Saturday, November 22, 2014

My Skin Journey + Holy Grail Skin Care Products! Plus Affordable Alternatives and Recommendations by Skin Type & Concern



Skin care is an intimate personal journey. I was raised by a grandmother who used nothing but Shiseido and Lancôme skin care for most of her life, so that is the foundation on which I built my beauty preferences. She started me off with Clinique sunscreen and Shiseido skin care when I was 13. I was blissfully unaware of price at the time, so I used what I was given and that was all I knew. Later on, I learned about skin care layering, and that is when I started experimenting. My skin is sensitive, but it can tolerate a lot of product because I have built up a tolerance over the last six years!

I was genetically blessed with clear skin. I had a couple patches of clogged pores and the occasional hormonal pimple, but my teenage years left me without a single scar. Then came university and plenty of sleepless nights, meaning the introduction of eye cream. I experimented with Shiseido, Lancôme, and random skin care discoveries (like Jurlique and Ole Henrikesen) from Sephora at the time. I was annoyed by a few red patches on my cheeks and broken capillaries around my nose, but if only I knew back then how incredibly lucky I was..

Last year, I endured an unfortunate and very painful bout of severe cystic acne. I had heard from friends and subscribers about how awful acne was, but I never grasped the full impact of the trauma until my own experience. From having nearly flawless skin to pockmarked "pizza face" within six months was mind-boggling and frustrating. As most of you know, I live and breathe beauty, which made me feel even more ashamed about my skin's situation. I did not share my feelings when the acne occurred because ultimately, I had no idea how to open up and talk about it. So, please learn from my mistake: DO NOT WAX YOUR FACIAL PEACH FUZZ. Almost two years, plenty of tears, and thousands of dollars later.. redemption. My skin isn't 100% quite yet, but by July 2015, I truly believe it will be!

If you want to know why I believe SK-II, Cle de Peau, 3LAB, and the rest of these phenomenal skin care products really DO work.. check out my video from July 2013 here, where you can see my acne at its worst. It was even more awful to look at in person and once the healing process started, my face was blue and purple all over. Quite frankly, I couldn't decide whether the active blemishes or the scarring process was more depressing. The bruising was much harder to hide! Either way, it was an unpleasant ordeal and I'm grateful that my acne journey is almost over. I've garnered more skin care knowledge and regained my confidence along the way!


Now, here are some of the most valuable skin care lessons I've learned over the years:
1.  WEAR SUNSCREEN (all day, every day).
2.  Thoroughly remove every single trace of makeup every night.
3.  If you have acne, DO NOT pop your pimples. Go to an aesthetician. 
4.  Use a serum and/or moisturizer every night, even if you have oily skin.
5.  Start using eye cream at 18, if not earlier! Nothing ages a person more than eye wrinkles.
6.  Drink at least 6 cups of water daily, and try to clock in at least 7 hours of sleep.
7.  Treat yourself to a treatment facial as often as possible. Try micro-needling!
8.  If you don't have time or money for professional facials, use a SHEET MASK at least once a week.
9.  Exfoliate with a treatment/mask at least two times a week (once if you have very sensitive skin), even if you're using a Clarisonic or Foreo or whatever device is trendiest.
10.  Invest in quality skin care. It's not always about the price, but luxury skin care has never failed me. Pick up plenty of samples and experiment to find the best products for your skin! 


My HOLY GRAIL SKIN CARE:



toner: use with cotton pads
SK-II Facial Treatment Clear Lotion

essence: pour into palms and pat in


Chantecaille Rose de Mai Cream
SK-II Stempower/Essential Power Cream






Affordable Alternatives:
Kate Somerville D-Scar Serum
Cremorlab Bright Floral Mask
Etude House Eye Gel Patch
Olay Regenerist Mirco-Sculpting Cream


And as promised, here are more product recommendations based on skin type and skin concern. I know many of my subscribers have oily/combination skin, are suffering from acne, or have super sensitive skin. Please keep in mind that products that work (and have worked) for me may not work as well for you. Again, skin care is personal and all about preference, so keep an open mind and don't give up!

ACNE + BREAK-OUTS:
I used a lot of Juice Beauty during the worst of my acne, and it did seem to help the purging process. I highly recommend the Juice Beauty Green Apple Peel (Full Strength and Blemish) as well as their Clearing Mask and Blemish Clearing Serum. Do not expect overnight results, as purging takes time! Also try Jurlique (natural/herbal) and Ole Henriksen products to calm the skin.
For those targeting the occasional hormonal blemish/break-out, I recommend the SK-II Skin Refining Treatment as a spot treatment. I dab it on morning and evening, and my pimples shrink, slowly but surely! No dryness or flakiness like that which can occur with those popular pink clay treatments. I also use the Refining Treatment to keep my blackheads in check (applied all over the face 2x a week).
Additionally, find a talented aesthetician for facials and extractions to minimize scarring, and keep your daily skin care regimen on the minimal end. Try cleanser, toner, serum, eye cream, and moisturizer. Don't forget your sunscreen in the morning, and try to reapply, as it will go a long way in reducing acne marks! Most importantly, wash your pillow cases and makeup brushes WEEKLY, at the minimum! 

OILY + COMBO SKIN:
Although not all alcohol-free products perform well, do stop using products that strip your skin completely dry. Your skin will overcompensate by producing more unwanted oil! Wear a hydrating sunscreen like Eve Lom's and skip moisturizer during the day if you must, but that means you absolutely NEED to use a hydrating serum and/or heavier moisturizer at night.
I highly recommend the products in the Ole Henrikensen 3 Little Wonders Bonus Collection, particularly the Truth Serum and Sheer Transformation Moisturizer. I used OH when I had combination skin and loved it! The brand is fairly affordable and offers plenty of awesome travel-sized kits if you are a skin care junkie and/or afraid to commit to full-size products.
Another must-have is the Lancôme Visionnaire Skin Corrector. I used it when I had combination skin, and it tightened the skin to help my pores look invisible. The pearly effect also makes the skin look smoother, clearer and brighter. I introduced this product to my friends with combination and oily skin, and now all them swear by it!

NORMALIZING SKIN:
As a teen, I had oily skin. During my college years, I had combination skin. Now at 25, I have normal to dry skin. That came about as a result of (simply and inevitably) aging, natural hormonal changes, and good skin care habits. I credit the SK-II Facial Treatment toner with making the most noticeable difference in my oily T-Zone. Since then, I have used it interchangeably with other toners to prevent a plateau, but it still remains my favorite. The lightweight yet powerful 3LAB Super H serum also kept my skin nourished and hydrated, further balancing my skin's condition and sealing in the effects of the SK-II toner.

ANTI-AGING:
When I started my YouTube channel in 2010, lot of women used to give me grief when I explained I first started using eye cream at 18. The truth is, it's all about prevention, and starting early is encouraged nowadays due to environmental factors like sun exposure, pollution, and lifestyle stress! FYI: You don't have to start with a heavy or anti-aging eye cream when you're 18. Try something lightweight and more basic, like the SK-II Facial Treatment-Eye or Fresh Lotus Eye Gel.

ASIA EXCLUSIVES:
Two of my favorite moisturizers, the SK-II Cellumination Day Surge SPF 30 and SK-II Facial Treatment Lotion SPF 15, are only available abroad. If you have a friend that travels often, request these! The CDS is best for dry to combination skin, and the FTL is ideal for normal to oily skin. The Lancôme UV Expert XL-Shield SPF 50 is also a fabulous sunscreen for normal/dry to combination skin.

ULTRA SENSITIVE SKIN:
My beauty blogger buds with incredibly sensitive skin use the SK-II Facial Treatment Repair C serum, in case any of you are looking for a very gentle anti-aging treatment! SK-II skin care is potent, so start with the Repair C just to be safe. 
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28 comments:

  1. Try the Hitachi Hada Crie. (I have no financial interest in this recommendation). I tried it without expectation (and a high amount of doubt) but it has resulted in smaller pores and more thoroughly cleansed (and clear) skin without irritation than I have ever had and I have also been through decades of experimentation and professional treatments. It's a key component now to my skin care routine.

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    1. Thank you for the recommendation! I'm actually looking into a similar but more powerful device called the Haba. My friend on Instagram recommended it to me! It sounds like an incredible tool

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  2. Thanks for doing this post. I am about to start my skin regimen with several SK-II products, but am missing some new products such as eye cream and serum. Now I will look into these HG items and see if they will work for me.

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    1. Yes, I highly recommend them! SK-II has changed my face drastically since the acne healing began.. I don't know what I would have done otherwise! It really sped up the process. If you can't access the Stempower Eye Cream, try the SK-II Signature eye cream and use extra sparingly :)

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  3. Hi! :-) This is a lovely post, thanks! x

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  4. Thank you for this outstanding indepth video!

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  5. wow - amazingly informative and detailed information. GREAT post. thank you for what you do for the make up loving community!!!!

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    1. Thank you so much for appreciating all my efforts!! xo

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  6. Great post! I think we may be skin twins. I love and swear by some of those SK-II products. I'm really interested in Tatcha products. Have you tried anything else from the range? I would love to see more reviews on them as they haven't been reviewed that much and I live in Australia where I can only buy it online. I need a trusted a trusted opinion. Thanks :)

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    1. I adore their hand cream! It's one of my traveling essentials. The enzyme exfoliating powders are good, but I prefer more powerful treatments.. they're great if you have super sensitive skin! The Dewy Mist is excellent (highly recommend). Lip balm is just average but oh-so-pretty!

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  7. Hi Rae,

    Thanks for such a thorough review. Not sure if my previous comment went through but I'm traveling to Singapore/Hong Kong next month. What would be your absolute must products so I know what to look into and get while I'm there?

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    1. Definitely the four Asia exclusive skin care products mentioned in this post/video! I always stock up on Shu Uemura eyelashes and foundations (RMK Gel). Also, if you have dry skin, try the amazing SK-II Skin Rebooster (hydrating gel).

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  8. Thank you for such a great post! I adore your in-depth reviews as you provide so much more information than other reviews which sometimes is a regurgitation of what you can find on the box with a "I like it" tacked on the end. I am very much looking forward to investing in a new cream and am tossing back and forth between SK-II Stempower and Chantecaille Rose de Mai. As you have used and love both, I am wondering whether you would recommend one over the other - for reference, I have normal skin with hormonal breakouts (leaving purple spots taking forever to fade!) and changes through seasons, i.e., summertime slightly oily in t-zone, wintertime slight dry patches. Any thoughts from you would be wonderful and much appreciated!

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    1. Thanks so much for appreciating the review! For your skin condition, I recommend the Chantecaille over Stempower. Use it (generously at night) with the SK-II Skin Refining Treatment on your blemishes for best results!

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  9. I have been threading my peach fuzz for months now. I have only continued because I feel the hair has grown back darker and longer now which obviously makes it more noticeable. I also seem to breakout more when it grows out now where even though I am acne prone, it never bothered me this much before. Do you have any tips? Thank you! ♡♡

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    1. These days, I just tweeze! My hair isn't much darker and more noticeable than before! Once I find a solution that truly works (without side effects like acne), I will let you know. I tried threading recently, and it broke me out!

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  10. I noticed you mentioned Kate Somerville's D-Scar Serum in your products, but did not mention it in your video or blog post. Many people claim it works for pitted scarring, but I tried it before for a month and didn't see any results. What was your experience with that product? Also, I read your previous Acne Journey post, but for actual physical scarring, what exact products are your recommendation? Thank you!

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    1. I had to cut out an entire section due to time constraints, and that section included the Kate Somerville product. You should try not to 'expect' improvements with a product like that after just one month of use, especially if you have deep pits (even if other people say it works for them.. again, skin care is very personal). Scars that deep may take years of the best and most powerful treatments (in combination) to heal. As I wrote in this post in the top ten skin care lessons, try micro-needling. It really helped to reduce my scarring! It's costly. Still, it will take more than a handful of facials.. it's also a lot of maintenance with a tight skin care regimen and of course, patience and as healthy a lifestyle as you can manage! Good luck xo

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  11. Thank you! I actually have microneedled for many months now, but it takes a long time to see good results. I hope you can do a video on your experience with that. It would be interesting to know and share with your followers!

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    1. Wow, really? Your scars must be much deeper than mine. I saw incredible results after one facial. I've only had time for 3 sessions, but we're hoping that just two more sessions are required before all my scars disappear. It's truly the best treatment for scarring!

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  12. I have two that aren't super deep, but they are indented rolling scars nonetheless. They have improved in appearance, but I am very demanding I guess with results, so they're not at where I want them to be yet. I also think where you get the microneedling done plays a big factor. I read a lot from owndoc.com and do the needling myself with a dermastamp. Also, what serums you use after the needling are very important. But yeah if you could, please do a video on your experience. A TON of people would benefit from it, especially since you are so trustworthy and knowledgeable on skin care.

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    1. Yes, I will likely create a blog post/video about my microneedling experience. I can't recommend my esthetician because she doesn't speak English, but she has worked miracles on my skin. Unfortunately, at-home treatments always require much more time and patience! Keep it it, though, and try a professional treatment when your budget allows! Try to wear foundation and other base makeup only when absolutely necessary, use sunscreen diligently (but wash it off thoroughly every night), and try to stay out of the sun as much as possible.

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  13. Thank you, Rae. You're so kind and helpful. Definitely a step above the usual YouTube beauty guru. Keep doing your thing!

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    1. Thank you so much for appreciating it! I truly wish you the best of luck xo

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  14. Hi, I'm 19 years old now, nearly twenty. I'm a girl who come from Hong Kong and I love watching your video so much. I have learnt a lot of valuable knowledge. So thanks so much for teaching me those things about makeup and skincare. I want to ask is whether the skii facial treatment essence is suitable for me to start use now, is it will be too earlier that i start to use skii now? Because my mum and my friends said that skii is specialized for mature women. I have normal to combination skin and what eyecream will be best for me. The most important is except suncare, which product will work really effectively for reducing my acne scars? Thank you very much!

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