Monthly Archives: December 2018

Korean Skin Care Project- Toner Step

Korean Skin Care Project- Toner Step

A brief recap for those of you who are new to this project or blog. My daughter Piper and I are exploring Korean Skin Care and documenting it here. If you are interested in how we got to this point, I recommend checking out these posts. Korean Skin Care Project, Korean Multi-Step Routine and Where to Buy K-beauty Products In this installment we are going to cover another basic tenet of K-beauty, preparing the skin for treatment.

The second step of the Korean skin care routine is toner, you know the step we all skip to save time and money in the US.  However, there are no stinging astringent toners in this routine (I’m looking at you Seabreeze). These toners are designed primarily to balance the pH level of the skin to prepare it to accept the hydrating products yet to come.


Some Very Basic Information About pH Levels

Like many others, I have viewed toner as either the throw away step of the skin care routine, or the fast and way to wash my face.  Both views are wrong.  The primary purpose of toning in the Korean view is to bring the pH level of the skin into balance after cleansing, before adding other treatment products.  The term pH stands for potential Hydrogen, which I cannot even begin to explain so for a more complete explanation of pH levels, check out this great post on SoKo Glam’s blog Why the ph of Your Skincare Products Matter

Remember back in the day when all doctors recommended a cleanser call pHisoderm?  It came in an acid green bottle, smelled terrible, but worked on the principle of controlling the pH level of your skin.  It also contained some chemical that was banned by the FDA and had to be pulled from drugstore shelves and reformulated, but that’s a story for another day.

The very basics of pH are, low pH equals acidic skin which is often oily and blemish prone; and, high pH equals alkaline skin which is often dry and also, sadly, blemish prone.  The sweet spot, around 5.5, is where the acid mantle of the skin is adequate to resist bacterial invasion, but neither overly oily, causing blemishes, or overly dry causing inflammation and redness.


After cleansing, the skin’s pH is usually more alkaline (dry) because you have stripped some of the acid mantle when you cleansed away the day’s makeup, dirt and sweat.  The right toner will slightly increase the acid level, and should also include ingredients which will nourish the skin.

Toners I Have Known and Loved

The first toner we used in this project was Botanical Nutrition Toner from Be the Skin.  This toner has all natural ingredients like Laurus Nobilis Leaf Extract (bay leaf) and thyme, it has a light herbal scent and worked pretty well.  It was as advertised, a no frills, all natural toner and I would recommend it for any one starting out.

The price was around $25 which is pretty close to what you will spend for toner, maybe a little high, but not excessively.  It is available on Peach & Lilly and Amazon.







Getting a little more adventurous, we next decided to try something with a little more kick.  Adding some AHA (alpha hydroxy acid) and BHA (beta hydroxy acid) is generally recommended for acne prone skin, so we chose this Cosrx product which was less expensive and Piper really likes.  The spray bottle is a much easier and more efficient way to apply the product.  So far her skin has responded well to this toner.

The cost was around $12 and it is available at Yesstyle and Amazon.




In my research I kept hearing about the Son & Park Beauty Water.  So I got myself an bottle and gave it a try.

I can attest it is a really nice product.  It has a light scent and leaves your skin feeling soft and supple. It also has gentle exfoliating agents and hydrating properties so can be used as multi-purpose product.  My only complaint, and it is a small one, is that while the packaging is sleek and modern, it pours out awkwardly and often ends up running down the back of my hand.  First world problems, I know.

This one is a little more expensive, running $30 on Soko Glam and about $25 on what seems to be a never ending sale on Yesstyle



What Have We Learned?

In summary, the toner step is not one to skip.  Nor is it a replacement for cleansing when it’s either too late, or too cold to wash your face.  Korean toners are not the drying, astringent toners we are used to in the US, they are designed to bring the pH levels of the skin in balance to prime the skin for other products.   These toners often have other benefits as well, such as exfoliants or humectants for hydration.

Some helpful tips for using toner:

  • Consider storing your toner in the fridge during the summer for a cooling treatment.
  • If you pour the toner in your palm and pat it on the face your bottle will probably last longer.  Putting it on a cotton ball usually uses more product and you have the added cost of buying cotton balls.
  • Leave your skin slightly damp from cleansing rather than thoroughly drying it before applying toner.
  • For travel, there are toner products that come as pre-moistened pads in jars, they are slightly more expensive and a bit wasteful, but convenient and less likely to make a mess in your luggage.


Essence- the quintessential Korean product.

Korean Skin Care Project- Step One THE DOUBLE CLEANSE


A brief recap for those of you who are new to this project or blog. My daughter Piper and I are exploring Korean Skin Care and documenting it here. If you are interested in how we got to this point, I recommend checking out these posts. Korean Skin Care Project, Korean Multi-Step Routine. In this installment we are going to cover one of the basic tenets of K-beauty, cleansing. Koreans are obsessed with having scrupulously clean skin. What makes their approach different from what we practice in the US is they use two different types of products to wash their faces, this process is cleverly referred to as, the double cleanse.

As you have already surmised, the double cleanse has two steps, first breaking down and dissolving makeup and grime with an oil cleanser, then cleaning the residue and adding moisture with the foam, or water based cleanser. Here’s the catch, you don’t have to use oil or foam if you don’t like them, there are a million cleansing products out there for cleansing, you just need to find two that work for your skin.

The first step, oil cleanser

The first step of the double cleanse accomplishes a variety of things. First, it breaks down makeup and dirt. Second, it adds moisture and hydration to the skin. Third, the massaging action stimulates circulation and the lymphatic system to brighten the complexion and reduce puffiness.

For this step there are two basic categories of cleansers, oils and balms. I am a balm girl, so lets start with those. Balm cleansers are soft solids and come in a jar, much like coconut oil. The cleanser I use is Clean it Zero by Banila Co. and it is my favorite product in the routine. I use the original formula in the pink jar, they also have a version for acne prone (purple jar) and dry (yellow jar) skin.

korean double cleanse

Banila Co. Clean It Zero is in my opinion, and about a million others, the best of the balm cleansers.

You scoop out a small amount, with the adorable little spoon they give you, gently rub it onto your dry skin and it immediately emulsifies into a light oil which dissolves makeup and dirt. It rinses off clean and leaves your skin soft with absolutely no oily residue.

Clean it Zero is a cult favorite in the K-beauty world and I can see why. Two other balm cleansers I found are Enature Moringa Cleansing Balm and Aromatica Orange Cleansing Sherbert which may be worth giving a try, but I plan on sticking with my little pink and white tub of amazingness for the foreseeable future.

You can also use oil cleansers for the first step. Piper originally used The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Oil. It is a light, watery oil in a pump dispenser. However, after a week she started to break out pretty severely and we think this may have been the culprit. I tried this oil a few times and also got the random pimple afterwards, not exactly proof positive, but enough for us. She has since shifted to Clean It Zero (purify edition) and has had no problems. If oil cleansers intrigue you, here are a couple to try: Klairs Gentle Black Deep Cleansing Oil and Innisfree Apple Juicy Cleansing Oil.

The second step, foam cleanser

The second product of the double cleanse is the foam cleanser. Once you have rinsed off the oil/balm and before you dry your face, you apply your second cleanser to wash away any left over makeup, dirt or oils. For this step I use the Mizon Snail Repairing Foam Cleanser.

This is another great product. I know I sound evangelistic, but I do really love these two products, we will get to some that were underwhelming, but not these. The amazing thing about this cleanser is how little you need to create the thickest, silkiest foam you have ever seen. Also, I know the snail thing is a little weird, but there is no hint of bad smell or sliminess in this cleanser. It rinses off clean and your skin feels happy and plump. At $7 a tube (which will probably last 3 months) this stuff is a must try.

Piper uses, and likes, Cosrx Low PH Good Morning Cleanser which is probably the most consistently recommended product I researched. It doesn’t foam up as luxuriously as the Mizon product, but she has had good luck with it and would recommend it for someone who has sensitive or acne-prone skin.

A few other cleansers I am interested in trying are Klavuu Pearlization Revitalizing Cleansing Foam and Hada Labo Gokujyun Hyaluronic Acid Cleansing Foam, which is a Japanese product but has been recommended in a lot of my research. However, given how much I love the Mizon product, and how little of it I use each day, I don’t know if I will want, or need, to try anything else in the next few months.

What have we learned?

So the take away from step one, the double cleanse, is that it is definitely well worth trying. If you are not ready to commit to the whole multi-step routine, I would recommend buying a jar of the Clean it Zero balm, and one of the foam cleansers and just giving this step a try. You will see an almost immediate change in how your skin responds which may inspire you to try some of the other steps.

Some helpful tips for the double cleanse technique:

  • Wear a wide terry cloth headband and tie your hair back if it is long.  If you get the oil cleanser in your hairline, it’s going to look greasy unless you wash your hair.
  • Use warm water, cool water will not emulsify the balm cleanser very well.
  • Try putting the balm cleanser on while your shower water heats up, then take the foam cleanser in the shower with you.  I know a lot of sources tell you not to wash your face in the shower, but that’s what us busy people do.
  • Leave your face wet after you rinse off the oil cleanser, just blot your neck to keep the water from running down your shirt, then rub the foam cleanser onto your wet face.
  • Have a clean, fluffy towel within arm’s reach, otherwise you are feeling around blind for a towel which is not cool.  Also, designate a towel as your face towel keep it separate and wash it often, you don’t want to use the same towel people wipe their hands on to dry your clean face.

Next Up: Step Two- Toner, this is nothing like the step we all skip in the US.

Best Places to Purchase Korean Skin Care Products


If you are following along here on Dazey Mayhem, you know that my daughter Piper and I are giving the Korean skin care routine a try. In previous posts I have covered resources to learn about Korean skin care and the multi-step routine. You can find those posts here: Multi Step Routine and Korean Skin Care Project  In this post I will cover where you can purchase these products since they are not readily available in the US.

The first place I looked, and had some success finding K-beauty products was, the simultaneously best and worst thing to happen to shopping, Amazon.  If you know exactly what you are looking for, you can often find it on here.

A couple of things to watch out for.  First, make sure the seller has a decent amount of good reviews.  Everyone is new at sometime, and nobody is perfect, but be cautious of sellers who are new and have bad or very little feedback these can be red flags that the stuff you are getting is low quality, expired or even counterfeit.

Second, just because it says it’s available with Prime shipping does not mean it will arrive in 2 days.  Pay attention to the shipping and arrival dates if you are in a hurry for a product, it often takes a week or more to get some of these products, even with Prime shipping.  Finally, read the description carefully, verify that you ordered the exact name and size of the product you want to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Curated US Web Sites

There are two websites that ship from the US which I have used with great success,  Soko Glam and Peach and Lilly.  Both of these sites are curated collections; Soko Glam by Charlotte Cho, and Peach and Lilly by Alicia Yoon.  Both are Korean-American aestheticians who are very knowledgeable about skin care and specifically, Korean products.

Both Cho and Yoon now have their own products lines, but their sites sell other brands which they have chosen and recommend.  Be sure to sign up for their newsletters to get a 10% discount on your first order.  They both offer loyalty rewards, so make sure to take advantage of those as well.

Between the two sites, I prefer Soko Glam for a few reasons which all have to do with saving money.  First, they offer free shipping on orders over $35, Peach and Lilly’s minimum is $50.  Second, you can get an additional 3% back if you use Ebates, so that helps a little. Finally, I feel like Soko Glam has more sales and specials than Peach and Lilly.

That being said, Peach and Lilly has great products, and you can buy some of them at CVS, yes CVS the drug store.  Believe it or not, Peach and Lilly’s line called Peach Slices is available at some (not all) CVS stores.  Their sheet masks are fantastic and only cost $2.50.  I also love the Peach Slices hand cream, and Piper loves the acne spot treatment patches and their Citrus-Honey Aqua Glow moisturizer.  Huge bonus points for Peach and Lilly.

This stuff is amazing and only cost $12 at CVS!

International Web SItes

There are a variety of online stores including Beauty Net Korea, RoseRoseshop and  But my favorite is Yesstyle.  Here’s the thing about ordering from any of these sites, the shipping takes a long time (usually 2 weeks), sometimes the product descriptions are in Korean and you have to have a PayPal account.  If none of those things are a barrier to you then have at it.

I like because they have a huge selection, there is always some crazy sale, the shipping is free with a $30 order. Plus, I am a gold member so I get 10% off my orders.  I got to gold status really quickly by signing up for the newsletter and writing reviews of products.  They also have extremely cute clothing and fun housewares.  So it’s always an adventure on that site.

Another site I recently became aware of is  This is another international site, so, slow shipping and PayPal is a must.  However, their prices are easily the best I have seen.  For instance, a Cosrx toner I just bought on Amazon for $12 is $7 on their site, my favorite balm cleanser is consistently $18-$20 everywhere, on this site it’s $13.  They also have samples you can purchase for extremely low prices, like less than a dollar low.  So I will definitely be giving this one a try in the future.

If you are thinking about starting a K-beauty routine, check these sites out.  If you are overwhelmed by the choices I recommend you start with one of the routine kits based on your skin type offered by both Soko Glam and Peach and Lilly, that would be a safe way to start.  I was a little more adventurous, but I used a lot of the recommended products from those kits.


Step One of The Routine- The Cleanse…. like the Purge but without the gratuitous violence.


Where to Learn about Korean Skin Care

Where to Learn about Korean Skin Care

There are a lot of information resources for Korean skin care out there. Endless YouTube videos, internet articles, blog posts and books. This post will identify some of the ones I used when researching our Korean Skin Care Project.  If you need to catch up on the origins of our Project check out these posts Korean Skin Care Project and Multi Step Skin Care Routine

First Category-Books

Yep, going old school, reading a book. Now, it’s not exactly as old school as heading to the Encyclopedia Britannica, but cracking open a book to learn something has become a bit of a novel approach (and yes, I refuse to apologize for the bad pun).

Two books that I found very helpful are Charlotte Cho’s The Little Book of Skin Care; and, Kerry Thompson and Coco Park’s Korean Beauty Secrets.

Charlotte Cho is the founder of Soko Glam, which is one of the best US sources for purchasing K-beauty products. Her parents are first generation Korean and she was born and raised in California. Cho lived in Korea for five years and got hooked on K-beauty so much that she was instrumental in it’s rising popularity in the US. You may have seen her on the Today Show during the PyeongChang Winter Olympics, she is adorable and I wish she could be my best friend.

Her book is a very easy and enjoyable read. Unlike a lot of books on the topic, this one’s a cover to cover read that tells a story while it informs on the topic. I highly recommend checking it out.

The second book I picked up was Korean Beauty Secrets. This one had a less compelling narrative, but it was thorough and very informative. Put together by beauty bloggers, Kerry Thompson Skin & Tonics and Coco Park The Beauty Wolf this book has a lot of great information, especially the portion where they lay out the beauty routines of eight different beauty bloggers, all with different skin concerns.

Korean Beauty Secrets also provides more information on particular skin care concerns like dehydrated skin and acne. They identify different Korean brands, and give lots of recommendations on products. There is also a great section on makeup.

Second Category- Blogs

This may come as a shock but there is A LOT of information about makeup and skin care on the internet.  When you want to learn about something like Korean beauty culture that vast pool of information can be both a blessing and a curse.  I found a lot of blogs dedicated to the subject, but you have to be an informed consumer.  A lot of bloggers post sponsored content, which while I completely understand underlying the business reasons, the reader needs to understand that these are, at worse, ads; or, at best, personal testimonials.

Also, some of the best sources of information are the blogs attached to retail sites.  They provide a lot of information, but their ultimate goal is to get the reader to buy a product on their site.  With those things firmly in mind, the following are a few of the blogs I found helpful.

Fanserviced-B– This site has a ton of information about all things related to Korean beauty culture, including skin care, makeup, behind the scenes info on brands and much more.  The tone is informative, but really fun and I enjoy reading her posts, even if it’s not a subject I am particularly interested in, which says a lot for her writing style.  I highly recommend checking it out.

the klog– Retail site Soko Glam’s blog is the klog, which I know is a mash-up of K and Blog, but honest my first thought is clogged pores, followed immediately by ugly shoes.  So, unfortunately named, but a great source information.  They feature articles on skin care and while they absolutely promote the products they sell, they also provide a lot of helpful information.

Pibuu–  Pibuu is the Korean word for skin and frankly, it’s adorable.  I want to name my next cat Pibuu, or Jaquizz, it’s a toss-up I guess I will base it on personally.  Anyways… this site has a beautiful, clean aesthetic.  The articles are informative and interesting, maybe not super practical but a nice way to spend some time.  I think of it as the goop of Korean skin care.

And finally, YouTube

If you have a week or two to waste, go ahead and search Korean skin care on YouTube and see what happens.  Let me save you the trouble, you will be deluged with approximately 6 billion videos, talk about going down a rabbit hole, yikes.  Here are a few worth checking out.

Joan Kim– Joan Kim’s channel has a lot of top 10 favorites videos and product reviews.  She also teams up with Edward Avila who is one sassy bit of business and I love him for it. They seem to really know what they are talking about and give some good advice on which products work and why.

Soko Glam-Charlotte Cho– This channel has a lot of information about the skin care routine and the products available on the Soko Glam website.  Their videos are well produced and cover a wide variety of subjects.

The Beauty Breakdown Morgan Stewart’s channel is very entertaining. I’m not sure I learn anything new, but she is so cute and fun to watch that I catch myself going back for more all the time.


Where to buy Korean Skin Care Products.