Beginner Friendly: Simple K-Beauty Starter Kit #3 - Sensitive, Dehydrated & Aging Skin Type

Today's post is the third kit in my Beginner Friendly: Simple K-Beauty Starter Kits for 4 Skin Types series, which is a 4-part set of ultra-simple, 5-product 'starter kits' I've put together for the K-Beauty fans-to-be in my life-- by that I mean my hapless friends and family members who I am attempting to convert to The Way of the Snail.

This week's kit is especially near and dear to my heart, because it's the kit I put together for my mom, who is the apple (of wisdom) of my eye, and who I've sadly been unable to see much in the last almost-decade, seeing as I hied off to a foreign country thousands of miles away.  If I cannot shower her with love and affection in person, then by golly I'm going to shower love (and beauty products) on her from afar, with care packages selected with love and padded with wistful longing.

Simple Korean skincare routine for sensitive and aging skin
Left: simple. Right: eeeeek!  Both are examples of the daily routines I post on Instagram.
 As a quick reminder, the care packages from this series are actual care packages that I've put together for real people, based off their skin type.  I am not recommending any of these items as a 'treatment' for any skin type or condition; this is just me sharing the personal mini routines I've put together for friends and family.

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 (link here)
  • Starter Kit # 3: My mother's sensitive, dehydrated, aging skin kit (you are 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.  Accessibility is an ongoing theme in discussions with the podcasters of The Snailcast and my decision to create this series was kicked off by by the straightforward & complete K-Beauty routine that Tracy of Fanserviced-b posted for normal skin types, which you can check out here: Easy Starter K-Beauty Skincare Routine for $100 on Amazon.

This routine was made for my mother's aging, dehydrated, sensitive skin and as it's made for my mom, it's heavily Hanbang (aka traditional Korean herbal medicine) focused, because that's what I am the most excited for her to try.

Just as a quick reminder: this blog uses both affiliate and non-affiliate links, and if you choose to click the fomer before you shop, your purchase may contribute a tiny amount to the maintenance of this blog.  See full details at the end of this post! #receipts

Starter Kit # 3: Sensitive & Aging

5 items, selected for my mom's aging skin which can be a bit tricky to manage because it's also dehydrated and sensitive, meaning that the "smother your skin in the heaviest products you can find" approach to mature skin doesn't work for her.  Her skin will clog, or she'll break out due to sensitivity.  Skincare triggers are a very personal thing (you can read how non-predictive and unreliable comedogenicity ratings are in this must-read post by labmuffin) and sadly there is no way to glance over an ingredients list and determine if it's going to make you react.  Notable exceptions would be ingredients that you've already confirmed are a personal trigger (chemical sunscreens are my nemesis) like adoredee's struggles with niacinamide.
  1. Oil Cleanser
  2. Low pH & luxurious foaming cleanser
  3. Hydrating cream
  4. Facial oil
  5. Sunscreen
Bonus optional item: Sheet masks to help soothe her skin and boost hydration if it's too warm/humid for her to use the facial oil, or even the cream.

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

Simple K-Beauty routine for sensitive, aging skin on Amazon
The facial oil is optional; you can apply it directly to the face, or a few drops mixed into your cream, if needed.
1. Oil Cleanser: Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Oil ($33, $37 on Prime**)
Even though I can't use oil cleansers (hello, clogged skin) I enjoyed this Hanbangin' oil cleanser so much that I managed to empty a 50ml travel size which I reviewed here, despite the fact that it's an oil cleanser and therefore the natural enemy of my skin.  I picked this for her because it's gentle, has that lovely Hanbang scent, and broke me out less than any other oil/balm cleanser I'd tried.  I now use a gel oil (you can read about it here: My Favourite K-Beauty Products of 2015) but since she doesn't have the same issues with oils as I do, this was my pick for her. **Amazon doesn't care the 50ml travel sizes, but you can get them for less than $10 shipped from eBay.
2.  Low pH & luxurious foaming cleanser: Sulwhasoo Snowise EX Cleansing Foam ($35, not available on Prime**)
Am I going to attempt to hook my mom on my low-pH-yet-ultra-fluffy-clouds-of-foam-fave-cleanser?  You bet.  Let me quote myself [from Low pH & High Luxury: Sulwhasoo Snowise EX Cleansing Foam Review] on its charms:
Scent:  Like a forest is trying to hump your face.  Personally, I've grown to love the Hanbang (한방, traditional Korean herbal medicine) herbal smells favoured by companies like Sulwhasoo, but if you don't like using things that smell like a grove of pines and field of flowers are trying to make sweet love to your epidermis, stay away.
Mmm.  It's a strong yet gentle cleanser, it has mega foam if you're willing to work for it (or use a foaming net, see above review for action shots) and gives good foam (that sounds dirty somehow) even if you're just doing a cursory lather.  **Amazon doesn't have affordable travel sizes, but eBay has 15ml for less than $10, and 30ml for $10.
3. Hydrating cream:  Beauty of Joseon cream ($20 on Prime)
This was an easy pick, because she actively wanted this after I reviewed it as a then-unknown product (and triggered an ensuing trendsunami) in early 2015, and because it's got an oddly hydrating finish despite being a cream, so it's handy for my dehydrated skin and thus probably hers as well.  I use it year-round; in the winter I just boosted it with a few drops of a facial oil to combat winter dryness so that's what the other 'variable' product is in this kit for her.
4. Facial oil:  The History of Whoo Wild Ginseng Ampoule Oil ($20, $21 on Prime)
This was a mainstay in my winter routines on Instagram, because it's a light oil with a strong Hanbang/ginseng scent that mixes well with products and, er, doesn't feel like an oil?  It's so thin and fluid that it didn't give me that nasty "I have oil on my face, ugh" feeling that most facial oils do, and I actually repurchased this for Winter 2015/2016 after using it for the Winter 2014/2015 season.  Although it's likely too much for her skin once the seasons change, when it comes to protecting her face from the Canadian winter winds, this was the oil that I put in her kit.   (Note: I use the sample sizes, because the full size is-- let's not talk about it.  Don't look at the price, trust me.)
The trick of mixing in a few drops to boost the richness of existing products is a great temperamental skin tip-- it lets you continue using products your skin already knows and loves, rather than introducing new things that might break you out.
5. Sunscreen: Goodal Mild Protect Natural Filter Sun Cream SPF50+ PA+++ ($29, $30 on Prime)**
My mom hates sunscreen too; I don't know if it's the same reason as I do (intolerance of chemical UV filters) or the loathing of the thick, goopy, streaky, greasy mess that is western sunscreens.  She uses powder sunscreen (cue horrified shrieking for the reasons mentioned here)  which is just not enough protection (seriously) and I'm trying to woo her to the light side of the [SPF] force.  This is a physical-UV-filter-only sunscreen and it's what I'm currently using as it's the best non-drying, reduced-whitecast, physical-only sunscreen I've tried. [Read more here: Goodal Mild Protect Natural Filter Sun Cream SPF50+ PA+++ Review]  
It's expensive, though, and sunscreens are like Cinderella's glass slipper; you have to find the one that's a perfect fit.  If she didn't like the Goodal, I would send her either the Shiseido Senka Aging Care UV Sunscreen SPF50+ PA++++ ($9, $15 on Prime) from Kit #2, or the Biore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF 50+ PA++++ ($9, $11 on Prime) from Kit #1.  She may be fine with chemical UV filters, but since she has sensitive skin and is an NW15/NW20, the Goodal is my starter choice for her.

Bonus optional item: Sheet masks, preferably silk ones like My Scheming Hot Spring Water Moisturizing Silk Facial Mask Box of 10 ($15)
My mother isn't a big sheet mask fan, but if any masks were to convert her to at least occasional use (especially if they're chilled for summertime application!) it would be silk masks.  At least I hope so, or those masks in her care package are going to gather dust.  Silk masks can be really pricey, but these are just $1.50 per mask even from Amazon, so they're very affordable.  These Taiwanese masks were a recommendation from Fiddy of Fifty Shades of Snail and they're excellent.
This is far from the first or last care package my mother will be getting from me, but it was novel to share it with others; I hope that these starter kits are giving people ideas on what would be in their own kits. :3

Have you managed to hook your parents onto your K-Beauty skincare hobby?  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/mentioned 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. What a beautiful routine. I like the mature, elegant packaging in addition to the simple formulas. I've already ordered the Snowise cleanser because of your review, and I would have ordered the Joseon cream ten times over if it didn't contain one of my skin care triggers. I'm also very intrigued by ginseng as a skin care ingredient these days.

    1. It's so great that you know what your triggers are, though! Did you happen to see the ginseng mask shout-out in last weekend's post about Boyah Shop? XD

  2. These posts are EVERYTHING! :D

    1. Aww, thank you! I am glad that you like them!

  3. Hi Cat, Let me start by saying that I LOVE....LOVE...LOVE your blog and the snail cast podcast. I noticed that you recommended a facial oil for this skin type which I happen to be. In your November 2015 post I noticed that you had purchased the Sulwhasoo Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Essential Oil but I have not been able to find a review of that product. I happen to love Sulwhasoo product and wondered what your thoughts were on their oil. Thanks.

    1. Ayyy! *snail stalk fist bump*

      I have not reviewed it yet, but you have no doubt noticed that it was the Whoo oil that I put in my mom's care package, even though the Sulwhasoo oil had prettier packaging. ;)

      Take care,

  4. I was really looking forward to this installment, as it's pretty much a perfect match for me (dry/dehydrated, sensitive skin w/ a focus on anti-aging). It's reassuring to see you including the Joseon cream for this skin type since I just finally bit & placed an order for some. ^_^
    I'm excited to check out the facial oil. I already love the History of Whoo Bichup Ja Saeng Essence. Those sample packs are a life-saver, though! The full-size prices are *not* messing around. o_O

    1. The sample and travel sizes of expensive Hanbang brands are LIFE! :D

  5. Is the Shiseido sunscreen a physical sunscreen?

    1. It is not. The only physical sunscreen that I've put in a kit is the #3 kit. :)

  6. Hi, Cat. I am blown away with your blog. It is full of information. Just like a good encyclopedia :D. BTW, I don't seem to find any information on eye cream. Are you using them? If yes, what is the brand and could you make a review on that? I think I have similar skin type as yours :P

    1. No, I usually just use my regular products on my eye area as it tends to get clogged easily and most eye creams are too heavy. Joseon cream (there is a review of this :D) is usually what I use.
      Take care,

  7. Hello! I also totally love your blog!
    First your posts are hilarious, then your skin seems to be as bitchy as mine and also you are the single AB blogger I know who hates chemical sunscreens. I also do. Not only because I get clogged pores from them but also because I don't trust them. They are often instable and can transform into radicals when hit by light. I don't want more free radicals in/on my skin!
    I like zink oxide based sunscreens, however I recently have read quite a bit about the difficulties of formulating sunscreens with zinc oxide, concerning mainly homogenic distribution of the ZnO in the formulation. Apparently the ZnO compexes tend to aggregate together, forming big lumps with holes in between the lumps. I also don't want holes in my sunscreen :(
    As a fellow skincare and sunscreen nerd, what do you think about this?
    And what do you think about Tinosorb M and Tinosorb S based sunscreens? They cover the whole UV spectrum and have both physical and chemical properties. I think they sound promising but would love to hear other opinions before I blindly trust them.
    Greetings from Germany!

    1. Hi lalicorne, thank you for the find words, and yes having cranky skin is a bane.

      As for potential risks of physical sunscreens, that fact is- I can't go outside without sunscreen (especially since I use chemical actives) and I can't wear chemical sunscreens, so physical sunscreens are my only option, potential flaws notwithstanding.

      Take care,

  8. Hi Cat,

    I love your blog (and that of the other snailcasters) and have recently attempted to create a simple routine for my mother. I am wishing I saw this post before mother's day -- what I created was too fussy for my mom. One thing I had given her previously was the Mizon all-in-one cream, which she really liked and worked well for her. For a mother's day gift, I gave her an oil cleaser, foam cleanser, toner, an all-in-one ampule from Scinic, the Beauty of Joseon cream, and sunscreen, which while in my mind was a small selection was definitely overkill. I'll try to keep it to 4 steps or less in the future! Thanks for these kits, which give me some good ideas of what will be acceptable for people who just want to use the stuff and not spend a lot of time on the interwebs.

    1. I'm so glad to hear that it was helpful! Hopefully you'll be able to convince her that it's really not all that scary, and that she can integrate those products into her routine.

  9. I'm 53 and struggled with acne for years. My daughter is 23 and tried your starter kit for oily skin and she loves it! I am interested in trying this routine, but I have an additional concern. I no longer get acne, but I have very sensitive skin and Roscea on my cheeks. Do you have any suggestions to help with these pesky red bumps?