Thursday, June 25, 2015

Understanding Korean Beauty Routine and Avoiding the Pitfalls

The Korean Beauty Routine is all the rage and in ads people in Korean have that flawless porcelain skin. Having been to Korea myself I can attest that most Koreans I have seen did have the beautiful, dewy porcelain skin.

I have tried using a Korean beauty routine. I've had both success and failure with the routine. 

There are a lot of blogs and youtubers who tell you the great benefits of a Korean routine and what they use in their daily routine. This encouraged me to just go and buy products I needed to form the routine and just like Nike says (do it!). Unfortunately this was not a good way  to approache the Korean Beauty routine. I think one of the major mistakes I made was buying many Korean products to fit into the routine without actually knowing how those products would react together and if it was a proper fit for my sensitive skin.

I found some Korean beauty products that I absolutely adore. That being said, I also found some Korean products I did not like and realized that the Korean Beauty Routine doesn't have to consist only of Korean beauty products (silly me to realize this so late).

I think there is a lot of merit to the Korean Beauty routine. I think the most valuable thing I have learned from the Korean Beauty Routine is that it is okay to layer on different types of skincare product.

For any beginners or anyone looking to try the Korean Beauty Routine, this is what I have learned, my advice to you, and what you need to know to avoid the pitfalls I fell in:

1.       Build up a beauty routine slowly. Add in new products one at a time to the products you currently use. This is so that you can know right away how the new product you just added to your routine affects your skin.

My first mistake was going out and buying all the Korean products used in the typical Korean beauty routine without understanding my own skin. The most important thing is to understand your skin and how it will react to any product.

            I went and bought a oil cleanser, foam cleanser, toner, serums, etc. All the products I purchased were Korean and the only thing I really did was look at the reviews for the products. I made sure I bought products with great reviews and though that was easy step 1 done.

Then I proceeded to go right into the routine and just using all the products I bought. Please do not do this. Especially if you have sensitive skin or allergies. I couldn't use half the stuff I bought. The major reason was allergic reaction and irritation because some of the products had too much fragrance. Good thing Memebox has a great return policy.

Incorporate new products into your beauty routine one at a time.  That way if you try something new and break out or have an allergic reaction you know the source. Same thing if your skin improves, you know which product or which combination of products cause the improvement and how your skin reacts to the products.

When you are using a lot of new products for the first time at the same time you have no idea what is causing you to break out or have an allergic reaction if happen to have one.

2.      Pick and choose whatever skincare products suits your skin and needs. 

My second mistake was making two really silly assumptions. The first assumption was that it is a Korean beauty routine, so I need all Korean beauty products. I found out through many Korean beauty product purchases that Korean beauty products are similar to any countries beauty products in that there are products that are both good and bad.

I currently use a mix of Korean products and American products and it is working great for me. If what you are currently using is all Korean and its working, kudos to you. Use what works for you but don’t feel like you have to use only Korean beauty products in the Korean beauty routine.

3.      MIX IT UP! You do not have to use the same products/routine every day. I find it is best to cater to what your skin needs and mix it up when you have to.

When I think of Korean beauty routine and I see what other people are using the fact it is a routine seems to imply most people are doing the same thing every day. The morning and night routines are different due to sunblock, makeup and possibly different creams for day and night, along with sleeping masks.

I was under the impression that I would be using the same night routine every night, with exception of skin scrubs and masks that are supposed to be used only a few times a week. I think it is okay to use the same routine everyday if that is what your skin needs.

Be sure to change your routine with the season since summer and winter drastically affects what you skin needs.

I am using acne products and I have combination skin. I have days when your skin is drier from acne products and will require more moisture. Days when some parts of my face are oily, etc. It is not ideal to use the same routine to treat my face when it is oily and when it is dry. I also do not want to apply my acne product every day since benzoyl peroxide was rumored to give you wrinkles. Honestly, anything that dries our your skin will give you wrinkles, for strong chemicals using less is better, especially if your skin doesn’t need to use it every day.

So have different products on hand, if your skin is very oily one morning, might want to take some of the products that add moisture out of the routine for that day and use something else that deals with oily skin. 

Some Koreans actually use beauty masks to handle the different skin conditions when they appear, but some masks are expensive, they can be time consuming to use ( I don’t have time to put a mask on my face for 20 minutes before heading out that door in the morning), and you would have to have the masks for the different problems your skin might deal with on hand. So personally I prefer having a product in a bottle that I can put on to deal with that days problem before heading out.

I use my benzoyl peroxide on an as needed basis, which due to my improving skin is every other day, or every two days. On days that I do use it, I add in items to boost moisture since my skin tends to dry out a bit more. In my next post I will show you what products I am currently using, how I use them together, and why that works for me. I will also explain what products I am no longer using, or have switched out and why along with pictures of my results.

4.      More products does not necessarily = better results

This is kind of self-explanatory. You shouldn’t feel the need to incorporate tons of beauty products into your routine just because others do it, or feel that doing so will make your skin better. If you have great skin, go minimal, less products you use will decrease your chances of allergic reactions, or any negative effects that products can cause. 

Just because the Korean beauty routine, I believe, typically runs from 6-9 steps. If you are using 3-5 steps and it is working, don’t feel like you have to add in more stuff to reach the amount the typical routine has. Doing so, especially if you don’t need it will:
-          waste your money (buying the unneeded products)
-          waste your time (lengthen the routine to put more stuff on every day)
-          will increase your chances of negative product interaction which I will discuss below.

5.      Order Matters

A lot of people who use the Korean beauty routine aren’t really sure which step goes where. I was one of those people and through reading advice from other bloggers, listening to youtubers, and from personal experience know the order that you put the products on matter.

Supposedly in the typical Korean beauty routine you would use oil cleanser, foam cleanser, toner, and then proceed to apply serum/essence/ampoules/emulsion etc. in the order of the texture. So usually the more liquid and fast-absorbing product goes on first.

It gets trickier when you have products that are similar in texture or if you run into my scenario. Typically when putting on most products starting from the faster absorbing products I don’t really have an issue, even if the products are similar in texture, I just apply one and then the other, keeping in mind that the products applied prior usually absorbs better. If I am applying two lotions, and one also fights wrinkles, it is usually better to apply that one and then the other regular lotion on top so that the lotion with the anti-wrinkle can absorb better.

That being said, there are major exceptions such as when I used benzoyl peroxide and argan oil together. Let me say first off from personal experience argan oil always goes first before benzoyl peroxide. This is because benzoyl peroxide leaves like a film on the skin and argan oil (which is an oil, and oils remove things on the skin) will cause that film to peel off and basically nullify any benefits of the benzoyl peroxide. What is worse is because argan oil will remove the benzyol peroxide beneath it by peeling it off if you were not aware and had makeup on top of that, your face is just going to be a mess. Who is looking to another 15-30 minutes of taking off and reapplying all their makeup?

6.      Understand how the products interact with each other 

This is hands down THE MOST IMPORTANT thing I have learned. Not all products are compatible with each other and using some products with others can either lead to negative/harmful effects or will make some of the products ineffective.

Wet on wet vs. wet on dry application (Wet on wet means applying a product on another product before it dries. Wet on dry means letting the former product absorb into skin/or dry before applying on another product)

One of the easiest examples to see this is on benzoyl peroxide and salicylic acid. Quick Chemistry refresher here: the two are incompatible because one if an acid and one is a base. When used together in liquid form if they are of the same strength they will cancel out and you will get water. So applying both on your skin in liquid form will basically leave you with the effects of neither and will be as if you had applied water to your face. If they are of different strengths the stronger one will prevail but will be a lot less potent than it would be had you applied it alone.

Now that is a wet application, the other and more harmful application is a dry on wet application. Let say you applied a product with benzoyl peroxide and let it dry on your skin. If you proceeded to put liquid salicylic acid (I have done this as a kid and I used a salicylic acid based toner) what it will do is burn your skin but it will also act like a chemical peel and will lighten the skin. I do not recommend anyone trying this, it is extremely bad for your skin. When I did this as a kid I was trying to fix my acne by applying more acne product. The internet wasn’t around yet to teach me what not to do.

Another example is the one given above of how the argan oil and benzoyl peroxide reacts negatively when argan oil is place on top of the dried benzoyl peroxide. I have not have any issues with applying benzoyl peroxide on top of the oil.

Also be careful of apply any sleeping mask over not dried acne product. I was applying my Holika Holika red wine sleeping mask over my benzoyl peroxide prior to letting it dry. As a result it was more potent since the mask prevents the products from dying out and as long as the product is still wet it will keep working. What happened was it dried my skin out pretty bad and made my skin really thin. Strong bases and strong acids erode the skin barrier. I didn’t have an issue when I applied the sleeping mask after letting the benzoyl peroxide dry.

Now those were extreme examples, and for the most part, your face products will not react in such an extreme way. However, there will be some products that when use together can dry out your skin or harm other negative interactions with each other. It is important to incorporate products into the routine one at a time and understand how they will interact with each other. As soon as something new does not work out, remove the offender. 

Understand how your products interact with each other, especially when they are wet and dry. This I believe is the key to successfully layering products. Good luck!