Just over four weeks ago, I decided to see if the Korean Beauty juice was worth the squeeze by making a few changes to my current beauty routine and folding in a few Korean-produced products.
A preface before I continue:
Perhaps the one and only silver lining to dealing with acne for the last 25+ years is that I am very, very disciplined about my skincare routine. When a product or regime works for me, I stick to it religiously. My dermatologist once told me she’s never had such a self-motivated, obedient patient.
I am one of those poor unfortunate souls who, at 39 years old, is still dealing with acne, while concurrently trying to slow down the aging process. This means I already have a fairly long, involved beauty routine. (Just ask my husband, who has spent many an evening waiting for me to “get ready” for bed, only to fall asleep in the process.)
Any time I test a new product, my first question is always: “will this product make me break out?” I’ve been using Proactiv for a couple years and, with a few exceptions, have been acne free. So, all new products need to be folded into my current routine, one product at a time for 5 to 7 days at a time, so that I have a control group by which to compare. If I break out, I toss the offending product directly into the trash with a few choice words. (This can be rather painful if I’ve shelled out a pretty penny for said product, so I use samples first if available.)
With that preface in mind, I’ll get back to the verdict.
The ideal Korean beauty routine is a 10-step process:
1. Cleanser, Part 1. Oil-Based cleanser to remove make-up and sunscreen with an oil-based cleanser.
2. Cleanser, Part 2. Wash with a water-based, preferably foaming cleanser.
3. Exfoliator, used 2-3 times per week.
4. Toner. Hydrate and prep the skin for the products which come next.
5. Essence. A sort of toner/serum hybrid.
6. Serum. The treatment products, addressing whatever skin challenge you’re trying to solve.
7. Masks, used once or twice a week.
8. Eye cream for fine lines around the eyes.
9. Moisturizer. Lightweight for day, heavy for night.
10. Sunscreen for day.
My routine already included six of these steps, plus two that aren’t included here. I kept all eight of my original steps and added three new ones. Additionally, as you’ll see below, I have virtually replaced my Proactiv moisturizer with a Mizon, snail secretion moisturizer. The result has been a sort of Present Perfect-Korean Beauty Hybrid.
1. NEW – Cleanser, Part 1. Neutrogena Ultra-light Cleansing Oil
2. Cleanser, Part 2. Neutrogena Fragrance-Free Liquid Cleanser
3. Exfoliatate 2-3 times each week with Proactiv, Skin Smoothing Exfoliator (I was doing this once a day, so this is another change.)
4. Tone with Proactiv+ Re-texturizing Toner
5. NEW – Apply Cremorlab Mineral Treatment Essence.
6. Acne Treatment #1 with Retin-A Micro
7. Acne Treatment #2 with Proactiv Pore Targeting Treatment. (Basically, a low dose of benzyl peroxide, but for whatever reason, this works way better than every other prescription or OTC benzyl peroxide solution I’ve used – and that list is long.)
8. NEW – Apply Snail Repair Ampoule Serum.
9. Eye Cream. I like Pat Wexler’s 3-in-1 eye cream.
10. Moisturizer. I like the All in One Snail Repair Cream so much that I use it in the morning and evening. (I apply less in the morning.)
11. La Roche-Posay Anthelios Ultra Light Mineral Sunscreen is a daily staple and now available in SPF 60 (because SPF 50 wasn’t quite good enough, apparently!)
Oddly enough, masks are the one product I don’t have the patience for, so I don’t use them even though I have a hunch I would like them very much.
After four weeks, I am very happy with these changes! I liked the oil-based cleanser right away, which surprised me since it seemed a little superfluous. But I found that my cleanser works differently – I don’t need as much and it foams up nicely, even though it’s not a foaming cleanser – after I use it.
The Cremorlab is everything it’s cracked up to be. I am definitely less flaky-but-oily (my chief skin challenge thanks to naturally oily skin and over-drying acne products) and find myself touching up with powder far less often than I was before. And I’ve had almost no flakiness in the sensitive areas around my nose and mouth where I tend to have it. Three cheers for Cremorlab and a ph-balanced complexion!
The snail-repair serum and moisturizer provide firmness and also help with the overall moisture balance of my skin (i.e. less oily). I’ve also started using the essence, serum and moisturizer on my neck and chest, where I can get breakouts from time to time, and have been very pleased.Yes – it’s a lot of steps and products. Yes – it takes time. And – yes – it gets tedious, especially when I’m exhausted and just want to roll into bed as I am at the end of the day. But when I received a few compliments on my complexion at church recently, I knew I wasn’t imagining results that weren’t real.
I may test some more robust Korean-made serums after I’ve used up all of the Mizon product (maybe even try a mask…), but otherwise, I’m thrilled with the changes I’ve made and will stick with them.