In our continuing Vanity Fare series, where we take a peek into the beauty routines of our favorite beauty insiders. Here, we talk to Keelyn Young, who won our Vanity Fare contest, about her favorite K-beauty products and the best shopping in Korea.
How did you get into K-beauty and what was your first K-beauty product?
It all started the summer of 2013. I was drawn to Korean dramas, the culture, and the history. That lead me to their philosophy on skincare and beauty. Using natural products to keep skin healthy was something foreign to me because I was never interested in maintaining my skin. Then I found Etude House. They were the first company I purchased from. I ordered it from a small online store that would ship to the U.S. I bought the Wonder Pore Pack, the AC Clinic White-Trouble Bubble Cleanser, and the Moistfull Collagen Essence. It was definitely a test run. I didn’t know anything then. Even though my stuff was all over the place, I started noticing a difference, and thus my journey into Asian products began.
My first favorite product was the Etude House AC Clinic Intense Red Spot Balm. It helped calm down the glowing red spots on my face during a breakout.
Tell us about your vanity and where you beautify yourself.
I love working at my glamorous vanity. I have always wanted one just like it, and it is a special place just for me and my ritual. I split my time there and in the front of my bathroom sink. I am blessed to have a lot of counter space. I usually have jazz playing while I prep for a facial mask.
Describe your current skincare and/or makeup routine.
At night my routine is:
First Cleanse: Nature Republic Jeju Sparkling Mud Cleansing Cream. This helps rid my skin of the day’s debris and impurities. It even works great removing light makeup.
Second Cleanse: Nature Republic Natural Fermentation Argan Foam Cleanser. Once worked into a foam, it does the trick in getting everything off without leaving my skin dry. The fermented argan supplies my skin with natural oils, and it’s not a harsh cleanser that will strip away moisture.
Toner: The Face Shop Clean Face Mild Toner. The green tea extract helps keep acne breakouts at bay.
Treatment: I use an American product, Differin, to treat any pimples currently apparent, and it helps reduce my chances of a breakout as well.
Essence: The Face Shop Clean Face Mild Lotion. This mild lotion is considered an essence, and I love it. It goes on smooth and reinforces the toner’s effect. I like using product pairs and sets every chance I get.
Serum: It’s Skin Power 10 Formula Propolis. This little bottle of magic gives my skin instant nutrients to fight aging, hydrate, minimize the look of pores, and brighten my skin.
Cream: Nature Republic’s Super Aqua Max. One the first things I purchased on my trip last year and I am almost out again. I love the extra boost of hydration it gives. With combo skin, I can’t stand feeling dry during the colder months. This always does the trick.
Do you have any unique or unusual beauty tips?
One unusual thing I have become fond of doing is using an Epsom salt and baking soda paste to help with drying out a cyst on my trouble areas. I do it for a full week during a breakout. It works every time.
Korean base makeup products are notoriously limited in shades (even for me, and I’m of Korean ethnicity!). Have you found any products that work for you?
It’s funny you ask. A few years ago, I would have said yes, I totally avoid them, but now I am currently writing a blog article about this new phenomenon. I actually have a BB cream from The Face Shop that matches my skin tone. I use it all the time, and I just heard about Innisfree’s new cushions in darker shades. I plan to review it. Honestly with Korean companies strategizing to see the dollar signs behind women of color, I believe more will start investing the time to produce colors that fit the market.
How do you travel and maintain your skincare routine?
Love samples! I use samples the most on short trips. They come in handy when you can’t necessarily travel with your products. I keep a few in my carry-on when I have overseas flights. You can also learn about a new product you may want to purchase later.
Invest in travel size! Some of my favorite brands have travel size options I swear by. If you can’t live without it, then don’t. If the brand doesn’t carry them, then pick up some travel size containers to place your faves in.
Mists and wipes are your best friends! I always carry mists and wipes when I travel. They’re great pick-me-ups when I’ve been up for 10-plus hours or just need a little refreshing. I am currently using Tony Moly Pocket Bunny Moist Mist.
Why are you going to Korea for a month and what are you going to do there?
I am considering moving to Korea in two years so I wanted to experience an extended stay. I’ve been visiting since 2013 so I felt it may be time to consider moving there for a while since I love it so much. I’m learning more about some of the other cities, like Busan. I plan to study the business culture because I love what I do [as a business development manager] and brand building for a company is a part of me. The business environment there is very grounded, and I like that.
For fun, I plan to dive deeper into the beauty market and culture more. Every time I go I learn something new about it and other Asian beauty secrets that motivates me to try them. Last time I went I learned about milk peel treatments.
What are some of your favorite places to shop, eat, and drink in Korea?
The best place for shopping is of course Hongdae. Stylenada (very trendy and very reasonably priced), Hyang Park (they put me in a whole outfit just for fun) and any corner boutique off the beaten path. I got an entire outfit for 25 bucks once. I always come home with a new set of clothes for the season.
If you are interested in bargains, go to Myeongdong. It’s fast-paced and never boring. For more high-end shopping (which I do way too much), go to the COEX in Gangnam.
Best for eating? There are so many places. I’ve got two go-to spots that I visit at least once while I am there every time I go. The first is Jaksal Chicken, owned by the infamous idol Kim Hyun Joong. While it is a fried chicken chain, he and two friends opened my favorite haunt in Il-Sangdong. The chicken there is amazing. I am friends with one of the owners on KakaoTalk.
My second favorite spot is in Gangnam. Yeolbong Jjimdak is another celebrity-owned restaurant but more upscale than Jaksal. I love jjimdak (braised chicken), and they make the best in my opinion. While I’ve never met or seen the owner (rumored to be K-idol Seven), one employee Jeannie is there every time I stop by.
As for places to drink, I now prefer Gangnam and its most high-end lounges. My new favorite is an underground spot in Gangnam that recently open this year when I went. It’s called White Bar, and it is luxe. A gin bar, it’s built like a gold vault with an impressive assortment of cocktails. It’s super upscale, just how I like it. The owner Kevin is super sweet and gave us a few free cocktails for stopping by. I plan to be a regular next year during my stay.
Is there anyone whose vanity you want a peek into? Let us know in the comments!