Months ago, my therapist suggested me to do mindfulness meditation.
I started to see her because of my anxiety issues so I thought hell yes, this sounds like a great idea.
So I downloaded that Headspace app. I went up on the hill of the park behind my office in my lunch break – sounds super zen right? – I sat down, launched the app and waited for the magic to happen.
I almost fell asleep. It was so BORING.
I patiently waited for my 10 minutes to end and went to get a Frappuccino.
I kept trying though. Kept going up the hill, kept getting bored to death.
A few days later, in a hotel in Guangzhou, I was tired and frustrated like hell from a long day in a Chinese lab where nothing was working so I took a hot bath to relax. I thought, hey this is a great moment for Headspace! So I started the session.
The guy of the app, guiding the meditation, kept talking about envisioning the cars passing in traffic (dude, if you think traffic is relaxing you’ve clearly never been on the Ring of Antwerp at 9 AM) and that’s when I finally fell asleep and I almost drowned in my bubble bath and Headspace found its well deserved spot in my forgotten apps collection.
My therapist kept mentioning meditation for months and I kept ignoring her (sorry Nel) until she said something that to me sounded like genius: “why don’t you merge mindfulness with a usual ritual you have in your life? You don’t have to make time especially to for it, just do it while you perform your ritual… I don’t know, a shower or your make-up… What is your ritual?”
I immediately exclaimed: ” my skincare routine!”
Since I moved to Singapore and I discovered Korean skincare my bathroom has been filled with serum, essences and whatnot and I became addicted to the whole shebang of taking care of my skin before going to bed. I mean, in the end the whole thing takes me like 15 minutes.
So I started doing it. And finally, it worked.
Every step, I focus on my fingers massaging the products on my skin. The feeling of the cream, the texture… I close my eyes and I can almost feel the cells of my skin adsorbing the benefic essences. Slowly. I focus on the ritual, the gestures. I feel my face, I feel my body and for a few minutes it’s only me, my hands, my skin and no thoughts in my head.
It does work.
I end up being much more relaxed and I am finally able to go to bed (almost) empty-minded.
So let’s get to the very important part of this post: what are the steps in my beauty routine and my favourite skincare products at the moment?
Here you go!
Step 1. Cleanse
Bioderma – Sensibio H2O Micellar Water
I guess this micellar water doesn’t need introductions… I was still sceptical when I tried it the first time, but boy was I astonished when I saw it was able to remove even the hardest mascara with just a swipe. In Belgium I used to use it alone, now I use it to remove the bulk of my make-up before using a foamy face wash.
Hada Labo – Tamagohada mild peeling AHA + BHA face foam
If I had to choose only one among all my favourite beauty products of the moment, this would be it. I was really upset when the Shiseido Aqualabel anti-age line was discontinued in Singapore (I wonder why all my favourite products get discontinued… Serious bad luck) as that is by far the best face was I’ve ever tried. But this Hada Labo wash with alpha- and beta-hydroxy acid (AHA+BHA) is a very good replacement. It cleans the skin without drying it out and it really does brighten it up and leaves it smooth and refined. I have already re-purchased it three times and I keep two tubs in my bathroom: one at the sink and one in the shower, so I’m sure I always have one at hand.
In Singapore you can buy it in drugstores (I buy it in Watson for 13.50 S$) while from EU and USA you should be able to find it on Amazon.
Step 2. Scrub
Etude House -Berry AHA Bright Peel Perfect Scrub
You can really get I love alpha hydroxy acid for my skincare product choices: they do help a great deal in brightening and refining the complexion. This is also another super favourite in my beauty routine: it’s delicate so that I can use it every day after cleansing (and my super sensitive skin tolerates it), its brightening effects are immediately visible and it doesn’t make my already dry skin even dryer. I’s the perfect preparation for your daily skin treatments or a mask. Plus it’s cheap, so what’s not to love about it (in Singapore, you can find it in Etude House stores and online for 20 S$)
Step 3. First essence
Missha – Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence
I bought this one because everyone and their mother was raving about it, both on this and the other side of the Pacific. The first week of use I was terribly disappointed: this essence had a watery consistence and I thought it was doing nothing to my skin. So I stopped using it… but since it was still sitting next to my sink, I was tempted to give it another go. I used it for a month and I saw a great improvement on my skin: smaller pore, refined texture, more hydrated and bright. I wasn’t convinced this essence was the only factor of all these amazing effects, since I introduced a couple of new products in my routine at the same time. So I did the final test: I stopped using only this essence and kept everything else exactly the same. And I did see a great difference in my skin condition: it was duller, more sensitive and definitely drier. I reintroduced it into my routine and in a week time my face became again as smooth as a peach (that’s how we say in Italy) again.
So this is definitely another staple and one of my favourite products ever. Since it’s quite watery, I find the best way to apply it is by dabbing it on my clean skin with a cotton pad. It comes at a decent price (around 49 S$, but sometimes you can find it discounted on Lazada.sg) and one bottle goes a long way (I started mine in November and I’m still halfway)
Step 4. Toner
Tony Moly – The Black tea London Classic Toner
I didn’t try many toners in my beauty-addict career so I really can’t tell you whether this is the best toner ever, but I can tell you that it’s a very good one.
I actually received it as a gift when I signed up for their membership program (in Singapore it’s membership everything: my wallet is exploding with all the loyalty cards I have…), I don’t think I would have ever bought it otherwise because the packaging is quite unattractive to be honest (plain brown, seriously?). But I am really happy I received it because it works really well: it does what it should which is, well, toning and it’s very refreshing and hydrating. Moreover, it has way more smoothing and brightening power compared to other toners I’ve tried. So I am definitely a convert to the boring brown bottle (LOL sorry Tony Moly) and I’m pretty sure I’ll purchase it once it’s finished. In Singapore you can find it in Tony Moly stores for about 37 S$ and on Lazada.sg
Step 5. Essence
Etude House – Red Energy Tension Up Power Lifting Essence
Since I hit the mythological 30-years-old milestone, I basically buy everything that claims to be lifting. I’m sure I would even buy men’s after shave if it had the “lifting” tag on it. So when I read the words TENSION, UP and not only LIFTING, but POWER LIFTING on the bottle my brain went short-circuit and I bought it without thinking twice. And girls, this stuff is good. It does have a smoothing effect (OK, considering the amount of anti-age stuff I use I guess there is a cumulative effect, but my skin looks better than before I started using this) and the light gel-like texture is very pleasant. It is also quite hydrating so in the morning, before putting my make-up on, I use this instead of a regular moisturizer. At night I use it before my night cream. It costs 49.90 S$ but it’s worth it and you can be sure I’ll re-purchase this when it’s finished.
Step 6. (2-3 times per week) – Sheet masks
Many brands 😀
I could write a whole book on sheet masks, how much I love them and how they changed my life, or better, my skin since I moved to Singapore but as I have already wrote waaaaaay too much above (as usual) I’ll try to be brief. I’ll just say: use sheet masks!! Nothing I’ve ever tried before changed my skin so much in just 20 minutes, even a beauty minimalist like my mom loved the ones I gave her for Christmas and is going to buy a stock when she visits me in August. I would seriously do one every single day but due to time constraints I just try to stick to 2-3 times a week. It’s also a very good way to take 20 minutes just for yourself, lie down, relax and read a book or a magazine (very good to add up to your mindful routine 😉 just before sleep time).
And girls in Europe, don’t buy that sad Garnier thing (sorry Garnier), just go on Amazon and buy the real stuff: Korean sheet masks!
My favourites for now are:
- Etude House Mr. Ampoule
This is my go-to mask, the one I use regularly. I love the Age care and the Lifting ones (of course) and when my skin has one of its freak-out moments and gets covered in itchy rashes (did I ever tell you that I hate my skin?) I use the Soothing one (green package) and it really does help. They are 6.90 S$ each, so not too badly priced and for sure the quality/price ratio is still very high.
- Guardian Snail Mucus Mask – White Peony and Yucca Vera
I usually buy these when I run out of Etude House Masks and I don’t have time to go back to the store, but they’re very very good. I use the Snail Mucus ones (I know, sounds disgusting) in both White Peony and Yucca Vera versions. They leave the skin very hydrated and smooth and they cost only 3.50 S$ (and if I was more price-conscious I’d probably make these my go-to masks instead of the Etude House ones).
- Dr. Jart Firming Solution Mask
This is my favourite luxury mask. It works like wonders: it really has an immediate firming effect, it’s smoothing and brightening. I use it only before an event (for example when I do live sketching somewhere) or an important date, because at 9 S$ per piece that’s how much I can afford. But I love it so much that if I was a bit more rich I would use it EVERY. SINGLE.DAY. Another good thing: it is widely available at Sephora worldwide: it’s good to know that when I go back to live in Europe this mask will still be there by my side :p
Step 7. Moisturizer
Kiehl’s – Ultra Facial Cream
This best seller doesn’t need introduction but I’ll tell you: it’s my favourite cream ever. It’s not anti-age or anything but it’s just gold for my skin. It’s not too greasy for steamy summers and it’s protective and hydrating in harsh winters. It’s the only thing that saved my skin two years ago, when a particularly rigid Belgian caused my skin to dry completely and painfully crack on my cheeks, lips and forehead (it was horrible, really). It’s a real life saver in every possible climate and skin condition and I always make sure I have a jar in my beauty stash. It’s also the moisturizer I bring with me when I travel. And for this quality, it’s really cheap: 49 S$ for a 50 mL jar.
Tony Moly – Timeless Ferment Snail Cream
I just bought this two weeks ago so I’m not able to provide a thorough review, but so far I really like it. It’s very hydrating, but the gel-like texture is very refreshing. It does have an anti-age effect: I can already see an improvement in the fine lines around my eyes, lips and forehead. In the morning, my skin is glowing and refreshed. And very important: I LOVE the smell. It smells like citrus custard, and I’m a sucker for lemon desserts. I miss my French lemon yogurt very much (they don’t sell it in Singapore) and every day I’m tempted to eat the whole jar of this cream as soon as I open the lid. It also has a very fair price for an anti-age cream: 59.9 S$ (for the package that comes with a little pot of eye cream).
Step 8. Eye cream
At the moment I’m using the Tony Moly Snail eye cream that came together with the cream, but I still have to find a favourite… So if you have a good eye cream to recommend (anti-aging please!) I am VERY open to recommendations 😉
And once again, I wrote a mammoth post… Do let me know if any of you is able to read from top to bottom without falling asleep, I’m kind of curious :p And of course, do share your favourite and your recent beauty discoveries with me!