Hey guys! We’re happy to announce that we will be having a Lucky Draw for our BomiBox subscribers. Random winners will be receiving this unique TU Mask Pack from MibyK in the next BomiBox which ships next week. If you’re one of the lucky ones let us know! If you’re not, don’t worry we will be having more of these draws ❤️
The TU Mask is a 2-zone Mask with different sections for your T-Zone and U-Zone. The T-Zone contains Jeju O2 Water & a herbal relief complex to soothe skin & purify pores. The vitalizing U-Zone contains vita water & beta glucan to smooth & deeply hydrate your skin. Check out @mibyk_official on Instagram or mibyk.co.kr for more info.
One thing Korean skincare is known for is the “10 step skincare routine”. There are hundreds of articles that detail exactly what those 10 steps are, with some taking it to a further 12 and 15 steps with yet others paring it down to much less.
This becomes very confusing to those who are new to Korean Beauty. Many would be forgiven for thinking that they need to follow all 10 steps twice a day, every day, when that’s not the case at all. It’s even more confusing when you see people on Instagram using so many different and ever changing products in their routines on a daily, weekly and monthly basis.
With any skin routine, not just the Korean Routine, it is basically 3 steps with additional steps in between. For some it may only require 3-4 steps, for others as high as 15-20. It all depends on what your skin needs.
The 3 basic steps in a Korean Skincare routine or any skincare routine are: Clean, Treat, Protect.
If we take those 3 steps and map it to Korean beauty functional products, it’s a lot simpler to understand. The basic steps of a skin regime can be divided as follows:
Step 1: Clean
1. First cleanser: This is to remove makeup, sunscreen and dissolve dirt with an oil based cleanser. These can come in the form of an oil, a sherbet balm or a cream.
2. Second cleanser: To cleanse the oil and any left over impurities. It’s typically a liquid, gel, cream or foam based cleanser, one that you mix with water.
3. Toner – Toners are called “Skin” in Korea and is seen as one of the most important steps to get your skin hydrated and prepped for the rest of your skincare. Most toners balance the pH level of your skin to protect your skin barrier from bacteria, and prepare it for your treatment products. Some products need an optimal pH level of your skin to work effectively, hence using a toner is more than just an extra cleansing step. Many Korean toners are hydrating, rather than astringent as with many Western toners that contain alcohol which can be drying on the skin.
Step 2: Treat
4. Essence – This step is to treat your skin with hydrating, healing, repairing, protective or nourishing ingredients found in essences and serums.
5. Ampoules, Boosters, Facial Oils – These typically come in dropper bottles or similar, and are used to treat a specific condition. It is usually targeted for whatever your skin needs e.g. hydration, lightening of pigmentation, ranti-edness, repair, dryness, wrinkles, acne, brightening etc
Step 3: Protect
6. Eye Cream – Protect the delicate eye area with a nourishing eye cream
7. Moisturizer – Protect, hydrate and prevent moisture loss with a moisturizer. Most moisturizer are both a humectant and occlusive, An additional step before your moisturizer is an emulsion or lotion which are both thinner and are used as a lighter moisturizer e.g. in the Summer when moisturizers are too heavy on your skin.
8. Sunscreen – During the day time use sunscreen to protect against sun damage. Use a sunscreen that has a high sun protection factor (SPF) during the day time even if indoors. Most sunscreens protect against UVB rays (the ones that tan the skin), and the more harmful UVA rays which are the ones that cause skin aging and can even penetrate glass. Newer sunscreens also protect against HEV (High Energy Visible Light) which can cause or aggravate pigmentation and aging of the skin. If you suffer from pigmentation, look for a micronized sunblock with ingredients like zinc oxide or titanium dioxide, mexoryl SX or avobenzone.
Some additional exfoliating or treatment steps are specific to skin concerns as they arise and are used in the Treat step above as applicable. Eg. Retinoids might be used for anti aging, pigmentation or acne; AHA or BHA for cell renewal and pore cleansing; kojic acid for hyper pigmentation; vitamin C for additional brightening; anti-oxidant products for anti-ageing, pigmentation or acne treatment as prescribed.
The additional steps depend entirely on your skin’s needs. Some of us only get PMS related or hormonal acne and only need to use acne actives at that time of the month, so it wouldn’t make sense to use acne targeted products every day. This is why it’s important to not simply follow someone else’s regime as their skin’s needs at that time might be different from yours at any given time.
Certain products are only used weekly or biweekly, again, depending on your skin’s needs. An example is exfoliation. You can exfoliate skin using a physical, chemical or enzymatic method once a week or more if your skin can handle it.
Physical exfoliation is when you use a manual exfoliator or a scrub that has specific exfoliating granules in the product which works by the movement of your hands to remove the layer of dead skin on your face. Physical exfoliation can also be achieved by using a cleansing device such as a Clarisonic or any other sonic cleanser.
Chemical or enzymatic exfoliators are products that contain specific ingredients such e.g. Glycol Acid, Salicyclic Acid, Lactic Acid etc which loosens trapped sebum and dirt and sloughs off the top layer of skin.
Masks are a staple in any Korean skincare routine. They come in many forms like sheet masks, clay packs, modeling masks, sleeping pack masks etc. It can be used as often as your skin needs it to target specific skin concerns, with some Korean actresses even claiming to use one every single day! It’s always important to make sure that the mask you use will not clog your pores and is suitable for your skin type.
Many South Koreans visit estheticians or skincare spas at least monthly, with some going as often as weekly. Monthly treatments can include more in depth skincare treatments such as chemical peels, skin rejuvenation, laser treatments, or simply a luxury facial to pamper the skin. It’s not necessary, but dependent on your own needs and budget.
That’s basically what the “10 step Korean beauty routine is”, which isn’t actually 10 steps as you can see. Your Korean or other skincare routine can include as many or few steps as your skin needs. The best way to get to know your skin and what routine works for you, is to test products by introducing one every 2-3 weeks and selecting treatment steps based on your skin’s needs.
It’s also okay to mix and match different brands as it has not been proven that using only one brand yields any better results than using a few brands. What matters are the ingredients inside the products.
As long as you’re cleaning, treating and protecting your skin, it doesn’t matter how many extra steps are in your routine to treat your specific concerns.
Most of us have become familiar with AHAs (alphahydroxy acids) and BHAs (betahydroxy acids), but PHAs are fairly new to many. PHA, which stands for polyhydroxy acids, is the more gentle group of hydroxy acids which in clinical trials showed exceptional skin benefits with less irritation than other AHAs.
AHAs are known and proven for their ability influence skin cell turnover rate and regulate skin formation with the most tangible result being peeling. PHA quite simply is an AHA, but slightly larger in size with more hydroxy groups. Poly = multiple, hence the name polyhydroxy acids.
Some examples of PHAs are sugar acids such as lactobionic acid which comes from oxidized lactose (milk sugar) and gluconolacctone which comes from oxidized glucose (natural sugar in the human body).
Both PHAs and AHAs have similar anti-aging benefits, with the difference primarily being the irritation caused to skin. With AHAs containing only one hydroxyl group, they are known to cause burning, stinging and tingling. It is thought that the larger molecular size of PHAs penetrates at a slower rate than AHAs and hence causes less irritation.
PHAs is the ideal hydroxy acid for those with sensitive skin that can’t tolerate AHAs or those who are looking for gentler alternatives to AHAs.
The benefits of PHAs like with AHAs, include enhancing cell turnover, improving skin tone, reduction in the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines, hydration and general skin smoothness. Another great benefit of PHAs is that they chelate excess iron in the skin, thus reducing oxidative damage.
Chelation is the process where metal is trapped so it can be rendered inactive and not be able to cause free radical damage induced by iron. For example in iron overdoses chelation therapy is used so the body can trap and remove the excess iron in the body. Iron is one of the inducers of pigmentation in photo aged skin.
Overall, if you are thinking of starting AHAs, or switching to something more gentle, then a PHA product is the way to go.
Bomibag is our newest addition to the Bomibox family. It’s a monthly Asian Beauty goodie bag subscription, for those who want to dip their toes into Asian Beauty.
You’ll receive a monthly Bomibag which includes 7-10 Asian Beauty items. Products will include 1-2 full sized items, plus a variety of deluxe sized samples, foil samples or beauty tools from Korea, Japan or Taiwan.
The first bag will be shipped at the end of June
Get it now at the launch price of $18.99
Normal price: $19.99Free US Shipping
*Stock is limited. Image is a sample Bomibag with a representation of what to expect. Actual items will vary from month to month.
Subscribers this month received a free travel size of the Symphony Beauty Moisturise Makeup Cleansing Wipes in Cucumber & Aloe Vera. These soft cleansing wipes gently sweep away makeup, oil and impurities, leaving skin perfectly clean and moisturized in a single, easy step.
Featuring a soothing blend of natural cucumber and aloe vera extracts, these wipes instantly restore the skin with long-lasting moisture. Each wipe is also infused with the ultra-brightening complex arbutin, which naturally illuminates the skin to impart a radiant, youthful glow.
This 10 sheet pack is the perfect size to keep in your car, purse, makeup bag or travel kit.
For more info visit http://symphonybeauty.com/
For many of us who are used to Western color ranges in foundations, where we kind of know whether we’re warm or cool toned and can tell an NC from a NW foundation from just a glance, when it comes to Korean shades it can become a color blind and costly nightmare trying to find the right one. Moreso if you’re buying online and can’t physically test it against your skin. So how do you begin to find a Korean compact cushion foundation that will suit your skin tone when all you have to go on is a picture on the internet?
The truth is: with great difficulty. Unless you can actually test it in a store, it’s not always a perfect color match to what you see online. Most Korean branded BB creams, powders and foundations are limited in their color range catering mostly to very light almost porcelain tones that are common in South Korea. For some women this may be perfect but with Korean Beauty doing the wave across the world, it’s almost impossible for every brand to cater to every skin tone. The lure of Korean compact cushion foundations lies in how most are packed with not just color, but also essence, SPF and PA factor and other general awesomeness. So what do you do when the color tone is not right for you but you love the reviews of it or are dying to try one of the brands you see advertised or in your favorite drama?
You could spend money on the brands with a wider range of shades, or browse Reddit to find others with similar skin tones and what they’ve used but what if the brand you really want to try simply doesn’t have your exact shade or there isn’t anyone who has your shade that’s converted to Korean makeup?
A trick I’ve found to work is to buy the shade closest to your skin tone even if it’s a couple of shades below yours. Next, slowly add drops of your regular cream foundation that is in your tone. Dab it into the cushion and test until you find it’s the correct tone for your skin. The more you add, the more the color of the compact foundation will begin to match your skin tone. You’ll get the perfect color and not lose the goodness from the cushion compact nutrients and application.
Alternatively, for a faux BB glow, mix a few drops of your regular foundation with a few drops of your Korean serum and sunscreen and use a compact cushion applicator to dab onto your skin to get that same finish as a cushion compact foundation.
It’s not a perfect science, but if you really want to try a new Korean foundation, this trick can work very well.
What are your tips when it comes to Korean foundation?
For newbies to Korean Beauty, a First Treatment Essence is the product you would use right after your toner. Missha’s FTE is one of those ubiquitous, holy grail products that are raved about for a reason it’s just that good. It’s known as a miracle water which hydrate, restores, rejuvenates and generally just makes you glow.
The FTE contains a whopping 80% Fermented Yeast Concentrate (a naturally fortified Vitamin B Group ingredient) which increases the rate of metabolism and maintains healthy skin. It has similar components to NMF (Natural Moisturizing Factor) to help improve the foundation of skin through moisturizing, firming, and balancing. The Niacinamide rich essence is not just for brightening. This Vitamin B3 component improves skin elasticity, enhances the skin barrier function, and revives skin tone and texture. Niacinamide also has anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and occlusive benefits.
A study was done in Japan on 30 women who used a Niacinamide cream on one side of their face and a no-nutrient carrier on the other side. 64% had wrinkle reduction in the side where Niacinamide was used.
Because of the tightening of cellular bonds and anti-inflammatory effects, it’s also proven as an awesome ingredient to prevent acne and rosacea.
Missha’s FTE also includes DN-Aid, made from Cassia-Alata Extract which adds vitality to the skin, protects against UV rays which cause aging and promotes restoration of damaged DNA.
To use, after your toner, simply pour some of the FTE into your palm then pat gently into your skin working in an upward motion towards your temples.
We loved Missha’s Time Revolution FTE so much, we included a trial set which includes the FTE and Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator Ampoule in the February Bomibox for you to try if you haven’t already. The Ampoule energizes, repairs, and restores elasticity. It also provides wrinkle repairing and whitening benefits.
Have you tried it? What did you think?
Types of Skincare Ingredients
When you first start caring about ingredients in your Korean Skincare products, or beauty products in general, the names can be overwhelming with words bleeding into each other. There are some products with a “clean” ingredients list, i.e. only a few ingredients that are easily understood. Then there are those that look like a mini chemistry thesis. So how are those ingredients categorized? In this post we will try to demystify the different types of skincare ingredients, and make it simpler to understand.
All skincare ingredients can be divided into 3 types:
- Aesthetic Modifiers
- Claims Ingredients
Functional ingredients are the ones whose main function affects the appearance and feel of the skin or hair. This can be one or more ingredient in any product. As an example, Vaseline contains just one functional ingredient: petrolatum (petroleum jelly) while a moisturizer will contain many different functional ingredients like polymers, humectants, occlusives, emollients etc. Common functional ingredients include cleansers, conditioners (like polymers, humectants, emollients), colorants (as in hair dye).
For an ingredient to be considered “functional” it would have to meet the minimum efficacy concentration percentage to be considered functional and not a claim. As an example, Salicylic Acid is a functional ingredient in many acne fighting products, but if it was in a concentration less than 0.5% it would not be considered effective and would thus be considered a “Claim Ingredient” (see below for more on what a claims ingredient is).
Functional ingredients usually appear in the beginning of the list of ingredients and are usually in concentrations greater than 1% in the product. E.g. Water is usually high up on a list of ingredients, so it’s safe to assume that out of 100% of all the ingredients in a product, water makes up more than 1% of the product and will therefore appear higher on the label. This doesn’t mean that all ingredients that are at the top of the list are effective, as mentioned it would have to be in a specific concentration to be considered effective. It just means that the product contains that specific ingredient, but if the concentration is too low, then it’s not a functional ingredient, but rather a claim ingredient.
When reading an ingredient label, as soon as you see an ingredient that couldn’t possibly be higher than 1% in the product, it’s safe to assume that the rest of the ingredients are either aesthetic modifiers or claims ingredients. Unfortunately it’s not always easy to know which ingredient could never be more than 1% in a product unless you’re a cosmetic scientist; But an easy one is Tetrasoda EDTA which is a kelating agent and would never constitute more than 1% of any product. Once you hit this ingredient, you can basically ignore everything below it, unless you’re sensitive to fragrance (which can appear last on the label), then by all means carry on down the list.
Some products also contain functional ingredients that are active drugs like zinc oxide which can be found in sunscreen or a specific drug that battles acne or pigmentation. Functional ingredients as a whole are sometimes referred to as “active” ingredients by some, but this is not entirely correct as not all functional ingredients are “actives”. Actives, like the zinc oxide in sunscreen, can be considered any ingredient that affects the structure or function of the body (skin too) and would classify as a drug that requires FDA approval to determine that it’s safe and effective.
Some functional ingredients can also double up as an aesthetic modifiers.
Aesthetic Modifiers are ingredients that makes delivery of the functional ingredient easier or changes the viscosity (thickness/stickiness/texture) of a product. There are many different types of aesthetic modifiers. It can be a solvent to make delivery of an ingredient easier, like water; a pH adjuster such as Sodium Hydroxide or Chloride, a kelating (binding) agent, a Solubilizer to clear up a cloudy solution, a thicker, fragrance, filler, or color etc. Aesthetic Modifiers follow the functional ingredients on an ingredient label, except for color, fragrance and preservatives which will typically appear at the end.
This type of ingredient also includes Preservatives (which are a good thing!) to prevent the growth of microbes. Parabens is probably the most popular preservative class of molecules with the most popular ones in skincare being Methylparaben, Propylparaben or Butylparaben. These paragons are the most widely used because they’ve proven to be the most effective against bacteria. The reason more than one preservative is used is because each one in isolation is not effective against all microbes. The “no preservatives” label you’ll see on some products is unfortunately a “Claim” as there usually are preservatives in the product even if it’s not labelled directly as such, or the product has been stored and transported in a climate controlled box and is a one time use product with a very very short shelf life. You might see products that claim to be ‘Paraben free” but this doesn’t mean that no other class of preservative was used. It could contain Phenoxy ethanol or other natural preservatives, but are not always as effective as parabens. Parabens can be an irritant however, especially if used in larger concentrations on sensitive skin.
Parabens are a whole other post, but suffice to say that current scientific research has determined parabens to be safe. Parabens in the correct concentrations are a VERY good thing for your skin, especially if you want to prevent possible life threatening skin infections caused by bacteria that would have normally been destroyed by preservatives or a preservation process.
Claims ingredients are what you’d call the “hype marketing”, “fairy dust” or “gimmick” ingredients. Some may very well work, but unfortunately the majority of claims ingredients are sometimes in such small concentrations that it has no effect on your skin, but manufacturers will include it to make the product more appealing. Some of us do love fairy dust so it’s not always a terrible thing, but it’s important to focus more on the functional and aesthetic modifier ingredients and less on the claims labelling.