My good friend was recently looking for writers for her blog; she came to me because I have been living in South Korea for over a year and plan to stay indefinitely. People always (actually only sometimes) told me, “You’re funny in a weird kind of way, do you have a blog?” or “Do you use Tumblr?” sometimes as an insult sometimes as a compliment. I thought about it, but I never really gave it a shot until now. A lot of people in different countries have shown an interest in Korean skincare so that’s where I’m going to start.
Alright so first, a little background information on my skin because everyone is different and it’s good to know where someone is coming from. I have incredibly sensitive skin. If I use normal laundry soap, and use the rinse cycle on a washer twice, I will get chemical burns everywhere my clothes touch. For skincare, I avoid anything with harsh chemicals, fragrances, silicone, dimethicone, or anything similar. If I use those I break out so much that I’m practically human bubble wrap. I also have combination skin that leans toward more dry than oily these days so I need moisture but not thick moisturizers.
There are a lot of Korean skincare brands out there so today I’m just going to introduce you to my two favorites.
First, I love Primera. Their products are made without preservatives so you have to use it up within a few short months before it goes bad. If you use it every day, you will run out of it while it is still good. They have different lines for different skin concerns. I mainly use the sensitive skin line.
As you can see, my cleanser is nearly empty and has traces of black body soap on it. Maybe I shouldn’t have said that and let you try to clean the smudge off your monitor or phone screen. It is about $8 and one tube lasts about 4 months. It smells amazing and it says it’s a cleansing foam but it is more like a cream cleanser. There are two varieties of this cleanser and I suspect the other one is foamier if that’s what you’re into. It’s really gentle and my face doesn’t feel tight after I use it. It’s my favorite cleanser ever because of the way it makes my skin feel.
Next, this toner is part of the sensitive skin line. They use silver birch buds in this line which is great because it makes me feel like a fancy lady elf from the Lord of the Rings. Even though it’s a toner it is not drying at all. It takes any leftover makeup or dirt out of your pores gently.
Next I use the concentrate. This is kind of like a serum. It has a higher dose of the main ingredients and soaks right into the skin. It has a tiny pump so you just press down and get the right amount, no bottle droppers and mess. When your skin is a complete disaster, this is pretty good at taming it.
Then I like to use this serum. It’s got a kind of milky consistency and color. It’s thicker than milk though, more like the thin yogurt they sell here (I don’t know why Korean yogurt is more watery but it is).
They do make a moisturizer too but I don’t use it. It’s got great ingredients but it’s just too thick for me, it’s like a hand cream. They used to make an absolutely amazing moisturizer that was the best gel moisturizer ever made, but for some reason they quit making it.
Their masks are also good, the linseed one is the only one that does not have dimethicone or some kind of plastic in it. It is made for “problem skin” which means it’s good if you get pimples. It is a sheet mask with a decent amount of serum and the smell is pleasant. Even though they use a lot of plant ingredients, everything smells fresh and light not deep earthy herbal medicine like. Honestly it’s pretty good but not the most moisturizing. I’ve heard their other masks are good too so if you can handle dimethicone and ingredients like that you might want to give them a shot if you don’t have any pimple problems (you horrible person).
I also got a couple samples of their firming cream and eye cream and they’re both great too. They smell incredible, kind of sweet and nutty, and they absorb well. Since coming here and rapidly aging from stress (haha…hello tiny lines and bags under my eyes) I’ve started to try to use more eye creams. This one makes everything moisturized and makes it look like my under eyes are smooth. It even looks like I slept well, but after a while it goes back to normal so I’m not sure if it actually does much of anything other than moisturizing and improving appearance for a little bit.
The other brand I like is Innisfree. They use a lot of natural ingredients from Jeju, an island in Korea. It is also generally cheaper and lasts longer than Primera.
I use the green tea oil cleanser every night before the broccoli cleanser. I’ve been double cleansing since I first heard about it and highly recommend it. I bought the gommage mask because it is the only one I had seen that uses plant cellulose to make it gelly instead of plastic-y stuff. Basically for this type of mask, you put it on and instead of peeling it or just washing it off, you rub it around in little circles. Honestly I’m not sure if it works that well for exfoliating or anything, it’s just fun to make tiny gel balls.
So what masks do they make that DO work well? THESE!!! The purifying one is especially amazing. Usually clay masks dry my out like an airplane ride but these don’t. The yellow clay one is kind or runny and it’s not really brightening, but the black one is thick and it is fantastic. They come in purple, white, and other colors as well. If you’re going to buy just one of the colors, I recommend the black one, it is definitely the best.
Last I have a sort of honorable mention. This was one of the first Korean skincare products I ever used.
Is that snail slime? Yes, yes it is. I have put sticky, sticky snail slime all over my face. I have played with the stringy goodness and the sound that it makes (something like walking across the room with gum on your shoes). I don’t use it regularly anymore but it is pretty good. I used to use it when my skin was more oily and it was good at moisturizing without clogging up my pores.
I’m planning to go to a Korean dermatologist within the next couple weeks to try to get rid of some very old and stubborn acne scars so I can update you on treatments and costs of those kinds of things if you’re interested. Feel free to write suggestions for future topics, I’m willing to talk about anything from different brands of chips to international dating to why you should never become a teacher to household appliances. Whatever is relevant or interesting to you.
If you read all this or even skimmed through it, thanks for bearing with me and reading my first ever post.