Finally, the Reflect Beauty Awards week I’ve been waiting for — it’s Skincare week!
There are two sides to this topic. On one hand, we can discuss skincare concerns specific to (or at least more commonly expressed by) Asian women. On the other hand, we can discuss Asian skincare products that are fantastic for skin of all colors. I say let’s talk about both!
Hyperpigmentation — in other words, dark spots on skin caused by sun exposure and/or past acne breakouts or other inflammatory events — is a very common problem for East Asian, Southeast Asian, and South Asian complexions. This is one of the reasons that “brightening” products are so popular in Asian beauty; anything that can help lighten up those spots and even out skin tone will be a hit.
I’m often asked about how to treat hyperpigmentation. While everyone’s skin is different and you will have to do some experimentation to find your skin’s preferences and limits, in general I recommend trying a few things (not all at the same time until you know how well your skin will handle them):
- An AHA chemical exfoliant: This works by exfoliating the upper layers of skin which allows fresher, brighter, and less pigmented skin to surface.
- A vitamin C product: This works by inhibiting melanin production and lightening excess melanin deposits in skin. Vitamin C is also a great product to have in any skincare routine thanks to its antioxidant and anti-aging properties.
- A retinoid (either OTC like retinol or prescription like tretinoin): This works by accelerating and optimizing skin’s renewal cycle.
- Sunscreen: This is the only absolutely non-negotiable element to a hyperpigmentation-lightening routine. Nothing else you use will help if you’re consistently allowing more sun damage to darken the spots. And both AHAs and retinoids can cause increased sensitivity to sun damage.
South Asian MUA Sheba Snow, one of our RBA judges, chose skincare winners that fit nicely into several of these categories. Ole Henriksen Glow2OH™ Dark Spot Toner uses the AHAs glycolic acid and lactic acid to resurface skin for brighter and more even tone. The Vitamin C Lip Oil from I Dew Care, owned by Korean beauty brand Memebox, may help lighten dark spots on lips while moisturizing and adding a gorgeous sheen. And the Algenist sunscreen protects skin from dark spot-inducing UV damage.
Asian Skincare for Everyone
On the other side of the coin, Asian skincare — particularly Korean skincare, aka K-beauty — hasn’t become world-famous because it only works for Asian skin. On the contrary, K-beauty has gained fans worldwide because the products work wonderfully for complexions from every part of the racial spectrum.
Why is K-beauty so great? There’s an argument to be made for more advanced and accelerated R&D allowing for greater innovation and a dramatically shorter time to market compared to Western beauty. Different manufacturing conditions may contribute. And the Korean government’s concerted push to market cultural exports like K-pop and K-beauty certainly help. But what it all boils down to in the end is that Korean skincare offers a huge variety of options at a huge variety of price points, allowing a huge variety of consumers to find what they love.
East Asian beauty vlogger Sandy Lin, picked Krave Beauty’s Matcha Hemp Cleanser as one of her winners, and I totally agree. A Korean skincare brand founded by YouTube skincare guru Liah Yoo, Krave focuses on simple, mild, and effective skincare that’s suitable for a wide variety of skin types. The Matcha Hemp Cleanser is low pH, making it gentler on the skin barrier, and cleanses well, leaving skin soft and comfortable. It’s a great place to start your Asian skincare journey!
Skincare is totally my thing, and I’m so excited to talk about both my faves and the winning skincare products of the Reflect Beauty Awards. We’ve got access to more and better skincare than ever before, so jump in and find your own holy grails!