I’m not just saying this for the sake of a Good (Skin) Days review but…I’m actually having very good skin days lately. Despite the ebb and flow of my general social distancing mood—and the fact that I would love nothing more than to go on a vacation, like yesterday—certain comforts have held me down. Books provide solace, Netflix continues to ask if I’m still watching and every once in awhile, I get actual interaction with another human (!). When it comes to my beauty routine, pretty much everything has changed in recent months, but the one thing that continues to keep that same energy (and stay mostly breakout-free) is my skin.
Like most, I went through the initial “maskne” phase with whiteheads and gross oily patches terrorizing my chin and jawline. At its peak, there wasn’t enough water or clean masks or green smoothies to make it go away, so my main line of defense was to not touch my face, stick to a routine and not go overboard with harsh ingredients. There’s almost always some K-beauty goodness in my regimen because, well, it’s good. Like really good. K-beauty brands are always hip to those lesser-known and typically underrated ingredients while we (aka statesiders) are routinely late to the party.
For example, mugwort, also known as artemisia is the reason I’m almost done with my first tube of the Good (Skin) Days A New Leaf Cream Cleanser. ICYMI, it’s just one of four products in the Good (Skin) Days range created in part by Charlotte Cho, co-founder of Soko Glam and Then I Met You. (“Mugwort” also sounds like something straight out of a Harry Potter potions class, so I was immediately interested.) According to Cho, it’s one of the buzziest beauty ingredients in Korea, thanks to its storied history in Korean medicine and skincare.
“Over the past few years, we’ve heard from our dedicated Soko Glam community that mugwort is one of their absolute favorite acne-fighting ingredients because of its gentle anti-inflammatory properties. It targets redness, sensitivity, and dryness and is also known for its antibacterial and antifungal properties,” she said. “You’ll notice right away with the unique natural mugwort coloring and leaves right in the formula for natural exfoliation!” Some even spike their tea with mugwort to combat menstrual cramps (note to self).
She’s right. One, a little goes a very long way. That makes me happy because not only is it affordable, but I don’t need to replenish so quickly either. Two, it’s gentle, but not so gentle that it feels like it isn’t doing anything: there’s definitely some foaming action. It’s also a literal green smoothie for your skin with antioxidant-rich broccoli, celery, and spinach in the formula. And it looks like one, too:
I’m also on the last drop of my Good (Skin) Days On The Bright Side Moisturizer. In case you need proof:
When I first used this, it felt so rich that I thought it wouldn’t work for summer, but it actually absorbs nicely without leaving a greasy film behind. So my skin looks and feels dewy, not like I just rubbed heavy ointment all over my face. The standout ingredient in this one is rice ferment, which I usually see more of in hair care products since it’s known to help prevent breakage and promote growth. As it turns out—total gamechanger for the skin, too.
“Rice water can be found in many K-beauty products which is known for its softening and anti-aging effects on the skin. And although it may feel that this ingredient has been becoming more popular in skincare, East Asian women have been using it for their hair and skin for centuries,” said Cho. “Left to ferment, rice water or rice ferment filtrate becomes more concentrated and contains minerals and antioxidants that purify and smooth skin, helping to minimize fine lines and the appearance of pores.” In the case of this moisturizer, rice ferment is combined with humectants and probiotics to deeply hydrate and balance your skin’s microbiome.
That combined with the cleanser gave my complexion an ever-so-slight lift that caught me off guard as I looked in the mirror one day. It also helped fade the dark spots left behind by my bout with maskne (along with this retinol at night and my current go-to sunscreen during the day). As with all skincare, it’s a slow-burn. You have to use consistently to see results. In the case of Good (Skin) Days, I would say it took around a month before I saw the difference that made me do a double-take (though I felt a difference much earlier).
Finally, what I love about the brand overall is its consideration of pH level, which, if I’m being honest, I still didn’t completely understand until Cho broke it down for me. “The pH scale ranges from 0 to 14—these numbers indicate a product’s ratio of acidity to alkalinity. 0 is the most acidic, 14 the most alkaline, and 7 is neutral,” she explained. “Your skin’s healthiest state should be 5.5. Skin that is too acidic can be irritated, prone to breakouts and oily. Too alkaline and your skin can be dull, feel dry, and become flaky. Balance is key!” She also shared that our skin is naturally shielded by an acid mantle made of ceramides, free fatty acids, and lipids. Because this protects our skin from irritants (like acne and dryness), keeping it balanced is important, and knowing the pH of your products makes this easier.
K-beauty has always been rooted in a “skin-first philosophy,” so most brands focus on formulating products with gentle ingredients that can treat a variety of skincare concerns. (Many people in Korea also identify with the sensitive skin type because of redness and irritation caused by high pollution levels.) “As a result, Korean beauty brands often create and formulate products with a low pH. Low pH was a key component when we launched Good (Skin) Days™,” said Cho.
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