Beginner Friendly: Simple K-Beauty Starter Kit #2 - Dry & Stressed Skin Type

Here's the second installment of my Beginner Friendly: Simple K-Beauty Starter Kits for 4 Skin Types series, where I share the actual suggestions/gift selections/starter care packages I have selected for 4 real people as their beginner's intro to Korean beauty products.

Historically, I've avoided recommending specific products for my readers (and still do) as I'm not licensed to be giving skincare advice and I'm very adverse to veering into Dr. Internet territory, but I realized that even though I can't recommend products to people, I can share the products that I've assembled as starter packages for K-Beauty beginners in my life.  By that I mean my family and friends who continually get beauty products for their birthdays and holiday gifts as I attempt to get them hooked on the good stuff.  I'll get my mother into snails one of these days, mark my words!

This week I will be sharing Starter Kit #2, which was for a college-age friend with dry, stressed skin who needed something simple that would give her a huge boost in moisturization without interrupting her studying and would also soothe her skin.

Korean skincare routine for dry skin
Left: simple. Right: eeeeek!  Both are examples of the daily routines I post on Instagram.
I've been pleasantly surprised at how much people seemed to like the first kit (link here: Simple K-Beauty Starter Kit #1 - Oily & Acne-Prone Skin Type) but as fellow Snailcaster Fiddy of Fifty Shades of Snail pointed out, sometimes it's easy for skincare nerds like us to forget that not everyone is a skincare hobbyist.  (I actually wrote an entire post about having skincare as a hobby, in fact!)   I tend to shy away from simple, because the endless possibilities in customization is what excites me about K-Beauty, but it's a good reminder that not everyone feels that way!

Making K-Beauty more accessible is something The Snailcast discusses quite a bit (our podcast episodes frequently touch on this topic as a recurring theme) and this series was inspired by the excellent example routine that Tracy of Fanserviced-b posted: Easy Starter K-Beauty Skincare Routine for $100 on Amazon for normal skin types.

In this series:

All starter kits will feature 5 items or less, what they're for, and how to use them.  All lovingly selected with thought and care, because when I make kits for my friends and family, it's a box o' love.  Obviously not everything works for everyone, patch testing is necessary, etc etc.  These are just my personal picks.
  • Starter Kit # 1: My college-age friend with oily, acne-prone skin (link here)
  • Starter Kit # 2: My college-age friend with dry, stressed skin (you are here!)
  • Starter Kit # 3: My mother's sensitive, dehydrated, aging skin kit (link here)
  • Starter Kit # 4: My mother-in-law's normal, hyperpigmented, aging kit (link here)
  • Bonus Kit if I haven't thrown myself off a cliff from creating all these visual (yes, visual) kits:  My personal kit if my house burned down and I had to start over with nothing but Amazon gift cards, which won't be simple, less than 5 items, or anything else straightforward.  No promises. DoneK-Beauty on Amazon: Rebuilding a 15+ Step Routine if My Stash Caught on Fire
Once these posts are live, I will link them here.  Done!  As I mentioned in the original post, these items will be from Amazon for accessibility reasons as a counterpoint to the more internationally-focused From Beginner to Expert Mode: Where I Buy K-Beauty & Asian Cosmetics post.

Time for soothing skincare!

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Starter Kit # 2: Dry & Stressed

5 items, created for a college-age friend who is on a budget and has dry and stressed skin.  She was looking for something simple that doesn't take much time and that she can do while studying for her exams.  Sheet masks are cooling and relaxing, and the ones I chose for her cling so well she can wear them while she's at her study desk.
  1. Oil Cleanser
  2. Cheap & gentle low pH cleanser
  3. Affordable Sheet Masks
  4. Sleeping pack (multipurpose)
  5. Sunscreen
Bonus optional item: A regular moisturizer for the day, although the sleeping pack I chose for her doubles as a day cream if applied thinly.

Here's my picks, and the order they'd go in for AM and PM Routines:

Korean beauty products, Japanese beauty products, and Taiwanese beauty products for dry skin
It feels so good to be able to have a routine that does feature sheet masks, I feel more soothed already.
1. Oil Cleanser: Banila Co Clean it Zero Purity version ($19, $21 on Prime)
It's back again in the dry skin kit, and you might be wondering whaaat?  How can it be in both the oily skin and dry skin kits?  I included it in the oily, acne-prone skin kit because it had few acne triggers, and I'm including it here because it's beloved by dry skin bloggers, including Kerry of Skin & Tonics, the 'purity' version is a newer version specifically designed to have less problematic ingredients.  There is a sample kit with all 4 types for $18 on Prime as well, if you want to give the other 'flavours' a try instead of a full size of just one type.

2.  Cheap & gentle low pH cleanser: Hada Labo Rohto Gokujyn Hyaluronic Acid Cleansing Foam ($10, $11 on Prime)
I have been doggedly trying to finish this cleanser for a very, very long time.  It's bland, inoffensive, gentle, and it does the job, which is why it's such a classic product.  (It's one of blogger adoredee's "undupeable" products)   It doesn't excite me, but I chose it for my friend because it's low pH, has a self-foaming pump which allows it to be low pH without tinkering too much with foaming agents (it's SLS-free!) to regain foam lost through low-pH formulation.  It's gentle enough that out of all the options I could think of, this one was the least likely to strip her skin.  It even has refills!

3. Affordable Sheet Masks: My Scheming Hot Spring Water Moisturizing Silk Facial Mask Box of 10 ($15)
You might wonder why this kit features a sheet mask + a sleeping pack instead of a traditional moisturizer, but it's pretty simple logic; if she uses a good, clingy silk mask like Lovemore or My Scheming (the later of which is much cheaper) she can easily wear them while studying.  The slow-and-steady absorption mechanism of a sheet mask should both soothe her skin and also hydrate it, and it's a travel-friendly form as well-- she can throw them into her bag for any dry skin SOS moments without worrying about them leaking if she forgets them in there for a few weeks (or months, I remember my student days well.)  At $1.50 a mask, they're also affordable enough for her to use regularly without restoring to eating ramen to enable her skincare purchases, and these masks come loaded with essence, enough for her to save the leftovers to use the next day (or two) as an essence step.  These Taiwanese masks were a recommendation from Fiddy of Fifty Shades of Snail and they're excellent.

4: Sleeping pack (multipurpose):  Cosrx Ultimate Nourishing Rice Overnight Mask ($15)
One of her complaints was waking up in the AM and having dull, dry, flaking, tired-looking skin.  For that reason, I chose a sleeping pack so she could slather her skin before bed and let her skin recuperate overnight, and since I'm working with a 5-item limit, it can double as a day cream in a pinch.  It worked- she was able to bring her skin around from dull-and-flaky in time for her graduation photos, and it was something simple that she was able to do even with a hectic schedule.  I picked this specific sleeping pack for her after reading Fiddy's glowing review of it here. which was glowing + featured a lot of dry-skin-sufferer love.

5: Sunscreen:  Shiseido Senka Aging Care UV Sunscreen SPF50+ PA++++ ($9, $15 on Prime)
For a dry-skin-friendly sunscreen, I once again turned to Fiddy's recommendations as she has dry skin, and this was her top pick for a dry skin sunscreen.  On a recent episode recording of The Snailcast, she mentioned this would be her sunscreen of choice if she was kidnapped by alien overlords and stranded on a deserted island for six months as part of their "alien equivalent of an ant farm experiment" since she wouldn't have to worry about the sunscreen giving her too much shine as it's very moisturizing.  I should point out that that alien overlord bit was technically my contribution for a comedy explanation as to why we'd be stranded on a deserted for 6 months with an unlimited supply of a specific beauty product ... but I digress.  Dry skin sunscreen selection complete!

Bonus optional item: Regular day moisturizer Cosrx Oil-Free Moisturizing Lotion with Birch Sap $25 
Ok, I know this seems like a really odd choice, because the name says "oil-free" and dry skin needs oil.  As a general rule, I think facial oils are great for people with dry skin, since you can easily add a few drops to your other products to boost their richness.  Unfortunately all the K-Beauty oils I have tried are quite pricey so I didn't have one that was both easily sourced from Amazon and affordable enough for me to feel comfortable going that route.  However, this Cosrx lotion has been potent enough to combat the extreme dryness and flaking caused by a prescription retinoid (tretinoin) for Snailcaster Chel of Holysnails; if this product can handle the Sahara-esque flakepocalypse known as "tretface", I am pretty confident it can handle regular dryness!  The other benefit is that it reportedly sinks in quickly, which means my friend could slap this on in the AM as she's rushing around to get ready for class without adding too much time to her AM routine.  If she added this product, it would be her moisturizer step in the AM and it would go after her sheet mask and before her sleeping pack in the PM.

 Have you made any starter kits/care packages for your friends and family?  Hit me up on Facebook or Twitter and let me know!

Have something you'd like to share with me in general?  Snap a pic and tag me on Instagram at @snowwhiteandtheasianpear because I'd love to see it!

All the best,

**Disclaimer: All products reviewed in my blog, are 100% purchased with my own money, with a single exception of a press sample I tested & reviewed in 2015 which swore me off of them forever.  This blog contains  both affiliate and non-affiliate links, and clicking the former before you shop means that this blog may receive a small commission to assist in this blog supporting itself.  Please see my Contact Info & Disclaimer policy for more information.


  1. I love this so much. So many products I want to try now. My review schedule is out until September and now I want to just move things out and try a bunch of these instead.

    1. Resist! ;) If you have things that you are excited to use already, anything new will keep. :)

  2. you are amaaazing love you so much ♥♥♥♥ pleas would you tell me how do you like hera cushion UM c21 and sulwhasoo perfecting B NO17 are they match mac nc 15-20 oily skin also i want to try sulwhasoo eye cream would you tell a trsted ebay name .thank you so much

    1. I have not tried that specific Hera, but you can read about some initial thoughts I have on the Sulwhasoo Perfecting Brightening in the 2015 Best Of K-Beauty post in the sidebar :D

  3. This is awesome Snow - what I love beyond the product recs is the rationale behind each of them so that readers can follow within their own budget and expectations.

    One word of caution I would give on the Senka sunscreen - it can be incredibly irritating on the eyes. I wanted to love this sunscreen so much, but its impossible for me to use because it creeps up into my eyes (even when not applied directly underneath) and irritates them so badly that I have to remove it eventually.

    So I just wanted to put that out there for those on a budget to be careful!

    1. That is so unfortunate, I am sorry to hear that. I have to use all-physical sunscreens myself, because chemical sunscreens irritate my skin so much. :(

  4. Hi Cat! Thank you for creating this series, this is exactly what I've been looking for. My only question is determining what type of skin type I have.

    My t zone is oily, SF and pimple prone, the remaining cheek area is red, dry and often flakey. I was going to slowly try the products in starter kit 1, but 2 also seems appropriate.

    Would it be ideal to create a routine that eventually combines both (kit 1 with sheet masks)? Or is it a matter of dehydrated oily skin?

    Thanks for your help!

    ps: have you and other bloggers (I read AB a lot) ever considered publishing? I know Charlotte from SoKo glam has a book but I almost think that its more to promote their overpriced and overwhelming 10 step kits. I find you much more helpful and I'm sure many others would agree!

    1. I would google how to tell your skin type, as it's not something I'm licensed to be diagnosing for people. :)

      However, you are in luck on your book question! Two of the top AB bloggers, Kerry of Skin & Tonics and Coco of The Beauty Wolf wrote a very in-depth book called "Korean Beauty Secrets: A Practical Guide to Cutting-Edge Skincare and Makeup" which is available on Amazon and other places. :) You can see some sample routines from some bloggers (including me) in there as well!

  5. Hi dear your blog really helped alot!😊
    My skin type is very dry and im in mid 30's already,thats why i decided and bought korean products.unfortunately i dont know which one will go first kindly help me my dear...
    🔸cosrx galactomyes toner
    🔸cosrx advance snail mucin essence
    🔸cosrx snail cream
    🔸hadalabo premium
    🔸C20 serum