Skincare: Toners, Treatments, and Sheet Masks

in beauty •  4 months ago

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Hi Steemians!

Sorry, this post is a bit later than I planned. I was traveling all last week (I spent a few days in Seoul, and I have so many new products to try! I’m so excited!), and I didn’t have any time to put this up. This continues from my last post on Korean skincare, which focused on oil/water cleansers and exfoliants. You can find it here. Today I’ll be diving into toners, treatments (a.k.a. essences, serums, and ampoules), and sheet masks.

Toner

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Toners are meant to restore the pH balance of your skin and prep it to absorb other products after cleansing. Since cleansers strip moisture away from the skin, toners help to put that moisture back. Your skin absorbs products best if it’s slightly damp to begin with, so toner makes your skin more receptive to other skincare products in your routine.

The best toners include hyaluronic acid, which can help your skin to absorb moisture. The one thing to be careful about with hyaluronic acid is that it will draw water into your skin if you layer other moisturizing products on top of it, but it will draw water to the surface of your skin (where it will evaporate) if you don’t follow it up with anything else. So if you use a toner with hyaluronic acid, make sure to follow it with other moisturizing products.

The worst toners will include some kind of astringent such as alcohol, which strip your skin of the natural oils that help to maintain the skin barrier. While a lot of people think that all oil on your skin is bad, your skin actually needs a certain amount of naturally-produced oils to function properly. Alcohol dries out your skin and makes you more likely to get wrinkles, and it can even cause breakouts if your skin tries to compensate for the dryness by over-producing oil. (But sometimes it's ok to compromise your skin barrier a little bit to help other treatments reach their full effectiveness -- check out @brutalistbabe's comment below if you're curious about this!)

My favorite toner that I’ve tried so far is by Pyunkang Yul and is formulated for normal-to-oily skin. It’s light, unscented, and doesn’t irritate my skin. I’ve had issues in the past with other toners being too harsh, but this one is gentle enough that I can use the spray-nozzle to just spritz it over my face without worrying what it will do to the delicate skin around my eyes. But usually I apply four or five sprays to a cotton pad and swipe it over my face that way, to ensure more even coverage. UPDATE: I just bought the Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner while in Seoul, and I love it already! It’s definitely another good toner option. (It's also the toner in the picture, since I threw out the Pyunkang Yul bottle once it was empty.)

Treatments

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This is the part of the routine where people start flinching at the ten- or twelve-step Korean skincare routine, but it’s actually very straightforward. Essences, serums, ampoules, treatments, etc. are just products that have been formulated with specific skincare goals in mind. The trick is to decide what you want to focus on in your skincare routine and then get the products that you think will work best for you. If you don’t have any particular skincare concerns (or just don’t want to deal with any extra steps), then you can skip this part of the skincare routine altogether.

If you have a spot treatment for acne or an anti-aging product that’s not a moisturizer... surprise! It's a treatment. If you find yourself with a few different products in this category, don’t worry about what they’re named. Just put them on in order of thinnest to thickest consistency, so that your skin can absorb them as effectively as possible. The more watery it is, the earlier it goes in your routine.

I personally have a few different treatments that I like. I use the Secret Key Repairing Snail Essence as a light moisturizer, and often I’ll end my routine with it if my skin feels hydrated already (this usually happens in the summer, particularly if I’m somewhere humid). But if my skin feels like it needs a little bit more help, I have an ampoule from Elizavecca that’s 97% hyaluronic acid, which helps my skin to absorb a heavier moisturizer afterwards. I also recently bought the Centella Blemish Ampoule by Cosrx and the Hydra Sebum Control Essence by Belif. If I were putting on all of these products at once, it would go: Secret Key essence, Belif essence, Cosrx ampoule, and Elizavecca treatment.

Sheet Masks

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Sheet Masks are very thin face masks that have been soaked in a skincare treatment. They’re highly saturated, and they help you to get the full benefits of the product because they literally sit on your face and help your skin to absorb as much moisture as possible. You typically wear them for 15 to 20 minutes, but if you’re not sure, just check the package. It will always tell you how long to wear the mask for.

Sheet masks are an honorary part of the treatment category, because they often focus on a specific skin concern. They also go in the same step of a skin care routine as an ampoule or serum would. If you want to use a sheet mask, use your cleansers first, exfoliate if you want, use your toner, and then put on the sheet mask. Sheet masks are usually the last step in a routine, since they act like both a serum/ampoule and like a moisturizer because they help your skin to absorb so much of the product. And you don’t need to worry about sunscreen, since most people use sheet masks at night (it can be difficult to apply sunscreen after using a sheet mask, since there’s so much moisture left over on your skin). Sheet masks may make you look like a ghost, but they’re also incredibly relaxing.

People will typically use one to two sheet masks per week, but some people like them so much that they’ll use a sheet mask every day. I personally just use them whenever I want a mini spa day or my skin feels particularly dry. I love using them after long plane flights to restore moisture to my skin, since the air on an airplane is always incredibly dry. I like the Leaders brand best, but they’re on the pricier side, so I tend to buy them in bulk whenever they go on sale.

But since sheet masks are a one-use item, I also have a lot of fun trying different kinds and brands of sheet masks. My one word of warning is that sheet masks aren’t supposed to sting, so if it stings, take it off! Typically sheet masks will cost $2-3 USD per sheet (if you’re paying more than $5, it had better be a super-special sheet mask), so they’re a fun and cheap way to switch up your skincare routine. UPDATE: they're cheaper in Seoul, typically $1-2. So if you're ever in South Korea, be sure to stock up!

I hope this was a helpful post, and feel free to comment down below with any skincare questions or comments you may have!


All photos were taken on an iPhone 7, and are my own work, so the usual copyright rigamarole applies.

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I completely had no idea. Loved the post.

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Thank you! I'm glad you liked it!

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Hi @theowlhours I may gladly say that I am a new users and finding tips from u is a great value. In really don't used before for I am so so afraid that my one and only skin will be irritated hahaha. Just recently I now become a believer for I'm old enough and skin needs regimen I think as what I have read and what u also said. That's why as an expert, you are :) can u please recommend some mild.but effective face whitening to even skin tone? Is "celetique" brand okey and effective?. I just want mild one but good enough for my skin, thank yah gurl!

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Hi! I'm so glad that you've found my posts helpful! Unfortunately I'm not sure how much I can help you -- I've never used Celetique and I don't focus on skin whitening much in my routine.

In general, exfoliating and using sunscreen regularly can help improve skin tone. Some ingredients to look out for would be Vitamin C, licorice root extract, and mulberry extract. And in terms of brands, I really trust Cetaphil, Klairs and Cosrx -- Cosrx even has a whitening ampoule and essence.

But like I said, I don't really focus on skin whitening in my routine... I would actually suggest talking to @brutalistbabe. She's an esthetician, so I bet she knows more about this than I do. Best of luck! :)

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Thank u so much I do knew Cetaphil yes its one I also thought and it's mild on the skin isn't it? First timer to put something on my face for I'm scared if the side effect it's long term I guess as what I have shown those women who put harsh chemical in their face. For I really don't like to have that peel off on the skin ayaayyyy. I'll check on that brand u said I guess saw it on Watson store . Just want moisturizer I guess :) thank u steem on

Learn how to toner mask and treat your skin to supreme hydration in under five minutes.
If you love Korean skin care, you may be familiar with the 7-skin method. It’s a skin care hack that involves applying seven layers of toner in one sitting as a way to deeply hydrate the skin.

Granted, products like toners and lightweight essences can really hydrate and cool down the skin. But applying seven layers of anything can be annoying, especially if you’re busy in the morning and need to do your hair and heat up breakfast before running out the door.

That’s why I prefer something called toner masking, or “skin pack” in Korean. You can think of as a mini DIY sheet mask. It’s the quickest, easiest way to hydrate, calm, and even out skin in under five minutes, and you can do this morning or night. Chances are, you already have all the ingredients sitting at your vanity.

What do you need to toner mask?

What you need to toner mask is quite simple. First, a hydrating product of your choice. You can choose a mist, a toner, or a watery essence, depending on how much product you’re willing to dispense and what you have on hand. I suggest choosing a product your skin is already familiar with and loves, so you can avoid any irritation.

According to Annie Chiu, dermatologist and founder of the Derm Institute in Los Angeles, you should choose a product with “gentle and moisturizing ingredients like coconut water, seaweed extract, and nutrient-rich antioxidants.” Stay away from products with alcohol or astringents, as these will dry out your skin. For Chiu, using an essence as a cheat “sheet mask” is one of her favorite space-saving travel hacks!

Personally, I opt for a light, hydrating mist with minimal ingredients like the Missha Near Skin Simple Therapy Toner Mist. But if I’m prepping for a special occasion, or if I’m struggling with visible redness or dehydration, I use the Missha First Treatment Essence in Intensive Moist.

Second, you’ll need cotton pads. But not just any cotton pads you can get from the drugstore. Either go for multi-layer cotton pads that you can easily separate into thin sheets or sponge ones that dispense the product onto your skin and minimizes wastage. I recommend these ones from Etude House, the Klairs Toner Mate 2 in 1, or Silcot, the cult favorite cotton pad among Korean women.

How do you toner mask?

After you double cleanse and tone your skin, you’re ready to toner mask. Start by thoroughly soaking the cotton pad with the product. The idea is to thoroughly wet it so that the cotton pad easily sticks to your face without dripping everywhere or falling off. If you don’t wet it enough, the cotton pad might be abrasive on your skin and it will dry out faster, failing to thoroughly hydrate your skin.

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Here, I’m using the Missha First Treatment Essence in Intensive Moist with the Klairs Toner Mate 2 in 1.

Once you soak the cotton pad, place it on the parts of your face you want to hydrate and calm. If you use a multi-layer cotton pad, separate it into individual sheets and stick them on. Personally, I like to focus on dry and redness-prone areas, like my cheeks and my forehead. It all depends on what your skin needs, but Chiu recommends staying away from the eye area.

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I can't wait to try this! I've also been wondering which cotton pads I should try next, so I can't wait to get my hands on Silcot. This is a really great tip -- have you ever considered making posts on skincare on your blog?

My dad went to Korea and bought me some makeup and skincare. I've yet to get my hands on it so I can try and blog about the products. I'm so excited though.

Just a few bits of info for you - hyaluronic acid cannot penetrate the skin as the molecule is too large. Most advertisers hinge their entire marketing on HA and leave out this fact. Your statement about it drawing water to the skin or from the skin is spot on. Great information there.

Personally, I don't think that witch hazel is bad for your skin at all. Plain witch hazel (alcohol-free) is a great mild toner for the skin. Toners do all kinds of things besides restore pH levels and give the skin moisture. Did you know that sometimes lowering the pH level before a treatment (ex glycolic mask or peel) assists the treatment to penetrate further? This is due to all the oils being removed from the skin so that the treatment is not diluted or neutralized too early. This doesn't mean that you should strip your skin's natural barrier function before each treatment however!

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Great information, thank you for sharing! I had no idea about hyaluronic acid not actually penetrating the skin -- I'll get that edited right away. And I think I was turned off witch hazel because I used it when I was younger and it was too astringent for me... but I was probably using one that contained alcohol. I actually wanted to try Skinmiso's Pore Corset but was turned off because it contained witch hazel, so I'm excited to try it now. And I've never heard about a lower pH level making some treatments more effective, but it makes sense. But like you said, not something to do regularly.
I'm looking forward to your posts! I just checked out your blog and I'll be sure to follow you. Thank you again!

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Thanks for your kind words! I am trying to do better on checking steem more often and actually writing/posting.

Great information, thank you for sharing! I had no idea about hyaluronic acid not actually penetrating the skin -- I'll get that edited right away. And I think I was turned off witch hazel because I used it when I was younger and it was too astringent for me... but I was probably using one that contained alcohol. I actually wanted to try Skinmiso's Pore Corset but was turned off because it contained witch hazel, so I'm excited to try it now. And I've never heard about a lower pH level mak
In general, exfoliating and using sunscreen regularly can help improve skin tone. Some ingredients to look out for would be Vitamin C, licorice root extract, and mulberry extract. And in terms of brands, I really trust Cetaphil, Klairs and Cosrx -- Cosrx even has a whitening ampoule and essence.