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If you’ve read my previous post on the 10-step Korean skincare regimen, you might know that aside from being a huge Korean beauty fanatic, I also love exploring affordable Korean beauty brands.
Korean skincare has exploded in the West, and thanks to beauty giants like Sephora, many higher-end Korean brands are quickly making their way to the US. While I’m all for this westward expansion, I really want people who are hopping on the K-beauty bandwagon to have the chance to experience the famous multi-step Korean skincare routine at more affordable price points. It’s true that this extensive regimen yields results, but just like me, many people don’t want to shell out tons of money on products that may not prove to be effective.
Peach and Lily has proven to be a valid solution for everyone: although they carry moderately-priced and higher-end Korean brands, many of these products can be purchased in trial sizes, which gives you the chance to test out them out before committing to the full-sized counterpart. They also cater to K-beauty newbies through Peach Slices, a specially curated line that features budget-friendly Korean favorites like Holika Holika and Elisha Coy. Best of all: Peach Slices can also be found at your local CVS Pharmacy, which makes it perfect for when you need some emergency acne stickers or quick treatments!
I’m so excited to partner with Peach and Lily to show you how I use my favorite affordable Korean beauty products in my own 10-step Korean skincare regimen. So if you’re new to this routine, keep reading below to see how I use them!
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Step 1: Cleanse
In the Korean regimen, it’s encouraged to use an oil-based cleanser to break down makeup and also help bind to excess sebum before using proceeding with a soap-based cleanser. I highly recommend the popular Banila Co. Clean It Zero Oil Cleanser ($16) – it’s a solid oil cleanser in a jar, which means less mess and less waste.
Moving onto a regular soapy, sudsy cleanser: I picked out Elisha Coy’s Skin Refining Snail Cleanser from the budget-friendly Peach Slices line. Not only is it super affordable, but it also contains snail filtrate, which has highly regenerative properties perfecf for anti-aging, brightening and even fighting acne. After several weeks of use, I noticed a significant increase in the overall radiance of my skin as well as lightened acne scars.
Peach & Lily is currently sold out of Elisha Coy, so be sure to check back for a restock or visit your local CVS Pharmacy. If you need an in-stock alternative, Mizon’s Snail Repairing Foam Cleanser ($10) is great for oily or combination skin. The Snail Cushion Foam Cleanser ($14) is also a great alternative for those who prefer to stay away from the tight and dry feeling post-cleansing.
Step 2: Exfoliate
A common belief in Korean skincare is that facial scrubs can hurt more than help the skin. A safer, less abrasive alternative to traditional scrubs, peeling gels can be applied to freshly cleansed and dry skin and massaged to instantly remove dead skin cells, revealing a smooth surface underneath.
I’ve tried several peeling gels in the past, but Holika Holika’s Gudetama Smooth Egg Peeling Gel ($10.99) works just as well as most on the market – and for much less, too. And fans of Sanrio’s Gudetama will be delighted: this peeling gel is just as cute as it is effective. Just look at all the residue I was able to gently slough off!
Step 3: Mask
If enlarged pores are your worst enemy, then you’ll love the Steaming & Cooling Pore Pack ($17.99) from JJ Young. JJ Young carries affordable products using ingredients and skincare technology created by Caolion Lab, who is best known for their amazing Pore Original Pack mask. You can get either mask for $14.99 each, but the combo I got is just $3 more, which gives you the full spa experience!
Back to my verdict: I legitimately struggle with finding effective pore-reducing masks that don’t dry out my skin, but this mask duo manages to reduce the pores in my T-zone area like a pure clay mask would, but without the dryness and tightness. The heating and cooling effects are such a nice touch, too.
Speaking of pesky pores in the T-zone: the Holika Holika Pig Nose Clear Blackhead 3-Step Kit ($3) was a complete game changer for me. I don’t recommend using this kit frequently as it can be a little aggressive for sensitive and/or combination skin, but it’s good to have this in your medicine cabinet for when you need a hard reset!
Each step contains a strip infused with different solutions that you apply to your nose. Step 1 softens the sebum, step 2 pulls the sebum out (similar to Biore’s pore strips), and step 3 soothes the skin.
Step 4: Tone
Toning is where things get different in the Korean world. There are standard alcohol-based toners used to control oil similar to Western skincare, and then there are hydrating toning mists and even 2-in-1 toning lotions. These products all fall under the category of toners but suit different skincare needs.
Be the Skin Botanical Pore Toner ($25.00) worked out perfectly for my oily skin! While the price isn’t exactly drugstore, I’ll let you in on a secret: the Korean method of applying toner is to pour a tiny bit in your hand and pat it in until fully absorbed. This makes your toner last waaaaaay longer. However, if you have to pinch pennies, the Frudia Green Grape Pore Control Toner ($14.49) is a budget-friendly alternative for oil control!
Atoclassic’s Real Tonic Soothing Moist Mist ($19.00) was also a lifesaver for me this past month as winter finally hit us in Southern California. My skin tends to go haywire and sometimes gets too dry, so misting some of this on my face is a great pick-me-up during midday. I highly recommend having a bottle of this on your work desk or in your bag if you travel often!
For people who are on the drier side, you’ll love replacing your regular toner with Olivarrier’s Dual Moist Toning Lotion ($28). It’s not heavy enough to be a moisturizer (although for oily skin this could be!), but much more nutrient-dense and nourishing than an alcohol-based toner would be. And since it’s got a pH level of 5.5, you can bet that your dry skin will drink it right up.
Step 5: Sheet Mask
I’m incredibly picky about my sheet masks because some formulas are so thick that my skin can’t breathe and I actually have to wind up washing off the solution after masking (which totally defeats the purpose), but I fell in love with these two masks!
Peach & Lily has their own line of sheet masks, and after seeing amazing results with the Reset Button Soothe + Restore Sheet Mask ($6) I’ve been convinced to try out their other masks. This formula wasn’t sticky at all and absorbed into my skin without leaving a greasy residue. It’s wonderful for sensitive gals like me with oily skin! You can grab all 3 Peach & Lily sheet masks for $15.
Peach Slices Shrink Pores Mask: For $2.49, this mask also absorbed well into my skin and I didn’t have to wipe off the excess solution after removing the mask. I expected the solution to be a bit more toning and less hydrating (for oil control), but what won me over was that after using this mask the sebum in my pores rose to the surface and became much easier to extract with a blackhead removal tool. Easier extractions = less redness and irritation!
Step 6: Treatments (Serums, Ampoules, Essences, etc.)
If you’ve been following me for a while, then you might know just how obsessed I am with Mizon’s Snail Repair Intensive Ampoule ($27). It’s been my holy grail skincare item for almost 5 years now! This ampoule is jam-packed with 80% snail secretion filtrate, which is great for fighting off wrinkles or acne scars. It’s not too heavy, which is great for oily skin types, but not drying either, also a plus for dry skin.
If you’re new to the Korean skincare routine and don’t want to do a complete overhaul of your regimen, then at least add this one item to your current arsenal! It’s an absolute must-have.
Another multitasking holy grail, May Coop’s Raw Sauce ($10.50) is an all-in-one toner, emulsion, and essence that hydrates the skin with maple tree sap. At first, I layered this on top of my toner and before my moisturizer, which my oily skin had a hard time absorbing – I’d wake up with extremely oily skin, a sign that products are not being absorbed properly. But when I swapped this with my normal moisturizer, I saw results! My skin was much more balanced: zero dryness and tightness on my cheeks and reduced pore size in my T-zone. My skin also looked much more plump and radiant than usual.
For people with oily skin, just remember that layering this might be a bit too much on your skin, but swap your moisturizer with this and you’re in for a treat! The Mini Raw Sauce is only $10.50 and lasts for quite a while, which makes it perfect to take for a test run before investing in the full-size bottle.
Step 7: Eye Cream
I might get a lot of flack for saying this, but hear me out: Not everyone needs an eye cream. Yes, I said it. Many of my clients have shared the complaint of getting tiny hard bumps of keratinized sebum under the skin called “milia” around their eye area, and the culprit was usually an eye cream.
Now, I’m not saying to throw your eye cream in the trash! For people like me who tend to get milia, it can be due to the formula being too occlusive and not allowing your skin to breathe. If you’ve got a case of milia, opt for a mineral oil-free, lightweight and easy-to-absorb eye cream like Mizon’s Snail Repair Eye Cream ($9). The tube lasts longer than you would expect and will give you the chance to see if you really do need an eye cream.
Step 8: Moisturize
If you want to keep it simple, I highly recommend Mizon’s All-in-One Snail Repair Cream ($19)! I’ve been using it just as long as the Mizon Snail Ampoule and have had incredible results with maintaining an even complexion. You can try out a smaller tube for just $10.
For people who prefer lightweight moisturizing formulas, Mizon also carries a gel version of the above Repair Cream for $14.
Step 9: Sleeping Mask
I love sleeping masks. Maybe it’s because they require less time and effort to apply than a regular sheet mask or clay mask, but they fit perfectly into my busy schedule. Masking while you sleep is a great way to maintain your beauty routine without sacrificing more time in your day that you can’t spare. You can literally wake up with the “I-just-got-a-facial” glow!
I’ve heard a good buzz about Mizon’s Good Night White Sleeping Mask, so I gave the $10 tube a try and loved it (full-size jar available for $19 here)! My favorite skincare ingredient of all time is niacinamide, which is the star player of this mask: it helps to brighten the skin, reduce dark spots, reduce acne and sebum production.
Some people put sleeping masks on thick, but I personally don’t like doing that because it’s messy (especially for people who move a lot when sleeping) and wastes a lot of product. I use just about the same amount as my moisturizer and then rinse off with water in the morning. Voila! Now you can literally say “I woke up like this.”
Lip sleeping masks have also been around for a long time, but Laneige’s Lip Sleeping Mask ($25) was my very first one. I. LOVED. IT. I keep asking myself why I didn’t try this out when it was first released back in 2015!
I recently bought a lip balm that was horrendous and didn’t absorb into my lips, making them super chapped even with it on. This lip sleeping mask totally fixed that. No more chapped, peeling, nasty lips for me! In fact, I actually started using this as my everyday lip balm and have had no adverse effects – just brighter, plumper, soft lips. The pot is sizeable and a little goes a long way, so it’s totally worth the money!
Peach & Lily carries many amazing products from luxury beauty to budget-friendly favorites, making it easy and affordable to try out new Korean products. You can buy online or visit your local CVS Pharmacy for Peach Slices. Will you be trying out some K-beauty? Let me know in the comments and don’t forget to subscribe to my newsletter below for more skincare tips and beauty product reviews.
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