We’re in a golden age of beauty. The cosmetics industry is forecast to exceed $62 billion in gross revenues in the United States alone. Skin care, one of the fastest growing segments of the industry, makes up over 35% of the global beauty market, reaching $121 billion in revenues 2014. Beauty is also one of the few industries that is resistant to economic downturns, including the Great Recession of 2008. What all this translates into is more research and development, more technological advancements, and a better-informed consumer.
Not so when I was a teen, when I was first discovering what toner was (alcohol kills pimples!), tanning with baby oil (the sun kills pimples!), and stripping my skin from head-to-toe with SLS-laden cleansers (squeaky clean skin kills pimples!). Oh, when I look back to all the beauty mistakes I made (including but not limited to the fog of Aqua Net I virtually lived in from ages 14 to 19), it’s no wonder my skin is the mottled mess it is today.
Thankfully, most beauty mistakes are not irreparable. These days, I avoid the sun like the plague, I scan ingredient lists like it’s my job (well, it is), and I try to keep up on the latest technology, which has been coming out like lightning speed in recent years, fueled by the mega beauty capital of Seoul, Korea. And while it’s easy to fall prey to the glitz and glamour of the latest ingredient or product hitting the beauty market, no amount of snail slime or donkey milk is going to help our complexions if we keep sabotaging our skin care routines. So follow this checklist to make sure you’re not making these common beauty mistakes.
- You’re losing the chok chok game
You know that tight feeling in your skin? Yeah — you should never be feeling that. For Korean women, it’s all about keeping your skin chok chok, or hydrated, 24/7, and that starts with cleansing. Don’t let more than 30 seconds elapse from the time you finish washing your face to when you apply your first skincare product (unless it’s a retinol product, in which case, you need to make sure your face is completely dry). To accomplish this, many Korean women keep an essence or toner mist by their cleanser so that they can minimize evaporation and kick-start the hydration process as soon as they finish cleansing.
- You’re scrubbing yourself raw
It’s well known that regular exfoliation helps with dullness and clogged pores. But with the proliferation of facial brushes, scrubs and acids, we can end up over-exfoliating our skin — sometimes unintentionally — which can result in dehydration, redness, and yes, even dark spots and acne. So learn to be a little less zealous, and switch out those grainy scrubs (microbeads are bad for you and the environment, anyway) for a far gentler alternative.
Peeling gels, or gommage exfoliators, have long been popular in Korea, where it’s practically a national pastime to go to your local mogyok-tang, or bathhouse, for some serious body scrubbing. Peeling gels work in a similar way, except that cellulose or enzymes in the gel help slough off dead skin cells into little balls of waste, an incredibly satisfying feeling that is only surpassed when you feel how amazingly soft your skin is afterwards. I prefer to use gommage peeling gels on my T-zone, where there’s plenty of excess sebum to sop up. Dr. G Brightening Peeling Gel, which uses cellulose to absorb sebum and other skin debris, is formulated with hydrating botanicals like aloe, mushroom and hollyhock extract, so instead of raw, you end up radiant.
- You think oil = oily
If you think just because you have oily skin, you don’t need moisturizer, I have a message for you: The ’80s called and they want their skincare routine back. You see, even oily skin can get dehydrated — after all, the amount of water in your skin (its hydration levels) is different from the amount of oil in your skin. In fact, stripping your skin in a misguided attempt to get squeaky clean can actually cause an overproduction of oil. (I’m cringing, thinking of all those alcohol-laden toners I plied on my skin as a teen.)
The key is to use moisturizers that won’t clog pores and are light in texture. Blithe Crystal Iceplant Pressed Serum is a multi-tasking gel hydrator that’s super cooling on the skin, so if you’re battling acne, this will help calm the skin. Another option is LJH Tea Tree 80 Cream, which is formulated with antiseptic tea tree extract and astringent witch hazel extract.
Also, it may seem counterintuitive, but the right seed oils can help balance an oily complexion. Look for sweet almond oil or jojoba oil, like in Whamisa Organic Flowers Facial Oil or Dr. Hauschka Clarifying Day Oil, which are lightweight in feel and help to balance sebum production.
- You’re missing out on the most important time of day: night
Nighttime is when your skin’s restoration processes are in high gear. And now that we know that UV damage incurred during the day continues to proliferate at night, it’s even more important to infuse skin with free radical-fighting antioxidants. So don’t skimp on antioxidant serums, which have the highest concentration of actives. Blossom Jeju Pink Camellia Soombi Essence is formulated with over 55% Camellia japonica flower extract, which has potent antioxidant properties. Double the impact with an antioxidant-rich sleeping mask to seal in all that free radical-fighting power as you sleep, like Yuri Pibu Black Tea Firming Mask, in which 70% of its formula is made up of black tea extract and red wine extract, both well-known antioxidant powerhouses.
Because ending the day with a bit of red wine? That’s never a mistake.
Adapted from my story originally published on Glow Recipe.