my one stop shop for all things K-beauty: soko glam

Makeup remover wipes, a face wash, the occasional mask, and moisturizer–what more could be necessary in a daily cleansing regimen?

Apparently a lot more, and my oily T-zone, dry patches, and spots of red blemishes attested (although at the time, these were characteristics that I simply accepted as the forever-fate of my skin). When I realized that there was actually a thing called skincare that went far beyond the scope of a four-part routine, I decided it was time to start investing in my most important feature.

On countless trips to South Korea, I gawked at the endless number of beauty stores that graced every street corner, smh-ing in disbelief at blatant plastic surgery posters (let’s just say the “after” photos were pretty unrecognizable). I wondered how these advertisements could be so widely accepted and commonplace. And although I wouldn’t fully agree with or aspire to match the country’s lofty and IMO quite narrow standard of beauty, I have to admit that they’ve done at least one thing right: skincare.

When I began dabbling with new brands and products, I was thrilled to discover Soko Glam, an online beauty shop and lifestyle brand with the (self-proclaimed) best selection of Korean beauty products and content. I’ve been a returning customer for well over a year now, with a good amount of products under my belt. So, in celebration of all things K-beauty, here’s a rundown of some of my favorite skin-saving, Soko Glam goodies from the past year.

1 | Banila CO Clean It Zero Radiance & Banila Co Clean it Zero Classic

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This cleanser had me at “sorbet-soft”. An oil-based balm, the solid texture instantly dissolves into a workable milky-hued salve that seriously breaks down makeup more effectively than any other cleanser (wipes or liquids) that I’ve tried in the past. It easily washes off with water, leaving the skin feeling thoroughly cleansed without that oily-residue feeling.

The Clean It Zero comes in three different variations: Classic, Radiance, and Resveratrol. I haven’t tried the latter, but of the former two, there are quite a number of different ingredients used for each. For the Classic (a Soko Glam award winner), the key ingredients are carica papaya fruit extract and raspberry leaf extract; for Radiance, it’s grape root and moringa extracts for their brightening effects. I won’t pretend to know the science behind it–just giving you the facts.

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How I use it: After gently working the balm all over my face, concentrating on the eyes, I take a clean cotton pad to wipe off most of the dissolved eye-makeup. Then, I rinse the remaining residue off with water. This method helps me avoid getting any oily residue in my eyes (which tends to happen when I only use water to remove). I’ll usually follow this with a foaming cleanser for an extra squeaky-clean cleanse.

2 | Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence Intensive and Missha Time Revolution Night Repair New Science Activator Ampoule

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I attribute my recent successful months of healthy, nourished, smooth, and brighter skin to these guys. I bought the essence back in April, when SG was giving away the free trial-sized ampoule with each purchase. Naturally, my inner Korean ahjumma/bargain-lover jumped on the deal, and I’m so glad I did. The essence lasted me a solid six to seven months with nightly usage, and the ampoule is just about on its last leg.

The essence is another SG best seller, and I read that it’s supposed to be a dupe of a much more expensive SK II product. Key ingredients: 80% fermented yeast concentrate that’s supposed to enhance, brighten, and nourish on a cellular level (#science!). In the ‘Intensive’ version, Missha apparently did away with licorice and alcohol in the ingredients to improve its effectiveness. It’s good for all skin types.

How I use it: I like to spill a little bit of this product directly into the cup of my hand and work it into a clean face and neck by gently patting away until it’s fully absorbed. Immediately after, I apply one pump of the ampoule all over face and neck, also tapping that into the skin with my fingers.

3 | Son & Park Beauty Water

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Best thing ever. I would have bought this product based on the sleek, sophisticated packaging and design alone. Simply and so brilliantly called Beauty Water, this Son & Park product is many parts cleanser, toner, exfoliator, and more with a base of natural ingredients including coconut, corn, potato, wheat, rose water, willow bark, lavendar extract–just all around goodness. After each application, my face feels so refreshed and hydrated, and yes, although I may agree with you that I sound a tad melodramatic, I don’t think I could bear to live without it.

How I use it: Lightly soaking a cotton pad, I sweep the toner in upward motion over a cleansed face and neck. I love using a cotton pad to gauge how well I’ve cleansed my skin–you might be surprised how much dirt, oil, and impurities can remain, even through a single wash (which is why SG recommends doing a double- or even triple-cleanse with oil-based and water-based cleansers).

Just trust, and get this product.

4 | Banila Co. Prime Primer Finish Powder

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This primer has also become a staple in my collection, and although it’s not technically skincare, I’d thought I would give it a well-deserved nod. With a chronic oily T-zone, I’m always on the search for effective mattifying foundations, concealers, and primers that don’t dry out the face. The colorless Prime Primer seriously controls shine and leaves my skin feeling extra smooth; for the first time ever, I don’t have to desperately reach for my compact powder or oil-absorbing wipes in the middle of the day to tame the dreaded gleam.

How I use it: The powder comes with a circular puff for application, but I use a powder brush for more even application. I generally concentrate on the oily zone, without overdoing it on the areas that tend to dry out more easily (thanks, combination skin).

I originally intended for this list to be a little longer, but I’ll cut it short for another skincare review. On a quick tangent, I want to note that along with these products, I began to live a healthier lifestyle (more exercise, improved eating habits, consistent sleeping patterns) that has definitely improved not only my outward appearance, but my overall wellbeing. For those who might have more severe acne or skin issues, consider taking small steps to change your aspects of your every day life, like drinking an entire cup of water before bed and upon rising, or cutting out sugar when you can–it might make a world of a difference for your skin.

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