Skincare Anonymous: A 13-Step Plan / by Vanessa Fiola

**The next 18 days I'll be posting 500 words a day as part of a creative writing challenge. You can join the FB group here.**

For the last month I have been subscribing to the Korean method of skincare. It is not for the faint of heart. The routine is anywhere from eight to thirteen steps in a specific order twice daily. It’s like Catholic for your face.

I heard about it from a friend and had read about the process for a while on Refinery 29 and other sites where professional neurotics go to hang out. Eventually I decided to try it. I mean, every Korean I know looks twelve, unless they are actually twelve, and then they just look embryonic. 

Here’s an overview, as best I understand it:

Before any products are applied, it’s critical to remember that whatever you are putting on your face be done with great care and delicacy. Never, ever, ever scrub, pull or prod. This rule alone is how you know a white person didn’t invent it.

1. Start with facial cleansing. The Koreans suggest two rounds; first wash with an oil-based cleanser. If you are not used to oil cleansers, you never will be. It’s weird.

2. Then, a second cleanser. Not sure why.

3. Once the skin is clean, apply toner. This is to lay the foundation so that your skin can absorb all the serums and moisturizers you’re about to ply it with.

4. Next is what’s called an essence. I believe is shorthand for “essence of $45.” It’s like water in a bottle and it goes fast. THAT JOKE DOESN’T EVEN WORK. Apparently it’s supposed to do the same thing toner is, so it may be a ruse.

5.This one is optional. (Hahaha they're ALL optional.) Either go straight into the serum sections or put on one of those Jason Voorhees-looking skin masks which are all over Insta. This is left on for thirty minutes so I usually do this only at night.

6 - 9. These middle steps are for serums. Each serum has its own purpose (e.g. collagen, acne, ph balancing...) and each are applied when the previous one has dried. This part is a total pain in the ass and my least favorite because of the time commitment. Sometimes when I'm short on time I only apply one.

10. Eye cream. Obviously.

Hang in there.

11. Next is facial moisturizer.

Getting close.

12. The penultimate step is BB or CC cream. Everyone things these are the most amazing things, but I didn’t see the same pandemonium for tinted moisturizers so I’m not sure what is such a big deal.

13. Finally, an atomizer or some other spritzer which “sets” everything.

It’s a lot of work, but it also feels really luxurious. Taking the time to go through each of the steps is a tiny victory in my resolution towards relentless self-care. One of my friends asked if I think it’s all worth it. Well, I can report that my skin has never been as smooth and clear. Unfortunately, the thing the Korean skincare routine doesn’t include are genetics. Without those, it’s probably only marginally effective.