Evening Cleanse – The Right Stuff

Up your night regimen

A good evening routine will give your AM face a boost. Korean skin care products provide an arsenal of exfoliants, treatments, moisturizers, and sleeping masks to leave your face feeling refreshed and dewy in the AM.

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Step 1: Wash your face with a scrubber

Using a silicone facial cleansing pad, I apply a cleansing gel and use the silicone pad to gently massage and exfoliate my face.  It’s reusable, economical and a perfect size for traveling. You can go extra cute with an Etude House Jellyfish Silicone brush.

Optionally, use a mild exfoliating cleanser like the Dr. G Brightening Peel Gel or even TJ’s Blueberry Acai Facial Scrub (smells like a berry smoothie).

Step 2: Periodically exfoliate with BHA / AHA

This is a step you can incorporate a couple to a few times a week, and involves chemical exfoliants containing the key alpha hydroxy acid (AHA) and beta hydroxy acid (BHA).  AHA is water soluble and tends to work on the skin’s surface while BHA is oil soluble and helps to penetrate the pores. BHA tend to be formulated at a lower pH of 3.5 while AHA is at a pH of under 4. If you’re going to incorporate both chemical exfoliants, start with the lower pH, oil soluble exfoliant BHA and follow that up with the water soluble AHA. For a complete guide on BHA and AHA exfoliants, check out the KLOG and Fifty Shades of Snail blog.

Step 3: Toner is a good idea

While I skip toner in the morning, I recommend incorporating it as part of your evening ritual to remove residue from makeup and environmental gunk. Son & Park Beauty Water is an effective multi-tasker, and does the job to help balance your skin’s pH levels. Using a cotton square, give your face a clean sweep.

Step 4: Essence, or Hydrating Lotion

In the K-Beauty world, you’ll find a whole category of Essence products with bestselling potions containing hyaluronic acid (HA), which is basically a substance that is naturally produced by your body. HA helps to increase moisture and retain collagen for improved skin elasticity. I like the popular Japanese Habo Lado Gokujyun lotion, which is available on Amazon. I alternate that with COSRX Galactomyces 95 Whitening Power Essence. There are many options for Essence products.

Step 5: Ampoules and Serums, Oh My!

As covered in the #nofilter post, ampoules is part of the same family of essences and serums. Ampoule is often a “super-charged” serum that you use right before your regular serum. Since I deal with hyperpigmentation, I like to use Yuja Water C Whitening Ampoule.

Step 6: Moisturizer + Sleeping Mask

For extra hydration, seal the deal with a moisturizer followed by a sleeping mask. EasyDew EX Repair Renewal Moisturizer is my current fave as it lightweight and contains EGF (explained in the #nofilter post).

I’ll often incorporate a sleeping mask of some sort. I like Goodal Anti-Wrinkle Sleep Cream Pack, which has a soothing lavender scent. You can find it on Sokoglam.com.

Remember to drink plenty of fluids, eat a balanced diet rich in veggies and fruit, and get a good night’s sleep. The above-mentioned steps will help keep your skin happy.

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Have a Fine Time with Canned Wine

by Vivian Lee

Canned Wine is the New Craft Beer

4th of July brings out the red, white and blues, sizzling hot dogs and burgers, sparklers, and a symphony of fireworks enveloping the nighttime sky. Throwing your neighborly afternoon BBQ, you cram your cooler full of fizzy drinks, Lacroix, beer and re-corked bottles of whites, champagne, and rosés. While beer has been a longtime staple of those hot Independence Day celebrations, canned wine is coming into its own. They’re portable, chillable and available in an array of hipster cool, arty designs.

If you can’t be bothered with toting large bottles, the Coravin wine opener is out of the average person’s price range and less economical for those summer barbecues.  Cans are great because they come in single servings as well as shareable larger servings, so you can sip and share. To avoid the sometimes “aluminum can” taste, you should pour out the wine into a glass or plastic cup.

Skin-Friendly Resveratrol

Wine can be complex as well as a pleasurable drink, and it’s often touted for certain effects beyond the heady buzz you get from imbibing a glass. You’ve probably heard of skin care products that include wine polyphenol ingredients. Red wine in particular is often lauded for anti-aging properties associated with resveratrol, that skin-friendly polyphenol found in grape skins. Based on published articles, resveratrol has a hand in fighting free radicals and oxidative stress. What are free radicals? Generally speaking, these are unstable molecules that wreak havoc and oxidative stress on your body. Pollution and sun damage contribute to the formation of free radicals.

Craft Beer or Canned Wine?

The sales of craft beer has continued to climb while the those of big brands have remained flat in recent years. Craft beer sales were up 7% last year with more people wanting to have that special experience of creative craft beer making. Canned wine is changing the winemaking landscape and increasing the accessibility of wine to the masses. According to MarketWatch, the nascent canned wine industry is valued at $28 million today. Just four years ago, total sales of canned wine was just below $2 million. Times are a-changing.

Behold the Beautiful Can

Canned wine is getting the craft beer love  with greater consideration to what goes inside the beautiful can. But not all canned wines are created equal. After reading a thoughtful article written by The Washington Post food columnist Dave McIntyre, I took heed and poured my canned wine into a glass cup. 

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Rosés are my pick of drinkable canned wines

As I walk through the wine aisles at Whole Foods, I see more options of canned wines mixed in with bottled wines and spirits. At Trader Joe’s I encountered a similar, albeit sparser experience. After having sampled various cans of reds, whites and rosés, my preference always leads me to the refreshingly crisp and bubbly rosés. Whites were often disappointing straight out of a can, and some reds seemed to cling on to that “aluminum can” taste.

Whole Foods carries the bubbly Italian-based Presto rosé in a can. Slightly dry and fruity,  I enjoyed this in a glass. Presto comes in a 4-pack, and each serving size is a dainty 187ml. Child-size juice glass rejoice!

I was, however, far less impressed with the considerably sweet Presto sparkling cuvée in a can. Mirabeau’s Pure Provence rosé in a can was less drinkable in comparison to the Presto rosé.

Economical Fave – TJ’s Simpler Wines Rosé

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Trader Joe’s does the job right with a small single-serving canned rosé. When chilled, it’s refreshingly light and effervescent with just the right tinge of sweetness. I generally prefer dry wines. In a slim 187ml serving size can, TJ’s Simpler Wines come in a 4-pack, and you can spend a whopping $3.99.  I sampled the TJ’s white wine, and it was frankly “meh”.

Canned Reds are a work-in-progress

With all the hype and articles written about Oregon based Union Wine Co., my expectations were a tad high for the Underwood Pinot Noir. I was sadly disappointed. It came with a distinct aluminum taste even after I poured it into a wine glass. I may have to give Underwood another go and try some of its other varietals. The Underwood cans come in a larger serving size of 375ml, and are available for sale in single cans at Whole Foods and other wine shops. The West Side Wine Co’s Cabernet Sauvignon also had the “aluminum can” taste.

Size Matters

The average bottle of wine is 750ml (25 oz) and pours out approximately five to six glasses. The canned wines these days come in 187ml, 250ml, 375ml, and 500ml cans.  The portability and single serving size of the 187ml cans provide great consumption control. The larger sizes, particularly as you get to 375ml and 500ml provides the perfect MO to whip out a couple of wine glasses for a day trip (or night out) with friends or dates.

Recycle & Drink Responsibly

As with any packaging, whether in an elegant bottle or a can, we can be mindful of recycling and our continued responsibility to the environment. When you’re ready for that perfect picnic trip, or in this case, a 4th of July barbecue, celebrate in style.

Enjoy a Happy 4th and cheers to you!

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Minimalist with makeup #nofilter

By Vivian Lee

Arsenal to look au naturel

I can’t be bothered with wearing that much makeup most days, but I do invest in a good skin care regimen. I like to use spot-treating serums, high quality moisturizers, and BB cream to address concerns with sun spots. The days of a perfect porcelain complexion are far gone. We covered the basics and importance of a good, simple skin care routine in my last post. Now let’s talk about what comes after that all-important step of cleansing as part of your AM routine. I love a dewy complexion.

Skip toner and essence in the AM

When it comes to Korean skin care, there are a series of steps and products that consist of toner, serum, essence, and ampoule. And that’s before you even put on the main event! Because of the impossibility of me following such an involved regime, I generally skip the toner and essence in the mornings and save for the evenings.

Indulge with an Ampoule

An ampoule is part of the same family of serums and essences. An ampoule is sometimes defined as a “supercharged” serum with higher concentrations of active ingredients designed to target certain skin concerns. If you’re going to use an ampoule, use it before your chosen serum.

Since my concern are dark spots, I like my go-to Skin Food Yuja Water C Whitening Ampoule. Don’t let the term “whitening” worry you. Korean skin care products typically use the term “whitening” to mean “brightening”. Semantics are different here. In other words, you will not turn a ghostly shade of white. The Yuja extract oil in this particular ampoule is touted for its higher concentration of Vitamin C to help with fading dark spots, melasma, and general hyperpigmentation. It’s light and watery to the touch, and feels like nothing on your skin. This ampoule also packs in some niacinamide, a popularized ingredient in K-Beauty products that helps with repairing those fine lines and wrinkles for a smoother texture.

Serum comes after Ampoule

Because I deal with hyperpigmentation, I alternate between a couple different serums. Some mornings I like to use the pricey Skinceuticals CE Ferulic, but the savvier side of me enjoys Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin C Serum, or the Soko Glam exclusive (and bestseller) COSRX Triple C Lightening Liquid. One serum will do.

COSRX Triple C Lightening Liquid feels slightly more potent than Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin C Serum. It’s a personal preference. If you’re skin is on the more sensitive side, go with Klairs. I’ve personally never had any problems using the Skin Food Yuja Water C Ampoule and following that with another Vitamin C serum like COSRX Triple C Lightening Liquid or Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin C Serum.

Moisturizer

I could just jump ahead and skip the basic skin moisturizer with a double-duty BB cream, but I love the feel and texture of the EasyDew EX Repair Control Renewal Moisturizer. It’s basically a lightweight moisturizer that works for all skin types and is particularly formulated to deal with sensitive skin. It’s super light and velvety to the touch, so I’m a fan. It is on the pricier side, and definitely not a must-have. This particular brand and line of products contain what’s called medical grade EGF. EGF is apparently a type of protein that is designed to target fine lines by supporting cell regeneration.

Or “Glowy” Moisturizer 

If you’re keen on perfecting that dewy honeyed complexion, then take a gander at Son and Park Beauty Filter Cream in Glow. Considered now a cult classic as stated on Soko Glam, you’ll find that it gives a pearlescent sheen to your face. So get that luminous complexion and apparently it has ingredients to help with controlling sebum production.

BB Cream (skip the foundation)

Since I hate wearing foundation or liquid makeup, I just go straight for the multitasking BB cream, which gives you some level of tinted coverage and SPF. At the moment, I’m sporting the Super + Beblesh BB Cream Triple Function (Pinkish Label). Considered one of the famous OG BB creams in Korea, it’s a moisturizing 30 SPF cream that provides light tinted coverage to help even out your skin tone. I like BB Creams because they help with treating blemish-prone skin while masking imperfections. I therefore completely skip foundation altogether. On alternate days, I go with Klairs Illuminating Supple Blemish Cream (BB cream, SPF 40 PA++) that comes in a slim tube. I prefer the illuminating vs. matte version for a more natural look. The small tube of Klairs is easy to conceal and carry when traveling or just on the go.

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#nofilter

Ampoule-Serum-Moisturizer-BB Cream, and I’d say it’s time to rock n’ roll. I skip the eye creams unless I’m having a particularly tough bleary-eyed morning. After the application of BB cream, I dust on some extra sun screen (in mineral powder form), and I’m generally good to go.

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If I’m going out, I’ll take extra steps to line my eyes with liner, fill in the sparse areas of my brows, and dust on some blusher.

Face free of makeup #nofilter

By Vivian Lee

Arsenal to be makeup free

I can’t be bothered with wearing much makeup and can count on a single hand the number of times I’ve applied mascara or legit lipstick on my face over the past two years. I’ve probably saved a small fortune, and why I’ve never been a card carrying member of the Sephora Rouge Beauty Insider.

What I have invested in is good quality skin care products like spot-treating serums, moisturizers, and BB cream to treat sun spots that have cropped up over the years. The days of a perfect porcelain complexion are far gone. We covered the basics and importance of a good, simple skin care routine. Now let’s talk about what comes after that all-important step of cleansing as part of your AM routine. Time for a dewy complexion!

Skip the toner and essence

When it comes to Korean skin care, there are a series of steps and products that consist of toner, serum, essence, and ampoule. And that’s before you even put on the main event! Because of the impossibility of me following such an involved regime, I generally skip the toner and essence.

Indulge with an Ampoule

An ampoule is part of the same family of serums and essences. An ampoule is sometimes defined as a “supercharged” serum with higher concentrations of active ingredients designed to target certain skin concerns. If you’re going to use an ampoule, use it before your chosen serum.

Since my concern are dark spots, I like my go-to Skin Food Yuja Water C Whitening Ampoule. Don’t let the term “whitening” worry you. Korean skin care products typically use the term “whitening” to mean “brightening”. Semantics are different here. In other words, you will not turn a ghostly shade of white. The Yuja extract oil in this particular ampoule is touted for its higher concentration of Vitamin C to help with fading dark spots, melasma, and general hyperpigmentation. It’s light and watery to the touch, and feels like nothing on your skin. This ampoule also packs in some niacinamide, a popularized ingredient in K-Beauty products that helps with repairing those fine lines and wrinkles for a smoother texture.

Serum comes after Ampoule

Because I deal with hyperpigmentation, I alternate between a couple different serums. Some mornings I like to use the pricey Skinceuticals CE Ferulic, but the savvier side of me enjoys Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin C Serum, or the Soko Glam exclusive (and bestseller) COSRX Triple C Lightening Liquid. One serum will do.

COSRX Triple C Lightening Liquid feels slightly more potent than Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin C Serum. It’s a personal preference. If you’re skin is on the more sensitive side, go with Klairs. I’ve personally never had any problems using the Skin Food Yuja Water C Ampoule and following that with another Vitamin C serum like COSRX Triple C Lightening Liquid or Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin C Serum.

Moisturizer

I could just jump ahead and skip the basic skin moisturizer with a double-duty BB cream, but I love the feel and texture of the EasyDew EX Repair Control Renewal Moisturizer. It’s basically a lightweight moisturizer that works for all skin types and is particularly formulated to deal with sensitive skin. It’s super light and velvety to the touch, so I’m a fan. It is on the pricier side, and definitely not a must-have. This particular brand and line of products contain what’s called medical grade EGF. EGF is apparently a type of protein that is designed to target fine lines by supporting cell regeneration.

Or “Glowy” Moisturizer 

If you’re keen on perfecting that dewy honeyed complexion, then take a gander at Son and Park Beauty Filter Cream in Glow. Considered now a cult classic as stated on Soko Glam, you’ll find that it gives a pearlescent sheen to your face. So get that luminous complexion and apparently it has ingredients to help with controlling sebum production.

BB Cream (skip the foundation)

Since I hate wearing foundation or liquid makeup, I just go straight for the multitasking BB cream, which gives you some level of tinted coverage and SPF. At the moment, I’m sporting the Super + Beblesh BB Cream Triple Function (Pinkish Label). Considered one of the famous OG BB creams in Korea, it’s a moisturizing 30 SPF cream that provides light tinted coverage to help even out your skin tone. I like BB Creams because they help with treating blemish-prone skin while masking imperfections. I therefore completely skip foundation altogether. On alternate days, I go with Klairs Illuminating Supple Blemish Cream (BB cream, SPF 40 PA++) that comes in a slim tube. I prefer the illuminating vs. matte version for a more natural look. The small tube of Klairs is easy to conceal and carry when traveling or just on the go.

Processed with VSCO with av4 preset

#nofilter

Ampoule-Serum-Moisturizer-BB Cream, and I’d say it’s time to rock n’ roll. I skip the eye creams unless I’m having a particularly tough bleary-eyed morning. After the application of BB cream, I dust on some extra sun screen (in mineral powder form) and it’s time to go-go.

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Morning Cleanse – Good for All

by Vivian Lee

Korean skin care is here to stay

Korean skin care exploded onto the scene, vastly superseding Psy’s Gangnam Style. That was so 2013. But fast forward to present day, and no matter where I turn, I see various brands and lines of K-Beauty products with its own dedicated aisle at CVS, Target and Ulta. K-Beauty skin care products have a cult following for good reason. Just sample the Korean TV dramas, K-Pop acts and all manner of celebrities out there, and you’ll see that both Korean women and men have gorgeous (glowing) skin. They invest more in skin care than they do in cosmetics. And yes, Korea is known to be a plastic surgery mecca.

Good for Dudes too

Great skin care is a reflection of what we put in our bodies as well as what we slather on in the mornings and evenings. As someone who reads and researches products, I’ve tried and tested various skin care products over the years, religiously poring over Amazon Bestseller reviews and reading through articles on different skin care products that are considered best-in-class for specific skin conditions – i.e. occasional acne breakouts, hyperpigmentation (dark patchy skin), and hormonal-linked skin care conditions influenced by diet and stress.

My issues are only skin deep

As a Korean-American, I’ve grown to care more about my skin care routine. I am not one who spends a long time getting ready. I’d rather get ready quickly and go about my day with glowy, dewy skin (of course!). After having kids, I’ve noticed an increase of hyperpigmentation (those annoying dark patches) that crop up due to hormonal factors (hello melasma), years of sun exposure, and the general aging process.

K-Beauty recommendations

A couple of sites I recommend are Charlotte Cho’s Soko Glam and Jude Chao’s fiftyshadesofsnail.com. Over the last couple of years, I’ve slathered my way through various products and have landed on my current routine. Now, everyone’s routine is different because everyone’s skin is different. I don’t have the patience to stick with a 10-step skin care regimen, but I care enough about my skin to do a fair bit when I get ready in the morning and in the evening, right before I hit the sack. I’d like to think I’m of the au natural set, a trait handed down by my down-to-earth mom.  Also, my kids keep me in check and grounded, so vanity goes out the door.

Morning Routine

Lately, I’ve been vacillating between Glossier’s lightweight Milky Jelly Cleanser (not Korean, but definitely inspired by K-Beauty products) and COSRX Low PH Good Morning Gel Cleanser.  I mean how can you go wrong with a name like that for an AM cleanser. Since your skin naturally gets used to certain products, it’s good to change it up and alternate every other day. Also it gets boring using the same products day in and day out.  What I like about the COSRX morning gel cleanser is the low PH formulation that is gentle on your just slept-in skin and doesn’t strip away your skin’s natural oils. COSRX products use high quality ingredients, so I would recommend their general line of products to incorporate into your regular (or not so-regular routine). You can get COSRX products on Amazon (enjoy the Prime shipping), or head over to Sokoglam.com.

When I think my skin needs a little exfoliation, I add in an extra step with the Dr. G Brighting Peel Gel. It’s not as scary as it sounds. Think of it as a lightweight facial scrub that has a fresh scent and certainly not as harsh as those days of yore when we all used St. Ives Apricot Facial Scrub. I was a child of the 80s, and I remember it well. That and my mom’s handy Pond’s cold cream.

Now my morning routine is often harried with the traffic jam in the bathroom and the scurrying of feet (dog paws included). If you’re like me and wake up with an insane pouf ball of hair, you can invest a small chunk of change in an adorable cat-inspired hair band. Etude has a bestselling hair band that is just too cute.

COSRX Recommended

If you’re looking for recommendations on a general line of skin care products that will help get you to that fresh, dewy skin, then look no further than COSRX. Also, drink lots of water, stay hydrated and eat plenty of colorful fruits and vegetables. Products I like from COSRX include the Acne Pimple Master Patch. These small, discreet round adhesives are perfect when you get an angry flare up and need an overnight fixer. Good for whiteheads, blackheads and even the ones you’ve sadly picked over.

My other COSRX go-tos include the AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid.  This gives you the power of alpha hydroxy acid with more intensive exfoliation. If you’re challenged with visible pores and blackheads, consider COSRX BHA products. Head on over to SOKOGLAM.com to check out your options there. You can also check out Fifty Shades of Snail to read more on the power of AHA and BHA and COSRX. If you have sensitive skin, then test on a small area first and definitely don’t use it every day. As with many stronger exfoliants, consider using AHA products as part of your evening routine.

Treat your skin right with a good skin care routine.