Clean Skincare Fixed My Fatigued Quarantine Skin
A much-needed overhaul, care of Seek Space’s recommendations and clean beauty roster
“My skincare just stopped working for me.”
When you hear a line like that, as a beauty geek-in-grooming, you can’t help but listen and press on. Such was the direction of a conversation I had a few years ago with a friend in the lobby of a makeshift showroom. My teammate and I had popped in to see what remained of a sample sale, discussing our latest skincare acquisitions before heading out. At the time, mine was the iconic French chemical exfoliator everyone is still talking about. Meanwhile, her skin story ended with her ditching a tried and tested routine. After years of love, it simply stopped having the magic it once had.
Like every relationship, the fervid flame of skincare romances can fizzle out. Our skin changes with the weather, with time, with this brutal round-the-clock work-from-home madness. It can outgrow even the most carefully crafted regimen. Whether your skincare squabble manifests in a temporary rough patch or ends with a bad break-up, it seems no routine is forever.
This is precisely when a skincare reset proves necessary.
My reset came in the form of Seek Space recommendations. A retail, community and learning platform, Seek Space was created where a specific thirst for skincare thrived. “There seemed to be a lack of a middle ground, where drugstore skincare was full of sulfates, alcohols, fragrance and coloring, while high end skincare was beyond our budget but still full of irritating essential oils, alcohol, coloring fragrance, just in expensive packaging,” reads their online bio. Skincare enthusiasts recognize the struggle. What is Seek Space if not this need persevering?
Seek Space’s answer: a roster of brands that reflect their promise of clean beauty, made accessible to the local market. They’re the official Philippine distributor of Isntree, a frontrunner in the clean K-beauty movement, but their brand list spans far beyond. They’ve got brands like Axis-Y, iUNIK and Glow Monster, but also rarer labels like Beauty of Joseon, Ettang and Sevendrops.
With a total of twelve brands on board, it’s easy to feel like a kid lost in a department store when navigating through Seek Space’s website. This is where their tailored recommendations come in. A much-needed compass, Seek Space helps customers navigate their product lines (and then follows up with informative newsletters post-purchase).
My skin concerns when Seek Space got in touch were the epitome of combination/oily problems. Imagine dry, flaky patches on my cheeks and forehead, but excess oiliness elsewhere. My skin, which had always been manageable, was at a crossroads. I was eager to get a second opinion.
Not long after sharing my skin concerns, my prescription came in the mail. For a month, I took the Clear Skin BHA Toner from Isntree, Mugwort Pore Clarifying Wash Off Pack and Cera-Heart My Type Duo Cream from Axis-Y for a spin.
I’ll get right into it. Yes, I saw changes. Yes, my skin improved. And yes, the large pores unclogged and red bumps cleared up in a month’s time. My skin feels healthy, renewed, like a year of lockdown had nothing on me.
Here’s how each product helped me get results in a month.
Clear Skin BHA Toner, Isntree
Superstar Ingredients: 1% BHA, Centella Asiatica Extract for healing, Portulaca Oleracea Extract and Aloe Vera Leaf Juice Powder for soothing, Sodium Hyaluronate and Panthenol for hydration
Price: P1200, currently on sale for P799
Toners are often written off as a non-essential in skincare, but it’s become one of my non-negotiables. I take pleasure in resetting my skin post-cleanse, prepping it to soak up the rest of the product I’ll be layering on. For skincare newbies who can’t figure out where to insert a tricky new ingredient, the toner step also affords that sweet spot.
Isntree’s Clear Skin BHA Toner was my reunion with salicylic acid, an ingredient my skin had come to hate for a time. I grew up with the idea that oily skin was the enemy in humidity. Sebum-busting salicylic cleansers were once the foothold of my teenage regimen—at least until I unlearned that kind of thinking. Lately, I’ve been finding comfort in moisture and hydration. I treat my skin right instead of stripping it dry. But this toner, mild and easy, has helped me tap back into my love for BHA. Only now, it’s wiser and gentler.
The result of me and BHA’s rekindled love affair: clearer pores, reduced inflammation and zero flaking. This toner is gentle enough for nightly use. However, for those flirting with salicylic acid for the first time, I recommend introducing it gradually.
The Verdict: 5/5
Mugwort Pore Clarifying Wash Off Pack, Axis-Y
Superstar Ingredients: Korean Mugwort Extract for calming, Kaolin and Bentonite sebum and pore care, Sodium Hyaluronate and Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid for hydration
Price: P1200, currently on sale for P849
Axis-Y’s Mugwort Pore Clarifying Wash Off Pack is a fan favorite, often appearing on the Seek Space ‘gram alongside positive reviews. The hype comes with good reason. This clarifying mask is proof that wash-off clay masks have evolved the drying, soul-suckers they used to be. Instead, it effectively eradicates redness and flakiness with nourishing and hydrating ingredients.
Washing this mask off renews me. It works wonders on the skin’s stress symptoms (dehydration, dullness, enlarged pores, dead skin) and reminds me that under all of that, I am still that gal. Granted, this is easily my favorite of the three products I test drove. It’s best used once or twice a week, but I admit it’s tempting not to slather my face in it at the end of every bad day.
The Verdict: 5/5
Cera-Heart My Type Duo Cream, Axis-Y
Superstar Ingredients: Sodium Hyaluronate for hydration and Centella Asiatica extract for healing, Jojoba Seed Oil and Ceramide NP for barrier care
Price: P1400, currently on sale for P999
Combination skin types and humid weather are a difficult equation to crack. Under these circumstances, my T-zone (forehead and nose) and U-zone (cheeks and chin) have the propensity to act like they do not know each other, as if they aren’t parts of the same shared face. It’s a problem I’ve learned to treat by alternating between moisturizers or using two kinds at once.
I take comfort in the fact that Axis-Y’s Cera-Heart My Type Duo Cream was crafted with people like me in mind. It combines a lightweight gel moisturizer for the oily T-zone and a richer, ceramide-infused cream for the dry U-zone. A double dose of moisture in one convenient, generously-sized jar. My only gripe: both moisturizers have the tendency to dry on slightly sticky, so they’re best applied in thin layers.
I’ve taken a liking to this duo cream because of the simplicity it provides. Less product to carry, less to spend on. If not for my hereditary eczema, this would have been the glass slipper to fit my skin concerns. Regardless, this two-sided moisturizer now tops my recommendations for combination/oily-skinned guys and gals.
The Verdict: 4/5
Art Matthew Ian Fetalver