*UPDATED!* My Top 7 Favorite Korean Skincare Products

Pro Tip: Facemask-o'clock and Beer-o'clock should always coincide.
The "I'm Sorry for my Skin" brand can be found at Love Health + Beauty (LOHB).

Maybe it's a sign that I'm getting old but Facemask Happy Hour + Kdrama is becoming a favorite routine. Alcohol dehydrating you, facemask reviving you, alcohol making idiotic plots in Kdramas more bearable - it's really a great combination. I just finished Another Oh Hae Young which I actually enjoyed overall, but the female protagonist would whine and throw tantrums even beyond the acceptable Kdrama quota (which is already really high).  OKAY ANYWAY!

Some of the skincare I stockpiled and mailed to America before I left Korea. Not pictured: my empty wallet 

Living in Korea exposed me to amazing skincare and cosmetic products as well as the advantages of having a skin care routine. My favorite store is OliveYoung which I described in a previous post as "sort-of what you would get if you combined Walgreens and Ulta in the US". I love OliveYoung because they import skincare and beauty products (and snacks) from all over the world, not just Korea. They have such a remarkable stock of beauty and skincare products that it sets them apart from all other competitors, even though they cannot be described as a purely "Korean" store. For example, I was surprised to learn that my staple facial moisturizer, Physiogel is actually from Europe. (Still classifying it as a Korean beauty product since I can't find it in a physical store outside of Korea).

Since I moved back to America, I've been told many times that I look younger than my age. Whether this is an elaborate conspiracy of Regina George style compliments or not, I can say that my skin looked the best it ever has when I lived in Korea. I love skincare but I'll admit I'm lazier here in America because....everyone is. In Korea skincare was a priority and I had a morning and nighttime routine which I was diligent about. In America I sometimes cut corners at night.

Skincare/beauty products I couldn't live without

(Note: As you'll see, 6 of these are skincare and only 1 is beauty. Why? Because I'm terrible at doing makeup so definitely seek another blog for that. If you want to know how to glue your eyelid shut putting on fake lashes OR apply eyeliner with the craftsmanship/gross motor skills of a toddler then I can help with that).

1). Physiogel Daily Moisture Therapy Facial Cream 

I absolutely love the consistency of this cream. It's smooth, not too oily, and I can feel it "working" and sinking into my skin. My skin is normally too sensitive to use a facial cream daily, so I was pleased to discover this one feels very light. It's hypoallergenic so if you have sensitive skin that is easily irritated this is a good choice. There is no added fragrance. I usually apply BB Cream on top of Physiogel, but if I am in a rush, I feel confident that my skin will still look passable even with only this facial cream as the base!

The best part about this moisturizer, IMO, is the soft, smooth glow bordering on the "Korean dewy face". For me, it gives the perfect amount of "Korean dewy face": a subtle smoothness that looks even on the skin, with a slight shine. As one of the sweatiest foreigners in Korea, I always shied away from products that aimed for "dewy shine". Especially in the summer, my face goes from "dewy shine" to red-puffy-inflamed sweat lodge in 10 minutes or less. (In the summer, you can always see Korean girls fanning themselves while waiting for the bus, hoping their makeup wouldn't start running in the heat. When I tried this, it just made me sweat more (FAIL) so, I learned to embrace my sweaty American face every summer in Korea). I use this product year-round.

Bonus endorsement: My friend in Korea is a plastic surgeon and he told me the dermatologists at his hospital recommend  Physiogel for their patients as a moisturizer, which further sold me on this product.


2). Faith in Face After Shower Look Face Mask

To begin, GIVE ME ALL THE FACE MASK SHEETS! Since being home I've realized how SPOILED I was in Korea having access to hundreds of different face masks. That being said, I've learned that some face masks should be just for fun and photos, and don't really benefit your skin that much. For example, trendy and cheap masks, such as the Shrek Masks at OliveYoung, or animal masks from the store Butter, are only worth buying because they are "Instagrammable". They're fun and cute, but don't give any noticeable benefit to your skin, IMO. So, maybe there are some cutesy face masks which characters/animals on them that are actually decent, but I've generally stopped buying them.

ANYWAY! After Shower Look by Faith in Face was my go-to face mask in Korea. It's a gel mask (generally better than paper masks) that I used every week (FaceMask Monday!). Since I can't find it anywhere in America, I've been using different masks trying to find a new "go-to" brand. I'll be doing a "Facemask Winter Round-Up" in the next few weeks. If you're in Korea reading this, consider yourself lucky and go buy a Faith in Face mask!

WHERE TO BUY IN KOREA: OliveYoung, LOHB (Love, Health + Beauty)
WHERE TO BUY IN AMERICA: Amazon stocked inconsistently. HALP.

3.) Burt's Bees BB Cream (Light) and UPDATE: Precious Minerals BB Cream Blooming Fit (Light Beige)

Korea is the land of BB cream and yet my favorite one ended up being Burt's Bees. Yes, I know it's not Korean. Well, at first, I used Dr. Jart BB cream and I can attest to the quality of this popular BB cream. However, in Korea I sometimes had trouble finding the lightest shade for my extremely pale face, and even once made a mistake (an expensive one) of buying a BB cream that was much too dark for me to use, a mistake made by ambiguous packaging (seriously Dr. Jart?!) and maybe my lack of attention. After that I tried Burt's Bees BB Cream. It did exactly what it should: light, not too oily, giving the appearance of evenness across my skin. Sorry Dr. Jart!

TIP: Keep at room temperature. This is very important! Because it is made from natural ingredients, I noticed that sometimes the consistency of the cream would appear runny, with oils dripping out when opened. It reminded me of the way a bottle of salad dressing will separate in the fridge over time. Now, before use, I squeeze the bottle slightly to try and mix the ingredients together so that the oil is absorbed into the cream again. I noticed this happening in the winter time when my apartment would get quite cold if I was away for 24 hours or so, which makes me think the ingredients separating in the bottle is due to temperature. Another easy way to avoid the ingredients from settling like a bottle of salad dressing is to leave the bottle on it's side, not standing up.

WHERE TO BUY IN AMERICA: Walgreens, likely other pharmacy/convenience store combos (It's much cheaper in America! Yahoo!)

UPDATE: Etude House recently released an updated version of their Precious Minerals BB Cream, "Blooming Fit". I like it as much as the Burt's Bees BB Cream! It is smooth, doesn't look "cakey" AND has SPF 30! I'm sold. Still on my first tube so we'll see how I like it over time, but so far so good! I purchased this at the BesFrens store in Flushing. (Kbeauty mecca for anyone in Queens. Absolutely obsessed with this store).

I bought this while a bit tipsy at the Dongdaemun Design Plaza while taking refuge in the Tony Moly store there on a freezing February day (because it was on sale and the attendant was cheerfully stalking me).
Over the past few months I've been alternating between Eucerin Clarifying Toner and this Tony Moly Toner. The Tony Moly toner is mild compared to the Eucerin Toner, and I try to strike a balance of these toners on my skin. For example, if I use the Eucerin Toner daily, it leaves my skin feeling too tight or dry. When I use the Tony Moly Toner as a substitute, it feels more like a light serum and leaves my skin soft and feeling more nourished. Toners come in such different consistencies, I think trial and error is necessary to figure out what works best for your skin.

WHERE TO BUY IN AMERICA: Tony Moly in NYC. The link above leads to Amazon, which is showing either an outdated or updated version of what I bought in NYC. I haven't purchased this product off of Amazon before.

5). I'm Tic Toc Lip Tint

Hurray! The lone beauty item on the list! I bought multiple shades of this tint from the Memebox store in Gangnam after my friend told me how great they were. These tints stay on longer than any lipstick I've used. The full name is "I'm Tic Tic Cushion Velvet Tint" and applying this feels like using a felt tip marker on your lips.

The one problem I've seen is that if my lips are dry, the tint can appear cracked and less smooth. The simple fix to this is to routinely exfoliate your lips and apply chapstick (I use Burt's Bees original with no flavor or color). When my lips are hydrated, this tint works perfectly. I re-apply once or twice a day. I'm surprised how well it stays on, and it stains glassware less than any other lip product I've ever used.


6). Neogen Day-Light Sunscreen SPF 50!

My Neogen has seen better days...but that's because I bring it everywhere!

OH MY GOD. Game-changer. If you hate applying sunscreen because its thick, smelly, and doesn't absorb into your skin then this is for you! With my fair skin ("fair" is an understatement: I've already had one skin cancer surgery on my face) SPF is necessary in a daily moisturizer. This is the only sunscreen that I feel actually sinks into your skin. It has a light citrusy-scent that I don't mind at all. I can't say enough good things about this product. The reason this 50 ml bottle costs $30 is because it is the real deal.

WHERE TO BUY IN AMERICA: SokoGlam.com, Sephora, Amazon (*It's $4 cheaper on Amazon so that's where the link above goes to).

7). Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence by Missha


The best for last? Described by many as "The Holy Grail". Comparable to SKII's Essence (which sells for $100 a bottle). The magical ingredient in this product is fermented yeast. Look at this write-up on SokoGlam to become a believer in this product, they articulate it better than I ever could. I came to really appreciate this essence after I ran out and went a full 10 days skipping this part of my routine. I noticed greater dark spots and redness all over my face after just a week without it. The unevenness of my skin tone became much more exaggerated. My skin also felt rougher and more dried out.

I will throw myself under the bus for this product just LOOK AT THIS COMPARISON. Photos taken after showering and after applying Toner:

LEFT: 10 days without using Time Revolution Essence = red, irritated, dry, wrinkle-lined bitchface
RIGHT: only ~10 days back at it = already a more even tone, less irritation and reduced redness, hallelujah!

You see it right? Also - with bags like these, who needs a purse? Someone suggest a product for these bags under my eyes plz.

WHERE TO BUY IN AMERICA: It's $40 at BesFrens in Flushing! If you aren't able to get there, SokoGlam.com lists it routinely for $50.

Thanks for reading! Skincare Posts to come:

Ta-da! Not pictured: Faith in Face Facemask...last seen in Korea ㅠㅠ and Time Revolution Essence
(Bonus: Apeach magnet from Kakao Store ^^)

Facemask Round-Up: I've tried over 20 different kinds. What brands are the best? What brands are useless? What better ways can I spend my time?

Getting Skin Cancer Surgery in Korea: An alternative way to spend your summer vacation! (This actually happened: 36 micro-stitches fam)


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