Who does not love smooth, radiant, supple, and baby-butt soft skin days?

Paula’s Choice has a great post talking about the effectiveness of one’s skincare routine. So besides genetics and diet, there is a lot to do with your current skincare routine. An essential routine consists of a cleanser, a leave-on exfoliant, and a moisturizer. Do you already have the 3 good products in those 3 categories? And do you always use SPF in the morning?

If your answers are yes and yes, then this post is for you! In this post, I am sharing with you my 5 top favorite products that have been helping me on days when my skin feels congested, dull, and textured.

It is true when they say that fast-acting, miracle ingredient, and instant results are all just false advertising claims. You will not hear me talking about those types of products ever on my blog or IG because I never try to take away or change anything drastically to my skin. I think change should be gradual and slow, and our skin is smart! Our body can heal internally, and that is the cheapest skincare of all.

1. Krave Beauty Kale-Lalu-AHA

This is the best product in the entire range of Krave Beauty brand, and I’ve reviewed it HERE.

For $25, it is such a great buy for the amount of product and its effectiveness.

It stings a little bit at first, but my skin gets used to it very quickly. I use it twice a week or less often depending on what my skin feels like that particular day. My favorite way to use this leave-on exfoliant is to soak it with a cotton pad. My favorites are the ones from Daiso as they are the softest and do not fall apart at all.

Note that it is not a makeup remover!

On nights when I get home super late and tired, I get mistaken by using this and trying to remove my makeup with it and a cotton pad. Turned out I thought I was reaching for my Bioderma micellar water because they were placed next to each other. In fact, I use Kale-Lalu-AHA right after my makeup cleaning step, not too often but more often than any other products I’ve featured on this list.

It’s not stripping or irritating, and I love that Krave Beauty chooses an AHA OF 5.25 % as it’s a great concentration for beginners. It gently takes away the top layer of dead skin cells and leaves my skin feel clean afterward.

I love that Krave is very transparent with the whole process of making every product from the ingredients to the packaging. Overall, this is just a beautiful product to always have around, and I will repurchase it in the future for sure!

Krave Beauty Kale-Lalu-AHA
$25 – 200 ml / 6.76 fl. oz.

2. THE ORDINARY AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution

I reviewed The Ordinary way back in March of 2018, and I used this peeling solution in my skincare video, HERE.

I am particularly lazy when it comes to masking because I don’t want to lay down or sit around and wait for something for 10 minutes. That is the main reason why I still have quite a good amount of this product even though I’ve had it for over 2 years now.

This stuff is stronger than any of the toners and essences in this list and is the only product in this list that requires a rinse-off, so keep that in mind. In my skincare video, you’d see how it comes out quite berry red in color. It stings, so the color helps me keep track of the time and reminds me to wash it off right away after 10 minutes. Use it on dry skin and rinse with lukewarm water.

Alpha hydroxy acids (AHA) exfoliate the skin’s topmost surface for a brighter and more even appearance. Beta hydroxy acids (BHA) also exfoliate the skin with an extended function to help clear pore congestion.”

So the combined 32% AHA/BHA penetrates deeper into the skin layers to help fight visible blemishes and improve skin radiance.

There are a lot of affordable and good skincare products in 2020, but for $7.20, I don’t think you can find similarly good and affordable than this!

THE ORDINARY AHA 30% + BHA 2% Peeling Solution
$7.20 – 1 oz.

3. TATA HARPER Resurfacing AHA + BHA Serum

This serum was gifted to me by the amazing women behind Haldi Skin. After completing the skincare quiz, they recommended me this Tata Harper serum to add to my existing skincare routine with detailed steps and what products to use first.

Mention my name ‘An Trieu‘ under the Referal section upon completing the Haldi skin quiz so Haldi knows I’ve referred you!

Ok, given the dullness and uneven skin tone and texture mentioned in the skin quiz, Haldi suggested me this naturally derived AHA and BHA serum because of the vitamin C. AHA and BHA are known exfoliants, and Vitamin C is known to help even skin tone and brighten the skin.

Natural is and extracts including jojoba seed oil, lemon extract, and arnica extract provide antioxidant protection while smoothing and softening the skin.

This serum is good to use both in the morning and at night. I use about two pumps each time right before moisturizer and mostly at night, especially on days when my skin feels rough, tired, and dull. It’s runny in consistency but lightweight and very easy to blend. I gotta warn you that its smell is funky but not bad, similar but nothing compares to the Lotion P50 I’m recommending you below.

What I love most about this product is that it does deliver a noticeable result. My skin feels supple and super soft the next day. Since it contains AHA and BHA, I always make sure to use sunscreen before stepping out of the house.

Tata Harper’s skincare range is so luxurious, and the packaging is beautiful. The bottle is made from glass, and I am a fan of the green and gold packaging, quite a beautiful product to have in my skincare collection. I truly love it and do not ever want it to run out, but you know that it’s a joke because skincare does expire!

Tata Harper Resurfacing AHA + BHA Serum is truly a GLOW in a bottle!

Tata Harper Resurfacing serum
$88 – regular 30 ml


The French pharmacy Lotion P50 toner is a CULT favorite, and I do recommend you reading more reviews or go see an aesthetician if you have sensitive and acne-prone skin. It is to help you pick the right P50 for your skin!

Mine is a P50V, and it’s recommended to me after completing the skin quiz by Haldi Skin. Because I have normal to dry skin, the P50V is more suitable because of the added plankton and brewer’s yeast that is more conditioning than the regular P50. Fyi, P50 “1970” is the most effective and most commonly used formula of P50. P is for potion or peeling, and after P1970 which was developed in 1970, P50, P50V, and P50W were developed.

Intothegloss has a great article decoding different versions of Biologique Recherche P50, here.

Many people who have graduated from toning products end up loving this Lotion P50 for life. I cannot speak for specific instances but my own, but I read many success stories and positive reviews on beauty blogs and websites, here and here.

I personally think my skin is still too young to use this as it stings my skin the first time that I use it. And the stinging feeling lasted for 2 days. I had to wait for a few days for my skin to calm down before giving it a proper try again. This time, I had to wet a cotton pad before adding a few drops of Lotion P50V. I then wipe it on my skin in an upward and outward motion and use the other side to wipe my neck and decolletage. I take extra time on nights when I use this stuff and always make sure to use sunscreen in the morning.

It’s more suitable for mature skin, so definitely try diluting it with water first before trying it on your face. It exfoliates, hydrates, and balances the pH of the skin. My skin looks plump and feels soft.

I don’t love the smell of this stuff as it does smell like vinegar, sulfur (if you’ve been to Yellowstone’s hot springs, you’d know!), burnt plastic, or more like the weird stuff that someone made me put on my blister skin from a foot burnt incident when I was young. It comes out clear like water, and my skin just drinks it up! Luckily, the smell quickly disappears.

It truly is magical water, well, without the odd scent of course!

$68 – 125 ml 5.3 fl. oz.

5. SKI-II Facial Treatment Essence

Well, ok, this essence is hella expensive! In case you have not heard about SKI-II’s miracle broth, this is it! And I spent $99+tax on this MINI bottle!

I first heard of this Pitera Essence from my aunts and my uncle who kept on raving about it. They’re in a position where they can splurge on fancy products like this, but at one point, I’d pull the trigger and get a bottle to try for myself from Sephora. Costco has a bigger bottle on a deal sometimes, so definitely check their website for inventory.

Pitera is a trademarked name in which SK-II refers to the iconic essence that contains over 50 micronutrients like vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and natural skin acids. It’s once discovered at a sake brewery in Japan where the elderly brewers have youthful-looking hands. Pitera is now produced by cultivating the one exclusive yeast strain under the most stringent conditions that SK-II has remained a trade secret for over 40 years.

Trust me, Asian ladies are very savvy with their skincare stuff. Thanks to my mom and aunts who prepped me into skincare and using sunscreen at a very young age, I have not noticed any signs of aging besides occasional textured rough skin days. With that, I believe that with consistent use of this Essence, there will be an improvement in skin integrity and overall youthful appearance.

As a blogger, I get to try lots of beauty products either sent to me or I just like to buy and try it for myself, so that’s the reason I will not repurchase this Essence. But I have a feeling that I will go back to these iconic Asian skincare brands like SK-II when I’m in my 30s.

If you ever get your hands on this miracle broth, make sure you make use of every drop! Do not waste it in a cotton pad, just pour directly into the palm of your hand and immediately tap it on and all over your face and neck! Reapply if your skin needs another drink. It does have a weird after-smell but dissipates quickly.

Anyway, SK-II stuff is really worth it if you’ve got the money to spend or willing to invest in good skin! It’s like insurance for your skin! Expensive or not, I’ll leave it up to you. I’d rather invest in good skincare, not makeup.

SK-II Facial Treatment Essence Mini (Pitera Essence)
$99 – 75 ml 2.5 oz

Beautiful skin comes from within, and beauty needs to be possessed with confidence. So make sure you do other good things to your body and soul because money cannot buy happiness and confidence. Don’t expect a product to work miracles or change the appearance of your skin in a matter of a day or two. Keep using it if you don’t experience any reactions, follow directions, and read articles about ingredients that can help you target or spot treat your skin problem. Start at a low percentage or dilute it with water or mix it in with your moisturizer. Give your skin sometimes and be consistent about it!

To achieve good skin, you’d need to go on that journey on your own in order to find a good balance.

There you have it, the 5 best products that I reach for to help to smooth my skin and unclog my pores. Keep in mind that don’t expect a product I reach for each product depending on my skin needs. Let me know if you have any questions, and I hope you will give them a try! Thanks for reading!