My current Skincare Routine for dry, uneven sensitive skin

Lots of readers have been asking me what my skincare regime looks like, so I’ve written a guide to every single step.

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MAKEUP REMOVERS & CLEANSERS

I’ve tried various eye make-up removers and this is the one I like the most, because it can take off even the most stubborn waterproof products like Hera Generlash in just one swoop.

 

I can’t emphasize how important it is to make sure all of your makeup is off before you start to layer on toners, essences and night creams. Their active ingredients can’t work their magic if you put them on a dirty face, so it’s vital that you get your skin perfectly clean first.

I have sensitive eyes, so I know how tough it can be to find an eye makeup remover that does the job without being irritating – especially as I wear Hera Generlash mascara. I swear, it’s so extremely waterproof that it would not smudge even if you went swimming with it on!

Laneige Lip & Eye Waterproof Remover* is quite good, but I find the price a little too high, so I’ve switched to Sephora Waterproof Eye Makeup Remover. I’ve tried various eye make-up removers and this is the one I like the most, because it can take off even the most stubborn waterproof products like Hera Generlash in just one swoop. As well as sensitive eyes, it’s suitable for contact lens wearers and even contains a flavonoid complex to help strengthen your eyelashes, which is an excellent addition to its already formidable cleaning power.

*Ebay Seller Bringbringshop

I follow this up with Sephora Triple Action Cleansing Water, which comes in micellar water or gel versions. After cotton pads began to irritate my skin I switched to the gel version, which removes around 90% of my foundation, bb cream and sunscreen in seconds – all while being gentle!

However, if you don’t have time to double up with separate eye and face make-up removers, there are some speedier products out there. Even I have days when I am too tired to remove my make-up, and that’s when I reach for the box of Kao Biore Tissues Makeup Remover that I keep in my living room. Taking off your makeup doesn’t have to be a chore – these pre-moistened wipes let me do it while I’m relaxing in front of the tv!

The Kao Biore Tissues come in a 10-sheet box as well as the big 46-sheet box, which makes them perfect to keep in your bag for touch-ups during the day.

Of course, make-up remover alone isn’t enough to get your skin clean. I always follow it up with a cleansing balm or oil. When I have heavyduty make-up to take off, I love Clinique’s Take The Day Off Cleansing Balm , UNT Absolux Cleansing Balm or Laneige Fresh Brightening Cleansing Oil (available at Target), but as these are both very expensive, it’s okay to switch to something cheaper when you just need to remove light, non-waterproof makeup. On those days, I switch to Hada Labo Gokujyun Cleansing Oil or Kose Softymo Deep Cleansing Oil, two Japanese drugstore buy that are good enough to remove cheaper makeup.
After this, I use a foam cleanser to eliminate the oil residues – and I like to have a selection so I can match them to my mood.

At the moment I’m in love with Mamonde Rose Water Bubble Foam Cleanser. As the name suggests, it has a heavenly rose scent and a cloudlike feel on my skin. If you don’t like the smell of roses, you could consider the Hera Silky Cleansing Mousse which has its own, very feminine scent – although I found it a little bit drying for my skin. Hada Labo Gokujyun Hyaluronic Cleansing Foam is also a great pick for sensitive dry skin like mine. (full review here)

Other products that deserve honorable mentions are the Su:m37 White Award Foam Cleanser and Shiseido Senka Perfect Whip, for their brightening results, and Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick, for packaging that makes it great to use in the shower. As you can see, there’s a foam cleanser out there for every mood!

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TONERS & SERUMS

This little gem moisturizes the skin, reduces hyperpigmentation, discoloration and freckles, tones down the yellow tinge in Asian skin, and brightens the skin like no other product.

Everyone raves about Pixi Glow Tonic, but I believe I have found something better. Why did I get turned off by everyone’s HG product? I simply felt that the Glow Tonic wasn’t doing much for my skin, especially in terms of exfoliation, so I set about hunting for a product to replace it that had a lower PH level and a higher AHA percentage – and found Bravura London Purifying Calendula Toner. After only a few uses, I can already see a difference in my fine lines and overall skin texture – and how effective the rest of my acids are.  I never got this kind of results with the Pixi Glow, and the Bravura London toner is not irritating for my sensitive dry skin at all.

My other favourites are Naturie Hatomugi Skin Conditioner* and Hera Aquabolic Moisturizing Water. The first is a great multitasker, and it’s been a favourite product of mine for nearly two years. The main ingredient, Job’s tears (Hatomugi, coix seed), is rich in vitamin B1 and B2, making it perfect for a whole host of skincare troubles, including soothing irritated skin, minimizing acne scars and hyperpigmentation spots, improving skin texture and elasticity, brightening dull skin and tightening pores. Not only does it do all that, but you can use it as a toner, a lotion mask, a mist or a body moisturizer. The huge 500ml bottle and affordable price make it a perfect choice for the woman on a budget who needs a multitasking product.

*Ebay Seller Ryushindojapan

If you have dry skin, though, I highly recommend Hera Aquabolic Moisturizing Water. It’s the most moisturizing toner I have ever tried and is the perfect ally against dryness. Some people fear that very moisturizing products might block their pores, but you don’t need to worry about that with the product. It has an essence-like texture that will soothe your parched skin without clogging it.
Hera Aquabolic Moisturizing Water is a real treat to use if you have thirsty skin – it feels like an intensive treatment that will leave your skin plump, radiant and very well-moisturized. It even improves how my makeup looks – my foundation and BB creams glide on smoother, stay put longer, and don’t settle into fine lines when I use them over this moisturizing water.

Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizing Lotion* is the newest addition to my skincare stash, replacing the Super Hyaluronic Acid** of the same brand. It is immensely popular worlwide and once you try it you will know why. It is very moisturizing yet lightweight, and doesn’t feel sticky on the skin. According to the brand, the Hyaluronic Acid is 100% plant based and their products are 100% vegan.

*Ebay Seller Ryushindojapan
**Ebay Seller Fujisan_jp

UNT Skincare Aqua D’Origine Replenish is also a great moisturizing lotion. This product has a similar lotion-like texture to the Hada Labo, but offers even more hydration, and is great for lotion masks. I used to love Aqua D’Origine Intensive, which true to its name offers more intense hydration than Replenish, but sadly it contains royal jelly extract and perfume.

If you’re looking to brighten your skin tone, but don’t have a big budget, I recommend Hada Labo Arbutin Whitening Cooling Gel-Essence. This lightweight gel-type essence has a texture like Aloe Vera gel, and contains arbutin, a safe and popular ingredient with melanin-inhibiting properties. While I’m not arbutin’s biggest fan – mostly because it takes a long time to for visible skin-lightening results  – and prefer to use Niacinamide, the affordable price of this lotion allows me to maintain my skintone’s condition without spending too much money.

As you know, my skin is very sensitive, but I’ve found an essence that has actually decreased its sensitivity! Hera Cell-Essence is very hydrating and skin-plumping, and the results strongly remind me of SK-II Pitera Facial Treatment Essence. It has lots of really good active  ingredients such as sugars (for their water-binding properties), peptides (anti-oxidants), adenosine (anti-aging, anti-inflammatory), amino acids (anti-oxidant), niacinamide (skin-lightening, anti-aging), moisturizing plant-extracts and more.

My ultimate weapon in the fight against large pores and deep, stubborn blackheads is Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Skin Perfecting Liquid.  I tried a lot of anti-blackhead products and this is the only one that really works for me. It contains 2% of salicylic acid, to unclog pores, and green tea extracts, to calm redness. I know it’s a little expensive, but a little goes a very long way. It’s definitely a worthwhile investment.

Another good Paula’s Choice product is the 5% Resist Daily Smoothing Treatment – an exfoliating serum with 5% glycolic acid. As with most exfoliating serums, it evens out skin’s texture & skintone, reduces fine lines & wrinkles and brighten dull skintone by removing dead skin cells. The difference is that it is very gentle and non-irritating for sensitive skin like mine, probably because the 5% glycolic level is quite low. It is an excellent addition to any skincare routine, but if you prefer something stronger, I can recommend the Mad Hippie Skincare Exfoliating Serum.

This contains 3% lactic acid and 7% glycolic acid, making it a little stronger than the PC serum. It provides quick and visible skin-smoothing results without irritating or drying out my sensitive skin. I already showered it with love in a post I wrote earlier this year, but this little one helped me get rid of a very bad scar on my chin in less than a month.

I also love Mad Hippie’s Skincare Vitamin C Serum. This brightening serum is formulated with sodium ascorbyl phosphate, and ferulic and hyaluronic acid. It has worked wonders on my hyperpigmentation spots, showing that Mad Hippie products really are effective.

Kypris Antioxidant Dew is a wonderful milky-type moisturizing serum I purchased earlier this year after reading this post by Andrea. It’s perfect for troubled skin because it is both very moisturizing but super lightweight. I love to make it into an intensive treatment for my very dry skin with a few drops of the Beauty Elixir I 1000 Roses, or the Green Keratin Supercharged Triple Rosehip Oil. Whenever I use it at night time my skin is nothing but radiant and glowy the next morning.

Now I would like to introduce the superstar of my bathroom and my heart. I have a never-ending love for this product, and it is my all-time favourite serum. In fact, I love it so much that I have got through two bottles, opened a third, and have two new unopened bottles hidden in my beauty closet just in case it is ever discontinued.
What is this wonder product? Hera Biogenic Effector*. This little gem moisturizes the skin, reduces hyperpigmentation, discoloration and freckles, tones down the yellow tinge in Asian skin, and brightens the skin like no other product. It also has anti-aging properties! You can see why I am in love with it. If I had to keep only one beauty product it would be, without a single doubt, this one.

*Ebay Seller Inpro-Market

However, it is quite pricer. The cheaper version is Laneige White Plus Renew Original Essence. It doesn’t brighten or lighten the skin as much as the Hera, but it’s still an excellent skin brightening serum if, like me, you suffer from very uneven skintone and are on a budget because you went on a huge shopping spree and are now a poor, broke woman. Oops, have I said too much?

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EMULSIONS & CREAMS

Like the serum, this cream visibly and quickly brightens dull and uneven skin, and reduces the yellow tinge in Asian skin.  I’ve been using and loving this powerful skin-lightening cream for the past two years

 

I always use an emulsion under my day and night cream, unless I use a sleeping mask, and again, I love Hera’s range. Their Aquabolic Emulsion is my favorite emulsion hands down. It is a perfect moisturizer for all year long as it is extremely lightweight, yet intensely moisturizing and easily absorbed by the skin. I always apply it under my day or night cream to lock in moisture.

If you have uneven oily or combination skin, I recommend the Hera White Program Emulsion, as it is lighter and less moisturizing than the Aquabolic. I often mix it with one of my skin-lightening moisturizers, and sometimes on top of my day cream to add an extra layer of moisture.

Like the Hera Biogenic Effector, Hera White Program Biogenic Radiance Cream visibly and quickly brightens dull and uneven skin, and reduces the yellow tinge in Asian skin.  I’ve been using (and loving) the powerful skin-lightening cream for the past two years. I’m now onto my third jar, and I still have one unopened just in case it is discontinued.

However, I can also recommend other skin-brightening creams. Again,  Laneige White Plus Renew Original Cream is the cheaper version of the Hera White Program Radiance Cream. Just like the essence of the same line it brighten and moisturizes the skin, but doesn’t reduces hyperpigmentation spots much. The formula is very rich and mostly suited for people with dry or normal skintype. Even I tend to stay away from it in the summer! It’s not perfect, but it’s still an excellent skin-brightening cream if you’re on a budget and can’t afford the Hera.

Su:m37 White Award Ultimate Ampoule In Cream and Kose Medicated Sekkisei Cream Excellent (also available here) are two very similar botanical skin-lightening creams – but whilst they’re food in some ways, I found them quite disappointing at improving skin tone.  They both provide instant hydration and suppleness to dry skin with a bunch of plant extracts, but I can tell you they don’t lighten the skin at all. I’ve been using them for almost a year now, and while they do brighten the skin a little bit they don’t reduce hyperpigmentation spots or even out the complexion. However, I still enjoy using these two creams as they provide intense moisture to my dry skin.

People with dry skin will need a powerful moisturizer in the winter. When cold weather comes, I reach for Laneige Water Bank Moisture Cream. It’s a very moisturizing cream that has recently been reformulated for sensitive skin and no longer contains niacinamide. Basically, it is just an excellent moisturizer without fancy ingredients. Laneige also have a lightweight gel version for combination to oily skin.

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SHEET-MASKS, SLEEPING MASKS, WASH-OFF MASKS & EXTRAS

If you usually avoid clay masks because they dry your skin out, try it. This wash-off mask doesn’t dry out my skin at all, and has nice pore-tightening and brightening effects. It is great for reducing shine & oil and removing blackheads.

Many readers have asked me whether I find Japanese sheet-masks or Korean sheet-masks more effective, and after trying a lot of them I can finally give a proper answer: Both are truly excellent in terms of quality, price and results.

In terms of pricing the Japanese ones are a lot more affordable. In fact,  until my recent trip to Japan I used to truly dislike sheet masks, but after trying the ones by Kose and Quality First I can tell you it’s hard to resist the temptation of using one daily.

The Body Shop Amazonian Acai Energizing Radiance Mask and Chinese Ginseng & Rice Clarifying Polishing Mask are two excellent wash-off masks for moisture care and brightening care that I got a few weeks ago, and I just love how they make my skin brighter, moisturized and plump.

If you want to use a mask daily, try Kose Clear Turn 6-in1 Medicated Whitening Mask*. They come in a big packet of 50 and contain hyaluronic acid, glycerin, tranexamic acid and more for moisturizing and whitening care.

*Ebay Seller Lovely-love-chan0509

A sleeping mask I truly adore is the Laneige White Plus Renew Sleeping Pack Capsule. Just like the rest of the line it doesn’t provide outstanding skin-lightening effects, but it is still a nice addition to my skincare routine as it is very moisturizing and brightening.

Quality First All-in-one Sheet Mask are the number one sheet masks sold in Japan, and once you try them you quickly understand why. Like the Kose Princess Veil, they also come in moisturizing and whitening versions. They are sold by 50, meaning you get a lot of product and masks for the price.

*Ebay Seller Good-items-Japan

Similar to the Quality First are LuLuLun Face Masks*. They’re another extremely popular Japanese brand of mask, but they definitely contain more product. I purchased the White version for skin-brightening care and I can see why they always sell out at the speed of light.

*Ebay Seller Ninja009

With colder weather on the way, I have to recommend one of the newest addition to my skincare stash.  Innisfree It’s Real Squeeze sheet-masks (I use Green Tea, Rose, Strawberry) contain a bunch of interesting ingredients to moisture, soothe and plump the skin. It provides a very nice soothing sensation on the skin, perfect for winter!

*Ebay Seller Jolse_cosmetics

If you usually avoid clay masks because they dry your skin out, try Mamonde Micro Lotus Mud Mask. This wash-off mask doesn’t dry out my skin at all, and has nice pore-tightening and brightening effects. It is great for reducing shine & oil and removing blackheads.

It’s important not to neglect your eyes and lips. I suffer from milia when I use eye products – unless it’s Laneige Water Bank Eye Gel. Now it’s the only eye cream I use!

If you have extremely dry, chapped lips like me, try Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask. The wax-like texture can be unpleasant at first, but once you get used to it you’ll find it does wonders for your lips!

I had seen the Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse for years in my mother’s powder room but I never tried it until I moved to Paris. L’huile prodigieuse is a big deal amongst French women; everyone, and I mean everyone, has it. That’s because, despite the price, this heavenly-smelling product is very multi-purpose. My entire body has benefited from this dry oil. I use this sensual blend of precious plant oils and extracts as a hair treatment, a body oil and a facial oil before my moisturizer. The new formula contains Tsubaki (Camellia) Oil, which is the perfect ingredient for dry skin.

 


SHOP THIS POST (*affiliate links)

ProductTypeCountrySellerPrice
Bravura London Purifying Calendula TonerAcidic TonerUS/EUBravura London (International shipping)12.40£ (~18.45$)
Clinique Take The Day Off Cleansing BalmMakeup Remover (balm type)US/EUNordstorm29$
Green Keratin Supercharged Triple Rosehip OilBeauty OilUKGreen Keratin UK15.95£
Hada Labo Arbutin Whitening Cooling Gel-EssenceEssenceJapanYesstyle
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Hera Aquabolic Moisturizing EmulsionEmulsionKoreaYesstyle
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Hera Biogenic EffectorSerumKoreaEbay
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Hera Cell-EssenceEssenceKoreaYesstyle
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Hera Silky Cleansing MousseFoam CleanserKoreaYesstyle
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Hera White Program Radiance CreamMoisturizer (cream type)KoreaYesstyle
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Kose Softymo Deep Cleansing OilMakeup Remover (oil type)JapanYesstyle
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Kypris Antioxidant SerumUS/EUTerrain67$
Kypris Beauty Elixir I 1,000 RosesBeauty OilUS/EUSelfridges210$
Laneige Fresh Brightening Cleansing OilMakeup remover (oil type)KoreaYesstyle
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Laneige Lip Sleeping MaskLip MaskKoreaYesstyle
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Mad Hippie Exfoliating SerumSerumUS/EUIherb27.99$
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Paula's Choice Resist Daily 5% AHA Smoothing TreatmentSerumUS/EUNordstrom32$
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18 comments on My current Skincare Routine for dry, uneven sensitive skin

  • Elky

    Hi! I’ve been following your blog recently. Thank you for all your recommendations and detailed descriptions. After you apply each product how long do you wait before applying the next product?

    • Hye Mi (author)

      Hello Elky,

      I apply my acidic toner and exfoliants right after cleansing my face, then I wait around 5 minutes before I apply my moisturizing lotions. If I use niacinamide at the same time of my exfoliants I wait around 30-45 minutes to avoid flushing.

  • Fabia

    Thank you so much for your recommendations! I’ve very dry skin and this helped me a lot, I will definitely check out this products.

  • Sands

    Do you have a post workout routine? I’m new to Korean skincare and I’ve been doing it in the morning and at night however I workout after work around 6:30 or 7pm, shower then eat dinner. I don’t wash my face in the shower because I’m waiting to do my night routine which ends up being around 10:30 pm after I’ve brushed my teeth. My face as been absorbing my sweat and general pollutants all day but I have really dry skin so I don’t want to over wash. Crazy right? Anyways…any recommendations? Should I just try to use face wipe and slap on a moisturizer until I can do the night ritual?

  • Natalie

    Can we use an exfoliating toner like the pixi glow tonic with a bha or aha liquid? Or is that too much exfoliation?

    • Hye Mi (author)

      Hello Natalie,

      Of course you can. 🙂
      I use the Bravura London at the moment, it’s much better than the Pixi Glow!

  • Cassie

    When building a skincare routine, do you ever look at the ph level for the cleanser, toner, acids, etc?

    • Hye Mi (author)

      Hello Cassie,

      I honestly don’t care at all about the pH of my cleanser, but I do care about the pH of my (acidic) toners and acids unless I buy a toner for another purpose than exfoliating my skin. I only buy acids and acidic toners from brands I highly trust (like Paula Choice and Bravura London) since I know they are very well formulated and have pH levels I’m looking for.

  • Hang

    Hi Hyemi,
    I must say that I’m truly a fan of your website. I’ve always been following up your blogs from 2014 to ’till now. Since I have combination skin (oily in T-zone), acne scars on my cheeks (since I used to pop the pimples out when I was in teen period :(( , blackheads and especially large pores on my cheeks also 🙁 thats sad. Therefore, I think I can’t utilize all of the products mentioned above in your skincare routine. I’ve read and known that you used to be a really fan of UNT brand ’cause I remember that I read your blog titled The Best Korean Products for Combination/Oily /Acne Prone Skin published in the last 2 years. I’m now just wondering if I you could help me try figure out which products like cleanser, toner, serums, essence, elmusions, moisturezing cream(day/night time using) that can work well on my skin issues. I’ve been tired up and almost given up so many time due to the wrong of chosing products which help my skin nothing! By the way, I’m from Vietnamese (asian skin type :D) but now I’m living and studying in the US (Portland, OR) where has a mediteranean climate with dry warm summers and mild winters. Actually, i use to have a very oily skin when I lived in Vietnam but now it changes into combination skin with just only oily in T-zone. Its better! 🙂
    Thank you so much for your information so far. I really really appreciate all every your informative posts and always follow up with you almost everyday 😀 I hope you have a little bit time to help me answer my long question (I’m so sorry about that 🙁 and also help me to find out which is the best products that you think I must or definitely try them out to solve my skin problems as well as meet my skin needs. Once again, I truly thank you for such a very helpful website of you! Have a wonderful day! 🙂

    • Hye Mi (author)

      Hello Hang,

      I have a dry sensitive skintype so you cannot use all the products I mentioned, but you can use a few to reduce your sebum and acne scars.
      For your acne scars you need to use Niacinamide (lighten dull skin and acne scars) and Glycolic Acid (also known as AHA, reduces acne scars and refines skin’s texture), and for your blackheads & large pores you need to use Salicylic Acid (also known as BHA).

      Try this routine :

      Cleanser : Hada Labo Tamagohada AHA+BHA Cleansing Foam (morning or night) + Hada Labo Gokujyun Cleansing Foam or Mamonde Rose Water Cleansing Foam (morning or night)
      Toner* : Laneige Trouble Relief or Bravura London or UNT Acne Control Toner (I never tried the UNT Toner because I don’t have oily skin, but I highly trust this brand so I still include it)

      *The Laneige contains natural ingredients and salicylic acid, the Bravura London Detoxifying Astringent contains 15% AHA/BHA (glycolic acid and salicylic acid), the Bravura London Purifying Calendula Toner contains 13% AHA (glycolic acid) and the UNT Acne Control contains other ingredients. In my opinion you should go with the Bravura London, and maybe switch to UNT later.

      Serum : Bravura London Salicylic Acid 2% or Paula Choice 2% BHA Liquid morning and night. To lighten your acne scars and overall complexion you can use the Laneige White Plus Renew Original Essence or the Hera Biogenic Effector. Both are excellent, but you should not use them at the same time as you use glycolic acid so don’t forget to use them every morning but never at night time expect if you don’t use your glycolic acid serum.
      At night time (please wait around 5 minutes between the salicylic acid and the glycolic acid) you should use every other day a glycolic acid serum like the Paula Choice Daily Resist 5% AHA, and once a week a stronger exfoliator like the Bravura London Glycolic Acid 10% or the Paula Choice 10% AHA Weekly Treatment.

      Lotion : Hada Labo Gokujyun Hyaluronic Acid Moisturizing Lotion (light version) or Hada Labo Kiwa-Mizu Amino Acid Lotion. Both are great for troubled skin and are very lightweight. They don’t clog pores either.

      Moisturizer : Laneige Trouble Relief Cream or Cosrx Centella Blemish Cream or Laneige Water Bank Gel Cream EX or Bravura London Azulene Moisturizer or UNT Acne Therme

      Sunscreen : Doesn’t matter as long as it’s oil-free and has SPF 50.

  • Ouma

    thank you for all these recommendations. My skin is super dry in the winter, and quite oily BUT dehydrated in the summer (imagine someone with lots of sebum and blackheads AND dry patches… awful) but I can act on it thanks to korean skincare products. the thing that I’m struggling with is the yellow-ish skin color around my mouth area. do u perhaps know any solution for this?

    My Korea Obsession | Korean beauty products’ reviews, beauty tips and DIYs

    • Hye Mi (author)

      Hello Ouma,

      I also happen to have yellowish skin, and the Hera Biogenic Effector visibly (and quickly) reduces the yellow tinge in Asian skin. The Laneige White Plus Renew Effector is a nice alternative but it’s not as powerful and effective as the Hera.

  • Soap

    I also have dry, sensitive skin, which is prone to redness. I look like I have flushed cheeks all the time. Do you recommend any products that would be good for this? I was thinking of trying whitening products. My red cheeks are definitely a complex of mine -_-

    • Hye Mi (author)

      Hello!

      To minimize my redness and decrease my skin’s sensitivity I use the Hera Cell Essence, it works amazing. 🙂

  • arrianerachel

    I also suffer from milia from neglecting my under eye. Do you have a treatment that you’re using currently? Or the laneige water eye gel is just keep it from getting worse? Thank you 🙂

  • Katherine

    Ahhhh I wanna try Mamonde strawberry sleeping mask but they are all gone, no amazon, yesstyle, testerkorea, and havent seen any re-stock 🙁 ….

    • Hye Mi (author)

      Hello Katherine,

      Mamonde made the (very) silly decision of discontinuing their sleeping masks, unfortunately for us.

  • linda

    I personally use the Monsia renewal system 🙂

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