The time I ruined my skin with Korean skincare

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Kathryn Todd

These are many of the products I used when I tried Korean skincare. Although most of the them are from Klairs, some are from Cosrx. The products include an “all-over” lotion, morning cleanser, toner, foaming cleanser, oil-free moisturizer and serum.

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Imagine never having to pop a whitehead, ice a swollen pimple or plaster concealer on your face from your popping-session the night before. I thought this would all be possible with Korean skincare. I was wrong. 

Hallyu, meaning “Korean Wave,” describes the growing influence Korean culture has on areas like entertainment, food and beauty. During my sophomore year, many K-beauty vloggers’ videos started appearing on my YouTube recommended page. Naturally, I started watching. They advertised 10-step routines filled with products from companies like Klairs, Innisfree and Cosrx. It didn’t take long for me to begin my own routine. 

Each night, I used a cleanser, toner, essence (from a sheet mask), serum, moisturizer and ampoule (direct treatment for a problem area), excluding eye cream from the original 10-step routine. Each morning, I rinsed my face with water and followed up with a moisturizer and sunscreen. I soon became the person who brought sheet-masks on mission trips and changed pillowcases each night.

After a few months, the texture of my skin changed drastically and grew increasingly sensitive. It was as if all the layers of products caused acne rather than prevented it. Even so, when I made an appointment with a dermatologist, I expected him to encourage the efforts I was making. Instead, he was baffled. 

“Why would you use rose water after already moisturizing?” he questioned.

“Just how many sheet-masks do you use a week?” he probed. 

“You change your pillowcase every night?” he proclaimed.

He sentenced me to the simplest routine possible: cleanser and moisturizer. Ironically, my skin improved within days and my original texture returned. 

I conclude with this: each skin type is different, so each routine must be different. Don’t be afraid to try new products; likewise, don’t be afraid to stick to the simple. But please, change your pillowcase at least twice a week.