My Lazy-Day Skincare Routine

I’m always touting the importance of sticking to a skincare regime, and I maintain that consistency is the best way to see results. But what about those days when we get home late, or realize after a marathon Netflix or video game sesh that it’s the middle of the night and we really just need to go to bed?

Fear not, Fledglings, for I’ve been there. Sometimes you’re just tired. I have a kid on the way, so I’m even more tired at the moment, and going to be so-much-even-more-tired in the months to come. So what should I do? Should I let my skincare go? I don’t want to do that, it’s my favorite act of self-care! I always feel better prepared for the day and more relaxed if I’ve taken care of my skin. No, what I did was to find a few time-savers, and to pare down my nighttime routine to something simple and effective, for those nights when falling asleep needs to happen sooner rather than later, but I still want to look refreshed in the morning.

  1. Philosophy Purity Made Simple Cleansing Cloths – I found these at the Base Exchange the other day, having run out of my go-to Burt’s Bees cloths that I’d brought from the States. There’s something about using water to wash my face that seems to take forever-and-a-half. I can’t figure it out, but taking out one of these cloths and wiping my face and neck down really well seems so much quicker and easier. They cleanse well, and the cloth is just textured enough to exfoliate a little, but my skin doesn’t feel stripped or tight afterward. If I was really out of it, I could use one of these and fall into bed.
  2. Eye Cream or Stick – While we can skip a lot of the serums and masks and things for a night or two and be fine, cleansing and moisturizing pretty much need to happen daily, and especially at night. Under-eye moisturizer can help you look better-rested the next day, and since your skin does most of its self-repair each night, it’s good to treat it a little before you crash out. To that end, I like an under-eye stick for easy application. A couple of swipes to each eye, and I’m done! A good eye cream can help reduce puffiness, something I’m very prone to if I didn’t sleep well (or enough) the night before.
  3. May Coop Raw Moisturizer – Whether or not I apply a good coat of moisturizer at night can make or break my morning skin, I’ve found. So before I head off to bed, I always make sure to swipe on a good amount of seasonally-appropriate moisturizer. I use Raw Moisturizer in fall and winter, because my skin gets drier, and we’ll have to see how German spring and summer do for my skin as far as my moisture needs. Back in Texas, I was enamored with Tatcha’s Water Cream. It was a deep moisturizer that didn’t ‘cling’ to my skin so much that it caused breakouts or a greasy feeling. If you’re prone to oily skin or breakouts, this is a good overnight moisturizer. If your skin leans more toward the combination side, Raw Moisturizer is a lovely middle ground.
  4. Dry Shampoo – Oh yeah, some nights I’m too tired to even shower. But my roots will tell on me the next day if I don’t do something about it. I have dark hair, and I’ve found that the trick to using dry shampoo effectively is to put it on at night, and then by morning the white, chalky residue it leaves behind has gone away, due to it having longer to absorb the oils in my hair. If I put it on in the morning, I look like I’ve aged twenty years, because I’m suddenly gray at the temples – not a bad look, but also not what I’m going for.  This loose powder is my current fave, because it leaves much less white residue than the spray-on variety in the first place. While I don’t normally brush my hair in the morning, because frizz, I will do so when I’ve got dry shampoo in, to redistribute it and the oils in my hair. If I do get frizzy, I use a little bit of Lush’s Sunny Day anti-frizz spray to calm it down and make my hair smell nice.

For my face and my hair, those four steps take maybe 5 minutes, tops, and I can brush my teeth, then scamper off and get some much-needed sleep, secure in the knowledge that I won’t have much damage control to do in the mornings. Obviously, if you wear makeup, you’ll need to take care to remove your makeup and cleanse properly before heading to bed – nothing wrecks your skin faster than sleeping with makeup on. But if you’re like me and only do that once in a while, this routine is good for those nights when you just can’t be bothered, so that you can get to bed sooner, but still feel good about caring for your skin properly.

See you in a couple weeks with some more product reviews and skincare tips. Sleep well, Fledglings! Leave a comment to tell me your favorite lazy-day skincare product.

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New Country, New Skin: How my Skincare Routine has Changed in Germany

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As I’ve mentioned before, I recently moved to Germany from Texas. One of the things I didn’t expect to change was my skin, but change it did! Between the cold winter air and the different mineral content in the water supply, I’m finding my skin and hair to be much, much drier than it was back in Texas, where I was basically just a big grease-ball all the time.

Obviously, the combination/oily skincare routine I’d worked out in the states was no longer going to cut it here. To add to the confusion, I had to cancel my PinkSeoul box (*cries*) due to budgetary constraints and the extended time it would take to ship. I may pick it back up again – I’d really like to – but when you move to another country, it’s expensive. Cutting costs is pretty much unavoidable. On the bright side, now I get to explore German skincare, and(!) Etude House ships to Germany! When one door closes, another opens.

But while I wait to explore all the new skincare options open to me, what to do about my newly-dry skin? Here are the products that have saved me so far:

  • Tatcha Classic Rice Enzyme Powder – Did you think I was giving up on Tatcha? No, their stuff is still my absolute favorite. Although I had stellar results with the Deep Polish Rice Enzyme Powder, it was actually too harsh after the move. I noticed my skin feeling pretty dry and getting redder than usual, so once I finished that bottle, I went back to the Classic for something that would still help me exfoliate, but was a little more gentle. Turns out, my skin still suffers from a bit of dullness, and the regular exfoliation of a rice cleanser really does help, but I didn’t need the fine-grit polish of the cleanser made for oily skin anymore.
  • May Coop Raw Sauce and Raw Moisturizer – May Coop products were my ‘sometimes’ items back in Texas, as their line is slightly more moisturizing than what I needed most of the year. Normally the Raw Moisturizer was my night cream in the winter, and the Raw Sauce was an as-needed product if my skin felt a little dry in the mornings. Now the Raw Moisturizer is an every-night affair (and I use a lot more), and the Raw Sauce is my go-to toner and skin prep for underneath makeup and before masking. Tatcha cleanser doesn’t require a toner afterwards, but the toner/essence combo of the Raw Sauce makes for a good layer of light moisture for daytime if it feels like my sunscreen isn’t going to provide the hydration I need that day.
  • Goodal Dewy Flower Face Mist – Since I can’t really predict how dry my skin is going to feel on a given day, this face mist has been a lifesaver. It’s very light, so I can use it as often as I need to, the packaging doesn’t leak, and it smells just heavenly. Whenever my skin is feeling tight or itchy, I give it a few sprays with this mist and it immediately feels better, without leaving any kind of film or oil behind.

It’s taken a bit of trial and error, and I am still looking for other products that work for my skin, but I’ve struck a good balance so far. I’m going to do a separate post about my new hair care routine, so keep an eye out for that!

Happy Holidays, Fledglings!

Product Review: Elizavecca Hell Pore Control Serum

If there was a time before I had large, noticeable pores, I don’t remember it. At this point I’ve probably spent most of my life trying to shrink the pores on my nose, cheeks, and chin, or at least make them less painfully obvious.

For the most part, the size of your pores is genetic, like the size of any other body part. So for those of us with big pores, our best option is to tighten up the skin around said pores, and to keep those pores as clean as possible, so that debris and oil buildup doesn’t make them even more noticeable. To that end, I am once again thankful to K-Beauty for providing me with products that do the things I thought were impossible.

Elizavecca Hell Pore Control serum comes in an adorable glass bottle with a dropper, so you can feel like a witch or a mad scientist while you treat your face. It’s even got a little piggy stirring a cauldron on the bottle. It’s unscented, or at least so faintly-scented I couldn’t tell you what it actually smells like. I use it at night after my cleansing step and before moisturizing. It’s not a toner, so if you need to use a toner, you should cleanse, tone, put on this serum, then moisturize. If you’re doing a mask, sheet or otherwise, you’d cleanse/tone/mask/serum/moisturize.

What I love about this serum is how quickly and completely it absorbs. As oily as my skin is, I don’t need anything leaving residue behind – I need it to soak in and be gone. This serum delivers that. Its focus is on tightening skin and reducing pore size, so it’s not moisturizing at ALL. If it happens to dry you out, you may want to switch to a thicker moisturizer for nighttime while you finish the serum. For me, it didn’t have any effect as far as drying out my skin, but remember that mine is very oily and congested to start with. Adjust your expectations accordingly.

Not only does this serum appear to keep my pores nice and clear and subtle, but it also tackles quite a bit of the redness I have on my cheeks and chin. When I stop using it for a while, I’ll notice my redness start to creep back up, starting at my chin and moving up from there. It’s a big bottle, and you only need a few drops for your whole face, so I’ve stopped and started with this a few times and had good results every time I’ve restarted.

If you have big pore problems, this is absolutely a product to try. It’s not too expensive, it lasts for ages, and it started giving me results after less than a week of once-a-day use. Also, because we all know this is a big reason I use K-Beauty – it’s got an adorable name and a drawing of an adorable animal on the bottle. Better pores and cute packaging – can we go wrong here? It’s like this serum was made for my skin.

Have you tried it before, or anything else by Elizavecca? Let me know in comments how you liked it!

Bonus Post: I Got to Ride in a Military Plane

My long-time readers will have seen other posts about my adventures in military-spouse life. It’s hard a lot of the time, but sometimes it’s really, really cool, and today was one of those days.

I completed a class/networking event on the base we’re at called HeartLink, and as a reward for attending, I got the opportunity to go for a ride in a C-130 military cargo plane. How could I possibly say no to that?

We met at the Airlift Squadron’s office (it’s probably called something else; if you’re here for exacting military jargon you are sadly mistaken; I do my best but that’s about it), and I settled into a conference room with a taxidermied giraffe in it.

“Holy crap, that’s a giraffe!” I said as I sat down.

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Oh, did you think I was joking?
“Oh yeah, that’s Limpopo,” remarked the man in the flight suit who was setting up the projector. “The last time I saw him was at a base in Texas.”

“So he’s…a traveling…giraffe?”

“Yep. It was cool to see him here.”

I was truly down the rabbit-hole now. Or, giraffe hole. Giraffes don’t dig holes. Moving on.

The rest of the spouses going on the flight filtered in, and we were treated to a briefing about all the cool stuff the squadron does, how all the other units (that our spouses are in) help this squadron and others out, and someone very important told us, “When they open the back hatch, do not unbuckle.”

We all exchanged a look. We’re opening hatches on this flight?

The Base Commander’s wife got up and told us, with a very loud, high-pitched laugh, that she wasn’t on the list to go with us on the flight, and that she ‘had an opportunity to fly back in spring, so ENJOY! HAHAHAHAHAHA.’

Oh lordt.

We bid farewell to Limpopo and headed out to the flightline, where there was a big fat plane waiting for us.

See? It’s just ponderous.

We got to walk all around it (although not under the propellers, as apparently those might turn on their own without notice…), and then we went around to the aforementioned back hatch for a safety briefing, I assumed to make sure none of us broke this very expensive aircraft or our necks.

The Load Master giving us the safety briefing pulled out a green pouch and said, “If we happen to need oxygen, it’s not like on a commercial flight. You’re going to open this green pouch, pull out this plastic bag, and put it over your head.

“Um, I’ve heard that’s the opposite of what I want to do if I’m trying to breathe.”

“It sounds counterintuitive, but oxygen will start flowing as soon as you open it up, so don’t worry.”

“…what if it doesn’t???” One nervous lady asked.

“Oh, we’ll notice, and we’ll be right on top of you getting it fixed. I PROMISE, we’re not gonna let anyone die on this flight.”

I looked around at the crowd and noticed that we had a pretty even mix of ‘reassured’ and ‘what have we gotten ourselves into’ going on. But the dudes in the flight suits just look so darned trustworthy! They’ve all got these big cheese-eating grins, and they shake your hand with their gigantic bear-paw-looking ones and say ‘Hi I’m Chad,’ and ‘I promise we won’t let you die on this flight,’ and you kinda have to feel better, because clearly the guys working the airplane are not nervous – so why should we feel that way?

So we got onto the plane and settled into some seats lined with red canvas, our backs resting against more red canvas in the form of cargo netting.

“How do I work this seat belt?” One lady asked.

“Oh, if it the buckle doesn’t work, just tie it in a knot,” said one of the crew members, laughing at his own joke. He went on to show her how it connected, saying, “We’ve transported Army guys before, and they couldn’t work the seat belt, so they just -” [makes whooshing noise while gesturing as if tying a knot] “- tied the thing together and said, ‘Yeah, I’m good!'”

They gave us presents for the flight (a pair of earplugs and a barf bag), and one of the guys passed out gum and mints to help our ears pop. Honestly, I’ve gotten worse service on Spirit Air; these guys are pretty good.

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I like how it tells us not to be embarrassed if we need to hurl.
Just like on a commercial flight, we waited a while before we took off. Unlike a commercial flight, we actually got to see the crew running around and doing stuff while we waited.

After a bit, the propellers started turning, and we all put in our earplugs. Trust me, they were necessary – a C-130 is a very, very loud plane, and there’s no sound insulation on the inside, so we heard the full effect of those gigantic engines.

We started to taxi out to the runway, and someone opened the back hatch. This type of plane has a gigantic opening on the tail, to put in cargo and people and whatever. So they opened it partway, and one of the load masters laid down on his stomach with his head hanging out of the plane.

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“Wait,” I asked my friend. “Is he…helping the plane back up???”

“I guess these things don’t come with backup cameras,” my friend chuckled.

Sure enough, the guy hanging off the back of the plane was talking on his headset and gesturing occasionally, helping guide the plane through backing up so it could get turned around properly. Later on, my husband would confirm that not only was that guy telling the pilot where he needed to go to back up, but there were probably people standing on the ground helping with this process too. Considering the sheer size of the plane, it must feel like you’re having to parallel park a double-wide trailer. A multi-million-dollar double-wide trailer. No pressure.

But they managed it with pinpoint precision, and in a few minutes the engines got even louder, and we took off over the base and into the Germany countryside.

You guys.

It was so beautiful.

We flew really low, so we could see all the gorgeous scenery. Bridges, foggy valleys, forests all turning orange for fall, little farmhouses tucked into their little fields – we saw all of it through the windows, and it was absolutely stunning. Once we got off the ground, the crew let us unbuckle and walk around the plane. Over the roar, we could ask them questions about the plane, their jobs, etc.

We got to see the cockpit:

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Man, that’s a lot of buttons.
And then they had us sit down and buckle up again. A couple of dudes put on helmets with big goggles, and one guy strapped himself into a jump seat that was bolted to the wall of the plane near the back.

And then they opened the hatch.

WHAT.

They literally opened up the back of the plane while we were flying! It was so cool! And also terrifying, because the two guys wearing helmets were just standing back there (with cables hooking them to the plane) like they were not 1,500 feet over Germany right then. One of them came around and took the phones of those of us who offered them, and zipped them into the pockets of his flight suit before returning to the open hatch to take pics for us. Despite the terrifying mental image of all our phones streaming out over Rheinland-Pfalz like so many Luftballoons, it was SO COOL that they were taking pictures for us, mainly because that meant I didn’t have to be near the car-sized opening on the back of a plane that was in the air at the time.

Both guys sat down on the back hatch like they were chilling out at a tailgate party, knees pulled up and facing the open sky. We all watched them in awe; they handled it like they do this every day…which they probably do. These guys are cool AF.

 

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Pictured: Cool AF.
None of our phones left the plane without us, and as they passed them back to their owners, one of the crew came around with a case of ginger ale for anyone who wanted it. A few people did, but I didn’t see any barf bags come out, so hooray for us.

As we were getting ready to land, the pilot did make several sharp turns to get us facing the right way, which is the one part of the flight that was actually a little scary. For a big giant hippo-plane, that thing could turn, and turn it did. The ground and sky dipped in and out of the windows, I grabbed onto the cargo netting, and we all wondered if the pilot just thought the flight had gone a little too smoothly for us.

The landing was excellent, and we all thanked the crew and wobbled our way off the plane. Oh yeah, apparently walking around on a plane like that makes you feel a little drunk when you get onto solid ground again, so that’s fun.

Am I glad I did that? Oh. Hells. Yes. That was a once-in-a-lifetime trip, and I am so glad that I took the opportunity. If you get the chance to do something awesome, you don’t sit around and risk it passing you by – you jump at that, and you get on that plane, and you hold onto the cargo netting and pray you don’t barf or have to stick your head in a plastic bag that allegedly helps you breathe.

Being a military spouse is really hard sometimes. But other times, it is a truly epic adventure that I’m continually grateful for.

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Product Review: Leaders Insolution Vita Brightening Renewal Mask

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The thing about acne-prone skin is that sometimes you have to cause a breakout to prevent a worse breakout, or a less-expected one. Inevitably, when you do a treatment that’s meant to improve acne, it gets a little worse before it gets better. Why? I’m not entirely sure, though I’m guessing the dermatologists of the world have a good explanation. My best guess is that all that oil and inflamed skin is just hiding under the surface, and when you do anything to get your skin cells to turn over more quickly, it all comes to the top and you get a breakout. Again, definitely not a dermatologist. You should ask one of them why this happens.

This Leaders Insolution mask came in my final PinkSeoul box before I moved to Germany, and I was saving it for a special occasion. It’s not that I can’t get my subscription boxes here, but it would take a LOT longer for them to ship, and also I now have access to the Etude House website, which ships to Europe but not the US! I plan on spending my skin care money there and on Lush.de, for at least a little while.

The ‘special occasion’ I picked to use this mask was ‘I wanted a nice, hot bath and a sheet mask.’ I didn’t say it had to be really special. The fact that I have a decent-sized bath tub is occasion enough for me.

I really liked the fit of this mask. It stuck right to my face and didn’t slip or try to peel off at all. There’s something satisfying about the masks that turn really translucent and just adhere to my skin; it’s weirdly satisfying. The mask felt great while it was on, no weird tingling like I’d expect from something with a load of vitamin C in it.

When I took it off, I realized that I probably wouldn’t need to do any other moisturizing that night! The leftover essence was coating my skin so thoroughly that I could tell it was going to take forever to soak in, so I skipped my night cream and just patted the essence in as best I could. It felt a little heavy on my skin, but I went to bed and told myself I’d wash extra thoroughly the next morning.

Surprisingly enough, I actually did get up and wash my face really well! I’m just not good at it in the mornings, guys, we all have our flaws. My face felt fine the next day, not overly-moisturized, and not tight or dry. However, I did notice that my persistent chin acne had been drawn out by the mask. Ugh. It almost looked like I’d gotten a milder version of a skin peel, so whatever was being covered up by my top layer of skin was now exposed and needing attention.

Like I said, sometimes if I use a product ‘for blemishes,’ it causes a breakout that I then have to treat. But if I look at my skin under just the right lighting, I can see that those problem spots are already there – they’re just deep under the surface. Sometimes it’s good to draw them out so I can treat them effectively, rather than pretending they’re not there until something weird happens and I get a breakout unexpectedly. It seems counterintuitive, causing a breakout just so you can treat it, but remember that your skin is more than just the surface part that people see every day, and if you want to keep your skin healthy, you have to treat the stuff way deep down too. The vitamin C in this mask did a great job of removing some dead skin cells (a constant problem for me), and revealing the skin beneath that needed some TLC. It couldn’t have gotten said TLC if it was still covered up by all that dead skin. I’ll call this one a win.

Would I buy the Leaders Insolution mask again? I certainly wouldn’t kick it out of the bathroom if one showed up. At $5 each, it’s a mid-range mask, so I could see picking up a few of their products as a treat for myself. It’s a great mask for clarifying skin, but I would mentally prepare myself for a possible breakout if I were you – you might not know what’s going on down on those lower skin layers until they’re pulled back. But once you know, you can treat it! Here’s to better, healthier skin.

Product Review: Tatcha’s The Essence

You knew I’d be back with more Tatcha stuff, right? Of course you did!

Full disclosure: I’m not working for Tatcha, but when I did my last write-up about their products, Vicki was kind enough to send me a box of skin care gear. So this review, and a couple of future ones, are from products I got in that box. I’m so grateful to Vicki for her generosity, and for taking the time to read my blog!

We all love a good essence, right? Light moisture, preps your skin for treatments, and a lot of them have cool botanical ingredients that soothe, refine, or clarify your skin. If you love Asian beauty, you know that essence is an indispensable step in your skin care routine.

And Tatcha knows this too, which is why they developed The Essence. I got a travel-sized bottle in my gift box from them, and get this: it lasted me at least two months.

Two MONTHS from a travel size! This is the thing about Tatcha: their products are expensive, but you use so little at a time that they last for ages. And their full-sized essence is enormous, so it might last you the better part of a year.

The high points: The Essence has a very mild scent, almost imperceptible, so once again this is a good product if you don’t want to smell perfumey all day. It also absorbs COMPLETELY. A lot of essences I’ve tried seem to just sit on top of my skin, or take forever to finally soak in, but The Essence really absorbs well, and it doesn’t leave behind any kind of film or oily feeling.

Here’s the thing, though: if you’re already using the full Tatcha system, like I am…I don’t know that you *need* to add The Essence to your lineup. I just didn’t notice any additional changes in my skin from using it. Yes, if my skin was feeling a little tight in the mornings, putting it on under my sunscreen helped me feel more balanced throughout the day. But as far as tackling my acne, redness, or clogged pores? It didn’t do a lot that the Dual Cleanse wasn’t already doing.

Now, if you have super dry skin, you may well feel differently about this product (and let me know if you do). It also claims to have great anti-aging properties, but again, that’s not where my skin is at right now. But Tatcha’s product line is so carefully balanced, I wasn’t really needing to use an essence every day if I was already using the Tatcha cleansers and moisturizer. My acne was already clearing up, and it didn’t get worse when I ran out of The Essence, because I was still using the cleansing duo.

So do you need to run out and buy this right now? Personally, much as I love all things Tatcha, I wouldn’t call this product ‘essential.’ I would say that if you need a new essence, it absorbs well and is very lightly moisturizing, so it will certainly do the job without competing with your sunscreen or makeup. It would be an excellent complement to a winter skin regimen for those Fledglings who suffer from dryness when it gets cold out. But for me? The rest of the Tatcha line was already doing a fantastic job for my skin, so I didn’t feel the need to add to it, even with another product from the same line.

Right, I’m off to Oktoberfest! I’ll have a sheet mask review for you weekend after next, so be on the lookout for that one. Tschüss!

Product Review: Skin Food Wash-Off Rice Mask

Hallo from Germany, Fledglings! That’s right, my husband, dogs, and I have relocated to Deutschland for his work, and I fully intend to continue the blog from here – hopefully with some excellent French and German skin products to review for you, in addition to my K-beauty first love. If the posting time is a little different, sorry about that; I’ll do my best to adjust for the time difference and still get a blog to you every other week for your Saturday-morning reading enjoyment.

Okay, housekeeping done! Let’s talk about this mask, because it needs discussing. Most Asian beauty aficionados know about the Skin Food brand, but I’d never tried their products. I was worried this one would be too mild to have an impact on my skin – or worse, too rich and cause a breakout.

When you open the jar, the mask is kind of the consistency of rice porridge that’s been in the fridge. ‘Cool,’ I thought, ‘I’ve heard rice is good for the skin.’ It is a little bit funky in the texture department once you put it on your hands, not gonna lie. It’s not gritty like an exfoliating mask, but it’s definitely not smooth either. Again, think porridge, and you’ve got a good idea of how it feels.

The smell is really mild, which is fitting for something as simple and nourishing as a rice mask. I have to wonder why K-beauty products are either ‘mostly unscented’ or ‘holy crap my face is perfume.’ There doesn’t seem to be a middle ground here. This mask is definitely one of the ‘mostly unscented’ ones, which I love.

So, how’d it work? I know that’s why you’re here, but I’ve strung you along with consistency descriptions. Bad Bird.

Short answer: it’s like a hug for your face in a jar.

Longer, less-weird answer: this is the most soothing mask I’ve ever used, and y’all know I love to mask. Since it’s a wash-off, I use it in the shower, after my cleansers. Rinse my face, smear on a generous layer, then leave it to sit as I finish my shower. It has a little bit of an exfoliating property, but mostly it’s been great for calming and soothing my summer/travel-stressed skin. After I dry off and finish my skin routine, my face feels cooler and less inflamed. It even calms down some of the redness I have issues with on occasion.

Pro Tip: put the Skin Food mask on your neck as well. You should put all your normal skin products on your neck as well as your face, but this one feels especially nice.

I would absolutely buy this again, especially in the summer. If your skin, like mine, just needs to calm the heck down sometimes, this is a good way to achieve that. It would be great for almost any skin type, and it fits really nicely into a simple or complex skincare regimen. Definitely add the Skin Food Wash-Off Rice Mask to your beauty shopping list.