Feature Friday: Hey, Seoul Sister

Allison Kang is originally from Los Angeles but relocated to Seoul, South Korea in 2018 . Allison and I became lifelong friends during our tenure on the renowned 7th floor at Sotheby’s New York. I learned so much from Allison about skincare when we weren’t discussing work. Allison is currently a Content Curator, Spokesperson and Business Developer for BPU Holdings, an Artificial Emotional Intelligence company in Seoul. She has a dynamic position but the aspect she enjoys the most about her role is writing about how AEI, “goes beyond tech, in how it will disrupt and improve commerce, healthcare and even our personal relationships”.

Isn’t she lovely? Picture provided by AK.

What is your skin type?

I have combination skin with a mild oily t-zone and dry cheeks. I also have hormonal acne, which is the bane of my existence.

What beauty product have you used the longest?


La Roche-Posay’s Toleriane Crème Moussante Purifiante, Purifying Foaming Cream will always be with me everywhere I go. This is the best and my favorite cleansing cream for combination to oily intolerant skin. It cleans off residue and waterproof makeup that’s left over from the day without over drying. When cleansing, I can see the oils washing away
too. Since I have pretty sensitive and combination skin, this product cleans without being too harsh. I love the La Roche-Posay’s line and this product has been with me for years. It’s also fragrance free, preservative-free and paraben-free which are added bonuses. They also have gel option in the same line, but I didn’t find it as effective as the cream version. If you
have sensitive skin and spotty acne, I highly recommend this product.

How do the Korean and American approaches to skincare differ?

Where do I start?  Skincare is not an option in Korea, it’s a lifestyle. Citizens take their skin very seriously; both men and women. Clear skin is almost mandatory here and if you watch K-dramas, you can see that celebrities have no pores.  It’s very typical that Koreans have their own personal aesthetician, the same way New Yorkers have their own therapists.  Skincare treatments in Korea are different from dermatologist visits in the States.  Skincare here includes a consultation and custom sessions which include: facial muscle massages, gentle laser light treatments, extractions, face packs, upper body massages, hand treatments and even food dietary recommendations to change your skin, from within.  It’s an overall healing process and remedy for your skin and wellness. Visits to your skincare clinic are frequent and you form a bond with your doctor as he/she is committed to getting you toward achieving healthy, beautiful skin. It truly is a one-of-a-kind journey. 

Korea is light years ahead in their technology, laser treatments, methods and ingredients.  I currently have two skincare aestheticians – one for my acne and one for anti-aging treatments.  I won’t spend a lot $$ on clothes but skincare is a non-negotiable for me.  As my boyfriend knows my obsession with skincare and he once said to me, “I’ll buy you skincare.” and that probably was the best thing I’ve ever heard. Invest in your skin ladies!

Product ingredients also play a key role in Korean skincare. Korea is incredibly health conscience and concerned about the ingredients in their products.  The source of their ingredients come from nature; natural minerals, herbs and teas. I’m extremely ingredient conscience myself so I read labels in close detail.  I found that most Korean products I come by are mostly natural and non-irritant.  Very rarely do I find harsh chemicals, scents and coloring like in most US or European products. K-Beauty makeup also plays a big role in your skin.  Cushion compacts will have products that have essence infused in their cushion so that it covers and hydrates.  You can also find BB creams, CC creams that have added sunscreens and other perks in them as well. Oh and the key to looking young is avoiding the sun! 

Korean beauty is extremely popular right now. What are your three favorite Korean beauty brands and why? 

  1. CNP Laboratory Tone-Up Protection Sunscreen.  Sunscreen is a girl’s best friend!  In Korea, having white porcelain skin is considered the highest form of beauty; so Koreans avoid the sun like it’s the plague. I’m a SoCal girl at heart so sun is in my DNA, but I do support protecting your skin because it does keep you looking youthful and avoids sun spots, wrinkles, premature aging and additional scaring.  I wear sunscreen EVERYDAY – even during cloudy weather (those UV rays like to creep through).  I’ve used about every sunscreen there is on the planet.  I was a loyal La Roche-Posay sunscreen fan, but I found it quite oily and it interfered w/ my daily makeup and acne. CNP Laboratory Tone-Up Protection Sunscreen is the best!  Not only does it protect, but it also works as a primer while evening out your skin tone and texture.  It almost gives you a smooth matte glow. Sometimes, I just use this without any BB cream and foundation and run out the door.  It’s that good. It also doesn’t feel like it’s clogging your pores which I find most other high SPF sunscreens do. This is avail at most make-up stores and departments, but I found this product to less and less avail, even at duty free (which is usually where I stock up).  Due to the high demand, I buy in bulk when they do carry it in stock. Price 29,000 KRW = $25.50 USD

2. Evercell Chaum Cell Illumintaor + Absolute Luxe Cell Charger

Okay, ladies. This is a secret – Chaum is a life and wellness center and their Evercell Skin Care Center has a line of their own products. This is one of them. Chaum specializes in biocell regeneration and this product is great. The cell charger comes in these separate sealed balls and you mix it with two pumps of the cell illuminator until the ball dissolves.  It’s has a serum texture and then you pat across your face without additional moisturizer.  I use this product at bedtime.  I’ve noticed less sun spots on my face as well as overall smoothness and pigmentation. Your face feels plump and well-hydrated too.  This product seems to be highly beneficial for older people as well who have clear signs of aging.  A family friend of mine in his late 60’s used it and I was pretty shocked at the difference in his skin.  Less wrinkles, sun spots, and over all texture and tightness in his skin was pretty astonishing. This is only avail at Chaum and online.  Gift set includes the Ageless Cell Cream and I also use that on my neck…b/c nobody likes a gobble chin.  Price approx. $200 USD

3. Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask in Grapefruit

So I feel like chapstick is one of those universal items that’s in every person’s purse, pocket, and luggage. I was introduced to Laneige’s sleeping mask thinking it was just another way of saying overpriced chapstick, but it really does work. I use it at night before bed and it goes on well without feeling thick and vaselineish.  It’s quite smooth and the smell is really pleasant.  When I wake up, my lips are much smoother and usually the chapped-ness is gone. I don’t have to peel any dried lip-skin pieces off. Which we all know hurts. This was an essential item for me during the cold winter season, but can be used all year round. This is available in the US, but only in the Berry scent.  In Korea, Grapefruit, Apple and Vanilla are all available.  For you travelers, this item is usually available in duty free travel sizes too.   Price approx. $25 USD

You travel frequently to visit family in California. How do you prepare for a trans-pacific flight and do you have an in-flight routine?

Misters and facial mask patches have saved me!  The 12+ hour flight dehydrates your body and your skin, looking and feeling like you ran through the Sahara Desert!  The fatigue of travel and recycled air doesn’t help either.  I always carry a travel size mister – Korea’s Mamonde Rose Water Mist is my fav b/c it’s all natural and 100% single extract.  Evian misters are a great option in the US.  Luckily, Korean Air Business and First class pass out mini facial Jeju Pure Water Mist with natural spring water from Jeju Island (southern coast of S.Korea) and I end up using the whole bottle, if not two during one flight.  I’m constantly spritzing! Another option is to buy a portable mister.  There’s a great one on amazon that you can easily attach with a standard water bottle.  I face it towards my face when I’m sleeping I wake up feeling refreshed and my skin isn’t cracking. 

For those of you who are really dedicated, a face mask is the best option. I tend to not like the messiness of the serums dripping so I use Petitfee Gold Hydrogel Eye Patch.  It comes in a tidy jar with small patches of the good stuff – 24K gold, ginseng 5,000 ppm, bird’s nest, collagen, and rose flower water.  It might be one of my fav combo ingredients. It’s intended to be used under your eyes, but I place the patches all throughout my face.  My face looks like a cubist Picasso Marie-Therese portrait, but I keep them on until it dries and my face is more moist, dewy and has more elasticity.  It also helps with the puffiness from overeating on the plane too. Also ladies, you don’t need a full face of makeup for the plane. It’s not the Equinox on Sunset. Clean skin is the best way to avoid additional irritation and unwanted pimples. 🙂

If you would like to be a part of Feature Friday, send me a DM on IG @reinesoleillesoin

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