This DIY hydrating face mist is refreshing on it’s own or over makeup. Try using it in place of MAC Prep + Prime Fix+ to blend the look of setting powder!
Welcome to Part II of my favorite skincare products! I’ve also included a DIY hydrating face mist.
Facial mists are currently all the rage, and I’m seeing them sold on sites like Sephora for upwards of $50. If you wear makeup, this is a great dupe for Mac Prep + Prime Fix+.
It helps blend everything together as a final step for a seamless, non-powdery look. I love bringing it on flights; it’s a drink of water for my face when I’m being blasted with stale, dry air.
If you haven’t already, I highly recommend reading Part I before continuing. The intro is especially relevant to everything below.
To recap: I have dry/dehydrated/sensitive skin with acne rosacea on my chin. I’m focused on anti-aging and having fun at a reasonable price point.
In Part I, I reviewed my favorite cleansers, moisturizers and sunscreens. Here, we’re diving into the actives and extras, which I divided into a few arbitrary subcategories:
- Toners, Exfoliants & Essences
- Vitamin C & Retinoids
- Serums & Facial Oils
Note: Do NOT use any actives without also wearing sunscreen. Many of these, especially retinoids and chemical exfoliants, make your skin more sensitive to UVA and UVB rays.
Toners, Exfoliants & Essences
Asian toners are different than those found in the US. Western toners are typically astringent, with harsh ingredients like witch hazel. Asian toners are gentle, and their purpose is to add back hydration lost during cleansing.
Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner – I’ve tried several toners, and this is my favorite. It’s very gentle and absorbs completely into my skin through gentle patting. It has a mild herbal scent that does not linger.
I’m extremely sensitive to fragrance, and it doesn’t bother me at all. The texture is watery and silky. Lots of quality, calming, pH friendly ingredients (hyaluronic acid, centella asiatica extract, beta-glucan).
Kikumasamune Sake Skin Lotion High Moisture (not pictured) – My second favorite toner after the Klairs, and I alternate between the two. This has a mild sake smell that does not linger or bother me.
It’s sold in a huge bottle for a ridiculously cheap price. Very similar texture to Klairs. It’s manufactured by a sake factory, and has a worthy ingredient list (kojic acid, ceramides, amino acids, etc).
Hada Labo Gokujun Hyaluronic Lotion – The name lotion is extremely misleading. This has a consistency somewhere between a toner and a serum, and it’s essentially straight hyaluronic acid. Use under moisturizer to supercharge it, either in addition to toner or in place of it.
Paula’s Choice Skin Perfecting 2% BHA Liquid Exfoliant – I alternate between three chemical exfoliants, and this one is my favorite. The exfoliation is incredibly gentle and it leaves my skin silky smooth. It leaves a bit of a film behind, but in a good way. It’s like it exfoliates with a protective layer.
COSRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner – This is an exfoliant, not a toner. It’s less expensive, very mild, and doesn’t leave my skin as smooth. I won’t get into the differences between AHA and BHA, but I appreciate that this has the benefits of both.
It doesn’t leave the same hydrating feel as the Paula’s Choice, so I immediately follow with one of my hydrating toners when I use this.
The Ordinary’s Lactic Acid 5% + HA 2% (not pictured) – This is a newer addition to my routine, but I’ve been using it for several months and I can safely say that I love it and will repurchase. It’s strong, so I don’t use it more than once per week at most.
The next day, it feels as though I have brand new skin. It doesn’t smell pleasant (chemical odor, not fragrance), but the scent doesn’t linger or bother me.
COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence – I won’t tell you that snail goo is a miracle ingredient. There’s not much science to back it up. I bought this out of pure curiosity, and my skin responds very well to it.
I don’t use it often because it seems… ridiculous. But occasionally after toning or exfoliating, I use 2 drops of this on my face, and it soaks right into my skin.
I notice a difference. I’ve had the same bottle for a long time, and I may skip repurchasing simply because I’m not sure how I feel about it on many levels. Does it make enough of a difference for it to be worth it?
I don’t know. My skin is silky and hydrated the next day, so I decided to include it in my favorites. For now.
Vitamin C & Retinoids
After sunscreen, retinoids and Vitamin C have the most research to back them up. Unfortunately, this is also the category that has been a struggle for me.
I’ve finally found some products I can use. I also have a separate recommendation if you’re not sensitive to smells like I am.
There are several forms of Vitamin C available for skincare. To summarize, L-ascorbic acid (LAA) is the one you want for best results, and it needs to be at a minimum 20% concentration for maximum efficiency.
This eliminates many options on the market (including, shockingly, some of the priciest serums). The serum should also include Vitamin E and Ferulic Acid (this post goes into more detail if you’re curious).
The option I wanted to love was from Timeless. My issue is with Ferulic Acid. It has a metallic smell that is unfortunately a migraine trigger for me.
If you’re not sensitive to smells and are willing to experiment, I recommend giving the Timeless serum a shot, based on its price point and overall reviews. Here’s what I’m currently using:
9/12/2017 Update: I think I’ve currently found my perfect Vitamin C! NuFountain C20 1 Fluid Ounce 20% L-Ascorbic Acid Serum. It’s missing the Ferulic Acid, but it has the 20% concentration I’ve been seeking at a great price.
Lumene Vitamin C+ Radiant Beauty Drops – I’m waiting for confirmation from the company, but I’ve seen several reviewers state that this product has the 20% concentration I’m seeking. It has a smooth texture, a mild citrus scent, and a reasonable price point.
Melano CC Intensive Anti-Spot Essence – This has a pleasant citrus scent. The texture is like a very thin oil, but it doesn’t leave my skin feeling oily; it absorbs right in. The company hasn’t released the concentration percentage.
I’m assuming it’s not 20%, but it’s better than nothing, and it’s cheap.
Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2% – I almost omitted this, because it has flaws. I’ve seem reviews from people who experienced a burning sensation on their face. The texture is slightly gritty, so it doesn’t work under makeup and needs to be applied at night.
I was scared to use it on my face, but it works great on my neck, décolleté and the backs of my hands (don’t neglect these areas if you care about anti-aging). It’s cheap, it has the percentage I’m looking for and no Ferulic Acid.
The Ordinary’s Advanced Retinoid 2% – Moving on to retinoids. I thought this was a fail at first (I had a mild, temporary reaction each time), but it felt so gentle and had so many positive reviews that I stubbornly kept trying. I won.
If you have sensitive skin, the key is to start very slow. Example: start by adding 1 drop to your toner, 2x per week. Build that up slowly, then add some on it’s own 2x per week. It has taken about 6 months, but I can now use several drops every other night.
Serums & Oils
The Ordinary’s Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1% – Niacinamide is one of my favorite ingredients. My skin immediately feels brighter and smoother after using it, so I seek it out in my products. This is the most concentrated version I’ve ever seen.
I’ll use it on it’s own, or add a drop to body moisturizers and other serums. I’ll never be without this.
The Ordinary’s “Buffet” Serum – This has hyaluronic acid and a slew of anti-aging peptides like Matrixyl 3000 and Matrixyl Synthe’6. It has a smooth, slightly gelatinous texture, and is good for mixing with other products (like the niacinamide).
Timeless Coenzyme Q10 Serum & Matrixyl 3000 Serum (not pictured) – I don’t purchase both of these and The Buffet at once; I alternate. These are wonderful, soothing, and have slightly different ingredients, all of which are great to have in an anti-aging routine.
I’m going to take a wild guess that these have a higher percentage of active ingredients than The Buffet. I’m basing this on the fact that there are significantly fewer ingredients in the Timeless serums.
The Ordinary’s Rose Hip Seed Oil – This is a rich facial oil, but it absorbs well within a few minutes. It feels too heavy for my face during summer, but I like it in the winter. I still use it on my neck and the back of my hands during summer.
Acure’s Marula Oil – This oil is much lighter. Sometimes I’ll add a drop to my moisturizer in the summer, but I’ll mostly use it on my face during the winter. It’s also my oil of choice for the hydrating facial mist, as you’ll see below. It becomes so diluted in the mixture that it’s perfect all year.
My Daily Routine
Between Part I & II, I’ve listed a ton of stuff. Here’s how I put it all together. Keep in mind that I make adjustments based on how my skin is behaving, which products work well together, and which ones I use intermittently. Then I think we’re finally at the end! Phew, that was a lot.
(Note: I don’t do all of this every day or my skin would hate me.)
Basic AM: Cleanse, Exfoliant, Toner, Vitamin C, Serum, Moisturizer, Sunscreen
Basic PM: Double Cleanse, Retinoid or Exfoliant, Toner, Serum, Moisturizer
- CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser
- Paula’s Choice 2% BHA
- Klairs Toner
- Melano CC
- CeraVe PM Moisturizer
- Hada Labo Sunscreen
- Hada Labo Cleansing Oil
- CeraVe Hydrating Cleanser
- The Ordinary’s Advanced Retinoid 2%
- Hada Labo Gokujun Hyaluronic Lotion
- Stratia Liquid Gold
Hot and Flashy on YouTube – Angie’s targeting a more mature audience, but she does a ton of research on anti-aging and affordable products. I’ve linked to her skincare playlist since she also does makeup and fashion videos.
Gothamista on YouTube – I love Renee! Unlike Angie, she’s more focused on Asian skincare, and likes to experiment with fun products in addition to strictly science-based ones.
Asian Beauty on Reddit – Lots of info and discussion, I learned quite a bit here.
Skincare Addition on Reddit – See “Asian Beauty,” but with a focus on Western products.
Please let me know if you have any questions! I can talk about this stuff all day.
Hydrating Facial Mist
Total Time: 5 minutes
Yields: 4 ounces
- 3 ounces (6 tablespoons) 100% aloe vera distillate (I used George’s Always Active Aloe Vera)
- 1/2 ounce facial oil, such as squalene or rose hip
- 1/2 ounce glycerine
- Pour ingredients into a 4 ounce fine misting spray bottle. Close the cap and shake to combine.
- Spray throughout the day to moisturize and refresh skin, or to set makeup for a dewy finish.
- Shake to emulsify each time before using.
You might need to adjust the ratios depending on your skin type. Oilier skin types might prefer less oil,
etc. Too much glycerine will feel tacky.
Adapted from/Inspired by Gothamista! Please check out and support her YouTube channel by subscribing!
Note: This post contains Amazon affiliate links.