Up until college, my skincare routine consisted of the washing of the face in the morning when I woke up and before I went to bed. After a brief period where my skin broke out completely around three years ago, I started to add an acne cream to that. Starting around a couple of months before my stint in Korea, I began to apply a light layer of foundation. Once in Korea, I discovered and became attached to BB cream and have since become a fan. It was only a mere month before I left Korea that I even began thinking about touching upon what seemed to be a pretty intense skin regimen that Korean women followed, but what I had thought it encompassed wasn’t even close. According to what two of my friends said (one the manager of a branch of The Face Shop, a Korean cosmetic and skincare store, in California, and the other a Korean-American friend), there are several things you should apply to your face to keep it young and healthy:
- Cleansing: consists of two steps with the pre-cleanse (usually an oil or cream-based product that’s used to deep clean and remove make-up, sunblock, sebum, and dirt) followed by a mild foam cleanser of some sort.
- Toner: the toner helps balance the skin’s pH, clean up any remaining debris from skin’s surface, soften the skin as well as acting as a humectant (attracting the atmosphere’s water molecules to the skin’s surface to maintain skin’s hydration) and is also great for firming up the pores.
- Serum (aka Essence): a lighter moisturizer with small molecules meant to penetrate the skin and giving moisture and hydration to the lower skin layers, which will keep your skin healthy and youthful.
- Daily Moisturizer (aka Emulsion): this lotion is used to seal in hydration and moisture to the skin and lasts throughout the day.
- Sunblock: this helps to protect skin from harmful UVA and UVB rays which can cause aging, hyperpigmentation and other skin diseases in the future. Ninety percent of aging and hyperpigmentation are caused by the sun, so to maintain healthy and youthful skin, the cheapest anti-aging product happens to be sunblock! However, do not be fooled by sunblocks that have super high SPF (because in order to achieve high SPF means that they used high levels of chemicals and harmful ingredients). In addition, skin can only absorb up to 30 SPF, so you are wasting money on products that claim to HIGHLY protect you from the sun.
- Night Cream: night cream is 30-50% more richer than emulsion, because thirty percent of cell renewal happens at night while you sleep.
I left Korea with a skincare regimen that included my normal facial cleanser of a generic Korean brand, BB cream with built in sunblock, powder foundation from Skinfood, my Bling Stick from Etude House, my liquid eyeliner also from Etude House, and the toner and emulsion from The Face Shop‘s White Tree Snow line. I thought I was already spending way too much time on my face. Then I was told that there was more – and not only that, they wanted me to put oil on my face? haha, I can’t say that it didn’t make any sense at all to me. After all, I’m aware that if you dry out your skin, it tends to overproduce oil to make up for it and you end up with more pimples. However, I had never heard of this oil cleanser – it seemed like an oxymoron.
Then, not too long ago, another one of my friends sent me a link on homemade oil cleansers, asking me if I made it before. It finally got me thinking. It’s okay if one person tells me about washing my face with oil, but there’s now three people talking about it. There’s got to be some clout to this, correct? Well, I read that small article on oil cleansers and some parts called out to me-
The reasons we have so much trouble with mainstream skin care products are numerous, but two reasons, in particular, lead the pack. These products strip the oil out of our skin, leaving our largest organ trying to repair itself by replacing the oil stripped away. This leaves us in a cycle of being tight and dry followed by the inevitable oil slick. Each time we strip the oil away, our skin over-compensates for the lack of moisture by creating more oil. On top of the drying effects, these products are highly-scented…
…when cleansing and moisturizing your skin, it is imperative that you keep in mind that oil dissolves oil. Your skin naturally lubricates itself with oil, and as we are creatures of adaptation, one can believe that if this weren’t the appropriate built-in care for ourselves, our bodies would have adapted to suit the need.
Oil, alone, will not bring you blemishes. Pimples, cysts, zits, blackheads, whiteheads… these are a result of several different factors including hormones, bacteria, dead skin cells and the buildup of these factors. Your skin naturally produces oil because it needs it. It is not a malicious force to be reckoned with; it is there for the benefit of your skin, allowing your largest organ to function properly. It is naturally occurring. Not only does your natural oil help lubricate, it also heals, protects, and moisturizes your skin so that it may function properly.
It made me think of the oil that always floats to the surface of water. It makes sense and I admit that a large part of me has been brainwashed. I have combination skin, you see, and I occasionally get that shiny t-zone, especially in the summer. Now that I’ve returned to the States where I live in the south, I want to avoid that shiny t-zone even more. Even so, I found myself running through some stores that might sell castor oil. I never got around to it. However, yesterday, I met up with my Korean-American friend (she just returned to the States a week ago) and we reminisced, confided, and ate our way through my edge of the woods. Along the way, we saw that a new Face Shop had opened so, of course, we had to support them so we went on over.
Because they had only opened for about a week, they had a grand opening special and on top of signing up for a membership card (sort of like a point card), you could get up to 10% off your purchase as well as the mandatory gift I come to expect with all of my skincare purchases in Korea.
YES – let the freebies come! I missed those. T__T Well, while perusing, my friend questioned me about my skincare rituals. I left out the make-up portion of it but answered with, ” facial cleanser, lotion, and toner?” She got this look of utter disbelief when she found out I only had one general cleanser and didn’t use anything special to take off make up and she proceeded to tell me, “No, girl. Nuh uh. We’re not young anymore. First you need…,” then she started with her spiel on Proper Skincare. Well, fine. I decided to purchase my first oil cleanser and facial sea sponge, which also gave me an excuse to start a new membership and take advantage of the small discount on the slightly more expensive products (they were imported, so I’m not pointing fingers…).
I ended up purchasing Migamsu’s (미감수) Cleansing Rich Oil. The Migamsu line is made with rice water, which is a traditional custom used by women in Asia to wash their face – it’s said to brighten and smooth out your skin, amongst other things. It was also the 2nd most expensive item they had there (I wasn’t going to pay $20 for cleansing oil but I wasn’t that cheap to spend just $11 on it) at $15 per 150 mL bottle. After all, I would be returning to Korea so I can get more there at a cheaper price.
I was rather excited to try it out. It was rather an intense workout with Insanity and I was ready to get clean – but first, my face. Following directions from my friend (the only English on the bottle are the ingredients), without any pre-cleaning, I donned on a headband to keep my bangs out of my eyes and pumped two times and a thin and cool oily substance flowed onto my palm. It felt reminiscent of baby oil, though lighter, and even smelled like it too. I rubbed it between my hands and began massaging my face for a couple of minutes. At first, I was wondering what in the world I was doing, but then, I slowly felt something different. My skin felt cool and lighter – like it was breathing. As I continued, I felt little granules of something – gunk from pores, perhaps? – appear as well. Then it slowly didn’t feel as oily. I then wet my face sponge with warm water and gently wiped at my face until it felt clean, periodically rinsing the sponge when needed.
As it was only the first time, I can’t say much, but I can say that I’m liking the results so far. 🙂 I don’t have a microscope to check out my pores and my face generally looks the same as the other times I had washed with my normal cleanser, but it feels softer and smoother. I’m hoping it continues, and perhaps I’ll look more into the other skin products as well, though I don’t think I would ever end up using four different lotion products at the same time.