Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Korean Skincare and Cleansing: The Ultimate Guide, Pt. 1

Korean Celebrity, Jun Ji-Hyun, known for her immaculate, glowing skin. Image by Hanyul
Skincare never seemed like a big deal to me growing up because it was instilled in me from birth. It was a big part of my daily ritual, like family dinners or chores. Everyday we took long baths/showers (bathing is a huge part of Asian culture) and we were to always wash our face morning and night. Before bedtime in particular, my mother would wag her finger and warn, if I didn't wash my face thoroughly my facial pores would turn over "dirty cells" while I slept and I'd wake up with dirty skin that had reproduced on top of the old. YIKES and NO THANKS! Now, that's skin some sort of skin training! Face cloths, face washes, moisturizers and sunscreens (since we lived in Hawaii) were as necessary as our toothbrushes, and if something odd turned up on my face like a bump, we went straight to the dermatologist.

This is a vastly simplified, but telling view of Korean skin parenting. It is intense, but results in good skin if the care is taken seriously. This post is one of a series where I'll introduce you to all the essentials of excellent Korean skin care to get your skin in the best shape possible. Age-defying, dewy and healthy.

The Primary

 Tonymoly Egg Pore Deep Cleansing Foam, $12

Washing: You've got to wash your face twice a day. Try warm water to wash, and cool water at the end, to rinse, to tighten the appearance of pores. You can even try the double-wash method, which I like, where you start by taking off makeup with a good foaming cleanser (try Tonymoly Egg Pore Deep Cleansing Foam, $12) then follow up with an oil-based cleanser (try The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Light Oil, $13) to soften and moisturize, while still cleaning your face. This eliminates the drying effects of cleaning.

Try massaging your face daily. I like to gently tap or pat my face after washing, from bottom to top, to promote circulation.

Drying Off: Use a nice towel of your choice -- I prefer ones that have a bit of nubby texture to them (I like these Japanese gingham print ones, they're cute AND effective). Pat your face dry and if you need to rub, rub upwards. You don't want to help gravity in anyway ;-). If you have a lot of dry skin, use a warm washcloth in the shower to gently slough away any dead skin particles. This works really well, and feels awesome as well.

Sweet Gingham Print Japanese Face Washcloths. They'll look great in your bathroom and feel amazing on your face!

Massage: My aunt, who has the most quintessentially perfect "milky rice cake" skin, even near age 70, massages her face daily. You can do this by patting your facing, or gently tapping it for a few minutes to stimulate circulation.

Stay tuned for more essential Korean beauty secrets soon. And if you try any of these steps, please let me know what you think, and if they worked for you or not. I'd love to hear!

-- N.C.
Disclaimer: Nuy Cho has no affiliation to any of the beauty companies mentioned on www.nuybeauty.com. 

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Is Kimchee Good for Your Skin?

KIMCHEE: Fermented Korean pickled cabbage
Growing up in a Korean family, kimchee (Korean fermented pickled cabbage) was always in the fridge and served with dinner main dishes. It's true, Koreans do consume a lot of kimchee. The average Korean consumes about 40kg of kimchee a year. And even my not so average Korean parents whom have all kinds of self-imposed dietary restrictions -- no-spice, practically vegan -- for hopes of long-life, eat kimchee everyday. Being an obsessively minded beauty writer, the question I asked myself recently was: is kimchee good for your skin?

This question came about because Koreans are absolutely obsessed with good skin. I was always encouraged, err... forced (the threat being that I would GASP! have tragically BAD skin) to eat all kinds of fruits and vegetables and foods on the pure basis that it was good for my complexion from as far back as I can remember. "Eat tomatoes because it's good for your skin!" urged my mother. "Eat that tofu because it's good for your complexion!" "You better finish that cucumber because it's (you got it, readers...) good for your skin!" And kimchee was always there for the eating.

Good skin is just exceedingly important in Korean culture. Historically, a woman's skin was really the essence of their beauty, and if you think about the more minimalistic features of Korean faces, it makes sense on a purely aesthetic sense: skin is the more prominent feature, other than bone structure.

Example of what would be considered beauitful skin in Korea on Korean Model in Traditional Korean Clothing. Repost from http://newmodernhanbok.tumblr.com

My research showed that kimchee is high in vitamins A and C. Both these vitamins are antioxidants, which help your body fight against free radicals. Vitamin C, in particular helps with the body's production of collagen, which helps keeps skin more elastic. Hmmmm, sounding like a very strong case for kimchee = great skin. But, then again, kimchee has a very high sodium count, one serving having about roughly 45-65 percent of an individuals recommended intake. And, the average Korean eats kimchee three times a day. A high salt diet causes bloating, and puffiness. Puffy face, um, no thanks.

So the results of my study? Maybe kimchee does provide some nutritional value that is good for skin, but I think it's more about how Korean culture takes such pride in caring for skin from the inside out -- through food and dietary knowledge, and passion. Anything flourishes with that much care -- as skin, is an organ, and needs a lot of TLC. Koreans just think skincare is serious business and start the skin education and care, from birth.

Hey, maybe you'll choose to try a kimchee grilled cheese sandwich at your next meal, who knows? But good skin, starts from great nutrition and from being good to your body as a whole.

-- N.C.

Disclaimer: I have no affiliation with the companies I write and vlog about. My picks and decisions are always editorially and artistically-based and independent.