Last weekend, I shed my city-slicker skin and opted for a true Canadian experience; camping amongst vast expanses of glassy water and pine needles with the privilege of wearing the same outfit three days in a row. As someone who works in fashion and has grown acclimated to the norms of the industry, not swapping looks on the daily is a rare, unheard of luxury (the time I would save!). I do enjoy the change of routine that comes with camping— more often than not, I’d choose fresh air and sunshine over city smog and florescent lighting. I’d been looking forward to a weekend in the woods – a 48-hour bout of simplicity and minimalism. There was one catch, however. My trusty companion was not a sleeping bag, or a set of stainless steel dishes. It was my 12–step Korean skincare routine.
I recently had the chance to meet the founders of Soko Glam – a fun, unimposing New York based company who specialize in bringing Korean beauty products to North America. Speaking with Sara Hayden, one of the bubbly managers at Soko, I revealed my skeptic fascination with ingredients often found in products from abroad (snail extract? bird poop?). So, of course, the mission grew simple: I was to be proven wrong. The following week, a box arrived on my doorstep with twelve products and a clear message: “After this, you won’t do skincare any other way.”
On a good day, I will cleanse my face with toning milk, spritz on some variant of rosewater and apply a moisturizer laced with a minute concentration of SPF. But, get this: I’m so committed to upping my beauty game that I took the market’s most elaborate beauty regimen camping; to the woods, people. (Why? I was simply caught in a pickle – attending a family-wide camping trip was a no-brainer, but my festering curiosity on the effects of snail extract would not relent. So, I made a choice – why not both?)
My beauty bag consisted of the following, meant to be used in this order: an oil-based cleanser, water-based cleanser, exfoliator, toner, essence, ampoule, sheet mask, treatment, secondary treatment, eye cream, moisturizer, and sleeping pack. Everything is relatively standard, but the treatments are targeted to what your skin needs specifically; I focused on scarring, as I’ve had acne scars for a while, and a quick fix for sun-induced dehydration.
There was never going to be an ideal time to leave my friends and whisk away to a washbasin, so I had to carve out a window as covertly as possible. I calculated that time to be pre–campfire, post dinner – after a thorough day of paddle boarding, swimming, kayaking and running. My face felt like it had been resting adjacent to a New York City subway vent for hours, which was perfect – if there were ever a time when having twelve items grace my face at once was warranted, it would have been then.
Despite my earlier hesitations, this process, ogling at each un-familiar ingredient and noting the unique texture of each cream, was fun – I found myself shocked that it took a whopping 35-minute chunk of my evening. I would return back to the group when able, with various masks strewn on my skin like nothing was amiss. I received a lot of furrowed eyebrows and weird smirks, but at this point my family has decided to accept my eccentric habits. My face felt noticeably more hydrated (visualize the kind of glow exclusive to newlyweds and supermodels), which lasted until the following day. I also smelled incredible – the blend of my banana sleeping pack and strawberry facial scrub attracted bugs like wildfire (at least I attracted something, so I’ll take that as a win).
Bizarre factor be darned, this process is effective, period. By the second night, I even convinced my rugby-playing cousin to join me, slathering mask after mask with a kind of giddiness exclusive to Christmas morning. After step three my skin looked transformed – dewy and pillowed like the petals of those Bachelorette roses. My cousin, a high-school student who barely touches moisturizer, had the most ridiculous transformation of all – under the light of the campfire I couldn’t believe how even-toned, radiant and replenished she looked. 30 minutes well spent, I’d concur.
The verdict? I’ll be continuing my Korean beauty regime, but this time in the comfort of my own home. #airconditioningalltheway