Over the past few weeks, I’ve been inundated with skin-care questions from friends and followers alike. Most everyone who reached out mentioned facing similar issues: dull, dehydrated, sensitive skin (with the occasional stress breakouts) born from too much time spent inside, feeling anxious, by our drying heaters.
Most everyone I spoke to expressed interest in ordering a few things to get their skin looking and feeling better but weren’t exactly trying to splurge on a pricey cleanser or toner (when I asked, people requested products that were below $30). The good news here is that while people have a tendency to think that expensive skin care means quality skin care, that is simply not the case. Many of my most beloved products — like Snail Mucin and my Forest Pick Moisturizer — happen to be fairly inexpensive. Below, a routine that consists entirely of products under $30 — from cleanser to SPF (which everyone should still be wearing daily). Each of these products are incredibly nourishing, healing, and gentle on the skin.
This cleansing balm from Beauty of Joseon is the kind of thing I would presume costs $50, because it’s beautifully packaged, feels so luxurious on the skin, and easily removes any sweat, dirt, and debris from the day without stripping. It’s packed with fermented grains and chrysanthemum extract, which help deeply nourish the skin so you never get that tight feeling after washing. Apply it on your skin dry, massage it for a little bit, then wash it off with lukewarm water.
Unless you have a good humidifier, indoor heating units in our apartments tend to dry us out, which is why so many of us have been waking up with extra tight, dull skin lately. If this is the case for you, I’m From’s Rice Toner is a great way to combat any skin dehydration while also getting in that extra boost of radiance. It’s formulated with rice extract, which helps promote elasticity, as well as niacinamide, a workhorse ingredient that helps brighten up the skin.This is truly one of the best, fix-it-all toners out there!
Versed is a budget-friendly brand that I’ve been loving lately. And I have to say, out of all of their products, I’ve been most impressed by this P50-ish dupe, which has a blend of seriously effective AHAs like azelaic acid, glycolic acid, kojic acid and lactic acid — all of which help buff away any dead skin and promote brighter, more even-toned complexion. When I want some exfoliation (usually once a week), I use this in lieu of my I’m From Rice Toner listed above.
When in doubt, reach for snail! This go-to essence of mine is (if you don’t already know by now) deeply nourishing, healing, and hydrating on the skin. It’s a wonder product that can improve pretty much any skin dilemma — whether it’s a dry patch or a scab. This essence is restorative, rejuvenating, and, without a doubt, my desert island pick. I use this after exfoliating or toning my skin.
Sometimes instead of snail, I swap in a sheet mask. Here’s an article I wrote a while ago on all my go-to sheet masks, but lately I’ve really been loving these ones from Papa Recipe, which use propolis to hydrate, replenish, and heal the skin. When I take this mask off, my skin looks brighter, dewier, and less red or irritated. I’ve been doing these masks every few days, and I’ve noticed that I’ve been waking up with more moisturized, brighter, and generally healthier-looking skin.
I’ve written about this moisturizer a few times recently, because it’s truly one of the few things that has helped calm my intensely stressed, red, and inflamed skin. This cream is a beautiful blend of nourishing and renewing galactomyces ferment filtrate (a moisturizing yeast), chamomile for soothing, and antioxidant-rich shiitake mushroom extract — all of which help combat any type of dryness, redness, or inflammation.
Yes, you should still be wearing sunscreen! UV rays can penetrate through glass, and even if you just pop out for a quick stroll, you’re exposed to the sun. This is my favorite SPF — it manages not only to protect skin from harmful rays but also to improve texture, radiance, and moisture levels (thanks to the inclusion of centella, niacinamide for brightening and shrinking pores, and hyaluronic acid). As I’ve said in the past: It does the job of a SPF, a serum, and a moisturizer all at once.
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