It's gonna get sappy up in here.
Skin care is one of those things I’ve learned by word-of-mouth recommendations, furious Googling, and otherwise trial and error. I’ve hit a pretty decent stride at this point in my life, but I don’t think there really comes a point when anyone can be like “Cool, got it. Skin care on autopilot forever!” Other than that not being feasible since you’re a living, changing being, it’s more fun to continuously work on your skin-care game (if you’re me).
You guys know I’ve fully drank the K-beauty Kool-Aid. I’m ABOUT it. The whole 10-step routine thing? It’s like cruise-control for me. That doesn’t mean the knowledge stops there, though. Enter The Little Book Of Skin Care, a delightful beauty read that my friend and sometimes xoVain contributor, Charlotte Cho of Soko Glam wrote.
While I had an inkling of what the book would contain, it was cool that it read a bit like Charlotte’s memoir—albeit a very informative one with beauty tips galore.
Charlotte grew up in Southern California, adhering to that California Girl beauty mentality of lots of sun, beachy hair and a medicine cabinet full of astringent skin-care products (it was the late '90s and Noxema was king). It's really hard to try and picture her with chunky, frosted highlights in her hair, tanned to a crisp. Therefore, one of the biggest takeaways from the book, for me, comes from some of those beginning chapters: that it’s never too late to start taking care of your skin.
Whenever I see Charlotte now—which is often considering I sit next to her at Soko Glam HQ, heading up digital content—her skin is pretty much a living Photoshop render of even, clear, glowing skin. For me, that's pretty much definitive enough evidence of skin being a miraculous, renewing organ. But how to get your skin to Benjamin Button itself? Don’t worry—there are plenty of product and practice recommendations in the book.
What I enjoyed reading about was mostly how Korean culture does beauty; it’s ingrained into everyday practice, from sunscreen daily and often to regular facials and treatments (which are doable because apparently they’re way cheaper in Korea than in the US), to constant moisturizing to the point of having a humidifier in your home AND workplace.
Beauty trends come and go in Korea, equally fueled by celebrity as it is here (while the Kardashians/Jenners stop the presses anytime one of them gets highlights, Koreans tend to imitate their favorite drama actresses and pop stars). However once a trend hits, pretty much everyone jumps on it together—it’s a shift that determines what’s sold, what’s sold out, and the general style climate.
Dewiness is the pièce de résistance of Korean beauty. It’s not just about globbing on moisturizer, though. There’s a technique, naturally.
It involves double-cleansing, plus toner, essence, serums, masks, and yes—lots of moisturizer. You don’t have to do everything all the time, but figuring out what works best for you à la carte is part of the fun.
One of the better bits of knowledge I’ve gleaned from this book is a fact I had already been suspicious of: that drinking tons of water a day does not necessarily a perfect complexion make. Sure, models give great lip service to H2O for their flawless faces, but there is a limit to its benefits. Your skin, being your body’s largest organ, gets the runoff of all the water you drink, only after all your other higher-functioning organs do. You get those model-like results from drinking enough water in combination with hydrating your skin topically with stuff that binds moisture to your skin.
There's also a good bit about the effects of sleep deprivation and just how it gives you those puffy under-eye bags and dark circles—all stuff you kind of knew but maybe not exactly how. Most outer beauty is in direct thanks/no-thanks to inner beauty; you’ve got to respect your body and your skin, bottom line.
As someone who’s never been to Korea (but will next time I have a spare week and a grand or so to throw at airfare), the two reasons I’d take a plane for 13 hours include excellent cuisine and access to some of the best beauty innovations and fashion. Charlotte doesn’t skimp on recommendations for places to visit in Seoul, restaurants and cafes, spas, what to order, and neighborhoods to check out; even a breakdown of the most known Korean beauty brands and their specialties (to give you an idea of where to pick up some starter products but don’t know where to begin).
Learning about skin care can be a gauntlet, especially if you’re starting at zero. But it helps to have a friend with the credentials (Charlotte’s also a licensed esthetician, which is cool when I want to quiz her on how to pronounce ingredients with 10 letters and also what they do) who can guide you into the candy-colored as well as efficacious world of Korean beauty.
The Little Book of Skin Care is a great read for Korean beauty beginners or even ones like me who think they know more than they do but can still pick up some tips. Colleague relations aside, if you love books on beauty (fun fact: my first beauty read was Beauty Secrets For Dummies by Stephanie Seymour, back when I was, like, 13 and made my parents buy me a copy from Costco) and are interested in learning about Korean beauty, this is a really enjoyable read that bolstered my K-beauty knowledge and is making me contribute to my Korea-trip piggy bank much faster in anticipation of visiting the motherland of all things I hold dear to my vanity.
- Have you guys read any good beauty books lately?
- When did you guys start taking your skin seriously? Mine was sometime in college when I realized that my body is going through second puberty.
- If you could write a book on beauty, what would be your focus?