6 Korean Models Reveal the Best Skin-Care Secret They Learned From Their Mothers

Seoul Fashion Week has come to a close, but given the endless stream of “chok chok”, “kkul-gwang”, and “glass” complexions that came down the runways, it’s only natural that the obsession around each model’s preternaturally luminous glow lingers. And because, in many instances, a Korean woman’s steadfast dedication to her skin-care regimen is inherited from her mother, it seemed like the right time to procure hand-me-down intel.

From Moon Kyu Lee’s pared-back approach, to Hoyeon Jung’s go-to calming treatment, here, six Korean models share the one tried-and-true skin-care secret they learned from their mother.

Moon Kyu Lee

“My mom always told me to use as little product as possible. She only uses a hydrating cream and sun protection before going out. And I watch a Korean YouTube channel called Director Pi, which analyzes the composition of different types of cosmetics and finds ‘friendly’ products for your skin. I had to throw away some of my favorite products after discovering their strong chemical compositions. Now, I prefer natural ingredients and use a range of organic products from Sanoflore.”

Songwha Oh

“When I was 20, my mom told me, ‘Wash your face as soon as you come home; you have to keep your skin good while you’re young.’ After I cleanse with Aesop’s Fabulous Face Cleanser, I apply one of their creamy moisturizers as they’re great for my dry skin.”

Hoyeon Jung

“ ‘Skin first, makeup second!’ is what my mom has always told me, so I stick to basic [moisturizing] and only use a cleanser when I wear makeup, otherwise I’ll just use water. When my skin is irritated, I’ll use an aloe mask pack for its soothing effects.”

EZ

“One of the most important beauty tips my mom taught me is don’t cleanse your face too much, just at night. If you wash your face too much, it gets drier. Using just water in the morning is fine! At the end of the day, before I go to sleep, I use one of the cleansers from Innisfree, a very famous Korean brand, or Darphin’s Aromatic Care face oil with chamomile.”

Gui Eh Park

“For my night routine, my mom always told me that I should only use one cream that perfectly suits my skin and then never touch my face after I put it on. So after I clean my face at night, I wipe it with toner, then moisturize, always using the same amount. And then when I wake up in the morning, I don’t wash my face with a cleanser, just water to clean off the leftover cream from the night before. It may feel like you didn’t wash, but it minimizes stimulation to the skin, so less possibility of emerging pimples. I love Neogen’s Code 9 Glacial Magic Pore Gel and always use a spoon to scoop it out, because I don’t want to infect the bottle.”

Jinkyung Kim

“My mom says, ‘If you want to have baby skin, you have to use baby-proof products!’ I know it sounds crazy, but I think about it whenever my skin is showing signs of stress. My skin has gotten more sensitive and weak since I started modeling, so I really prefer more pure, natural products. The most important thing is cleansing. I’ll use a cleansing milk or gel, gently using my fingertips to massage it into my face, circling at the cheeks, chin, and around the eyes.

VOGUE article

Let’s Ditch Sheet Face Masks!

WHERE DID SHEET MASKS ORIGINATE FROM?

Sheet masks originated from Japan and South Korea, known for their dedication to cosmetics and skin care. Today, sheet masks are widely popular in Asia as a whole. Sheet masks have recently began to change the beauty industry and gained popularity in the U.S by various celebrities utilizing sheet masks and posting about it on social media. From the recent study conducted by NPD Group in the USA, the sale of masks increased by about 60%, overwhelming other categories in the skincare business (ORGAID).

HOW DOES A SHEET MASK WORK?

There is a sheet fully soaked with concentrated serum, which consists of many beneficial ingredients to the skin, such as hyaluronic acid and vitamins. These ingredients are in the water phase as dissolved. The sheet prevents quick evaporation of the water phase and extends the time frame the ingredients require to penetrate deep into the skin. This results in the sheet masks outperforming the effects of the traditional serum-type skincare even when applied once.

WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS?

They bring fast effects in regards to enhancing the skin. The serum is filled with various vitamins and minerals, and doesn’t dry out the skin compared to the paste-type face mask. The sheet on the face helps the serum to soak into the skin a little longer. Some of the sheets also claim to brighten and make the skin firm. Basically, sheet masks are an inexpensive alternative compared to going to a spa: convenient, easy to apply, and brings a glowing effect to the skin.

WHAT ARE THE DRAWBACKS?

Their purpose is to nourish, not exfoliate or cleanse the skin. Sheet masks are probably not as effective at exfoliating or cleaning the skin compared to the paste-type mask. In addition, serum from low-quality sheet masks evaporates quickly, even before it gets soaked into the deeper layer of the skin. Currently, ORGAID researchers are using sheet masks made with high technology to avoid those problems (ORGAID).

WHAT INGREDIENTS ARE USED IN THE SERUM?

Depending on what function the sheet mask is made to perform, the serum contains various different ingredients and concentrations that are commonly used, such as aloe vera and vitamin C, to more unusual ones such as pearl, snail extract, and seaweed. Also, for prevention against bacteria/fungi contamination, most sheet masks contain chemical preservatives such as parabens, and recently phenoxyethanol, which are not good for the skin.

WHAT MATERIALS ARE THE SHEETS MADE OUT OF?

Diverse types of fabric are used for the sheet masks. Four most used materials from worst to best: 

* Non-woven fiber – Inexpensive, difficult mobility, low capacity to deliver serum into the skin
* Cotton – Inexpensive, difficult mobility, low capacity to deliver serum into the skin (but better than the non-woven fiber)
* Hydrogel – Little pricey, great absorption system, gel-type consistency, two separate parts (top and bottom) to apply on face, difficult mobility, fits the shape of the face well
* Bio-cellulose – Expensive, all-natural material, adheres to the skin well, better absorption properties, comfortable mobility.

MATERIALS END UP IN LANDFILLS!

First, you have the plastic or foil packaging. Then more plastic wrapped around the mask itself. In ten years, there’s probably going to be a whole trash island made entirely of sheet masks. 

Sure, there are brands out there with compostable options – though most people probably end up throwing them out anyway – and ones made from plant fiber. Be honest, though. If you’re looking at a $3 plastic-laden mask or a $10 plant one, which would you choose? Besides, many of the sheet masks on the market are soaked in things that may make them non-biodegradable (INSIDER).

WHAT CAN YOU DO IF YOU WANT TO BE MORE ECO-CONSCIOUS?

The easiest answer, hands down, would be to avoid using non-recyclable, non-compostable, single-use sheet masks altogether. But that’s not so easy for everyone. 

If you absolutely love your sheet masks and can’t give them up, just know there are other options out there that will yield similar results. As mentioned above, you can try to find products that use organic, biodegradable and recyclable materials. Korean beauty brand Innisfree has a line of biodegradable sheet masks, for example. Andalou Naturals, another beauty brand, also carries masks that are said to be biodegradable. The outer packaging, however, isn’t necessarily recyclable. 

You can also look for masks sold in packs, as opposed to individually wrapped ones. They do exist, and they don’t generate as much plastic waste as the single-use masks. Some people even make their own sheet masks by soaking clean face cloths with their own serums or mixtures of desired ingredients (HUFFPOST). 

At the very least, do your research. If you really want to be more responsible, look up your local municipality’s recycling and composting guidelines. 

ORGAID Article
INSIDER Article
HUFFPOST Article

Skincare Mistakes to Avoid

  • Please seek expert advise from a dermatologist or a skincare expert if you feel conflicted with all of the different product reviews, or have specific skin needs/concerns.
  • Give a new product enough time to see results – sometimes it might take from 1-3 months to see the results of a new product in your skincare routine.

    Cleanser – should see results immediately – up to 4 weeks, pay attention to skin texture and moisture levels.

    Toner – should see results immediately – 2/3 weeks, pay attention to skin texture and hydration benefits.

    Serums – should see results in 3-5 weeks if it’s a hydrating/anti-aging product, 2-3 months if it’s a skin brightening/hyperpigmentation product, 1-3 months if it’s an acne-targeted but not prescription product.

    Eye creams & Sunscreens – should see and feel immediate results. Pay attention to improvements in fine lines and texture.
  • Don’t overuse physical exfoliants – rubbing in the beads can cause irritation and skin sensitivity, make sure you’re gently gliding the product over your skin or use a chemical exfoliator on a cotton round instead.
  • Don’t remove clay masks with a cloth – the skin will look red and feel irritated when removing a dried-out clay mask. Instead, keep removing it with water until it’s gone.
  • Rinse off the micellar water – especially cheaper products are formulated in a way that can cause dryness and clog pores. Also, make sure the micellar water is not your only makeup-removing step.
  • Don’t rely on popular skincare websites to check skincare product ingredients – they’re not a trustworthy source, they list all of the ingredients and give them a rating. But we have to look at the formulation as a whole with dominant and recessive percentages, “it’s the dose that makes the poison” (referring to alcohol in products being seen as a drying agent). Also, the ingridients are mostly uploaded by users, not companies, which can be misleading.
  • You might not need to use a specific product at all – understand what all active ingredients are doing for your skin and whether you need it or not. Figure out what you need for your personal skin concerns and benefits you want to see.
  • Remember that skincare can only do so much – don’t rely on skincare alone to fix your concerns, take into account your diet, exercise, water intake, genetic conditions, and always seek professional help if you feel the need to.

Video referenced

Some Of the Best Skincare Advice

There’s a lot of misinformation out there regarding skincare “tips & tricks” and product recommendations. I really enjoy James Welsh’s YouTube channel, as he’s a skincare expert who can be trusted to go to for advice.

In his videos, he explains why certain skincare tips work or don’t, what skin type should incorporate what techniques, and more.

Some of the best tips from his videos that I continually practice:

  • Never use lemons or limes in your DIY skincare – they really dry out the skin!
  • Don’t place your masks or other topical treatments on your eyes – the skin on the eyes is very slim and sensitive, the chances of damaging the eyes are very high.
  • Always use eye protecting goggles when using light therapy treatments.
  • Apply actives after the moisturizer – a moisturizer creates a buffer before the toner, retinol, etc.
  • 3-Finger Sunscreen Method – apply a strip of sunscreen on the longest three fingers and apply to the face and neck, blend in with a sponge or a puff for the product to properly sink into the skin.
  • You can use the same cleanser to double cleanse – these days most cleansers contain ingredients to properly deal with makeup residue, environmental pollutants, and more.
  • Wash your hair before you wash your face and body – ingredients in shampoos and conditioners tend to clog pores if left not washed off, which can lead to breakouts and acne.
  • A simple 3-step morning and evening skincare routine that works best with your skin is all you need! Our skin changes and our routines should change accordingly. Having a basic routine to rely on is especially important when trying out new products to figure out what is causing an issue or bringing a benefit not seen before.
  • Consistency is key. At least do the basics and bare minimum even if your entire routine consists of 6 or more products.
  • Skincare is a really good anti-stress procedure – take the time to enjoy that face mask after a long day, make it interesting and exciting as a portion of “me time”.

Some of the myths he debunked in his videos:

  • To gain the benefits of certain products (fruits, ingredients) when using as a face mask – you should apply a mask that has been specifically formulated with a proper concentration of your desired ingredient. Simply placing that ingredient in a DIY mixture of some kind, or directly onto your face, will not give you the desired result.
  • There really is a difference between SPF 30 and 50. SPF 50 in chemical formulation is closer to SPF 60, therefore, there’s almost two times more protection using SPF 50 than 30.
  • Retinol does not thin out your skin. Skin cells undergo a natural renewal process, at some points being thinner than usual, however, it does become healthy again. Retinol sticks to proteins in the skin to deliver its many great qualities.
  • Vaseline (petroleum jelly) is not bad for you. It comes from crude oil (algae) and is only problematic without proper refinery, like in the 80s and 90s. Now, however, these mineral molecules are highly refined and stripped of carcinogenic particles.

The videos referenced are:

“Beauty Guru Skincare Mistakes!”
“The Biggest Skincare Myths/Misinformation Busted By Science!”
“Tips and Tricks To Improve And Transform Your Skin”
“Skincare Habits I Started In My 20s That Paid Off In My 30s!”

What are some of your skincare tips that you absolutely rely on? Let me know in the comments below!