Skincare Review: Banila Co Dear Hydration Toner Moisture Boosting Cream

When I first found Banila Co, there already have a lot of skincare and makeup products. Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm wasn’t the only thing I bought back then but it was the only thing I kept on repurchasing because most of their products, I feel like, were targeted for those with drier skin types.

Fast forward to today, and my inner Banila Co cheerleader is jumping up and down because they have created a variety of products targeted to a lot of skin types.

Focusing on hydration, the Dear Hydration Toner ($16) and the Dear Hydration Moisture Boosting Cream ($25) aim to hydrate and nourish the skin while removing impurities and protecting the skin from environmental pollutants. They use the Urban Water Guard System, which utilizes peppermint extract, holy basil extract, neem leaf extract, bamboo, and fermented lotus water.

Both the toner and the moisturizer feel soothing and refreshing to the skin while hydrating the skin. As expected, the tone is very watery. What surprised me a bit was how the moisturizer is on the creamy side. It also felt a bit oily, which I don’t really prefer when it comes to moisturizers. It did hydrate the skin, though, but they both offered less hydration than I prefer. I feel like these products would work for those who are younger.

All these products were formulated without parabens, sulfates, phthalates, and mineral oil so they feel gentle on the skin.

The Banila Co Dear Hydration Toner and Moisture Boosting Cream were provided by @banilaco and @bluewheelmedia. Available at banilausa.com

Skincare Review: Banila Co Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm Revitalizing and Foam Cleanser

The Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm from Banila Co is my OG first cleanser. I bought it during my first trip to Korea, before I even started this page, and have compared all my cleansing balms to it ever since. It set the standard as to how I want my cleansing balms to be – solid texture that melts to oil as it removes makeup and dirt can be rinsed with water and doesn’t leave a film on the skin. I had tubs and tubs of the original one, the one where the packaging is more colorful until they released other variants.

Since then, I have moved to the Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm Revitalizing ($24) which uses the Zero Balance Technology with Resveratrol along with grapeseed oil and olive oil to cleanse the skin without stripping it. I may have other cleansing balm holy grails but this will always have a special place in my heart. It has the same sherbet-like texture, it still removes all traces of makeup, and it still leaves the skin feeling refreshed and thoroughly cleansed.

The Clean It Zero Foam Cleanser ($14) promises to gently cleanse the skin, reduce irritation, draw out impurities from clogged pores using active botanicals, hot springs water, vitamin e, and vitamin c. True to its claim, this feels really gentle on the skin as it cleanses. I prefer cleansing foams over other types of second cleansers so, it was easy to like this one. It also doesn’t leave any residue after rinsing but it doesn’t leave the skin feeling to stripped or dry either.

Of course, nothing would beat the Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm but the Clean It Zero Foam Cleanser is a welcome addition to the family, especially those who are just getting in to skincare.

All these products were formulated without parabens, sulfates, phthalates, and mineral oil so they feel gentle on the skin.

The Banila Co Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm Revitalizing and Clean it Zero Foam Cleanser were provided by @banilaco and @bluewheelmedia. Available at banilausa.com

Why your AM and PM routines should be different

When I first found out that skincare goes beyond cleansers and toners, I got to know the benefits of serums, essences, masks, and moisturizers. Then I read about the 10-step routine and it’s just information overload. There is so much to do, and for someone who has oily skin with pigmentation, there’s a lot to treat. I bought so many products making me paralyzed with fear when I sat on my vanity. I’m going to put all this twice a day? When? How?

Using many products at night is okay with me. I’ve gotten used to it and even take pleasure on having a few minutes to myself –between my thoughts, my skincare, and I. It’s a time for me to really look at my face and check what exactly I would need that day.

At night, I usually remove my makeup with a cleansing balm like Banila Co’s CleanIt Zero Purity or Emma Hardie’s Moringa Cleansing Balm before anything else. They both remove my makeup so quickly and so efficiently. This step also serves as the time to relax; I turn on the music, close my eyes, and massage my face until the song is over. I know it’s too long but I like the feeling of balm on my face.

I then cleanse with a foaming cleanser like Earth Tu Face’s Palmarosa + Aloe FaceWash before I put on my masks. I choose my mask depending on what I need that day – Georgette Klinger’s Vitamin C Mask if I need some brightening, Dior’s Hydra Life Pink Clay Mask for when my skin needs an extra glow, or Innisfree’s Super Volcanic Clay Mousse Mask if my skin is a bit congested. I put on my mask and watch a rerun of The Office while waiting for it to dry.

Once that’s off, I go to my vanity and watch makeup tutorials until I finish my routine. I start with a hydrating toner, like Whamisa’s Organic Flowers Toner in Refresh or By Wishtrend’s Mandelic Acid 5% Skin Prep Water. I then pat SK-II’s Facial Treatment Essence, the cult fave fermented essence, which helps refine pores and even skin tones. After that, I put on an acid, like Sunday Riley’s Good Genes, which is both clarifying and anti-aging. Then I use an exfoliating toner, Biologique Recherche’s P50, which is literally a miracle in a bottle. My skin is always clear and glowing the morning after whenever I use this.

I follow this with serums to treat whatever my skin is feeling that day. If my skin is feeling extra oily, I will use the Bare Alchemy Ambrosia Cleanse Serum. If I have a budding zit, I will use Glossier Super Pure and use this continuously until the zit subsides. If it’s a good day, I will pull out Sahajan’s Ayurvedic Radiance Blend Face Serum or Bare Alchemy’s Ambrosia Cleanse Serum. With this, I always use a hydrating serum, like Jordan Samuel’s Hydrate Facial Serum, because it’s like a tall drink of water and an anti-aging serum like The Ordinary’s Buffet because I need to. I’m already in my 30s so I desperately need to keep those wrinkles at bay.

I cap my nighttime routine off with a moisturizer. This was a tricky part since it took me a long time to find a moisturizer that will not make my skin oilier. I found Blended Boost’s Face Cream, which can be customized to fit your skin needs, and J.One Cosmetics Black Jelly Pack. They are both hydrating and moisturizing but I don’t wake up with a greasy face after. I sometimes mix Butter Elixir’s Face Oil with my moisturizer if I feel like I need more nourishment.

Having these many products in my stash was a huge adjustment in the morning. You see, I love to sleep a bit too much. I tried doing all the steps above in the morning but it just didn’t work. My skin got greasy even before lunchtime and it was difficult to apply makeup. I also experienced breakouts. This is when I realized that I don’t have to follow a specific routine, I can adjust it based on what my skin needs and how my skin works.

I use a different type of cleanser in the morning – something gentler like Goodal’s Yerba Mate Cleansing Foam or Alder New York’s Everyday Face Cleanser. They don’t strip my skin but they do the cleansing part well. For toners, I use something lighter like mists. Josh Rosebrook’s Hydrating Accelerator or Enature’s Vita 8 Nutritive Mist is so light and yet so hydrating. Mists are also great for waking up the skin and for reducing the puffiness a bit.

In the morning is when I will use my Vitamin C serums, like Drunk Elephant’s C-Firma Day Serum or Skindeva’s Vitamin C+E Serum to brighten dull spots. These two products have a very light oily texture and sink in the skin quickly so it goes great with makeup. I do this because Vitamin C is very fussy with products used with it. After this, I use Onomie’s Priming Serum to even the tone of my skin.

After the serums, I use a different moisturizer, something lighter than what I use a night – Cosrx Oil-Free Ultra Moisturizing Lotion or Yasou’s Cellular Day Cream. They both work great with makeup and don’t make my skin oily. Up next is sunscreen, which is, again, a difficult search for me. Most of the sunscreens in the market are too greasy or too thick for my skin. Some have even broken me out. I use either Benefit Cosmetic’s Dream Screen or La Roche Posay’s Antihelios XL Ultra Light.

As you can see, my morning routine is much shorter. I have toned it down because what I need during the day is very different from what I need at night. During the day, my main goal is to mattify and protect my skin. I spend my days either stuck in the office surrounded by air-conditioning or outdoors surrounded by dust or under the sun so protection is important. Also, if you apply makeup finding products that will blend well with your foundation is necessary.

My goal for my nighttime routine is to cleanse, treat, and moisturize to prepare for the next day. Double cleansing is very important because it removes everything that my face has encountered during the day. This is the time to check what my skin needs and what I can do for it be it a serum or a mask.

It would, of course, be a different thing for people who have normal or dry skin types as they are looking for different things. Note that the routine I mentioned took a lot of trial and error on my part in order to find the most suitable products for my skin. However, my experience just proves to me that yes, layering products can be effective but it can also be customized depending on what your skin needs. Happy Discovering!

**published in puropulence.com last December 2017

Skincare in your 30s

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the many tubs of skincare

Along with the crippling fear and doubt about how your life is going when you reach your late 20s, for most of us, our skin will also be a big concern. As if things aren’t already getting more and more complicated.

I work in PR and getting product samples are as easy as clocking in but I chose makeup over skincare. I was 25; I thought I was done with my hormonal acne battle. My skincare routine (if you can call it that) is a routine I’ve had since I was 13, a routine suggested by my mother to pacify my oily, filled with teenage acne face – Liquid Neutrogena. I rarely washed my face at night, I also do not remove my makeup after a night out, and I do not wear sunscreen. Luckily, I almost never bother to wear makeup and I was never the outdoorsy type. Still, I was doing badly in life – skincare and other stuff (but that’s for another story.) It was a time where I had more scarves than skincare products and I was happy with it.

I did not know how awful I was being to my skin. Well, I did but I thought I could get by with just sheer luck from my genetics. I was too lazy to care, too proud to ask for advice, and too busy doing other things. Like texting and updating my social media profiles.

That is until I started getting pimples and post-acne spots were everywhere on my face. I was scared but apparently not scared enough. I still stuck with my trusted cleanser and just tried to solve my problems by cleansing twice every day. Obviously, it didn’t work. My skin was looking sallow and my once-rosy cheeks are not so rosy anymore. I was literally looking and feeling rough. I was 28 and I didn’t know what was happening to my skin. So, I turned to my long-time friend – Google.

Apparently, my skin cell turnover and skin metabolism are slowing down. My skin is going through a drastic change and my routine should too. It was time to use the help of skincare products, effective skincare products that are right for more skin. I researched and researched – read through countless websites and blog posts because taking the plunge and buying. Some products worked, some didn’t. I tried the 10-step method and modified it to whatever my skin liked later on. It took months of trial and error before I got into a routine. Let my mistakes serve as a warning and my solution an example.

Cleanse. Then cleanse some more. I never knew how effective double cleansing was until I tried it. Banila Co’s Clean It Zero removed makeup and dirt from my skin. It still amazes me to this day how quickly it can remove liners and foundation. As a second cleanse, Innisfree’s Jeju Volcanic Pore Cleansing Foam was one of the first cleansers I bought. It’s gentle but it thoroughly cleanses my face. After all these years, I still use this as my night cleanser.

Prep. I had no idea what essences were until I read about it. This was my most hesitant purchase but now, I can’t go to my routine without it. My face immediately fell in love with SK-II’s Facial Treatment Essence that I have gone through bottles. For me, it helped control oil and it prepared my skin for the next steps in my routine.

Exfoliate. When I was in my late 20s, I have already noticed signs of aging doubled with hormonal zits and putting on a mask twice a week, helped keep dead skin cells away. I use Glamglow’s Supermud  ClearingTreatment to rejuvenate my skin and spot treat some of the blemishes I still have because of those lovely hormones. I have also incorporated Sunday Riley’s Good Genes All-In-One Lactic Acid Treatment in my routine and it helped dissolve hyperpigmentation and refined my pores. These days, I have a couple of masks and acids in the rotation.

Treat. The first one I got was OST Original Pure Vitamin C20 Serum (now called Ti’am My Signature C Source) to get rid of those annoying post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. The results were slow but it was worth it. After six months, my skin cleared up and brightened. With the help of other serums, like Jordan Samuel Skin’s Hydrate Facial Serum and Glossier’s Super Pure, my skin was also hydrated and healthy. I alternate serums and use different products in the morning and evening.

Moisturize. This was the trickiest part for me as I thought that moisturizers are only for those with dry skin. I never knew that my oily skin gets oilier because I was dehydrated and because I wasn’t moisturizing enough. It was a long and hard journey to find that perfect moisturizer. I kept on looking for that one moisturizer that will hydrate my skin without making me look like a grease ball. After so many tries, I found Cosrx Oil-Free Ultra-Moisturizing Lotion. I have also stuck with the very much-hyped (but rightfully so) Laneige Water Sleeping Pack. Nothing has made my skin as soft and as moisturized as it did.

Protect. Me, who rarely used sunscreen before, came to love them. All the sunscreen I had before were thick, sticky, and tacky until I found Shiseido’s Extra Smooth Sun Protection Lotion. I never appreciated sun protection until I got older and the lines showed up on the corners of my eyes. Premature aging of the skin is not a myth, guys.

**as published in puropulence last September 2017