beauty

My K-Beauty Skin Care Essentials

sarah w

Jung Yu-Mi, Korean Actress

 

Have you heard of K-Beauty? Korean Cosmetics. This has been widely known together with K-Pops, Korean movies & dramas and technically it is no longer news. But, what is this all about? What's the hype? Are they good? Well, read on.

Koreans are beauty junkies - in a good way. They grow up with skin care regimes that are quite intensive, and religiously practice those routines like daily meals. They have flawless and younger looking skins to begin with, however it is no secret that beauty is also earned by hard work. 

If there is demand, there is supply. Their domestic demands are high as they consume a great deal of products, and driven by those demands Korean cosmetic industry had its own growth like nowhere else in the world. The results are the constant launching of new and fresh products with original ideas, innovative technology and unique ingredients. Some are flat out eye catching and brilliant. The others just speak themselves by the performance. If there are good products, ladies gotta have. 

They even has a TV show, Get it Beauty! which is a designated talk show all about beauty products, makeup tips and product blind tests. A lot of hypes are created right on the show! They also used to have those Get it Beauty Self Youtube videos. Watch one of the makeup tutorial video at the end of this blog post. I love Krystal. Love the natural makeup regardless of ages.

However, I am more into skin care so... my list here today is about skin care. I'm not really skilled in makeups in general but, I am quite crazy about taking care of my skin. I've tried and the following are my K-Beauty skin care faves and something you could love, too. 

 

 

ATOPALM Moisturizing Facial Cleanser  $23 ($13.80 on Sale)

This brand is originally developed for babies and sensitive skins (eczema sufferers - read company's story here). Sensitive skin requires gentle and mildness. This moisturizing cleanser efficiently foams away dirts, makeup and excessive oils without drying or tightness after. It refreshes with ingredients like Vitamin C and Bitter Orange but also has Sodium hyaluronate (salt form of hyaluronic acid) that moisturizes and minimizes the skin irritation from the fruit acid. It has that milk cleanser quality and texture but without the heaviness. Also pH balanced.

 

ATOPALM Real Barrier Essence Mist $20 ($16 on Sale)

I really love the real barrier line from this brand. I have used the extreme cream for repairing my dry skin and it really worked. This company has this MLE technology (multi-lamellar emulsion technology) which is a patented blend of ingredients to mimic the healthy lipid structure of the human skin. It replaces the damaged lipid layer tricking the skin to think it has been repaired so that the skin begins its natural function of protecting and hydration process. 

This mist really moisturizes beautifully considering the convenience of a spray bottle. A lot of times, I need a facial mist for a variety of needs however, most of products out there are almost feel like plain water splashes on the skin and end up drying it out more. This mist has the essence/serum in it and sprays softly and seals the moisture in. After using it, skin is silky soft at touch and not at all dry. I carry one bottle with me during the day and spray on my face throughout the day and use at the gym after workout before going back home to shower. The bottle is a good portable/travel size but it lasts quite a bit. I also use another one as a toner/essence in one. Great one.

 

Cleanser/Toner - Son&Park Beauty Water $21 on amazon

I always used a toner (In Korea, the call this skin lotion for some reason) after cleansing in order to make sure any residue from the cleansing are cleared out and to prepare the skin for the next step in the routine. Time to time, I stopped using toner and my skin breaks out. Once I included a toner to the routine, the break out improves. Another function of toner is to balance skin's pH level. If your cleanser has that function then you are all good however if not, you need a toner to take care of this step. Most of the skin trouble starts from our skin being off its natural state. It is a simple chemistry as acid and base where all chemical reactions start. Natural pH level of skin is slightly acidic 5.5 but most of the cleansers are alkaline so the skin needs to be neutralized after cleaning with Alkaline soap and cleansers. 

My favorite K-beauty toner is Son&Park beauty water. This cult following cleansing/toner is multitasking and comes in a simply beautiful minimalist bottle. This is basically a micellar water with its own ingredients, willow bark & papaya extracts which remove dead skin layers and rose & lavender water add beautiful moisture. You can use it as second cleanser after heavy makeup removal. Or perfect for a morning cleansing without using water, gently wiping out the excess overnight oil while adding fresh moisture to the skin.The pH of this beauty water is 4.5 so it neutralizes the pH of those alkaline cleansers. 

 

NEO-GEN Dermalogy Bio-Peel Guaze $17.20 on amazon

I am quite obsessed with this one. This stack of gauze pads soaked in red wine/lactic acid essence is not only an effective exfoliator but a brilliant idea. Perfect for lazy beauties like me. Skin needs exfoliation for renewing but face requires a gentle one. This finger mitt like pads have two practical sides - one with tough gauze, the other with the soft tufted cushion. Sweep face, neck and maybe top of the hands in outwards motion. The mesh of the gauze is fine at touch, but coarse enough. You immediately feel a layer is off of you. Don't go too crazy - be gentle. One of its ingredients, Resveratrol is a powerful antioxidant and this gauze smells like sweet wine. The other ingredient lactic acid is an alpha hydroxy acid and helps skin exfoliate and clean pores. I remove my makeups before shower and use this pad to finalize the cleansing and exfoliate at once. Right away, you feel some raw and exfoliated skin. For me, I rub honey on that raw face and wash off and my skin will glow like an angel. 30 pads in a round container lasts me quite a while.

They also have Lemon $19 and Green Tea $17 versions if you want to try.

 

MISSHA Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence  $49, ($25 on amazon)

Every Koreans I spoken to mentioned about this product - even a guy. Essence is basically another name for serums. Affordable(?) (to Koreans) yet, it works. Main ingredient - fermented yeast concentrate. It is naturally fortified Vitamin B group and known to have a similar structure to the multiplication of human cells. Together with Niacinamide, it quickly absorbs to skin and speeds up the skin repair/renewing process. I haven't seen anything revolutionary with this essence but this lightly viscose liquid did add some elasticity to my skin and improved luminous quality of it. 

If you need home made essence masks, get a compressed DYI fiber mask ($9.99 /100pcs) and add a couple of drops of any essence. This fiber mask expand like a size of cotton ball in seconds and ready to use. Open up and cover the face for 5-10 min. Same effect as those commercial sheet masks without wasting away those extra essence. 

 

 

Goodal Moisture Barrier Cream  $35 ($14.74 on amazon)

OK. This is my all time favorite K-Beauty product. My skin suffered a great deal of dryness last winter. The drying winter room with the heater was the main reason. I drank enough water and used humidifier but my skin was cracking like Alligators'. I tried some products with some improvement, then I came across this product and wow! This water balm(?) cream was the one! This one had a huge hype and such a hit in Korea so I had to try. At first, I was a bit turned off by the greasy texture and a bit doubtful about it then, once on my skin it melted like butter and my face was watery at the same time. Very interesting sensation. Skin feels like I've just washed it, with some kind of film barrier added to it. At touch, the skin felt stronger and plumper. Amazing. It smells gorgeous, pleasant like some fresh flowers. This product immediately improved my dry skin and I felt that it was filling and bulking up the dry shrunken skin from inside out.

How to find out if your skin is dried or not. Place your index and middle fingers on your skin, spread them out. If you feel a tightness, your skin is dry.

This cream not only adds moisture but also helps repair damaged skin's lipid barrier. While the main ingredients, mistletoe complex and ceramides strengthen the skin barriers and hold the moisture within, the specially sourced water from South Korea's Seorak Mountain is hydrate the skin. As my skin regained moisture, I saw some translucent quality and glow came with it. I used this for day and night but, especially loved when waking in the morning. My skin really looked well rested. This is an amazing cream. I don't know if I can live without it. 

 

Too Cool for School Egg Cream Mask $24/5pks at sephora

Koreans just love masks. Their weekly massages and masks are a part of their lives. Personally, it is not only for beauty purpose but to relax! There are tons of disposable sheet masks that are really affordable and do great jobs. Get a variety pack and you will just love how sometimes beauty come so easy. Try this one if you want variety, from Dermal Korea $9.99/16pks at amazon. 

Gosh, I got side tracked again.... 

Egg masks are popular home masks in general and I have grown up seeing my mom doing it regularly, but it is really messy and I hate the smell. So that's why I love this mask so much. The following are the ingredients in this egg mask and their benefits. Aren't they just fantastic?

-Coconut Extract: Provides hydration and nourishes with natural minerals.
-Niacinamide: Brightens the appearance of skin.
-Egg White Extract: Diminishes shine and gives skin a more radiant appearance.
-Egg Yolk Extract: Nourishes and hydrates. 

When I first found this brand, Too Cool for School during my visit in Korea several years ago, I went quite nuts in their store in Myung-Dong. Really cute store, the products are so entertaining and brilliant, including the packaging. Also so affordable. I bought so much stuffs as gifts coming back to NYC. Now they have their store in Soho and sell in Sephora.

Even back then, egg mask was so popular and I had to try. The original one was strictly an egg mask but I loved it. This new formula has coconut water for skin hydration and camu camu extract for Vitamin C for brightening. Even better!

 

 

LANEIGE Water Sleeping Mask $24 on amazon

K-Beauty mask expertise has done it again. Here comes the sleeping masks! Technically these are not masks but gel creams which are applied to work on your skin while sleeping. At first, they came out with some dry off sleeping masks that you peel off in the morning then since we tumble around while sleeping, these get messy. So here comes the gel creams that stays put and seal the deal while you looking like sleeping beauty, not a beast with a funny mask on. Laneige's water sleeping mask has been a huge hype leading this category. This polymer gels have the shape memory technology and remember the shape of your face like those memory pillows, but in the molecular level. And with the time release function the ingredient absorption to the skin is maximized and that is all the beasts of the science behind it.

Unfortunately, I have not seen much miracles with this mask. I think since I have other products for the night care, this probably could not stand out in the mix. Usually we want to see some miracles, but when you expect it that never happens. But, not all skins are created equal and this might be the one for you. So try~

 

LANEIGE Lip Sleeping Mask $16 on amazon

This is actually my favorite sleeping mask. A lot of times, lips are the hard ones to take care of. It chips and dries but there aren't many products to address 'THAT' issue. Then lip sleeping mask? What a brilliant idea! We apply great deal of lip products (I do, do you?) during the day, but also constantly lick them throughout the day which is quite drying in the end. However, your lips are least disturbed during sleep unless you sleep on your lips (very unlikely, right?), so it is really a perfect time to do something about it.

This lip mask has the texture and feel of vaseline and the big shine like those glossy lip gloss. But when you wake up in the morning, those shines are gone, but your lips are really plumped and look like Angelina Jolie's. 

This mask also comes with a micro sized silicone spatular applicator. I really like the applicator. The flexible one really spread out the product well and I wish this replaces the sponge applicators for the lip glosses. It is also great for applying on other areas of your skin such as hands & cuticles. For me, I apply around my eyes for dark circles and sleep creases. I am a serious side sleeper and I wake up with deep vertical creases by my eyes and this mask has really helped eliminate them. 

Laneige lip masks are rich in berries and fruits, which are known to be good for slouching off dead skins and dark circles. So you can also definitely try for your eyes (not on the lids though), but if it irritates, stop using.  

Okay~~~ That was my K-Beauty list. Hope this was informative and if you try and let me know how you like them, or hate them.

The following is an youtube video of the popular K-beauty talk show, Get it Beauty! I mentioned earlier in the blog. An old one but a great makeup tutorial. Enjoy~~  

 


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