Beauty: Sulwhasoo, My First Foray Into the World of Korean Skin Care...

{All images in this post are property of & taken by yours truly, Franki Durbin}

{All images in this post are property of & taken by yours truly, Franki Durbin}

The widespread popularity of Korean beauty has been a lovely thing to observe. The prized features and key elements are all in line with my own approach to skin care. Dewy, bright, moist, plump skin and an obsession with sun protection. This is what I seek in my own skin care and this is precisely what almost every K-beauty product promises. While there are many, many choices on the market, Amore Pacific's Sulwhasoo has risen to the top of my radar for its ready availability and growing fan base, 

Two weeks ago I dove in head first via their medicinal herb driven brightening sheet masks, ultra-hydrating serum and clarifying mask. Oh, what a treat my skin has received! Smooth, cleansed, radiant skin that happily absorbs my new moisturizer (more on that in an upcoming post) and smiles at me when I look in the mirror. 

Let's chat about these different products one by one. First, let's talk about the Clarifying Mask. Think: honey. The color, texture and consistency remind me of the deepest, darkest honey. I have been using it pre-shower which allows me to take it off easily. Note that this product is meant to be peeled off. Knowing this you'll want to begin peeling right away, before the steam works its normal magic. I like it pre-shower so I can let the steam penetrate my pores after removal of the mask. The results: dull skin, be gone! Much like mud masks, this worked to clarify my skin and clean my pores - all without stripping it of hydration (which most mud masks do). You know how normally a mask leaves your skin tight and dry? Not this one. I am convinced it plumps and moistens. LOVELY product. Don't let the brown sticky texture throw you off. Your skin will appreciate the results. 

Post-shower I do one of two things: use the 'Hydro-Aid' Moisturizing Lifting Serum (a miracle in a bottle) or lie down for a few minutes with a 'Snowise EX' Brightening Mask on. Let's talk about the sheet mask first. Rather than the thick tissue style masks to which I've become accustomed, Sulwhasoo uses a mesh fabric. Yes, you still look like a mummy come back from the dead, with eye, nose & mouth holes, but the fabric of this mask is different. Each side of the mesh features a peelable film, allowing a multi-phase use. Those meshy quality of the mesh seems to work to retain the moisture of the mask for a longer period of time.

I like to lie on my back until the mask has dried a bit then remove the outer film from the front of the mask. In about 25 minutes your skin will have absorbed most of the fluid. The results? PLUMP! Fermented ginsing and a cocktail of other medicinal herbs work to stimulate collagen and "brighten" the skin. I don't have specific spots to lighten, but I can say with certainty that my skin was more dewy and clearer on the days I used this sheet mask. Less "muddled" and more evenly toned. I don't know about you, but I place a high value on even skin tone once I see it - and with this I definitely saw pretty results. This simple (and relaxing!) mask seemed to calm any redness and hydrate my combination skin. My favorite part? After use I apply the rest of the serum from the pouch onto my face and décolletage to extend the luxurious experience and maximize the benefits. 

Next up, my new favorite serum. The 'Hydro-Aid' Moisturizing Lifting Serum had me at hello. With a pump top (thank you, Jesus) I fell for it with my first use. The scent, the consistency, the dewy results - this is a treat to use. Olive oil, peony extract, honeysuckle, licorice and dozens of other natural botanicals plus my fave ingredient... hyaluronic acid combine to make this silky serum work miracles to plump and renew the skin. LOVE, love, love this silky miracle liquid. If you're serious about your hydration I would definitely consider adding this to your repertoire. That Korean obsession with adding "bounce" back to the cheeks must have inspired this amazing fluid. It is divine. And the pump top allows perfect and even dispensing every single time. Big fan.  

What I learned from this experience.

  1. Slow down & take your time. I've used masks before fairly frequently, but this one took longer to dry down. This was a pleasant exercise in patience and allowed my mind to drift and my body to relax. Think of this as an at-home spa experience. 
  2. Be open to new things: The honey-like clarifying mask & mesh-style brightening face mask were both different in texture and appearance than other products I've used, but the results spoke for themselves. Experimenting is a valuable tool and these are two new powerhouses in my beauty arsenal. 
  3. Eastern beauty products & techniques work: Korean medicinal herbs, honeysuckle extract, fermented ginseng, the ingredients on these products differed from any lists I'd examined before. And I liked it. My skin loved it. I want more of this old-school east-meets-west beauty action in my life. 
  4. Luxury comes in many forms: I truly enjoy the application of the serum and the "feel" of the brightening mask fluid. It is as if my skin is literally drinking in the minerals and nutrients. The ritual of application is not lost on me, and with each use I develop a greater appreciation of the legendary multi-step Korean skin care application process. Those girls are really on to something. 

This will not be my last deep dive into the world of K-beauty. In fact, I consider this just a tiny little dip in the pool of skin care potential. I can't wait to share more with you! Available at Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman