Hi, my name is Sarah Howard, and I have a beauty addiction.
My office resembles a mini Sephora with shelves of lotions and potions, cleansers and moisturizers, and boxes of makeup. As a beauty blogger, writer, and editor for almost two decades, I’ve tried my fair share of products—many of them to my skin’s dismay.
For the past year-ish, I’ve been on a specific skincare regimen of bi-monthly facials with Shar at Artisan of Skin, paired with the products she recommended for me (read my routine here).
All was going well. My mom even said my skin looked less bumpy and splotchy than it did before high school.
And then the oddest thing happened. Out of the blue, I broke the f*ck out—from what, I’m not sure. My clear skin was a mess once again. Tiny bumps lined my cheeks and jaws, and my skin texture felt rough.
WTF! I’m over 40—what is happening? The derm said hormones, and he gave me some prescriptions and told me to wait a month.
I’m still waiting for my clear skin.
In the interim, I’ve been spending hours on SkinTok (the skincare-obsessed corner of TikTok), and yes, they got me adding items to my cart. Especially the K-beauty finds, which is what inspired this post.
For one, Korean skincare is eons ahead of its time in terms of ingredients and effectiveness. Second, a huge pillar of K-beauty is balancing the skin’s pH with nourishing, good-for-you ingredients. And my face is anything but balanced.
Here are 5 K-beauty skincare items that TikTok made me buy and my honest review on each. (Bonus: you can purchase everything on Amazon!)
Ceramide Ato Lotion
How I love this lotion—let me count the ways! According to TikTok, it’s a highly coveted barrier repair cream. Since it comes in a rather large bottle, I decided to use it on my body—and wow, did it moisturize.
Fragrance-free and chock full of ceramides to promote a healthy skin barrier, this is my new Holy Grail body lotion because my body deserves the same TLC as my face. Also, if you skin cycle, this is an incredible facial moisturizer for repair days three and four.
Get on it and thank me later.
All Clean Green Foam Cleanser
This cleanser came highly recommended by multiple TikTok accounts for people with sensitive, acne-prone skin. At under $10, I had to check out the hype for myself. I love that it’s made with EWG-friendly ingredients, it’s fragrance-free, and it’s a foam cleanser that doesn’t strip or dry my skin.
It’s not life changing. It didn’t transform my skin, but it did clean without any irritation. As far as everyday cleansers go, I’m into it. Definitely a keeper.
I kept seeing this toner pop up on TikTok’s textured, acne-prone skin accounts. After researching the ingredients (no fragrance or harsh irritants), I decided to buy it.
My initial reaction: It’s certainly soothing. For someone who likes a little actives tingle, I was like, “No sting means it’s not working.” But obvs, that’s not the case. This toner is great for repairing the skin barrier, but it doesn’t exfoliate. There are other toners for that.
I will say, I’m super into applying this product before hyaluronic acid because, as TikTok also taught me, I need damp skin to fully benefit from HA’s hydrating effects.
Relief Moisture Cleansing Oil
Make Prem Safe Me:
Are you sensing a theme here? Relief and hydration is the name of the game.
I am not really a fan of oil cleansing, as I always fear a breakout. (Yes, I know some acne-prone folk swear by oil cleansing to decrease breakouts, but not I). Sure, there are times I need to do it to remove makeup and, most recently, my daily sunscreen, so I was on the hunt for a simple, effective oil cleanser to use as a first cleanse. But it had to be suitable for temperamental skin.
K-beauty TikTok had my back—I mean face—yet again. I actually really like this oil cleanser. It’s gentle and thinner than most oil cleansers that I’ve used. It has no fragrances or essential oils, only contains 14 clean ingredients, and effectively removes my makeup and mineral sunscreen. Very pleased with my find! Another keeper for my nighttime routine.
Snail Mucin 96% Power Repairing Essence
As a former beauty blogger and editor, I’ve known about this serum for some time, but since TikTok made it a viral must-have, I thought I’d put it to the test.
I know everyone loves it, and I really wanted this to be a smash hit for me too, but sadly, it did not live up to the hype. It’s certainly soothing, but it didn’t make my skin look like glass. And I’m pretty sure it actually added more texture.
I again turned to TikTok to see why this could be happening and stumbled across a myriad of posts that claim if you’re allergic to dust mites, you could have an allergic reaction to the ingredients in this product. I am, in fact, allergic to dust. While I’m not certain this claim is true, I’ve decided to reserve the serum for my décolleté, where it moisturizes sans small bumps. If you aren’t allergic to any of these ingredients, then I would definitely recommend this product. For the price and moisture, it seems worth it.
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