Saturday, July 19, 2014

Vitamin C Diaries #4: Skin Care Routine for Oily, Combination, and Acne-Prone Skin + La Deessa Giveaway! (US only)


Hello, pretty blog babes! I'm here with some recent updates with my Vitamin C serum experience, but first I wanted to share with you my regular daytime and night time skin care routine.

I use a LOT of different products—like makeup application, skin care is definitely a multi-step process—and a lot of them are higher end brands. I normally do not purchase super expensive "designer" makeup or clothing products but if it's going on my face, I'm going to want the best of the best. (I use drugstore mascaras, no-name brand lipsticks, and looooove Target... but for skin care, I don't care how much money I put in!).

My current routine is in no way perfect, and even I can say I'm not completely satisfied with it. I have skin trouble just like everyone else. However, it is what I am currently using, so this comprehensive list will give you guys general idea of what I do on a daily basis, and my thoughts on each product.

Cleanser


The first thing I do in the morning is wash my face. I have oily-combination skin so it is important for me to wash my face when I wake up! My current (and absolute favorite) face wash is Uriage Hyséac Cleansing Gel.
This stuff is absolutely amazing, and it's definitely one of my holy grail products. I've mentioned the Uriage Hyséac line on my blog before, and it is by far my most trusted skin care line. It targets clogged pores and blemishes—perfect for people struggling with acne, oily skin, and large pores—but is also hypoallergenic, which is great for sensitive skin, unlike most drugstore acne-targeted products. I used to have very problematic, acne-prone skin, and this stuff SAVED ME. I have been using it for years continuously and do not see myself stopping in the future.

The only problem with it is that it is a French brand (ooh la la!) so it is not available in the US. I have never seen this line at places like Sephora and Ulta, nor at department stores. I always either order it online, or stock up on it when I visit Korea, as they sell it at some pharmacies and at Olive Young.

I'll also warn you it's a pretty expensive line; the cleanser alone costs around $25 (5 oz.). Amazon has pretty reasonable sellers that may have them for cheaper, so I definitely recommend you check there. Over the years I've attempted to find more affordable cleansers that are still appropriate for my skin. So far, the search has been rather unsuccessful; I've always gone back to Hyséac, and every time I have done so, my skin instantly cleared up and felt smoother and softer. It's a miracle product, I tell you! Close runners up would be Mario Badescu Enzyme Cleansing Gel and Mario Badescu Glycolic Foaming Cleanser.
I love Mario Badescu as a brand, and these cleansers are gentle and work as nice basic cleansers. Mario Badescu is more expensive than regular drugstore brands, but the Enzyme cleanser is still only $12 for a huge 8 oz. bottle, and the Glycolic cleanser is $15 for 6 oz. You can find these online or at Mario Badescu spas in New York. I wouldn't call either of them an amazing product, but they do make my face really soft, don't break me out, and smell really nice. The Enzyme cleanser is my "down day" cleanser; I use it interchangeably with the Hyséac gel, usually either in the nighttime, or when my skin is behaving really, really well and I don't need Hyséac to save me (as it always does). The Glycolic cleanser, I use as a clarifying cleanser once a week, just to really get deep into my pores and target acne. It is not recommended to use it more than three times a week, just because Glycolic Acid can be irritating for sensitive skin.

My only problem with the Enzyme cleanser is that it contains methylparaben, which doesn't really matter to me, but may bother some people. I don't use the Glycolic cleanser enough to have major beef with it. It foams up nicely and a little goes a loooong way. I'm pretty sure I'll be using this bottle for the next ten years LOL! It does make my face slightly red right after usage, but that's expected due to the high Glycolic Acid content. I use it at night only anyway, so it's not that big of a deal.

As you can see, I have an affinity for gel cleansers, and that's because they are perfect for oily skin. Unlike cream cleansers, which can contain comedogenic oils, gels are great for oily skin types like me. I would suggest staying away from them if you have dry skin, though; oil-free cream-based or liquid-based cleansers are great for dry skin.

Cleanser Alternative


If I have a morning workout, I'll skip the face-washing, just spritz on some facial mist, and blot the excess oil and moisture away. After I hit the gym, I'll jump in the shower and wash my face in there. The facial mist I'm using is Caudalie Organic Grape Water.
This is perfect for mornings where cleansing is unnecessary, or for people who have dry skin types and may not need to wash their face twice a day. It's refreshing, moisturizing, and gentle. It doesn't smell so great because it contains grape extracts, but it's not intolerable, and it doesn't last since the main ingredient is just water. It's pretty pricey as well—$18 for a 200 mL can—but totally worth it.

To blot the excess oil, I use regular oil absorbing sheets. I'm not picky about brand and will really use anything, but a cheap, tried-and-true product I use is Nature Republic Oil Control Film.
Nature Republic is a Korean "drugstore" beauty brand, but I love them because they are affordable and high-quality. As far as I know, these blotting sheets are only available in Korea or online. They only cost around $2.50 for a 50-sheet package. I don't only use these with the grape water; I use them all the time around midday to blot off my face whenever I feel myself getting oily. They instantly mattify your skin without smearing skin makeup (such as foundation or BB cream), so I carry a packet of these with me everywhere... in my schoolbag, my purse, my boyfriend's car... everywhere!

Toner


Immediately after cleansing, I dry my face completely and apply toner with a cotton ball. Toning is an important step in any skin care routine because not only does it target your pores and close them up after you wash your face, but the sweeping motion of the wet cotton ball picks up any remaining dirt or makeup from your face. It's like using a clarifying face wipe—I never skip this step!

Currently, I am using... you guessed it! Another Uriage product: Uriage Hyséac Deep Pore-Cleansing Lotion. "Lotion" apparently means "toner" in Europe; it's just a clear, watery toner liquid like any other.
Ugh, I am SO in love with this stuff! Again, it's pretty expensive; around $30 for 6.8 fl. oz. but it lasts a long time, so it's worth it as always. I have not experimented with other cheaper toners, and have not really wanted to, but I will let you know if I find anything just as good but better priced!

Acne Spot Treatment


Sometimes I skip this step, but if you have any specific pimples you want to target, it's best to spot treat right after toning so that the stuff penetrates your skin immediately. If you do this last like most people do, the acne treatment will have to go through layers of serum and moisturizer before getting to your skin, so I always do this step right after toning. Currently I am using both Kiehl's Blue Herbal Spot Treatment and Burt's Bees Herbal Blemish Stick.
The Blue Herbal Spot Treatment is a clear Salicylic Acid gel and is another one of my miracle products. However, at a whopping $18 for a teeny 0.5 oz. bottle, I knew I needed to explore my other options and found Burt's Bees ($8 for 0.26 oz.). I am not a huge fan of most Burt's Bees products (as I'm allergic to beeswax) but this blemish stick isn't bad. It is a heavily fragrant alcohol that you roll directly onto your blemishes. It's strong, but I feel like the application method isn't that sanitary. I don't find it as wildly effective as Kiehl's, but it does its job and is 100% natural, so I'm still a happy gal.

Burt's Bees is a standard drugstore brand that you can find everywhere (Walmart, Target, CVS, etc.), so I definitely recommend it if you want all-natural skin care products at a reasonable price and wide availability. Kiehl's... not so much. But the Blue Herbal gel is a wonder-product, so I will continue buying it until I go broke.

Vitamin C


So finally, the main point of this post... the ever-important Vitamin C serum! So far I am enjoying my Vitamin C exploration, and have tried dozens of different products. Most recently, I've tried La Deessa Premium Anti-Aging Elixir, which I adore!
As I've mentioned a countless number of times, the main reason I started using Vitamin C serums is for acne scars and sun damage. I do not really have to worry about wrinkles and fine lines yet—I'm only 18... I still have baby fat!—but I do have some dark pigmentation where I used to have acne when I was younger. While the transition was tough—initially, Vitamin C was very irritating to my skin and even caused some unexpected breakouts—serums are now an essential part of my routine. It is never too early to start the anti-aging process, either. I figure it's easier to prevent wrinkles than it will be to treat them in the future, so I am definitely continuing using them.

La Deessa is today's spotlight brand. It is pretty pricey ($19.95 for a 1 oz. bottle) but it's 95% natural, 72% organic, and free of all the bad ingredients like alcohol, parabens, and sulfates, so I think it's a good investment. The Anti-Aging Elixir has 20% Vitamin C content and it has not broken me out, so it's a keeper! I am giving away THREE bottles of this at the end, so be sure to stick around!

Hyaluronic Acid


Another relatively new addition to my daily routine, Hyaluronic Acid serum helps your moisturizer absorb better into your skin. It is said that it holds 100x its weight in water, so it's basically a primer for your moisturizer, allowing every molecule to penetrate your skin more deeply. I am currently using Azure Naturals Ultimate Hyaluronic Anti-Aging Serum.
This stuff really makes my pores smooth and feels slightly tacky upon application, but it really doesn't matter because once I apply moisturizer over it, I don't even notice. Again, this is a moisturizer priming step, NOT an actual moisturizer itself, so make sure you apply lotion or emulsion over this if you are incorporating it into your skin care routine. Azure Naturals's serum is also 98% natural and 72% organic, and it hasn't broken me out or irritated my skin, so I'm really happy with it. It costs $18.95 for a 1 oz. bottle.

Moisturizer


The penultimate step of my extremely extensive skin care routine is, of course, moisturizer. I use Uriage Hyséac Mat' Pore Refiner religiously in the daytime, but again, it's not cheap. At around $25 per 1.35 oz. tube, it's a product I need to switch out with another if I want to be able to make rent. That's why I also use Clinique Dramatically Different Moisturizing Gel every other day, which is only $26 for a humongous 4.2 oz. pump bottle.
Hyséac Mat' is honestly my go-to favorite product. Aside from its steep price tag, it is the most perfectest product in the world (no, I'm not being dramatic). It is a light green gel-like emulsion that moisturizes and smooths pores, making it a perfect makeup base. Clinique's gel is similar in texture, but yellow in color. It is not as mattifying as Mat', but it has a cult-following for a reason; it's super hydrating, smooth in application, and does not clog pores.

In the nighttime, I usually use products that have specific skin-targeting properties. They are typically a bit heavier and will make my face a bit shiny, but it really doesn't matter since I'm going to sleep ;) You won't be surprised that my two current nighttime moisturizers (and all-time favorites) are Uriage Hyséac A.I., which limits emerging and existing blemishes and residual marks, and Uriage Hyséac K18, which unclogs pores and mattifies and refines skin texture.
These two are pretty similar in what they do for my skin and how they appear (a bit oily after application, but I don't bother blotting since they're part of my nighttime routine anyway). They are priced pretty similarly (~$25 per 1.35 oz. tube) and I have not bothered finding cheaper alternatives because I don't think any other products can do what they do. I can't really tell the difference between them, other than ingredients and texture. A.I. is a bit clumpy, but very gentle. You need to wear SPF over this as it may cause sensitivity during sun exposure. K18 contains 18% AHA extracts, which are acne-fighting. Thus, it's a bit stronger but the texture is much creamier and almost gel-like.

Sun Care


Sunscreen is a VERY important step that many people skip (including yours truly....shhh). This is very very bad and will cause wrinkles once you hit 30!!!!!!!!!!!!!! I don't know how many women have emphasized how important it is to apply sunscreen whenever you go out, even if you're not going to be outdoors for long periods of time. Even the short walk to your car exposes your face to skin-damaging UV rays from the sun, and you can prevent it all simply by applying SPF. If there is SPF in your regular moisturizer or foundation, it is acceptable to skip this step. Obviously you do not need to apply sunscreen at night. But in the day, make sure you incorporate sunscreen into your skin care process regularly.

There is no specific sunscreen product that I particularly love and recommend. I use Uriage Hyséac's Fluide SPF 50+ just because I purchased it two years ago on a whim, but it was expensive (around $30 for 1.7 oz.) and it makes my face shiny just like other brands' sun care products do. It is very runny rather than creamy, which is better for my face in that it doesn't feel as sticky, but it's also annoying to dispense since it gets everywhere. Overall, it isn't my favorite Uriage product but I use it because I just have it on hand.

I also use Atomy's Sun Cream in Beige, which feels like a tinted moisturizer and also is SPF 50+. I use this on days I don't wear foundation or BB cream, but still want SPF and a little bit of coverage. Atomy is a Korean brand that does have a US site so you can definitely find this stuff easily, and it comes in regular White as well, for those who don't want the tinted version. I received it as a gift so I'm not sure what the price range is, but it runs for $20 for a 2 oz. tube on Amazon.

Most days, however, I use my BB cream which has SPF 30 in it. BB Cream, as you probably already know, are a cross between a tinted moisturizer and foundation that has an amazing range of skin-benefitting qualities such as moisturizing, pore erasing, and concealing, all in one product. I know technically this isn't a skin care product and is more makeup (since I wear it instead of foundation), but I have to share this with you guys—it is definitely a holy grail product that I use on a daily basis and could not live without!! The brand I use is Dr. G Gowoonsaesang Brightening Balm.
This stuff is ah-ma-zing. It doesn't have as full of coverage as a high-end foundation would, but it comes pretty darn close. I almost never wear foundation anymore because this stuff just works so well. It's like a primer, foundation, and concealer all in one—saves time and money! While it is a Korean product, I've seen it everywhere in the US—Amazon carries it for sure. It is around $33 for the 45 mL tube, but it lasts so long—one tube lasted me a year and a half. Unlike foundation, where you need a couple squirts of product to blend out, you really only need a small bead of BB cream to cover your entire face.

I have tried other BB creams, both Korean and American brands, but I always come back to this one. It's one of my favorite products ever—a classic in my beauty repertoire!

Makeup Remover


I skip this step on days I'm not wearing makeup (obviously), but on days that I am—even if it's just a thin layer of BB cream—I always swipe my face down with a makeup remover wipe before washing it in the evening. I would not recommend just using your cleanser to get all that makeup off, even if it claims to have makeup-removing properties. You need to take your makeup off separately, especially eye and lip makeup because you don't want to rub that all into your skin when washing your face.

First, I use an eye makeup remover—you can use this to remove eyebrow makeup and lip makeup as well. If it is oil based, do not use it on your face since it could clog pores. My all-time favorite is Lancôme Bi-Facil Double-Action Eye Makeup Remover ($28 for 4.2 oz.) because it is gentle and removes even waterproof mascara effectively.
Sometimes when I want to use an all-natural product, I just use plain coconut or olive oil. Making sure it's the 100% food-grade kind, all I do is dab some on a cotton ball and rub it over my eyes gently. It's not as Lancôme, but it's a great, natural substitute in a pinch.

My makeup remover wipe of choice is from Mamonde, another Korean brand. I couldn't find a link to this stuff anywhere, but I love it because it is made out of a thin, sift-like tissue rather than a solid cloth, so the texture provides a bit of exfoliation on top of taking off all my skin makeup. It's very reasonably priced (I think $20 for a huge tub of wipes?) but I'm really not that picky with face wipes as long as they don't contain alcohol.

Masks, Treatments, and Exfoliators


I definitely have a collection of products I use every once in a while to pamper my face. My all-time favorite mask treatment is Victoria Lanolin-Ägg-Tvål Soap, which is a bar soap that you lather up, then spread across your face; it's meant to be used in place of a cleanser.
You leave it on for 10-15 minutes, then wash it off, and voilà—perfect, tightened skin! This egg white-based soap definitely dries skin out so I use it twice a week, but its effects are instantaneous and absolutely amazing. I think it's only about $20 for six 50-gram bars of soap, which seems pricey, but six bars of soap! That's bound to last forever. Definitely worth the investment.

I'm also a fan of Korean sheet masks, if you've ever seen these around the beauty blogosphere. They are great to use every once in a while to freshen up and add lots of moisture to your skin. I use all brands from Korea, but my favorites have been from Nature Republic, Innisfree, The Face Shop, and Etude House—all basic Korean "drugstore" brands—that usually cost $1 or $2 each. Not bad for a single treatment. Bioré Deep-Cleansing Pore Strips are also a must for me. Whenever the blackheads on my nose and chin get noticeable, one of these babies will pluck them right off! It is kind of disgusting to see the little blackheads on the sticky sheet, but it's so fulfilling to know that gunk is off your face ;) I use them once or twice a month, because using them too often can be irritating.
You can find Bioré at pretty much any drugstore and online. I believe a box of 8 strips retails for about $8 (may be cheaper at Walmart or Drugstore.com).

I don't find it necessary to exfoliate every day since I have sensitive skin; usually a makeup remover wipe or washcloth is enough for me, but sometimes you just really need to get rid of pesky blackheads. I definitely notice when my skin starts feeling a little rough, and to smooth it out, my favorite all-natural treatment is facial salts! Every two weeks or so, I use Adovia Dead Sea Exfoliating Facial Salts, which pretty much look and smell like regular salt, but have minerals from the dead sea. I add a spoonful of this stuff to my cleanser and work it in like a scrub.
In my opinion, this stuff is severely overpriced considering it's literally just salt... it's around $19 for a 12.3 oz jar—outrageous! I'm sure you can just use regular sea salt to exfoliate, no need to purchase a spa brand. Just make sure it is SEA salt and not table salt, because that stuff is chemically derived and could be bad for your skin.

Giveaway!


Phew! Finally done with this list—I hope it helped you guys understand what products are good for oily and acne-prone skin, and what steps are necessary in skin care routines. To end my huge, extensive, post, I'm giving away three full-size bottles of La Deessa Premium Anti-Aging Elixir to three lucky Books à la Mode readers!

To enter, all you have to do is tell me:
What's your skin care routine like? Tell me the step-by-step process and products/brands you use. Obviously you don't have to go into as much detail as I did, but I want to know your current routine and holy grail products, if you have any!
Don't forget the entry eligibility terms and conditions!
Sponsored wholly by the seller and review coordinator—a huge thank you to La Deessa and Tomoson!
Giveaway ends August 2nd at 11.59 PM (your time).

Open to US readers only. Sorry, everyone else! Please check my sidebar where I have a list of currently running giveaways, some of which are open worldwide—there are plenty to choose from!
Void where prohibited.
Although I do randomly select winners, I am in no way responsible for shipping and handling, nor for the prizes themselves.
As a reminder, you do not have to follow my blog to enter, though it is always very much appreciated ❤
Good luck!

FTC Disclosure: I received one or more of the products mentioned above for free using Tomoson.com. However, I was not paid in any way to write a review—positive or otherwise—and all thoughts and opinions are mine and mine alone. I only recommend products or services I have used personally and believe will be good for my beautiful readers!