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How Korean skincare made me love my skin

13 Feb 2021
by LW Editorial

February is the month of love. We're doing things differently by focusing on loving yourself and your skin! This Valentine's Day, it's time to embrace some serious self love. This includes a loving relationship with your skin. I'm sharing an intimate journey about how K-beauty made me love my skin. Exciting, right?!

I first encountered Korean skincare in 2011. By that time I had been suffering from hormonal acne for a few years. The only products I was familiar with were the skincare products I could find in the drugstore around the corner from my parents' house. They looked like medical treatments, and felt quite harsh on my skin. My skincare routine didn't feel like self care at all. More like a necessary evil!

In the hope of getting clear skin, I used pretty old-school anti-acne products that I thought were helpful. Cleansers with harsh surfactants that made my skin feel dry and patchy, physical exfoliants with hard walnut shell particles that left my skin looking red and irritated. Looking back at pictures from those days, I see see someone who wasn't happy in her skin. Skin care wasn't something I enjoyed. It felt like I was tormenting my skin in the hopes of getting rid of my pimples.

Then I discovered a little thing called K-beauty through the internet. I was instantly curious. The products looked so different from what I was used to: cute, sleek and playful, not like the Western brands I was using at the time and that looked like prescription-style medications. K-beauty offered products I'd never heard of: essences, sheet masks, emulsions... I felt like a kid in a candy store.

Let me tell you: buying K-beauty online in 2011 was quite the experience. I relied on Google Translate a lot. Back then, it wasn't possible to track my order, so I had to take a leap and hope for the best. After what felt like an eternity, my parcel arrived. I ordered a snail essence, a BHA cleanser, two hydrating toners and a bunch of playful sheet masks. I was so excited! I'm sure you recognize that feeling when a beauty haul arrives. But this was for the very first time!

Slowly but surely, my skincare routine started to transform. All those harsh, drying anti-acne treatments had left my skin in a pretty sorry state. But once I started to shift towards mild, nourishing products, I noticed that the health of my skin started to improve. K-beauty taught me about the importance of a healthy moisture barrier. That I shouldn't fight against my skin, but that I needed to listen to my skin. A world of new ingredients opened up: from snail mucus to propolis, to herbal extracts with soothing, antioxidant properties.

Of course, my skin didn’t clear up in one day. But after following my new skin care routine for a while, I noticed a change. My cheeks weren’t as red as before, and my overall complexion seemed more calm, more evened out. My nose, once the home of many blackheads, seemed to clear up. By that time, I had implemented double cleansing for a few months. I didn’t notice any new blackheads, and my pores became less prominent. My skin felt more smooth, more calm, and on some days, I even had a subtle glow. My new K-beauty journey turned skincare into self care, and it really boosted my confidence.

There was another transformation. I started to actually enjoy my skincare routine. Some days, I even looked forward to it! What once felt like a chore, turned into a daily moment of self care and reflection. Especially at night, I really checked in with myself and my skin. I tried to listen to what my skin craved, and adjusted my skin care accordingly. My new, Korean skincare routine wasn't geared towards battling my skin, but towards taking the time to gently care and soothe my skin. 

My current skincare routine really brings out the best of my skin. K-beauty and self care go hand in hand for me, and skincare feels really therapeutic for me. One of the things I still enjoy the most, is exploring new products that I can implement in my ever changing skincare routine. I'm always trying to find the balance between being consistent in my skincare, and discovering new products to see if they work for my skin. All in all, you could say that K-beauty taught me to fall in love with my own skin again...

Back to you. How does K-beauty relate to self care and skin love for you? When you look in the mirror, are you happy with what you see?

Love, Marthe

Sun Jae
16 Feb 2021
Hi Marthe,

Thanks for sharing your story. I can relate to it so much!

I always had a super nice skin, invisible pores, perfect complexion, skin was on a dry side but nothing that a day cream, even cheap supermarket ones, couldn't take care of. Never had acne. And I don't wear makeup. Then I reached 40ish years old (yeah, I'm that old). And rosacea started to invade my face. I must add that I'm Korean so I don't have blond hair and fair skin, which is usually the type of person who tends to have rosacea. I hated seeing myself in the mirror as my face soon became constantly as red as a ripe tomato, from the moment I woke up to the moment I went to bed. Along with it came rosacea induced acne (tiny little red spots grouped together), dry patches and huge pores. Just wonderful... Rosacea being a "sickness" you never cure of, all you can do is treat it according to the type of rosacea you have (there are 3 or 4 different kinds I think) and hope it'll stay under control. I had a wrong treatment from a dermatologist who just wanted to take my money (LED light treatment - it does diminish the inflammation but only after a real chemical treatment) before finally seeing another super nice and expert dermatologist in rosacea. I had oral treatment for a month, and 2 quite agressive creams (prescriptions only). It did wonders. My redness is now barely visible. I still have what is called "redness flushes" (sudden severe redness blush that can last for hours) and some of my pores are definitely "open" now. I still have to use the prescriptions creams several times a year as rosacea never leaves. Inbetween, I was using a single hydrating cream from a French brand that targets redness and was washing my face in the evening with soap, as recommended by the dermatologist.

So what K-beauty did for me? Well, I've been on the K-beauty wagon since mid-June 2020 now, but I only started to have a real routine I seriously stick to since Nov (yeah, I didn't take it very seriously 'cause I'm lazy. Going from one cream only to a +/-10 steps routine was a huge change). I'm still figuring out what works for me, but I did notice some major changes: since Nov, I haven't had to use the prescription creams and my redness is still completely under control. I barely had any redness flushes and when I do, I put on a calming and nourishing sheet mask that I keep in my fridge to ease the burning sensation. Some of my pores are definitely smaller, and my skin is just incredibly soft. I use mainly calming, soothing, anti-inflammatory and super hydrating products. Since I'm well in my 40s, I also have to target anti-aging products now, but thanks to my thick Asian skin, I only have fine lines for the moment. I'm now enjoying my routine, enjoying trying new stuff, being sometimes disappointed when a product doesn't live up to my expectations, but also being amazed when one does wonders I didn't expect. I realised that an excellent product doesn't need to empty my bank account to work its miracle. That soothing, natural ingredients can help me keep my rosacea under control so I don't have to use the harsh creams that often (even if I know I'll always need them at some point). All in all, K-beauty was a beautiful discovery. I didn't expect much of it at first, but after seeing the results, all I can say is that I'm clearly an addict now! My sweet spot? Toners! I looooove them and often layer several of them.
Sun Jae
16 Feb 2021
Hi Marthe,

Thanks for sharing your story. I can relate to it so much!

I always had a super nice skin, invisible pores, perfect complexion, skin was on a dry side but nothing that a day cream, even cheap supermarket ones, couldn't take care of. Never had acne. And I don't wear makeup. Then I reached 40ish years old (yeah, I'm that old
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