Can you believe we are already deep in 2020? Almost at the end of Summer?! Where did the time go? I wanted to bring you a slightly different post today, recently (in the last few months) I have been discovering more and more about K beauty through different products I've been trying out, books I've been reading. I'm relatively new to the world of K beauty and although I have been learning quite a lot about it, there is so much I don't know! So I decided to have a virtual Q+A with Hollie (The Whole Bowl) to help myself and all of you learn some more about K beauty! If you don't already follow Hollie then first of all - you should haha! Secondly she is honestly a treasure trove of information, I mean seriously! Hollie puts so much thought and effort into all of her posts, she shares such informative and invaluable pieces of advice/tips/info when it comes to Skincare! Hollie is also incredibly sweet, supportive, willing to help/advise and I cannot thank her enough for taking the time out to do this Q+A.
1. So, before we get into the magical world of K beauty, tell us a little more about your lovely self and your journey with skincare! What prompted your passion for skincare, what do you currently do and what have you learnt on your skincare journey?
So, my name is Hollie, but people call me ‘Hol’ for short! I’ve just graduated from university (sadly won’t be having my ceremony until next summer!), so I am currently in the process of job-hunting, which is quite hard in this current climate! I’ve always had issues with dry skin and eczema as a kid, so my mam and I were always looking for moisturisers and dry skin relief and I think that’s what really kick-started my skincare journey. I was fairly lucky to never have any persistent skin problems like acne, other than dry skin however, I struggled a lot with insecurity surrounding my body shape and size. The only thing I was actually quite confident about was my skin – so I’ve gradually learnt to love my body and myself the way I am, just as much as I love, care for and invest in my skin.
2. How did you initially discover K beauty products and how long would you say it has been since you started using them in your routine?
I got into K-Pop and K-Dramas in my early teens (not-so-much anymore hahah!) and I think the discovery started there, since groups and the actors’ ALL have good skin! I travelled to Hong Kong and South Korea in Summer 2016 and I think that’s when I changed my skin-care routine to predominantly K-Beauty products. I always found that I could only use a certain few Western brands i.e. Simple, because others’ were quite harsh on my skin; but I found that Asia were a step ahead with the use of natural ingredients and ‘advanced technology’, which were more suitable for my skin and presented better outcomes and results. It’s only in the recent year or two here in the UK, that natural ingredients, treatments and hydration have become a big skincare thing!
3. There are so many K beauty brands, I mean hundreds and hundreds!! What would you say are your top 3 and why?
Ooh! My number one favourite is definitely INNISFREE, no doubt. They’ve proven to me the best results and I love that they develop skincare collections to target specific troubles, for all skin types, ages and they are suitable for all genders. The brand aims to promote sustainability and an eco-friendly exterior, with use of natural ingredients from the beautiful Jeju Island! (If you don’t know, google!)
A newer discovery, but my second would be COSRX. They focus highly on relieving dry or dehydrated skin, which is my main concern, and they really have done the trick over the past 2 years. They’re also about ‘function’, which is good when you need to complete a routine in a short amount of time!
Finally, my third would be between NATURE REPUBLIC, I think. Nature Republic also use high-quality naturally sourced ingredients, main ones being Aloe Vera and Snail Therapy and they also have their own developed ‘MD Water’ in all their products for soothing and hydrating purposes. It’s really hard to choose, but another reason for these three brands is that they are cruelty-free!
4. Do you follow the full 10 step K beauty skincare routine?
The famous 10-step routine! I don’t actually, but I’m fairly close.
Make-Up Remover and Oil Cleanser – I do with Simple or Garnier’s Micellar Water and FANCL Oil Make-Up Remover.
Water Based Cleanser – I think I only own water-based cleansers actually!
Exfoliation – I do a peeling or a scrub about two/three times a week with Laneige Strawberry Yoghurt Peeling Scrub with a facial loofah.
Toner – I have several toners which I switch up dependent on the skin’s appearance/need at the time.
Essence – I used to do this, but I do often skip this. An essence is the extra thin layer to rehydrate the skin after cleansing, but I’m currently using COSRX’s Real Water Toner to Cream that does this stage for me, I guess?
Treatments – I use my serums like Niacinamide, Vitamin C, Hyaluronic Acid and Antioxidants.
Sheet Masks – I don’t really do these often actually! I do once in a while if I’m having a bath or a night with my friends, or if there is a new one, I’d like to try out. I often use tube or pot-masks instead i.e. Laneige Water Sleeping Mask, Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask, Innisfree Clay Mask, The Face Shop Massage Pack.
Eye Cream – I use the Innisfree Green Tea Eye Cream.
Moisturiser – I have one suggested by my doctor to use for the area around my lips, since that’s where I have the most problems. I have the Innisfree Minimum Moist Cream or Clinique’s Dramatically Different Moisturising Lotion for other areas.
SPF – I do this in the morning! I do have a spray if I need to top up in the day.
5. How does your day routine differ from your night-time routine?
My day routine is a lot shorter than my night-time routine; because I do all the work on my face in the evenings, so there’s time for it to act as I sleep. My mornings can be a bit rushed, so I do the key steps: Toner, Niacinamide and Hyaluronic Acid, a tiny layer of the Water Sleeping Mask, Eye Cream, Moisturiser and SPF. My main aim in the morning is to ensure my skin is hydrated for the day and I do carry a facial mist with me, if I feel my skin will need it throughout the day.
6. Korean skincare products have introduced us to a whole heap of ingredients that some of us did not even know about! Would you say there are any key ingredients that you look for when you are purchasing K beauty products?
No, I don’t think I have any particularly key ingredients? I usually go by the main ingredient e.g. Aloe Vera, Green Tea, Honey, Rice Water, Apple, Cherry Blossom and then scan the other ingredients i.e. how natural are they? I find that if the website or store assistant can also explain what the ‘unknown’ ingredients are and do, then it seems like they know what they’re talking about! Some flowers are seen as rejuvenating and relaxing, whilst others are anti-aging and address fine lines. Fruits are often brightening, and darker green vegetables are anti-inflammatory. Natural greens like Aloe Vera and Green Tea usually have a gel type consistency and are soothing on the skin, whilst white products like Rice Water have moisturising and nourishing properties.
7. Where do you like to look for information when it comes to K beauty products? Do you have any book suggestions or resources that you would like to share?
I ALWAYS search their website. They should state their overall vision/mission and also explain the purpose of certain ingredients and the expected outcomes, if they’re promoting a specific collection or product. If you’re unsure on the purpose of a product (not the ingredient), you could read “The Korean Skincare Bible: The Ultimate Guide to K-Beauty” by Lilin Yang; “The Little Book of Skin Care”, by Charlotte Cho or “Skin Care: The Ultimate No Nonsense Guide” by Caroline Hirons.
8. In recent years there has been a lot of different trends in skincare and beauty in general. Are there any that have stuck in your mind? What was your take on that trend?
I hate trends, to be honest, so I never went with them or even tried them! Even with like make-up, clothes or shoes, I don’t like owning things that everyone else has – so it’s helped with my aim to be a bit more sustainable and to shop less! The only two that come to mind are ‘Fruity Beauty’, where bright and hot pinks, peaches and corals were used on the lips and cheeks, mainly in Asia; and also the ‘Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge/trend’, which was probably way more of a Western thing– but that was just horrific in my opinion hahahah.
9. There are lots of different natural ingredients used within different K Beauty products. We’ve seen the use of ingredients like rice extract, snail slime, centella and bee venom. I would love to know what is your favourite natural ingredient in K Beauty products and how it helps the skin?
I’ve grown to really like Sea Salt actually. This is an odd one, but seriously it really cleans out the dirt/dead cells and leaves your skin super bright, smooth and supple! You would think it would dry out and be irritable, but it is the rich mineral content of the natural sea-salt that protects and soothes. Sea salt means that there is no extra need for exfoliant particles or tiny microbeads, which aren’t that great for the environment. I use the Innisfree Sea Salt Jelly Facial Cleanser and also the Saem’s Urban Delight Sea Salt Body Scrub and I always feel very satisfied afterwards. I do top these with moisturiser, and it leaves my skin extremely hydrated.
10. What are your favourite retailers to buy K beauty products from?
I usually get my products either from the brand store (if I happen to be around one, often on holiday) or from Yesstyle UK. K-Beauty brands have identified Yesstyle as an authorised retailer for their products. Recently, Look Fantastic and Beauty Bay have been stocking some Korean brands i.e. COSRX, Dr Jart+ and Holika Holika at a slightly more expensive price, but with greater convenience.
11. Good skin is not only dependent on good skincare, it also is about what you consume. You have talked about this in great detail on your Instagram and how this can affect your skin. We would love to know about one or two foods that have helped your skin?
I don’t have any foods in particular that have helped my skin, but I know foods that certainly hinder. This was a more recent discovery that if I eat lots of red meat frequently, I get lots of redness around my T-Zone, so I often try to do a day or two with no meat at all. I don’t eat beans (any type!) as they irritate my gut severely (I have IBS) and when my gut is triggered, my forehead can become the Himalayas overnight! I do also drink LOTS of water – this is the underlying truth to healthier skin (note: I don’t say clearer skin)!
12. One of the things that is quite inspirational and admirable is that you talk so openly on both your blog and Instagram about your journey in life. I was wondering if you could reflect and share two things that have helped inspired/motivated you? We are all in need of some inspiration and positivity in life so it would be lovely to hear what has helped you?
Thank you so much. The past year was really rough, probably the worst I’ve ever been – my circumstances, plus my physical, mental and emotional health. I’m a Christian, so the main thing that pulled me through all that time was this Bible verse actually: “For God didn’t give you the spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind.” -2 Timothy 1:7. For me, it was knowing that what went wrong was not necessarily my fault, and God made me as I am: I have this personality of gentleness, care and sensitivity and I have my family, my boyfriend, my best friends, my uni friends, my church family who still love me. This is so I can do something BIGGER and BE CONFIDENT to show God’s goodness to people, and I can’t do that if I still hide in a hole out of fear and insecurity.
Even if you’re not a Christian, I’d still ask the same question: What is it that you want to do with your life? What are your goals, your likes and what do you stand for? Since the world is always striving towards a cause and is changing rapidly i.e. Black Lives Matter, Gender Inequality, Sustainability, Eco-Friendly; what is it YOU would like to achieve in your lifetime? It doesn’t have to be massive like ‘resolving global warming’, but it could be as small as ‘giving one person a hug each day’, ‘reusing a sandwich bag if it’s still clean’, ‘trying out this smaller business one day’ or simply telling someone ‘I need help’. YOU have been shaped to do something, MAKE IT WORTHWHILE - on your own or with people you love! Especially when the world seems dull right now, bring the joy and sunshine back into your life and the people around you!
13. Finally, what would you suggest to someone who is starting out in the world of K beauty?
Know your skin type! Are you dry, oily or a combination of what?
Know your problem areas and persistent troubles! There are THOUSANDS of collections and products from HUNDREDS of brands in the world of K-Beauty. Know what you need to target, so you don’t get lost like a kid in a candy store and spend unnecessarily.
Do your research! It’s important to know what ingredients /collections may be most effective, to know what the brand stands for i.e. if you’re cruelty-free/vegan, to know which products are a necessity and which are not and also to know where to spend your money!
In a physical store, if you can – ask for samples of a product you’d like to try but have never used before. The worst is splashing out on a product that isn’t suited for your skin type, that doesn’t address your skin troubles, that in turn causes irritation and most of all – was expensive (but useless)!!
Reality Check! You shouldn’t be comparing your skin to the appearance of other people anyway, so you certainly shouldn’t be expecting your skin to turn out like the models’ or celebrities used to plug the brand. There are so many factors that influence the health of our skin: diet, sleep, exercise, genes, hormones, products, general health, environment, activity, professional help etc.
I really hope that you enjoyed this post and please do not forget to check out Hollie (The Whole Bowl) on her socials below - make sure to give her a follow!