Winter Dry Skin Cure? Korean skin care?

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.

Korean skin care

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?

33 Comments
Petunia November 26, 2014

Hello Again Patty, I forgot to mention that if you are interested in viewing utube videos of a more mature lady, Sally Hughes has done some really good videos on Utube. She has a medical condition that causes her to have severely dehydrated skin but you'd never know by looking at her. Due to her condition, she focuses in on skincare like serums, etc. I don't think she has presented on Korean skincare but you may enjoy watching them. I especially liked her videos on layering and also on serums. She even has one on her perfume collection. Thanks again!

Anne November 26, 2014

Tatcha is amazing - the cleansing oil is something I adore. It will remove any makeup (really, anything) and the end feels so soft. Bonus points for being palm oil free. Quite like one of their other cleanses too. I use some Korean/Japanese face masks, especially for travel. Too much cleansing rips my dry skin up though and too many moisturisers bring out the oily side of my dry. So balance is necessary. Mostly I use the Frankincense line of Neal's Yard, because largely sustainable and does lovely things to my skin with minimal effort. Plus I like the smell of Frankincense. There are lots of other Korean bits and pieces I use.

Unpaletteable November 26, 2014

Ugh, Korean skin care is a massively enjoyable rabbit hole to fall down. I love how much more common it is to see actives, plant extracts and ferments right up at the top of the ingredients list, and often accompanied by a smaller price tag (compared to Euro/US skincare). Win win. One thing that has helped my skin in winter (the most?) is face oil....not as in cleansing oil but as in rosehip/argan/whatnot that you leave on your face. Actually adding a step to the Korean routine here!

tammy November 26, 2014

I had the MOST amazing skin for about two weeks while using the Tatcha enzyme powder; my skin was smooth and plump and freaking gorgeous. My husband even noticed and made comments every freaking day! Then one day, it started severely drying my skin out. The gentle one wasn't any better. Even once a week. My skin is like that with lots of things, though. I can use something for a few weeks, then it either starts breaking me out or I don't get the same results. Most moisturizers break me out, and all sunscreen does. Well, the sunscreen doesn't break me out with zits, it's more of an allergic reaction...itchy, burny, etc. And I think I am the only person on Earth who didn't get good results from Paula's Choice!They are very nice, however! Stuff with rose in it seems to be what works best for me. That Fresh face mask is especially soothing for me, I don't even rinse it off. Dr Hauschka (sp?) rose cream is also pretty good for me, but I can't use it daily. I have been tempted to try the Annick Goutal rose stuff, but at that price, I'm scared to bite! Have y'all seen all the Korean Beauty boxes available? It's not all skincare, but they sure seem like fun.

Petunia November 25, 2014

Hi Patty, I've been using The Cure too. There is a blogger on Utube named Maddie who does tutorials about how to use Korean skin care. I did a little bit of research and there is a lot of love for this particular product. I have a hard time with Retinol too. I am particularly interested in finding a good serum so thanks for the recommendations.

Janice November 25, 2014

I agree on the Tatcha Camelia cleansing oil. My face tends to be oily in places and it was so counterintuitive to use an oil cleanser, but it doesn't leave any oily feeling at all. I also use their exfoliating powder afterward. I had tried a bunch of those "microdermabrasion" cream things and most of them left my face red and irritated, but this one is pretty gentle. Still experimenting with different serums and creams, thanks for the suggestions!

Eloquaint November 25, 2014

I live on the American tundra and have dry skin year round. During the winter it can get so bad that I get what I call "face dandruff." I don't think the Korean routine would work for me because my skin is sensitive and goes nuts if I try to put more than two or three products on it at a time, and everything has to be unscented. Prevage nighttime moisturizer by Elizabeth Arden is my magic bullet. Argan oil if It gets below zero. I should say when it gets below zero.

mikasminion November 25, 2014

I am so glad the Korean skincare thing has become a thing here. Makes it so much easier to get new goodies. I love many of the Missha things and usually stock up when they have their big sales. I find that even the scented stuff doesn't bother me and the Super Aqua Cell Renew stuff works really well for me even though it's super light. The Time Revolution Night is great stuff too. I also really love the Benton Snail Bee products and Banila Clean It Zero balm cleanser. Of course, I have a zillion sheet masks and other fun stuffs to experiment with but those are the things that stay in permanent rotation. I do have a pretty steady relationship with some Japanese stuff too; the Cure Aqua Jel, Hada Labo UV Gel which is SPF 50 PA +++ and the best primer ever, and yes, Babyfoot. My husband really hates the Babyfoot thing and I have to admit, it's pretty gross about day three of peeling but it works really well. If you do it, be sure to remove nail polish, soak your feet in hot water for an hour first, have them completely clean and non-lotioned, and I always leave them on for at least 1.5 hours, have a trash bag handy and remove the socks in the shower or tub (you do not want to skate across the bathroom on the gel), and do yourself a favor and buy the Large if your feet are US 8 or larger. I've never tried the U.S. version because the Lavender scent is so repulsive I just trashed them, but the Japanese ones work well. If you use them, remember to be patient. I always think about day four that I must have screwed up and then about day five the tops of my feet start to peel like I've had a sunburn and it all goes crazy from there. I think Etude House, the faceshop, and Holika all have a similar product and the Korean ones are sometimes cheaper but I haven't tried them. Also, in the winter I top my multi layer skincare routine with Paula's Choice Skin Recovery Mask. I also use it as handcreme and eye cream and I never wash it off like a mask. I have quite a few PC products that I use within my Korean/Japanese/American/French crazy layering routine. Wow. Guess I should zip it but I obviously get pretty excited about keeping my skin happy, and treating it with multiple layers of actives and moisturizers works really well for me. Good luck! Hope you have great results too.

Nemo November 25, 2014

I hope this works for you! I have dry skin and Korean mom who is obsessed with skincare...so this article made me smile a bit :) She is always buying me new lotions and stuff, but the only ones I remember to wear on a regular basis are the daytime face lotions and the creams at night (esp. in cold weather). Recently she's given me several tubes of eye serums...maybe it is a hint?

hajusuuri November 25, 2014

Oy vey - 17 products will drive me crazy. I'll stick to La Mer...I know it is pricey but it actually works for me. That said, I'll probably check out a few of the items you mentioned. Thanks!

donnakitt November 25, 2014

Wowza, Patty, your post comes at the perfect time! The dry air of the East Coast pales in comparison to CO but I'm sufferin' from dry, dry skin and look forward to trying some of the products from your great list. So glad you're feeling "dewy"!

Jennie November 25, 2014

I have recently discovered Korean products here in a new chain of shops in Australia, and have bought a CC cream, cushion blush and a face mist. I've been really happy with the quality of these products and they were not really expensive. I really like the wet cushion products on my skin, easy to apply and they don't feel heavy. The shops also sell a small range of fragrances from Etude House and I have bought one or two of them - nothing super sophisticated but still quite lovely.

Amy November 25, 2014

I just added a bunch of these to my Amazon wish list, because I've been having the same problems with dull, dry skin. That Cure Natural Aqua Gel sounds magical! Have you tried Dr. Jart Ceramidin moisturizers? There's a liquid that you put on first, and then a cream that goes over it. It's been keeping my flakes under control.

Sun Mi November 25, 2014

I'm half Korean and I am waaaaaaay too lazy to do all of that. I was tempted to go to the new faceshop store though and start trying out some Korean make-up removers though. Perhaps that will be my downfall into the rabbit hole of Korean skin care...