During the summer, my cystic acne got so bad my Korean mother turned off our FaceTime conversations in mid-conversation because she couldn’t bear staring at my red, angry face.
If my quarter-sized image on her phone was painful, then what did you think it was like being me? In any case, I didn’t blame my complexion-obsessed Korean mother. She, nor I, had ever seen my face break out so severely. It was probably the worst acne I’ve ever experienced in my entire existence.
I don’t remember being particularly stressed this summer, but do recall sweating profusely, humidity sticking NYC’s pollution into my pores and using every product under the sun testing for this very website. As per mentioned, I don’t think a beauty editor is doing their job unless they have some semblance of a blemish here and there. After all, our skin is our laboratory, and we’re there to test products for our readers.
But I didn’t expect my skin would seriously react in this kind of sebum-filled combustion. And I sat there in the mirror, like every beauty mortal, horrified, picking away at those blemishes, hoping that in some way they’d pop and go away. Which was probably the worst thing you can do to cystic acne BTW. Sure, you can have the satisfaction of popping them, but I later learned from a dermatologist that the pus and bacteria (EWWWW!!!!!!) infects other cells, leaving it nearly impossible for your skin to reproduce collagen. That in turn, creates those grooves in your skin that we call acne scars.
Many treatments in Seoul to a dermatologist, with blood, sweat and tears (my Korea transformation story is coming soon, BTW!), later, I’m here, still alive, my skin now back to normal. Though treatments certainly helped, I realized that it was most important to upkeep my skin and ensure I was doing everything to keep my cystic acne at bay.
After talking to many Korean men and women I learned a trick that has seriously helped keep my skin blemish-free. It’s called triple cleansing, a method that ensures that all of your pores are cleansed of any bacteria, pollution, dirt, excess sebum, or any other impurity that may cause breakouts. The idea is simple: you cleanse your skin three times before going to tone, use your essence, your moisturizers etc. By ensuring that you completely cleanse your skin, you’re also eliminating any chance that dirty skin could be a culprit to your breakouts.
Triple cleansing consists of 1) an oil cleanser followed by 2) foam cleanser ending with 3) beauty water.
The idea is that the oil cleanser is the first form of defense, removing SPF or makeup from your face. The foam cleanser is the step that gets rid of dirt and oil deep from your pores. Finally, the beauty water is the last form of gentle exfoliation and also removing the impurities that the previous two steps may have missed.
But what is beauty water??! Great question. At first, I was really confused as well. Essentially, it’s an all-in-one product that tones, exfoliates, cleanses, hydrates, brightens, treats, and softens your skin. Basically, it’s a wonder product that I’ve been using as a last step to my cleansing regimen. It’s also one that I’ve seen immediately results from. My skin is plumper and juicier than it’s ever been. My complexion is dewy and glowing, thanks to the exfoliation properties. And strangely I don’t see any blackheads. For someone who has to deal with blackheads on the daily, this is a HUGE win for me. In any case, a month after triple cleansing, my skin is at its best. This is how you do it.
1 Oil cleanse
Your first defense is using an oil cleanse. Oil traps oil and it’s the only way to dissolve excess sebum in your pores, makeup, SPF, or any pollution that may be trapped under your pores. I’ve been using this Moringa cleansing balm from Soko Glam, $23, for the past few months. The fragrance is citrus-y, the texture feels like coconut oil that melts deep into your skin. I love this one but I must say I prefer Banila Co’s own version. I feel the latter is more like a sorbet, while this one is thicker. One’s not better than the other and comes down to personal preference.
How to use: Take a dime-sized amount and rub all over into your face. Using a circular motion, thoroughly go up and down until you evenly distribute. After, take a paper towel or tissue and wipe away. Buy Moringa oil cleanser at Soko Glam, $23, here.
A good alternative: An oil cleansing wipe. I love these wipes I purchased at a beauty store in Korea at Aritaum. Oil traps oil, and this one is the most effective cleansing wipe I’ve ever used. Acure has an argan oil wipe that’s a good alternative. You can buy Acure’s argan oil cleansing wipe for $8 here
2 Foam Cleanse
Like any good cleanser, you want to find one that doesn’t strip your skin of its natural oils. Meaning, one that moisturizes while cleansing as well. For that, I’ve been really enjoying Klavuu’s cleanser as well as a rose cleansing stick from Su:m37. The latter is such a cult product, it’s constantly sold out at stores everywhere.
I love Klavuu’s cleanser for MANY reasons. One, it has this beautiful marshmallow texture and foams beautifully on the face. Secondly, it had ~real~ pearls inside, which helps with brightening your dull skin. It also has a sweet fragrance that makes you look forward to cleansing. But more so, it’s super effective without drying your skin out. I found that it’s the one cleanser that actually moisturizes! Crazy. Buy Klavuu’s Pearlsation Revitalizing Facial Cleansing Foam, $30, at Soko Glam here.
Su:m37 is also an amazing product. It’s super gentle and has real rose petals inside. I either rub the stick throughout my face or I rub it in my hands before applying it. It foams wonderfully and does not strip your face of oils. Buy Su:m37’s Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick, $28, at Soko Glam here.
3 Beautify through beauty water!
We’re arrived to the last cleansing step. It’s been a journey, hasn’t it? Possibly my FAVORITE step in this process is using delicious, refreshing cleaning water. I first got introduced through a free gift I received at a Missha store in Seoul. It’s the Super Aqua No Wash Deep Cleansing Water. I used it throughout my entire trip and it’s now part of my #empties on Instagram. One that I’ve replaced it with is from Son & Park. Both are super hydrating, cleanse my pores and leave them squeaky clean (without drying!)How to use: Simply take a cotton pad and douse it with the beauty water. Then, gently swipe it over your face evenly. You’ll be surprised at just how much dirt is still left in your pores. Buy Son & Park’s beauty water, $30 at Soko Glam here.
After the triple cleansing, go on your merry way with toning, putting on essence, a moisturizer et. al. It’s seriously changed my complexion, and I hope it will with yours!
Tell me your results, below!