• About A Face: Alicia Yoon of Peach & Lily

    It’s no secret: we (just like everyone else) are obsessed with beauty and skincare products from Korea. And what better way to get an education in the topic than from the top expert in the industry? Meet Alicia Yoon, founder of the ultimate online Korean beauty resource Peach & Lily, and join us on a trip to her space (and through her medicine cabinet) to get her skincare advice, product recommendations, and top picks for all things Korean beauty. 

    PS: Have any pressing skincare questions? This week Alicia will also be answering your questions related to all things skincare! Ask a question on Twitter and we'll recap em all later this week on the blog!
    Photos by Matt Rubin

    The philosophy of Korean skincare is rooted in building a strong foundation, starting with healthy skin: what is your top advice for keeping skin healthy while you’re young?
    Preventing aging is so much easier to do than repairing damage. I was lucky in that when I trained as an esthetician in Korea’s beauty schools, I was only 18. I learned then that sun damage is a real thing. We all know it, but because it’s gradual and incremental, I used to dismiss SPF as “that step I can always start doing tomorrow.” However, the consequences of sun damage are inevitable and hard to reverse. After a year of discussing in skin school how the sun can truly destroy the skin and seeing some jaw-dropping before and after pictures, the notion that SPF is a necessity was thankfully imprinted in my mind and daily skincare habits when I was in my teenage years. This small daily habit can be the difference between incredibly healthy and beautiful skin and visibly damaged skin in your later years. Trying to find ways to integrate SPF into a daily regimen is my top advice to keep skin healthy.

    What are other primary focuses of Korean skincare beyond anti-aging?
    1. Keep skin hydrated. Well-hydrated skin is one of the best ways to keep your skin healthy. Dehydrated skin can lead to things like faster collagen breakdown, sensitized skin and sometimes even excess sebum production. Moisturizers usually have occlusive particles so they don’t hydrate the skin per se; rather they keep moisture locked in. So, it’s important to get that moisture into the skin in the first place. Serums that are humectant-rich (ingredients that attract water) are great for helping to draw moisture to the skin. This serum is great for that.

    Also, try incorporating an essence into your regimen – they’re formulated to pack moisture into your skin and prep skin to better absorb serums. They usually also come formulated with some sort of skin-benefitting ingredient (e.g. an ingredient that helps firm or brighten) like this one.

    2. Cleanse properly. This means not only cleansing thoroughly, but also cleansing gently without stripping the face dry. Leaving the face squeaky clean and over-exfoliated can result in a damaged moisture barrier causing further drying or infections (read: acne). Highly recommend using an oil-based cleanser to gently (repeat: gently) coax out impurities, following up with a water-based cleanser that isn’t drying to remove all residual impurities and leave skin refreshed, cleansed and supple.

    3. Focus on circulation. Your blood vessels carry to your skin much-needed oxygen and nutrients for great skin health. In Korea, there’s a big focus on circulation for this reason – whether it’s eating things that can help with circulation (ginseng is popular in Korea for that) or massaging the face and neck. Getting the blood flowing is tied to skin health and care in Korea. I’m a big believer in this holistic approach to improving skin from the inside out.

    What are some of your favorite Korean products on the market right now?
    I absolutely love the Be the Skin lines. These formulations are so thoughtful and luxurious using botanical ingredients and various unique herbs. The lines are great for even very sensitive skin types and smell so delightful and fresh. 

    I love that each line is really targeted for a specific skin type: the blue line is magic for oily skin (what I hear from our oily-skinned customers), the orange line is wonderful for dry skin (I can attest to that!), the white line is uniquely formulated to help boost radiance without leaving skin dry as so many radiance-boosting products can do, and the green line is great for normal and combination skin types. Be the Skin’s CEO is adamant about using only top-tier ingredients. I love that he decided to still keep the line at accessible price points even though some of the ingredients merit a much, much higher price tag. This is a great starter kit for anyone who wants to try out a new skincare line that will easily mix with any other product. Super gentle, super luxe, and reasonably priced. I love everything about these formulations and brand philosophy.

    I’m also really loving Aromatica. It’s the only brand in Korea that touted EWG Skin Deep’s Champion status for years. This means that all the ingredients in the products are a 1-3 on a toxicity scale of 1-10...ie: these products are completely toxin free. It’s extremely challenging to have such a safe formulation and yet have the products deliver such satisfying results. To boot, these products live up to its name and are so aromatic. I fell in love with Aromatica when I first tried the Sea Daffodil line and have been impressed with Aromatica’s team time and time again when I see their dedication to delivering on their promise: natural and safe ingredients that deliver results. 

    Can you share more about sheet masks — what do you love about them, how do you use them, and how do you make them part of your routine? 
    I love sheet masks because they’re easy to use, incredibly effective, but also because they provide an affordable way to stock up on “serums” in an a la carte fashion. I typically use serums with a lot of antioxidants and hydrating and firming agents because my skin usually needs these staple active ingredients to be at its healthiest. I don’t usually have too many issues with texture refinement or radiance. However, some days, I feel a little dull and what I love is that I don’t need to buy a whole serum that focuses on boosting radiance. Instead, I can use a sheet mask that might really help boost radiance and I’m set for the day. Sheet masks allow you to customize your skincare regimen by day. There will always be the staple serums that you reach for, but when your skin needs something else that day, sheet masks are a great affordable way to give your skin that other ingredient that it’s “craving” that day. 

    I incorporate sheet masks into my routine on a weekly basis. After my trips to Korea, though, I use sheet masks everyday for about a week. I also (shamelessly) sheet-mask on flights (usually twice during a 14-hour flight) because I know for me that once my skin gets parched, it’s a few days before my skin balances itself again – and sheet masks are such an easy way to help prevent that from happening. 

    I keep a box of sheet masks at home, usually about 20-30 at a time, and they’re all different, though I have a lot of hydrating ones. Sometimes I refrigerate them for the extra cooling effects. I love flipping through my box and picking out the sheet mask that I need on that specific day – it feels empowering to understand what my skin needs that day and to have a solution right there…that doesn’t break the bank.

    Are there any ingredients that are big in Korea right now that you’d like to see come to the US?
    There’s the snail secretion filtrate which we see in small pieces in the US, like the Mizon All In One Snail Repair Cream. The snail mucin is really a breakthrough ingredient. It hydrates, firms, can help with hyperpigmentation and can help keep some acne at bay since it has antimicrobial properties without any greasiness or heaviness, and is great for all skin types.

    It’d be wonderful to see more fermented ingredients make their way Stateside. Fermented ingredients are packed with antioxidants, great for sensitive skin types and can be very potent without being harsh. 

    What are your “secret weapon” beauty products or tricks?
    One of my favorite beauty tricks is to do a "sheet-mask sandwich." Basically, I'll use a regular cotton sheet mask and then once the serum is absorbed (15-20 minutes later), I'll actually lift the sheet mask and apply a serum from a bottle directly onto my skin in abundant portions, and place the sheet mask back over my face. The initial sheet mask will intensively hydrate skin prepping it for the next serum, and placing the sheet mask over it helps with absorption! This works like a charm for me when my skin is feeling extra parched.

    What products do you always carry in your purse or find yourself using multiple times a day?
    Two things I use really often during the day is a good hydrating lip gloss and a facial mist. With mists, I love how easy it is to spritz throughout the day to stay refreshed and hydrated. They're portable and they also wear well over my cushion compact, and the cushion compact builds over it without any issues. 

    Shop Alicia's Picks

    Have any pressing skincare questions? This week Alicia Yoon will be answering your questions related to all things skincare! Ask a question on Twitter and we'll recap em all later this week on the blog!