Since I so very often get asked the Q of what I do for my skin – I’m finally getting around to writing up a full answer. Full disclosure: my parents have amazing genetics, but that hasn’t stopped me from becoming a self-professed skincare junkie. You live in your skin 24/7 – your entire life, so why wouldn’t you take care of it? Here’s the 411:

Step 1 - Remove your makeup. I’ve definitely been guilty of falling asleep in my makeup when I was younger, but nowadays that’s a definite NO. No matter how tired (or drunk) you are, take it off. Your skin will thank you.

Step 2 - Wash your face with an oil cleanser. I recommend Clean It Zero Purity by BANILA CO. If there’s anything you missed from Step 1, this will definitely get it off. 

Step 3 - Wash your face with a gentle cleanser. Why do you double cleanse? Because your face still isn’t clean. Have you ever thought you had removed all your makeup only to wake up with mascara smudges on our pillow? Do less laundry, have less breakouts – double cleanse. I recommend the Su:m 37 Rose Stick. Bonus: because it’s a solid until you add water, it’s perfect for travel. Note: double-cleansing is not for everyone. If you have rosacea, it might be too much. And on days that you wear minimal makeup or none at all, you can opt for a single wash.

Step 4 - Exfoliate. As you go about your life, there’s a dramatic buildup of dead skin, which – yuck. Get your face baby smooth with a good scrub. I recommend the Skinfood Sugar Mask. It’s affordable, you get a lot, and it works! After washing your face, apply this lovely scrub and work it into your skin until the beads have dissolved. Leave on for 3 minutes and then wash off.

Step 5 - Apply toner. This is a very important step. When you wash your face, you’ve opened all your pores and now you need to seal them with something good. My favorite one to use is Breath of Fresh Air from LUSH. Spray onto a cotton pad and apply to your face. 

Step 6 - Apply essence. But what is it exactly? It’s similar to your toner, but with more superpowers. It helps balances your pH and delivers active ingredients deep into your skin cells. I like to think of it as vitamins for your skin. I use MISSHA Revolution/Time First Treatment Essence

Step 7 - Facemask. This one is so fun because you have so many options! My go-to is Benton’s Snail Bee High Content Mask; but you can pick and choose which one works for you. They also have some with animal faces! I put mine on for 20 minutes and then afterwards, gently tap any remaining liquid into my skin.

Step 8 - Apply serum. I like Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Concentrate for use before I sleep and their Daily Reviving Concentrate for the mornings. 

Step 9 - Apply eye cream. This is the time to really target your concerns. I like Kiehl’s Midnight Recovery Eye for myself, but you may be interested in addressing other issues. This is the step to do it!

Step 10 - Moisturize. Cetaphil’s Oil-Control Moisturizer has never done my combination skin wrong. Bonus: it has built-in SPF protection!

You can also get almost all of these in one place at SokoGlam. Enjoy!


This is my 8th tattoo and it’s the most important one. It is the only tattoo I have in color and will remain the only one.

This is the heritage flag of Vietnam and the only flag that all Vietnamese expats will recognize. The three red bands symbolize the unity between North, Central, and South Vietnam – that we are of one blood, one nation. If you have no concept of my personal history, here it is: my parents and I fled our homeland in the aftermath of a civil war. My father is exiled; he can never return. My mother misses it, she will never say it aloud. My heart beats for my birthright, I rarely talk about it. It hurts too much. 

But the fact of the matter is, our home doesn’t exist anymore. If you were to visit Vietnam right now, the mountains are still standing – the rivers are still flowing. It is history that has changed. It’s been rewritten. The libraries have erased all evidence of a South Vietnam. It’s the red Soviet flag that flies. 

What must it feel like to return to a place that looks like home, but isn’t? Do I trek to my ancestral home and stand at the graves of my forefathers and be glad that they never lived to see the fall of Saigon? 

I carry my parents’ history, our country’s history. I carry it in the heart that beats within me. I carry it in the blood that runs through me. And now I carry it on the skin that covers me. I can never look in the mirror and deny where I came from, but I can tell you that so many do. They equate assimilation with survival. They have never been back. They can’t speak the language. America is the only home they have ever known. 

But I have loved another before. I can never go home, but I can never forget.

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