The Step that Seals Everything

If you have been following our previous posts, you can probably guess what this one is all about. This blog took us the longest to complete, as we wanted to make sure most of the areas are covered in order for you to fully understand the moisturizer / cream step. 

Many variants come into play when selecting moisturizers. First of all, you should always be familiar with your skin type. It is very common that your skin changes when the weather shifts, so the first key is to know your skin condition at all times. It is also very unlikely that one single type of moisturizer will get your through every season - always have a few different textures (light to thick) on hand for different days. 

Now let's break it down even further. We suggest using separate moisturizers between morning and evening routines. During the day, you probably want a lightweight cream that absorbs quickly so you are not left with a thick, sticky feeling throughout the day. If you are not sure what level of texture your skin desires, start with a gel typed moisturizer. If your skin seems to be hydrated enough throughout the day, then you have yourself a winner. Always remember to apply SPF before you head out (rain or shine!). We prefer to apply moisturizer and SPF separately as we haven't found a 2-in-1 product that will do the job effectively. As SPF is so important, why bother looking for a shortcut? Using a product that is designed for its single purpose will always give better results. We mentioned in our previous blogs that your skin usually starts to "regenerate" while you sleep, therefore using a thicker cream for your evening routine will also help the regeneration process along the way. There are also sleeping packs, which are designed to be applied to the skin before bedtime. Who doesn't want to wake up with soft, hydrated skin? Start with a thin layer first, as a little can go a long way! Assess your results in the morning, and if you can't spot any differences, try applying a thicker layer the next evening.

Besides textures, there are also many beneficial ingredients that should be noted. Although there is hardly one cream that will do it all, we will pinpoint some star ingredients you can familiarize yourself with, for the next time you're on the hunt for a new cream.

Niacinamide - Well known for its brightening & antioxidant effects, perfect for those looking to improve dark spots (hyperpigmentation) and redness, as well as improving the skins barrier. 

Aloe Vera - Popular ingredient that calms and soothes irritated skin.

Peptide -  Very popular ingredient that fights against aging. If you are looking to tackle fine lines, most of the anti-aging creams should include some type of peptides in their formulation. 

Ceramides - Very popular for its ability to restore the skins barrier while sealing in moisture. Think of this ingredient as the "glue" that holds everything together.

Hyaluronic Acid - Best known for its hydration ability and perfect for those looking to increase the skins moisture barrier. 

Snail Filtrate - Well known for its ability to repair damaged skin and restore hydration.

The list can go on and on, but these are some of the most popular ones you should definitely be looking out for. As part of moisturizing, we have previously stated the importance of eye creams in our blog, as eye creams go hand in hand with the moisturizing step.

Another important lesson we've learned is the consistency of skincare routines. Think of it like watering a pot of flower, your skin will continue to thrive when "water" is added on a regular basis.

Last but not the least, be sure to check out our Moisturizer & Cream section, as fall is just around the corner!

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Why should you mask?

Mask | Korean Skincare | Canada & USA | Mikaela Beauty

When it comes to masking, many people might think it's a very time consuming step. It may be true as you get to certain stages in life, where you may not be able to spare much time before bed.😭 Way back when, masking was such a luxury that some would only put on a sheet mask before a very important event. 

These days, masking has become very common and much more affordable (well, most of them anyway! 😝), and there are so many beneficial ingredients formulated into these masks. They are the perfect step for a boost in hydration, as well as other related benefits like calming, anti-aging, and brightening. 

There are a few masking categories we will cover in this topic, the most common one being sheet masks, then wash off masks, and also the sleep masks. All of them serve a similar purpose but are also designed to fit your desired lifestyle. 

Sheet Masks are popular due to its simple yet effective design. Since the technology on masks have advanced quite a bit over the years, there are many types of materials being used into masks; from the regular fabric to hydrogel, and foil to rubber. They all serve a similar purpose at the end - to penetrate those benefiting essences onto the skin for maximum absorption, leaving no room for the essences to "escape" but to be absorbed into the skin. Play with different types of masks and eventually you will find out which ones you like best. 

Are there any specific ways to use sheet masks? Well, you want to make sure your face is cleansed & toned at least! If you want to do the complete routine when you have the time, be sure to read to our steps so you can get the full benefit out of masking. 👍

As always, follow the instructions on how long you should be using each mask (typically between 15 - 20 minutes). Never let a mask dry on your face as it will start to take away moisture from your skin! Doubt anyone would want to reverse the effects! 😝  You might also ask what could you do with the extra essences left in the pouch? There are a few ways you can use the essences. Either store them in a sealed jar for your routine the following morning, or simply apply the extra essence onto your body. Experiment with different methods and you will find what works best for you!

Eye masks are always a great addition to masking since many masks do not come with eye covers. This will ensure you are completely utilizing your masking time.😘 

Wash-off Masks are typically in a thicker form which can easily stay on your face without a sheet mask "holding it". Clay masks are typically designed to dry onto your face which helps shrink down / clear the pores. There are also newer types of wash off masks that stay moist on your skin for a certain amount of time, then you just wash it off to reveal glowing results. As always, follow the instructions closely so you can get the most out of each mask. Some masks even require a continuing massage once applied!

Sleep Masks are similar to an evening moisturizer and could even replace the last step in your skin care routine. Typically you should be wearing these masks to sleep, and wake up to improved results in the morning. These masks are perfect for those who have no time for sheet masks or wash-off masks. All you need to do is complete your evening routine, apply the sleep mask then have a good night's sleep! We recommend starting with a thin layer to test during the first night, then slowly increase the amount if the previous amount didn't give you the results you were looking for.

Hopefully this topic will be informative to those looking into using masks. Be sure to check out our Mask Section if you are looking for that instant boost for your skin! 😇

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The Serum that Addresses Your Skin's Specific Needs

The Serum that Addresses your Skin's Specific Needs | Korean Skincare

We mentioned in our last blog that people tend to mix up serums with essences, and it is true they may all have similar purposes to a certain extent. However, serums are designed to tackle more specific skin concerns and is formulated with much higher concentrations of active ingredients to treat each specific skin concern. There is also another popular name you might have heard - ampoules, which is also under the same category serums.  

You might ask yourself why do I need a serum? Well, different skin types have different skin concerns. For instance, dry/aging skin types typically focus on the need of hydration and moisturization. There are serums designed to boost your skin's moisture level with just a few drops during your routine. Oily skin types should look for serums that focus on removing excess sebum to reduce the chance of blackheads or whiteheads, which leads to reduced chance of breakouts. As for sensitive skin types, it gets a little tricky since there are many ingredients you have to watch out for, but the goal is to find serums with calming and repairing actives.

So how should you use a serum? Typically, you should apply them after toning, or before moisturizing. This will ensure the actives reach deep into your skin and work effectively. Use it both morning and evening. If you are treating dry/aging skin, put a few drops on your face and pat evenly. For specific treatments like blackhead or hyperpigmentation, you can apply serums to only the affected areas. Some might see quicker results than others, but we recommend to use it daily for at least 3-4 weeks.

Be sure to give this step a try if you haven't, it might just give you results on what you've been looking for! Below are our carefully selected serum related goodies!🙂

COSRX - AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid
COSRX - BHA Blackhead Power Liquid
KLAIRS - Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop
MIZON - Hyaluronic Acid 100
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The Essential Step that Gives the "Glow"

Essence | Korean Skincare | Canada & USA | Mikaela Beauty

For those who have been reading our blog, you've probably guessed this next topic! Essence is definitely one of the steps sworn by those into Korean beauty. Not only will it provide you with an extra layer of hydration, this step is one of the most important steps to fight aging.

So what is an essence? As we mentioned in our previous blogs, each step of the K-beauty routine is to layer additional moisture (plus other functions) into the skin. The viscosity of each layer gets thicker as you move closer to the end of your routine. Essence is more of a watery, gel-like texture. It's thicker than a toner but thinner than a serum. The function of a good essence should focus not only on the level of hydration, but also skin cell regeneration, which means it's designed to tackle fine lines and hyperpigmentation.

At this point you might ask, is this step even necessary? Well if you're looking to even out skin tones, fight those wrinkles and increase moisture level, this is a must!

When people talk about wrinkles, especially in the west, we've notice people normally don't show concern until they're in their 30's or even later. It is not too late but you are certainly behind in the game! Did you know girls in Korea typically have a routine (especially including essences!) in their 20's or even earlier? This might be surprising to the Western culture, but it is much easier to prevent wrinkles at a young age than battling fine lines at a later age. Plus your skin will take much longer to regenerate!

So what's the best way to apply it? We prefer to use our hands. Simply apply a few drops and dab onto your face, start from the chin and work your way up. We recommend to use this step both AM and PM for quicker results!

In case you are in the market for an essence, be sure to check out our carefully selected winners below!

BENTON - Snail Bee High Content Essence
COSRX - Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence
COSRX - Galactomyces 95 Brightening Power Essence
SECRET KEY - Starting Treatment Essence Rose Edition
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The Benefits of Asian Beauty Toners

Toner | Korean Skincare | Canada & USA | Mikaela Beauty

If you grew up in the West, you are probably familiar with toners in terms of it's "toning" purposes. It was designed to help tone your skin after a higher acid cleanse. In other words - lower the pH level of your skin back to normal. This is typical within Western facial cleansing products. However, when it comes to Korean toners, it extends the purpose of toning to a whole different level.

So why is it so different compared to Western toners? Besides rebalancing the pH level, many of the Korean toners are designed to hydrate and protect your skin after cleansing, while preparing your skin for the next steps in your routine. Not only does this step hydrate your skin, but different toners serve different purposes. 

For instance, there are toners designed to exfoliate dead skin cells, melt away unwanted blackhead or whitehead, as well as controlling sebum which may cause more acne on your skin. As your skin is considered to be most "clean" after double cleansing, products can penetrate into your skin much more effectively during the toning stage. This means toners with different purposes are likely to work best at treating those specific skin concerns.

Are there any specific ways to apply toner? You can simply put an adequate amount on your hands and gently pat onto your skin until fully absorbed. For those with oily / combination skin types, you could take that extra step by applying with a cotton pad. This will help remove any remaining oil or impurities from your cleanse, while mildly exfoliating your skin. 

To stay up to date with the current K-beauty trend, there is also the latest "7 skin method"  that's been highly raved about in recent months. You might have noticed the term "skin" has been used to replace the term "toner" in some products. In Korean, these two words actually have the same meaning. What this concept introduces is layering a very hydrating / thin toner 7 times after your cleanse. Make sure the toner you are using is very thin and not alcohol based due to the increasing chance of drying out your skin. Try it with your favorite toner and you might just see a difference on how much more hydration you can bring to your skin.

So what do you do after 7 layers of toner? If you feel that your skin is hydrated enough, you can go straight to a moisturizer to "seal" in the toner. You can definitely give this method a try if you're looking for more hydration or have super dry skin. As with all routines and products, be sure to start off slow, experiment, and see what works best for your skin.

If you are looking for a new toner, below are our carefully selected winners!

BENTON - Aloe BHA Skin Toner
BENTON - Snail Bee High Content Skin
COSRX - AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner
COSRX - Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol
COSRX - One Step Moisture Up Pad
KLAIRS - Supple Preparation Facial Toner
SECRET KEY - Witchhazel Pore Clear Toner
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Exfoliation to the Next Level

Exfoliation | Korean Skincare | Canada & USA | Mikaela Beauty

By now you should probably be familiar with the benefits of cleansing, but does the cleansing method really stop there? Perhaps not, exfoliation is one more routine you should also look into if you are interested in keeping your pores clear. 😜

Many people are familiar with exfoliation; the typical one is called physical exfoliation. Those are the products that involve some sort of facial "scrubbing". The best part of physical exfoliation is the satisfying feeling when you see dead skin cells coming off during the scrub. Some may argue this method could be too rough for sensitive skin, and the answer is yes and no. Unless your skin is super super sensitive, many of the physical exfoliation products these days are great for sensitive skin! As long as you don't over scrub the product onto your skin too hard or for too long (which you should avoid), you should see that instant polished/smooth look after a fine wash. This method usually gives the quickest results due to the "physical" work involved.

The second type of exfoliation could be daunting to newcomers; have you heard of chemical exfoliation?😅 Scary at first, but we can ensure you the chemical (acid) level is safe for your skin. This method is great for those who have very sensitive skin and are easily irritated due to the physical scrub. The wonderful part of these liquids? They basically melt away the unwanted "gunk" while you are applying a cleanser, toner (most popular), or serum. That's right, there are quite a few categories of products which can chemically exfoliate within your normal routine. The most popular ones are in the toner stage, and there are two types of acids we usually refer to, AHA (Alpha Hydroxy Acids) or BHA (Beta Hydroxy Acids). 

AHA's main purpose is to get rid of those dead skin cells in order to allow new cells to grow/recover. In return, it will give you brighter and healthier skin over time. Two most popular acids used in this formula are Glycolic and Lactic. Do note that AHA will increase the photosensitivity level of your skin so sunscreen is a must when using AHA based exfoliation. If you are new to AHA, try using it every 3rd night and slowly build up your skin's tolerance. We find that AHA is even better for dry skin types. 

BHA works differently than AHA, as its job mainly focuses on the insides of your pores by melting away any unwanted leftovers. The most popular acid used in this formula is salicylic acid, so look for salicylic acid if you are choosing BHA exfoliation. As well, the photosensitivity level is not likely to change when using BHA. However, we do recommend starting BHA slowly (like AHA) until your skin's tolerance is high enough. BHA is usually best suited for oily and acne-prone skin types.

Both AHA & BHA exfoliation can be incorporated into your routine as well, but we always recommend slowly adding these products in one by one. This allows your skin to tolerate these new products if you've never used them before, and will ensure you glowing results at the end! 😊

Below are the links for different types of exfoliation we offer.

Physical Exfoliation:
COSRX - Blackhead Silk Finger Ball
MIZON - Apple Smoothie Peeling Gel
SECRET KEY - Black Out Pore Minimizing Pack
SECRET KEY - Lemon Sparkling Peeling Gel

Chemical Exfoliation:
BENTON - Aloe BHA Skin Toner
COSRX - One Step Moisture Up Pad
COSRX - AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner
COSRX - AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid
COSRX - BHA Blackhead Power Liquid
COSRX - Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol
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Foam Cleansing - The Final Cleanse

SECRET KEY Snail Repairing Foam Cleanser | Canada & USA Mikaela Beauty

This part of cleansing is quite popular among many of us. It's foamy, bubbly, quick and easy, also who doesn't love foam? 😊 So what is the main purpose of foam cleansing? Why do we have to follow foam cleansing after oil cleansing?

Foam cleansers are usually referred to as water based cleansers. A good foam cleanser with low pH reading is usually what we recommend for everyday use as it will re-balance your skin similar to it's natural pH level. But the main purpose of foam cleansing is to remove any additional impurities where oil cleansers couldn't completely remove! Remember, oil cleansers are best to remove oil based impurities! 

Any proper ways to wash your face with foam cleansers? Well, who doesn't know how to wash their own face?😂 Actually, we were quite surprised with some of the answers! For the best cleansing result, we find washing your face with an upward circular motion helps to lift out those impurities better, kind of like pulling them upwards if they are still sitting inside your pores - just a little bit of physics here. 😁 For those with very sensitive skin, create the foam in your hands first as this will reduce any additional irritation to your skin. After a minute or two, gently rinse it off with warm water. Make sure to dab your skin dry to avoid any rubbing motion, invest some money on a soft face cloth will benefit your skin in the long run! 

Be sure to check out our carefully picked foam cleansers below!

CosRX - Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser
Mizon - Pore Refine Deep Cleansing Foam
Secret Key - Snail Repairing Foam Cleanser
Papa Recipe - Bombee Honey Moisture Cleansing Foam

Stay tuned and beautiful!

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Oil Cleansing - The first step of cleansing

Klairs Gentle Black Deep Cleansing Oil | Canada | Mikaela Beauty | Korean Skincare
All of us should be familiar with the term cleansing, and you have probably used some type of cleanser in your daily routine, but is oil cleansing just another type of cleansing? Yes and no. For many folks, oil cleansers are mainly for makeup removal. And yes, it does work quite well for that purpose, but do you know it also has other benefits as well? Let's get down to it!
The theory of oil cleansing is quite simple: use oil to dissolve oil. A good oil cleanser is designed to lift the dirt and dissolve oil/makeup from your skin without the harsh cleansing effects like any other types of cleansers. It should maintain the moisture level and keep your skin hydrated after the wash. During the regular cleansing method, your skin will produce more oil when it is overly cleansed. This is normal because your skin is trying to regenerate the moisture level back to your skin - oil/water balance. But because this will overwork your skin, it can cause rashes and breakouts. If your skin always feels dry after using the regular cleansing method, you should really give the oil cleansing step a go. This method could literally save your dehydrated skin and become the holy grail in your routine. 
Who should be using it? Pretty much everyone. You could have dry skin, oily skin due to dehydrated cleansing method, or simply need a safer makeup remover. You will find that this step helps your skin maintain much more moisture compared to the normal cleansing method. However, we should mention if you have super sensitive skin that breakouts easily, you should do a patch test prior to a full application. Sometimes your skin might not like this step when first being introduced, and it could take some time for it to be completely used to it.   
When should it be used? This completely depends on you. If you only wear light make-up, you can probably get away with three times a week. If you find your skin very greasy by the end of the day, you should probably use it that night. 
How do you apply it? Simply apply a thin layer to your face and lightly massage it, but don't rub it too hard as it can irritate your skin if it's over worked.  After the massage, allow it to sit for a little longer to break down the dirt or makeup. While you are waiting, dampen a soft towel with warm water, then simply wipe off the oil gently. Remember! use soft towels and gently wipe it off to avoid any possible damage to your skin!
In the next blog we will be talking about water based cleansing, which can be very useful if you have acne prone skin. 
Meanwhile if you are in the market for a new oil cleanser, be sure to check out our two super stars below! :)
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Eye Creams, Yes or No?

Mizon Eye Cream | Korean Skincare | Mikaela Beauty | Canada

Before we get started on this topic and answer with the obvious "YES to eye cream!", we should all be aware that maintaining a healthy diet and getting a good night's sleep plays an important role in keeping your skin healthy. 

Many believe a regular facial cream will do just fine for the areas around your eyes, and this is definitely not true. Eye creams are specifically designed with a thicker concentration. A good eye cream has active ingredients that specifically target troubled delicate skin, especially around your eyes, as it is the most delicate skin on your face!

Because of the ingredients used to formulate eye creams, their main duty should be reducing fine lines, brightening dark circles, as well as firming the skin. Keep in mind these creams are designed for the area around your eyes only. If you are to use them on your face, you might find the texture to be too thick overall, and the results won't be as effective compared to using it for the skin around your eyes.

Let's say you have picked up your favorite eye cream, and you are eager to put it on like a little girl in the candy store. Are there any correct ways to put it on? Yes! We would like to remind you one more time (we know this is annoying!) that the area of the skin is the MOST delicate part! Tap a small amount around your eyes (tapping 6-8 times around each of your eyes). Try to practice with your ring finger because it has a less agressive touch compared to your index finger. Then gently massage into your skin; going as far as your side hairlines will also minimize fine lines around that area in the long run. Never try to pull the skin around that area. Allow it to absorb into your skin. This can be time consuming but this is part of the curing process. Never put on too much at once, as your skin won't be able to absorb it. You can always apply a second layer if you find the first layer applied was too thin.

Never think eye creams will perform miracles overnight as we certainly don't offer any miracle products here. If they are formulated correctly & legally, they should all improve your skin over a period of days or weeks. Remember if you're not getting enough sleep, it will also delay the results as well.  

If you are on the lookout for a new eye cream, feel free to check out our Mizon Snail Repair Eye Cream. 80% of the ingredient is snail mucin, and we all know snail mucin is the latest K-beauty technology! This small tube is lightweight and travel-friendly! Did we also mention this cream absorbs into your skin extremely fast? :)

Stay beautiful!

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Protecting our Canadian K-Beauty Lovers - Part II

Continued from our last blog - are all of your Canadian K-beauty retailers complying with Health Canada laws and regulations?

Did you know your K-beauty products are required to be labeled correctly when they are sold within Canada?
This requirement is very straight forward considering Canada’s official language is both English and French. It is a standard practice for all the retailers when selling products within Canada (not only cosmetics related). Have a look at the labeling on any well-known skin care products (sold within Canada) and you should find them all labeled in English and French, sometimes even with other languages. Our biggest Canadian cosmetic retailer Sephora is a very good example on following this regulation.

What should be on the label?
There is a general labeling guideline from Health Canada on cosmetic-related products. Below is the information you should look for on your K-beauty products when purchased within Canada.

  • An ingredients list (using the International Nomenclature for Cosmetic Ingredients (INCI) system).
  • The identity (Name) of the product, in English and French.
  • A statement of net quantity in metric units of measurement.
  • The name and address of the manufacturer or distributor.
  • Warnings or cautions, in English and French.
  • Directions for safe use of the product, in English and French according to provincial requirements.
Any requirement on the label itself?
  • The label material should last the lifespan of the product. 
  • It should be clearly visible on the package.
  • If the product is too small to label, a tag/card should be included along with that product.
The ingredients list
The ingredients lists are widely available throughout the internet on each product, but it is not just a simple copy and paste onto the label when sold within Canada. As per Health Canada regulations, each cosmetic product sold by the Canadian retailer will have to submit all ingredients list (including concentration %) to Health Canada within 10 days of the first sale. If the retailer does not order the products directly from each brand, they will not be able to receive these ingredient documents for security reasons.

As a Canadian consumer, we would like to bring up the awareness on these requirements. Many of us who have purchased imported skin care products from online Canadian retailers have probably noticed some of the products did not come with English & French labels at all. You might want to question why the retailer is not complying with Health Canada requirements. This is the last step to protect yourself the next time you plan on purchasing from any questionable online retailers. If your retailer is not following the labeling guidelines, what else are they are not following and how are they importing these products into Canada?

Last but not the least, kudos to the many Canadian online retailers who are currently following Health Canada regulations. We know and understand this step creates an extra cost and is more time consuming during importation, but it is the correct business ethics that sets you apart from those who choose not to comply.

As for our Canadian consumers, protect yourself, because no one else would care as much as you do!

Stay beautiful!
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