Skin Type & History

Type: combination, with very oily t-zone and very dry cheeks. Dehydrated instead of dry.  (See below tale of woe.)
Sensitivity:  Very sensitive, clogs easily, acne-prone, highly reactive to almost everything.
Shade:  MAC NC10.  Parts of the skin on my face is darkened from sun damage, so it's more like an NC15-20 but my neck/chest is NC10 so I try to match the rest of me, otherwise it looks like my foundation is too dark.
Concerns: mild to moderate acne, dehydration, wrinkles, sun damage, clogged pores, and PIH (post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation)

I started this blog to chronicle my adventures with asian skincare, but here's how I ended up there:

In addition to growing up without foundation options in my shade, most cosmetics and especially sunscreen make me break out badly.   I tried all sorts of foundations, including ones designed for acne-prone skin, mineral foundations, you name it.  Everything made my skin suffer even worse.  Without sunscreen, I just avoided the sun.  I lived in Canada, where I could carry parasols in the short months of summer and stay away from the beach.  My skin was naturally oily, so I was able to deal with being unable to wear moisturizers- sure, my skin wasn't great, but I was wrinkle-free and babyfaced, so I didn't care.  I looked 10 years younger than my age.

Then I moved to the desert.

Predictably, it was a disaster.  It was another planet!  How had I ended up on a set double of Arrakis?!  Lightning inside of dust storms.  Cacti and mesquite.  Summer for 10+ months of the year.  The sun sears the earth and anyone on it with a palpable force of heat akin to standing next to a woodstove on a cold night, but with an eye-scalding brightness that makes your retinas beg for mercy even in the cold depths of January.

I never went outside except for walking across the parking lot to work, but it was to no avail.  Within 3 years, I had aged at least 10 years, but comparing what I looked like before, it was more like 20.  I had gone from looking 15 to looking 35 in less than 5 years.  Without sunscreen to block the shriveling rays of the sun and without moisturizer to combat the desert's dryness, my skin was quickly destroyed.

My t-zone overcompensated with oil production that could rival the richest rig, and the rest of my face became littered with dry patches and crusty flakes.  My skin dried so fast after washing it with water that it hurt.  I learned to lick my lips before a sneeze or it would split my upper lip.  My skin became so clogged that it took on the pebbled look of a freshly plucked chicken.  I developed a deep wrinkle across my forehead, and squint lines were forming. I looked haggard, desiccated, old.

I bought a Clarisonic skin brush, which worked wonders on my clogged pores but without being able to cover the ensuing purge of breakouts, I gave up. I needed skincare to clean, heal, and moisturize my skin, sunscreen to protect it, and makeup that could cover up my spots until my skin had recovered.   Back to square one.

That's what started my research into BB creams and then eventually Asian beauty in general, and now, this blog!


  1. What a story! It is true when they say that you achieve great things only when you taste failure at its worst. Your distress led to this blog and in turn, educated the rest of us. So, thank you!

  2. Thanks for sharing your story! We have very similar skin! I am so glad I found you on reddit and now your blog :)

  3. Thank you for sharing. I have a quick question for you in hopes you have the answer. I recently purchased some korean skincare from the Amason Seller HonestSkin. Since I am new to Asian skincare, I am not sure if what I purchased is authentic. How can I tell if the Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence Facial Cream is real? Have you heard anything about this Amazon Seller? TIA!

    1. Hi there,

      I do actually know some people who have made purchases and unfortunately they did not have a positive experience. I would recommend googling them to see if you can find reviews online; after the experiences of said friends I have not purchased from them so I can't comment on their service or products directly.

  4. Omg Cat! You're living my life! (Better -_-)
    I didn't realise that the different skin tone on my face was from the sun damage. My face is definitely clogged, dehydrated, porous and unable to exfoliate itself... But I tried Korean stuff and they only made my skin worse (lots of fragrance and alcohol); how do you deal with that?... If you've managed to overcome all your woes then there's hope for me yet! I'll be rummagimg through your blog now...

    P.s., beavertail high five from a fellow Canadian! :)

  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

  6. I'm really impressed with the detail of your reviews and relieved to finally find someone with a similar combination of issues. Do you think it would be possible to show us before and afters of your face or even a screen shot of your skin up close? I'm a very skeptical reader typically and don't truly believe the efficacy of products promoted until I see the results. Just a suggestion.

  7. Im so Lucky, that I found your blog. I've been searching for the right skincare for my problematic skin. I've been using and trying out different products to cure it. Same as you, my skin is oily, sensitive , irritated and darker than other part of my skin. Its very difficult for me to find a product that will suit my skin. I'm shifting to Korean products and your blog would be very helpful for me to choose my Korean skincare line up. The way you describe your skin type is very similar to mine. Thanks.

  8. I just found your blog. I have similar skin and live in the Southern US (Mississippi) so I feel your pain with the heat and humidity. Looking forward to reading more!

  9. It sounds like we are skin twins! I still live in Canada, but I'm sure I would have the same experience if I moved to the desert...I've yet to find a sunscreen that doesn't break me out :/

  10. Wow. You describe my face woes. Diagnosed for years w rosacea, very sensitive skin, and i have Ehlers Danlos Syndrome (Hypermobility), which is also a connective tissue/collagen disorder. My sons have the latter and are both autistic with one, very dry, and the other, normal skin. They will not tolerate more than One product for now, and it better not be Slimy, Sticky, Fragranced, Or Stinging. If i could put it on them while they were alseep i swear i would.
    In the mean time, as i post this, my face is burning and stinging... ouch. Will keep reading!