Tuesday, April 05, 2016

Korean Skin Care for the Middle Aged, Part 1

As I may have already mentioned, I'm tiptoeing into the subject of Korean Beauty, or K-Beauty. This is not an easy thing to do. For normal people, I mean.

K-Beauty for the non-obsessed

If you're one of those people who lives and breathes beauty, is up on the latest releases at Sephora, and only wears niche perfume, you've known about Korean beauty for at least two years. If you're into K-Pop or K-drama, you've known about it even longer, but if that's the case, what the hell are you doing reading my blog? Get off my lawn!

But what about the rest of us? 

Print media isn't covering it

Here's the thing about learning about K-beauty: you won't find many books and magazine articles about it. OK, there are some books—I own two, pictured here—but they are far from encyclopedic.   

Also, the stuff I've seen in magazines and websites like Into the Gloss and Allure.com mostly boils down to "OMG Korean skincare involves, like, 10 steps!!! OMG!" It's very Buzzfeed, if you know what I mean. That's a start ... I guess ... if you admire sensationalist journalism and click-baity headlines.

Korean Beauty Secrets by K-Beauty bloggers Kerry Thompson and Coco Park

Our current best sources of information are blogs, YouTube, and Reddit, and these come with their own problems. The biggest of these is their rapid production and turnover of material. These sources of information aren't for the ages; they're keeping their readership up to date with the most current information. Because of that, they don't waste a lot of time getting you up to speed; this is information written by experts for an extremely well-informed readership.

The Learning Curve

Tryng to keep up with K-Beauty trends by reading blogs and hanging out on the AsianBeauty subreddit is kind of like telling time by watching the minute hand of a clock.

I'm not saying these sites are useless—far from it. It's just that they give me a sense of semi-permanent in medias res-ness.  I always feel like I'm walking into a movie theater fifteen to twenty minutes after the feature started.

But I do mean to share what I've learned.

The Little Book of Skin Care by Charlotte Cho, of Sokoglam

The most important things I've learned about K-Beauty skincare

Apparently, every K-Beauty devotée has acne. And I don't.

Also, I'm twice as old as most of the bloggers. And I'm three times as old as the people on Reddit. Which means that so far, I have found no one who feels my pain. No one else is watching her face gather into extra folds at the jawline, like the dust ruffles at the foot of a canopy bed. No one else understands what it's like to have skin so parched and dry that you want to render a full-grown sheep and rub every single drop of its lanolin over your entire body.

But I persevere because I'm fascinated. And love my invisible internet friends, and think you might be a little bit fascinated, too.

So we'll start with this: basically, 80 to 90 percent of the stuff you think you know about skincare is wrong. (How's that for sensationalist journalism?)


  1. Nature republic is opening in Manhattan this year. It might then catch on BC mags won't really cover if there's no direct ad revenue benefit for them. But skincare is huge for every single age group in Korea. But while I love it their whitening obsession is rather tedious and that bit I ignore completely

    1. That's a good point about the lack of print ads in Western publications. Even Shiseido doesn't run ads, and I only know about AmorePacific because of the number of samples that have been pressed into my eager hands.

      The whitening obsession of Asian skincare is probably one reason they weren't expanding to the western market. Western companies like Estee Lauder were coming up with whitening lines that they'd sell only in Asia. As if only Asian women suffer from hyperpigmentation! (Shaking my head ... with half my friends heading to the dermatologist to have dark spots lasered off.) Then Clinique started selling a product to lighten dark spots, and eventually, Estee's Cyber White line was introduced in the States. Now Chanel is introducing a Perle line, and I expect others to follow. Honestly, the idiom "liver spots," should be sufficient proof that there's a problem, and therefore a market.

  2. Oh c'mon now! I think I'm as old as you are. If not older.
    That was one thing that bugged me the most about the K-beauty Secrets Book. No photo in the whole book of anyone older than 40. No routine geared towards anyone older than 40. Not that I need routines, but it's always interesting to see what other people my age are doing, right?

    1. Thank you! I guess we wrinklies are supposed to dry up and blow away, like autumn leaves.

      Mark my words, there's a Korean mother or grandmother out there who is going to make a fortune with a book called Korean Women Don't Get Old.

  3. Replies
    1. Which is of course my fell scheme. Bwhahahaha!

  4. Yes, also currently looking for sheep to render...seriously, I have looked into bulk lanolin purchasing...ugh. Blackheads and flaking are truly not fair!


Gentle Readers:

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xxx, Poppy.