There I was, never thinking I’d write a review on Korean skincare products…and here I am now, actually sitting down to write one.
I’m a huge (huge) fan of natural** skincare products, so whenever I did encounter Korean products, I’d read the ingredient list, see ingredients that I didn’t want to use, put the product down and walk away.
**For all intents and purposes, the definition of “natural” that we’ll use here implies that the products are processed as little as possible after they’re extracted, and derived from plant materials that are safe for humans. In this case, they do not include cyanide (that was a really pathetic joke since cyanide is natural but not necessarily good for you).
It took me a lot of research and trust to get into the products, but a book I mentioned in our Beauty Books Worth Reading Post, The Little Book of Skincare, warmed me up to trying out Korean skincare products for a few reasons. Korean skincare products do include tons of natural and synthetic ingredients, and are typically well-researched and developed before the company puts them out on the market. Koreans also typically have very sensitive skin, so if you have sensitive skin, buy Korean brands: they know what they’re doing. Since Korea’s skincare market is making headway around the world (according to a Stuff Mom Never Told You episode, it accounts for 51% of the world’s skincare market share), it makes sense that the players in this market would want to invest and develop their products with the utmost care.
I spent the next month after finishing Little Book of Skincare ogling Soko Glam’s website and Instagram, combing for products that I thought would work well for me. Considering I’m pregnant, I was told by my doctor not to use anything with salicylic acid (it’s in a ton of cleansers at the drugstore and is super handy for sloughing off dead skin), retinoids and a few other great ingredients, I checked ingredient lists forwards and backward. Turns out salicylic acid is totally fine for fetal health, but hey, nothing wrong with being careful!
With respect to my skin, I wanted to get the following results out of new products:
- Something to tame the weird pigmented patch on my cheek that was never there before that is being wildly stubborn and won’t go away.
- A new oil cleanser, just because I’m a fan of oil cleansers and I’d only used Naked Kitty Naturals’ (my own company’s) oil cleanser, another one when I was 11 that was olive-oil based (I should ask my mom if she remembers the brand; it was quite good!), and Julep’s brand in the past. And now reading the ingredients, the sight of the words “CAPRYLIC/CAPRIC TRIGLYCERIDE” on Julep’s oil cleanser anger me. Stupid fractionated coconut oil! Excuse my tangent.
- To see if my skin would respond well to a switch/addition of a few products since it’s winter (my normally oily skin has been pretty “normal” this winter, save the weird dry pigmented patch). So if it stayed the same / didn’t feel additionally oily at the end of the day, that was fine by me.
The products I purchased, the results and my ratings:
Tongue twister, much? This cleansing oil freaked me out a little, particularly since the first ingredient I read was “mineral oil”. A little bit of additional education from my Formula Botanica course taught me that 1. mineral oil has an incredibly hard time penetrating skin since its molecules are too large, and 2. it’s not a big deal since you’re rinsing the cleansing oil off pretty quickly. Nut and soy oils, however (this formula contains macadamia nut oil), penetrate the skin deeper, since they’re common allergens and have smaller molecules. Mind-blowing.
The Results: I feel like nothing noticeable happened as a result of this cleansing oil, but it’s difficult to isolate if the products I used worked in tandem with one another, or if one product did all the legwork. I like that it’s not greasy when I rinse it off, and truthfully, I haven’t bothered to double cleanse while using this cleanser since it rinses off so well and there’s virtually no residue, which is awesome. Big tip: do not try and take off your lipstick with it, and opt for something sans fragrance or, heck, even olive oil, since the taste will stay in your mouth all day. It’s like if you accidentally got perfume in your mouth. I really can’t stand the smell. Texture, efficacy and usefulness aside, I’d give this away because of the fragrance. Barf.
My rating: 3.8/5; nice product, would buy again if there was an unscented option (the fragrance is the only reason I didn’t give it 5/5). I’ll likely try a different cleansing oil and go from there.
It’s made with 20.5% Ascorbic Acid (Vitamin C), and you should store it in the fridge. The bottle is quite large for me to get through (30 mls) only using a drop or two a day, so I’ll be sharing it with Sarah next time she’s in town. If you’ve got empty glass dropper bottles, I suggest going halvsies on this product with a friend. It’s recommended for people with very sensitive skin and first-time users to mix one drop into their moisturizer versus applying the serum directly, and to apply sunscreen if you have any sun exposure after you’ve applied the serum – that means any time of year if there’s daylight.
The Results: I’ve continued to mix the Triple C Lightening Liquid into my moisturizer twice a day and looooove it. I’ll scoop a little moisturizer into the palm of my hand and mix it in with a drop of the Triple C before I apply it to my face. The odd time that I’ve applied it after my moisturizer or on its own, I’ve felt a tingling sensation akin to the mildest burning. This is coming from someone with not terribly sensitive skin, so definitely make sure you’re mixing it in something first! My skin is (to me) noticeably brighter, and the temperamental patch has shrunk. It’s also unscented, for the most part.
My rating: 5/5; I’d buy this product again.
This essence is what I feel like aftershave would feel like if I shaved my face. It’s very hydrating, and it can likely be used instead of toner (if you’re out) or with it, since it can be “layered” easily with other products because of how quickly it absorbs, according to Soko Glam. It’s also great for senstive skin.
It’s unscented (my fave!). If you haven’t guessed, I have a crazy sensitive nose. Some of my family members and myself would have done well working as noses/perfumers). It’s clear, and the sample size goes a long way: I’ve been using it twice a day with a few drops for just over a week and have only used a quarter of the sample bottle.
The Results: I’m certain that this essence, obviously in combination with the Triple C Serum and the Klavuu Cleansing Oil tightened up my pores overnight. I’m not exaggerating, either: after two uses, my noticeable pores shrunk. My skin glows!
My Rating: 5/5; I want a stash of this product in my bathroom.
Overall: Very happy with my skin in the two weeks that I’ve incorporated these three products, and I’m noticing the dewy glow that Koreans go for is starting to show up (YAY!). I love the skin-first philosophy, and I’m seeing a payoff with these products.
I typically apply and use the products in the following steps:
- Cleansing Oil
- Toner (the one I was using previously)
- Moisturizer (the one I was using previously) + Triple C
I had my sister-in-law with crazy dry skin go through my regimen once, and her skin was glowing the next morning and noticeably less flaky. I can’t say what products will work for all skin types; consider taking the Soko Glam Skin Quiz to find out which products are right for you, and shop around.
What are your experiences with Korean skincare? Let us know in the comments!