I swear these two products cleared my blackheads

Charlotte Cho handed me two mysterious boxes.

It was September and we were catching up in New York City with two other friends at an Italian joint, when the founder of Then I Met You and Soko Glam handed them over.

SEE ALSO: See our 2018 skincare winners!

“I really am curious about your results,” she told me. There’s a lot of pressure when you’re actually friends with a founder of a brand and you’re a journalist. For one, you’re desperately rooting for their product to be really, really good. One, because you want them to find success, but also because you need to be objective and so you don’t have to give them awkward feedback later. It reminds me of how I’m friends with a few comedians in LA whose jokes are so painfully unfunny I’ve requested they don’t share any new material with me. It’s easier on the friendship.

Then I Met You

(Photo by David Yi / Very Good Light)

Good thing, then, that Charlotte’s products are legit. In fact, we named the brand’s Living Cleansing Balm, $38, as our best oil cleanser for 2018. And so I knew I could hopefully have the same results and opinions after testing two of her new products.

When I got home and opened the boxes, I found they were part of TIMY’s The Skin Balancing Duo, which includes The Giving Essence, $50, and its Birch Milk Refining Toner, $32. Together, you get a small discount at $78. Both come in the brand’s signature periwinkle blue, not only aesthetic AF but 100 mL, which would probably last me about 3 months with continual use.

After testing the products for almost 3 months, I still have a quarter of product leftover. The results? Well, let’s just say I can keep seeing Charlotte as a friend and talk about her product with her. That is, I loved both of the products, but not for reasons you’d expect.

Then I Met You

(Photo by David Yi / Very Good Light)

Toner Review

Let’s talk the Birch Milk Refining toner first. The product is milky but isn’t thick – think skim milk consistency, and has relatively no fragrance. It’s made of 76% concentration of birch juice aka sap, which is a natural ingredient that soothes, calms and treats inflamed skin. Mixed together with marshmallow root extract, known for calming itchy skin, as well as squalene, it’s perfect for hydrating skin while soothing it. But this formula also has pore-refining AHAs and PHAs, two acids known for sloughing dead skin cells and exfoliating.

The milky goodness made my skin baby-bottom soft. After the harshness of water, it softened my skin while giving an instant glow. I’d been experiencing hormonal cystic acne, caused mostly by my inability to shave my facial hair, and seems to have calmed it a little.

Then I Met You

(Photo by David Yi / Very Good Light)

Essence Review

Together with the slightly more expensive essence, made of fermented berries, red algae, and more, the products seemed to work in tandem to plump up my skin. The black chokeberry, a superfood ingredient very high in antioxidants, together with the red algae, brightened my skin over time. After three months, my dull, gray-ish, rather sad skin became renewed. Someone actually complimented me that I seemed more “radiant” and I knew it was this product since it’s the only toner / essence combo I’ve been using.

The product’s galactomyces perhaps explains the biggest breakthrough of this product. According to TIMY’s website, it’s an ingredient that’s “fermented sake that has proven skin care benefits including reducing the appearance of pores, blackheads and sebum.”

I gasped. 

Though I can’t say it cured my cysts, it did something miraculous. Indeed, after using this for weeks on end, the two product in tandem seemed to clear my blackheads. I didn’t expect a toner / essence to actually leave my nose unclogged. My pores are small and I have combination skin, which is the worst as it clogs oils under the skin. But I can confidently say that in three months I haven’t had to think about my blackheads at all. They aren’t leave me squeezing my nose every other week.



Then I Met You

(Photo by David Yi / Very Good Light)

If products can allow me to free my brain from blackheads to do other things, like, read a new novel about how to destroy my enemies, or cooking a meal to impress a future spouse, I’m sold. That’s pretty much a winner in my book.

But perhaps best part of all: I can still be friends with Charlotte while giving her positive feedback. That my friends, is all worth it!

BUY Then I Met You’s The Skin Balancing Duo HERE 

The stylist behind *that* iconic Ezra Miller Playboy is thirsty. ?

Welcome to Groom Raider, a series where we, well, raid the grooming closets of the people we admire to see what products they use. While we browse through their moisturizers, creams, fragrances and more, we get a glimpse into their past lives and the stories behind how they came to be. This week we meet with Ryan Young, a stylist from NYC. 

Ryan Young, stylist, NYC, @cryoungin

There’s no doubt that when Ezra Miller’s photos for Playboy came out, the Internet was shook.

SEE ALSO: Who What Wear’s editorial director loves makeup as much as he does Old Spice 

After all, it was an iconic moment in history – the first time a fluid star covered the pages of the publication, traditionally geared towards straight cis males. Though the cover went viral for good reason, some of the credit goes to stylist Ryan Young who was the creative genius behind the sartorial concept.

“It really was an awesome experience and a total dream shoot,” Ryan tells Very Good Light. “It’s not everyday you get to subvert gender norms on such a public platform—not to mention for Playboy!” Working with Ezra, he says, was also a completely joy to work with.

“Ezra is a force unlike any other on set—a total genuine being,” he says. “Not only does he take killer pics, but you can tell he is totally dedicated to every project he’s involved with. It makes you want to work harder.”

Though it may seem as if Ryan’s career skyrocketed in a single day, he’s been cutting his teeth in the industry, working for Vanity Fair under Jessica Diehl (she was behind that iconic Caitlyn Jenner cover!). After working on special editions like working with Tracee Ellis Ross for the magazine’s Emmys cover, he left the publication to work on his own. He’s now signed under the Wall Group, one of the most prestigious agencies in the industry. Through it all – the ups and downs of NYC – Ryan’s always had his beauty and a regimen to keep him grounded. Below, Ryan – who’s a true beauty boy at heart – dishes on his go-to products and secrets he’s learned over the years.

“I’m from Tallahassee, Florida originally, but made a swift move to NYC the moment I was able to get out.

Obviously things down South can be stifling for a young, queer kid trying to find an outlet for his creativity—Florida is as nuts as the headlines. Though, a lot of what I learned about my beauty regimen and overall aesthetics comes from my parents and family. My mom is a hairstylist and my grandma is an esthetician. Needless to say, I went through a lot of suspect hairstyles in high school.

I have a pretty consistent beauty regimen that I try to stick to. Thankfully, my grandma started me on one around 14 or 15 so I’ve been trying to maintain it since.

My main line of defense is water. I try to drink around 1-gallon a day—insert corny joke about being thirsty here. I wash my face in the morning and night with SkinCeuticals foaming cleanser because it’s best in the shower and over the sink. I need a shower to wake me up in the morning, so something easy and quick to use is best. I tend to have sensitive skin and this is the most gentle mid-range cleanser I’ve found by far.

I probably should upgrade, but I really love Dr. Bronner’s Lavender soap for body wash. Again, it’s pretty much the only thing that doesn’t dry out my sensitive skin. Plus, I swear you can smell the hemp on my skin all day—which I love. It’s a holdover from the hippie dude I dated in college.

I try to drink around 1-gallon a day—insert corny joke about being thirsty here.

I’ve been obsessed with Dr. Barbara Strums drops after Jennifer Fisher got me hooked on them. I switch them up, but my favs are the Anti-aging and Glow drops. I apply them directly after I wash.

(Photo courtesy Ryan Young/Very Good Light)

Probably the most important step in my regimen is under eye cream. I’m always puffy in the morning, so I don’t go a day without Caudalíe’s eye balm. I’ve consistently used it for years even after they changed the formula. Since it’s winter and I’m worth it, I use La Mer for my moisturizer.

I don’t get in for a facial nearly enough, but once a week I use Tracie Martyn’s Enzyme Exfoliant to minimize blackheads and clean the film of New York air out of my pores.

Fuck gender norms. Fuck the patriarchy and wear makeup if you want to!

I’m not really a fragrance loyalist, but I hate having a scent others have. My tried and true is Tizana Terrenzi Golden Rose Oudh. I was looking for the perfect rose scent that wasn’t too intense or overly floral and I found this one around 4 years ago at Barney’s and have loved it since. I once read that Prince loved wearing women’s perfume and I thought that was so rad, so naturally, I wanted to wear something that wasn’t overtly butch.

For the most part I usually wear zero fragrance—only Tom’s of Maine when I’m with clients. I’m a big believer in being receptive of pheromones and putting them out. Also, I’m super allergic to most deodorants, so it’s usually the natural approach for me.

The only product I won’t compromise on is hair product. I’ve been using Baxter Paste Pomade since Kevin Baker at Sposito turned me onto it like 6 years ago. It’s honestly the perfect consistency and doesn’t leave my hair oily or clumpy. And it works the best on my ever-growing rat tail.

I don’t really have a beauty mantra, but I think it functions as a natural creative extension of oneself. I really celebrate the stigma being lifted from men embracing beauty and how these ideals are ever-evolving. Fuck gender norms. Fuck the patriarchy and wear makeup if you want to!”

Every single beauty product I’m obsessed with for this awkward summer to fall transition season

Fall products

There’s a certain energy in the universe that comes with summer finally coming to an end. Or is that a seismic shift of my angry skin, pissed off that the weather is changing yet again?

As with all seasonal changes comes a recalibration of mind, body and spirit, but mostly skin. Summer is a time where you sweat, produce more oil, are hydrated from the humidity. But in the fall months your skin starts becoming needy again. Suddenly, there are dry patches you haven’t seen in months, breakouts because your skin is demanding more moisture, and even more blackheads because of your tightening pores.

SEE ALSO: Is eye cream a scam? Experts weigh in. 

To keep my own skin happy (well, as happy as it can be until um…winter), I’ve already gotten a head start with my favorite summer to fall transitional items. Below, is every single product I’m obsessed with right now. After going through hundreds of products, here’s a good list of every item that’s been telling my skin to STFU. And it’s working. For now.

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Belif Creamy Cleansing Foam Moist cleanser

Belif’s very name may induce migraines in every editor, but it’s forgivable because the Korean brand is really, very amazing. Its array of products are super gentle, free of toxic ingredients, and puts hydration first and foremost. I’ve been obsessed the brand’s Aqua Bomb as well as its sleeping mask but I was really surprised when the brand actually had a great cleanser as well. Made from vitamin C, soapberry to detoxify and wormwood to help with breakouts, this natural, gentle cleanser goes into a luxurious, creamy lather that leaves your face feeling completely clean without that stripped feeling. So. Good.


Amore Pacific Treatment Enzyme Peel

My Korean mother swears this product has allowed her pores to absolutely glow even in drier climates. And after testing out Amore Pacific’s Treatment Enzyme Peel, I’m totally a believer. The gentle daily exfoliating powder comes to life when mixing with warm water. It then activates and when coming in contact with your skin, completely removes dead surface skin cells while leaving you with a beautifully polished complexion. The secret to this bestselling product is in its papaya enzymes, a natural exfoliator that sloughs all things dead and leaves you with that glistening glow.

BUY HERE, $64.90

Harry’s Fig Body Wash 

A sexy body wash? What an oxymoron. But Harry’s, the e-commerce shaving brand now sold in Target stores, has one that leaves me at least feeling like I could be my sexiest self. The brand’s Fig Body wash smells so refreshing with its Mediterranean fruit and spices and allows me to feel as if I’m bathing underneath a waterfall in Santorini. AHHHH. So good. Its creamy formula leaves you cleansed without stripping your natural oils and is the best body wash I’ve come across thus far in my ripened age. Can you be obsessed with a body wash? Yes, I’m now a believer.

BUY HERE, $6.99

Farmacy Green Clean Cleansing Balm

A rare late night out for me had me looking like an early aughts Pete Wentz by all of 10 p.m. My mascara was melting down the side of my cheeks, my eyeliner smudged. But this was no match when I went to my bathroom and cleansed all of my beauty sins away with Farmacy’s Green Clean Cleansing Balm. The gentle cleanser completely dissolves everything on your face, from foundation, SPF, to even waterproof eyeliner. Yes, it’s that powerful. It includes sunflower and ginger root oil, as well as extracts from the Moringa tree, native to India and parts of Africa to purify your skin. I went from Pete Wentz to babyfaced Pete Davidson in SECONDS after using this. Fallout Boy be DAMNED.

BUY HERE, $21.99

Hanskin Hyaluron Skin Essence

Dave Cho, my friend at Soko Glam, who’s the co-founder of the brand alongside Charlotte (his wife!) has THE BEST skin. It partly has to do with genetics, but I’m convinced it also has to do with his use of Hanskin’s Hyaluron Skin Essence. He swears by it and if he does, I do, too. The product contains an advanced form of hyaluronic acid, allowing it to hold 1,000 times more moisture than water. It’s something that your skin will drink up immediately, leaving you with plump, baby soft, Dave Cho-like skin. So good.


Ren AHA tonic

I came across Ren’s AHA tonic after being obsessed with the brand’s anti-pollution mist, which I highly endorse. As we know, AHA is an incredible chemical exfoliator that sloughs away dead skin cells. Ren’s version has lactic acid for this very purpose, the ingredient we all love in products like Sunday Riley’s Good Genes. This product also has willow bark extract to minimize pores as well as Azelaic Acid, an ingredient that’s SUPER great at minimizing scars and lightening those sunspots aka hyperpigmentation. It’s been doing a good job evening out my blotchy skin tone.


Peter Thomas Roth Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream

If a cloud could be cold pressed, juiced and served, it would surely come from Peter Thomas Roth. The brand’s Water Drench Hyaluronic Cloud Cream feels as if your skin has been kissed by deep, soothing hydration. The product is made from 30% hyaluronic acid and ceramides that lock in moisture for up to 72-hours. It left my skin feeling super soft, deliciously supple and oil-free for the entire day. Sunny days are better with cloud cream, for sure.

BUY HERE, $34.49

Le Prunier Plum Beauty Oil

There’s nothing new when it comes to facial oils. There are TONS of them out there. But nothing is quite like Le Prunier’s Plum Beauty Oil, a new product I recently came across (AND LOVE!) thanks to the team at Neiman Marcus. The brand launched in 2016 by three Californian sisters and is all about the benefits of the powerful plum. Who knew that the plum was so adept at anti-aging, restoring and refreshing the skin? According the Le Prunier’s site, plums are naturally abundant in omega fatty acids, free radicals, vitamins A and E as well as hydrating and healing. The texture is luxurious and the smell – OMG THE SMELL! – is so soothing, so delicious, I couldn’t help want to eat it. After applying this at night, I felt by morning, my skin had a beautiful dew and a glow like never before. Here’s to eating – and using – more plums in the near future.



I’m going to go out on a limb and just say this: Corpus will become the next Le Labo and Byredo. Yep, a bold statement, but I really stand behind it. The natural deodorant has become such a success, it’s now completely sold out on its website. After testing this, I feel I was fresh throughout the entire day with zero traces of stench (even after Crossfit!). With bergamot, pink lemon, orange blossom and cardamom notes, this is a beautiful and elegant deodorant and the chicest one on the market.


Byredo Gypsy Water body lotion

Speaking of Byredo, there’s a reason why this Swedish luxury brand has become what it is now. Its luxurious fragrances are completely indulgent, like the brand’s bestseller, Gypsy Water. The brand describes the fragrance as “memories of a late-autumn forest, hot tea and campfires with every hair flip and flourish.” Yes, its smell is so reminiscent of colder weather ahead. With pine needle, sandalwood and lemon along with vanilla and bergamot, this is a beautiful fragrance that will soothe your body – and soul.


Olay Foaming Whip White Strawberry and Mint Body Wash

This is like whip cream in a bottle – except it isn’t sticky and you certainly can’t eat it. Instead, it goes on your body velvety smooth, lathers up into beautiful foam. Its fragrance is a delectable strawberry mixed with mint and the cream will cleanse any and all impurities on your body. You only need but a small amount as its gentle, weightless formula goes a long way.

BUY HERE, $5.49

Moroccan Magic Lip Balm

How important is it to actually nourish your lips of good ingredients? Very. Mostly everyone uses petroleum jelly, an ingredient that’s viscous but actually doesn’t moisturize, rather, closes off your skin. Moroccan Magic has a range of lip balms that are completely organic and come from essential oils like argan, coconut, sunflower, beeswax, along with vitamin E. Using the balms allows your lips to become instantly hydrated. Instead of that waxy consistency like other lip balms, this one is super slinky smooth, thanks to the oils it uses. Already, it’s been said to being Oprah’s favorite lip balms – and obviously Oprah has exceptional taste, so there you go!

BUY HERE, $3.99

GQ’s grooming director is also a beauty witch

Welcome to Groom Raider, a series where we, well, raid the grooming closets of the people we admire to see what products they use. While we browse through their moisturizers, creams, fragrances and more, we get a glimpse into their past lives and the stories behind how they came to be. This week we meet with Garrett Munch, grooming director at GQ. 

Garrett Munce, grooming director @ GQ, NYC

“I’m very witchy,” says Garrett Munce, grooming director at GQ.

It’s a sleepy Saturday afternoon and we’re greeted by Garrett and his black pug named Elvira, who traipses about the one-bedroom apartment. Aligned on every other shelf are beautiful healing rocks ranging from small to large quartz, amethyst, onyx crystals. In corners of the room, incense – sweet, musky – delicately permeates through the air. Energy mists line his bedroom shelf from brands like Cap Beauty and The Fifth Veda.

SEE ALSO: Meet Who What Wear’s editor Bobby Schuessler

It all feels, well, magical. And if there ever was a beauty witch – one who’s mystical, spiritual and can give you suggestions to the best new Korean sheet mask – it would be Garrett himself.

It’s this mystical (and magical!) approach to beauty that keeps him grounded. So along with the many masks he’ll use to saturate his pores with moisture will be energizing mists to activate his Chakra. With trendy products from the likes of Dr. Sturm will also be a good crystal-infused spray. “They’re good for meditating and clearing the Third Eye,” he explains as he mists the space. “I’ll spray them on my pillow before I go to sleep because it helps activating your psychic center. You’re connecting to the universe and sometimes I’ll have really intense dreams – sometimes psychic dreams and it’s really good.”

(A spritz of this water is said to be healing to Garrett. Photo by Ian Michael Crumm/Very Good Light)

Below, we talk to Garrett about skincare, healing products and how his witchiness comes to play with beauty and grooming.

“As long as I can remember I’ve been obsessed with grooming. In middle school, high school, even elementary school, I was obsessed with hair. Guys are brought up and taught to not be experimental with grooming and beauty the same way that women are, and I was never that way. I went through all the phases that you could think of.

I went through the dying-your-hair-crazy-colors phase in high school. One time I was doing this summer theatre program between my junior and senior year of high school. And I dyed my hair. Well, I made my friend Lauren dye my hair. At the time I had it spiked. This is like early 2000’s so it was kind of like it was like a “She’s All That” situation. I had who dye it like fire. So my roots were yellow. My middle was red. And the tips from the middle were orange. That lasted about three days until it all kind of started to mush together and become like this neon orange color. My mom wasn’t happy about it and she took me straight to the salon. I went and drove to the drugstore secretly and I bought one of those Feria highlight kits. I basically did these deep purple streaks in my hair. My mom flipped out. She was so pissed that she ordered my senior portraits in a black and white so that she wouldn’t see my hair color.

With my skin, I definitely had problems with it in in high school. So I definitely was that guy that was reading like Jane and Seventeen trying to figure out what drugstore products to buy. I was very lucky I never had like cystic acne or like really, really bad acne that I had to like go to a dermatologist. But I definitely was going to the mall or going to department stores buying weird stuff and like trying it all in my bathroom.”

On getting to GQ:

“I’m from Charlotte and I always loved clothes, fashion and grooming. I was also completely obsessed with magazines. I would read everything and cut out pictures and articles and all that kind of thing. I would keep a box full of tear sheets in my room. I was obsessed with that but I didn’t really know that was a real job until I lived in New York City. I started interning and I started out in costume design styling. Eventually, I got an assistant job at W for about a year. I was there from ’08 to 2012. I ran the fashion closet and then worked my way up a little bit. I became their menswear editor there before Stefano [Tonchi] came over. A job at GQ about about and I’ve been there for about six years.

There are so few men’s magazines now and I feel really lucky that I get to work out one of the ones that’s still around. I think it definitely makes me realize like how I have this kind of responsibility. I take that with me going into those offices every day.”

On his role at GQ:

CBD The daily hit

(“I love Lord Jones’ CBD and The Daily Hit. When I’m feeling anxiety it really calms me down. This clay mask is what I swear by. You can literally feel your face pulsing it’s so good.” Photo by Ian Michael Crumm/Very Good Light)

“I remember there is this one commercial for some sort of like new face wash. There’s a little brother washing his face with bar soap and an older brother like ‘Yo, bro like you would never wash like you know your face with like the same soap that you wash your body with. Right?’ And he was like ‘No, you like you should never do that. You should use this like this cleanser.’ And for some reason that changed my life.

Today, I think about that commercial a lot, especially when I’m planting stories for GQ. Because I never had any sort of resources for myself growing up in terms of best practices or things to do for yourself. And so I I take that role very seriously. I think people are very much more open to talking about grooming. But I also want to make sure that there are resources that speak to those people, and it’s not just the kid who’s like, ‘what face wash should I buy as my first face wash?’ I want to talk to the guy are also now my age and are asking about Botox and wanting to learn about lasers and fixing wrinkles.”

On his favorite products:


Aesop sturm

(Three products Garrett swears by: Triple C Lightning from Soko Glam x CosRX, Dr. Barbara Sturm Anti-Pollution Drops and Aesop’s cleanser. Photo by Ian Michael Crumm/Very Good Light)

“I don’t wash my hair every day. I actually only wash it about once a week. And when I do wash it, I try to use R+Co’s conditioning foam because one of the hairstyles that we work with, Thom Priano, told me about it. He works on Timothee Chalamet, who we shot. Thom taught me about it because it doesn’t strip your natural oils like a shampoo. And if I wash my hair too often or even if I wash it with like, the wrong shampoo, it gets really frizzy and puffy because I have kind of naturally curly hair. It looks dry really easily and so I get really nervous about that.

I use a hair mask about once a week. I’m really liking Sisley’s Hair Ritual, it brings back all moisture. I’m really sensitive to texture. I like to play with my hair and run my hands through it a lot. If it ever feels dry, I freak out. I don’t want it to feel oily but I don’t it to feel dry. 


I’m obsessed with bar soaps. I think that they’re so easy and you don’t have to use like a loofah. I’m really into this one by Shea Moisture that’s an African black soap. I really, really love it. Then after, I’ll use a deodorant. I’ve recently switched to natural deodorant. I really like Schmidt’s. I love the charcoal  – it’s so good. That’s the only one that I found didn’t have a really weird transition period where I felt like I smelled. Basically, you can’t ever have a natural antiperspirant because an antiperspirant has to have aluminum in it.


(K-beauty or bust: Garrett enjoys mists from Neogen, moisturizers from Missha and essences from Missha. Photo by Ian Michael Crumm/Very Good Light)

I’ve been doing this look like a major whole Korean skin care thing lately. So before a cleansing oil first. I’ll do the oil cleanse in the shower then Aesop’s combination cleanser. Right after the shower, I head for a toner. I love a good toner. I really love this Acwell licorice 5.5 pH one from Soko Glam. It’s really good.  Then I’ll do that Neogen mist essence, which I love. I’ll do my Ordinary hyaluronic acid serum and use that one. Usually, I switch up my serums and things. 

I’ll do an eye cream in the morning. I’ve been using that Tata Harper one and I love it. I’m obsessed with her and all of her stuff right now. I’ll put some Barbara Sturm’s anti-pollution drops with my moisturizer, which is usually that Missha super gel water cream. I really love that because it’s very light and it doesn’t ever feel sticky. I also really hate anything that’s too thick, like anything greasy or oily or thick, like an old lady cream like. After, I’ll finish with a sunscreen. I only recently, to be honest, just started wearing sunscreen every single day. Probably in the last two years now because I used to be like a total sun slut. I think you grew up not  knowing that the sun was bad for you. I grew up going to tanning beds!”


“I was getting a lot of redness and a lot of uneven skin tone from exfoliating, I didn’t really quite know what was going on. I was talking to Charlotte [Cho] from Soko Glam, and she was like, ‘well have you ever tried a CC cream or a BB cream?’ I was like, ‘no why would I try that? What is that?’ And she told me Korean guys use it all the time. She gave me one from Erborian, the brand that’s both French and Korean. 

I went home and I used that CC cream and I didn’t tell my husband. On the subway that morning going to work he was like, ‘your face looks really clean, wow.’ And I was like, ‘Really?’ He was, ‘did you use a new face wash or something this morning? God, it looks really clean.’ I like it a lot. It really kind of changed my life because it changed my perspective on what is possible from using that kind of product. I’ve always experimented with makeup. I remember going to Bare Minerals to buy their powder. But I was always self-conscious to wear makeup. The thing with that CC cream is that it changed my life. I know that skincare is the long game – it’s more about upkeep is more about finding the products that work. It’s about doing the thing that is going to be most beneficial for your skin. But sometimes you just need to cover that shit up and go to work, you know?”

Sheet masks

“I am completely obsessed with sheet masks. It’s an active struggle for me not to do one every night. I’m careful to not use too many that have retinol, acids or ‘detoxing’ ingredients. I usually alternate those with hydrating and soothing versions. Really what you want from a mask is the relaxation element – the fact that they force you to slow down and sit still while they’re on your face is not lost on me. And you can’t really multi-task while you’re wearing them either, unless you count Instagram stories.

The ones that are the best are Joanna Vargas Twilight, Patchology flashmasque hydrate, SK-II’s version, Tatcha Luminous Dewey Skin Mask, Verso Deep Hydration Mask and Chantecaille Gold energizing eye recovery mask.”

There’s one annoying truth about blackheads that will make you scream

The worst part of skincare? Examining your face, one that you’ve been pampering for weeks on end, to see that you STILL have … blackheads.



After scrubbing, exfoliating, moisturizing and putting in the work, you find that there are still small, dark bumps that seem to clog a few of your pores. What’s worse, they’re hard to extract and trying to squeeze one only leads to a full on infected pimple or blood. Lots of blood.


WTactualF, skin?! 

Before freaking out, know that blackheads are ~totally~ normal. You, me, Kpop stars with glass skin, EVERYONE gets them. Well, unless you’re this guy.

“We’re sebum-creating beings. To say that someone has no blackheads ever is impossible,” says Dr. Cindy Bae, a dermatologist based out of New York City. “Everyone gets them.”

What exactly are blackheads?

Unlike what you may think, blackheads aren’t tiny little hairs on the tips of your nose or your cheeks. They’re not even truly black. That discoloration, which is often darker than your skin tone, is actually excess oil and dead skin cells. When you don’t properly exfoliate or moisturize is how they get trapped by a pore. That dark color is when that mixture of sebum and cells oxidizes.

Called a “comedo” by some dermatologists, that very word actually comes from the Latin “comedere,” which means “to eat up.” Traditionally, it was used to refer to parasitic worms. Which makes sense for blackheads as they kind of look like tiny bugs when you extract them. (**Shudder**)


Blackheads are different from whiteheads in that the latter is the poppable kind. Its tip isn’t hard like a blackhead, rather white, pus-filled and ready to burst. In many ways, whiteheads are much easier to extract since they are “stuck” in a pore. It makes blackheads super annoying. So what can you do to stop getting them? Cleanse, moisturize, pamper, repeat. But it’s also about being realistic. “It’s impossible not to ever get a blackhead again,” she says. “You will always get blackheads. You’ll want to get them professionally extract as well. But proper care will keep the blackheads from forming as often.” Now before you give up on skincare, remember that blackheads are just a part of life. “Think of it like cutting your hair,” says Dr. Bae. “A couple times of month or once a month you’ll want to get it trimmed or washed. It’s the same with your hair and blackheads.” But depending on how good you upkeep your face is how little you’ll have to see your facialist/dermatologist.

While this isn’t news we wanted to hear (like, you can’t banish blackheads FOREVER?! *#^@!), it’s good to know there are measures you can take to make your appointments far and fewer between.

Here’s what you can do on your own:

1 Reset with a facial


First things first: set up an appointment. Going will only help you get on with your next step and make your skin all the healthier. Ask your facialist to really focus on extractions. Yes, it’ll hurt, and yes, you will be howling from pain, but it will be worth it. This way, you’ll be able to start fresh, blackhead-free.

2 Cleanse and exfoliate ASAP

The best way to get rid of blackheads is to do your best to prevent them altogether. Again, it’s impossible to say goodbye to blackheads for good. But it doesn’t mean you can’t try your best. That means cleansing your face twice a day to keep sebum at bay and dead skin cells away (say that three times quickly to a Cardi B track). Dr. Bae likes Neutrogena’s line of cleansers. “After you wash your skin you’ll notice your skin is smoother and tighter,” she says. Tight is right especially at night when you produce overnight sebum. The tighter and smaller the pores, the less likely you’ll clog them.
VGL recommends: Try some of our favorite pore-minimizing cleansers of the moment are Missha’s Super Aqua Refreshing Cleansing Foam. It foams up nicely, doesn’t dry your pores, but thoroughly cleanses it. BUY it here, $9
As we’ve written at-length before, there are two ways to exfoliate: physical and chemical. The former is using a scrub or something like a Clarisonic brush. The latter, is using acids like an AHA (for dead skin cells) or BHA (like a salicylic acid to get down into pores and break down oil). The latter will also shrink your pores.
If you’re going to go for a scrub, Dr. Bae says to be clear of anything too sharp like ground up walnuts or apricot seeds found in products like St. Ives. “It has sharp edges and can cause micro-abrasions,” she says. Instead, use raw sugar, a much softer ingredient that is just as effective. Dr. Bae says that exfoliating once a day is all you really need. Doing too much can cause skin damage.
VGL recommends: An AHA and BHA combo we are currently loving is from Glossier. The solution has 10% of AHA, BHA and PHA, which is safe to use every day. We use it right after cleansing and feel our complexion has become glowier after a month. BUY it here


3 Moisturize and SPF!

The first level of defense from gunk getting down into your pores? Moisturizer! That’s right, a good moisturizer will separate the grimy top level from getting down under. It will also keep your pores tight and in fighting condition. An SPF will protect your pores from becoming enlarged thanks to the exposure of the sun. Use an SPF in the morning and moisturize twice (a.m. and p.m.) for best results.

VGL recommends: For a light moisturizer try one from Neutrogena’s Oil-Free moisturizer. It’s fragrance-free, feels like nothing when you put it on, and will last you a couple of hours. BUY it here, $9.

For an all-day moisturizer, we’re into Drunk Elephant’s Protini Polypeptide Cream, one filled with proteins to fix uneven complexions. BUY it here

A good SPF has always been Neutrogena’s SPF 100+. It’s extra AF but when it comes to your face, you can never be too safe. BUY it here $9.,

4 Use these two power ingredients

For truly getting those pesky blackheads to stay away use vitamin A or a retinol. These help improve skin tone will also promoting cell turnover. Cell turnover promotes skin cells sloughing on their own so that dead ones don’t build up. One product Dr. Bae recommends is Differin gel. BUY it here, $11.

VGL recommends: We love one from Paula’s Choice here. It’s the Resist 1% Retinol Booster. After four weeks, we found our skin smoother, less porous, and with a lot less blackheads. BUY it here, $52.