Vanity Fare: What’s on the Top Shelf of Tiffany Peterson

tiffany peterson

In our continuing Vanity Fare series, where we take a peek into the beauty routines of our favorite beauty insiders, we talk to Tiffany Peterson, a social media and healthcare consultant, founder of #Lupuschat, and all-around K-beauty enthusiast, about her must-haves, her skincare secrets, and how she self-cares.



The standout products I love


I’ve gone through a lot of cleansing waters, but the Su:m37 Skin Saver Essential Cleansing Water may be my ultimate favorite so far! I also love Kojie San soap, Biologique Recherche P50, and Swanicocooooooooo! I absolutely love this brand. I’m re-visiting it after falling in love with their Fermentation Snail line a few years ago. It was really difficult to find back then. I’ve been testing some items from their new lines, and so far, the Fermentation line is exceeding my expectations.


tiffany peterson


I wasn’t expecting to enjoy the Frudia line as much as I do. I chose the Pomegranate line for its anti-aging properties. I don’t look it but I’m going to be 32 this month. This is one of the most moisturizing products I’ve ever used. The serum is so rich I don’t even have to follow up with a heavier cream unless I want an extra layer of protection.


Bonus hair care must have: Lador Scalp Helper Hair Tonic. I have dermatitis, a frustrating issue aggravated by my health condition, lupus. After washing & conditioning, a few spritzes of tonic leaves my scalp feeling refreshed with a slight mint tingle. I have no clue if it lives up to its hair loss prevention claims since I use it to help prevent dry scalp and dandruff. It has awesome ingredients such as ginseng, aloe, green tea, licorice extract, and peppermint oil.


My special skincare tips


1. Cleansing: Our hands aren’t sufficient to properly cleanse our skin with foam cleanser alone. It’s best to use a cleansing brush, cloth, or sponge to remove sebum, oil, dead skin, etc.


2. Cotton pads: Use a cotton pad with your acid or toner. You’d be surprised at the gunk that’s still on your face after cleansing 😭


3. Expiration dates: Make a note of the day you open each new skincare product and research so you know when it expires. Some products have a shorter shelf life than 12 months, depending on the ingredients list.


4. My acne quick fix: Kojie San Acid Soap bar cleanser + Biologique Recherche P50 + moisturizing toner + snail cream of your choice + Benton (or other good quality snail) sheet mask. I do this in consecutive order, three days before I need my face to be presentable, and it works every single time!


tiffany peterson


My morning skincare routine


I start with the COSRX Low pH Good Morning Cleanser. It’s really gentle but soothing, and the tea tree oil helps keep breakouts in check. Or if acne and oil control isn’t needed, I cleanse with Su:m37 Skin Saver Essential Cleansing Water.


I follow it up with COSRX AHA/BHA Clarifying Toner, Iope Bio Intensive Essence and Swanicoco Fermentation Care Toner and Emulsion.


During the summer, I usually switch to a light gel-type moisturizer like the COSRX Oil Free Ultra Moisturizing Lotion, the Dr. G Aquasis Water Soothing Gel Cream, or the Neogen Code 9 Black Volume Cream.


To finish everything off, I use the COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPF 50 PA+++.


My evening skincare routine


I’ve been using the Kojie San Acid Soap bar cleanser for 4+ years now. It’s a certified Asian beauty OG in my arsenal. There are a lot of misconceptions since it’s labeled a “skin lightening soap.” It doesn’t bleach at all; it evens skin tone and hyperpigmentation, unlike any other cleanser I’ve ever used.


I follow it up with Biologique Recherche P50. I can’t live without this sh-t; it’s poreless perfection, aka crack in a bottle. [Author’s note: I have to agree.]


I then use SK-II Facial Treatment Essence and spot treat with The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% and Zinc 1%. After, I use Swanicoco Fermentation Care Toner and Emulsion, Frudia Pomegranate Nutri-Moisturizing Serum, and finish it off with one to three drops of Pixi Rose Oil Blend.


What I do for rough but necessary self-care days


Whenever I need a pick-me up, I retreat to a jjimjilbang (a Korean spa) for 24 hours to rejuvenate and help boost my spirits as soon as physically possible. (Check Groupon for local deals and treat yo’self!)


tiffany peterson


I also bring a pouch full of sheet masks, such as my Benton Snail Bee Sheet Masks, for healing blemishes and acne breakouts, and I also bring the Wish Formula C200 Bubble Peeling Pad. I was hoarding one of these for months and took it to the jjimjilbang for an overnight stay. It’s bubbly enough to use on your face and entire body at least twice. It always gives an otherworldly glow. You can also hang it to dry and reuse it for extended use!


My makeup routine


I start by prepping my skin with the Frudia Pomegranate Nutri-Moisturizing Serum and following it up with one to two drops of rose oil or propolis.


tiffany peterson


I then use my Maybelline Loose Powder in the shade Translucent Honey 120 and then the Maybelline FIT Me Shine Free Foundation Stick with and anti-shine core in the shade Cappuccino 340. I sometimes use the Laneige BB Cushion SPF 50+ (Dark) and the IMAN Tri-Sheer Finish Bronzing Powder in Afterglow.


My contour is actually another IMAN bronzing powder, but it’s from years ago, I can’t even read the name on it.


I use Urban Decay Eyeshadow Primer in Sin, and the Anastasia Modern Renaissance Palette has been my obsession for a while now. It has such lovely tones for melanin skin.


I use the Pat McGrath Labs Fine Gold 003 Pigment for my highlighter. Everything Pat creates is f-cking iconic! I’m also obsessed with the Skinfood Honeypot Lip Balm. It leaves my lips perfect for lipstick.


M.A.C False Lashes Extreme Black is my go-to for mascara. I’ve been experimenting with gold khaki brows (after losing my Anastasia pencil twice) thanks to Aritaum’s Idol Waterproof Eye Pencil. I absolutely love it!


My favorite lippies: Lumiere 2 by Colourpop (my soft look) and Sad Girl Liquid Lipstick by Anastasia Beverly Hills (my dark look).


Have you tried any of Tiffany’s skincare tips or must-have products?


And if you have a nomination for our next Vanity Fare subject, let us know in the comments!


All photos courtesy of Tiffany Peterson.



I Treated My Scalp with a Korean Hair Care Routine; This Is What Happened

korean hair care

Another multi-step regimen? Only if you want lush hair and a healthy scalp. Contributing editor Sheryll Donerson treats her scalp like her skin with a Korean hair care routine and comes out the other side a convert.



Korean beauty isn’t just skincare. It extends to all facets of personal care — from makeup to body care. One area of Korean beauty that is often overlooked is hair care. Oftentimes, a Korean hair care routine is just as intense and has as many steps as your typical 10-step skincare regimen. Who knew?


My journey with Korean skincare is widely known. I tried it after assuming the products would never work for me, a black woman with oily, acne-prone skin. But at this point, it’s obvious that the thinking that Korean skincare only works for Korean skin is pretty much false — and Korean hair care is the same.


I first tried Korean hair care while living in Korea out of necessity. I’d run out of my American staples and had no way of getting backups. And like my experience with skincare, I realized that not all K-beauty hair products are meant for straight, thick hair. My dry, frizz-prone curls loved a variety of products, from the Innisfree camellia hair care line to my beloved Skinfood Argan Oil hair mask.


In an effort to try out all of what Korean beauty has to offer (and to pacify my inner product junkie), I tried my own Korean hair care routine, complete with products straight from Seoul. I mimicked my own K-beauty skincare routine, so you can see how Korean women treat their scalp and hair just like their skin.


hair care routine


Step 1: Cleanse your scalp (oil cleanser)


I know what you’re thinking. Doesn’t shampoo cleanse your scalp? Yes, but in Korea, many women use what is called a scalp cleanser, or a “scaler,” an oil or gel type product that is applied before shampoo. Think of it as the oil cleansing step of your routine. You wouldn’t just skip taking off your makeup and go straight to your foaming cleanser, would you? Of course you wouldn’t.


A scalp cleanser works the same way an oil cleanser does. It works to cleanse the scalp and get rid of dirt, oil, dead skin, and any built-up hair products. Korean hair care experts claim that by using a scalp cleanser before your shampoo, you are increasing the health of your hair, making it less prone to breakage and frizz, and that they can actually contribute to hair growth. It makes sense. Think of how grimy and dull your face would get day in and day out if you didn’t remove your makeup first. I can’t even imagine.


As someone who works out daily and sweats a lot, my scalp is a hot mess. It’s oily, sweaty, and since I wash my hair once or twice a week, it’s pretty bad by the time I get to wash day. I’ve tried both the Ryo Scalp Deep Cleanser and the Innisfree Refreshing Scaling Oil with smashing success. The Ryo product is a bit hardcore and will leave your hair squeaky clean and a bit too dry for my liking, so I like to use that one once a month. As for the Innisfree product, it’s been my holy grail. It has a bit of a minty tingle to it and really leaves my scalp and hair feeling refreshed and bouncy.


Step 2: Shampoo and condition as normal (foam cleanser and essence)


Once upon a time, I was on the no-poo (no shampoo) train and only washed my hair using conditioner. It was great for a while, but my hair started to get really greasy, flat, and lifeless. I’ve realized that I need to wash using a real shampoo, and condition afterwards like normal.


Again, same principle applies: I’d never wash my face with a face moisturizer and expect it to be clean. I usually use products from Mielle Organics or Maui Moisture, but I’m pleasantly surprised by the Korean brand SanDaWha. Its line of shampoo and conditioner is made with camellia oil and a ton of herbal extracts that nourish the hair instead of stripping it of precious moisture. I use the shampoo, and after, I mix some of the conditioner with my deep conditioner and put on a shower cap for a bit of a mini hair treatment.


Innisfree My Hair Recipe Repairing Boosting Ampoule hair care routine


Step 3: Super deep condition those strands (sheet mask)


When I lived in Korea, I had a minor obsession with two K-beauty hair packs: the Skinfood Argan Oil Silk Plus Hair Treatment and the Etude House Silk Scarf Hair Mask. I’d take one of them with me to the jjimjilbang, take a ridiculously long and luxurious shower, and apply either one of those products in my hair. I’d sit in the steam room with a shower cap on my head, and when I styled my hair afterwards, it felt like silk. Sigh. Those were the days.


A hair pack works the same as a deep conditioner (or a sheet mask, if you will). They are meant to be left on the hair for 5 minutes or longer and work to restore shine and bounce to damaged, stressed, and dry hair. I deep condition every time I wash my hair.


Step 4: Style and seal it in (serum and moisturizer)


My styling step completes my hair care routine. It’s like using an essence, serum, and moisturizer, but for my hair! My routine is a bit long since my hair is curly, but it goes like this: I leave my hair soaking wet and apply my leave-in conditioner from Mielle Organics. I don’t dry my hair because water is the main source of moisture, so I like to lock all the water in with my styling products. It’s a trick I learned from the famous Curl Doctor, Shai Amiel.


After I use the leave-in conditioner, I apply a hydrating hair milk (essence step!). I rake the product through my hair with my fingers, making sure all of my strands are coated. Then I use a hair gel to make sure my curls are defined and less frizzy.


My final step, just like in a lot of people’s skincare routines, is a hair oil. I switch between using argan oil and almond oil, depending on the day. The hair oil works to create a seal over my hair, keeping it from getting frizzy and leaving it shiny and hydrated for the week. I then toss my hair into a microfiber towel turban and let it dry for about 20 minutes before moving on with my day.


The similarities between a K-beauty skincare and hair care routine are pretty glaring. I’m a convert and won’t be turning back to my regular hair routine anytime soon! In Korea, there are all sorts of fun and exciting hair care products to try — from hairline contour products, sleeping packs, styling tissues, and yes, even hair cushions. It’s a whole new world to get obsessed with.


What does your hair care routine look like? Let us know in the comments.


Woman Wonder: The Heavy Lifting It Took to Regain My Confidence

heavy lifting

Inspired by Wonder Woman, we asked the K-Beauty Squad to share with us how they are a Woman Wonder in their own lives. Here, contributing editor Sheryll Donerson reveals the heavy lifting it took to regain her self-esteem.



After living in Vietnam for a couple years, I moved to Phuket, Thailand, last year. One might think I moved there for the stunning beaches, amazing food, and the ability to breathe fresh air again after choking in motorbike exhaust for two years in Ho Chi Minh City. All of these things are true, but there was a bigger force at play.


There is a street in Phuket called Soi Ta-iad, more affectionately known as “The Soi.” It is literal fitness heaven. There are protein smoothie stands, gyms, Muay Thai camps, MMA camps, fitness camps, and tons of healthy food that occupy the land on the 2-kilometer road. It was my goal to move to Phuket and finally lose weight after trying unsuccessfully for years.


Let’s rewind. When I was in my mid-20s, I suffered through a bout of depression and emotional eating that left me nearly 30 pounds heavier. I yo-yoed the weight off back and forth, even dropping nearly 20 pounds while I lived in Korea, only to gain most of it back eating my life away in Vietnam (pho is dangerous, ya’ll). I told myself that by my 30th birthday I wanted to get my weight under control once and for all, so when moving to Phuket came up for discussion, it was a no-brainer to go to a fitness camp there. I chose Unit-27, a total conditioning and fitness gym, specializing in high-impact strength and conditioning workouts. They had great reviews and the crazy intense, hour-long classes seemed fun.


heavy lifting


When I arrived for my first day at Unit, one of the coaches, Joy Somers, checked my weight and body fat and discussed goals with me. She suggested I start CrossFit, and I’m sure I looked at her like an insane person. All I’d ever heard about CrossFit were the gross dude bros who all hurt themselves trying to lift ridiculous amounts of weight using terrible form. She assured me this wasn’t the case, and told me to try it once to see if I liked it. I agreed.


The next morning, I took my first class and nearly died. But I was 100,000% sold. I couldn’t lift anything and almost passed out at the end, but everyone was super encouraging and helpful.


As the weeks went by, I started to catch on to all of the lingo, terminology, and moves that CrossFit is known for. I could back squat properly for the first time in my life. I could do a deadlift. I even started to work on my pull-up, something I never thought I would ever be able to do. And slowly but surely, I started lifting heavier, too.


The author before, left, and after.




As the weight I put on the bar continued to increase, my confidence grew. My body shaped changed. I stopped looking at the scale and instead started to track how much weight I was squatting during each workout and how I could improve. My whole perspective on my body changed. Instead of viewing myself as this sad, tired, depressed, and overweight woman, I transformed into a fearless, strong, confident weightlifting machine who could literally deadlift your boyfriend. (Literally — I just pulled a 205-pound deadlift the other day.)




CrossFit and lifting heavy weights have changed my life. When I get on the weightlifting platform and load up the bar for a set of squats, shoulder presses or deadlifts, I feel invincible. When I feel the weight on my shoulders or grip my chalky hands on the cool, sleek metal of the bar, there’s no one on the planet stronger than me. The number on the scale is a long-gone memory — I weighed myself a few days ago and instead of recoiling in horror, I thought about how that weight allows me to push myself each day during my workouts. I may not have abs or perfectly chiseled Michelle Obama arms, but I am strong. I am fearless. I am a Woman Wonder.


How are you a Woman Wonder in your life?





How I Deal With Hormonal Acne (and How K-Beauty Has Helped)

hormonal acne signs need k-beauty

Yes, there’s more to hormonal acne than just topical treatments (sugar, we’re looking at you!), but a K-beauty skincare routine makes a huge difference in the length and severity of a breakout. Here, how one K-beauty guru manages her hormonal acne.



Let’s keep it real. I have nice skin. I have worked very hard to have nice skin. And unfortunately, like clockwork, once a month, my skin is temporarily screwed over by my not-so-great-friend named Hormonal Acne. Hooray!


Despite my iffy skincare techniques in my youth, I had great skin all throughout high school and college. It wasn’t until I was in my mid-20s when ish got real, real quick. I developed terrible cystic acne that could only be tamed by Retin-A and harsh acne treatments. Birth control worked, too, but I had to stop that for various other health reasons.


Dealing with my hormonal acne is the ultimate struggle because I know every month it’ll be the same thing. Thankfully, I’ve learned to tackle my acne with love and care, instead of trying to purge them to death like I did in the past. Read on for my K-beauty inspired approach to keeping my hormonal acne at bay.


hormonal acne


What is hormonal acne?

Hormonal acne is characterized by breakouts along the chin, jawline, and sometimes cheeks, usually around the time of your period or by hormonal imbalances. It can also be caused by stress, a sugar or dairy heavy diet, and exhaustion. I’m sure we can all recall the times we pulled a stressful all-nighter and were blessed with a lovely care package of acne a couple of days later. Lovely, right?


Beauty from the inside out

I know it’s cliché, but what they say is true: You are what you eat. If I eat a lot of sugar, I break out. It’s inevitable. It’s especially worse when I am PMS’ing. I have thankfully weaned myself off of soda and most sugary desserts and candy, but I cannot say no to cupcakes and donuts. They are my kryptonite. But now, when the cravings hit, instead of reaching for something super sugary, I like to drink La Croix, because it’s carbonated like soda without the sugar, and a piece of fruit and plain Greek yogurt. I don’t have much of a reaction with dairy, but the thing about hormonal acne is that it’s all trial and error. Try cutting out or limiting your sugar and dairy intake to see if that makes a difference.



I track my period using the Clue app on my iPhone. This is important for a few reasons. When I know I’m hitting that sweet PMS zone, I like to preemptively cut back on my sugar intake and increase my usage of acne fighting AHA ingredients like lactic and glycolic acid. I’ve found that if I start working on the breakouts early, then I won’t have as much of a mess on my hands later.


Clean yo’ face


10-step skincare routine hormonal acne


One of the commandments of K-beauty is a clean face. Double cleansing has been a part of my life for so long I don’t even understand what I did before it. Even if I don’t wear makeup (and especially when I do), I use an oil-based cleanser to remove dirt, grime, and pollutants. I follow it up by using a pH balanced cleanser like the COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser.


My K-beauty approach

For so long, I bought into the whole “if it hurts, it must be working” approach when it came to my acne. I used harsh scrubs, drying acne treatments, and alcohol-laden toners with reckless abandon, in hopes that it would help my adult acne. Needless to say, it made it worse. Drying out your skin actually produces more oil, which makes your acne worse.


This is where my K-beauty approach comes in. Instead of thinking about my acne as a mortal enemy that needs to be eradicated with hate, I nurture, hydrate, and moisturize my skin. And surprise. My skin is great!


After I double cleanse my skin, I apply a chemical exfoliant of some sort. I rotate between using a BHA (to dissolve built-up oil, blackheads, and whiteheads, and “unglue” all the dead skin cells) and an AHA (to smooth out my skin). After about 15 to 20 minutes, I follow that up with a hydrating toner, then a sheet mask like my favorite Leaders Vaseline mask. After 20 minutes, I pat the remaining essence into my skin and apply a lightweight serum like the CELLNCO Super Hyaluronic Moisturizing Ampoule and slather on my all-time favorite Sulwhasoo Overnight Vitalizing Mask.


Focusing on a multi-step K-beauty routine instead of scrubbing my skin into oblivion has tremendously helped my hormonal acne. I still have minor breakouts, but I am able to manage them much better, and they don’t last nearly as long as they used to. #Blessed.


How do you deal with your hormonal acne? Let us know!

Sunscreen 101: What Everyone Has to Know

sunscreen 101

That 10-step (or 2-step) skincare routine you’ve got going on? It’s useless if you don’t wear sunscreen. Yes, everyone — and we mean everyone — needs to wear sunscreen, 24/7, 365. Here, we cover some of the basics of sunscreen 101.



The temperatures are rising and the sun is out. Summer is here so that means a few things for me — beach vacations, copious amounts of cold brew iced coffee, and making sure I slather on sunscreen every single day.


Sunscreen is a vital and necessary part of my skincare routine. If there is nothing else I do, I always wear sunscreen. Why?


1. I don’t want to age like a banana.

2. I want to prevent and get rid of my post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation (PIH).

3. I want to prevent my chances of getting skin cancer.

4. Contrary to popular belief, black people do get burned in the sun, and I don’t want to deal with that.


So in an effort to encourage everyone to wear sunscreen, I’m going to do a little sunscreen 101. Grab a drink, a notepad, and join me for a Q&A session.


sunscreen 101


Q: Sheryll. Do I really need to wear sunscreen? It’s cloudy/rainy/I’m dark skinned/I hate it/I don’t burn, etc.


The short answer to this question is a loud YES. Everyone, everywhere, regardless of what type of skin you have, should wear sunscreen. The American Academy of Dermatology recommends wearing a broad-spectrum formula that is at least an SPF 30 or more every single day that you plan on being outdoors. And even though it might be cloudy or rainy on a particular day, the sun’s harmful UV rays are still being a hot mess so … wear sunscreen. EVERY DAY.


Q: What is the difference between a chemical and a physical sunscreen?


Let’s have a quick science lesson. The sun emits harmful UVA and UVB rays. They cause free radicals that damage our skin and cause a multitude of issues: premature aging, cancer, burns, etc. UVA rays cause most premature aging by penetrating through our delicate layers of skin, while UVB rays are the ones that cause us to burn (or tan if you’re lucky).


So what does this have to do with chemical and physical sunscreens? A chemical (also called organic) sunscreen absorbs the sun’s rays by using chemical filters, like avobenzone, octylcrylene, and ethylhexyl methoxycinnamate (octinoxate). They tend to offer more protection from both UVA and UVB rays, but some people find these chemical ingredients irritating. Physical (or inorganic) sunscreens use titanium dioxide and zinc oxide to deflect the sun’s rays. However, titanium dioxide can cause some people to break out, and while zinc oxide protects against the full spectrum of UVB and UVA rays, titanium dioxide does not protect against all UVA rays. If you’re concerned, your best bet is to look for the PA+ rating, which is used in Korean sunscreens. (PA+++ or PA++++ will give you the best UVA protection.)


Chemical sunscreens tend to have a more watery, lightweight texture, while physical sunscreens are thick and can leave a white cast. Most sunscreens today feature a mix of both chemical and physical UV filters.


Q: Got it. So how much sunscreen should I apply each day? Is the sunscreen in my makeup enough? 


So glad you asked! A sunscreen is not like a typical skincare product. Its efficiency is directly related to how much you apply, when you apply, and reapplication. You should be applying approximately a ¼ to ½ teaspoon size amount of sunscreen each day. It sounds like a small amount, but the next time you’re applying your sunscreen, measure it out. You’re probably going to be surprised at how much it actually is. If you’ve been applying a pea-sized amount every day, you’re not getting enough sun protection. Sadly, this means that the sunscreen in your makeup is practically useless on its own.


amorepacific cushion compact sunscreen 101


Q. But I’m wearing makeup! How and when should I reapply?


As far as reapplication goes, you should be reapplying sunscreen roughly every two hours or after swimming or sweating. I know, I know. It’s a lot. But if you have any type of PIH (those darks marks you get after a pimple) or wrinkles or sun damage or are worried about aging, it’s a must. If you’re wearing makeup, look for a cushion, powder, or spray than has sun protection that you can keep in your bag. If you’re using a spray, be sure to spray it on thoroughly; a light mist won’t do.


If I am wearing makeup, I reapply my makeup using a sunscreen spray, like Supergoop or Kate Somerville. On days that I’m going makeup-free, I reapply using a lightweight, gel or fluid sunscreen. A tinted moisturizer with SPF works well, too!


Q: My sunscreen is greasy/oily/leaves a white cast. What do I do?


Listen, finding a good sunscreen is like finding a needle in a haystack. I’m black, acne-prone, and have really oily skin. When I’m looking for a sunscreen, I always look for a few key words: watery, gel, liquid, fluid. Sunscreens with these descriptors tend to be very lightweight and very easy to apply. I avoid sunscreens that have a tint for obvious reasons, but if that’s your jam, by all means go for it!


Some sunscreens that are oily girl friendly:


1. Laneige Light Sun Fluid SPF 50 PA+++

2. Sulwhasoo Hydro-aid Moisturizing Soothing UV Protection Fluid

3. Dr.Jart+ Every Sun Day Soothing Gel

4. The Face Shop Natural Sun Eco No Shine Hydrating Sun Cream


If I do get the dreaded white cast, I apply a lightweight tinted moisturizer or foundation over it. It’s not ideal, but at least I’m wearing sunscreen!


What is your holy grail sunscreen? Let me know in the comments!



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