The Long and the Short of My Skincare Routines, and a Sneak Peek at Some Impending Fun

So here’s the thing. I love it that K-beauty is getting so much attention. K-beauty seems like it’s still on the rise, with the potential to really break through and permanently expand the horizons of the beauty industry worldwide. The problem is that a stereotype has developed–both because of journalists looking for a catchy title and memorable hook, and because of K-beauty representatives angling for attention–that really limits K-beauty’s reach.

The stereotype is this: that K-beauty is all about the OMG 200-STEP ROUTINE! Because it absolutely doesn’t have to be. But I feel almost hypocritical saying that, because I’m aware that one of the first things my blog was known for was my own epic routine.

To redeem myself, I want to show you what my routine is like now–and talk a little about why the length of one’s routine is beside the point.

Fifty Shades of Snail skincare routine
It’s true, I own all these and more, and I use all these and more. But it isn’t as simple as that.

See the picture above? Add a big blue jar of Scinic Aqua All In One Ampoule and another big jar of Shara Shara Aqua Bomb All In One Ampoule (uh, and if you want, go ahead and add in a big brown jar each of Shara Shara Honey Bomb All In One and Scinic Honey All In One Ampoule, another big brown jar of Scinic Snail All In One, and I guess you can put in the big berry jar of Shara Shara Berry Mix All In One Ampoule, because I still like to collect), and you’ll still only have a partial picture of my full lineup. That isn’t a picture of my actual everyday routine, though, at least not anymore. It’s more like a skincare wardrobe.

When I first embarked on my AB journey, I had a lot of skin issues I wanted to address. I’d neglected and abused my skin for years and years. I had sun damage and smoking damage and a barrier that hadn’t been healthy since probably about 1994. And that’s why I accumulated such a lavish skincare wardrobe.

You see, the point of AB isn’t the length of the routine, it’s the depth and breadth of the individual options. No matter what skin problem you’re trying to tackle, you’ll probably find at least a dozen different toners, essences, serums, ampoules, emulsions, and creams that target it. That stands in stark contrast to mainstream Western skincare, especially drugstore-priced Western skincare, which tends to focus primarily on acne or aging and offers a comparatively limited selection of different product formats. (This is improving, and I don’t think I’m wrong in giving K-beauty some credit for influencing that.)

Media coverage of K-beauty tends to make it sound whimsical, extravagant, and impractical. So many products! So many steps! Such strange ingredients! Such cute packaging! Snails and starfish and horse oil, oh my!

Su:m37 White Award Bubble Detox Mask experience
There’s really nothing whimsical at all about it.

What could be more practical than being able to pick and choose precisely the targeted products you need to solve your specific skin problems? Asian brands both mainstream and obscure offer a huge selection of options, from which you can create a customized toolbox for your own needs. That’s what so great.

So. Going back to my skin way back when, I had a lot of different problems I wanted to fix, therefore I acquired a lot of different products to fix them. The first phase of my AB life was one of necessary replenishment, recovery, and repair. The first phase of my AB life was also one of experimentation. As it should be! I was experimenting with different ingredients, product types, and different product combinations. I was discovering my skin’s sensitivities and limitations, learning what works for it and what doesn’t, figuring out when enough is enough or when more is called for. And I was also discovering the therapeutic benefits of self-care.

For those reasons, I developed (and stuck to) a very extensive skincare routine. I’m sure a lot of people looked at my routine and just couldn’t see the value in all those steps. I’m cool with that, because I saw the value in all those steps, and I still do. I don’t think my skin could have come as far as it has in such a short time if I hadn’t treated it to such an intensive regimen.

Things are different now. My skin’s needs aren’t the same as they were a year and a half ago. For one thing, I’m pretty sure I’ve gotten close to max brightness, so brightening isn’t a goal anymore. I’ve smoothed out most of the premature fine lines that I’d picked up from my bad habits, and my actives (Western and AB) have repaired much of the visible damage my face used to show. My main goal now is maintenance. And because that goal is simple, so is my typical routine, especially during the day.

Simple morning skincare routine
I’m living the 5-step AM routine life now. That’s a COSRX cotton pad, by the way, because I just like COSRX that much.

My cleanser cleanses without disrupting my barrier. My booster preps my skin and delivers some gentle enzyme exfoliation to keep things soft and bright. I hydrate with an essence, serum, or ampoule that also targets any issues I’m having and injects a dose of protective antioxidants to defend against the ravages of the day. Moisturizer seals it all in with a few more antioxidants. After that, it’s just sunscreen and candy. It takes me no more than five minutes of active, “putting stuff on my face” time and another fifteen to twenty of drying time, and I’m ready to put on makeup and/or face the world. High-maintenance? Ha! Hardly! Haha!

Crazy, right?

What’s interesting (to me) is that my routine is so short now precisely because it was so long before. That brings me to my main point, which is: There’s no right way or wrong way to do K-beauty! Don’t feel overwhelmed by all those articles talking about the dozen-plus steps of the K-beauty. Conversely, if you do happen to have (or want) a long routine, don’t doubt yourself when you run across shade or hate from people who think a long skincare routine is ridiculous. The real value of K-beauty lies in the fact that K-beauty lets your skin get exactly what it needs, no more and no less, and no one gets to decide what your skin needs but you. Curate your ass off, experiment and play, and let your results speak for themselves.

I haven’t turned my back on the ultra-long routine completely. There are few things more relaxing to me than claiming the couch, finding something fun to watch, and reveling in an extended session of Pat In All The Things. It’s even more fun now because my skincare wardrobe is to my face what Cher’s actual wardrobe is to her body in Clueless, and what that means, if you have no soul and have never watched Clueless, is that my skincare wardrobe is an endless source of wonder and variety.

And now that I’ve rambled sufficiently far from my point, let’s look at some of the wonder and variety I have planned for the near future!

No but seriously, I hope you guys like what’s coming. Of course there’s fun stuff coming. Unusual ingredients or otherwise gimmicky products might not be as scientifically respectable as retinol and tocopherol, but let’s not be un-fun, okay? This is skincaretainment, not rocket surgery, In the grand scheme of things, it doesn’t actually matter what our skin looks like, so why invest the time and effort unless it’s fun, unless it brings some joy into our day-to-day rituals?

I’ll soon be introducing you guys to a new sponsor, who came to me bearing gifts of things I haven’t heard of before. One of my new sponsor’s offerings is a face cream whose star ingredient is better known as a mind-altering substance. (Oh, and another cream that’s made from sea cucumber extract, and sea cucumbers are essentially the dildos of the sea. That’s pretty wacky.) I’ll also be testing and reviewing a jet-black serum that features some kind of extreme fermentation action.

Speaking of sponsors, I’m super stoked to have joined Memebox’s Brand Ambassador program. I’ve gotten more than my fair portion of skincaretainment from Memebox, and now I’ll be able to share even more skincaretaining skincare goodness with you all. Be on the lookout for some possible upcoming collaborations, too.

All that is in addition to the serious stuff. I’m about to drop reviews of some pretty incredible (and some pretty disappointing) “serious” skincare products on you, so if you’re looking to change something about your skin and want to avoid products that aren’t going to change a thing, I got you.

What’s the most valuable item in your skincare wardrobe? And which one is the most fun?


32 thoughts on “The Long and the Short of My Skincare Routines, and a Sneak Peek at Some Impending Fun

  1. Most valuable wardrobe piece? The face version of the LBD: MBD rice masks. Simple and basic, sure, but just the ticket anytime, anywhere.

    Most fun? I don’t have many skincaretainment products… But I love the feeling of the Cosrx Snail Mucin Essence. Slick and shiny… like black patent pumps.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Oh heck yes. MBDs in general are MVP. Have you tried the new versions?

      And you’ve got me super excited for the CosRX snail essence that I should be receiving this week! I’ve been wanting to try for a while, especially now that I’m re-snailing.


  2. A skincare wardrobe as vast as Cher’s closet? Hmm, that’s the dream right there! I’m just starting out in AB so I haven’t gotten to the point where I can say I have a “most valuable item” but this journey to discovering it is exciting and I just can’t wait for what the skincare world has to offer.

    Liked by 2 people

      1. I hope so too! I made the rookie mistake of trying everything I hauled right away…… If we’re going by your wardrobe analogy, my skin looked overdressed. But all is good and well, right now I’m trying to discover what my style is and how I’m going to go about it!

        Also, I love this post! It’s the perfect balance of entertaining and informative!

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Now that you mention it, I think it was around 1994 that my skin’s barrier was at least somewhat healthy, too. It’s never too late to turn back, right?!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Please tell me it’s called sea dildo cream!!! That wouldn’t even be the strangest product name I’ve seen! I’ve actually had to cut down on steps to my night routine (my morning routine is just 5 steps) because I added tretinoin so I can’t use my acids yet. I miss my acids. 😦 I also miss getting to do more pat-pat-pats and the level of care-taking my full routine involved. It’s just such a wonderful way to wind down at night!

    Liked by 1 person

  5. If you ever collect the aqua, honey and berry bombs you should do a comparison. Because I cannot make up my mind on which to buy! The berry is the cutest but I like honey but the water sounds so cooling and awesome.

    MVP: Tosowoong Propolis Sparkling Ampoule. I love this stuff.
    Most fun: um….drawing a blank. Guess I’m no fun 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I am 100% going to do a huge comparison post of all the bombs…it’s my justification for collecting them (and going for the Shara Shara Honey Bomb a second time). And this time I won’t spill them! I’ve started decanting just small amounts at a time and putting the big jars in the fridge, safe and chilled.


      1. YAS! Sorry, so giddy.

        I actually just splurged on memebox for the Shara box. I can’t decide if I’m hoping for honey or berry. I think that I will be happy no matter what.

        Liked by 1 person

      2. I was just looking at that box and talking about it with Tracy from Fanserviced! I would have gotten that if I hadn’t just ordered the honey and berry bombs from Glow Recipe!


  6. Skincare wardrobes are essential! Atm, is much rather spend money on my face than actual clothes, because choices and I still have to eat and pay rent. Lol.
    Right now, I have 10 cleansers on rotation, depending on what my skin needs at that actual moment, #notobsessed #denialisbliss
    And I use all of them. My skin has never looked better. And they make me happy.
    Oh- shara shara honeycomb as a sleeping pack is amazing. I wake up to lovely,bouncy skin. I keep slathering it on, and I’ve still got over half a tub left. It’s like a magic,never-ending tub of honey goodness.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Man, that Shara Shara Honey Bomb. I loved it so much as a sleeping pack! And as an essence and serum, and occasional non-greasy hand or body moisturizer. I think once I put it on the ends of my hair to smooth them out a bit, even.

      Tell me about your cleansers!

      Liked by 1 person

      1. My notable K-beauty buys are the famous Sum:37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick, which is as foamy as I’m comfortable with these days. The other one is one of the few budget-ish cleansing balms I’ve found without mineral oil, Secret Key’s Skin Save Balm. It’s actually really nice, although I use it as a skin cleanser, rather than a makeup remover, if that makes sense:). Other favorites are Clinique’s Take The Day Off Balm as a makeup remover, it melts off mascara with absolutely no effort and a tub lasts ages, so it could be considered a budget buy of sorts. My current favorite is The Body Shop Softening Cleansing Gel- it’s a fantastic hybrid of a gel/oil/milk. It turns into an oil when you massage it onto dry skin, then emulsifies into a milk when you add water to it. It’s so good! It removes makeup and cleanses brilliantly. Perfect for quick morning cleansing and a second cleanse in the evenings. I haven’t been able to find a K beauty equivalent. Any recommendations?

        Liked by 1 person

  7. I’m pared down to just rosewater and seed oils right now to heal some overexfoliation, which makes me feel both antsy and like a traitor to kbeauty, but this post helped a lot with that second feeling, so thanks! Can’t wait until I can get back to my Hey! Pinkgo Girl Papain sheet masks, which are my MVP, and to my weirdest favorite, the Imselene Donkey Milk Holic sleeping pack. Stringy to the max.

    I’m crazy eager to hear more about the black serum. Is it Banila Black Pullulans? The O Hui? That Supia mushroom thing that nobody has reviewed? I am freaking out!!1!

    Liked by 1 person

  8. “It’s more like a skincare wardrobe.” LOVE this analogy. And no, I can’t choose just one — just like my clothes, it all depends on the situation, my mood, the weather, what I may have planned later that day….and anything else that may fall on my lap!

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Oddly enough, my MVP is Mizon’s Snail Repair Hydro Mist, but for a strange reason – it soothed and fixed redness from over exfoliation but also it cleared up a skin rash on my neck! I think it was an allergic reaction to a body lotion, and I didn’t want to use hydrocortisone cream to calm the rash in such a delicate skin area and the Hydro Must is so cooling and soothing, that I used that for 3 days, all day long.

    Liked by 1 person

  10. It’s awesome. I confess that I use it to soothe heat rash on my chest too. I’m still on my first bottle (I have a second bottle all ready on standby) and I’m not worried about over-using it, unlike many OTC creams like Gold Bond or hydrocortisone cream. It also smells fantastic. Maybe I am just finding excuses to use it as a body spray. I even spray it on my legs and arms after a hot bath. I really don’t think it was intended for all of these random uses, but it feels great and I just spray and spray!

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Also, when you get a chance, would you consider doing an update (or just a check-in) of your makeup routine as well? Products you added, subtracted, changed, etc? Thanks!

    Liked by 1 person

  12. My most essential items..

    Tony moly dual effect sleep pack – super soothing and moisturising without breaking me out (miracle, my skin hates cream textures, this is somewhere between a cream and gel)

    Cosrx snail 96 mucin essence. I use this almost as a moisturising toner/first essence. It helps everything else sink in so much better in the evening and in the morning it’s my only step between foam cleansing and primer/makeup

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Hi! I just wanted to let you know that I sent you an email yesterday about some doubts I have on a couple of Cosrx and Hada-labo products. My name is Daniela and my email is probably on your spam folder!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Hello fiddy, new follower here. You mentioned melasma somewhere in the blog. Can you elaborate on which products helped you with that? About to order a bunch of stuff .. Will help me narrow down my choices.. There are so many of them!!


    Liked by 1 person

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