Beauty Recipes

Beauty Recipes

There used to be a time when I would walk in a beauty shop (any shop, not just korean ones…but even more so when I found out about k-beauty) and roam around, searching for that perfect, colorful, eye-catching item. To be honest, what mattered the most to me was to find a cute item to bring home. I wouldn’t look at the label, I wouldn’t bother trying to figure out about formulations or ingredients within the product. If it was cute and had a pleasant scent (and possibly pink), it had to be mine. Period.

So I ended up collecting a lot of (most of the times) not-so-useful skincare. Things that were not exactly made for my skin –they wouldn’t blend well, they would be too sticky or too oily or too absolutely not effective; things that had nothing to do with the issues my face had; things that I didn’t even know how to use. I put them on display for a while, looking at them with expressions like “my treasure” (any Lord of the Rings fan out there?) and then would forget about them. Until the “period-after-opening” was finally due and I had to get rid of everything.

Things have (luckily) changed. Maybe because I’m a big girl now (!) and I started realizing that, yes, time is passing for me as well. I’m not in my 20’s anymore and, when I look in the mirror, I can definitely tell. Fine lines at the angles of my mouth, dark (age!) spots popping out here and there, and a general loss of radiance. My skin has never been too problematic, so maybe that’s why I didn’t really care…until now. Which is a pretty dumb thing to do, honestly. Because, as any dermatologist (or wise Asian woman!) would explain to you, prevention is always better than a cure. The younger you are when you start using the right products, the better your skin will be when it’s more mature.

The quest to find the right products for the needs of my skin has led me to become more ingredients-conscious. And here is the “treasure” that I found.

Disclaimer: I’m not a doctor, so I had to do many researches –and I still am. What you’ll find in this article is the result of my “studies”, so it could not be 100% accurate or complete; do not use it as a substitution for a good talk with a trusted dermatologist.

Ingredients to search for

In my last post about the differences between essences/serums/ampoules/first treatments I explained how, basically, these products are very similar, in the sense that they all carry good active ingredients. What really makes the difference is how concentrated these ingredients are in their formula: the more concentrated (see serums and especially ampoules), the thicker their consistence is and the more they’re rich in nutrients rather than hydrating properties; the more diluted (see essences and first treatments) the more watery they are, thus bringing hydration together with nutrients.

This being said, back to active ingredients! Apart from the type of consistency you’ll choose (it depends from your skin type and from your personal preferences), you’ll need to find the right ingredients for you. Without being too technical about them (also because I’m not a chemist!), here are 3 main families of active ingredients you definitely want to focus on 😉


WHY you need them: years of environmental damage slow down the skin’s natural ability to recover and to bounce back as it once did. Free radicals, when exposed to ultraviolet light, start to roam freely, attacking collagen strands and other cells of the skin’s architecture. Fine lines and wrinkles begin to appear.

WHAT ingredients you have to search for in the label:

  • Vitamin E (listed as tocopherol or tocotrienols)
  • Vitamin C (also listed as l-ascorbic acid, tetrahexyldecyl ascorbate and other names)
  • Retinol (technical term for Vitamin A)
  • Black, Green and White Tea (and their derivates)
  • Resveratrol
  • Ferulic Acid (and other plant based extract like soy, grape, pomegranate, etc)
  • Beta-carotene
  • Selenium
  • Coenzyme Q10

HOW they work:

Antioxidants, by binding the unstable free radicals, work on 3 levels on your skin:

  1. They guard it against all the environmental factors that cause aging and deterioration;
  2. They promote cellular repair and healing;
  3. They have calming and soothing effects.

On a side note: antioxidants are essential to our skin, so if you’re not sure which one works best for you (among the hundreds there are out there), remember that there’s only one rule that counts here: the more you use, the better! So try to include as many as possible in your daily skincare routine.

Skin-Replenishing Ingredients

WHY you need them: when we’re young, our skin contains substances that keep it smooth and allow it to retain an ideal balance of water to preserve its moisture. Age, unfortunately, lowers this ability and leads to moisture loss and dehydration.

WHAT ingredients you have to search for in the label:

  • Ceramides
  • Hyaluronic acid
  • Lecithin
  • Glycerin
  • Fatty acids
  • Polysaccharides
  • Sodium PCA
  • Peptides
  • Amino acids
  • Cholesterol
  • Glycosaminoglycans

HOW they work: Skin-replenishing ingredients are the same substances found naturally in skin; by complementing the ones that your organism is not able to produce anymore (or, at least, not in the same quantity) they can:

  1. Protect the skin’s surface against moisture loss;
  2. Provide vital substances to help your skin look smooth and supple;
  3. With continued use, they improve your skin overall texture.

Skin-Restoring ingredients

WHY you need them: similarly to what has being said about antioxidants, skin slowly looses, as time goes by, its ability to restore itself. The skin appears dull and that “youthful glow” seems lost.

WHAT ingredients you have to search for in the label:

  • Niacinamide (a real super star!)
  • Retinol
  • Synthetic peptides
  • Lecithin
  • Adenosine

HOW they work: these restorative ingredients nourish skin in a way that helps it regain its youthful, vibrant appearance, visibly firmer and less lined.

A secret ingredient…

Last but not least, I’ll give you a special tip: there’s a big hype in Korea lately for fermented ingredients. So big, in fact, that I think it deserves a post of its own. But let me spoil, briefly, why fermentation is one of those extras you want to find in your formulation:

  • The fermentation process causes the break down of the (already) small molecules of the active ingredients in even smaller ones, which allows for better, faster and deeper absorption into the skin;
  • Fermented ingredients are naturally acidic and, therefore, lightly exfoliating (and a well exfoliated skin, as we explained in our post regarding exfoliation, allows all those great ingredients to sink deeper into the skin);
  • Fermented skincare is naturally loaded with anti-inflammatory and antioxidant substances, which calm and brighten the skin.


And, wow, this was a pretty long post! Did you find it interesting? Do you think this would help you to better (and more consciously) choose your next skincare item? Which ingredient you think it’s essential for you?

Thank you for reading and even more thank you if you want to leave us a comment in the section below. Your love for this project is the only ingredient (!) that keeps us going : )

See you in the next post!


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