternoon and was parched and desperate by evening. Since I've never experienced this with the Hyggee Balance before, I assume it's due to the fact that my skin wasn't adequately nourished the night before. My skin is also looking decidedly dull, both in terms of texture and hydration levels. You know that famous dewy, bouncy glow that K-beauty is supposed to provide? I don't have that anymore.

Clearly, my evening routine needs something extra. Cat does occasionally double fist sheet masks, so I took advantage of that loophole. She even showed me another loophole: two-step masks that contain an extra serum still just count as sheet masks! I'm glad she has some compassion.

Day 2. Challenge: Answer my skin's increasingly weak and pitiful cries for help, while remaining within the parameters of the current Mission. I am committed to the Mission, but not without mercy. One way or another, this will all be over soon, Face. I promise. We will show @snowwhiteandtheasianpear what we're capable of. . #PRsamples: #Amorepacific products provided by @amorepacific_us. #Maskingdom product provided by @beautibi. #Innisfree product provided by @w2beautyofficial. . Amorepacific Treatment Cleansing Oil . #Sulwhasoo Snowise EX Cleansing Foam . #Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid . Innisfree Eco Science Serum--seems pretty moisturizing based on some hand testing, and I wanted to start this soon anyway. . I am allowed to use two step masks and to occasionally doublefist #sheetmasks. . Maskingdom two-step Soapberry & Bird's Nest Fern mask from the Taiwan Aboriginal series. This doesn't contain any swiftlet nest. Bird's Nest Fern is a plant. . #Skinfood Marine Food Gel Mask in Jellyfish. Picked this one up at the Skinfood store in the Irvine Spectrum last month. . Amorepacific Time Response Skin Renewal Creme . #fiftyshadesofsnail #rasianbeauty #abcommunity #beautycommunity #skincare #beauty #skincareroutine #skincarediary #skincareregime #sheetfaced #dryskin #agingskin #antiaging #asianskincare #asiancosmetics #instaskincare #instabeauty
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The Amorepacific Time Response Skin Renewal Serum that I used the night before isn't particularly hydrating or moisturizing, and my experience has shown me that if I can't do lots of layers, I'd better make sure I take care of those basic needs. I reach instead for Innisfree Eco Science Serum*, which did a nice job softening up my dry-ass hand when I tested it there. And then, of course, there are my cheat steps.

Maskingdom's Taiwanese Aboriginal series of sheet masks come with an included "Vital Precursor" hydrating serum step, meant to be applied before the mask. The Vital Precursor packet in my Soapberry and Bird's Nest Fern Facial Mask* contains enough of the watery liquid to do two layers on my face and neck. HA! I've cheated the system! The intensely hydrating mask also soothes and plumps my skin nicely. Even better, I get to follow it up with a hydrogel--Skinfood's Marine Food Gel Mask in Jellyfish turns out to deliver plenty of extra hydration. Score.

Not wanting to take any risks of moisture loss in the night, I follow up with the rich and buttery Amorepacific Time Response Skin Renewal Creme*.


AM routine:
Cleanse with Thank You Farmer Back to Iceland Cleansing Water, followed by a splash of water
Hyggee Balance One Step Facial Essence
A'Pieu Pure Block Natural Sun Cream

Face feels much better this morning. I repeat the routine from yesterday, and this time, the Hyggee Balance takes a more normal amount of time to absorb and dry. My skin feels balanced and fine throughout the day, without dryness or tightness. It seems the extra layers last night and the heavy cream have done their job. I'm still not happy with my eye area, though. It's both puffy and more dehydrated than usual, bringing out all those fun fine lines that remind me of my physical age (rather than my mental age, which hovers somewhere between 12 and 25, depending on my mood and whether there's a Kpop boy band MV playing near me).

PM routine:
Double cleanse with Amoreapcific Treatment Cleansing Oil + Sulwhasoo Snowise EX Cleansing Foam
COSRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid
Innisfree Eco Science Serum
Sulwhasoo Overnight Vitalizing Mask EX

Thank God it's the last night of this. My skin is missing its usual pampering--apparently my face is a spoiled princess. I have chosen to skip sheet mask tonight, however, because I want to test out a little theory I've got working about what my skin needs in the morning, independent of what it got the night before.


Back to normal!

AM routine:

Foaming cleanse with Sulwhasoo Snowise EX Cleansing Foam
Amorepacific Intensive Vitalizing Eye Essence*
Amorepacific Time Response Eye Renewal Creme*
Amorepacific The Essential Creme Fluid(*)
A'Pieu Pure Block Natural Sun Cream

It didn't take much for my skin to bounce back to its normal state. With the help of depuffing eye serum and a very emollient eye cream, my eyes are looking decidedly less tired and aged today, and the rest of my face has regained most of its usual texture and appearance. The Amorepacific “Creme Fluid” is a very liquidy emollient moisturizer I’ve been using a lot lately. It’s lightweight and sinks in fast, like a serum, but actually delivers enough moisture to keep my skin happy until nighttime.

Today’s recovery, combined with my more positive overall Day 3 experience, has helped me come to a couple of conclusions about my own routine.


Being forced to try to meet my skin’s needs using someone else’s template made me feel like an AB newbie all over again, mixing and matching products and experimenting with routine length without much of an eye towards the actual needs of my skin. The mismatch between the routine template and what my skin requires really showed.

After doing this skincare thing for a few years, my routine has become a finely calibrated thing, in which evening and morning routines work together to maintain the skin condition I like. My extensive evening routines pack my skin with plenty of hydration, which I seal in with a heavy cream to prevent excessive moisture loss. For me, it's important to keep as much of the hydration in as possible so that I can get by with a fairly brief morning routine.

In the morning, meanwhile, a good emollient and occlusive moisturizer is more important than a hydrating serum. As long as I've packed in the water the night before, I'll have plenty of bounce and plumpness to last the day. I just need to seal it in. If I fail to do so, by, say, relying on a serum to act as my moisturizer, I'll regret it.

In fact, even if I haven't packed on multiple hydrating layers the night before, a moisturizer step still does more for me in the morning than a serum would. Our skin has its own natural hydration, and my daytime challenge is to hold that hydration in. With dry skin, emollients and occlusives are important. And so I'm back to mornings that look more like this:

It's hard to get back to normal after a great trip, but luckily I have some new #skincare toys to play with to ease the transition back into "real life" 😄 This morning's #skincareroutine is the most extensive I've done in about a week! . #PRsamples: #Sulwhasoo and #Amorepacific products provided by the brands. . #Tosowoong Enzyme Powder Wash . Sulwhasoo Hydro-Aid Moisturizing Lifting Mist as toner. I'm liking this more than the Amorepacific Moisture Bound mist because the Sulwhasoo is much less fragranced. . Amorepacific Intensive Vitalizing Eye Essence. I didn't neglect this while I was away! . Amorepacific Time Response Eye Renewal Creme . Amorepacific The Essential Creme Fluid. This is a newer product that's meant to be an all-in-one type thing with hydrating and moisturizing properties and the possible antioxidant benefits of green tea extracts. I've been using this daily since I got it. Lovely consistency, not too perfumey, and it gives me enough moisture to get by with a very short routine. . #Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence, the 2017 version. I think I used the last of it today actually. I don't think I'll repurchase. . #fiftyshadesofsnail #rasianbeauty #abcommunity #beautycommunity #beauty #kbeauty #koreanbeauty #koreanskincare #skincareregime #skincarediary #morningroutine #morningskincare #instaskincare #instabeauty
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Also, my eyes. They require lots of maintenance to stay smoothed out and supple. Not everyone needs dedicated eye products, but after a few days using nothing on them except what I was putting on the rest of my face, I'm confident that I definitely do.

Of course, the true conclusion of this experiment isn't what I've rediscovered about my skin. It's the fact that the routine that works so well for me may not work quite as well for someone with drastically different skin needs than mine.

To see what indignities Cat suffered during this experiment, click here!


  1. So interesting to see how you counteracted the routine for your needs and came to your conclusions about what your skin needs! Great read.

  2. Very interesting to see the comparison. Thanks for doing this!

  3. Loved reading this. I guess that experiment opens up the eyes for beginners that try to copy a certain skincare routine and end up disappointed. Thank you both for doing this experiment:)