When I was in college, skincare was low on my list of priorities. Between late night paper-writing sessions, extracurricular clubs, and, yes, pushing the limits of my alcohol tolerance, I wasn’t too concerned with a nightly routine of cleansers, serums, and softeners—all of which left me with a dull, tired-looking complexion. Almost a decade later, I wish my freshman orientation kit had come with Shiseido’s Simple Start for Trouble-Free Skin Ibuki Set, a totally unintimidating introduction to taking care of younger skin.
The four products in the affordable set—the Gentle Cleanser, Softening Concentrate, Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate, and Refining Moisturizer—are pretty much the syllabus for Skincare 101: they're all you really need to get started on a daily regimen, regardless of skin type. Ingredients like antioxidant-rich witch hazel extract and acne-fighting peony root extract tackle even the most frustrating skin issues like rough, uneven tone (due to work stress and a lack of sleep) or blemishes (thanks, late night slice of pizza).
After two weeks of using the products day and night, my skin is clearer and smoother than it’s been in months (which is especially great news after the dry patches on my cheeks and forehead breakouts I dealt with this winter). I start with the Gentle Cleanser, which goes on thick and works itself into a rich, moisturizing foam that cleanses without drying. The Softening Concentrate is a super lightweight liquid filled with micro-emollients that penetrate the skin to deeply moisturize. I follow with the Ultimune Power Infusing Concentrate, a slightly thicker concentrate specifically designed to guard your complexion against stressors while simultaneously hydrating and smoothing your skin. (Its protective layer of botanical ingredients is especially good for city dwellers like me to help protect against air pollution). Finally, the Refining Moisturizer seals in all of the skin-saving goodness, with the added bonus intensively correcting the appearance of visible pores, blemishes, and roughness to help me retain a youthful glow even though I’m not exactly 20 years old anymore.
By pairing these four wonder products in a one step-by-step kit, Shiseido’s Ibuki line takes the guesswork out of skincare, making it practically mindless to get smoother, healthier skin. I just wish it had existed back when I was living in a dorm, struggling to stay awake through 8 a.m. classes.