Extremely dry skin in winter has been my horrible reality since I moved to Denver over two decades ago. High and dry, no matter the increased creams, water, praying and cursing, always about January – sometimes earlier – my face turns into a cracked, flaky mess. It gets so bad, I can’t put on the lightest foundation or it just flakes. I don’t even want to talk about my hands. Hourly reapplication of hand lotion is a must.
After reading this article about Korean skin care, I’ve been on a mission before the worst of winter hits. Okay, Anita calls it obsessions, but whatevs! Yes, I’m obsessed with Korean skin products, not even kidding. First, it tends to be less expensive than the very pricy European/American products we are awash in. Second, the layering they do seems annoying at first and something I’m averse to, but the results are reported to be spectacular, and the pictures I saw bear it out. For me? Well, we’ll see. While writing this post, I ran across a NYTimes article about Korean skin care, and it looks like I’m on the trailing edge of this new trend by about a month or year or – how far behind on stuff is The Times?
Couple of things to know.
- First – Korean skin care requires a LOT of products. Yeah, a lot of them are pretty inexpensive. Some are mid-range’ish. But the costs adds up. What I’m doing is incorporating them as I deplete other products, and I am keeping some of my products that I love. A nice thing about Korean skin care is a wide range of prices will net you a good product. Some are better, but you can get a lot of inexpensive items that will be perfection.
- Second – Big deal with Korean skin care is cleansing. Cleanse twice or three times. I’m using Innisfree for my eyes. It smells great (olivey), it’s so gentle, but it really gets almost every speck of eye makeup off. I follow that up with Tatcha Camelia cleansing oil. Cleansing oil was a revelation. I had tried some other brand of cleansing oil once years ago and thought it was a mess. Not sure if my face changed or it wasn’t a great product, but Tatcha is aaaaamazing. It takes off anything, including some unused skin. It’s gentle as can be, but it feels like everything that shouldn’t be on my face comes off, and I’m not left with tight skin at all, which is a huge plus in my bitter battle with winter dry skin. Some sites recommend a foam cleanser too, and I’ve ordered Missha Super Aqua Foam Cleanser, which is also super gentle. I wasn’t going to do a foam cleanser, worried about drying stuff out, but after my lovely experience with the Missha Time Revolution (below), I’m sold on the brand.
Okay, basics are covered. Now your skin is clean. Time for the rest of the ritual.
- Refresh. I’ve always eyed the Sk-II Facial Treatment Essence, and I even got a small bottle and just never used it enough or been committed enough to shell out the bucks ($115 for 2.5 oz) for a normal size bottle or the large one, not really got what it does. But! Missha Time Revolution The First Essence was compared to the SK-II, with the Missha coming out soooo much better. At $43, I figured it was a bargain and sprang for a bottle. OMG, it is so yummy. After cleansing, you pour some in your hands and splash it all over your face and neck. It just smooths things out, calms them down. It is this product that made me feel okay about trying a retinoid again. My skin is just too sensitive and ruddy to take much retinol, and I freaked out using it and stopped. Now I’m back on the retinol (Skinceuticals) and not worrying about getting excess red in my face from it. If everything else works well enough, I may discontinue the retinol.
- Cream, cream, serum, cream, more cream, serum, ampule, cream. Just start slathering on a ton of my creams (using up what I have, some I’ll keep using). I use some Rodan and Fields products I love – Redefine Night Renewing Serum and the Soothe day cream for sensitive skin. I use Nia24 as well. I’ve got some new Korean creams coming, but I don’t have comments about all of them yet since I don’t have them. One I did get is the Sum37 Water Full Timeless Moisturizing Cream. Wow, talk about serious lasting hydration for the nighttime!
- Special stuff – exfoliate and masks. Exfoliation is a BIG deal for dry skin since the sloughy skin needs to come off, and it can’t be too harsh while it’s doing it. I ran across this Cure Natural Aqua Gel. It’s allegedly the best-selling product in Japan, which means it’s probably Japanese and not Korean, but let’s not quibble, everyone should have some of this in their face toolkit. Nothing harsh in this, it’s some plant extracts. You smooth it on your face, wait three minutes, you’ll probably get some weird bubbling, and then just massage it in, then rinse your face off. Use it like 2x a week. I’m giving you the directions because unless you read Japanese, you won’t find them on the packaging. $31 and a bazillion rave reviews, and I’m adding mine to a crowded love-fest. This stuff is soooo cool. Between it and the oil cleanser, I feel like my face is really sloughed of dead skin, but not harshly. There are more exfoliation and masks, but I’m using up a bunch I have from Amore Pacific. I won’t be trying more than just a few of the face paper masks for now.
What is the product that I’m sorta most in love with? It’s one that Target is carrying – Amazon has it too – LaNeige BB Cushion in Natural Beige. This product was a little worrisome at first, they don’t have a wide range of colors. I found only beiges on Amazon, but I have heard that Target carries a Dark, not sure how dark that is. $44, and you get one refill. You take the sponge and press it into your face. At first you’re thinking – really? It’s soooooo light and moist. Slowly but surely, as you press it onto your skin, those little weird places are covered, and your face looks dewy and luminous. Not oily, just fresh.
Listen, I don’t know that anyone has referred to my skin as luminous for the last decade, but after I put on the LaNeige, it is absolutely luminous and stays that way for quite a while and can get refreshed with some water refresher spray.
Better news, LaNeige BB Cushion has SPF50 built in, as well as softening, anti-shine and brightening skin products. So it’s a treatment as well. Okay, some/most of you may have already been on board this BB Cushion thing, but I missed it until now. It is GREAT coverage that is also light and doesn’t cake. Genius.
It’s hard to pick which one of my new Korean skin care products are my most favorite, I love them all so, so much. I’ve got lots more coming – the ones that are coming from Hong Kong. Yeah, I went overboard… theoretically. Normal Korean skin care routines are like 5-7 products in the morning and about 10 in the evening (this increases in winter). I’m only up to like 4-5 each, with more in the wings. I look almost, well, restrained!
I’m excited to see how it works out, and I’ve started to enjoy taking that 10-15 minutes in the morning and evening to take care of my face, neck and chest (wiping all excess on my hands, hoping for some miracle there as well). It’s pretty zen all in all.
Confused about what to put on when? Order does matter somewhat, but rule is lightest stuff goes on first. So the more watery it is, the earlier you put it on. Your last thing should be your thickest creams.
What I wish most is I could see all of your faces as you think about having 12-17 products a day applied to your skin. Probably what mine would have looked like if I had not hit desperation point before this year’s winter hit. It started there, but taking this much time on my face has been lovely. It’s the old theory of fixing what’s under the hood instead of relying on paint on top to cover it up. Peeling paint ain’t pretty, y’all. I’ve never had terrible skin, but age and dryness are ready to start taking its toll, especially in winter. Time to fix what’s under the hood.
Progress reports to com on whether or not my Korean skin care game starts to reflect in my face. With just a few days in, I can’t tell you that it is visibly different – too soon – but man it feels so moisturous and smooooooth. This is all I want, really, TBH.
Aside – has anyone tried that Baby Foot thing? An exfoliant for your feet, you stick them in the little bags for two hours, pull them out, and all your dead skin gets, um, removed somehow, it allegedly starts falling off your feet over the next week. I’m afraid to get it and that I’ll be too grossed out.
So will you try Korean skin care or have you tried it? Or no chance you’ll go through that many hoops even if you wind up with the skin of a teenager without the murder charge and crime scene tape around your house?