When I think of the summer aesthetic, the word “glow” immediately comes to mind. SoCal residents are known for a beautiful, bronzed beach glow, but a healthy glow looks great on every skin tone. The Korean term for this lit-up look is 광 “gwang.” The most covetable glow (속광 “sokgwang”) is created from keeping the skin healthy. I’ve grown into this approach to skin care as a Korean American, and I’ve realized it’s purely foundational. Like, makeup is optional (fun, self-expressive), instead of necessary (covering flaws, dependency). In my own experience of it, skin care is more in the realm of health and well-being than enhancement. Also, I’m um, minimalist (read: lazy), so I like things that are not fussy but still effective.
Here are my three summer loves! Well-suited for warmth and sunshine.
- Exfoliate! Dr. G Brightening Peeling Gel
Peeling gels are all the rage in Asian skincare, and for good reason—gommage peels have all the non-abrasive qualities of a chemical exfoliant but tend to be a little less heavy-handed in terms of exfoliation. Exfoliating increases skin turnover, lifting away dead skin cells that make your skin look dull and interfere with proper skin balance. Exfoliating well (but not overdoing it!) helps skin regulate itself and also aids in better absorption for a healthy glow.
I have absurdly sensitive skin, and I have no problems with this gel from Dr G. Dermatologist developed, this gel has a slightly medicinal, tea tree scent and is soothing and refreshing on the skin. Rubbing gently onto damp skin unglues dead skin cells, helping skin turnover. This gel does not increase photo-sensitivity like some other chemical exfoliants may. (Recommended use once a week for dry/sensitive skin, 2-3x a week for oilier skin).
- Super glow-charging nutrition. LJH Vita Propolis Ampoule
Okay, this stuff is legit. It lives up to the hype and more, despite being extremely expensive. It’s an extra-potent ampoule (skin care with super concentrated ingredients) that contains over 40% pure propolis—antibacterial, anti-inflammatory, antioxidant rich—and other amazing things like sea buckthorn extract, niacinamide, and 3 types of vitamins. It’s incredibly versatile and not at all finicky; it absorbs quickly with minimal tackiness and also mixes extremely well with essences and creams. The bottle is tiny, but two drops either under or mixed with my moisturizer goes a long way. It not only keeps irritation and acne at bay, but it also quickly fills my skin up with much-needed nutrition. My skin isn’t absolutely 100% flawless because of this (let’s face it, I think this is an unrealistic goal), but it’s smooth, healthy, and radiant. Other ways I love to use this (courtesy of glowrecipe tips): mixed into sunscreen or BB cream, or dabbed onto cheekbones and eyelids for a natural looking highlight.
- Hydrate often! Benton Honest TT mist
Hydrating/moisturizing is key to keeping skin balanced and healthy, but the last thing I want to do in the summer is weigh my skin down with heavy layers or oils. I don’t even want to wear my cushion on most days. Mists are my best friend in the summer! Benton’s TT mist is great (aside from reminding me of an overplayed K-pop song) because it’s non-irritating and has no fragrance—it’s just a cooling, hydrating boost that’s easily applied throughout the day, even over makeup. It contains a safe concentration of tea tree water (also antibacterial) to soothe. This one travels with me everywhere. Tip to using a mist well: Spritz and pat. Dampen the skin, then gently pat/press until it’s all absorbed.
The last thing, which kind of goes without saying for someone who grew up in a Korean family like me, is to wear sunscreen! Even if you prefer a little color via the sun in the summertime or already have beautiful, richly toned skin, protecting the skin before seeing the sun is crucial for preventing spots and premature wrinkles from collagen breakdown. Sunscreen that is marked PA+++ actually inhibits skin darkening. For those who are after that gorgeous, bronzed look, I recommend a PA++ sunscreen.
Easy-peasy glowy! Here comes my lazy-ass summer. Hehe.