What K-beauty products should be in your arsenal if wrinkles and anti-aging are on your list of skin concerns? Read on below for our top picks.
Lines, wrinkles, and the like may be inevitable, but you can slow down the process by stocking your skin care routine with the right products. Some of the youth-preserving ingredients we swear by are antioxidants, AHAs, vitamin C, and hyaluronic acid. You’ll find them, and more effective ingredients, in the K-beauty products highlighted below.
When skin ages, it can become sallow and less even in texture. This cleansing balm contains rice water and fermented grains that boost cell turnover, revealing brighter, smoother skin. The formula also contains chrysanthemum extract, a source of anti-aging vitamin A.
Give your skin a “treat yourself” moment with this pearl extract-infused cleanser. Pearl extract offers multiple benefits that are helpful for those seeking a more youthful-looking complexion. It’s brightening, soothing, rich in free radical-fighting antioxidants, and can aid in stimulating collagen. Another star ingredient in the creamy formula is algae extract, which is also a source of antioxidants, as well as hydration.
Resveratrol is the antioxidant in red wine that gives the beverage its supposed heart-healthy benefits. It’s also an excellent skin care ingredient. In addition to protecting against free radical damage, it’s also a naturally-occurring AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) that exfoliates skin.
These gentle yet effective pads are drenched with the ingredient, along with pore-cleaning and exfoliating lactic acid.
As skin ages, it cannot retain moisture as well as it used to, resulting in a loss of elasticity, wrinkles, and a less plump appearance. With its ability to retain over 1,000 times its weight in water, hyaluronic acid can help prevent these issues by keeping skin hydrated.
This toner contains a combination of hyaluronic acid molecules for even better results, in addition to brightening camu camu, and firming ginseng root extract.
K-beauty products are known to be gentle and sensitive skin-friendly, so you won’t often find an ingredient like retinol in them. This essence is an exception. The formula features a cocktail of anti-aging vitamins including vitamins A (retinol), C, and E, yet is not harsh or irritating. It also contains tannin extract and EVERMAT, a patented ingredient, to minimize the appearance of pores.
This serum is considered a holy grail product for a reason. It contains 20.5% pure vitamin C, which in addition to preventing signs of aging from forming, treats pigmentation and brightens. It should be a staple in any anti-aging regimen.
The very first ingredient (i.e. the most concentrated) in this sheet mask is black tea ferment. Black tea is an antioxidant that can help protect skin from UV damage and environmental pollutants that cause signs of aging to form and thanks to its caffeine content, it can also tighten and tone skin.
Consistent use will offer the best long-term results, however you can expect a brighter and more hydrated complexion after just one 20-minute sheet mask session.
In your 20s, hydration is the name of the game when it comes to eye cream. Beyond that, it’s time to up the ante. This formula is hydrating, plus it contains ginseng extract, an ingredient that has been shown to firm and smooth the appearance of fine lines. It also boots circulation, a trait that helps de-puff and minimize dark circles around the eye area.
When skin is dehydrated, fine lines and wrinkles are more apparent and it’s more prone to forming new lines. This is why moisturizer is a key component in any day or night skin care routine. This ultra-nourishing formula contains ingredients like trehalose and betaine that help skin retain moisture, in addition to snail mucin (a natural source of hyaluronic acid), and wrinkle-fighting adenosine.
Sunscreen is arguably the best defense against signs of aging, which is why we recommend wearing it every single day. This is the perfect everyday formula because it’s lightweight, fast-absorbing, and offers SPF 50 protection. Plus, it contains hyaluronic acid and aloe vera for bonus hydrating and soothing benefits.
+What are your favorite anti-aging skin care products? Share them in the comments below!
Bringing out the best in our skin has less to do with layering on as many serums as humanly possible and more about focusing on the actual health of your skin. This starts with a healthy skin barrier.
The role of the skin barrier is to keep water in and irritants out. It is protected by a thin layer of lipids made up of sweat and sebum called the acid mantle. When the skin barrier is functioning optimally, your complexion will be supple, clear, and glowing – basically the characteristics that all #skingoals dreams are made of. If your skin barrier function is damaged, the skin will have a hard time retaining its natural moisture levels, which can lead to skin that is dry and tight. While it may seem counter-intuitive, dehydrated skin can also over-produce sebum to compensate for the lack of hydration. And that’s not all; skin can become sensitized, easily irritated, and more prone to breakouts.
There are a handful of factors that can damage the skin barrier – and many of them are beyond our control. One is age. As we get older, the skin barrier will inevitably start to weaken. Environmental irritants like pollution and cold weather can also attack and impair barrier function.
While you can’t stop time or change the weather, you can help your skin better protect itself by incorporating the products and ingredients mentioned below into your routine.
A Low pH Cleanser
Firstly, you may want to consider using a low pH cleanser. There are many glowing reviews for various high pH cleansers online and this is because some skin types with healthy skin barriers are able to use them without issue. However, if you think your skin barrier function may already be weakened, I’d recommend switching over to a cleanser that is going to be gentle on a compromised moisture barrier to prevent further damage. Consider the Acwell No 5.5 pH Balancing Micro Cleansing Foam which as the name suggests, sits at a ideal 5.5 pH to support barrier function.
Of course, we can’t talk about strengthening the skin barrier without mentioning ceramides. Ceramides are the building blocks of the acid mantle and directly fortify skin barrier function. Luckily there are many products on the market right now with skin-loving formulas that include ceramides. A 2017 Best of K-beauty Winner and a personal favorite of mine is the Klairs Rich Moist Soothing Cream, it’s the perfect consistency – it’s not too heavy, and not too light and works for most skin types, even those that are quite sensitive.
As mentioned, the key role of the skin barrier includes keeping water “in” to ensure the skin is properly hydrated. We can support this function by using ingredients like hyaluronic acid to plump the skin. The Plant Base Waterfall Moist Balanced Hyaluronic Acid 100 is a hyper-targeted serum that is made up of 100% pure sodium hyaluronate. This form of hyaluronic acid has smaller molecules than average which means it is able to better penetrate the skin to flood it with hydration.
Lastly, one of the most important steps you can take to protect your skin barrier function is to ensure you are wearing sun protection everyday. Sun protection is your number one defense against premature signs of aging. Learn more about how to apply SPF for full protection to best support barrier function here.
It’s always in your best interest to use products that are formulated with your skin health in mind to support and strengthen barrier function for a healthy, glowing complexion.
If the zodiac signs were steps in the 10-step Korean skin care routine, which would they be? Indulge us as we explain.
Into astrology? So are we. In fact, unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past couple of years, chances are you can easily recite not only your sun, moon, and rising signs, but those of all of your closest friends too.
In addition to reading our monthly and even daily horoscopes, we also can’t get enough of the astrological-themed memes and posts that have been all over social media lately. The signs as breakfast foods? The signs as classic horror movie villains? Sign us up.
While we in no way endorse assembling a skin care routine solely based on your horoscope, we couldn’t resist having some fun by pairing parts of the 10-step Korean skin care routine with astrological signs.
So without further ado, scroll through to see what product category best represents your sign and to find out your skin-scope, as dictated by the mind of a Pisces.
Aries – Spot Treatment
As the first sign of the zodiac, Aries are never afraid of a challenge. In fact, most Aries thrive on new and complex situations, preferring them to mundanity and routine. You attack situations head first and with the intensity of a spot treatment. You also have little patience and like things with quick and easy resolutions. If you are looking for an Aries partner, it is important that you challenge them and match the level of energy they bring to all aspects of their life. If not, they could grow bored and move on after a while.
This month: Slow down and remember to do the small tasks you always put on the back-burner. Sleep in and go to bed early. Attacking everything with the zest of the spot treatment will burn you out. It’s important to remember to relax and rehydrate.
As an earth sign, there is nothing a Taurus appreciates more than a little bit (or a lot) of personal space. While everyone else can’t wait to spend their weekends going out and socializing, you look forward to holing up in your room and doing a bit of pampering. After all, there is nothing a Taurus values more than comfort and feeling good. This is because your ruling planet, Venus, is the planet of beauty, finery, money, and love. And nothing represents this desire for luxe ‘me time’ like a sheet mask.
This month: Buy a new book. Pull out your fluffiest blanket. Take a little extra time to relax, light a candle, and crack open your favorite sheet mask. You deserve it.
Geminis sometimes get a bad rap as two-faced. Not only is that not true, but you’re actually one of the most multi-faceted and complex signs of the zodiac! After all, you’re one of the three dual-natured signs. Signified by double imagery (Pisces as the two fish, Libra as the scales, and Gemini as the two twins), this represents the polar extremes you often experience. What should you eat for dinner? Where should you go for a little weekend trip? Geminis are always willing to try something new and never feel like there is enough time in the day to do it all. What better form of skin care to represent this duality than the double cleanse?
This month: Focus on balance and equanimity. Days spent outdoors on new adventures should mean nights in practicing self-care. It’s OK to rest and rebalance. You need it Gemini.
Darling Cancer, you may have a tough exterior, but there is no one sweeter than you. Just like the crab that represents your sign, Cancers often appear closed-off and distant. That solid outer shell that protects you from the outside world is similar to the hydrocolloid bandaging of a pimple patch, protecting and gently subduing the sensitive skin underneath. And the truth is, once they finally open up, having a Cancer in your life will truly nurture your soul. Naturally empathetic and caring, Cancers are often the ‘mom-friend’ of the group.
This month: Dream bigger. Commit to playing by someone else’s rules for once. Open up and make a new friend. The time to think big is now.
Represented by the lion, there is nothing a Leo enjoys more than positive attention. But with a love for celebration like yours, it’s important that you know how to prepare for the spotlight. What better way than with sunscreen? After all, you’re ruled by the sun, a mark of your stability. Unlike the other signs, which are ruled by individual planets, your governing body will never go into retrograde. Those who know you best will vouch for your loyalty and fierce dependability. And this is just the kind of attitude we want to see directed towards sun protection.
This month: Seek out a new adventure or go on an unexpected outing. Use this time away to get in touch with what you really want this year to look like. And don’t forget to pack your sunscreen!
Dearest Virgo, ever the perfectionist. Stubborn but sweet, those who know you best know that you criticize only because you care. In fact, if criticism was a love language, it would be yours. But take a cue from the exfoliator in your routine, and learn how much to poke and prod without being TOO much. After all, both harsh physical scrubs and over-exfoliation can lead to tender and overly sensitive skin, just as you can inadvertently hurt the feelings of those you love the most.
This month: Plan a nice date, whether its for your partner or just for yourself. Take the time to call the loved ones you haven’t heard from in a while.
Libra, although you’re an air sign, you value balance, equilibrium, and stability. The people-pleaser of the zodiac, you can’t help but tip back and forth to make everyone in your life happy. Although some may accuse you of not being true, we know you just have a big heart and want to make everyone happy. Just like essences, which are the heart of the Korean skin care routine, you get along with everyone (and every skin type). But do you ever stop and think about yourself?
This month: Take a trip to a body of water (the beach, the ocean, a lake, etc…) to clear your head and reimagine your sense of self.
Although Scorpios may be a water sign, they have a distinctly fiery nature. Represented by the Scorpion, they are the the fiercest of the water signs. Passionate and intuitive, trust us when we say that you always want a Scorpio on your side. These water signs have a unique way of always having events turn out in their favor, most likely because of their unwillingness to acknowledge any other outcome. Like a serum, they are all about the long game, planning months and sometimes even years in advance to get the ideal (skin).
This month: Take a soak in the tub. Unpack your recent fears and worries. You have a tendency to bury everything in a negative away, this weekend don’t let that happen and confide in a friend.
Who’s ready for an adventure? Sagittarians always are. Fueled by a constant wanderlust and thirst for knowledge, it’s hard to capture a Sagittarian’s attention for long. You are always on the move, and always with a surplus of friends. As one of the funniest signs of the zodiac, you attract friends and partners into your your life like flies to honey. Just be sure to pack the perfect tools for all of your journeys. Cleansing water will be the perfect companion for those long days and even longer nights.
This month: Get creative. Start a new project or craft that you’ve been putting off. Try a triple-cleanse!
Hard-working Capricorn, no sign understands the meaning of putting your nose to the grindstone better than you. Represented by the sea-goat, Capricorns are the sign most compelled by wealth and success. Therefore it’s fitting that you would be most similar to eye cream, as it probably features very prominently in your routine to help with your dark circles from all those late night cram sessions.
This month: Take a step back and remember that success isn’t everything. The people in your life can sometimes feel neglected by your single-mindedness. Meditate and reconnect.
Oh Aquarius, your head is always up in the clouds. As the last air sign in the zodiac, you represent free-thought, eccentricity, and non-conformism. Those who don’t know you well have always accused you of dreaming rather than doing. But we know better. Aquarian souls are visionaries, and there is nothing they love more than a CAUSE. Dreaming is the perfect first step to championing your ideas into reality. Just don’t forget to remember to apply that sleeping pack before nodding off into dreamland!
This month: Take some time to yourself. Turn inward and practice self-care that you so need at the end of this hard winter. Catch up on your beauty sleep.
Sweet Pisces, as the last sign of the zodiac you absorb the traits and characteristics of all the other signs. A natural empath, you can’t help but soak up the energy that everyone else is putting out into the universe, just like a clay mask. While this makes you the wisest and most empathetic of all the signs, it also means that sometimes you forget to come up for air and drown in a sea of emotions.
This month: Remember to check in with yourself, your body, and your surroundings. For example, pay close attention to your clay mask and don’t forget to wash it off before it has dried completely!
Welcome to Dispatch From Korea, a series where you’ll get the inside scoop on the latest K-beauty news straight from our friends at Soko Glam’s Seoul office. Today we’re talking about the clean beauty movement and why K-beauty brands are getting on board.
Clean beauty has been a growing trend in the U.S. for the past year or two, and now it’s taking off in Korea as well, largely as a response to something called microdust.
Microdust, a form of air pollution, is a major issue in South Korea right now. The government frequently issues warnings about high dust levels and encourages people to wear masks when outside. In addition to posing a serious general health risk, the poor air quality also affects the health and appearance of the skin.
Personally, my skin was always pretty much concern-free – even during my teen years – but the continued attack of fine dust and air pollution changed my skin overnight. It was more irritated and I was waking up to breakouts and pimples. In response, I knew that I needed to try something different from my usual skin care routine so I sought out products free of toxins that could irritate my very stressed, sensitive skin – and I’m not alone in this.
More and more women in Korea are searching for cleaner and non-irritating choices for their skin as well as their body. Korean women do not hesitate to stand in the middle of H&B stores (Korean drugstores) to read the ingredient labels on the back of products – and even enjoy it. Many people use HwaHae, an app with over a million monthly users that conveniently let’s you analyze ingredients in specific products and read authentic reviews.
As more Korean consumers become more conscious about non-toxic ingredients, the number of “clean” beauty brands and products available is growing.
Now, it’s important to point out that “clean beauty” is an unregulated term with a very broad and loose definition. In my opinion, a product is clean if it doesn’t contain parabens, sulfates, silicons, triclosan or synthetic fragrances. With that in mind, here are a few of my favorite Korean brands in the category.
The name Sioris originated from the combination of words “simple” and “original” and the brand’s motto is “Fresh, Safe, Honest”. To maintain freshness of natural ingredients, ingredients are harvested from local farms and manufactured within a year.
The A Calming Day Ampoule contains 86% of Omija fruit extract, an antioxidant-rich adaptogen usually found in Korea, China and Japan that fights stressors like pollution.
We’re in the throes of winter which means your lips are probably chapped right now. Below, two experts explain how to get the most out of your lip balm, how to find a better one, and what simple habits can help keep lips from getting dehydrated in the first place.
I have a lip balm on my office desk, a lip balm in my office desk drawer, a lip balm on my nightstand, and on my vanity, and in my gym bag, and at the bottom of pretty much every purse I own. And yet, ever since winter hit, my lips are chapped all the time.
Despite being such a small and seemingly simple product, it can be surprisingly difficult to find a lip balm formula that does what it claims to do. After sharing my frustrations with two dermatologists, I learned that there are several reasons for this. Read on below to find out what they are.
You May Not Be Using the Right Type of Balm For Your Lip Concern
There are three main types of moisturizing agents: Humectants (like glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and honey), emollients (plant oils like argan and avocado), and occlusives (petrolatum and beeswax). While all three hydrate skin, they do so in different ways.
“Humectant ingredients can pull moisture to the top layers, moisturizing balms can soften and [add] moisture to the lips, and waxy [ingredients found in] ChapStick and Vaseline create a barrier to hold in moisture and prevent further dehydration,” says Dr. Tsippora Shainhouse, a board-certified dermatologist based in Los Angeles.
What this means is that if you apply Vaseline or beeswax on dehydrated lips, for example, you’re not really treating the root of the issue. “[Emollient] ingredients such as shea butter will penetrate the skin while beeswax will just sit on the lips,” says Dr. Debra Jaliman, a board-certified dermatologist based in New York City.
A more effective treatment would be to apply a balm that contains humectant or emollient ingredients, and then apply the occlusive on top to seal the hydration in. Or even better? Apply a lip balm that contains all three of the aformentioned moisturizing agents like the Klavuu Nourishing Care Lip Sleeping Pack.
In order to fully reap the benefits of a lip balm, you may first need to exfoliate the dead skin cells away with a lip scrub. Dr. Jaliman recommends using a brown sugar formula once a week (you don’t want to over-exfoliate), and Dr. Shainhouse suggests a formula that contains fruit acids that gently sloughs flakes away.
Your Lip Balm May Contain Ingredients That Are Working Against You
“If your lips are constantly dry and irritated, it is very possibly an irritation from an ingredient in the lip care product,” says Dr. Shainhouse.
There are a lot of lip balms out there that are loaded with potentially irritating and drying ingredients. According to Dr. Shainhouse, the list includes fragrance, preservatives, chemicals, phenol, menthol, and camphor (found in popular balm Carmex).
Instead, look for formulas that contain less filler and more hydrators like natural butters such as shea butter and cocoa butter, and oils like almond oil, jojoba oil, coconut oil, and calendula oil. The latter comes highly recommend by Dr. Jaliman. “Calendula is an excellent humectant and also has calming and anti-inflammatory properties which can help soothe very dry, chapped lips.”
Dr. Shainhouse also likes glycerin, hyaluronic acid, and honey as lip ingredients.
There Could Be Some External Factors Working Against Your Lip Balm
“Lips do not have oil glands, and cannot produce protective oils. The skin on the lip is very thin; moisture easily evaporates, drying the surface skin,” says Dr. Shainhouse.
Cold temperatures, wind, indoor heating, salty foods, matte lipstick, and even talking a lot can all contribute to damage and dehydration of the lips. A lip balm can only do so much in the face of factors like these. To combat the elements, use a humidifier, drink plenty of water, avoid licking your lips, and opt for a tinted lip balm over a dehydrating liquid lipstick.
All lip balms are not created equally. Always check the ingredient list and stay away from allergens and say yes to humectants and emollients. And if you’ve found the perfect lip balm and your lips are still chapped, take a look at your daily habits or consult with your dermatologist.
+What’s your favorite lip balm? Share in the comments below!
So you’ve noticed your first wrinkle – don’t panic! Here’s what to know and what do now.
Though it happens to all of us at some point, coming across that first wrinkle can be a bit of a shocker. It’s not really a reason to wallow — getting older is a gift! — but we obviously understand the desire to curb signs of aging, including fine lines, age spots, and skin laxity. This can be done with specific habits and products, and there are even a few advanced treatments out there that you can explore, as well.
We’re breaking down all the above with some expert help.
When Do Wrinkles Typically Start Forming?
The term “premature aging” can be a little confusing. What is considered premature?
“By 30 most people will start to see a wrinkle starting, but people who abused the sun in their teens and 20s can see wrinkles earlier, especially if they have fair skin,” says Dr. Elizabeth Zeitler, a board-certified dermatologist based on the Upper East Side of New York City.
In addition to sun, she says that a primary cause of early wrinkles is over-use of facial muscles. She calls these people “face talkers,” or people who make dramatic facial expressions often. It can also be caused from a repetitive motion, such as squinting repeatedly out in the sun, lifting your eyebrows up and squishing your forehead, frowning, and yes — smiling (but please don’t stop smiling!).
So, if you’re developing wrinkles and other signs of aging in your early to mid-20s, this is considered premature. If you’re getting them in your 30s, then they’re right on time. And if you get them much later, props to you for your regimen and/or congrats on the gene pool you were born into!
How to Adjust Your Routine Once Wrinkles Begin to Form
Prevention is the best way to curb signs of aging, and the best form of prevention is religious application of sunscreen and avoiding the sun. Doing both can slow down the process of a fine line turning into a deep wrinkle, and the formation of future lines, sun spots, and laxity. Continue — or get more serious about — your sunscreen with the first sign of a wrinkle. Outside of that, our dermatologists recommend the following:
Drink More Water, Wear More Moisturizer
“Moisturizer works to improve the appearance of a wrinkle by making the wrinkles less deep. Keeping your skin hydrated will also help in preventing fine lines and wrinkles,” notes Dr. Debra Jaliman, a board-certified dermatologist based in NYC. Drinking water also plumps the skin, only from the inside out. Dehydration, even if mild, can exacerbate the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and can even make your skin look dull.
One of Dr. Jaliman’s favorite moisturizing ingredients is hyaluronic acid. She says, “It’s a natural humectant that helps to attract and retain moisture. It restores hydration to your skin while aiding in boosting firmness and plumpness in your skin.”
Use Ingredients That Reverse and Curb Signs of Aging
In addition to hyaluronic acid, Dr. Jaliman recommends incorporating more potent anti-aging ingredients into your regimen. Her four favorites are retinol, niacinamide, lactic acid, and vitamin C.
“Retinol helps to stimulate a quicker renewal of skin cells. When someone uses retinol, the outer layer of the skin is sloughed off and the newer skin underneath is revealed,” she says. “Lactic acid helps to stimulate collagen synthesis. It improves skin texture, the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and helps those who have hyperpigmentation.”
Vitamin C is a potent antioxidant that prevents free radical damage while brightening. Niacinamide is another antioxidant that has a ton of benefits. For starters, it stimulates fibroblasts that make collagen and helps even out skin tone. It can also improve the appearance of enlarged pores and dullness.
There are, of course, some minimally invasive anti-aging options to consider, such as Botox and filler. These must be done under the care of a certified injection administrator (PA, RN, dermatologist, plastic surgeon) and should be prefaced with thoughtful discussions about the risks and your aesthetic goals. An alternative to filler is Platelet- Rich Plasma, or PRP.
“With PRP, your own plasma is injected back into your skin, which regenerates tissue and promotes your own collagen production to smooth and tighten. It can also plump cheek indentations and soften under-eye hollows,” explains Dr. Jaliman. “Because the PRP is sourced from the patient’s body, it eliminates the risk of an allergic reaction. It typically requires three to four treatments.”
Non-ablative lasers are another option. These improve skin tone and texture and help to minimize both pore size and fine lines. They also have the bonus of correcting previous damage from acne and scars.
Finally, you could incorporate dermal rollers into your routine, which are available over the counter. We’re partial to the Easydew Ex DW-EGF Derma Roller Program Special Kit ($55), which contains a dermal roller and 7-day supply of EGF ampoules. It’s meant to be used in a week-long succession as a drawn-out rejuvenating facial.
“Dermal rollers stimulate the muscles to help bring oxygen to that area. This helps with anti-aging because collagen production increases as blood flow increases through the facial massage,” says Dr. Jaliman. It also allows for better absorption of your products. You just need to make sure you’re keeping the device sanitary to prevent potential infection.
If you get your first wrinkle, it’s not the end of the world. Keep on wearing sunscreen, incorporate anti-aging ingredients into your regimen, and should you desire, look into some more aggressive treatments. And remember — you’re gorgeous!
+What other questions do you have about fine lines and wrinkles? Share them in the comments below!
The climate you live in can have a direct impact on your skin. Here, one writer shares how her concerns and routine changed after moving from the East Coast to the West Coast.
I haven’t always had the best luck with my skin, especially in my adult life. Once I wrapped up my college years in the fresh-air climate of middle-of-nowhere Pennsylvania, I headed back to the crammed streets of NYC, and my skin was in for it. Luckily I had spent years in the city that never sleeps, so I had my Big Apple skin care regime down and ready to go for the pollution and congestion that I was about to face. I was prepared for the sticky, humid, acne-flaring summers, and the cold, frigid winters that left my skin tight and dry.
Thicker moisturizers, such as the Botanic Farms Avocado Honey Rich Lotion, were my best friend, and I almost could never get by without a spot treatment, like the Cosrx Acne Pimple Patch. What I didn’t know was that when my days as a born-and-bred East Coaster would come to a close in the summer of 2016, so would that alternating beauty routine of mine that I had worked so hard finessing. I’d be moving to Los Angeles and everything was about to change, especially my skin care.
I’m not so sure if it was the excitement of making a big move or if I was just naive, but I completely disregarded the effect that climate can actually have on your skin. Within several weeks of being in Southern California, I had noticed my skin was different but I couldn’t quite put my finger on why just yet.
For anyone who’s been to Los Angeles, I’m sure you’ve heard the people who live here say things like “the weather here spoils you”, or “the best part about living here is the weather”, and I’ll have to admit, I’ve become one of those people. Escaping humid summers, frigid winters, frequent rain, etc., is one thing, but noticing a change in your skin because of this is a total game-changer. Now, allow me to explain just how my skin care routine has switched up since heading west.
It may sound a bit cliché, but I did try to adopt a healthier lifestyle once I moved. I was working out a lot more often, which meant I had to cleanse my skin more often too, but the type of cleanser I was using changed. Back in NYC, I used acne-fighting cleansers, typically salicylic acid-based ones because the environment contributed to more frequent flare-ups and blemishes. I also made it a point to use physical exfoliators frequently because I could feel the buildup and grime on my skin from public transportation and other factors.
Now here in LA, I like to start with a gentle cleansing oil to remove all of my makeup and impurities without any harsh chemicals. I then follow with a foam cleanser because it’s just as gentle and leaves my skin feeling refreshed, glowy and not stripped of any essential oils. As for exfoliation, I prefer to do an at-home peel once a week now since I don’t feel that my skin is as stressed as it was before.
Moisture and Protection
As I mentioned before, when living in New York I relied on rich moisturizers to get me by during the harsh winters. On the other hand, during those sticky summers, I stuck to more lightweight moisturizers and face mists to cool off midday. Now, I’ve found that gel-based moisturizers are more of my go-to whether it’s winter or summer in Los Angeles. They sit comfortably underneath my makeup and don’t get in the way of the natural state of my skin, no matter what the temperature is like. As for SPF, that’s stayed the same, because we all know we should be wearing that all day, every day, no matter where we live.
Serums, Oils, and Toners
When I was back on the East Coast, I wasn’t as adventurous with my skin care as I am now. I was definitely one of those people who shied away from using face oils for fear of getting oily skin as a result, and I found serums to be overwhelming. So let’s just say those two weren’t really part of my routine until I moved to LA. As for toner, I used a salicylic acid-based one to further treat my acne flare-ups after cleansing, and then followed up with my moisturizer. Here in LA, I learned that face oils and serums are part of almost everyone’s skin care DNA and I must’ve been silly for ignoring them in New York (I’m sorry to all of my NYC skin care aficionados!), so I’d decided to give them a go. During the day I like using a serum infused with Vitamin C which helps me with any scarring and dark spots from past acne, and at night I use an anti-aging serum to target fine lines and wrinkles.
I’ve always been a lover of face masks—seriously. I can count back to my junior high school days where I would slather on a Clean & Clear mask to battle my pre-teen acne and indulge in a faux spa day at home with a set of cucumbers across my eyelids. As an adult, I relied on charcoal masks to draw out any impurities when I was back on the East Coast, but in LA I have another main priority: brightening. LA skin is all about having a dewy, natural glow and I need to brighten up the state of my natural skin in order to achieve that. I love to throw on a brightening sheet mask at least twice a week to give my skin a treat and a radiance boost.
All in all, the biggest takeaway for me has been that my skin concerns have changed in general since moving from coast to coast. While I can worry less about frequent acne flare-ups and congestion, I cater more to the radiance and overall moisture levels of my skin. I’ve also branched out and tried more products than I ever have before, and have become quite the skin care junkie if I do say so myself. In addition to the climate, my healthier LA lifestyle has definitely contributed to the improved state of my skin. During the last two years, I’ve noticed the overall texture of my skin become a lot smoother when in the past I had dealt with rough patches and several acne scars, dry patches, bumps, etc.,.
I have to admit, while LA has been good to my skin, New York taught me a lot about it.
+Has a big move ever impacted your skin care routine? Share in the comments below!
Welcome to Dear Soko, a series dedicated to answering your biggest skin care questions with advice from Soko Glam’s skin experts. Whether you’re confused about specific ingredients or what you need to do to achieve healthier skin overall, these experts are here to guide you.
This week’s question comes from Francesca, who asked, “Is there an accurate way to evaluate my skin type at home without going to the dermatologist?”
Here’s Soko Glam’s skin expert’s answer:
Starting your skin care journey can be intimidating because there are so many products to choose from. We recommend focusing on narrowing the choices down by skin type and skin concerns for the best formula to find products that are well-suited to you and will offer the results you are looking for. Here are some tips to help you pinpoint what exactly your skin type so that you can confidently start building your perfect routine.
First things first, skin types are not set in stone. The climate you live in, the time of the year, and even your age will affect how your skin behaves. To be sure you are using the most effective products for each season, reevaluate how your skin feels and make note any of changes. Just as you’ll find yourself layering more clothes as it starts to get colder, your skin may need an extra layer of hydration, for example.
All skin produces sebum throughout the day and even while you rest at night. Those with oily skin types however find that their face is producing sebum to an extent that their whole face is often ends up with a noticeable sheen.
If makeup or SPF tends to melt off your face, you can find yourself blotting multiple times a day, or if your pores look enlarged, you may have oily skin.
If you find that your t-zone is the only part of your face that gets oily, you might not be a true oily skin type and could be combination or normal.
The key to picking products for oily skin types is to choose lightweight formulas and to only layer as many products as you feel comfortable with to avoid a “heavy” feeling on the face. Oily skin types can find themselves wanting to skip moisturizer or SPF, but they shouldn’t! Skipping moisturizer can make your face dehydrated which will lead to the skin to start overproducing sebum to compensate. Instead of a rich cream moisturizer try a lightweight emulsion instead. Stick to similarly lightweight products for SPF, to ensure your skin is protected from the sun, a sun essence, sun milk, or a gel texture will melt right into the skin and keep you from feeling the extra layer.
The basis of any skincare routine is to keep the face cleaned and properly hydrated. All skin types should be using moisturizer to keep their skin supple and nourished. Those with dry skin types, however, especially have a hard time keeping their skin in this state.
If you find you can’t leave the house without moisturizing even in the warmer months, that full coverage foundations tends to cake on your skin, or that you face tends to crack or flake in the cooler months, you probably have dry skin.
The key to picking products for dry types is to keep hydrated with light layers of suitable products. One rich cream moisturizer may not be enough – so think of layering with a hydrating toner or toner and essence combo. To combat dry flakes be sure to have some exfoliation in your routine and even a moisturizing sleeping mask can be great. You can even wear your sleeping mask out in really cold or dry days or on a plane for some extra protection!
Oily skin types are working to combat oiliness in the face. Dry skin types are working to combat dry flakes and a tight feeling to the face. Combination skin types have to deal with both.
If you would use a matte foundation for your oily forehead but a BB creme for your dry checks, you might have combination skin. Of course, this is not the only way to have combination skin! Any combination of oily and dry patches can lead to you having dry skin.
If you find that your skin only get dry during the colder months or oily in the warmer months, you might not have a combination skin type and are experiencing seasonal changes. Try to understand how your skin acts during mild and moderate temperatures to get a better idea of your skin type.
It can be tricky to pick products for combination skin types because it encompasses such a large variety of skin behaviors. To pick the best products for you, you’ll want to determine if your skin leans to combination-oily or combination-dry. With combination skin types it’s best to mix and match your products accordingly. So if you lean combo-oily add in a sebum controlling toner to your routine or if you lean combo-dry use a rich moisturizer sparingly in the areas you need it. By keeping most of your routine full of products that are formulated for your skin type but then adding in a product here and there are more targeted to your concerns, you’ll be able to see the best results!
“Normal” skin isn’t very temperamental. This doesn’t mean that normal skin types have no skin concerns. Normal skin types can have concerns with pigmentation, fine lines, acne, or any of the other skin concerns that other skin types deal with. There concerns are just not linked to their skin type.
If you find that most products work well with your skin, that you only get oily in the t-zone, and dry only on super cold days you might have normal skin.
Normal skin types can get away with using most products. Of course you’ll want to stay away from a routine full of products formulated for oily skin as that will not be hydrating enough for you in the long run. Similarly, a routine full of products formulated for dry skin could be too rich and end up clogging your pores. Look for products formulated for “all skin types” but also my favorite tip for normal skin types is not to forget products that are formulated for sensitive skin types. Products formulated for sensitive skin are going to be more gentle and are generally formulated without common irritants. The moisture barrier protecting your skin is fragile and it’ll only benefit you to use soothing and calming formulas in the long run – so feel free to sneak a couple of those in your routine!
As a skin expert, I hear from customers who classify their skin as sensitive all the time, however it’s very easy to misdiagnose this skin type. Did you know there’s a difference between having sensitive skin and sensitized skin? Learn more about what both mean here.
If you have sensitive and/or acne-prone skin and are wary about using a potent exfoliating product on your face, but still want that magical glycolic acid glow, we’ve got the K-beauty product for you.
There’s been a lot of talk of the Pixi Glow Tonic on The Klog recently, or at least ever since I spilled the tea on how using it caused me the worst breakouts of my life.
Now, as I revealed in the piece, it’s important to note that the product itself wasn’t fully to blame for my skin issues. The formula has a cult following for a reason – just as its name suggests, it can give the skin a major glow if used correctly! The breakouts I experienced were caused by over-exfoliating my acne-prone skin with it.
The reason the Pixi Glow Tonic can deliver such impressive results comes down to the high percentage of the active ingredient glycolic acid that’s found in the formula. Glycolic acid has the smallest molecules of any type of AHA (alpha hydroxy acid), meaning it is able to most easily penetrate the top layer of skin to slough off dead skin cells, which when leftover can cause a dull appearance to the skin.
Those with sensitive or acne-prone skin, however, can struggle with using such high percentages of chemically exfoliating ingredients. I was not surprised that since discussing my experience in the aforementioned article, many members of our community have shared similar stories about the Pixi Glow Tonic.
If you’re interested in trying an exfoliating toner like the Pixi Glow Tonic, but irritation and breakouts are concerns, a gentle K-beauty alternative is the Troiareuke Acsen TOC Toner.
Troiareuke is a brand that many K-beauty bloggers rave about and its Acsen line (a combination of the first few letters of the words acne and sensitive), is especially popular. It can be tricky to find products that are effective at targeting and preventing acne while still gentle enough for sensitive skin types to use, so this is what the Ascen line seeks to provide.
In addition to glycolic acid, the Acsen TOC Toner (“TOC” stands for turn over cycle) formula contains sulfur to keep breakouts at bay and centella asiatica to soothe and to strengthen the skin barrier.
The brand doesn’t list the percentage of acid on the label or their website (this is true for many exfoliating products on the market including another cult favorite exfoliating toner, the Glossier Solution). What we do know, however, is that the TOC toner was created with acne-prone and sensitive skin in mind so the brand used just enough active ingredients to be effective without irritating or drying out the skin.
I have personally used the TOC toner for four months now and can attest that it provides a visible glow! Of course with its high percentage of glycolic acid, the Pixi Glow Tonic offers more of an immediate effect, not to mention it costs a very reasonable $15, but as we discussed earlier, the glow it provides is not without potential risks.
To get the best results from the TOC Toner, you’ll want to use it one to three times a week, though I’ve found I can use it daily without irritation (check out this article to learn how to determine the best exfoliating schedule for YOUR skin).
+Have you had success with using exfoliating toners? Share your experiences and questions in the comments below!