At first sight, Asian skincare seems pretty complicated. There is a whole world of new types of products and sophisticated application techniques that make their beauty rituals completely different from the European. You’ve probably read about ten-step Korean beauty routine and imagine Asian beauties religiously lying down for hours with sheet masks all over their bodies filled with snail, starfish and snake venom extract, caviar, ginseng and tomato stem cells all at the same time. Well, that’s basically true.
I normally think of myself as being quite lazy and not very experimental when it comes to skincare. I’ve chosen my products and I stick to the same routine for months. But once a colleague of mine ordered a whole box of Korean cosmetics and kept talking about how she was crazy happy about every single thing in it, so I couldn’t resist and tried it too. Here are some of my discoveries.
My favorite product from the list, this cream is a super lightweight gel-light emulsion that absorbs into the skin in the blink of an eye. Consisting of 30% low-molecular hyaluronic acid it is a perfect choice for spring when the skin needs a lot of hypoallergenic moisturising. It has no parabens but there are quite some silicons, although they stand next to some great things like Birch Sap, Bamboo Extract, Sunflower Seed Oil and Iris Florentina Root Extract on the ingredients list. Despite all the the organic components the cream has no smell and is packed in a pretty minimalistic dark blue tube that makes it a perfect unisex skincare product. It doesn’t perform an overnight miracle, but makes all the hard work of an everyday moisturiser with accumulative results – after one month I feel that my pores are smaller and there are less breakouts, irritations and visible fine lines. I apply the foundation right after using the cream and makeup distributes evenly without feeling too heavy on my oily-prone skin. And the best thing about it is the price: 8$ for a 45ml tube. I am definitely considering buying it again.
TONYMOLY Floria Cleansing Oil Refreshing
Maybe you’ve heard of the Japanese two-step facial cleansing routine, well, it turns out the same one is used in Korea too. The oil from a famous Korean brand TONYMOLY is its first step. This type of products is used to remove oil-like substances such as makeup and excess sebum. It has to be applied on the dry skin and massaged in the circular strokes, then, the water is to be added and the oil turns into a light white foam that you remove with small amounts of warm water. Although Floria Cleansing Oil is the first one I’ve ever tried, but I am pretty positive, actually, I like it a lot. Cleansing oils can be quite thick, but this one is definitely on the thinner side, which is perfect for someone who is not used to the routine yet (still, at first you might feel weird trying to “wash” your face with something so oily). One of its active ingredient is Damask and Western Rose that help to relieve problems of oily and combination skin (TONYMOLY has also oil for dry skin) and has a light floral scent. Overall the product is very functional but unfortunately won’t handle eye makeup such as mascara.
Muji Face Soap Moisture
After the facial oil comes the second step of the cleanse which is a facial soap or wash that helps to remove dust, dead skin cells and bacteria. Apply it on your hand, add water, then whisk the foam on your palm. Washing should start with the T-zone and end with the driest areas of the face (thus, the parts with excess sebum will be effected by the wash for the longest time and more dried out). Your fingers should never directly touch the skin, as it is believed to cause irritations, therefore a good foam is the key to success here. Muji‘s Face Soap certainly gives a good lather even without famous Japanese foaming nets (although I am certainly trying one later, too). It is fragrance free and without artificial colouring. It is, again, a very simple and effective product, minimalistic both on the inside and on the outside. It does not serve special needs of you skin or provide treatment, but it functions perfectly as a soap that cleans the skin without over-drying it, which is a winner for me.
Cefine Herb Clear Gel Pure
One more product type I’ve never tried before – an exfoliating gel that removes dead skin. The most expensive from this list ($30), this high-tech Japanese gel works miracles. It exfoliates not with abrasive particles, but with a special set of components including Ceramides, Hyauloronic Acid (there is no good skincare without it), Polyglutamic Acid, Vitamin C, Vitamin E, and Lavender Oil among other things. 10 seconds after the gel is applied you should start rubbing the face, and the dead skin starts peeling off like residue. It works as a scrub but it is so gentle it can be used as an extra measure every day after cleansing (remember, 2 steps!) and even on messed up skin. You will never believe how much dead skin you actually have. After the first application I felt like it was a pencil eraser for the skin — so much rubbed off. I keep using it just twice a week and feel like the 120ml bottle is coming to an end a little bit too soon, so next time I will opt for a more budget-friendly alternatives on the market: there are ones starting at $5.
The famous Korean sheet mask that makes you look like a horror movie character when you put on. There is a whole range of Innisfree three layers eco masks to choose from, each one packed individually and soaked in the essence of your choice. I went for Shea Butter one as emergency measure after my vacation in Phlippines when my skin felt dry and rough. The paper-thin mask is to be applied on the clean, evened out with a toner face for 15 to 20 minutes (the most difficult part: you have to spend this time lying down and naturally trying not to fall sleep). When removed, the remains of the essence can be gently patted into the skin. The face might feel a little bit sticky afterwards, but that’s natural for this type of masks, and the feeling goes away in a half an hour. The skin is left deeply moisturised thanks to Shea Butter and a herb complex consisting of Green Tea, Tangerine, Cactus, Camelia Leaves and Orchid. (A small tip: Innisfree has Shea Butter fingernail masks with individual sheet for every finger, which is supposed be effective and way too insanely cute not to try out).
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