My Routine: Fall 2015

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Ah, fall. It’s a magical time of year: the days get shorter, lawns gather golden leaves, and there’s a sharp, exciting chill in the air that lets you know the holidays are fast approaching.

Or maybe you live in LA and it’s 85 fucking degrees today.

Since the city would shut down if the high ever dipped below 65, I don’t have to adjust my routine that much to accommodate colder, drier weather. For those who don’t live in this god-forsaken smog-desert (jk ilu LA), your fall and winter routines would probably include a lot more occlusive layers like creams and facial oils to protect from dropping humidity levels and moisture-stripping winds.

For me, the main changes in my seasonal routine just involve whatever new products I’ve discovered in the last three months. I’m absolutely loving my current routine, so let’s take a look at what I put on my face every day.

Morning Routine (~30 minutes)

fall AM

My AM routine takes me about half an hour, but it doesn’t add much time to my overall getting-ready-for-work routine, since I do other stuff like get dressed and brush my teeth in between. Half of that 30 minutes is taken up by the 15 minute wait time after I apply my vitamin C serum.

CLEANSE: konjac sponge with water

I have dry skin, which means my skin underproduces oil, so I try to leave that oil intact as much as possible. That means only cleansing once a day. In the morning, I just use a konjac sponge with warm water to gently exfoliate my skin and rinse off all the products still on my face from the night before. This Missha sponge is my favorite konjac sponge so far: super dense, very gentle, and surprisingly sturdy.

ACTIVES: homemade vitamin C serum

This one’s not pictured, because I butchered my last batch and had to throw it out. But I DIY my own vitamin C serum with 15% L-ascorbic acid, 1% tocopherol, and 0.5% ferulic acid, plus some other stuff. I basically rip off the Skinceuticals recipe, which is $120 an ounce, but I make mine for about $3-4 a batch. As I mentioned, I wait 15 minutes after applying to move on to my next step.

TONER: Rewind (homemade DMAE toner)

This is a new anti-aging recipe that I documented in this recent blog post. I still have some tweaks to make to the recipe, but so far it’s quick to absorb, slightly hydrating, and makes my skin look smoother and feel firmer. I like it a lot.

SERUMS/AMPOULES: Scinic Honey All-In-One Ampoule, Sana Soy Milk Astaxanthin Lifting Gel, Graymelin Propolis 80 Energy Ampoule

I’ll usually only use one of these in the morning, since they all have a similar watery serum consistency. Sana is the most moisturizing, Graymelin is the most soothing, and Scinic is a nice middle ground between the two. I pick whichever one my skin feels like it needs that day.

CREAMS/OILS: Fortify (homemade barrier repair emulsion), Cerave PM, Banila Co Miss Flower and Mr. Honey Essence Oil

I always start off my cream step with my homemade ceramide/cholesterol/fatty acid concoction. I’m still perfecting the recipe, so it’s a little heavy and smells a little weird, but it’s done amazing things for my overall skin health and appearance. If my skin feels really dry, I’ll follow up with a drop of the Banila Co oil, which is an incredible facial oil that smells amazing, sinks in completely, and keeps my skin so moisturized and supple. I seal it all in with a pump or two of Cerave PM, the perfect moisturizer: not too heavy, not too light, non-greasy and with 4% niacinamide.

SUNSCREEN: Shiseido Senka Mineral Water UV Essence SPF50+ PA++++ (face) and Nivea Sun Protect Water Gel SPF50 PA+++ (body)

Sun damage can have a wide variety of effects, from the aesthetic to the fatal, and I want to avoid them all so I wear sunscreen every day, no exceptions. This Shiseido sunscreen is my absolute holy grail for my dry skin: it’s rich and buttery on application, dries down to a powdery finish, and serves as a nice occlusive layer to lock in my other products. The Nivea Sun Protect is a solid Japanese sunscreen that’s completely non-greasy and unscented and dries quickly. Plus, it comes in a bigger bottle, so it’s great as a body sunscreen.

SUPPLEMENT: Evening Primrose Oil

I take 1300mg Evening Primrose Oil supplements morning and night, and they have stopped my horrible hormonal acne in its tracks. These are holy grail beyond holy grail; I will never be without them.

Evening Routine (30 minutes to 1 ½ hours)

fall PM

Here’s where Asian skincare routines tend to lose some people. Yes, my evening routine can take close to 2 hours sometimes, but that’s because I enjoy every second of it. This is how I unwind after a long day. This is my form of self-care, and I actively choose to have a long, complex routine because it makes me a happier, calmer, more centered person.

So, that said, here’s the bonkers number of products I use every night.

CLEANSE: Banila Co Clean It Zero Radiance or Skinfood Black Sugar Cleansing Oil, then Hada Labo Tokyo Hydrating Cleanser

I double-cleanse every night, which means I start off with an oil-based cleanser to dissolve makeup, sunscreen, and other oil-based products that tend to stick to your face and clog your pores, and then I follow up with a foaming cleanser. The Banila Co is a balm cleanser, meaning it’s a solid that melts to an oil on your face; it smells really nice, it’s rich and soothing, but it can be kind of a pain to scoop out with the little spatula. The Skinfood is a regular oil cleanser; it’s runny and can be a little messy and smells strongly of lemon furniture cleaner, but it’s very effective, non-drying, and emulsifies like a dream. The Hada Labo foaming cleanser is the only foaming cleanser I’ve ever used that doesn’t leave my dry skin feeling stripped and tight; it has a beautiful, rich, creamy lather and is incredibly gentle.

ACTIVES: Silk Naturals 8% AHA Toner, Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid

Tretinoin (see four steps down) has been killing it at cell turnover but makes my skin extra sensitive – two reasons to step back on my AHA/BHA regimen. I now use my AHA every other day and my BHA once a week. (I couldn’t stop completely because I just love hydroxy acids so much.) After I apply my BHA or AHA, I wait about 20 minutes to let it do its exfoliating thing at a lower pH before I start my next step.

TONER: Rewind (homemade DMAE serum)

I’m testing this stuff morning and night to see how it works. If you want to test it out too (or any of my other DIYs), sign up here – the only catch is you have to tell me what you like and didn’t like about it.

SHEET MASK: An embarrassing variety

I own way too many sheet masks. I try to use a sheet mask 4-5 times per week; they’re a fantastic way to force hydration deep into your epidermis, plus I find them so relaxing and luxurious. I included my two current favorite masks in the photo:

I usually leave the mask on for about half an hour, then wait until the essence has completely soaked in before moving on to my next step.

SERUMS/AMPOULES: Scinic Honey All-In-One Ampoule, Sana Soy Milk Astaxanthin Lifting Gel, Graymelin Propolis 80 Energy Ampoule

Same as AM, but I’ll usually use 2 products here instead of 1, depending on what my skin feels like it needs.

RETINOID: Curology (0.035% tretinoin, 4% niacinamide, 5% MAP)

I spend a lot of time proselytizing Curology (formerly Pocketderm). Other than its name, which makes it sound like one of those pyramid schemes your friends from high school are forever posting about on Facebook, Curology is a fantastic service. For $20 a month, you get a personalized formula with some of the most powerful cosmeceutical ingredients: tretinoin, magnesium ascorbyl phosphate, niacinamide, azelaic acid, and clindamycin (which ingredients you get depends on whether you want to focus on acne or anti-aging). You also get unlimited online consultations with a dermatologist.

My Curology Rx has made my skin firmer, smoother, and more even and radiant. The tretinoin is pretty drying, though, so I’ve had to up my moisturizing game. I use my Curology in this spot in my routine because it’s a cream; I order my products from thinnest to thickest, so this goes after waterier serums. It doesn’t need to be at a specific low pH like AHAs or BHAs, so I only wait a couple minutes for it to sink in before moving to my next step.

CREAMS/OILS: Fortify (homemade barrier repair emulsion), Cerave PM, Banila Co Miss Flower and Mr. Honey Essence Oil

Same deal here as with AM, except sometimes I mix a couple drops of the Banila Co oil in with my Cerave. It gives it such a rich, creamy, luxurious texture and moisturizes beautifully.

SLEEPING PACK: Dr. Jart+ Premium Firming Sleeping Mask or Sulwhasoo Overnight Vitalizing Mask

My love for this Dr. Jart+ sleeping pack has been well-documented. My love has only intensified since that review. I use this sleeping pack most nights. Sometimes, though, I’ll reach this stage in my routine and find my skin is still a little thirsty. The Dr. Jart+ isn’t hydrating at all, so on those nights, I reach for my secondary love, Sulwhasoo’s amazing sleeping pack. It’s a rich cream that gives me bouncy, hydrated skin and smells just like fresh ginger. These are two of my all-time favorite skincare products.

EYE CREAM: Sana Nameraka Isoflavone Wrinkle Eye Cream

I’m new to the world of eye creams, but Sana has been giving me a warm welcome. This cream is extremely rich – I only need a tiny dab to cover the entire area around my eyes – and feels like heaven, especially if I’ve been rubbing at my eyes that day. My eye area is already slightly firmer and brighter.

SUPPLEMENT: Evening Primrose Oil

The light, the truth, the way.

And then I go to sleep and try not to drool all over my nice products. I have about a 50% success rate.


  1. I love reading routine posts! They have to be my favorite, hands down. Nice to see we both use the Cerave PM and the Silk Naturals AHA toner. I ended up going with the Scinic Aqua and the Tosowoong Propolis Ampoule otherwise we’d have even more in common. I’ve been eyeing the Sulwhasoo sleeping pack , glad to see you love it 🙂 I have the Hada Labo Foaming cleanser with the pump, is the hydrating one they’re selling under the Tokyo name here in the US different?

    1. Glad you enjoyed it! Yeah, the HL Tokyo cleanser is really different from the foaming pump cleanser. I’ve used both, and I found the foaming pump one really drying, and the foam is very light and airy. The Tokyo foam is rich and dense and creamy, and is much less stripping.

      1. Good to know! I also found the regular Hada Labo drying as well as the Cerave foaming cleanser. Which is too bad because otherwise I think I’d like them both and use them more. I find myself reaching more for my Missha Super Aqua Cleansing Milk in the AM and the new Cosrx cleanser as my second step in the PM. But I want to try the Cerave Hydrating and the HL Hydrating next.

  2. Hi! I love your blog. I had a question regarding acids and I figured you’d be the right person to ask. Anyway right now I use the COSRX BHA but I wanted to get something stronger, and I was wondering if you’ve ever tried the Silk Naturals one since you use their AHA? I know the Paula’s Choice one is supposed to be great but I kind of find her to be a skincare buzzkill. Thanks!

      1. I just wanted to say that the Silk Naturals BHA is not at a PH to exfoliate. The owner got called out for that on SCA a while back. Not a fan of Paula’s biased reviews either but she has great acids. I like the Pore Refining 2% BHA, not sticky like the Skin Perfecting one. After I run out though I’m going to purchase the 4% weekly treatment and then use the Cosrx daily.

  3. Hey, cool! Even your routine has fall colors. 😉 I’ve been wanting to try Cerave PM, and adding something to it sounds just what I need this season… Except I live in Hawaii and raise you a 90 degree winter.

  4. I perked up when you said EPO works for hormonal acne. Are there any drug interactions or side effects with using it?

  5. I’d love to see a post about Evening Primrose oil if you have one!
    I’m just about to start Curology and couldn’t be more excited!

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