Korean Skin Care: All That Moisture

Time for the second half of the Korean skin care routine: the moisturizing half! Since you pulled all the dirt and oil out of your face with your double cleanse and scrubbed off your dead skin with the exfoliator, then balanced everything out with your toner, your skin is now in perfect shape to receive a lot of moisture to make it glowy and beautiful.

This is where Korean skin products really shine: the moisturizers that come out of Korea are soothing and wonderful, yet somehow manage to stay light and not cause breakouts. It must be the snails.

Snail
Wait, what?

Snails, guys. The current trend in Korean face care involves moisturizers and cleansers made with filtered snail mucin. That weirded me out for a hot second, but considering that there are fish scales in our red lipstick, bee venom in our serums, and the further back in time you go the weirder our skin care ingredients get,  I figured I’d suspend my ‘ew snails’ thoughts until I saw how some snail-based moisturizers did on my face.

What’s great about the moisturizers I use is that they soothe my skin and make it soft, without causing breakouts. This is something I’ve struggled with for years, which is why I never really used moisturizers before – why use something that’s going to give me zits or leave me looking greasy all day?

Well, the Korean products deliver. Here’s what you’re gonna do after you tone:

  1. Sheet Mask (optional/weekly). These are those adorable masks we’re seeing all over the place right now. They’re meant to be put onto your dry, post-toner face, and left alone for 15-20 minutes while they soak loads of moisture into your skin. I get mine at the little Korean grocery store in my town, and they’re 5 for $6. Strongly recommend hitting up your local Asian market to see if you can get a similar deal.
  2. Essence. The most important part of Korean skin care is the facial essence. It’s a light moisturizer that you pat onto your skin every time you do your routine, and it firms and smooths your skin, leaving you looking all soft and lovely.
  3. Serum (optional). These are tiny powerhouses for your skin – if you want to treat some dark spots or a bad breakout, or really tackle your dark eye circles, get a good serum or ampoule to use for a while. These are your special treatments (which is why they tend to have a pretty special price), that you use for a short time and then stop.
  4. Eye Cream. The skin around your eyes is the thinnest on your body, so keeping it moisturized is very important. Tap it on lightly – no tugging or rubbing! – with your ring finger until it’s absorbed. My eye cream cleared up my dark circles after a few weeks, something that thrilled me to no end. What up, not needing concealer.
  5. Night Pack OR Sunscreen. Obviously, this last step depends on whether you’re doing your skincare routine in the morning or before bed. If it’s your pre-bed routine, a deep-moisturizing sleep pack will help your skin heal and regenerate overnight. If you’re about to head out for the day, sunscreen will help protect your face from dark spots and age lines – oh yeah, and skin cancer.

So after your toner, if you’re doing a full-on facial, hang out with your sheet mask on for a bit. If you’re not, skip straight to your essence, any serums/ampoules you’ve got going right then, and your eye cream and night pack OR sunscreen. Pat everything into your skin very lightly, and give it a little time to soak in between layers. You’re all set!

Next week’s blog will be a sort of FAQ about some of the things I wondered about when I started this skincare regimen, and what I’ve found the answers to be so far. Hopefully it will help you as you research your own skincare needs. If you have a question you want me to answer next week, hit me up on Twitter or Facebook and let me know!

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Korean Skin Care: The Double Cleanse

  
You may have heard of the Ten Step Skin Care routine that’s been wildly popular lately. Well, that’s what I do, although mine is more like six steps on a normal day, and eight steps once a week when I do a full facial. Which two steps do I skip? I don’t generally wear makeup, so there’s no need to use makeup remover, and I don’t use any serums right now, as those are for specific issues and you use them only for a short time. Since my skin is so insanely oily, I use an oil-based cleanser AND a water-based cleanser, so that I really pull all that oil and sweat off my face before I moisturize. Once I’m done double-cleansing, my face feels chalky, it’s so clean. That’s why a non-alcohol-based toner is important, to re-balance your skin’s pH after all that stripping.
Why would you wash your face twice? Well, if you’re super oily like me, you’re probably thinking that seems pretty legit. But from everything I’ve read, a Korean-style double cleanse as part of your face routine is good for dry-skinned ladies too.

First off, if you do wear makeup, use some makeup remover to get a decent bit of your makeup off before you cleanse. It’ll give you a deeper clean than if you just started with the cleanser.

The oil-based cleanser is a good idea because a lot of the stuff on your face is oily itself, and if you’re a fan of vinaigrette dressing, you’ll know that oily stuff and watery stuff don’t mix with each other. So an oil-based cleanser will mix with the oil on your face, from pollutants or sunscreen or liquid foundation, and draw all that oil out of your pores and off your skin. This is also a good time to gently massage your face, to increase blood flow and make you look all radiant and stuff. A lot of oil-based cleansers also have soothing botanicals and various ingredients to improve your skin’s health. Shop around and find one that does what you need it to do.

The water-based cleanser, on the other hand, does mix with the non-oily stuff on your skin, like dirt and sweat and powder, to take that off. The cleansers I’ve used are not grainy or abrasive – the goal is to remove impurities and polish skin very, very gently, so that your skin stays soft and happy and doesn’t get all scratched up. Remember that apricot scrub we all used for our acne in the nineties? This is the opposite of that. Gentle is the way to go.

Of course, exfoliation is important, and I do it weekly, right after the double-cleanse and before the toner. Depending on your skin, activities, and the season, you may need to exfoliate more or less often – dry winter skin might need it less, and sweaty summer skin might need it more. A gentle exfoliating scrub should get into your pores and lift up dead skin cells and oil that’s gotten embedded in there so that you can wash it off, and it should polish your skin to a nice shine. It should NOT make your skin red, itchy, or irritated. If any face product does that, stop using it. This exfoliating scrub is what I use, and man, if you’re a picker and a popper when it comes to skin (solidarity, comrades), this stuff is soooooo satisfying. I use it in the shower, and I rub it into my face for a solid minute – scrubbing gently for longer is better than scrubbing hard for a short time – focusing on my nose and chin, where I have big pores and breakouts, respectively. You can actually feel the dead skin rolling up under your hands. When you rinse it off, it’s a whole new feeling of clean. Follow that up with your toner, and you’re ready to moisturize!

Let’s recap, Fledglings. This seems like a lot to take in, but I promise it’s not. Here’s the order of operations for the Cleansing half of your Korean skin routine.

  1. Makeup Remover (if needed). Take it all off.
  2. Oil-based Cleanser. Dry face, dry hands, rub it in good and rinse it off.
  3. Water-based Cleanser. Wet face, wet hands, rub it in good and rinse it off.
  4. Exfoliate (optional/weekly). Wet face, wet hands, rub your face for a good minute, rinse it off.
  5. Toner. Completely dry face, completely dry hands, shake toner into your hands and pat onto your face, OR shake onto a cotton ball and swipe across your face.

Do these things, and your face will be squeaky clean, pH-balanced, and ready to receive all that good moisturizer you’re about to use. The Moisturizing half of the routine is the topic of next week’s blog, so come back next weekend and we’ll talk about how to finish strong.

Why a Skin Care Routine is Awesome

Mizon Products

I kind of went from zero to sixty with my skin care, not gonna lie. I didn’t have some crazy skin crisis – no, I just stumbled across an approach to skin care that holds my interest enough for me to make it a habit.

See, I have oily, acne-prone skin that tends to feel a little rough. Before I discovered Korean skin care, I was just using whatever exfoliating face wash was on sale at Walgreen’s, and I had no need to moisturize because OMG my face was so oily. I felt like any moisturizer would just float over the oil on my face. People are always like, “Oh, but your skin is probably DRY, and that’s why it’s OILY!” No, guys, my skin’s just oily. I don’t know why there’s so much crap out there for dry skin, but precious little is ever said about us oily girls. Nearly every skin care commercial I come across is all, “Is your skin super dry? Try this intense moisturizing cream that will stop your face from blowing away like flecks of burned paper!”

WTF guys, I can’t use that stuff. My face would be one enormous zit. Part of the reason I don’t wear makeup is because after an hour or two of having foundation and powder on my face, it all gums together into this shiny nastiness that makes me look like I have frosting on my face. That being the case, I’m perfectly content to leave my skin alone.

And that, Fledglings, is why I fell rull hard for the Korean philosophy of skin care. Where American women focus on makeup and skin care is kind of a close second, in Korea, *skin care* is in the spotlight, and makeup is just for fun. Turns out, this is because you don’t NEED a full face of makeup if your skin is healthy and glowing already because you’ve been investing time in taking care of it. Consider me intrigued.

I was going to run down my skin care routine in one article, but it turns out that, no, that’s going to take way too long. So now we’re doing a skin care series! I dunno about you, but I’m excited. If you don’t have much of a routine, there’s no time like the present to start pampering yourself and looking even better than you already do. Don’t be scurred; I’m gonna break it down into manageable pieces for you.

The main things you need to know about starting any skin care routine is to do your research, be consistent, and don’t forget the sunscreen. If you go into it with those three things in mind, you’ll be just fine.

  1. Do Your Research. Whether your first stop is the internet, your facialist, or your local Sephora counter, look into what you’re buying before you check out. I highly recommend learning about different products, both by reading articles and on YouTube. SokoGlam’s Klog has great advice and product reviews as well. It’s important to know what you’re getting yourself into and how to use the different products properly. You don’t want to waste money on things that aren’t formulated for your skin or that contain ingredients you know you’re allergic to, so make sure you have a routine in mind that works for your skin needs and budget, and THEN go shopping. Remember, you can always buy a few things now and slowly add to your routine; you don’t have to buy ten things all at once.
  2. Be Consistent. Don’t fool yourself into thinking your skin is going to look flawless the next morning after starting this. If improving your skin is a goal, it will need to be a long-term one, and you will have to commit to doing your full routine, morning and night, no matter how tired you are. But after that first month of doing my skin routine twice a day, I noticed a BIG difference in how my skin looked and felt, which encouraged me to stick with it. So find a routine you can do every single day, no matter what, and watch your skin slowly improve as the months go by.
  3. Don’t Forget the Sunscreen. This is so crucial, guys. When my dad got diagnosed with skin cancer a few years ago, I went straight to the dermatologist for a skin checkup. I asked her if I was at risk for the type of skin cancer my dad had, and she said, “I would expect someone with that type of cancer to have a lot more sun damage than you have, so as long as you’re diligent about wearing sunscreen and protecting yourself from sun exposure, I think you’re low-risk.” Good enough for me! I wear sunscreen almost daily (hey, I’m not perfect, especially on weekends). Even if skin cancer isn’t scary – it should be, but still – not wearing sunscreen opens your face up to brown spots, wrinkles, and redness that I’m guessing you don’t want to deal with. So put on the sunscreen. Do it.

So how’s my skin doing with the Korean routine? Amazing, actually. I’ve been really pleased with the Mizon product line, although I’m interested to try other ones. My acne still flares up, but it subsides very quickly compared to what it did before. I’m talking going from a week or more with the same breakout, to a few days before it’s handled. Great stuff. The skin under my eyes is also far less puffy, and my whole face feels softer. The pores on my nose are way less obvious as well, something I’ve struggled with since junior high, so I’m stoked about that.

Next weekend, we’ll talk about that legendary double-cleanse that’s been taking the skin care world – and my face – by storm! Stay tuned, Fledglings, this is going to be a fun series.

**NOTE: Nobody is paying me to shill their products, and all my images are either taken by me, or I found them on Google. Please don’t sue me, I’m poor.**

Product Review: Shovava Wings Scarf

Okay, we’re gonna talk about skin care next weekend, but I had to interject to tell you about this amazing artist I found.

Ever since I saw these scarves, I thought to myself, “I need one of these in my life.” Through the power of Google, I found Shovava’s Etsy Shop. You can just feel the love she puts into these scarves.

Tax refund in hand, I ordered one, and asked her if I could make a blog post about the scarf once it came in, to which she readily assented. I have a lot of ‘meh’ purchasing experiences (don’t we all), so when I come across a really fantastic product, I want to give its creator credit so that they can keep creating. As the economy trends toward casual labor, like temps and part-time workers, we should all be pulling to spend our dollars on quality and service, not on cheap, breakable crap.

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Just look at those colors.

I went with the browns and greens because I wanted a light wrap to go over spring and summer dresses, although she makes scarves in deep blues and reds as well. She can’t do tracking on overseas packages, but mine arrived with zero issues, and I’d order from her again even with the no-tracking thing. It ships from Australia, so us American ladies just have to wait for the mail to come in, which takes a good couple of weeks.

But man, is it worth it. I got the cotton one, and it’s light enough to be comfortable in hot weather, but it adds just enough warmth and coverage to an outfit. West Texas can be cool and breezy in the mornings, but ramp up to searing-hot by afternoon, so thin layers are a must in this climate. I’ve already worn it with a maxi dress, and I fully anticipate wearing it over shorts and a tank top in the near future.

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Style tip: wear it with your favorite pug shirt.
Don’t let it get rained on, and don’t toss it in the washing machine – this baby is a work of art, so following the care instructions is important. Of course, I’ve already snagged one teeny-tiny thread on the back of a chair, but I think I got it worked back in. Just my luck, of course.

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The flowier the better for summer, guys.
In short, go to the link up top and give Shovava some love (and money). Also, follow her Insta because pretty much everything she does is gorgeous.

Okay, next weekend is definitely skin care! I’m gonna tell you all about my oily, oily face. You don’t want to miss that, now do you?

Work Makeup for the No-Makeup Girl

Mascara

Fledglings, I’m not a fan of makeup. Mainly because I’m a fan of sleeping. When I discovered Korean skin care, I knew I’d found a home, because their philosophy is ‘more skin care, less makeup.’ As someone who’s had acne since she was eleven, this speaks to my soul. I couldn’t get on board with putting on makeup to hide my acne, but having the makeup cause more acne, then having to wear more makeup to cover the extra acne…where does it end, guys?

Well, for me, it ended with a realization that there’s no moral or career-based requirement to wear makeup, and that like any other fashion choice, I should be intentional with what I do to myself and make sure I feel happy with how I look. That feeling of empowerment and self-ownership is way more impressive than presenting a face that’s not yours to the world.

So am I here to tell you that you have to wear makeup to the office? This isn’t an episode of Mad Men, so no, I’m not. Makeup is a tool, and if you want to use that tool to get a specific result, then you should learn how to do it properly and how to care for your skin while you use it, and then you should use the crap out of it and feel great about yourself while you do. And if you’re sitting at work without a bit of makeup on your face (like me), and you feel like your most beautiful self, then I hope you just crush it today, because there’s no reason you shouldn’t.

But where, oh where, does a no-makeup girl get advice on how to rock juuuuust a little makeup when the mood strikes her? I went on that journey myself, and here’s where I got good information:

  • YouTube – there are approximately a floppity-jillion makeup tutorials out there, and I highly recommend you watch some of them to learn how to make your makeup work for you. There is everything from basics to crazy-advanced techniques, and you can easily blow a weekend watching them if the mood strikes you.
  • Sephora Sales Associates – this one is how I learned to fill in my eyebrows. Go to Sephora, or any makeup counter, but Sephora really is packed with great people who’ll help you out and they have a great return policy. Tell them what you’re wanting to learn how to do, whether it’s ‘apply mascara’ or ‘find and apply foundation that actually matches my skin.’ They’ll sit you down with some samples and walk you through what they’re using on you and how to do it, and then you can buy what they used and take it home to try it on your own! You might balk at their prices, but if you wear makeup once in a blue moon (like me), a lot of the stuff you buy can last forever (just don’t keep mascara for too long or it gets all germy – more on that later).
  • Friends in the Know – Do you have a friend who works at a makeup counter, or is a professional stylist? Or is she just That One Friend whose makeup always looks perfect and stunning? Either way, she had to learn how to do makeup, which means she can probably teach you too. Meet up for a wine and makeup party, and get your bestie to show you how she does her face so you can pick up tips on technique. Even if you only wear makeup once a year, you want to get it right once a year, especially since you’re probably getting your picture taken if it’s a special enough occasion for makeup.

Great, you know things! Now, how do you keep your skin healthy during those times you decide to wear some makeup? This is crucial, because you don’t want to get into that spiral of acne/makeup/more acne/more makeup. You also don’t want to accidentally give yourself a skin or eye infection from dirty makeup tools – yes, that happens, and it’s super gross and I don’t recommend. Let’s discuss skin care as it applies to makeup.

  • Invest in Good Makeup Remover – What goes on, must come off, and the Korean philosophy is that you should spend as much time caring for your skin as you spent applying your makeup. It’s astounding how much makeup can stay in your pores, even after you’ve washed with soap. I prefer to use oil-based makeup remover to get rid of eye makeup and lipstick, and then use the Korean double-cleanse method to get all that gunk off my face for good. The trick here is to allow yourself enough time before bed to really get in there and remove all of your makeup and do your full routine before you go to sleep. If you’re already into a good skin care routine, you should be set, but if you’re not, this is a good time to start. Don’t go to sleep with makeup on your face; you’ll regret it so hard in the morning.
  • Wear Sunscreen, No Excuses – When my dad was diagnosed with skin cancer, I went to the dermatologist for a skin checkup. I asked her if I was at risk for skin cancer too, and she said, “I would expect someone with the type of cancer your dad had removed, to have a LOT more sun damage than you have. So keep protecting your skin from the sun, and you should be low-risk.” That’s all the encouragement I needed! Whether you work indoors, or it’s cloudy, or whatever, you need sunscreen every single day. Shop around to find one that works for your skin, or if you like wearing tinted moisturizer or foundation, get a brand with sunscreen in it already and save some time. Don’t skip this; the scars my dad has from skin cancer treatment are truly gnarly, and I would hate for any of you to have to go through that when dabbing on some lotion in the morning is the best way to prevent it. If you do nothing else to your face at all, you should still wear sunscreen.
  • Wash Your Brushes – Your skin makes a LOT of oil, and your makeup brushes pick up that oil, even if you’re applying makeup to a clean face. Wash them with mild soap and water occasionally, marvel at all the gunk running out of them, and let them air dry. If you don’t wear a ton of makeup, you probably don’t have a million brushes either, so it’s a quick thing you can do on a Saturday to save your face from breaking out. Bonus: it also keeps your makeup looking fresh, as dirty brushes can make your makeup look muddy.
  • Protect Your Eyes – If I’m putting on any makeup at all, it’s probably just lips, lashes, and brows. Eyeliner and mascara go right on your eyelids, meaning you definitely don’t want those tools to be dirty – pink-eye is gross and painful, and it is definitely caused by dirty mascara applicators. Since I don’t wear it very often, I buy the travel-sized mascara tubes, so that I go through them quicker and they don’t have time to sit around marinating in eye-germs, or just drying out and being a waste of money. Be careful with your eyeliner pencils too – I use a cream liner and a tiny brush, because I’m afraid of scraping my eyelid with the wood of a pencil, but if you keep a good sharpener around and make sure the pencil is in good shape before you draw, you should be fine.

Professionalism Note: I mentioned public speaking in my previous post on work hair, and your makeup can help your public speaking as well. Put a little something on your lips and your eyes, even if it’s just some lip gloss and a single coat of mascara, to draw attention to your face when you’re addressing a group of people. It helps keep your audience’s attention, making them more engaged in what you’re saying. Again, makeup is a tool that you can use to your advantage, and you should utilize it in those times that it would help you out.

There you have it: an intro to makeup and skin care that will keep your wallet and your face happy. Remember, take care of yourself, and present an honest face to the world, no matter what that face looks like or has on it. I’ll talk more about my journey of adopting my skin care routine next weekend – caring for my skin has made me way happier than I anticipated, and I recommend good skin care to everyone, makeup or no-makeup.