“Where Do I Start???” – How To Build A Skincare Routine

Oftentimes, I get wrapped up in talking about new beauty or skincare products – wrapped up enough that I’ll forget: some people are still figuring out how to build a basic skincare routine.

No shame in starting from scratch, & no such thing as a dumb question…so, after a few requests, here’s a very simple routine/top shelfie that you can use for guidance. Let’s do it!

First, let me just make it clear: my skin type is dry/sensitive. Products that work really well for my skin type may not work as well for someone with oily or combo skin. It’s hard to accurately determine your skin type online – always best to go to a dermatologist – but if you can’t make it to one, try this skin type quiz by Soko Glam, an online K-Beauty retailer. Remember: online quizzes won’t give you the most accurate results, but they can be a good place to start.

With that in mind, let me outline a simple 3-step routine. If you don’t want to spend a lot of time on your skin, but want to see some improvement, it’s a good place to start.

  1. Cleanse
  2. Tone
  3. Moisturize

At the end of the day (or beginning), it really comes down to these three steps. Cleanse your face to refresh/remove dirt, oil, & other “bad stuff.” Tone to brighten, hydrate, & purify. Moisturize to keep your skin soft & hydrated all day or all night. Remember, even if you have oily skin, you should be moisturizing. Not moisturizing the skin can cause dehydration – dehydrated skin usually leads to micro-abrasions, which can let in bacteria. This leads to breakouts & acne. So – no matter what skin type you have, make sure you’re moisturizing!

Some of you might already know the three step routine, & that’s great – but you might not know when or how to use serums & oils. Here’s how the three step routine would look plus serums & oils. Remember: you don’t have to use serums or oils; they’re a great way to up your skin care game if you’re not completely happy with how your skin is looking or feeling, but they’re not the must-haves (in my opinion).

  1. Cleanse
  2. Tone
  3. Serums – if you’re using several, work your way from most “watery” to most “gel-like.” In my experience, watery serums will sink in faster & easier if you put them right after a toner. Gel-like serums take a little longer to sink in, so they could use a little extra time…after you’ve finished with the watery serum(s)
  4. Oil – just like with serums, work your way from most diluted to most rich. Any oil will have a different texture & consistency than a serum; that’s why they’re categorized differently
  5. Moisturize

So that’s how you “up” your skin care game, if you’re already used to the three step method.

Without further ado, here are some of the products I use most often (as well as a few new ones). Almost all of them are under $30; there are two exceptions. Remember that you can get effective & affordable skin care products – these two qualities are not mutually exclusive!

Cleansers Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser, CLĒ Cosmetics Oxygen Foam Cleanser

On the left: Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser. On the right: CLĒ Cosmetics Oxygen Foam Cleanser

As you can see by the rather banged-up bottles, these are the two cleansers I reach for most often. Let’s start with Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser, a product I’ve been using (& loving) for almost two years now. I love MJC because it’s such an effective non-foaming cleanser. Most foaming cleansers dry out my skin; Milky Jelly doesn’t lather up, but it does get rid of dirt & oil, just like any other cleanser would. The delicate floral scent is amazing, too. I like to use two pumps of it on dry skin in the morning, making sure to massage my face as I work the cleanser across my skin. It’s like a mini spa treatment – every single morning – & it only takes 2 minutes. I rinse off with luke-warm water, then move on to toner. Read my #MiniReview on Milky Jelly here!

As a bonus, here are some other options for non-foaming cleansers – for those of you who live in countries that Glossier doesn’t ship to, or for those of you who just aren’t interested in Milky Jelly:

Next up: CLĒ Cosmetics Oxygen Foam Cleanser: this is probably (okay, definitely) the only foaming cleanser I can use regularly without worrying about my skin drying out. I like to use this best in the evening – it does an amazing job of getting rid of any leftover makeup that my micellar water might have missed, & it’s admittedly very fun to use. When pushing down on the pump, a goopy substance similar in texture to Milky Jelly comes out (no scent!). Massage that over your face, & it quickly foams up. Leave on for 30-ish seconds, then wipe off with a damp towel, or rinse off with water (I prefer the latter). Most definitely the only foaming cleanser I can use without worrying about drying out my skin, even in the cold dry winter months. This cleanser is magic. Read my review of Oxygen Foam on CLĒ Cosmetic’s blog right here!


On the left: Glossier Solution. On the right: Thayer’s Witch Hazel Alcohol-Free Lavender Witch Hazel Toner 

For a few years, I religiously used the Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs, & Rosewater – yup, the one that everyone used (& still uses). Although I’ve seen a lot of people complain about it online (not pure, makes them break out) I’ve never had an issue with it – I just eventually encountered options that were more my style. It took me a while to convert to “cotton pad toners,” as I like to call them (as opposed to a spray, like Mario Badescu) but the one that sold me was Thayers Alcohol-Free Lavender Witch Hazel Toner. I got it at Target for $11 in October – & I’m still on my first bottle. The alcohol-free option is really nice if you have sensitive skin, & lavender is especially soothing on my skin, so I was really happy when I saw that this was one of the few options left on the shelf. Witch hazel is a natural astringent, so it clarifies the skin – but it also soothes & reduces any inflammation that might be present. Also in the formula: aloe vera, plain old water, & glycerin – all calming & soothing for the skin. If you’re hyper-sensitive, Thayers has a non-scented version of their toner. If you still prefer spritz toners to cotton pad toners, Thayers now has a lot of their toners in spray bottle packaging – check them out here. Read my #MiniReview of this toner here!

(Side note: When using a cotton pad toner, I use Shiseido cotton pads. I know, I know – fancy…but seriously, they’re worth it. Even better, they’re actually quite affordable if you do it my way: cut them in half! Use one half for your morning routine & the other half for your evening routine. This way, you cut the cost in half, & you still feel all the benefits of using the Shiseido Facial Cotton (these truly are a huge upgrade from drugstore cotton rounds…trust me). If you have sensitive skin & feel like a lot of cotton pads/rounds are scratchy on your skin, these are for you. 

Another “toner” I’ve been incorporating into my routine: the latest from Glossier: Glossier Solution. This is the brand’s first release of 2018, & it’s been getting a lot of attention – it’s one of the first Glossier products that really focuses on clearing & brightening skin, as well as reducing acne/hormonal breakouts. Solution is a chemical exfoliant, meant to be used once a day in replacement of a toner. The AHA/BHA/PHA blend dissolves dead skin cells, brightens, softens, & refreshes skin, as well as reducing redness, acne, & breakouts. Read the full scoop here; first, though, let me say this: if you’re using Solution – or any other chemical exfoliant – wear sunscreen! When using any kind of chemical exfoliant (this one included) your skin is more sensitive to the sun. You should wear sunscreen no matter what, but if you’ve been guiltily ignoring that, it’s time to start protecting yourself – especially if you’re using a chemical exfoliant. I’ll give you some of my favorite options in a moment. Stay tuned.

Heritage Store Rosewater & Glycerin

Finally – I mentioned that my first toner was a spritzer (by Mario Badescu). Here’s one that I’ve revisited & been really loving lately: the Heritage Store Rosewater & Glycerin. Think of it as the Mario Badescu Facial Spray…but make it purer. There are three ingredients in this: purified water, pure rose oil, & natural vegetable glycerin. If you’re worried about a cloying scent, worry no more. This has a very delicate, floral scent – similar to that of Glossier Milky Jelly. It’s described as “multi-purpose,” because it is. Use it for your hair, use it as a toner, use it as a setting spray, use it as a refresher when 3 pm hits & you still have a few hours to go (but your skin isn’t feeling it) – face, body, hair…go ham. Just don’t drink it. I haven’t used this for a minute, but I’ve been revisiting it – & I’ve appreciated it as a toner, a refresher, & a setting spray this past month. Oh – & it’s only $10. Find it online, in some Whole Foods, some Urban Outfitters, & perhaps even some Targets, if you’re lucky.


From left to right: Glossier Super Pure Serum, The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%, & Valjean Labs Hydrate Serum

Like I mentioned when talking about how to build up your skin care routine to something more complex or “fancy” – serums aren’t necessary, but they can be great ways to really improve the texture, tone, & even the health of your skin. I typically don’t wear more than two serums at once – because too much of anything is a bad thing – & I usually wear different serums at night than I do in the day. I won’t delve into that, because this is just about how to build a simple routine – so here are a few serums that I’ve been enjoying. Some are old favorites, others are new discoveries – but they’re all under $30, which is great. Let me start with the Valjean Hydrate Serum – I have a #MiniReview on this, which I’ll link here. If you’re just looking for a super quick review, though, here are my two cents on it: I liked the texture of Glossier’s Super Bounce Serum (another hyaluronic acid serum), but wasn’t seeing results that made the $28 price tag worth it to me. I tried The Ordinary’s Hyaluronic Acid serum (way cheaper) but like a bunch of their other serums, this one was tacky, dried down oddly, & I didn’t even feel like it was hydrating. Stumped, I kept hunting. I saw “Valjean Labs” pop up across a few photos on Instagram before I asked some friends about the serums, & I heard only good things. I got the Hydrate serum first – followed by Glow & Firm. I like Firm – it’s a hydrating & plumping serum that contains ferulic acid & Vitamin E – but I’m not a fan of Glow (a Vitamin C serum). It just didn’t really seem to do anything. So: Hydrate remains my favorite serum from Valjean. It’s a thin, watery texture, but doesn’t dry down tacky. It’s cooling & soothing – really helps reduce redness – & it feels like a cool drink of water for my skin. I use it morning & night. It layers under other serums/moisturizers really nicely, too. Pick it up for $15 at Urban Outfitters, or keep your eyes peeled at your local TJ Maxx – Valjean serums go for $4.99 at TJ.

Next up: an old favorite; an old friend: Glossier Super Pure Serum. The Glossier Supers hold a special place in my heart; Super Glow was the first serum I ever put on my face when the trio launched in fall of 2016. I’ve hopped back & forth between Super Pure & Super Glow as my favorites, but at this point I can confidently say that Super Pure is my favorite. This is a serum that is, in fact, worth the $28 price tag (for me). It calms redness & inflammation in the short-term; long-term, it reduces breakouts & just clarifies the skin overall. The water-gel consistency is not sticky or tacky; it doesn’t pill; it wears beautifully under makeup/moisturizers…I have no bad things to say. Check out my longer review here

Finally – a brand-new addition to my routine: The Ordinary Vitamin C Suspension 23% + HA Spheres 2%. It’s so new, in fact, that I’ve only used it twice so far. Before purchasing, I snooped around for some opinions, & immediately got some “NOOOO! IT IS SO SCRATCHY!” comments. Naturally, I was a bit scared when it arrived – but I’m glad I had that “background knowledge” of the texture of the serum before giving it a go myself, because it influenced the way in which I applied it. Obviously, I can’t give that big of a review, because I’ve only used it twice, but here are my first impressions: definitely the “oddest” serum I’ve used yet, mainly because it’s “water-free” – that means that it looks like a cream; maybe a runny moisturizer. The “scratchiness” comes from “dehydrated spheres” of hyaluronic acid, which “offer visible surface smoothing.” I wouldn’t call it scratchy; it doesn’t feel like a sugar/salt scrub; it feels more like someone put sand into a light moisturizer (I know that sounds odd). There’s no denying that it’s a bit abrasive, especially if I were to rub it into my face – but thanks to everyone’s warnings, I was able to avoid that situation. When applying, I put some on my fingertips, then gently press it into my skin. Wait a few minutes, & sure enough – the “dehydrated spheres” melted into my skin. Then, it’s simple: apply moisturizer, & be at peace. There’s no denying that it’s one of the oddest products I’ve tried so far, but I’m intrigued. The Ordinary has great prices, & it’s even more accessible, now that it’s being carried (online) at Sephora. I’ll be sure to keep you all posted.


The Ordinary 100% Cold-Pressed Organic Rose Hip Seed Oil – good for all skin types 

I’m a fan of facial oils, but I’m not the biggest fan – basically, creams > oils in my opinion (& keep in mind: everyone’s skin is different). While creams are my priority, I found oils to be way more confusing, especially when first thinking about using one. Won’t it just make my skin greasy? Will I break out more? Why would you put oil on your face…?

The answer to the last question: there are many reasons for putting oil on your face, & if you remember that you’re not putting vegetable oil or bacon grease on your face – you’re putting rosehip oil, tea tree oil, marula oil & so on (all of which have their benefits) – the fear of breaking out or looking greasy will soon fade. Oils won’t make your face greasy – you just have to choose the right one. That depends on your skin type, & since I can’t tell every single one of you what your skin type is, I’d leave the serious oil recommendations to someone more qualified (ask a skin care consultant at Sephora, or go to your dermatologist, or just do some reading after you know a little more about your skin type), but I can tell you one oil that works really well for all skin types: rosehip!

Rosehip oil calms redness, reduces inflammation, & hydrates – of course. It’s lightweight, doesn’t feel heavy, sticky, or greasy, & it wears well under a cream. You can also put a little more on & forget a cream all together. One of the cheapest options out there is The Ordinary’s 100% Cold-Pressed Organic Rose Hip Seed Oil. Described as “a daily support formula for all skin types,” this oil is rich in various vitamins & fatty acids, all of which plumpen, hydrate, & boost skin’s circulation. It smells slightly floral, but I can hardly detect a scent. It’s not the highest-quality oil, but it’s under $10, I wouldn’t call it bad, & it’s a great way to experiment with facial oils without dropping a lot of money. Next on my list of things to try: Pai Skincare’s Rosehip BioRegenerate Oil, which has rave reviews on many platforms. It’s a step up from the $10, but from what I’ve seen, it looks to be worth it.


On the left: Dr Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Cream. On the right: Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich

Currently, I’m using two moisturizers: a day cream & a night cream. If you use one & your skin is happy – great! My dry/sensitive skin gets a little finicky, especially when it comes to hydration, so my skin most definitely appreciates the two different moisturizers I use.

For daytime, I use the Dr Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass CreamI held off for a very long time on buying this, mainly because I looked at the amount of product in the tube & rolled my eyes. I wouldn’t be forking over that amount for this little tube of cream…but then, I got it as a free sample with a Sephora order I made over winter break, & when I tried it out, I finally understood. This is an extremely dense cream; it’s almost like an ointment. This was worrying to me, at first: would it feel greasy? Would it clog my pores? The answer to both of these questions: nope! It most definitely doesn’t feel greasy, it certainly doesn’t clog my pores, & I’m glad I chose this sample, because by the time I ran out of the baby version, I was convinced that the full-size was truly worth it.

You need the tiniest amount – the tube looks like a tube of toothpaste, & that’s just about how much I use for my face: imagine that you’re putting a smear of toothpaste onto your toothbrush, & that should just about cover it for your whole face. I put the ointment between my fingertips to let it warm up a little, then gently press it into my skin. If I have the time, I’ll follow that up with a quick facial massage with my jade roller. If I don’t – I’m still good. The cream has really helped reduce any redness, which is something I struggle with (especially in the winter time). I would constantly complain about the dry area under my nose – not after a week of using this cream, though. January is one of the hardest months on my skin…& this year, I have zero dryness/irritation in my usual dry patches, my skin is relatively redness-free, & I get to use a very cool toothpaste-y product that smells like freshly-mown grass. Worth it? Definitely.

For night time, I use Glossier Priming Moisturizer Rich – a product I’ve been religiously using & refilling since Glossier put it up for sale in January 2017. Basically: I’ll never stop screaming about this (screaming in a good way). I’ve been through a few jars, but I don’t go through it outrageously quickly, because it truly is “rich.” “Rich,” yes. Oily? Not even a little bit. I have dry skin & love it; I know people with oily skin who love it equally. People in the middle? Yup, PMR has your back, too. Red algae reduces redness, lavender makes you feel like you’re in an aromatherapy session, & the cream has this incredible buttercream texture that’s addicting. Every night, I smooth a little spoonful (I use the NIOD Stainless Steel Spoon to keep my creams sanitary) into my skin, I massage my face with my hands &/or my jade roller, & then I sink into my pillows with a sigh of relief. It’s the perfect way for me to end my day.


On the left: Glossier Invisible Shield. On the right: Dr. Jart+ Every Sun Day UV Sunscreen 

One of the most important – but one of the most ignored – steps in a skincare routine is protecting your face from the sun. Even if you don’t work outside…even if you’re not going for a long walk…even if you live in a country where you don’t see much sunlight during the winter…you should still be wearing sunscreen. UV rays cause long-term damage, & you might not ever feel a sunburn – but you may still be at risk for skin cancer if you don’t take the proper steps to protect yourself. That sounds like a threat, but it’s just me saying be careful! You can greatly reduce the risk of skin cancer simply by throwing on some sunscreen every single day.

The two I swear by are Glossier Invisible Shield (SPF 35) & Dr. Jart+ Every Sun Day UV Sunscreen Broad Spectrum (SPF 50). These products are quite different from one another, though ultimately, they both do a good job of protecting your skin from harmful sun exposure.

What’s the difference? The Glossier sunscreen is a chemical sunscreen; the Dr. Jart+ sunscreen is a physical sunscreen. “Chemical” sounds scary in most situations, but just as is the case with “chemical exfoliation,” “chemical sunscreen” is not dangerous or harmful for your skin. It just operates in a different way than “physical sunscreen.”

Chemical sunscreens contain organic, carbon-based compounds which create a chemical (hence the name) reaction, changing UV rays into heat, then releasing that heat from the skin. No – you won’t get burned, & no – it doesn’t feel hot upon application. Don’t worry.

Physical sunscreens like the Dr. Jart+ one contain active mineral ingredients, also referred to as physical blockers (again – hence the name). Most commonly, the physical blockers are titanium dioxide or zinc dioxide – that’s what gives physical sunscreen its famous (or, if you’re like me, infamous) scent. These blockers sit on top of the skin, deflecting & scattering UV rays away from the skin.

So – which do I prefer? Personally, after I tried a chemical sunscreen, I heavily lean towards that side of the spectrum. Most physical sunscreens feel very sticky & heavy on my skin & I’ve broken out from quite a few. Most don’t wear very well under makeup for me, either. I prefer the gel-like texture of a chemical sunscreen. Also – it’s much easier to reapply, since you don’t have to massage it into the face as intensely as you might have to with a physical sunscreen – chemical sunscreens leave no white cast on the skin, which is another bonus.

Still, I really like the Dr. Jart+ one. After I started taking immunosuppressive drugs that make my skin even more sensitive to sun, my mama & I panicked & looked for the most powerful & best sunscreen out there. SPF 50 is pretty much as high as you can get, & this Dr. Jart+ option is probably my favorite physical sunscreen. It’s very lightweight, it lacks that odd scent that so many physical sunscreens have, & it doesn’t feel greasy or sticky – doesn’t break me out, either. If you’re not into chemical sunscreens, this is a physical sunscreen that I truly do like. The price isn’t half bad, either – especially for a Dr. Jart+ product.

As for the Glossier Invisible Shield – like I said, I now prefer chemical sunscreens, after having tried both, & this one is a great choice. Recently, Glossier reduced the price to $25, which I feel is a much fairer price than the original $34. In my opinion, there isn’t enough product in the Invisible Shield bottle to justify spending $34 on it; now, with the adjusted price, I can give Invisible Shield 5 stars without feeling like it’s just a biiiit too expensive to rate so highly. I use about 3-4 pumps, & gently swipe the gel over my face after I’ve finished moisturizing (but before I’ve applied makeup). I let it sit for a few moments; it has a cooling sensation which is really soothing. I like the citrus-y scent, too.

A lot of people ask what the best amount of SPF is. Most dermatologists agree that anything between SPF 30 & SPF 50 is going to give you the same results. SPF 50 isn’t really going to give you more protection than SPF 30 – in fact, some people get less protection even while wearing SPF 50, since they feel like they don’t need to apply as much product. No matter what, be sure to reapply sunscreen if you’re spending periods of time outside, & don’t stress about SPF 50 working better (or worse) than SPF 35 or SPF 40. In the end, as long as it’s over 30, you’re good. Stay protected!!!

Spot Treatments 


Oh – almost forgot about this very important category. For a while, I was a non-believer. It seemed as though everyone swore by the Mario Badescu Drying Lotion; I’d given it a few goes & hadn’t seen anything special. Overnight results? Sounded unrealistic…& I never got that from the Drying Lotion.

For the past 7-8 months, I’ve been using & loving the Origins Super Spot Remover. It’s a clear gel spot treatment, which is nice – it sinks into the skin instead of rubbing off on your pillowcase (sound familiar?). It can also be worn under makeup, which, again: something the Drying Lotion cannot do.

When I ran out of my second little tube of the Origins treatment, I headed to grab a refill – only to see that it was sold out both online & in store. A Sephora employee redirected me to the Tarte Blemish Bully Acne Spot Treatment – same consistency, same texture, same end results. The formula seems to be essentially the same; I did notice that the Tarte formula contains caffeine, though, which is nice – it aids in depuffing whatever area you’re trying to target. I’ve been using it for about a week now, & have no complaints thus far. It seems to work just as well as the Origins treatment, & you get a little more product for the same amount, too. I’ll see how this one lasts in the long run, but for now…I’m liking it. Side note: the Origins spot treatment is now back in stock on Sephora’s website. 

Sometimes, one product just doesn’t work – if I’m really having a problem blemish (or two) I’ll layer two products: first, a thin layer of the gel spot treatment – in the past, Origins; currently, Tarte. After the gel has dried down, I’ll pat a small amount of Mario Badescu Drying Cream on top. That’s right – cream, not lotion. They are two different products. The Drying Lotion is the one you see most often: the pink sediment at the bottom of a vial of clear liquid. The Drying Cream is a yellow-beige paste that comes in a little jar. Described as “a unique spot treatment featuring sulfur,” the Drying Cream is ideal for under-the-surface bumps as well as good old blemishes. Sulfur & zinc oxide draw out impurities, but ingredients like aloe vera & Vitamin E ensure that you won’t wake up with a painful dry patch of skin where your blemish used to be. This does transfer, so if you wear it overnight, just be aware that some might rub off on your pillowcase. It’s worth it, though – I can’t say that this combo always works overnight, but it comes pretty damn close.

Well – that’s the finale! If you’re new to skincare, I hope I helped you figure things out a little more; maybe you have something to work with now. It can be very overwhelming when starting to be “serious” about skincare or makeup, simply because there are so many products. I can’t say that all of these will work as well for you as they do for me, but I hope I help at least a few of you. What’re some of your holy grail skincare items – whether you’re new or old to the skincare game?

Catch you next time! Let’s talk about face masks next, shall we?


Sofia ❤

#MiniReview: Origins Original Skin™ Mask with Rose Clay

I use this mask so much that I may as well call it my fragrance. I use this mask so much that when I’m travelling, this one’s the first I grab. I use this mask so much that I may as well commit myself for life to this rose-colored bottle – i know we’ll stick together; ’til death do us part.


If you can’t tell by now, I love the Origins Original Skin™ Mask with Rose Clay. I love it a lot. Did I say I love it a lot?

Most of you reading this probably already know how much I rave about this mask. That’s because I include it in pretty much any face mask recommendation list I give someone; it’s because it’s always all over my story – either in the tube…or on my face.

As a whole, I love Origins’ brand. Are all their products good for all skin types? No. But I do know that Origins’ Rose Clay mask is good for all skin types. No…”good” isn’t strong enough a word. Incredible. Amazing. Rule-breaking. Don’t believe me? Check the 5-star (well, NEARLY completely 5-star) reviews from people with cystic acne, people with dry/sensitive skin, people with oily skin, & people who have a good old combination of all of those…& more. It’s amazing for anyone & everyone.

At this point, you may be wondering why the Rose Clay mask is so good – trust me, I’ve been there. I was shocked at the immediate results I saw when I first used it.

Was this a find on the Instagram explore page or a beauty site? Actually…no! I’d seen this mask floating around Sephora for years, but never cared to try it. I only started using this mask after…my own mama showed me her mini size (a Sephora rewards gift) while we were travelling & asked me if I wanted to use it. I said “yes” obviously – I’m never one to turn down a new face mask experience. I didn’t know what to think, hadn’t heard much about it; I just assumed that it would reduce redness, somewhat like the Rosy Cheeksface mask by LUSH – both contain rose clay, but that’s where the difference stops (in my opinion).

Don’t get me wrong, I love Rosy Cheeks…but it has a much shorter shelf life than Origins’ take on rose clay. That right there makes it easier/more convienient. Yes – I love a fresh face mask, but I also can’t finish a jar of face mask in two weeks – 1) I’d be ruining my skin 2) the Origins one is better anyway shhh.

Origins is phasing out this packaging (the new packaging designs are even more gorgeous), but I like the glowy shift this packaging has. Very elegant!

Now that you’re all bouncing in your seats from suspense (I’m sure of that), let’s actually talk about some key ingredients – & how/when I like to use it.

Origins describes this mask as “A two-in-one purifying mask and skin refiner that…will smooth, refine pores, and boost skin’s overall quality.”

Those are a lot of claims…a LOT. Call it placebo, call it real, call it whatever – but the fact remains that this mask has done all of these things for my skin. It’ll keep doing it, too.

Main ingredients?

  • Turkish Rose Clay – this is clearly the most important ingredient – it is part of the product’s name, after all. Rose clay detoxifies, absorbs excess oil & dirt, & calms redness/rosacea/sensitive skin
  • Canadian Willowherb – an anti-bacterial plant; its extract is in here. This adds to the benefits of the Turkish Rose Clay; this detoxifies as well, but it doesn’t strip your skin of moisture, either
  • Persian Silk Tree – anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, & astringent properties. These are all very important; combined, these effects are what gives the mask its heavenly reputation. Again: calms redness, tightens the skin (bye-bye, pores) & keeps the skin looking glowy & fresh
  • Exfoliating Jojoba Beads – not going to lie. I was scared about this. I don’t like “scrubby” things on my face; my skin doesn’t take well to them. I also wondered if a jojoba bead was really just a fancy microbead. I was proven wrong on both these things; first off, the beads are extremely gentle; they melt off your face when it’s time to rinse off. Before they disappear, though, the beads provide just enough friction, leaving behind a gently-buffed, baby-soft face. Oh – & no, jojoba beads are not microbeads (microbeads are bad for the environment & often used in many cleansers, masks, etc.; the brand St. Ives is a good example)
Close-up: ingredients 

Alright! Ingredients down. Now: how do I feel about it? Do I actually recommend it to everyone?

You probably already know the answer; the answer is “YES.” Why?

Well, for one, it lives up to its claims. I love products that live up to my expectations (& the brand’s description); this is a perfect example of one of those special products.

You’d think a clay mask would dry me out, right? Wrong! I will say that I take extra care  to hydrate my skin after doing a clay mask, just in case I get too dry. Still, though – sometimes I forget, & the mask feels just as good & I look just as good afterwards. Though it’s clay, this mask shouldn’t dry you out. & for those with oily skin – double whammy! You get a very effective clay mask that won’t clog your pores. Thanks, Canadian Willowherb.

I expected the mask to smell kind of like the Glossier Milky Jelly Cleanser: a light, rosy scent that wasn’t too powerful. I was way off with that prediction; to me, one of the funniest things about this mask is that althought the main ingredient is rose clay, it doesn’t really smell like roses.

The first thing I think when I take a whiff of the mask is “citrus.” It’s not mentioned as a main ingredient, but look closer, & you’ll find “Grapefruit Peel Extract.” Look a little further down, & you’ll find…lavender. Lavender! One of my favorite scents – & again, not a key ingredient. To me, the mask smells like a combination of citrus & herbs – mainly lavender, which makes sense. It was a funny surprise, but not an unpleasant one.

The color of the mask is a pale pink; it matches the outside packaging almost perfectly. The texture is a bit “grainy” thanks to the jojoba beads, but don’t worry. The beads shouldn’t tear at your skin while applying; you’ll feel a sandy, exfoliating sensation, but nothing harmful. As someone whose skin loathes most physical exfoliants, I can assure you that this one is different – in a good way.

Texture, texture, texture! You can see the jojoba beads very clearly here. To me, they feel much smaller than they look. Either way, they’re very gentle on the skin. Notice the color – almost exactly the color of the packaging

I’ll admit it: sometimes, I leave face masks on for too long. Sometimes I’m lazy, & sometimes I forget it’s on my face. That hasn’t always served me well, but this mask is different. My skin never complains during or after using it, even if I’ve left it on a little too long. Origins says to wear it for 10 minutes; I’ve gone above & beyond that more than once, & I don’t condone it…but personally, I haven’t had any issues with dryness after leaving the mask on for too long.

I do rinse this off with warm water, but I use my FOREO Luna Mini 2 instead of my hands. Sometimes I feel as though my hands can be too harsh on my face when removing makeup or a face mask; the Luna is great because it provides consistent, steady vibrations that deep-clean pores; howver, thanks to the rubber “bristles” getting a micro-abrasion is much less likely…& I’m scared of those. Don’t judge me.

Physical exfoliant? Check. Gentle on my sensitive skin? Double check, gold star, & an A+ to boot

By the time my mask is fully off & my face patted dry, I’ll look up to see glowier, softer, & fresher skin. Effective seconds after removal? I call that “a very good product.” I think you’d agree, too.

It’s suggested to use this 2 times a week. I have other face masks, too, so I don’t always use this one, but it’s something I consistently reach for when I’m at a loss for what to do with my skin. It’s a mask that I have refilled & will continue to refill. It’s the mask I’d take on a road trip…a flight…a scuba dive…why not, right?

I’m on my last leg with this particular tube; you can see my unopened “safety backup” waiting quietly in the corner of the photo

I’ve been getting questions about this product forever. It’s usually: “Is it really that good/is it good for __ skin?” My answer? Yes. Yes, yes, yes.

If you’re still not sure, let me give you one more example of how much I love this:

My skin is always dry, even in the summer…but it suffers horribly in the winter. My face does not like the dry cold wind & low temperatures. During the cold months, I try to avoid clay masks & focus on boosting my skin’s hydration (stay tuned for a post on that soon).

There are only two clay masks I can use without a question during chilly season – one is the Glossier Mega Greens Galaxy Pack. The other is – you guessed it, wow! – Origins’ rose clay mask.

Pricing? I think it’s very reasonable, considering the amount of product you get (3.4 fl. oz) & how well it works.

At the moment, I’m finishing up my second tube of this baby, & already have a squeaky clean new one waiting for me. Like I said…I make sure that this mask is always on hand. I know that no matter what, my skin will feel soft & soothed – & it’ll look brighter, fresher, & happier.


I have nothing bad to say about this mask. 10/10 – & I mean it. So do the 40,000 people who “like” the product on Sephora’s site. Thanks, Mama. I owe it to you for putting me on this mask. I need to start eyeing her top shelf again…just like I did as a kid.

What’re your thoughts on this mask? Is there anyone who doesn’t like it? If so, why not? Feel free to give me your thoughts below. Just go get that mask, first. Immediately.


Sof ❤

The Overnight Spot Treatment Duo That REALLY Works – & Costs $30 Total

Okay. We’ve all been there (there meaning oh my god I have a horrific blemish on my face get this off ASAP). That one blemish that pops up & looks bad, feels bad, & makes you feel bad.

Side note: if you are happy with your skin the way it is, don’t let this post make you feel like you need anything to make your skin different. Just because you have acne does not mean that you can’t look beautiful, be beautiful, & feel beautiful!!

So, it’s 6 p.m., you’re about to take off the day’s face, & you notice a blemish starting to form. & then you’re in a bad mood for the rest of the evening, because you’re thinking of how to fix it, or how much work it’ll take the next day to 1) pretend it’s not there 2) use extra time & energy to make it somehow invisible.

Well, maybe you’re not the “you,” but I am most certainly the “you.” Sometimes I still am – let’s be real, there are some blemishes that only heal with time – but I think I’ve finally found the perfect combo for getting rid of blemishes overnight. Keep in mind: these are spot treatments, not to be used all over your face (like a mask) – if you used them like that your whole face would probably fall off! Tread carefully!

My “magic combo,” as I like to call it, lasts forever (seriously) & will cost you a total of $30 (maybe a little more if you’re ordering online). Maybe that sounds excessive…but I know people who shell out a hell of a lot more on clarifying masks, cleansers, & acids that just end up drying/burning the skin – which in fact causes more blemishes (due to microabrasions that come from skin that’s too tight & dry). If you’re near a mall, you’ll probably be able to pick them both up at the same location. If you’re near an ULTA Beauty? Even better! These two products are mere shelves away.

& so, without further ado, I present: My Magic Combo

Origins Super Spot Remover™️ Acne Treatment Gel – $16

I know…it looks super small. It is super small! But I’ve been using one bottle since mid-April, & I’m not even halfway through it. You only need the tiniest drop for your blemish. I’d “been there, done that” with most spot treatments, but after a few of my friends told me that this one seriously worked, I begrudgingly picked it up – & immediately changed my tune the next morning, once I looked in the mirror. Magic? Sorcery? Witchcraft? I have no idea how Origins did it, but they did THAT.

This gel is a very thin consistency, & it’s transparent – so you could go out in public wearing it, without people looking at you, wondering why you have little pink or white dots on your face! I haven’t tried wearing makeup over it, but since it sinks in like a serum would, I don’t think it would be a problem. Still, it isn’t marketed for wearing it under makeup, so don’t be shocked if it doesn’t. Anyways…if it works as well as it does for me as it does for you, you won’t have to worry about wearing makeup over it. Just dab or tap on a small squeeze of product! It contains salicylic acid (the OG blemish-control ingredient), several various citrus extracts, which help correct post-blemish darkening, & caffeine and red algae – both calming & brightening. Best of all, this cocktail will help control & reduce redness & irritation while it’s on your skin.

Yes – this product works amazingly by itself! I’ve gone many a night wearing just this, & have woken up blemish-free. But if I have a particularly pesky blemish, I layer my next product on top of the Origins gel to ensure that I won’t feel grumpy about my skin the next morning.

Mario Badescu Drying Cream – $14

Nope – not the drying lotion! The drying lotion is a super, super hyped product (I can’t count how many celebrities, skin care gurus, & makeup artists rave about it), but for me…I’ve never been that impressed by its effects. Don’t ask me why! I know people who love it & swear by it. But it doesn’t have the powers of the drying cream, in my opinion.

Mario Badescu has a great blog (check them out!) where they talk about the differences & similarities of all their products, & feature different products every few days. In one of their posts, they explained the difference between their Drying Lotion, Drying Cream, & Buffering Lotion. (Read it here!) But to put it simply: the Drying Cream is for small bumps & blemishes, particularly those that cluster together in one spot. It comes in a pot, not a vial (Drying Lotion comes in a small vial…I’m sure you’ve seen that clear liquid with the pink sediment at the bottom), & is thick, tan, & most definitely a cream texture. Its main ingredients are sulfur & zinc oxide, which draw out impurities & excess oil – but it also contains aloe, vitamins B & E, & several other soothing ingredients. This combo ensures you’ll have clear skin – but clear skin without the dryness, redness, or irritation.

When I layer this over the Origins gel, magic truly does happen. I can conquer any blemish overnight with this duo! My sensitive skin has never complained, which is a miracle in & of itself. No problems, no angry skin – just clear, calm skin the next morning. That makes my mind clear & calm, too.

Of course, I can’t guarantee it won’t let you down, but I’m 99% sure it won’t (& if you have to choose, get the Origins. It’s more multipurpose – & invisible).

I can’t exactly remember what prompted me to layer these products – probably desperation – but I am so glad that I did. I have an unused bottle of Drying Lotion in the back of my skin care shelf, & I think it’ll stay unused. Meanwhile…I have a backup vial of Origins gel in the front, & my Drying Cream is nowhere near running out. This stuff is the real deal.

So – give it a go! Let me know what you think. & if you’ve tried a particular combo (or even better, a single product) that’s your miracle-worker/holy grail, tell me about it! I think I’ve found mine…but there’s no such thing as perfection, right?


Sof ❤