A Natural Take on the Korean Skincare: Treat, Restore and Moisturize

Earlier we reviewed the first half of the Korean Skincare regimen. We talked about cleansing and refreshing the skin. Now we’re going to talk about replenishing the skin with nutrients.

6. Essence

This 80’s girl can’t hear the word “essence” without thinking of The Dark Crystal, but I digress…

Essence is something absolutely unique to the Korean skin care routine, but those who have tried it claim that this product step has been life changing. There is one shining star here: MISSHA Time Revolution First Treament Essence ($45). NO idea on what the magical ingredients are.

7. Serums

There are all sorts of things that fall into this category. Basically this is where things get real. This is where you address all your problem areas. This is also where stuff gets expensive.

A good overall facial oil is Boots Botanics Organic Facial Oil ($16) which may belong in the moisturizer category, rather than here.

Argon oil ($14.99) is the new “it” product in the natural beauty world. Argon oil can be used similarly to the way one would use coconut oil, but Argon has the added benefits of anti-aging capabilities. It also is known to heal acne and scarring.

For those of you with acne Burt’s Bees Acne Targeted Spot Treatment ($8.39) is the way to go.

For those of you concerned with aging, fine lines or want to prevent them try Dr. Andrew Weil for Origins Mega-Mushroom Skin Relief Advanced Face Serum ($71). This treatment pops up on regular and natural beauty tops lists.

8. Sheet mask

The sheet mask is another Korean innovation. It should be applied once or twice a week. (In Korea, women get professional facials once a week.) The Manefit Bling Blinb Hydro Gel Mask looks good to me and at only $6 it’s a fun, affordable indulgence.

For weekly maintenance I currently do one hydrating mask (Boots No7 Beautiful Skin Hydration Mask – $16.99), and one mud mask for clarifying (Chanel’s Purifying Cream Mask – $50). Neither is “green,” but both have been so life changing for me I won’t give them up just yet.

For a good DIY hydrating mask try ones with avocado or banana in them.

And a good green alternative for a mud mask is Boots Botanics Ionic Mud Mask with Willowbark ($9.39) or Now Food European Clay Powder ($7.41) (just add a little water and make a paste).

9. Eye cream

Eye cream has become a critical step in my skincare routine as I age. Finding the right eye cream hasn’t been easy either, and I’m still on a quest.

I’ve tried and have been moderately happy with the Vitamin E Eye Cream ($18) from The Body Shop.

Two others keep rising to the surface on beauty blogs, and happily they are also from more natural brands I know and trust.

Burt’s Bees Intense Hydration Eye Cream ($14.39) and GinZing Refreshing Eye Cream from Origins ($30). The first I just purchased, and the second is on my “to buy” list. I plan on putting the first on at night and the second during the day.

Another that I have come across is a little more high end is the Korres Quercetin and Oak Anti-aging Antiwrinkle Eye Cream ($45) at Sephora though reviewers claim the antiwrinkle part is a bit of a stretch.

10. Moisturizer

I feel like the best moisturizers are one thing women will get in a knife fight in. Once they find something they like, it’s becomes a passionate way of life. But finding the right thing for me has been a neverending quest. These moisturizers are appropriate for day and night use.

I purchased the Yes to Carrots Moisturizer with SPF 15 ($22), after reading good reviews. And though I would agree is much lighter feeling than most things with SPF in them, it still wasn’t for me. It doesn’t moisturize enough, and I don’t care for the scent.

Others suggested using straight up Coconut Oil. I found it to be much too greasy, and did not play nice with my makeup during the day.

I also tried oil cleansing in the morning, leaving some Olive Oil on for the day. Same results as the Coconut Oil, it did not get along with my makeup. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised as these are what I use to take my makeup off at the end of the day!

Shea Butter is a good simple possibility for day moisturizer as it can protect your from UV rays, and unlike coconut oil which has a comedogenic rating of 4, shea butter has a comedogenic rating of 0. These ratings show how likely it is to clog pores with 0 being not at all and 5 being likely. Therefore shea seems like a much better option for face, as well as those with acne prone skin.

A while back I tried Alba Botanica Hawaiian Moisture Cream ($19.49) and I really liked it. It was light and creamy at the same time, and smelled AMAZING. I may just end up back there.

A friend suggested Weleda Almond Soothing Facial Cream ($16.68). We use their Baby Calendula Face Cream on my daughter who has SUPER sensitive skin and love it. In the case of the latter, it’s thick and a little greasy, so best applied right after bath. Also smells great.

And finally Avalon Organics Lavender Luminosity Daily Moisturizer ($11.15) comes highly recommended by a friend. I just love lavender, so this may be one for me.

11. Night cream

The final step is one most Americans are familiar with – a thick night cream to help restore skin to its natural beauty.

High Potency Night-a-Mins from Origins ($41) seems to be a great night cream. I haven’t invested in this yet but it’s on my list. What’s noteworthy about this cream is that it pops up on traditional beauty lists, not just “natural” ones. That’s enough convincing for me that it’s a great product.

If it’s morning swap the night cream for a BB cream, which is what opened my world to Korean beauty in the first place. I have heard the US versions have nothing on the Korean ones, but one organic one I’ve found is Physician’s Formula Organic CC Cream ($11.99). Unfortunately it only comes in two tints, and the “light” – although it looks great in the package – dries much darker and makes me look orange. (phooey!)

Following this thorough regimen will surely result in dewy, younger looking skin.

A Natural Take on Korean Skincare: Cleanse and Prep

Earlier we touched on the several step process that is the Korean skincare regimen. Today we’re going to the look at the first half of it, along with product recommendations each step of the way.

1. Eye makeup removal

Eye makeup removal is an important and necessary process regardless if you are following this routine. I have used Clinique’s Eye Make Up Remover for years, but since switching to a more natural routine I’ve been using coconut oil.

Coconut oil is a perfect option for the sensitive eye area. Just apply, let set for a little, and watch your makeup melt away. Use a cotton pad to wipe away gently. Bonus it will moisturize and is rumored to help with eyelash growth.

2. Oil cleanse

Remember when I posted about the oil cleansing method? Well apparently I was really onto something because that’s what Koreans, super models and others use to wash their face – oil! I love washing my face with oil. I suffer from chronic dry skin, and using olive oil on my face has left it dewy and moisturized without it feeling heavy or greasy.

Western runway models, who are constantly taking heavy makeup on and off use, never leave home without  Bioderma Crealine H2O Solution Micellaire Cleanse ($31.33). It’s a cleanser with oil suspended in water.

Koreans use a cleansing oil like DHC Deep Cleansing Cleansing Oil ($24.95). This is a good “natural” cleanser.

But frankly, I wouldn’t shell out the dough for those. I love my olive oil and if you try it I am sure you will too.

3. Foam cleanse

Next is the “foam cleanse,” a cleanser that most Westerners will be more familiar with. I don’t do both of these cleanses at the same time. Usually at night I go from oil cleanse right down to the serums step.

The mornings are when I do a more traditional cleanser. I recently switched to Purpose Gentle Cleansing Wash ($7.55) and I have been very happy with it. It gets my face clean without over drying. It is appropriate for all skin types. It does contain sulfates, but that’s what creates foaming and so is necessary if that’s what you’re looking for.

Another highly rated face cleanser is the Tea Tree Skin Clearing Facial Wash ($12) from The Body Shop which would be a good option for those of you with acne prone skin.

If you want to go truly green, this would be a great place to introduce Manuka Honey. It will heal and prevent blemishes. Just take a small amount, massage it on your skin, wait a little and then rinse off.

4. Exfoliate

Exfoliation is something I do once or twice a week.

I’ve been using Vitamin C Microdermabrasion ($21) from The Body Shop. It’s pretty serious stuff, so be gentle and use it once a week at most.

One of the popular Korean imports is the Black Sugar Mask from Skin Food ($9.83). It comes highly rated and it’s on my “to try” list.

Another beauty darling is the Ocean Salt Face Scrub ($21.95) from Lush Cosmetics.

You can also make your own sugar or salt scrub at home.

5. Refresh/Tone

Toner is an absolutely necessary step in the Korean skincare routine. It opens your pores and lets them receive all the goodness you are about to bestow upon them. The critical information here is to have alcohol free toner. Alcohol just drys out your skin – not good.

I have been using Dickinson’s Witch Hazel ($8.22) for years and love it as a toner. It makes me feel cool and refreshed without over drying.

If you want to get fancier there are plenty of options out there. Next on my list to try is Thayer’s Alcohol Free Witch Hazel with Organic Aloe Vera ($8) which comes in Lavender (my fav!) and Rose Petal. Also highly rated, infused with Vitamin C is Avalon Organics Vitamin C Balancing Facial Toner ($9.74).  There’s also Boot’s Botanics Complexion Refining Toner ($8.39) which infused with clay I think would be best for oilier skin.

As far as the Korean imports two keep rising to the top: Wonder Pore by Etude House ($27.50) and Be the Skin Botanical Toner ($25.00) which especially intrigues me.