The Breakdown on the Infamous 10-Step Korean Beauty Routine

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With Korean culture gaining more and more popularity overseas, it comes as to no surprise that their hauntingly flawless complexion has become increasingly sought after by media-conscious women. And honestly speaking, who wouldn’t want perfect skin?

That said, most would balk as soon as they hear that the Korean beauty routine consists of 10 daunting steps. Ouch! That’s more than three times the standard we’re used to.

There really isn’t any need to feel intimidated by it, though. It may consist of 10 steps, but contrary to popular belief, these aren’t practiced everyday. Most days would require 7 steps or less; it depends on what works for your skin.

Here is the low down on the infamous beauty regimen:

1. Cleansing Oil

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The first step to cleaning your skin is to get rid of all of the environmental gunk that has piled up on your face. This is where the nifty cleansing oil comes in. From dirt to grime to make up, this product will melt away these impurities, leaving your skin clean without stripping it of precious moisture.

And if you find the idea of using oil to clean your face strange, you aren’t alone! Ever since we’ve known about skincare, we’ve been taught that oil is terrible and that it should be done away with. It really isn’t all that bad, though. At least not this one.

In this case, cleansing oil is your buddy, especially in the double-cleansing method. It’s here to gently pull dirt away from your skin, just so your foam cleanser could work all the more effectively afterwards.

2. Foam Cleanser

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Now, this is something just about everyone is familiar with. In the standard Cleanse-Tone-Moisturise routine, this plays the main role in cleansing.

In the Korean beauty routine, however, it plays the second.

While it might sound unnecessary, the double-cleansing method actually has a lot of merit to it. I’m sure that with the standard regimen, most of us have experienced feeling that our skin isn’t clean even after using a foam cleanser- and in order to really wash all of that grime away, we choose to cleanse it a second time. Big mistake.

Because what you’re left with is uncomfortably tight skin that is stripped of moisture. This might sound harmless, but it could lead your skin to working in overdrive to produce more oil. Not good.

What the double-cleansing method does is provide you with that same level of cleanliness without dryness.

3. * Facial Scrub

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Not for daily use. Our skin is constantly shedding, and in order to avoid dead skin cell build up, we need to exfoliate once every 3-4 days. Once a week for those with dry and or sensitive skin.

This not only helps with skin cell renewal, it will also unclog pores and reveal a brighter, glowing complexion. An important step, exfoliating ensures that the products you use later on will penetrate your skin more easily.

Note: Do not exfoliate everyday. This will only aggravate your skin and cause it to break out.

4. Toner

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Toning was something I had a bit of a love-hate relationship with during my highschool years. On one hand, it was oh so satisfying to see dirt picked up by the soaked cotton pad; it made me feel as though my skin was super clean. On the other end of the spectrum, I hated it because toners tended to dry out my skin, leaving me with botched red, peeling skin. Gorgeous.

Nowadays, I’ve noticed that toners are a lot less drying, to the point that they are more on the hydrating side. In fact, their purpose is to restore the pH level of your skin as well as prep it to better absorb the products that follow suit.

5. Essence

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Considered the heart of the Korean beauty routine, essence is kind of a mix of a toner and a serum in one. Its consistency can be compared to a toner; slightly thicker, but still very runny.

I’ve not had the pleasure of using this often as there weren’t many sold where I live -keyword, weren’t. Things are improving!- and the ones that were on the market were either ridiculously expensive or cheap. I tend to avoid the latter because my skin is a bit of a diva; it tends to break out horribly with cheap products.

That said, when I do include this in my routine, the results are quite significant. Essence basically helps with hydration, skin repair and cell turnover.

6. Serum & * Ampoule

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It’s time for a treatment! These babies are designed to target specific skin concerns. From problems with pigmentation to fine lines to dry skin, you are spoiled for choice on the market.

What is the main difference between a serum and an ampoule though? The difference lies in the levels of concentration between the two. Ampoules are basically the more powerful, effective cousin of serums, meant to give your skin a boost overnight.

But wait! Before you start reaching for ampoules, bear in mind that these can only be used once in awhile. This is due to their levels of concentration. Apply them too often and they’d wreak havoc on your skin.

For me, using ampoules once every 3-4 days is my sweet spot. The duration between each use might be longer for others. It all depends on what suits you best.

Serums should be used daily, once in the morning and once in the evening.

Note: For better absorption, products should be applied in the order of from least viscous to the most. Therefore on days you’re using an ampoule, it should go on before your serum. It can stand alone if smoothing on both at the same time is too much for your skin.

7. * Sheet Mask

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Can be used daily, if you wish (though I’ve yet to try this daily style of masking!). Because of my oily, acne prone skin and not to mention budget, I usually opt for clay masks instead of sheet masks. The latter is more of a rare treat for me, but let me say that if not for the reasons stated, I would go for them a heck of a lot more. My experiences with sheet masks are generally positive, and the results are totally worth it.

These are meant to deliver a powerful punch of ingredients to your skin, designed to target specific concerns. Think of them as amped up serums in the form of soaked sheets.

Note: If you’re planning on opting for a clay mask instead, slip it in your routine right after you exfoliate.

8. Eye Cream

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If you have any undereye concerns, this is the product to aim for. With the number of beauty companies out there, there is a huge range of eye creams on the shelves, each made to address different issues. These creams most commonly take care of fine lines, hydration and dark circle woes.

It is worthy to note that this is a product you’d have to be willing to spend a bit more on. Cheap options rarely work.

Tip: Because of how fragile the skin around your eyes are, use your ring finger to tap the cream in. Never rub, tug or pull. This is to avoid the formation of premature wrinkles.

9. Moisturiser

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It is always, always, always important to keep your skin properly hydrated. To put into perspective just how vital this is, take note that skin lacking in hydration will not only appear duller, it will also feel uncomfortably tight, peel and form premature wrinkles. Yikes! Definitely not something you want, right?

To avoid a cracked complexion, and to one day obtain that much vied youthful, dewy Korean skin, never forget to apply moisturiser. This will both hydrate and lock in the work you gained from previous steps.

10. Sunscreen

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If there is a single step that you absolutely must not miss out on aside from the standard Cleanse-Tone-Moisturise, it is applying sunscreen.

This not only plays a huge role in protecting you from nasty burns and skin cancer, it also plays a role in anti-aging. That’s right. The sunscreen you apply will help prevent premature aging, so unless you want to be introduced to wrinkles early, get to smoothing some on.

For this, I personally recommend Biore’s UV Perfect Milk SPF50+. Non-sticky and super lightweight, it’ll feel like you’re not wearing any sunscreen at all.

And that’s a wrap!

Phew! That was one exhaustive list. But I suppose that shouldn’t come as a surprise. Because not only do Koreans see flawless skin as a sign of beauty and health, they sincerely do enjoy these rituals. A stark contrast to their Western counterparts, and let’s face it, a good chunk of the Asian region too!

If you’re all for it though, be ready for your wallet to take a blow because it can get expensive.

Tip: If you’re going to dive into this hefty skincare routine, it would be best to introduce each new step one by one. This is so it would be much easier to spot which product isn’t working for you.

Have any questions? Ask away!

Edited on 26th June 2017.

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Beauty Review: Hada Labo’s Deep Clean & Blemish Control Face Wash

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For the longest time, I thought that what cleanser I use doesn’t really matter as long as I go for what’s meant for my skin type. Meaning, blemish control, oil control, charcoal-based cleansers– you get the picture. Anything that is targeted towards caring for oily, acne-prone skin.

But as I got more and more interested in the world of beauty, I realised that this is not necessarily the case. Even if cleansers aren’t in contact with your skin for long, they really can make a difference. So that was when I really started paying attention to what I was buying, and tended to steer clear from drugstore brands unless I receive a recommendation. I’ve had one too many bad experiences, you see.

Still, in spite of that, I recently tried out one such brand. This time, I’m going to blog about my experience with Hada Labo’s Deep Clean & Blemish Control Face Wash (RM24.90).

What is it like?

At first glance, this cleanser seems to be the perfect candidate to take on my notoriously oily skin. It was actually purchased by my brother, and when he recommended it to me, I thought, why not? I’ve been using Lush’s Coalface for so long now; maybe it is time for a change.

So after giving its labels a quick run through, I decided to give it a try. Here’s what it says at the back:

Bentonite Clay: Mineral clay from natural volcanic ash has high content of minerals to effectively absorb excess dirt, oil and impurities from skin

Wild Pansy Extract: Contains natural Salicylic Acid that helps to control and prevent blemishes

Hyaluronic Acid: Hydrates skin to help prevent dryness and keep skin soft and supple

Below that, it further states:

Combines the power of two natural ingredients with hydrating Hyaluronic Acid to deep clean without drying skin and helps prevent blemishes to reveal a smooth, radiant complexion.

Low irritation. Free of fragrances, colorant, alcohol and mineral oil

Sounds quite promising, doesn’t it?

The product itself is pretty creamy and lathers easily. Something I sorely miss after using face soap bars for years. Because as much as I love my Coalface, it can get pretty inconvenient whenever I’m in a rush; lathering it up takes a bit of time, and it doesn’t even really produce much.

A stark contrast to Hada Labo’s cleanser. It doesn’t take a lot to create a rich foam with this. Smoothing it on is enjoyable, and washing it off is simple. I only need a few splashes to get it all off.

Packaging

Hada Labo decided to go with a clean, glossy tube, which I quite like. Its soft construction makes squeezing out the product a breeze, though I imagine getting it all out once it is almost gone would be a pain.

End result

The end result? After splashing it off, I was pleased to see that my skin looked bright and clean. There was no tightness and my skin felt comfortable. That’s a win, right?

At least, that was what I thought until I used it a few more times. It was as early as the second try that I noticed that my skin started drying out. And that’s saying something, because it can take as many as 2-3 oil blotters to completely absorb the oil on my face. (Gross trivia is gross, but you get the picture. It would take a lot to dry it out.)

That was not the only reaction I got from this, though. Throughout the day, I experienced this strange, tingling sensation on my skin. And under a certain light, it kind of looked papery?

So yeah. Even though it cleans well enough, it is super drying. Not something I’d recommend to those with dry skin.

Extra: Please note that this cleanser contains Sodium Laureth Sulfate (SLES), which is something I only discovered afterwards. Ah well. That explains it.

For those who are unaware, SLES is a lathering agent that is used in many cleaning products. It can be found in something as innocent as your shampoo, to the cleaner you use on your garage floor. So yes, it is that potent and can cause irritation to your skin.

Where can I find it?

Watsons & Guardian.

Verdict

  • Product rating: 2/5
  • Packaging rating: 4/5

As much as I like how it cleans and foams up easily, I’m not keen on the aftereffects. I’ll stick to my Coalface for now.

Ingredients

Water, Lauric Acid, Glycerin, Stearic Acid, Cocamidopropyl Betaine/Water, Potassium Hydroxide, Butylene Glycol, Palmitic Acid, Acrylates Copolymer/Water, Glycol Distearate, Polyquaternium-7, Sodium Laureth Sulfate, Cocamide DEA, Potassium Cocoyl Glycinate/Water, Stearic Acid/Disteardimonium Hectorite, Dismodium EDTA, Methylisothiazolinone/Iodopropynyl Butylcarbarnate/Water, Glycerin/Water/Viola Tricolor Extract, Sodium Hyaluroate.

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Beauty Review: The Body Shop’s Tea Tree Oil

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If you’re anything like me, you definitely know the struggle of having oily, acne-prone skin. The irritation of having to take extra care of my complexion and having to forgo make-up because let’s face it, it’s not worth the sudden pimple flares that follow right after. It’s fine once in awhile, but that aside, I stay far away.

And as though to add on to my list of grievances, skincare products that I choose tend to be on the more expensive side because I almost always react terribly to anything cheap. Even now. Seriously, I thought things were supposed to get better now that I’m an adult!

Thankfully enough, I managed to get my old, acne-riddled complexion under control by opting for Jurlique’s skincare range, then adopting the Korean beauty routine. Aside from the occasional pimple due to the monthlies, it was blissfully clear for years. Alas, my hard work was dashed when I decided to take fish oil pills for health reasons.

Instant flare up!! That, along with stress (and I suspect, possibly, a skincare product change) just made things worse.

Ugh.

So I decided to look for a new spot treatment. It had been awhile since I needed one, so I was unfortunately out of touch with that part of the beauty world.

Not too long after starting up Google, did I come across recommendations for The Body Shop’s tea tree range. Most specifically, the mask and the oil.

I bought both, but for today, I’ll be reviewing the oil.

Let me just say this: it is amazing.

What is it?

Just like the name says, The Body Shop’s Tea Tree Oil (RM42 for 10ml; RM69 for 20ml) comes in the form of oil. Diluted, to ensure safe usage.

For those of you who are often plagued by breakouts, the idea of turning to tea tree products for help isn’t unfamiliar to you. Unless of course, you’ve been severely neglecting your skin, then in which case, God help you.

But I digress. This potion in a bottle is the best spot treatment I’ve tried so far, so much that I was in for a pleasant surprise after leaving it on overnight. The horrible pustules that had been haunting me SHRUNK so much in size, I couldn’t believe it! I’ve tried spot treatments before, but none produced results like this has. It managed to shrink existing pimples, and eradicate the ones that were about to surface. Amazing stuff.

There is a reason why it’s hailed as a cult classic. With one bottle sold every 8 seconds, it must have a growing league of loyal, happy customers.

What is it like?

As stated before, it is an oil. It’s not on the viscous side, so I always tap it on the back of my hand for easier application. I use my fingers to dab it on the offending area.

Absorption takes quite some time, but rest assured that it does not leave behind any strange residue. Which I have to say makes it perfect for wearing underneath your make up.

That aside, the oil’s most prominent feature is its strong tea tree smell which lingers before taking ages to fade. Scented products usually bother me, but for the benefits this gives me, it’s not an issue.

Packaging

The packaging of this has to be one of the most inconvenient out of all the bottles lining my dressing table. Aesthetically speaking, the Tea Tree Oil bottle offers a simple, clean appearance that is easy on the eyes, and its small size makes it highly convenient to carry around without a fuss.

Adding on, its push-then-screw cap makes sure no spillage occurs while the bottle is jostled around in your handbag. However, it does bring inconvenience in any other situation as it can be a pain to open.

Dispensing the oil is annoying as well, because it is difficult to control the amount you pour out. With the way it is designed, you can easily end up with either too little or too much product on your hand.

End result

Clearer skin in a short span of time. Pimples disappear with just a few applications.

It can be a bit drying if applied in excess. Otherwise, it’s perfect.

Where can I find it?

The Body Shop.

Verdict

  • Product rating: 5/5
  • Packaging rating: 2/5

Until I can find something better, I’m going to continue buying this for the foreseeable future. Love it.

Ingredients

Aqua/Water/Eau (Solvent), Alcohol Denat. (Solvent), Polysorbate 60 (Surfactant), Melaleuca Alternifolia Leaf Oil/Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Oil (Natural Additive), Limonene (Fragrance Ingredient), Calophyllum Inophyllum Seed Oil (Skin Conditioning Agent), Citral (Fragrance Ingredient), Citronellol (Fragrance Ingredient), Leptospermum Petersonii Oil (Fragrance Ingredient), Tocopherol (Antioxidant).

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Beauty Review: Muji’s Mild Oil Cleansing

If you’ve ever heard of Muji, chances are you’re familiar with the wide range of products this no-brand company has to offer- from nifty stationery to minimalist clothes to all manner of sizes in way of containers, Muji is a definite haven for shoppers out there. And best of all? Everything’s tagged with reasonable prices! What a steal. But what about its less known beauty section?

It’s reasonably priced for sure, but is it good?

Here, we’re about to dive into my findings on this hidden gem from Muji: Mild Oil Cleansing 400ml. Priced at a hard-to-beat RM59.90, this beaut bests my previous cleansing oil buy, Philosophy’s Purity Cleansing Oil 174ml, by a solid RM45.10 and more than double the volume! I admit I experienced a bit of buyer’s remorse right after stumbling over this Muji giant, because I had just bought the Philosophy bottle less than an hour ago that day. Laughs. I could have saved so much!

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Of course, being the weak-willed person that I am, I purchased the Muji cleansing oil not too long after. What is self-control?

So imagine my elation when I finally finished off my Philosophy cleansing oil. I was quick to give this Muji version a try, and I was not disappointed.

My first impression of this product is that the oil is just the tiniest teeniest bit thick in viscosity, which concerned me a little. As in, do I need to use more to see it work? It performed without a problem though, as it was able to remove dirt and make-up from my skin with just one pump. That said, it does leave a hint of residue behind, which can be easily fixed with a foam cleanser.

Here are before and after shots for a glimpse on how well it works on melting away my foundation, eyeliner and mascara:

Products from left to right: Benefit’s Hello Flawless! Oxygen Wow Liquid Foundation, The Body Shop’s Liquid Eyeliner and IT Cosmetics’ Superhero Elastic Stretch Volumizing Mascara.

Honestly speaking, it works just as well as a pricier cleansing oil would, but if there is one thing that bothers me about this product, it has to be the smell.

Bluntly speaking, it smells like cooking oil. So much that it feels like I’m rubbing essence of fried noodles all over my face. Thank goodness it doesn’t have to stay on my skin for long, or else I wouldn’t tolerate it.

That, and I started seeing results overtime; my skin is clearer, smoother and brighter than it used to be.

The pros outweigh this tiny con, I say. For the price and benefits, I’m willing to buy this again without a second thought.

Packaging

Encased in Muji’s signature minimalist-style packaging, this product is pleasing to the eye. Really, it was partially the reason why I was immediately drawn to it in the first place, curiosity aside.

This bottle is not all about looks, though. It comes with a pump, which not only means a tinier likelihood for spillage, but that you’re able to control the amount of product used more easily. Great, huh?

It also comes with a tiny clip to clamp underneath the pump for travel purposes. This will help prevent spillage while you have the bottle neatly tucked in your luggage.

Where can I find it?

Muji.

Verdict?

  • Product rating: 4.5/5
  • Packaging rating: 5/5

Encouraged by the results, I’m definitely going to scavenge Muji’s beauty section again for another hidden gem.

Ingredients

Hydrogenated polyisobutene, peg-7 glyceryl cocoate, ethyl oleate, sorbitan oleate, olea europaea (olive) fruit oil, simmondsia chinensia (jojoba) seed oil, helianthus annuus (hybrid sunflower) oil, dpg orange (citrus aurantium dulsis) flower water, water, bg, tocopherol, prunus, persica, peach leaf extract, prunus armeniaca (apricot) juice, glycerin, propylparaben, butylparaben.

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Beauty Review: Biore’s UV Perfect Milk SPF50+

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Sliding in here for a quick beauty review; it’s not something I usually do but this is a product that I think is worth giving a shout about.
At the risk of sounding biased, I have never been happier with a sunblock than I have with this one. Which is fantastic for me because having oily skin means extra pain when it comes to applying such products.

But I won’t waste time complaining, so let’s roll on to the review.

What is it like?

With a price tag of RM32.65 and such a small, slim 40ml package, I wasn’t especially keen on purchasing this. I never really had any good experiences with sunblocks, and the thought of spending money on yet another that might leave my skin feeling sticky and grimy throughout the day wasn’t exactly appealing.

Yet I thought, “Why not?” The features listed called out to me and I really needed to have a good sunblock to incorporate into my beauty routine. At last, vanity won out and I made the purchase.

Here are the key features of this sunblock:

  • Waterproof
  • Resistant against sweat
  • Non-sticky formula with light powdery feel
  • Does not leave white residue on skin
  • Can be used as a make-up base

All of which I was pleasantly surprised to find out hold true.

Unlike most, this sunblock has a slippery, watery texture that can easily drip down your skin. Different, definitely, but the greatest difference I found was when I applied it on my face; it slid on easily and left a comfortable, powdery feel that I am never going to complain about.

It was almost as if I had not applied anything.

It’s light, easy to apply and best of all, allows my skin to breathe. A common complaint I have with sunblocks, as most of the ones I’ve tried tend to be sticky and caused breakouts on my skin. What a relief it was to finally find something that works for me.

Scent

Unscented. Thank goodness for that.

How long does it last?

For the amount of product itself? It takes me about 2-3 months to finish a bottle, though it should be noted that I strictly only use it for my face and neck. I expect it’ll run out much faster if I apply it on my arms and legs as well.

Packaging?

Slim and wonderful for travelling. You can pretty much slip it in anywhere without a problem.

My only issue with it is that it might be a bit hard to control the amount you pour out but thanks to the tapered tip, you won’t have to worry about it spilling on the bottle itself.

End result

Comfortable all-day feeling. It helps some in oil-control too.

Adding on, I’ve also noticed that parts of my skin that I apply it to are a bit lighter than the rest, so it’s definitely working.

As for whether it works in fighting ageing, I guess I’ll have to tell you that in ten years’ time.

Where can I find it?

Watsons.

Verdict?

  • Product rating: 5/5
  • Packaging rating: 4/5

Definitely something I’ll keep buying for years to come. Bioré has earned a loyal fan in me.

Ingredients

Cyclopentasiloxane, Zinc Oxide, Alcohol, Water, Dimethicone, Lauryl Methacrylate/ Sodium Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Ethylhexyl Methoxycinnamate, Talc, Styrene/ Stearyl Methacrylate Crosspolymer, Glycerin, Methicone, Polysilicone-9, Peg-12 Dimethicone, Peg-32, Titanium Dioxide, Peg-3 Dimethicone, Phenoxyethanol, Aluminum Hydroxide, Dimethicone/ Vinyl Dimethicone Crosspolymer, Silica.

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