An Ode to the Magic of Korean Skincare

Over the last few weeks, one thing I've been doing is squealing with my friends at the office about the magic of poring time over Korean techniques when it comes to skincare. And I don't mean just choosing random products but somewhat imbibing the philosophies of Korean women who did a favor for us English-restricted Internet citizens reading up on SoKo beauty. Alicia Yoon of Peach & Lily explained so in Coveteur: 

Alicia Yoon
what they think is that flawless, radiant skin that is very healthy is a sign of true beauty. It goes back historically for centuries, where the noble class never went outside in the sun and had porcelain-like skin—healthy skin.
These are not hard and fast rules, but commonly regarded as ingredients that should be used together with caution, if at all (not only Korean-beauty specific): retinol and benzoyl peroxide can potentially cancel each other out, and be too drying and irritating to be used together. Retinol and AHAs actually can be used together as the ingredients will stay active, but can be a bit harsh on the skin.Retinol and vitamin C if in super low doses, can be fine to use together, but both are very potent and can be very, very drying and irritating to use together. AHAs and vitmain C are both very acidic ingredients and can cause, again, a lot of irritation and even peeling. Copper peptides and vitamin C typically cancel each other out. Also, it can increase photosensitivity and dryness, so it’s very important to use humectants (moisture-loving ingredients) and other hydrating ingredients to stay moisturized. Also, make sure to use sufficient SPF.”

Because I had time to mull things this past holiday season, I managed to snag a couple of items from local Korean stores that I've been trying on separately before, and rather nonchalantly on a wait and see mode, like "Will it work, or not?" "Will it break me out, or not?" I was also guilty of not really reading extensively on the ingredients {just the product I read mostly on} and whether most people broke out or not. Reading on ingredients, I find, is a Korean thing to do, also knowing which ingredients worked with each other, which is likely to cancel each other and which ones will set your skin on fire if used together. An initial hurdle was of course, most ingredients are printed in Korean BUT Google is our friend! That said, here are my lazy girl approved tips on using Korean Skincare:

1. Read up. So I know we're all lazy and sometimes time is not a lot but if you can devote perhaps an hour or two to read up on ingredients and what ingredients to look out for, certain look outs for some products. I like this thread on Reddit, and it's funny how I just trust it with skin matters LOL: Asian Beauty. I am not one to really spend the day but I read where needed especially for skincare {since I have other tons of books to read still}. I like knowing the cues for which contains alcohol and feedback from other K Beauty enthusiasts all over the world. I also like being in forums or FB groups such as my friends' groups: The Project Vanity and Martha's The Beauty Junkee offer a feeling of community with other women. As a side note, I do have my own women's group on career, business and winning in life here

2. Watch YouTube videos on K Beauty. I know people watch YT vids all the time but for me, I kinda let it become a background music for me, too, on top of actually watching. It helps me catch tidbits and stuff which I apply on my skincare regimens. My favorite is Gothamista on YouTube!

3. My life changed when I did the 7 Skin Method {as opposed to many swearing by the 10 step skin care routine}. It's basically layering on non alcoholic, non acidic toners or water as you probably see on Korean IG accounts. At first, I was very hesitant with using products that said water in them, I mean, why would I, if it's just water. As it turns out, it's water for the skin and layering them on hydrates the skin. It's important to choose a low PH skin cleanser though {I use CosRX Low PH Good Morning Cleanser or In Her Element's Rose Facial Wash} because acids or alcohol will dry out the skin further with this method. I followed Gothamista's video below. For me, I apply toners using my fingers and as with everything, PAT PAT PAT.

4. Get into acids. I feel like this should be approached with lots of care because if not, one could really have bad reactions. As for me, what worked for me are CosRX's AHA Whitehead Liquid and CosRX BHA Power Liquid. I have to admit that most of my acid experience can be attributed to my skincare du jour, Drunk Elephant. AHAs were the first ones I've gotten into, simply Alpha Hydroxy Acids. My go to bottle, Drunk Elephant TLC Framboos Night Serum is 12% AHA and BHA, mix of glycolic, tartaric, lactic and citric acids. A simple explanation is that AHAs help remove the top most layer of the skin in micro layers therefore revealing the glowing complexion. I also have in my dresser a bottle of CosRX AHA Whitehead Liquid and the Blackhead Power Liquid which I alternate every other night or as needed only. Every weekend as well, I get into my exfoliation mode and use my fave Drunk Elephant TLC Sukari Babyfacial which has 25% Glycolic Acid.

5. Don't forget your sunblock. Acids make our skin much sensitive to the sun hence the need for reliable SPF. In my case, I use a physical sunblock in the form of Drunk Elephant Umbra Sheer Physical Daily Defense SPF 30 (20% Zinc Oxide). 

6. Moisturize or lock in moisture. I also found out from Korean philosophies {via Alicia Yoon in ITG} that:

It’s all about the science of it—like how moisturizer doesn’t actually moisturize, it just seals in moisture. The one thing I’ll never forget was when my teachers compared skin to a sponge. When it’s dry and not hydrated, it’s very brittle. So when it moves, it’s more prone to cracking, acne breakouts, and general irritation. When your skin is hydrated, it’s actually a little plumper and can absorb products better. Having super well-hydrated skin is the key to a healthy skin environment.

I especially use non Korean moisturizers though, for AM is Drunk Elephant B Hydra Serum, and in the evening is Drunk Elephant Virgin Marula Oil, which is my HG face oil.

Watchouts: A lot of things can happen if you get into Korean skincare: could break out / purge, there could be stinging or there could be some form of addiction {like me, I'm already plotting what to get next}. My recommendation is go to your derma first before trying anything or try things at your own risk and read extensively before anything.

Happy Skincare-ing! xx