Flawless-skin secrets from two K-beauty experts
Whether you live in Seoul, San Francisco, or San Antonio, the world of Korean beauty is astoundingly vast… and, perhaps, a little overwhelming if you’re new to concepts like double cleansing and the 7-skin method.
Enter Sarah Lee and Christine Chang, two beauty industry veterans with an encyclopedic knowledge of everything K-beauty. As the founders of Glow Recipe, a boutique of innovative and natural products from Korea, they’re well-versed on everything from ampoules to essences—and they’re constantly discovering (and developing!) new skin-care formulas to bring out your best-ever glow. Here, they share their favorite products, productivity tips, and more.
What time do you wake up?
Sarah Lee: I’m usually up between 7 and 7:30 a.m., but later if I’m on a call with a brand or lab in Korea until 3 a.m.
Christine Chang: 7:30 a.m. Time to talk to my daughter and eat breakfast together before school.
What do you sleep in?
SL: My Joie slip dress.
CC: Comfortable Eberjey jersey pajamas are my go-to.
Is anyone in bed with you? If so, who?
SL: My husband!
CC: My husband, and often my daughter if she’s had a bad dream.
What’s your first order of business in the morning?
SL: I always drink a full bottle of water as soon as I wake up. After that, I check my calendar and start whittling away at my emails.
CC: Getting dressed for work. I lay out clothes the night before, and do my skincare on the go in the car to work. (I have a ton of minis and sheet masks in my bag!) I rarely wear makeup unless I have a meeting or shoot.
What’s the first thing you do with your phone?
SL: Catch up on all my news notifications. My go-to apps right now are the New York Times and BBC.
CC: Check for any messages on KakaoTalk, the chat app we use to communicate internally and with our brands in Korea.
What’s the first thing you read each morning?
SL: News and emails.
CC: Chat messages and Instagram feed, and catch up on industry news and current events in the car.
What’s on your bedside table?
SL: I always have at least three or four sheet masks, a mist, a Teo Yang candle, and Make P:rem Micro Tension cream.
CC: A skin-care routine! For late nights, I love having a night cream, lip balm, eye cream, and an eye mask handy so that if I’m too tired, I can sink into bed after washing my face and slather things on while lying down.
"If there’s an important meeting or if I’m filming, I’ll call in the cavalry: Glamsquad."
What’s your favorite thing about your bedroom?
SL: The sleep I’m able to get is so important with my busy schedule, so I love how we designed our bedroom with dark colors: midnight blue paint, wenge furniture, and blackout curtains.
CC: Our huge blue velvet bed frame!
What do you eat and drink for breakfast?
SL: A skim latte. Breakfast meetings are a favorite, so whatever looks good on the menu!
CC: I’m not a breakfast person, but I do get a latte or tea every morning. If I have a breakfast meeting, I’ll get eggs and toast.
Who’s the first person you speak to in the morning?
SL: My husband. A close second is asking Alexa for the weather.
CC: My husband.
How do you mentally prepare yourself for the day?
SL: Picking out clothes for the day ahead and visualizing myself in an outfit for an event or meeting.
CC: I’ve engineered my mornings so that I’m able to get everything done while getting the most sleep possible. Since starting my own business, I usually bound out of bed, excited to go to work.
Shower, bath, or do you do it later in the day?
SL: I shower at night as I like to go bed as an absolutely clean canvas.
CC: I take a bath while bathing my daughter every night.
What is your morning skincare regime?
SL: I drench a cotton pad with a Whamisa Organic Flowers Cleansing Water to balance my skin. I’ll then do a 3-skin method (applying a little bit consecutively three times) with Whamisa Deep Rich Essence Toner, followed by the Polatam Optimal Repairing Sheet Mask. After 10 minutes, I take the mask off, pat in any remaining essence, and finish with the Glow Recipe Watermelon Pink Juice Moisturizer.
CC: I usually do a light cleansing water instead of a full foam cleanse. I never towel dry, so after cleansing, I pat my skin until it feels slightly damp. I have dry skin, so I really have been loving the 7-skin method to infuse the skin with hydration. If I’m in a hurry, I do the 3-skin version. I then apply the Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Pink Juice as a serum and follow with the Blithe InBetween Hydro Priming Cream as a moisturizer, which can double as a primer. I then apply the Make P:rem Blue Ray Sun Gel—two light layers so that I get enough SPF.
What are your A.M. hair vibes?
SL: I spray IGK Laid Back Defrizz and Anti-Static Spray to get rid of any flyaways and Bumble and bumble Hairdresser’s Invisible Oil on my ends wherever its dry. If there’s an important meeting or if I’m filming, I’ll call in the cavalry: Glamsquad.
CC: I usually do a quick spritz of Bumble and bumble Surf Spray and scrunch with my fingers.
Which makeup products do you use on a daily basis?
SL: Lancôme Artliner in black for eyeliner, Blithe Apricot Pressed Serum or Blithe Hydro Priming Cream for a primer, Yuri Pibu Cushion Compact, and LJH Vita Propolis Ampoule on my cheekbones for that extra glow.
CC: Stila Liquid Eyeliner, Gesgep foundation and brow gel. I have been using Fenty Stunna for a bold lip. Instead of highlighter, I like using skincare products such as Blithe’s Gold Apricot Pressed Serum to do “skincare strobing” on the high points.
At what time do you shift to evening mode?
SL: After I get home and cleanse my face and remove my makeup. I always cleanse my face as soon as I get home to minimize the time makeup is on my skin and maximize skin care.
CC: Anytime when I get home after work, which could be early or late depending on my schedule. No two days are the same!
Finish this sentence: In the evening, you can find me…
SL: Either out with my husband or our friends, or staying in with a glass of wine and Seamless.
CC: Hanging out my family. Nothing is more fulfilling than spending time with them in the comfort of our own home.
If you’re going out, how do you change your look?
SL: Add a smoky eye, a bold lip, and heels.
CC: I usually do a bold red or fuchsia lip.
What’s your favorite way to relax and unwind in the evening?
SL: Catching up with my husband over a nice Barolo.
CC: Taking a bath with my daughter. It’s our time to relax and play and I’m able to squeeze in a sheet mask or in-shower face mask—motherhood multi-masking!
What TV show are you currently watching? What’s the last film you saw? What book are you reading?
SL: Currently watching The Assassination of Versace. The only time I watch movies is when I’m flying, and the last one I watched was Marshall—loved it. The next book on my reading list is The Alliance by Reid Hoffman.
CC:I saw Black Panther recently which was such a visually stunning film that paid homage beautifully to many traditions and cultures. I’m always rotating a few books at a time. Currently it’s The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur, volume 1 of Harry Potter with my daughter, and also the Crazy Rich Asians trilogy for a guilty pleasure.
What’s your favorite evening indulgence?
SL: I love sheet masking at night. Ever since we did our #30daysofmaskingchallenge, I’ve definitely incorporated masking (whether sheet mask, sleeping mask, wash off mask, etc.) into my daily routine.
CC: Skin care. I really enjoy the daily ritual of masking and applying formulas and find that the magic of K-beauty is in that many of the brands and products are exquisitely enjoyable to use and sensorial. I also customize my routine depending on the day.
What’s your secret evening guilty pleasure?
CC: Shopping on Amazon Prime.
What’s your favorite way to take a look from morning to moonlight?
SL: Throw on heels and a bold lip.
CC: Bold lip.
"Add a smoky eye, a bold lip, and heels..."
Do you prefer an end-of-day bath or shower?
SL: Nothing beats a hot shower.
CC: End-of-day bath with my daughter.
What is your evening skincare routine?
SL: After double cleansing, I always follow with Whamisa Organic Flowers Deep Rich Essence Toner and put on our Glow Recipe Watermelon Sleeping Mask two or three times per week. For the other evenings, I follow the toner step with the Yuri Pibu Artichoke Power Essence, Whamisa by Glow Recipe Chai Tea Eye Cream, and alternate between the Blithe Gold Apricot Pressed Serum and Make P:rem Micro Tension Cream.
CC: I always do a thorough double cleanse. Without a clean canvas, even the most costly skincare won’t be able to efficiently penetrate to the skin. I start with the mineral oil-free Grante Cleansing Oil, then foam cleanse with the Glow Recipe Blueberry Bounce Cleanser. At night I take time to luxuriate in a full 7-skin method, recently with the LJH Grow Toner. I then use the LJH Vita Propolis Ampoule and the Make P:rem Micro Tension Cream.
What is your evening hair routine?
SL: I cleanse with L’Oréal Everpure Moisture Shampoo and put on L’Oréal Paris Advanced Haircare Damage Erasing Balm every night.
CC: I use Living Proof shampoo and let my hair air-dry.
What is the last beauty product you use at night?
SL: Either a moisturizer or sleeping mask.
CC: My skin has been so dry that I’ve been using a facial oil right before I go to bed, pressing it all over the face. I always wash my hands before going to bed if I’ve been touching my phone. You unconsciously touch your face at night, and phones are contaminated!
What are your bedtime rituals?
SL: After the evening skincare routine, I’ll light a candle, do a little reading, or watch a little TV.
CC: Telling my daughter a story as she goes to bed. She loves traveling, so I’ve been making up stories about a girl named Lala who has the power to go anywhere in the world.
What time do you go to bed? What time do you go to sleep?
SL: I’m usually asleep between midnight and 1 a.m.. If I have a call with Korea, that gets pushed back to 3 to 4 a.m.
CC: As we work with companies in Korea, the time zone difference can make it tough. I try to do a hard stop by 1 in the morning.