Adolescence and Proactiv.
With an undergraduate discovery of Cetaphil and Kiehl’s.
Followed by a Southeast Asian sauna.
No I’m serious. That’s it. And I know the privilege and luck I have for this. Because not everyone gets to just use water to wash their face. Or forget to put on sunscreen and that’s okay (I actually rarely wear it). And I know beauticians around the world, and my mother, are probably fainting at hearing this. But hey. The ball’s gotta drop somewhere, right? And that’s probably where the early to mid 30s hit and you actually look at the mirror one day. Your skin isn’t looking as bright and dewy as you did when you were 25. It’s actually kind of dull. A decade of not really wearing sunscreen, riding bicycles in tank tops and shorts, all while living in the tropics is starting to catch up. Those rare Asian freckles you have, might be starting to become a problem. And you’ve got a certain awesome friend who keeps dropping hints that Korean beauty products is where it’s at.
So when I found out I’d have three hours laying over at Seoul’s Incheon International Airport (Cait’s written about her love of it here) with none other than our wonderful friend, Jane Heng, I had to jump on the opportunity. In addition to being an incredible designer, Jane’s also amassed a library of knowledge on Korean beauty products that is constantly being updated by a dependable blog roll and occasional deep dives onto Reddit (yup – there’s a Reddit thread for Korean beauty). Jane also knows all of this because her skin story’s a little longer than mine,
“The truth is I’ve always been interested in skincare because I’ve had eczema since I was a baby. I really went through the worst of it in my teens and was addicted to steroid creams prescribed by my dermatologist. It was only really in my mid 20s and especially now in my early 30s that I’ve been looking into K-beauty because it’s gentler for my skin compared to the harmful steroid cream. What’s great about K-beauty is there also an element into what you put into your body. So I’ve also really looked closely into my diet.”
She knows her stuff. And she even wrote me a little primer for my combination skin in anticipation for our shopping spree:
“For combination skin, hydration is key because your skin will produce more oil if it’s dehydrated. Air-con will also dehydrate your skin. The key is to use lightweight skin products (so it doesn’t feel heavy during the day) that you can layer to help you hydrate. For sun protection, sunscreen is your number one friend. I put sunscreen on everyday, even if it’s a cloudy rainy day. A good sunscreen will help you protect your skin from the sun and pollution. At night, you can use a slightly heavier skin product so that you wake up with hydrated skin. If you wear make-up, a good primer will help.”
So I landed. Jane took me on the best K-beauty shopping spree a girl could ask for. We got a ton of free samples. And I couldn’t write about it until I had used the products for at least six weeks. I didn’t think I’d fall in line with using so many products. But here I am, two months later, totally convinced and loving my incredibly soft skin. Seriously. Feel it. I’m totally cool with that. Thank you Jane!!!
These guys are my new go to for protecting myself against those nasty UV rays. We’ve been warned about our shrinking ozone layer since we were kids and apparently I’m only listening now. Innisfree is probably my new favourite brand out of all of these guys. Their Perfect UV Protection Cream even comes formulated for oily skin (me!) and goes out real smooth. And their Sun Spray (similar here) feels a little funny at first, but is such a quick and easy way to get sun screen onto my arms and legs.
This routine is completely aspirational. I don’t always do it. I’m still completely devoted to my Kiehl’s Ultra Facial Moisturizer. And I still don’t quite understand what a serum is. But a girl can try, right? I’m still washing my face with water, but I’ve got some things that I layer on top. In the mornings, it would start with Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum. It’s pretty much a super moisturizer. And it apparently helps with skin cell regeneration, which ultimately brightens your skin. Because who likes dead skin cells and a dull complexion? And then I’ll add on Innisfree’s Green Tea Skin Care Set. It’s a package of three products that help to balance any skin issues and offer even more deep moisturizing. My face might even be as soft as a baby’s bum after this.
And if I’m heading out and decide to put on make up (I actually rarely do), I’ll seal it all in with Innisfree’s No Sebum Mineral Pact. I had no idea what sebum was, nor that I should care about it. Sebum is the reason my oily skin can look shiny. And this little powder takes care of it, and you won’t feel a thing. It’s pretty much light as air.
At night, I’ll use a product that sounds like it came straight out of the baddies from Game of Thrones. It’s MISSHA’s Aqua Ice Tear Toner. See what I mean? But really, it’s incredibly refreshing, especially in this heat. It resets my skin pH and ultimately helps it to absorb the MISSHA Aqua Ice Tear Cream that follows. Thank you free samples.
Like I’ve mentioned before, masks are basically my little meditation. But if they’re gonna give me a tiny time out and leave my skin freakishly soft, I have no reason to avoid them. These guys by Skin Food are amazing. Unlike the sheet masks du jour, you’re leaving a slightly less ecological footprint since you’re washing them off. The Black Sugar Mask even doubles as a fabulous body scrub. And then Jane even found me a Nature Republic Hair Pack which basically treats my very bleached locks to a thorough deep condition.
All photos by Tiffany Tsang. Please request permission for use. Cait+Tiff are not liable to any possible Korean beauty shopping sprees as a result of this post.