The Hollywood Assistant With An Affordable At-Home Facial Dupe


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"Hi! My name is Kat (@katofcambridge). I’m a Los Angeles transplant born and raised in Manila, Philippines. I work in the entertainment industry as an assistant/front desk host/person trying to make it in the city. For the most part, my jobs mean I have to be a jack-of-all-trades. They involve a lot of running around. One minute I’m attempting to carry a 50-pound piece of equipment and the next I find myself standing right next to Winona Ryder. Super fun stuff.

Mornings with me is chaos. Oh God, don’t ever come near me when I haven’t had my coffee yet. It’s always a mad dash from my bed to the door, so my daytime routine is a grab-and-go situation. The one product I could never live without is Bioderma Sensibio. I have a codependent relationship with it. I use it as a makeup remover, toner, and all-around refresher. As soon as I wake up I gently wipe a Bioderma-soaked cotton round all over my face. I don’t wash my face in the morning—not because my skin is sensitive or anything, it’s just that I’m lazy and I don’t like mornings and I really can’t be bothered with anything else. I then mist a little Avène Thermal Spring Water to wake the senses out of me. While my skin is still damp, I pat on some Joanna Vargas Daily Serum. Can we talk about this product for one second? The smell is delicious. It miraculously turns me into a Kristen Bell Moon, Tracee Ellis Ross Sun, Reese Witherspoon Rising. I’m obsessed.

From there, I massage a bit of Glossier Priming Moisturizer for that elusive lit-from-within glow every girl on Instagram has. Then I top it all off with SPF because everyone and their mother say I should. Right now I’m using Elta MD UV Clear Broad-Spectrum SPF 46 for that, though I have to say I still haven’t found my ‘The One’ when it comes to sunscreen, so I welcome any and all recommendations.

My night routine is when the real stuff happens. I’m on the K-beauty grind, so when I’m inspired I’ll do a double cleanse with jojoba oil. I massage it on my dry face for five minutes then wipe it down with a warm, wet washcloth. I’ve experimented with a lot of different carrier and essential oils but I’ve found that jojoba alone works best for my skin. And then I do a second cleanse with my beloved Glossier Milky Jelly.

A staple, cannot-live-without routine mainstay of mine is Paula’s Choice 2% BHA Liquid. It’s the first chemical exfoliant I ever tried and is still the one that works best. I love my acids. BHAs give me the best results by unclogging my pores, but AHAs work well for hyperpigmentation. I use both types synergistically to deal with those issues. I keep Peach & Lily The Good Acids Pore Toner in my rotation, alternating one type of acid each night. I found a super detailed, super science-y post on Reddit explaining how 20 minutes is the optimal time for the acids to work on your skin. I don’t know if it’s true, but letting it sit there allows for a one-episode The Office re-watch in the middle of my routine, so I roll with it.

Every two weeks I do an at-home acid peel. I used to go to a medspa for it, and they were charging upwards of $200 per peel, which was ridiculous. I did some research and heard good things about MUAC 15% Salicylic Acid Peel, so I gave it a try. The acid percentage is just a smidgeon below what they were using with me at the medspa, and the results were literally the same. Obviously you still need your derm and all, but I’ve found that as long as you follow the instructions to a T, you should be good. Instant gratification for a quarter of the price!

For hydration, I rely on COSRX Snail Essence for that snail mucin goodness. I also have Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner, which is just a nice and simple hydrating toner. I end every routine by slathering on Drunk Elephant Lala Retro Whipped Cream (so good, so expensive!) and a few drops of jojoba oil when I find the LA weather especially dry.

Makeup isn’t something I’m very much into anymore. Making it look natural is key to me. For a dewy effect I use Erborian CC Crème, though the scent kind of throws me off sometimes. For concealer I use NARS Radiant Creamy Concealer, or the Fenty Beauty Pro Filt’r Soft Matte Longwear Foundation strategically blended over my spots, since it’s highly pigmented. I’ve been using the same blush for two years—it’s this tiny NARS compact I got for free at Sephora as a birthday reward thing. I’ve been using it so long and it’s barely made a dent! I actually need to throw it away soon since it’s well past its expiration date. Definitely the biggest steal I got from Sephora.

I believe there are things that you do have to leave to the pros. Namely, for me, it’s brows and facials. When I’m feeling extra bougie, I go to STRIIIKE to get that signature Streicher feathered brow and live my best life. I can’t afford Kristie herself, but her brow specialists Tyler and Maggie are awesome. For facials, Joanna Vargas at The Sunset Tower Hotel is my go-to. I get the LED lights, which I’m convinced is my cystic pimples’ worst enemy. Again, having Joanna herself is something my menial, low-level jobs cannot afford, so I go see Laura, my skin’s bff.

At the end of the day I think beauty is what you make of it. We all have reasons why we do what we do. I wish I could say that I have it all figured out, but that would be a lie. I still get clogged pores and cystic pimples and post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation. Personally, I have my skincare routine because it gives me a feeling of control. I’m at an age and in an industry where everything feels like a huge question mark. My life often feels like a whirlwind that at times it could get hard for me to grasp. Having a skincare routine to fall back into every night makes me feel grounded. It’s my safety net."

Photos via the author