My daily skincare routine

With Faye, around 2012, when my skin was still clear (and we were still thin!)

I never wear make-up except for special occasions (weddings, choir performances, etc.) so I like to make sure my skin is presentable. Growing up, I didn’t get acne, so I only used a facial cleanser everyday. But by 2013, I started getting pimples and they weren’t going away. The stress, late nights, lack of sleep, junk food, and tears contributed to my acne. That year was the start of my skincare journey. Now my skin is soft and smooth, my pores are less visible, my dark spots have been whitened, and I rarely get acne when I faithfully follow my routine. I get a lot of questions about my skincare routine and products I could recommend. (This is not a sponsored post and I have no affiliate links except that of Shopback at the bottom as of writing.)

It’s important to know your skin type before you buy products. I always knew I have oily skin because of all the “how to know your skin type” questionnaires I’d read in magazines. My second sister has oily skin too and suggested a Mary Kay kit for oily skin, but it wasn’t doing anything for me after several months. (To find out your skin type, Cat of Snow White and the Asian Pear has a good post here.)

I started reading up on skincare for oily skin and these are the things I remember:

  • Your skin changes as you grow older and you can still have acne.
  • Don’t use oils on oily skin because it will make you more oily.
  • Cream-type facial cleansers are best for dry skin, not oily skin.
  • Products will make your pores smaller. (I will address this in another post)
Acne has started to creep up by April 2013.
By June 2013, I started getting cystic acne and larger pimples. When the pimples dried out, they would leave dark marks.
By September 2013, my skin looked so horrible and I was starting to feel self-conscious.

These pictures aren’t filtered or edited whatsoever.

I was using a cream-type cleanser before so I went to the supermarket and picked out Liquid Neutrogena Pure Mild Cleanser because it says mild and it was the cheapest I could afford (available in Watsons, groceries, and BeautyMNL). It was an amazing product! It cleared up my skin after a few months and I couldn’t stop recommending it to my friends who were starting to have horrible acne as well.

By December 2013, my skin was slightly better. My acne was gone although I still had a few pimples occasionally. However, after three years of using Neutrogena, I had to switch because I was starting to get acne again.

Slightly better skin on December 2013

I have tried several skincare products since then (which I might cover in a separate post) and I’ve established a routine and found products that I keep repurchasing, until I decide to explore alternatives. However, my love for skincare products exploded when I discovered the Skincare Addiction and AsianBeauty forums on Reddit and the highly informative Fifty Shades of Snails website. Before 2017, I was happy with just having the same products over and over, but when I discovered the forums, I learned that my skin could be even better.

With my niece Aj in May 2014.
With Kinah in March 2015.

Now after all the magazines and blog posts I’ve read, there’s only one thing I’m now sure of when it comes to skincare: YMMV — Your Mileage May Vary. This means your experience with products may differ from another person’s. My skincare routine threw out all the do’s and don’ts I learned about oily skin. Don’t use oils? Nope, Human Heart Nature’s Sunflower Beauty Oil and Overnight Elixir totally erased that from my approach to skincare. Don’t use cream-based facial wash? Can’t keep me from using Burt’s Bees’ Soap Bark and Chamomile.

Now I just rely on experience, research, and reviews before purchasing a product for testing.

I post a lot of products I buy on my Instagram that my friend Kesh once commented she doesn’t like to maintain her skin the way I do. She thought I go through several steps every night just to maintain my skin. Actually, I bought those products for my sister because I’m treating her acne. I’m super lazy. If there’s one product that could combine all the effects the different products I use, I’d buy it. But since there’s no magic formula out there yet, and I don’t want to have pimples, I push myself to do my routine.

My morning routine

Since I work from home, my morning routine has one step: Cleansing. However, if I’m going out of the house, I add three more products.

1. Cleansing: I use Burt’s Bees Soap Bark & Chamomile Deep Cleansing Cream. My friend Aya gave me a sampler of several Burt’s Bees products, and I have fallen in love with how smooth my face feels after using this. It doesn’t get soapy that my sister thought it wasn’t working. My skin never feels tight and just feels clean.

Burt's Bees Soap Bark & Chamomile Deep Cleansing Cream and Orange Essence Facial Cleanser
I love using natural products on my skin.

I’m also happy to find out that it has a low PH but unfortunately I can’t find where I read that. If I’m wrong, do let me know! (To find out why the PH level of your cleanser matters, Cat of Snow White and the Asian Pear explains here. To check the PH level of popular cleansers in the market, Diane Yvonne has a list here. Reddit also has a sheet of PH levels of both Western and Asian cleansers here.)

This isn’t exactly cheap so I wait for sales from Burt’s Bees, Zalora, or Lazada before repurchasing. I use it for day and night and one bottle lasts me and my sister several months. I’m looking to try Cosrx’s Good Morning Low PH or Innisfree’s Green Tea cleanser but I’m so happy with this cleanser that I’m ambivalent about parting with it even for a few days. I love it so much, I buy the sampler set of Burt’s Bees so I can still wash my face with this soap bark cleanser whenever I travel.

2. Toning: Human Heart Nature’s Balancing Face Toner is a Holy Grail for me. This prepares my skin for the next step by helping it absorb the next products. Last February, I doubted whether I really needed to use a toner so I skipped it for a month. My skin looked so horrible and I was starting to get pimples. As not using this was the only change in my routine, I quickly bought a huge bottle. After a few days, my skin was back to normal. Lesson learned. The best part is, it’s only P99.75 for a 100ml bottle. 🙂 You can order this from a reseller, from their branches or kiosks at the mall, grocery stores, or online through Zalora and BeautyMNL.

Human Heart Nature's Balancing Face Toner
This affordable toner contains manila elemi.

3. Moisturize: I use Philosophy’s Hope in a Jar with SPF 25. I bought this last September after the saleslady offered to test it on my hand. Once it was dry, I touched my skin, and that was the moment I knew I had to buy it. It has become my Holy Grail morning moisturizer. It never breaks me out and my skin looks so refined when I use it. It can also be used at night, but since it has SPF, it seems like a waste. It takes a few minutes to settle and has a slightly white cast upon application; however, when it is finally absorbed into my skin, there’s no more white cast and my oiliness is kept in check throughout the day. Apparently, I’ve been using too much product. I apply only a thin layer on different points on my face and massage it into my skin — no more white cast and it absorbs quickly!

Philosophy's Hope in a Jar with SPF 25
Sadly, not so easy to source in Manila anymore.

There’s also a non-SPF version but it has the same price as the one with SPF. Sadly, Philosophy has pulled out of the Philippines, so right now, it’s only available via Zalora. Sephora Philippines also has Philosophy products, but not this specific product and I’m not sure if they’ll stock it.

4. Sunscreen: I only included a daily sunscreen in my regimen last year once I read about skin cancer. However, I forget to use this a lot, especially since my moisturizer already has SPF. I thought that was enough, but apparently, we really need to use a separate sunscreen product, because we’re not getting the amount of SPF we need to use otherwise.

It is recommended that we use a 1/4 teaspoon worth of sunscreen on our faces but there has been a lot of dispute over this (read here and here). I tried using 1/4, and it was just way too heavy for me that I felt grimy. What does work for me is constant reapplication every 2-3 hours if I’m out in the sun all day. I also found out just now while researching sunscreen for this post that it also recommended to use SPF on our lips because skin cancer on the lips is possible. Project Vanity has a list of available lip balms in the Philippines with SPF here.

Nivea and Biore sunscreen
Prevent wrinkles, sun spots and skin cancer with sunscreen.

I bought the Whitening Immediate Sun Protection Collagen Protect SPF30 PA++ because it was 1) the one I found in the store that can be used for everyday use and 2) it was on sale so it was more affordable. What I love about this product is that it doesn’t leave a white cast and it has both UVA and UVB protection. Not all sunscreen products has UVA and UVB protection, and it is so important that you get one with UVB because UVB contributes to the development of skin cancer (read more about it here). This Nivea product also absorbs quickly so I don’t get that sticky feeling when I sweat — and sweating is inevitable in the Philippines. I use this when I won’t be out in the sun too long. I also apply it onto my arms. This is available in groceries.

I decided to test the much-raved about Biore’s UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF 50+ PA++++, which offers greater protection (Fiddy of Fifty Shades of Snails has a good review of this product). It doesn’t leave a white cast on the skin and it doesn’t take too long to absorb. I love how well it protects my skin but my face sweats like crazy when I use this. This is the one I use when I know I’ll be exposed to the sun for more than 15 minutes.

The Biore UV Perfect Milk is a gift from my sister. I haven’t used it yet because I want to use up the Nivea and Biore Watery Essence first. Sunscreen isn’t exactly affordable in the Philippines, after all.

Sunscreen is even more important if you’re using AHA. Furthermore, there are physical and chemical sunscreens — something I only learned last month. You might be allergic to the chemical type but not the physical kind. There’s a long discussion about sunscreen on Reddit, including recommended products.

Even I could not believe how much my skin has improved by January 2016.

My nighttime routine

Edit: I have since increased my routine to 5 steps and might add AHA because the whiteheads on my nose seem to be reproducing like rabbits.

1. Cleansing: I alternate between using Burt’s Bees Soap Bark and Chamomile and their Orange Essence Facial Cleanser. I don’t know the PH level of the orange cleanser, but I love it, and my mom loves it too. I’ve been meaning to stop using it because the Soap Bark and Chamomile works just fine. However, I use the orange cleanser when my skin feels particularly oily. The instruction says to remove it with a wash cloth, but I just splash water onto my face several times because I dislike abrading my face.

I mentioned earlier that I’m very lazy so when I’m super tired, my nighttime routine is pared down to just this step.

2. Toning: Whether I’m continuing to step 3 or directly to step 5, I make sure to use HHN’s Balancing Toner.

3. Chemical exfoliation: Cosrx’s BHA Blackhead Power Liquid was a discovery. Throughout the years, I’d still get the occasional zit but since I started using this, my pimples are very small and don’t progress to becoming cystic acne. My blackheads are also less visible but I still have a lot of whiteheads, which I’m trying to fix without resorting to AHA. I don’t have anything against AHA except that I forget to use sunscreen a lot, and I’m afraid that will affect my skin negatively.

I used to clean my face with facial scrubs but they proved too harsh on my skin. I use BHA because I like to proactively prevent pimples instead of just curing them. This has also been the only product that has been able to banish the small pimples on my arm. I thought I just had rough skin, but apparently those were small pimples that never go away. After a few months of using this, my arms are smooth again.

Cosrx's BHA Blackhead Power Liquid
Haven’t used up the first bottle I bought in December. What a steal!

Like many people, I used nose strips on my blackhead and even under my chin. However, the blackheads were still there. Eventually one time, my nose started bleeding when I pulled off the strip. I read in Reddit that nose strips are a no-no because they can burst the capillaries and do greater damage to your pores.

The BHA Blackhead Power Liquid has 4% BHA, which is mild enough to use everyday. It doesn’t dry out my skin and it also helps my skin absorb the next product more. However, you’ll need to wait 20 to 30 minutes for your skin to absorb this and fully maximize the good effects. When I’m sleepy and tired, I skip this and go straight to my fifth step. However, I make sure to use it the next day because I started getting tiny bumps on my face when I skipped this for too long. It has now become one of my Holy Grails.

4. Snail Essence: This is the newest step to my routine and I took my time before trying out snail. Like most people, I’m like ugh! when it comes to snail goo. I had a sample of the Mizon All-in-One Snail Repair Cream, and I knew that I had to add snail to my routine. It made my skin sooo soft like a baby. I have a policy of not touching my skin because of germs but that night, I couldn’t resist. It was the kind of soft skin I’ve always wanted to achieve. Furthermore, my skin looked cleaner and my pores were smaller the next day. However, when I was about to buy it, it was sold out in BeautyMNL, Althea, and Shopee. I reasoned one snail product must be as good as any so I bought Cosrx’s Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence instead (available from BeautyMNL and Althea). A lot of people rave about it so I had no qualms buying it.

Cosrx's BHA Blackhead Power Liquid
I’m a snail convert now but maybe not with this product.

Okay, big mistake. It doesn’t make my skin as soft the way Mizon’s did, and my pores beside my nose are more visible in the morning since I started using this. My pores have been quite smooth every morning before this product. I’m trying to figure out a work around before letting go of this snail product. I’m not sure if it’s my current late nights/insomnia or I need to start using a moisturizer or I need to use less of the product on specific areas. Aside from my face, I’ve decided to use it on my other rough patches, which are now getting lighter and smoother. I’m going to test this product for another week but if it doesn’t work, I’ll keep using this on my neck and other rough spots. This was definitely another lesson on YMMV for me.

Update: I have switched to Mizon’s All-in-One Snail Repair Cream, and my skin has never looked clearer. I will probably repurchase. I have been using the Cosrx Snail 96 Mucin Power on dark spots of my skin (elbows and a dark patch on my ankle) because I have discovered that it is an effective whitening product on my body.

5. Serum: I have been using Human Heart Nature’s Overnight Elixir for two years but last December, the smell of the product changed. I thought I had a defective product so I had it exchanged, but it smelled the same. The Overnight Elixir had been my favorite product. I credit it for clearing away the dark spots from all the acne I got in 2013. However, I couldn’t relax while using it anymore so I looked for an alternative.

The top serum I keep seeing featured is Estee Lauder’s Advanced Night Repair. I went to Rustan’s and the nice saleslady sat down with me and answered all my questions about it. She also bottled up a sample for me to try at home. I tried it for three days and decided I needed it in my stash because I started waking up to clearer skin and my face was consistently less oily in the mornings. But at over Php 5000, I couldn’t quite swallow the price point.

When I went to Malaysia last February, I saw this in Sephora. After a quick computation, I realized it was cheaper there so I quickly bought a bottle.

Estee Lauder's Advanced Night Repair
This smells so good and signals my brain that it’s time to sleep.

Ever since I started using the ANR, I noticed the fine lines on the edge of my eyes have disappeared. It is also hydrating enough that I don’t need to use a moisturizer.

However, I found out this product really works to repair your skin because I gave a sample bottle to my mom. My mom uses a whitening facial cleanser but when she started using this, her face started turning brown — smoother, softer, but brown. Apparently, the Estee Lauder was repairing my 59-year-old mom’s face back to her original skin color! She has since stopped using it, but she looks so young and is already using Burt’s Bees’ Intense Hydration Night Cream, which works wonders for her dry skin.

If I’m in a hurry to go to sleep, I only cleanse, tone, and use this serum. This bottle has lasted me for five months, and there’s still a bit more to last me throughout July.


Best extra skincare tip: Water!

To further aid my skincare regimen, I drink plenty of water. I carry a refillable water bottle with me most of the time and I make it a point to drink at least 2 liters of water everyday. This is especially important to me now because I have UTI and I get feverish if I don’t drink enough. If you will make a habit of bringing around water with you, I hope you use a refillable tumbler to lessen the use of plastic bottles.

I try to keep my skincare routine simple. When I use too much product, my skin becomes oilier and not as smooth. However, I do have a longer nighttime routine when I want to pamper myself, which I discuss here.

If you have a skincare problem, I hope you find what works for you! You don’t need to follow my routine or even use the same products. Remember, YMMV. Products may or may not work on you, depending on the ingredients. Some products with ingredients that may trigger acne for some may work well for you. I know the Korean multi-step skincare routine is popular right now, but it proves too much for my skin, given the heat and humidity in the Philippines. Plus, I don’t have air con in my room so some products are a no-no for me because I wake up with oilier skin.

Whenever I buy from Althea, I make sure to use Shopback, which gives me back a percentage of my purchases. Get P200 off your purchases in Althea, Lazada, and many other stores when you sign up using my referral link here (full disclosure: I will also get P100 from Shopback when you purchase at least P500 at no cost to you except for what you purchase).

If you already have skincare products but don’t know which product to use first, second, third, etc, Cat of Snow White and the Asian Pear also has an informative post here.

My skin isn’t sensitive so I’m not afraid to try out products, and I can easily correct my skin over a few days. But do remember to patch test when you go to the store or buy a sample before you buy the full product.

Lastly, don’t feel the need to buy the most expensive products as they may not always work for you. The most painful YMMV experience I’ve had so far was when I bought Php 250 Holika Holika hydrogel mask that had no effect other than to brighten up my skin — something I easily achieve with Php 50 – Php 70 masks. I use these particular products because of their effect on me but if I find cheaper alternatives that work just as well, I’ll probably buy the cheaper product (or only buy the expensive ones when they’re on sale!) and buy chocolate with the leftover money. 😉

One Reply to “My daily skincare routine”

  1. […] my previous post, I talked about my daily skincare routine, but there are times when my skin needs deeper cleaning. I like to do a longer routine every week […]

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.