The Best of You: Skin Care 101

Illustrations by Zooey Ingles

You are 70% what you eat, and your appearance directly reflects that. Of course everyone is different, some of you can eat a cow and weigh 90lbs (ahem Xiang) while others gain 3lbs by looking at a cake, but for the majority of you, eating healthy will make you beautiful.

Personally I have given up beef and crustaceans since June 2010 for better skin, and I TRIED to give up chocolate but failed miserably. I am a chronic sufferer of eczema and unfortunately, have been fighting the itch since I was 8. Therefore, giving up certain foods has helped me tremendously in keeping the rashes under control. For many people, eating or avoiding certain foods is the key to battling your particular skin ailment (acne, wrinkles, or itchiness). However, that is a post on its own, today we'll talk about skin care products.

Having the the worst skin of (almost) anyone I know, I have spent more effort than most people on finding suitable products for my skin, lifestyle, and budget. The wrong shampoo can give my face rashes for weeks, the wrong moisturizer can cause my eyelids to bloat up to the point where I can barely lift them, and the wrong cleanser can give me acne. Therefore, I have compiled a list of what I am currently using on a daily basis (affordable and simple) below. I am not recommending these products to you, instead I want to describe my reasoning and selection process. Although I have not tried every product out there, I have tried enough to distinguish the good from the bad.


Olay Regenerist Regenerating Serum: $20
My makeup instructor taught us to pick a good moisturizer by tasting it.... I really don't think my taste-buds can tell what is good for me (chips are delicious), but the idea is that if it is good enough for your skin, it is good enough for you to eat. With this in mind, I use this serum as a face and eye moisturizer, and have not used another eye cream for years (good enough for my face is good enough for my eyes). At my age, I cannot tell whether the anti-oxidant properties of this particular serum have been working their magic but so far, the serum has not had any negative effects. A bonus is that I love the texture and the way my skin feels in the morning after using this product.

Neutrogena Pure & Free Baby Sunblock SPF 60: $9
While I just have bad skin, my cousin is actually allergic to sunblock. Until recently, the only sunblock I've found that did not irritate our skins was DDF Matte Finish Photo-Age Protection. However, devastation came when the product was discontinued in 2009. Thus started a trial run of several sunscreens for sensitive skin since. Now, I exclusively use sunscreens that only have active ingredients of Titanium Dioxide and/or Zinc Oxide. Any other ingredients (i.e. Octinoxate, Octisalate, Octocrylene) are unnecessary and may potentially cause issues. Currently, there are many sunscreen products that use Titanium Dioxide and/or Zinc Oxide as active ingredients (also known as Mineral Sunscreen). With these products I haven't had any problems with break-outs; even if I use sunscreen meant for the body on my face.

Always get sunscreen with UVA + UVB or broad spectrum protection to prevent burns and potential cancer. The SPF value is a multiplier, for example, if you get sun burn within 10 minutes under the sun without sunscreen then applying a sunscreen with the value of SPF 60 will supposedly allow you to be in the sun for 600 minutes (about 10 hours) before you burn. However, during those 600 minutes you tan at the reduced rate. I always burn after a few hours in the sun regardless of sunscreen though.


Listed in order/routine:

Makeup Remover
Grape Seed Oil 80% + Castor Oil 20% Mixture: $6
A few years ago, I was very interested in DIY skincare products, such as Honey + Sugar face scrub, Milk + Jello pore stripes, avocado + olive oil masks, and the list goes on. One of these products were cleansing oils. I thought the idea was great because I tried the Shu Uemura Cleansing Oil before but was not impressed by the product, but, for a fraction of the cost, I bought Grape Seed and Castor Oil. Under this skin regimen, my skin was inconsistently good and for the effort and messiness I did not see a reason to continue experimenting. What I really liked about it however, was its ability to take-off all my make-up. I first started using this mixture to remove my eye and face makeup a few months ago when my Sephora Waterproof Eye Make-Up Remover caused a terrible rash around my eyes. The oil works like a charm and is good for your skin!

Makeup Remover + Facial
CeraVe Cleanser, Hydrating: $14
This product not only cleans well but is non-drying and non-irritating for your skin. Couple this with a towel or Clarisonic Brush and it exfoliates and removes makeup as well. Foaming cleansers tend to dry up my skin and cause breakouts and this effect is far worse for those with oily skin. However, this cleanser does the job. A good trick to feel more refreshed is to mix this with a drop of tea tree oil and your skin will feel brand new. I pick my cleansers based on whether my eyes sting while I use it since stinging means my body is rejecting the product which can't be good in the long run.

Sekkisei Lotion Excellent: $65
In the past, I believed that expensive products are superior so I spent more than I could afford on skincare and makeup. As I tried more products, I realized that there were terrible products that are incredibly pricey and there are inexpensive products that are wonderful. What is true though is that if you are willing to spend the money, it is easier to find a good product. I use this lotion as a toner and so far nothing makes my skin feel as refreshed and moist. Toner is an important step for oil control if your skin tends on oil up and something with Tea Tree Oil will help keep oil under control.

Body Lotion
VaniCream: $15
Vanicream is one of those real heavy creams that you put on sunburns or other rashes to help the healing process. I first learned of this product on an Internet forum thread about acne and have fallen in love with it ever since I got used to the mild medicated scent. I use this product daily as a body lotion and face cream all in one. On days when my skin is extremely bad, I try to not use any other products. This cream is versatile like Vaseline, but this does not make me breakout which is something I can't say for other kinds of cream.

Acne Specific

Tea Tree Oil: $6
I know I have been mentioning tree oil over and over throughout this post but honestly, tea tree oil has been a miracle substance for me. I dab this on my pimples, mix a drop with my toner to control oil, mix this with my lotion to prevent in-grown hair, etc. I first learned of Tea Tree Oil as a product when Kiehl's discontinued their Tea Tree Oil Toner, which I started using when I was 16 and believed it prevented acne, and couldn't get enough of it since.

Clean & Clear Persa-Gel 10: $7
When I have serious acne issues, nothing fights it off faster than a good dose of Benzoyl Peroxide. I have tried several other products and found that, as long as the ingredients have a 5%+ of benzyol peroxide, the effects tend to be the same. Now I just buy the product with the highest dosage of Benzoyl Peroxide. I get rashes from any acne wash on the market and lotions for acne generally leave my skin dry, irritated, and sometimes even with eczema. I am talking about you ProActive. I'd stick with VaniCream and Tea Tree Oil, since they are much more gentle on your skin. Salicylic Acid works great for pimples as well but not so much for serious cases of acne for me.

A little about our friends...

Selina Chen

Selina has very sensitive skin that pretty much reacts to everything: beef, chocolate, shampoo, makeup, etc. But that does not stop her from testing different products trying to find the perfect ones for her skin.

Zooey Ingles

Thriving in graphic design, illustration and other artsy things, Zooey takes pride in finding inspiration wherever she goes. She is currently exploring various creative outlets, such as Pitter Pattern, interning for Reel Grrls, and learning HTML/CSS on the side. Check out her Tumblr!


  1. Thanks so much for sharing this information. I have been looking into a different regimin for my skin. I have found that the Alexandra De Markoff line is the best so far for my skin. Thanks for sharing your findings!

    1. Glad you found this post helpful :D