My (Summer) Morning Routine

If you’re like me, mornings are kind of a mad rush. Between getting two kids washed, dressed, fed, and ready for the day, and hopefully leaving the house with matching shoes and brushed hair (both me AND the kids), I am NOT interested in a lengthy routine in the mornings.

I still need to take care of my skin, though. Living in Southern California, the dry air and sun just zaps the moisture from my skin, and I need to moisturize and protect it from whatever the day will bring. (I just read an InStyle interview with Mindy Kaling, and she says that in LA, “basically every woman looks like a desiccated palm frond. People here age faster.” LOL!)

The first thing I do when I get a minute (while the toddler is eating breakfast and the infant is rolling around on the bathroom floor), is cleanse. I love my beloved Hada Labo Tokyo Hydrating Cleanser, but I wanted something even more gentle for the morning. Since I’m not getting my face dirty in my sleep, I don’t really need a foaming cleanser. I know a lot of people just rinse with water, but I’m not quite ready for that. The solution — a milk cleanser.




I’m currently testing the Missha Super Aqua Fresh Cleansing Milk. I’m enjoying it so far, though it still feels a bit odd not to use a foaming cleanser. I wet my face with water, and then gently massage the milk over my face, before rinsing again with water. I don’t normally like fragrance in products, but the Missha Cleansing Milk has a really nice fresh scent.

It leaves a slight oily film over my face after rinsing, which I thought was weird and offputting at first, but my skin still feels supple after I pat it dry, and it doesn’t feel oily throughout the day. I haven’t broken out yet, so it seems to be working. If you prefer a super clean feeling, it probably isn’t for you, but I’m liking it as a morning cleanser.




After cleansing, I combine the toner and serum steps into one by patting on Aromatica’s Rose Absolute First Serum. This is one of my favorite products. It’s extremely moisturizing and it smells like rose petals, and it’s just so pleasurable to put on.

Then I like to put on Mizon’s All in One Snail Repair Cream. It’s not ALL that moisturizing on its own, but it works really well under other creams. It helps to calm down any redness and irritation, and keep my skin happy throughout the day.

Depending on how dry my skin feels, I’ll then use Aromatica’s Rose Absolute Vital Fluid, concentrating it on my cheeks, which are dry, and using just a tiny bit in the T-zone. If my skin feels adequately hydrated (like if I’ve used a sheet mask the night before), I’ll skip this step, as the Vital Fluid is quite rich. Also, I’ll skip it if I’m really in a rush, because it takes about 10 minutes to fully absorb and dry down (I’m thinking of moving it to my night routine).


chia seed cream


I then massage in The Face Shop’s Chia Seed Moisture Holding Cream. I actually bought this in the fall last year, but at the time, I didn’t have any hydrating serum steps, and it wasn’t moisturizing enough by itself. So I stopped using it and kind of forgot about it until recently when the weather got hotter, and I pulled this back into rotation.




It really is a perfect summer moisturizer. It’s a gel cream that is light but decently moisturizing. Once it absorbs and dries, there is a very slight silicone-y protective layer over your skin that makes a nice base for makeup. The fragrance is light and pleasant — it reminds me of Elizabeth Arden’s Green Tea perfume, if you’ve ever tried it.

Finally, after all the moisturizing, my face is ready for sunscreen.




Sunscreen and I don’t have the best track record. For most of my life, I didn’t wear any. Even when living in a subtropical city in Asia and for much of the time I’ve lived in Southern California. Bad, bad, me! Then when I realized I needed to get on the sunscreen game if I didn’t want to look like a “desiccated palm frond”, most sunscreens, even Asian ones, broke me out, or gave me irritated, dry skin.

I realized that most chemical sunscreens didn’t agree with my skin, but physical sunscreens tended to be drying and thick. Finally, I found two physical-chemical combination sunscreens that work for me, and you can pry them out of my cold dead fingers.




The Biore UV Aqua Rich Whitening Essence SPF50+ PA++++ is on the left, and on the right is the Missha All Around Safe Block Soft Finish Sun Milk SPF50+ PA+++.

I found most Japanese sunscreens to be too drying, but the Biore Whitening Essence (not an affiliate link) is creamier than most (but applies more like a gel cream) and contains hyaluronic acid and glycerin to moisturize your skin. It has a high SPF and the highest UVA protection rating in Japan (PA++++). The main UV filters are zinc oxide (which can be soothing to irritated skin) and octinoxate, a chemical filter that seems to agree with my skin. It has a light citrus scent. This tube contains about 30ml of product.




The Missha Safe Block Soft Finish has a milkier consistency, feels a little more oily as you rub it in, and seems to be a little more moisturizing. It’s also a much larger bottle (70ml) and is a better value. But, it only has a PA+++ rating. Like the Biore, the main filters are zinc oxide and octinoxate (the perfect combination for me, it seems). I like the Missha equally as well as the Biore, but I might reach for the Biore if I know I’m going to be outside, as it has a higher UVA rating. I also carry the Biore around in my purse to reapply during the day.




Both of them give a nice finish with no white cast, and very little shine (hooray!!!).

This summer, I’m choosing to go without base makeup on most days, so after this I just apply some concealer under my eyes and on spots, blush, eyeliner, and that’s it! I want to give my skin a break from makeup and I also want to be able to reapply sunscreen as I need it.

And that’s my summer routine! What’s yours?

(I’m also on Reddit at /r/asianbeauty!)

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