Inspired by Cat Cactus’s super useful post about dehydrated, combination-oily skin and pegged as a dry-skin reference, I thought I would quickly share some tips on things that have made a difference for my skin. Also, I updated my skincare routine to reflect some new things I’m testing out so take a look!
The timing of this post is actually kind of perfect. My real job can get very travel-intensive and has been a bit nuts as of late (between the spreadsheets, ingredient translations, and time spent researching ingredients sometimes Asian Beauty feels like a job too but at the end of the day its a hobby). Last week, I took 4 flights, drove nearly 500 miles, and stayed in 4 different cities. Traveling with a full Asian skincare routine is doable, but honestly when I’m on the go this much, at the end of the day I’m usually too exhausted to go through with everything and am forced to prioritize and focus on the basics. These are three things I have learned make the biggest impact on keeping my super-dry skin as hydrated and flake-free as possible.
Ditch the foam cleanser
I used Hada Labo’s foaming cleanser for the longest time, thinking that since it is pH balanced (it has a pH of 5.5), it would be fine for dry skin. At some point, I decided to try a non-foam cleanser and was so pleasantly surprised by how well it worked with my skin that when I ran out I tried another. Right now, I use Cerave’s hydrating cleanser (pH 5.5) which is incredibly gentle and incredibly non-drying. I wouldn’t recommend using it as a single cleanser, because it doesn’t actually contain any detergents and doesn’t seem to clean well on its on, but since I double clean and expect my oil cleanser to do the heavy lifting, this cream cleanser works really well for my skin. My skin does not feel tight at all at the end of my cleansing step. Sticklers for rules may be thinking, now wait a minute, the Asian Beauty skincare routine specifically calls for a foam cleanser, and I respectfully disagree. Chizu Saeki, whose book I haven’t read yet but have read a lot about, apparently favors milk and cream cleansers to foam cleansers because they are more gentle. At the end of the day, Asian Skincare is first and foremost about customization and doing what is right for your skin, and personally I find foaming cleansers to be unnecessarily drying to my already dry skin.
Don’t Forget to Hydrate
For whatever reason, heavy creams are frequently recommended for dry skin. From my experience, oils and creams do little to help the dryness of my skin unless it is first properly hydrated. If you think about it, it makes sense: Dry skin lacks sufficient oil. Dry skin is also frequently also dehydrated because oil plays an occlusive role, which is to seal in the moisture in your skin. If you add oil or cream to dry and dehydrated skin, you only address one of two problems. Creams didn’t start to “work” for me until I first incorporated multiple thinner, hydration focused steps to my routine. Specifically, essences, emulsions, and ampoules containing niacinamide and hyaluronic acid were able to bring my skin to a state where using a cream starts to make a difference.
Consider a Lotion Masks
I struggled with chronic skin flakiness in my teenage years and early 20’s, despite all the creams and oils I tried. I also struggled with dandruff, so between the two, I felt like I was constantly shedding, and at some point had resigned myself to the fact skin flakiness was just something I needed to learn to live with. The product that changed everything (and coincidently happens to be my gateway Asian Beauty product) was the Hada Labo Gyokujyun Hyaluronic Acid Lotion. Hyaluronic acid is a powerhouse humectant that can hold 1000X its weight in water. It also can penetrate the skin, despite its large molecular size. I do not actually use this product as a toner, which is how it is usually used. What I do is mix 1 part lotion with 1 part water, soak a (dry) sheet mask or cotton pads in the solution, then place the sheet mask / cotton pads on my face and let them sit for 5 minutes – until dry. I started doing this 2-3 times a week and it has gotten rid of 80 – 90% of my skin flakiness. Nowadays, I only do this mask 1 or 2 times a week. Here’s a video of Chizu Saeki demonstrating the lotion mask. If you’re not a DIY-girl or guy (I’m usually not), there are pre-soaked sheet masks that contain hyaluronic acid, but I have not had as much success with those as I have had with using the toner + water.
Hopefully, these tips are easy to remember and help at least one other dry skin sufferer! Using hyaluronic lotion masks and ditching foam cleansers have made a bigger difference for “treating” my dry skin than anything else!