I’m sure a bunch of you have heard about the whole Korean ten-step skincare routine, right? It’s all the rage.
I got interested in the idea myself after reading Charlotte Ko’s Little Book of Skincare: Korean Beauty Secrets, which was super fun. It makes you want to visit Korea and hang out in their saunas.
Plus, their skincare products are just sooo adorable, looking like mixtures of toys, candy, and magical beauty secrets. How can you resist?
The book talks about this elaborate ten step process and I decided to try an abbreviated version. First, you’re supposed to “double cleanse.” This entails washing your face with an oil-based cleanser to break up anything oily on your face then following up with a normal cleanser, to get everything left.
Well, I tried this using my travel-sized Tatcha Camellia Cleansing Oil and following up with the Drunk Elephant Pekee cleansing bar (which is supposed to be mild). Then I rubbed on my usual treatment products and slapped on sunscreen or night cream, depending on whether it was morning or night. I exfoliated a couple times a week with my Clarisonic Mia brush and waited for the magic to unfold.
Everything went great for the first couple of weeks. It felt good to give myself a mini face massage with the oil cleanser before hitting the Pekee Bar and my face felt SUPER clean.
After that, things got problematic.
First, my skin started getting a little irritated. Then I developed a nasty pimple on my chin. Not a little one either, but the kind of cystic zit that feels like a lump under your skin and really HURTS.
Since this hadn’t happened since high school, I thought it was a fluke. Hormones or stress, maybe? But then ANOTHER cystic zit popped up under my nose. What the heck?
Then my face started getting flaky and looking red. People started noticing. About a month into this regime, my mom finally asked me what was wrong with my face. This wasn’t going well.
Micellar Water to the Rescue
I think the Ten Step regime intuitively feels like it *should* work, especially to Americans, because we tend to believe: 1) clean is good, and 2) working harder gives you better results. That just seems fair to us.
We think: Clean –> Healthy –> Beautiful
But growing up, my French relatives and friends seemed to have a different approach. While every bit as obsessed with skincare as we are, they tended to view the body as having a natural equilibrium you don’t want to disrupt. They believe “overcleaning” your skin or hair removes too much oil and throw everything out of balance.
So, tired of my face itching so much, I tried applying the French approach to tackle my angry, flaking skin. I started ONLY using micellar water to clean my skin without following up with a traditional cleanser. I used Bioderma Sensibio H2O micellar water,since it’s the industry standard.
Sometimes I rinsed my face with water afterwards, but only water, then patted on sunscreen, treatment products or moisturizer. That was it.
My skin started rapidly improving. The zits cleared up, I stopped having breakouts, the itchiness stopped, the redness went away, and my skin became much softer. Fine lines even disappeared.
For me, double cleansing was a disaster. My skin absolutely HATED it. Since I’ve used the Tatcha oil and the Pekee Bar separately without these issues, I believe it was the combination of the two that did me in.
It just cleaned my face TOO well, leaving it stripped and irritated.
Now, it’s worth noting that I have sensitive, highly-reactive skin that tends toward dryness. It’s possible that someone with very oily skin could benefit from the double cleanse.
But for me, only using micellar water worked far better. My skin looks healthier than it has in ages. It has only been a couple of weeks, so I’m curious to see if it will keep working this well in the long run.
What about you? Have you tried double cleansing or only using micellar water for a cleanser?