The Sheet Mask: #1 Introduction to Korean Skin Care

The number one way to introduce yourself to Korean skin care is to try a Korean sheet mask! I’m absolutely loving all of the options. I have had experience with two different brands of sheet masks mostly and was lucky enough to try the latest type of sheet/gel mask from Mary Kay thanks to my friend, Melissa. Thank you, Melissa! :-*

Please watch the video below or continue to read this post to learn a little bit more about how I use sheet masks to instantly plump my fine lines and lessen signs of aging.

The mask I was using in the above video is the brand new TimeWise Repair Lifting Bio-Cellulose Mask from Mary Kay. The ads for this mask claim to give you visible results in two weeks. (I’m actually a believer after using it and you can see my honest reaction to the product in my video above.) It’s so unique in that it is completely gel, so be aware when opening the packet that it is much more delicate and fragile than a cotton sheet mask.

Let me just say this about gel face masks – I was SOO impressed! I’ve been a believer in face masks for awhile but have only used the cheaper cotton masks. Gel masks are the cotton masks’ older sisters and are much more intensively moisturizing then their younger siblings. I am so hooked and already trying to research other brands/types on the market.

I would definitely give this Mary Kay mask the top rating for my combination skin type. I noticed a reduction in redness and fine lines right away. I won’t be able to afford to use these more than once a week, but I definitely plan on adding them (and most likely this specific brand) into my Self Love Saturday routine. More on that later.

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Today marks Day 7 of my Korean Skin Care Journey and I’ve begin using a “cleansing ritual” as most of my Korean products request, including Korean face masks. (The ones in the US don’t seem to be as specific about using a “ritual”.  I understand that this “skin ritual” could be intimidating to someone new to skin care. (It took me 20 minutes to finish my first night routine, so trust me, no judgement. I understand. ) Therefore, I’d recommend that if you are interested in Korean skin care and adding some new products to your skin care routine, try a sheet or gel face mask first! You can get these masks at your local Sephora or Ulta. They are also easy to find online and SUPER easy to use.

How Often Do You Use A Sheet Mask?

Most of the gel masks that I’ve researched want you to use them once a week. They tend to be more expensive and intensive then the every day cotton sheet mask. I will be looking for new gel masks to try on my new proclaimed weekly holiday, Self Love Saturday. On off days (days with no gel or sheet mask), I will just skip that step and continue on to the next step of my skin care routine. Therefore, I will be averaging between 2 -3 cotton sheet masks/ week and 1 intensive gel mask/week. I already love my results and want MORE! So, I will skip extras to have the sheet masks I need. However, having one sheet mask a week would be the bare minimum recommended and is perfect for the beginner to start seeing some results.

How Do You Use a Sheet Mask?

Want a laugh? Check out my first video where I go through how to use a sheet mask. In this video, I’m using one of TonyMoly’s cotton snail mucin sheet masks. (Find out more, here.) Cotton sheet masks are the most common types of sheet masks and the cheapest. You really don’t need to spend more than a few dollars for a cotton sheet mask and Sephora even has decent branded cotton sheet masks that are inexpensive and easy to find/buy in the states. Follow the steps below and PLEASE WASH YOUR FACE before applying! For the love of God. Wash your face – even if you already washed it this morning.

Step 1 & 2: Double Cleanse

Wash your face using a Korean double cleanse method. This involves first using an oil based cleanser followed by a gel/water cleanser.

Step 3: Exfoliator

This where any exfoliating pads, peels, manual scrubs come in depending on your skin type. I also always use my Clarisonic with my gel/water cleanser in Step 2 if I’m not going to use another type of exfoliator. I find the Clarisonic to be the gentlest form of exfoliating, especially when using the Clarisonic brush for sensitive skin.

Step 4: Toner

Use a toner to balance your skin’s ph.

Step 5: Skin Essence

Skin micro essence is a Korean must for keeping skin gorgeous.

Step 6: Serums, Emulsions, Boosters & Other Extras:

This is unique to you, so please feel free to play and explore at this step. Usually when I’m using a sheet mask, I don’t get as crazy with this step and keep it simple with a brightening emulsion.

Step 7: THE SHEET MASK

I know… this is why you were reading this in the first place, but there’s just SO MUCH TO TALK ABOUT. I’m having issues filtering and truly believe it’s the holistic approach that Koreans take with skin care that really keeps them from aging.

  1. Slowly remove the mask from it’s container.
  2. Use any extra “juice” from the container to prime your face and get it ready to absorb the sheet mask you are using. Many estheticians explain this method of priming the face by using a wet sponge as an example. A wet sponge picks up more liquid then a dry sponge. Therefore, using a hydrator to prime your face for a sheet mask makes sense. With what we can now refer to as the “wet sponge theory”, your skin will act as a wet sponge and soak up all of the benefits of the sheet mask you are using. (I’m a believer. )
  3. Apply the mask to your face as best as you can. They are a one-size-fits-all type of beauty device, so don’t be shocked when you get told you look like Hannibal Lector.
  4. Wait 20 – 30 minutes in what I like to call “necessary rbf” until the sheet mask starts feeling a little dry and all used up. (Sorry. Rude. I know……. but throw that used up sheet mask in the trash! She’s OK with it.)
  5. After removing the mask, you do not need to rinse your face and can instantly return to the rest of your skin routine.

Step 8: Eye Cream and Retinols

Need I say more? This step is also customizable based on your skin care needs. Also, wearing eye protection (cute, oversized sunglasses) in the sun helps protect this very sensitive area from sun damage as well as any creams you may use.

Step 9: Moisturizer

If you can’t do the other steps, please do this one. If you have a moisturizer with a SPF over 30, you can knock 9 & 10 out with one product!

Step 10: SPF

Do we need another reminder of the “Tan Mom”? I think so. She’s pretty good motivation to wear sunscreen. Oh and Look! She’s joined by the newly appointed, “Tan Dad.” Sorry, Mr. President. It’s just too funny not to share.

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After your cleansed and protected, you can continue on with your day, put on make up (… or not…. because you have beautiful skin girl! ) and get into whatever mischief you had planned. Have fun, be safe, and don’t forget to reapply sunscreen every 2 -3 hours.

 

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What the … snail mucin?!

Yes. You read that correctly. Snail mucin. What is it and why are Koreans obsessed with it for your skin? Well, think about it. Snails are relatively unprotected when it comes to their bodies. However, they have magical slime in replace of what they lack in armor. Magical slime? Yes! MAGICAL SLIME! It is the slime that allows the snail to move along rough surfaces unscathed. Their slime gives them special healing powers kind of like Wolverine. Anyways, it made enough sense for me to try it on my face and share my opinion with you. Watch the my first video attempt below where I try a Tony Moly snail mask from Korea

My friend Amanda was kind enough to gift me these AMAZING Tony Moly masks straight from Seoul’s airport on her trip to Thailand. (Hence, the name and topic of my blog – thank you again, Amanda.) She gave me 5 of these sheet masks and I’ve used 2 of them so far on Day 1 and Day 3 of my Korean Skin Care Journey. I plan to use all 5 sheet masks over the course of 10 days and report my results.

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Tony Moly Snail Mask Sheet, Pure Energy 10 (front)

The sheet masks have a big nasty picture of a snail on them and claim to be specifically formulated for skin damage care. It is a “TONYMOLY Pure Energy 100 Snail Mask Sheet” and states that “the mild, soft mask takes care of damaged skin with its ingredient of snail secretion filtrate, which has a skin regeneration effect.”

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Tony Moly Snail Mask Sheet, Pure Energy 100 (back)

If you don’t know Tony Moly, you are missing out. Ulta sells the sheet masks and they have the cutest packaging with different vegetables, fruit, flowers and candy on them! (See picture below.) However, I’ve NEVER seen one with snails and this isn’t nearly as cute as the ones we have stateside.

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Being familiar with Tony Moly products definitely made me more comfortable with using the mask for the first time. There was no smell and as far as I could tell, it was like every other sheet mask I’ve used. It did have an aloe feel to it and was a little sticky after using. However, I’m OBSESSED with aloe, so that feeling doesn’t really bother me. Eventually, the stickiness goes away as everything completely absorbs into your skin. You can see the result of the past 3 days below. The picture on the left is today after my mask and the picture on the right is 3 days ago when I started my skin care journey.

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My skin feels fabulous after using two of the masks in conjunction with my usual skin routine, and I’m REALLY excited to see what it’s like after 10 consecutive days and instituting a strict Korean 10 Step Skin Care Routine. I have to say that the service at SoKo Glam is a little slow, but I’m confident that it will be WELL worth the wait. I’m looking for other places to purchase Korean skin care products, so if you know of any websites or stores that carry them – please let me know!

Charlotte Cho explains in her book, “The Little Book Of Skin Care”, that Koreans are NOT afraid to customize their routine and their is no one-box-fits-all solution to one person’s skin (unfortunately). Also, they use products from the United States and other countries as well, it’s not ONLY about Korean products. Therefore, I hope that once I become a little more familiar with the effect of their favorites, I’ll be able to reincorporate some products I’ve already come to love from the United States.

Before Korean Skin Care

After starting my Korean Skin Care research, it’s almost embarrassing to admit that I have been using what I am now referring to as The American 5 Step Skin Care Routine for years. This consisted of the following steps mainly, but did contain occassional sheet masks and facial treatments as problems arose throughout the years.

Step 1: Cleanser (With Manual Exfoliation In Evenings)

I believe I was 25 when I was gifted my first Clarisonic. I had struggled with skin issues for most of my adolescence and early adult years using cleanser only before discovering this miracle device. I instantly noticed a difference in its ability to clean deep into my pores right away. (I was also excited to find out that the Clarisonic is a form of the Korean 10 Step Skin Care Routine and are even mentioned in “The Little Book Of Skin Care” by Charlotte Cho.) Even though this device was a miracle, I quickly realized it was too much to use morning and evening when washing my face, so I typically opt to use my Clarisonic only during my night skin care routine.eaqzdyax_201305151312579103-1

I LOVE my body brush attachment for my Clarisonic with the body brush head. I use the Clarisonic Sensitive brush heads on my face and typically do not take the time to switch out the brushes in order to use the body exfoliating brush (even though it’s really easy).  Part of me wants to be a completely stereotypical American and get a second Clarisonic to use on my face and dedicate my primary Clarisonic as a body brush version. However, that’s hella wasteful, so I usually just exfoliate with the body brush 1 – 2x / month if I’m feeling like some extra self love.

Step 2: Toner

I’ve always used some form of alcohol or witch hazel toner since beginning face washing in my early teens. I was instantly put on the Aveda 4-step basic skin care routine (pictured below) by my mother who has always been a HUGE supporter of natural skin care.  Thanks, Mom!

Aveda Botanical Kinetics 4- Step Skin Care Routine
Aveda Botanical Kinetics 4- Step Skin Care Routine

I have learned since then that alcohol and witch hazel toners are probably the worst of toners by Korean standards. However, due to the ph reasoning behind toner, I think I’ve been doing a decent job of having it benefit my overall skin health.

In case you are curious, here is a link to the ingredients in Aveda’s Botanical Kinetics Toning Mist. As you can see, witch hazel is an active ingredient.

Step 3: Beautifying Oil Or Some Other Trending Miracle Elixir

I’ve been making my own or using some form of Aveda’s Beautifying Composition Oil since my early 20’s.  Keep checking back and I may even share my recipe for Homemade Aveda Beautifying Oil that I formulated over the past few years! Shoot me an email at geena@beautyfortheseoul.com if this is something you’re interested in – it’s all about the priorities people. Please give me some. 

I know I’ve substituted and customized the product for this step over the years depending on what skin condition I’ve been battling or what’s trending. I finally began making my own skin oil using essential oils and skin boosting vitamins because nothing else really tended to do much. (I’ve learned that this is most likely due to My American 5 Step Skin Care Routine’s inability to fully moisturize and repair my skin barrier, so that it can easier absorb and utilize the products I was trying to use. Also, I’ve realized that your skin is always a little behind, so it’s more likely what you’ve been doing consistently for the past 5 years and not an occasional, monthly or even bi-monthly pity facial that will prevent aging. )

Step 4: Moisturizer & Eye Cream In Evenings

OK. Eye Cream is probably a stretch, but I HAVE owned some before and have been thinking about getting very serious about using it in my thirties. I’d be lying If I said that I thought me or my fellow American 30 year olds are religious with the eye cream. However, we know it is exists and we know that we should probably be using it.

All eye cream shame aside – I’ve always used  a face moisturizer. Unless you are literally a grease pot (or even if you are a grease pot), most Americans have sense to use moisturizer.

Step 5: SPF ( Thank God!)

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Please tell me you remember the crazy tanning mom story from above. As of May 2017, this is actually what she looked like. That was not a stunt. That is a real life woman who made herself look like a piece of beef jerky in the name of beauty. I know…. yikes.

Can we just take a minute and say THANK GOD AMERICANS ARE WAKING UP TO SUN SCREEN! Ugh! I really needed to let that out. I know that my gorgeous blonde, tan beach bunny friends want to lock me up in the looney bin after hearing my opinions of the sun, but it’s scientific fact that it makes you age faster and at a higher risk for skin cancer. There’s no argument and, one by one, I hear and see people becoming wiser about the sun’s harmful rays in the United States.

 

My Skin Care Journey Begins

여보세요! My name is Geena. Today is Day 1 of my Korean skin care journey. I am a 31 year old, Caucasian, American woman with fair skin, light blue/green eyes and very dark brown hair. I’ve never said that I have nice skin nor have I received many compliments , which, of course is one of my goals of this journey. I know.. I know…. don’t worry about others – it’s all about what YOU think of yourself… but is it really vain to want someone else to notice? Personally, it might be, but I have no shame in my game and a little vanity never hurt anyone.

As American As It Gets 

As we all know, America is a mixing pot. In true American fashion, I have a little bit of every European continent in my heritage from Eastern Europe to Southern Sicily. In an effort to try and make my heritage a little less muddy, my father is mainly Sicilian/Lithuanian and my mother is mainly English/Norwegian. However, don’t get it twisted, this gives me no real ethnic direction to my skin type. In fact, it was only within the last 5 years that I have really understood the complexity of my combination skin. So, if you are like me, and think you have difficult, troubled skin and see no hope in sight of having that gorgeous, flawless complexion with no make-up, you are NOT alone. Please, come sit, read, and learn from my journey. If you feel so inclined, email me at geena@beautyfortheseoul.com and let me know what questions you have.

What I Know

So far, my introduction to Korean skin care has been one Rachel Ray show featuring Charlotte Cho,  “The Little Book of Skin Care” (Charlotte Cho’s book), and the blog, Soko Glam (also by Charlotte Cho,) so to say I may have some biased resources would be an understatement. However, my friend Amanda has been following Korean skin care and Charlotte for years (ever since a 10 hour layover at the Seoul airport) and her skin is GORGEOUS! This has made me a believer and put me on a mission to learn as much as I can from the Korean 10 Step Beauty Routine and achieving the much coveted “chok chok” that Charlotte Cho speaks so highly of in Korean culture. According to Charlotte Cho in her book, “The Little Book of Skin Care”, “chok chok doesn’t just pertain to skin, but is used to describe something that is literally moist.” (Before you cringe at the word “moist”, check out some Korean beauty inspiration from the web below. This is a perfect example of “chok chok” and definitely NOT cringe-worthy skin.)

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Source: Korean Daily,  http://bit.ly/2EAW8hV

 

Day 1:

So here I am, Day 1 with a blog, a domain, a book, and a knowledgeable friend starting my skin care journey with me to “chok chok”. I’ve inserted a starting picture of myself below. Let’s just say this… it can’t get any worse. I hope.

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