This is my first blog post of 2020, which perfectly aligns with the peculiarity of this year. Although my posting schedule has not been consistent in a few years, it still feels weird to be gone for that long. So much has changed… but don’t you worry–I am not going to ramble about unsettling topics here. We’re going to chat about some of my current favorite skincare products, which happened to be (mostly) Korean.
During the past 4-5 months, I have slowly started to incorporate more K-Beauty products into my routine. Back in February, I had an awful reaction to a product that left my skin irritated and sandpaper-y, so I decided not to try new products for a while and put some serious effort towards repairing the damage.
I knew I would find some good options in K-Beauty. I am very fond of the hydrating and soothing essences and serums, the variety of moisturizers, and I adore the pleasant textures of the face sunscreens. Finally, I appreciate the less gimmicky marketing and the affordable prices.
My favorite thing about k-beauty, however, is the focus on keeping the skin barrier healthy. You can see it reflected in almost every brand message. Sure, K-Beauty is mostly known for the unnecessarily long routines, but they typically consist of layering a few hydrating products in between a good cleanse and a moisturizer. There is no emphasis on using multiple strong actives. After experiencing so much trouble by engaging in the Western obsession with exfoliation (acids! scrubs! detox masks!), I can appreciate how protecting and restoring the skin barrier are considered a priority. So don’t be surprised to see even more K-Beauty featured in my future posts/videos.
For those of you who follow me for strictly “all-natural” and green products, please note that some of these products contain some safe synthetic ingredients. These help to make the formulation more effective/more cosmetically elegant. I don’t consider any of these ingredients problematic or concerning, but I encourage you to talk to your physician if you have any worries.
Here are my (very mini) mini-reviews of my current favorites. All of these have worked particularly well for me during the warmer season while dealing with a damaged skin barrier, oily T-Zone, and a little maskne.
As I mentioned above, I love using a good essence. While it’s not a necessity, I find it very soothing to my skin, especially when it’s irritated. The two essences I have tried in the past few months that I have liked the most are the I’m From Mugwort Essence and the Primera Miracle Seed Essence. Both essences are suitable for all skin types, from very dry to very oily and they contain no fragrance. Both have the goal of calming and hydrating the skin, and in my experience, do so effectively.
The I’m From Mugwort Essence essence contains 100% mugwort extract, also known as Artemisia Vulgaris, which has anti-inflammatory properties. This is great if you have sensitive skin because using a one-ingredient product reduces the chances of a reaction. It feels like a viscous water. My skin drinks it up quickly, so I typically apply my serum immediately, before it has absorbed fully. My skin feels so calm and rejuvenated after I apply this essence, and any redness goes down quickly.
The Primera Miracle Seed Essence features Lotus Seed Extract as the key ingredient, which has skin-soothing and antioxidant properties, along with Niacinamide (Vitamin B3), which improves skin’s hydration levels and brightness. Although it contains more ingredients, I find this essence to also be completely safe for my delicate skin.
The way that I have been using essence is simply by patting a generous amount of it onto damp skin after cleansing. Sometimes I’ll pour some into a cotton pad (I like these Pyunkang Yul at Amazon or iherb) and leave it on my skin for a few minutes, like a sheet mask. Then, while my skin is still damp from the essence, I’ll apply a serum or just skip to moisturizer.
The serum that I have liked the most is the Purito Centella Unscented Serum. I can use it under sunscreen in the morning, or at night under moisturizer. It layers beautifully under any other product I have used with no pilling issues.
The Purito Centella Unscented Serum is specifically formulated to soothe irritated skin and repair the skin barrier. It contains 49% Centella Asiatica extract, which is a botanical ingredient that has been used for many years as a skin treatment for various issues like wounds, scratches, burns, and much more. If you are interested, you can read a review of the properties of Centella Asiatica use in cosmetology here. I love it because it has an ultra-light, hydrating and soothing, watery gel-like texture that feels amazing on the skin. It’s been absolutely delightful to use during Summer, especially at the end of a hot day. It also contains Niacinamide, Panthenol, Ceramide NP, Madecassic Acid, peptides, and Green Tea Extract–all ingredients that are excellent for repairing the skin barrier.
When I was down to the last few pumps of this serum, I bought another Purito product to replace it (Snail Repair Advanced Serum), just to see if it would also work well for my skin. However, I ended up not liking it as much as the Centella one, so I recently repurchased it. I buy Purito products exclusively at Yesstyle. Edit: use code YESLILLYGLOW to get 10% off!
I am leaving my favorite sunscreens out of this post since I am in the process of updating my outdated guide. You’ll find them listed in there once I am done. I have tried some face sunscreens that I actually look forward to applying and re-applying because they are so so good.
The one I have been using the most recently is the Klairs Fundamental Water Gel Cream. This lightweight face moisturizer is suitable for all skin types in all seasons. It’s a one and done type of product, because it provides hydrating and occlusive ingredients that are meant to protect and repair the skin barrier. It’s perfect for anyone looking to simplify their skincare routine and use only the basics. This is your basic face moisturizer.
It has the consistency of a milky gel and feels like a drink for the skin, but it doesn’t completely disappear to where you’re left with dry skin after a little while. It has just enough occlusive power to keep the skin moisturized, but it neither feels suffocating on my skin nor leaves a greasy film. It contains good skin barrier-friendly ingredients, such as Jeju Green Tea Water, Panthenol, Ceramides, Green Tea Extract, Mugwort Extract, and Centella Asiatica Extract. This is available at Wishtrend (they are currently offering 10% off with code AUG10).
My other favorite is the I’m From Mugwort Cream. This is the perfect companion to the Mugwort Essence I mentioned above. It has a hybrid gel-cream texture, which is slightly more viscous than the Fundamental Water Gel Cream, but still very light. A little goes a long way, and just a pea-size amount of this product leaves my skin feeling plump and hydrated. It contains great skin-barrier supporting ingredients, including 73.55% Ganghwa Mugwort Extract, Panthenol, Ulmus Davidian Root Extract, good ol’ Shea Butter, Polyglutamic Acid, Allantoin, and more. I am actually about to use the last few scoops of this cream and plan on repurchasing it for sure. The entire I’m From Mugwort line seems to be a great match for my skin, so I see myself continuing to use it (the mask and sheet mask are also fantastic, while I have yet to try the spot gel). I also buy this at Yesstyle (they usually have the lowest price, and are an authorized retailer) and the code YESLILLYGLOW works on this item as well.
I am happy to report that the changes I implemented and the products that I have been using have made a huge difference–especially taking a break from exfoliators, and using sunscreen religiously. I plan to stay on this “recovery” regimen until the weather changes and then slowly getting back into retinoids. Next year I am getting serious about treating sunspots. I am open to recommendations–what you got??
A quick note before I go. I plan on doing a cleaning and remodeling of this website. A lot of posts need to be archived or updated, so if you stumble upon some really old content, you may find outdated info and things that don’t work well–sorry about that! It’s temporary. This blog is almost ten years old and has never been touched by a professional. I have been doing a little organization but it still needs some tidying up.
this post is NOT sponsored
*denotes a gifted product
some links may be affiliate