Skincare 9-1-1: What You Need When Your Skin Goes Crazy — ‘Cause It Will
We keep a first aid kit filled with bandages, ointments, and medicine just in case, so why not for your face? If we’re lucky, we’ll never need it, but in case you do, here’s what one K-beauty aficionado keeps in her skincare 911 kit.
Can I get a show of hands? How many of you have a routine in place that’s doing the thing but have occasionally decided to shift gears only to find yourself over-exfoliated, hyper-flaky, or downright injured? I’m talking royal screw-ups here. Anyone?
Well, my apologies for the Britney reference, but “Oops! I did it again.”
Like every person in search of perfect pores, I over-scrutinized my nose recently and decided that I should break out my fancy microdermabrasion machine and see if it could get rid of a few stubborn blackheads. The gadget’s been gathering dust since I discovered the land of chemical exfoliants, but I hauled it out and managed to draw blood (yes!) on one cheek before I even got to the dang blackheads. As panic set in, I knew I had to grab everything soothing and reparative in my K-beauty “fix it fast” arsenal and get to work.
“Nurse Tracy” generally fixes her hubby’s boo-boos, but for the last week I’ve been my own patient. My skincare first aid kit has been years in the making, and while I don’t reach for some of these on a daily basis, I’ve learned that having them for those inevitable skincare 911 moments is invaluable.
Back to babying
Damaged skin can have you screaming just at the sight of water, so my kit includes two options. If the tap spontaneously turns itself off when I reach for it, I grab my SanDaWha Liposome Skin Softener and pat that lightly in with my hands instead of cleansing (thank you, Coco Park!). While I normally use it as a toner, the Centella asiatica extract calms my redness while refreshing my skin.
As the week progressed and my fear of aquaphobia subsided, I was able to resume cleansing with my favorite low pH foaming cleanser, Kadi from Holy Snails. Sometimes even bubbles are too much after I’ve overused my acids, but Kadi has a soft texture almost like shaving cream and smells a bit like lavender and rose, so it calms my brain and my itchies.
Bring on the fixers
Whenever I’ve done something stupid to my face, CORSX comes a-callin’. I don’t generally reach for the Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence because it feels a little heavy on my normal skin, but this time I mixed it with the Purito Centella Green Level Buffet Serum, and I swear I heard my skin sigh. If you’ve never mixed your serums or essences, I highly recommend it because you can thin out a texture quickly and put your skin in a happier mood.
Next comes the Hanyul Pure Artemisia Calming Fluid, originally purchased to soothe an irritated tret face. My skin adores mugwort in all forms, but this “baby mugwort” fluid is exceptionally calming and non-sticky. It feels a bit like a milky essence and smells pleasantly green.
Parking my brightening serums was withdrawal-inducing, but when I broke out my favorite rosehip oil from our lovely local herbal shop, Health Habitat, I started to notice real results. Rosehip oil contains a slew of vitamins and is high in linoleic acid, which your skin needs in order to fight off transepidermal water loss (TEWL). Since it’s characterized as a “dry oil,” it absorbs quickly without leaving any residue, which was perfect once I got over my fear of applying makeup on my damaged skin.
When nighttime rolled around, I rounded up the usual sheet mask suspects and took a moisture break before dinner. I recommend Tosowoong’s Pure Snail Mask as well as Aritaum’s Mugwort sheet mask (the one with the orange dot on the packaging).
Last but certainly not least, I brought out the one cream that I equally love and hate simultaneously. Illi’s Ceramide Ato Cream has a distinct waxy feel upon application that initially made me cringe. Thoughts of Offred from Margaret Atwood’s novel, The Handmaid’s Tale, slathering butter on her hands and face immediately came to mind, and I didn’t think I could get past it. I normally use it for maintenance after using a steroid cream for eczema on my hands, and, thankfully, the cream does sink in after a few minutes, and the heaviness dissipates.
Build your kit before you need it
If you’ve lived on your own for any length of time, you probably have multiple first aid kits, one for household ouchies and another in your car. You never know when you’ll need it, so you keep those essentials around just in case. I think of my K-beauty first aid kit as an investment I hope I’ll never need. While most of these products do daily duty, a few sit patiently in the cupboard for their moment in the sun. And believe me, when that moment comes, you don’t want to be waiting on a box from Korea.
Do you have a skincare 911 kit ready for face emergencies? What’s in your skincare 911 kit, and have you had to use it? Let’s talk about it!
SRB Stabilized Rice Bran Wash
NuFountain c20 + Ferulic Vitamin C Serum
Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum
Atrue Real Black Tea True Active Essence
Sooryehan Bon Extra Moisture Toner
Zymogen Centella Ferment Essence
Hanyul Pure Artemisia Watery Calming Fluid
Neogen White Truffle Serum in Oil Drop
Shangpree Bitgoa Hue Rich Cream
Nivea Super Protect Water Gel Sunscreen
Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Oil EX
Holy Snails Kadi Foaming Cleanser
Finacea (Rx) Azelaic Foam 15% or The Ordinary 10% Lactic Acid
Sulwhasoo Timetreasure Water
Holy Snails Dragon Shark Sauce
Sulwhasoo Herblinic Restorative Ampoule
Sheet mask (Naruko, Papa Recipe, illi)
Banila Co. Miss Flower & Mr. Honey Cream
Sulwhasoo Timetreasure Eye Serum & Eye Cream
Kao Megurism Steam Eye Mask