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Wellness on the Inside & Out: My Skincare Routine

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at CU Boulder chapter.

“When you look good, you feel good.” These wise words from our very own Coach Prime resonated with me, though perhaps not the exact way he intended. 

Looking good and caring for your physical appearance is something that is unfortunately looked down upon, especially for women. You are expected to keep up with all of these routines, but if you talk about it you’re likely to be labeled “high maintenance” or a “pick me.” It is impossible to please everyone, which makes us all wonder: just what is actually worth it? What should we prioritize? In reality, no person is able to follow all of these routines, and that’s normal. It’s just not feasible for most people to have a 20-step skincare routine that adds up to hundreds of dollars, or to pay for expensive pilates sessions, or to follow whatever new beauty trend is popular on social media on that specific day. What matters most is how you feel inside, and if taking care of yourself on the outside brings you internal joy, then this is the article for you. 

I struggled with my skin a lot throughout my teen and tween years. Every photo of me from ages 11 to 16 is either highly edited with filters and blurring effects or it shows the harsh truth: I was constantly breaking out. 

Just to clarify, there is absolutely nothing wrong with having acne or other skin conditions. It does not impact your physical beauty in the slightest. However, my acne was caused by me not taking care of myself, and my own self-hatred was reflected in how I neglected to take care of my own wellness. I wouldn’t moisturize, use sunscreen, or even wash my face after taking off my makeup half the time, and I wondered why I was breaking out so badly. 

I have my mother to thank for always encouraging me to get into skincare. I never thought I really needed it, but the first real skincare routine I adopted at the age of 17 changed everything. It was simple: a face cleanser, toner, and moisturizer. Since then, I have tried different products and now I understand what works for me personally. Due to trying new products over the course of two years, I do understand that the price of my entire routine is not attainable all at once–I would never be able to afford it if I bought every product at the same time. 

Everyone’s skin is different, so please take my advice and my routine with a grain of salt. As I said, this is just what works for me. 

Step 1: Makeup Remover 

This is quite simple; I use micellar water to remove my makeup at the end of the day. Before this, I used makeup wipes, but they were harsh on the skin and also made a lot of waste. A reusable washcloth or face pad soaked in micellar water works wonders! 

Step 2: Face Cleanser/Wash

I tried a lot of different face cleansers over the course of two years, but I finally settled on this one by the Face Shop. It has rice water in it, which is known for brightening and evening skin tone! Since I struggle with hyperpigmentation both naturally and from acne scars, this has helped me a lot. My natural skin feels much more even and glowy after incorporating this into my daily routine. 

I know that double cleansing is quite popular right now, but using an oil cleanser makes me break out regardless of the brand, so I stick to micellar water and a foaming cleanser instead. However, my sister’s skin improved greatly after she started double cleansing, and she uses a Japanese brand called Kose Softymo. It went viral on TikTok a short while back, but she has been using it for years. We have both also tried the oil cleanser that is sold alongside my favorite face wash from the Face Shop. She prefers her usual brand, but she reports that both work well. 

Step 3: Toner 

Toner was historically used to clean off any soap scum or residue on the face. Nowadays, it’s mainly used as a final “cleanser” and prepping your skin for moisturizer. I like to use the Skinfood Peach Sake toner. I noticed that my pores, especially the ones on my cheeks, shrunk after starting to use toner. This was actually one of the first toners that I ever tried, and I am so glad that I stuck with it! 

It is important to note that most Korean brands of toner work differently than American toners. Though this of course differs from brand to brand,  American toners are generally harsher and more drying, which can be beneficial for those with oilier skin. A majority of Korean toners are gentler, and instead focus on balancing and hydrating. As previously mentioned, Korean toners are made for prepping your skin for moisturizer! I found that once I started using toner, my skin seemed to absorb my moisturizers better; instead of sitting on the surface layer of my skin, it appeared to seep in more. 

Step 4: Hyaluronic Acid 

I don’t use that many serums or oils in my routine, but I definitely use hyaluronic acid! This is meant to help fade scarring, and it has aided me greatly in reducing my acne scarring from years of struggling with break outs. It is also meant to reduce fine lines and wrinkles, but I don’t really use it for this purpose, as I am still young. It’s a nice additional benefit, though! 

I like to use the Elizavecca Witch Piggy Hell Pore Control Hyaluronic Acid. The name is a mouthful, but it’s worth it! I love how my skin feels after applying it. I found that it worked a lot better once I started applying it right after my toner, rather than after my other moisturizers. 

Step 5: Emulsion 

I use several different moisturizers in my skincare routine, but emulsion is very important in my opinion! Emulsion is a lighter, water-based moisturizer. A lot of people like to use emulsion as a morning moisturizer since it doesn’t feel heavy on the skin compared to thicker creams meant for deep moisturizing overnight. The latter can feel sticky even after it dries, but emulsion does not have that same effect. 

My favorite emulsion is the Skinfood Peach Sake Emulsion, which I often order alongside my favorite toner. I don’t think it’s really anything special, but it gets the job done. I also like the Elizavecca Aqua Hyaluronic Acid Water Drop Cream, from the same brand as my go-to hyaluronic acid. Usually, I prefer the Skinfood one over the Elizavecca one, simply because the latter contains hyaluronic acid. When I use that one, I skip over the separate hyaluronic acid step since it is already included in this moisturizer.

Step 6: Snail Mucin 

Another product that has gone viral on TikTok recently is snail mucin. Though it sounds a little gross if you’re not used to it, snail mucin actually has a lot of benefits for the skin, such as anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and general hydration! It has been recommended to be used alongside hyaluronic acid if you are prone to acne or otherwise inflamed skin. 

Though the brand that went viral was Cosrx, I actually prefer the brand Mizon. If I could only have one moisturizer, I would have to choose this one! 

Step 7: Eye Cream

Many eye creams are marketed towards older individuals and promote anti-aging qualities, but I use eye cream because the skin around my eyes gets dry and patchy at times. Extra moisturization in that area helps prevent this from happening for me! I like to use the Innisfree Green Tea Hydrating Eye Serum, but if you’re looking for something with anti-aging qualities the Meebak Cica Eye Cream worked really well for my mother! 

Step 8: Night Cream/Sleeping Masks

My last moisturizing step is a thick night cream. Again, these are mainly used before bed rather than in the morning because of how they weigh on the face. They are meant for deep hydration, which is often achieved because of people leaving it on overnight. I like to use the Innisfree Brightening Pore Sleeping Mask. When I wash my face in the morning after using this overnight, my skin feels supple and super soft! If I’m breaking out I tend to skip this step in favor of acne products to spot treat. 

Step 9 & Beyond…

My skincare routine fluctuates depending on what I need at the moment. As previously stated, when I break out I like to skip some of my moisturizing steps so that my acne treatment can seep into the skin easier. I like to exfoliate a few times a week, whenever my skin feels dull or is flaky and dry. I also like to do face masks; sheet masks every night I can, clay masks when I’m breaking out. 

Skincare in the morning also usually differs from a nighttime routine; I actually have a completely different routine in the morning with separate products. Though I will not share that routine at the moment, I will say that no matter what, sunscreen is a must! I like to use the E.L.F Suntouchable Woah Glow underneath my makeup, combined with the Innisfree Tone Up Watering sunscreen. I also use the Etude House Sunprise sunscreen on my neck! 

Though this is just my personal skincare routine, I realize that it’s not feasible for everyone to adapt for multiple reasons. I have collected products over the years from experimenting, and that is the only reason why I was able to afford all of these products in the first place. I also realize that everyone’s skin is different, and though this is my holy grail routine, it could be someone else’s skincare nightmare. First and foremost, listen to your body and your skin! Accepting and embracing your skin is a giant step in one’s wellness journey, and I hope that anyone out there reading this is able to adopt a routine that works for them. If I had to leave you with a general piece of advice on what products to buy, I find that a simple routine is a great introduction to the world of skincare. I recommended a gentle face wash, toner, hyaluronic acid, and sheet masks to my roommate, and she began getting compliments on her skin after she brought these products into her current skincare routine. 

Here’s to achieving wellness inside and out! 

Phoebe Ham

CU Boulder '26

Phoebe Ham is a current contributing writer and editor at Her Campus CU Boulder (HCCU). Though she writes about a variety of topics, she enjoys writing about beauty, music, and Asian-American culture. Outside of Her Campus, Phoebe is mainly focused on her studies, though she hopes to expand her writing career further in the near future. She is a current sophomore at CU, and she is majoring in SLHS and minoring in both Linguistics and Education. Prior to her college career, she won an award for an original short story, and that was where she discovered her love of writing and posting her creations online. For several years, she ran a blog dedicated to her writing, which ranged from poetry and book reviews to short stories and novellas. In her free time Phoebe enjoys reading Asian-American literature, crocheting, and spending time with her friends. Recently, she has been into novels by Haruki Murakami, Min Jin Lee, and Ling Ma. Additionally, she has been trying to incorporate more of her crocheted creations into her wardrobe for sustainability reasons, as well as vocalizing the importance of Asian representation in media through her art.