Sunday, April 17, 2016

Korean Skin Care for the Middle-Aged: Cleansing, Step One

I've mentioned before that the idea of switching to a Korean skin care regimen is a bit overwhelming. I'm using "overwhelming" in the understated, stiff-upper-lip New England WASP sense of (choose one)

  1. Anxiety-producing
  2. Overly-complicated
  3. May I please just stick my face in the sand like an ostrich instead of spending weeks trying to master this stuff?
  4. Is this going to be on the exam?
  5. All of the above

To cut down on the free-floating anxiety, I've suggested switching to a Korean style cleansing routine as a great way to sneak up on the subject. After all, cleansing is pretty simple. Everyone cleans their face. And switching to a Korean cleansing routine is a hell of a lot easier than embarking on the whole shebang: a nightly skin care routine that involves several layers of products and takes 45 minutes.

Double cleansing

Asian cleansing, by contrast, only takes two steps: an oil-based cleanser followed by a water-based cleanser. The oil-based cleanser breaks down makeup and sunscreen and rinses it away; the water-based cleanser removes every last trace of old makeup, sunscreen, soil, and excess sebum.

So what makes Asian cleansing different from Western cleansing? The answer is: not that much. That is, if you remember the way your grandmother cleaned her face.

These videos give a picture into the skincare advice women were getting in the middle of the last century. They were double-cleansing, they just didn't call it that. It's kind of like the guy in the Molière play who discovered he'd been speaking prose his whole life.

I'm not saying that their routines are the same as what's going on nowadays—Korean women would faint dead away at the idea of washing their faces with soap—but the principle remains the same: use oil to remove the makeup, then remove the makeup remover.

And notice how the ladies in the videos have their hair protected with special turbans? Well, Asian skin care also includes special head gear.

Etude House My Beauty Lovely Etti Hair Band, image courtesy of Jolse Beauty Blog

See how we're really all the same? All looking idiotic in our eternal quest for beauty? Isn't it heartwarming?


About Double Cleansing

Here's a dirty little secret you won't hear if you read Asian beauty blogs. You can use Western skin care products to double-cleanse your skin.

Well, of course you can. Look at the amount of cold cream that is being lavished onto the women's faces in those videos. It's off the charts. It makes me want to run screaming from the room.

I suppose you could use cold cream. If you want. In the past, I've used Pond's, Albolene, Caswell Massey Cucumber, and even Jergen's incredibly retro-looking All-Purpose Cream. But as I've mentioned before, the general ookiness of the cream and all those greasy tissues get pretty unpleasant.

And you don't have to do that anymore. Asian oil cleansers are far more elegant and easy to use. You use a pump or two on dry skin, massage it into your face to dissolve the makeup and sunscreen, add a little water, massage some more, and then rinse it all off. The oil emulsifies with the water and rinses cleanly off. I bought my first bottle of oil cleanser at a Japanese supermarket, but nowadays, companies like DHC and SKII are readily available at Sephora and Nordstrom.

On top of that, you can get Asian-style cleansing oils very inexpensively from American manufacturers like Neutrogena, Burt's Bees, Philosophy, Clinique, Julep, Bareminerals, Whish, and Juice Beauty, as well as European manufacturers like The Body Shop, Boot's, and Lancôme.

I'm saving the best for last

Double cleansing takes time, but it's worth it. I have dry, aging skin, and acne has never been a concern. And yet, I've started double-cleansing every night, without fail.

This is because even when I haven't been wearing makeup, I'm certain to be wearing some kind of SPF-containing sunscreen. And in my experience, the higher the SPF, the more pore-clogging that stuff gets.

Don't even get me started on waterproof sunscreens and what they do to my pores. I'm pretty sure they are the guilty party with the milia I was complaining about not too long ago. But double cleansing and stepped up exfoliation took care of the problem. No more using a facial wipe or some micellar water on a cotton pad and then falling into bed for me. It feels weird to say this, but in this way, at least (mind you, I'm not talking about the crinkles around my eyes, etc.,) I'm enjoying the best skin of my life.

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xxx, Poppy.