Hello! This is Miranda, the blogger who is currently hoping that #facewasted will catch on because damn if it isn’t fun to say. While I wait for my slang to revolutionize the world overnight, I could probably introduce myself.
I’m halfway through college and trying–failing–to learn to window shop. My skin is pale, has been forever, and findation puts me at a MAC shade of NW10. My hormonal cystic acne led me on my quest for the One Product To Rule Them All. A friend of mine shared her crazy AB knowledgebank and I learned that I might actually need more than one product. Maybe closer to fifteen or so. And here I am!
When I was first starting out in Asian beauty, my skin was pretty oily. Like, makeup-gone-by-midday oily. It’s closer to normal now and I’m thanking the skin gods for this blessing. Besides keeping my hydration levels up, my routine right now is focused on brightening and acne prevention. I get post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH) like a motherfucker, but it looks like active acne, so I hopped right on all the trains that promised to fade my spots.
Because I am fairly new to AB, my lineup started out with a lot of basics: favorites over on the AB subreddit, holy grails from well-known bloggers, and the like. My first steps were all about starting to actually care for my skin instead of just throwing expensive LUSH products at it and hoping a $30 pricetag meant they would work. (It didn’t, especially not when my hormonal acne kicked in about a year ago.)
So without further ado, here’s the first half of my current routine!
(Disclosure: links marked with an asterisk (*) are referral links. The blog will get a referral credit if you are a first-time customer and make a purchase through this link.)
First Cleanser: nooni Snowflake Stick Cleanser
This is my first emulsifying oil cleanser, and I had no idea how fun it was to watch a solid turn into a buttery balm and then rinse away like milk. Ridiculously fun. I think I got lucky with the nooni stick, because it rinses so cleanly and leaves my skin feeling kind of… hydrated. Some days I almost feel like I don’t need a second cleanse! (My acne prone skin reminds me I do, though.)
Most nights I rub the stick all over my face without a care, but sometimes I use fancy circular motions. Switch it up a bit. After I have a nice coating, I use my fingers to massage the balm in and watch my makeup come off with fascinated horror. It’s easy to get off and my skin looks nice and clean afterwards.
I’d say there isn’t much of a scent, smells kinda floral with a cleanser-y undertone. It doesn’t linger either, and I can’t smell it once it’s on my face. The texture is nice as well, very spreadable and feels good to massage into my skin. I’m hoping the original tub version is similar.
My one concern about the stick form, as other bloggers out there have expressed, is the crazy potential for gunk buildup. I once twisted the product all the way up and there were lines of makeup running down the sides, even though I store it upside-down. So that was quite a shock.
A second round of cleansing, with a foam cleanser, helps me feel better about that nastiness. I figure whatever bacteria I just rubbed on my face will get washed off anyhow. Still, I won’t be buying the stick form again. I don’t feel the price is worth what you actually get, which for me was about 5 weeks of nightly use and mild anxiety. I did recently pick up the original tub form, which doesn’t have the peach blossom lauded in the stick form, so I’m excited to get testing going on that.
I got the nooni Snowflake Stick Cleanser from Memebox* for $18, and it came with a free pore cleansing jelly pad that I like to use now and again for some light physical exfoliation. If you’re new to Memebox, the link above can save you 20% off a purchase of $25 or more!
Second Cleanser: CoxRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser
This is also the first low pH cleanser I’ve bought, but I’ll never stray from my CosRX bae. Never. My oily skin loved it, and my oily-normal skin still loves it. I’ve also mastered the water-to-gel ratio for perfect foamage and I’m not looking to figure it out for anything new.
The Good Morning cleanser has tea tree oil in it, and you can definitely tell when you pop open that glorious tube. At first I was a bit put off by the smell, but I really grew to like it. Once foamed, it spreads easily as well. I use a pea-sized amount (sometimes a bit more because of my slippery shower hands) with a little splash of water, then massage onto my wet face. You know, how foam cleansers are used. Sometimes I also rub the foam in with the jelly pore pad that I got with the nooni stick, just because I love those soft little bristles.
It rinses well and doesn’t give me that tight-face feeling that I sought out in my foolish high-school days. Even though it doesn’t strip my skin, it can sometimes leave me feeling a bit dry. The hydrators in my routine fix that right up, but that dryness started up after my skin cooled off on oil production, so I wonder how well this cleanser would work for people with drier skin. I’m sure there are reviews out there for dry-skinned people, so check those out if you’re concerned!
I got the CosRX cleanser from Jolse for $9.35, and it looks like it’s gonna last me a few more months. Being popular, this cleanser is sort of available all over the place and usually for less than $15. A great value for the price and the product 🙂
BHA – nighttime only: CosRX BHA Blackhead Power Liquid
This is still firmly in testing for me, so I can’t say too much! The one thing that’s really tripping me up on forming a verdict is my hormonal acne. Every two weeks, I develop 3 or 4 cysts practically overnight. Given how long testing periods are for actives (about a month), my clockwork breakouts are interfering.
What I can say for sure is that the gentler strength has been working for me. I’m seeing purging, both cystic and harmless whiteheads, in places that I usually break out (my beard zone). I actually saw purging within a day of my first use. Right now I’ve worked up to using it every 3 days, after a very slow introduction that began almost a month ago.
The cysts do have me a bit worried that I’m actually having a bad reaction, but I’ve gone through the whole rationalization process already. The vast majority of my acne is cystic and in my beard zone, which is also what I’m getting during this probably-purge. Time will tell me if I’ve made a horrible mistake, I figure.
Because my face was (and is) so clogged, I have a feeling my skin will take forever and a day to go back to normal. When this wonderful hell is over, I’ll be happy to report back with results.
My BHA was bought from Memebox* during an app sale, which is the only reason I settled on their high price of $21. Memebox is a reliable seller, but for this particular product I wouldn’t recommend their price. You can find it much cheaper on Amazon Prime, Jolse, and many other places.
Hydrating Toner: Secret Key Milk Brightening Toner
First things first: this smells like watered-down milk. It is lovely otherwise, but it does smell like milk.
Moving on, this toner has been a great and cost-effective addition to my routine. I was using a LUSH toner beforehand, and while I did like that it wasn’t astringent, it was way too expensive for such a tiny spray bottle. The Secret Key toners are massive, clocking in at 250 mL. It hasn’t been a struggle trying to finish the bottle either!
I feel like this toner has helped increase the penetration of my products, and it’s a pretty unobtrusive step in my routine. I can count on it to not irritate my skin or break me out, which is most of what I need from a toner. Secret Key has been so good to me that I’ve already purchased their tea tree version and can’t wait to see how it works out.
Aside from the milky smell (which you really only notice if you hold the bottle up to your nose and take a deliberate whiff), the Milk Brightening toner has been nice. Not shout-from-the-hilltops holy grail, but dependable and simple.
I’m realizing that these reviews aren’t as “mini” as I’d expected, so to keep from throwing a wall of text at you I’ve decided to split this post into two parts. In the second part I’ll cover my essence, ampoule, and creams–with a sneak peek into what I’ll be testing soon!
Please hang with me as I figure out WordPress and all that other good stuff. I promise I’ll get better with some practice.
But right now, thanks for reading! Any questions or suggestions? What awesome cleansers or toners am I missing out on? Leave a comment and we’ll talk!