Beginner Friendly: Simple K-Beauty Starter Kit #4 - Normal, Hyperpigmented, & Aging Kit

The last post of the Beginner Friendly: Simple K-Beauty Starter Kits for 4 Skin Types series is here!

This week's kit is in honour of my mother-in-law (and aunt-in-law) who I've been slowly luring into K-Beauty over the years-- she had a nonexistent routine and a very unfussy approach to self-care, so it's been all about baby steps.  That is, until she realized the products I've been gifting her have been fading the sun/dark/age spots she's started to develop in the last few years, and now she's on board.  I'm now working on my aunt-in-law; soon she too will be serum-ing and sheet masking with abandon! *shakes determined fist at the sky*

Korean beauty skincare routine for normal, aging skin
Left: simple. Right: eeeeek!  Both are examples of the daily routines I post on Instagram.
As a reminder, the products and routines in this series are actual routines and care packages that I've put together for actual real people (not usually all at once) as gifts or recommendations if they've expressed interest in my hobby.  I am not a medical professional and I am not 'recommending' things as a treatment for others; this is me letting you all behind the scenes into what I personally gave as gifts, etc, for personal 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.  (Two weeks between new products!)  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 (link here)
  • Starter Kit # 4: My mother-in-law's normal, hyperpigmented, aging kit (you are 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 above.  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.  K-Beauty should be accessible and affordable for everyone; it might have a steeper learning curve at first but it's not a pretentious, elitist thing and there's options for everyone no matter your taste or budget.

Accessibility is an ongoing theme in discussions with the podcasters of The Snailcast and my decision to create this series inspired by the amazing 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.

My mother-in-law has normal, non-reactive skin that does not require any products to stay balanced; she has been doing a simple soap-wash-in-the-shower for years and only started exploring skincare when I explained it could help fade the hyperpigmentation spots she was getting from a lifetime of not using sunscreen.

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 # 4: Normal & Aging

This kit features 4 products for my mother-in-law, plus one I gave to my aunt-in-law, for a total of 5 products.  Sadly, the gateway drug brightening product that gave my MIL to help fade her dark spots is now discontinued (I think) and it's stupidly expensive on Amazon.   It was the Skin79 White Reviving Solution (reviewed here) and I've since replaced it with Shark Sauce from Holy Snails (you can read more about it here: 2015 in Review, Part I: My Favourite K-Beauty Products of 2015) as the primary hyperpigmentation-fading ingredient was niacinamide and that's what Shark Sauce has in spades-- it's specifically a niacinamide serum designed for Fiddy of Fifty Shades of Snail to max out and boost the effects of niacinamide.  (Also, if I say 'niacinamide' three times fast, will my post-inflammatory hyperpigmentation spots disappear?)

Since it's a small-batch indie skincare product, it's most definitely not on Amazon, so I was scraping my brain as to what I would replace it with in this kit since the Skin79 can't be affordably sourced anymore, and then I realized- wait, I gave my aunt-in-law a vitamin C serum for the exact same complaint (and same skin type) to help fade her sun spots, and it's available on Amazon for cheap.  Done!
  1. Oil Cleanser
  2. Low pH & luxurious foaming cleanser
  3. Anti-aging antioxidant vitamin C serum
  4. Moisturizing cream with niacinamide
  5. Sunscreen
Bonus optional item: Sheet masks because they're a fun little treat for a night of self-care and she so rarely prioritizes herself.  I want to encourage her to pamper herself, because she deserves it!

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

Simple anti-aging K-Beauty beauty product routine
Sunscreen is the best anti-aging product!

Although the foaming cleanser I gave my MIL is used by some as a first and second cleanser, I still think that double cleansing is the way to go to truly remove sunscreen and makeup residue completely.  I chose the Banila Co original, rather than the Purity from the other kits, because my MIL has normal, non-reactive skin and the Clean It Zero original is more tried-and-true than the Purity version.  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.
2.  Low pH & luxurious foaming cleanser: Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick ($21, $22  on Prime)
I actually gave a tube of this to my mother, aka the owner of Kit #3, but it was a little too stripping for her sensitive skin which is why it wasn't in her kit. I have gone through a few tubes of this (see empties + review here) and its pretty rose scent, novel application, and travel-friendly + luxurious packaging, along with its infusion of real rose petals makes it a nice "intro to K-Beauty" product gift.
3. Anti-aging antioxidant vitamin C serum:  OST C20 Original Pure Vitamin C20 Serum ($15, not on Prime)
I've been through a few bottles of OST C20, as has my mother, and while the unstable nature of L-ascorbic acid vitamin C serums can be a bit of a pain (they oxidize quickly) there's no denying that the reactive nature of L-AA packs an antioxidant punch.  OST is very, very affordable when you consider the price tag of comparable vit C serums on the market, so if it oxidizes before you finish the bottle, it's less painful to admit it needs to be tossed.  I stick with the original C20 version and not the C21.5 version, as the 'improvements' to the formula aren't actually that beneficial and it's more expensive. 
Although I chose another niacinamide serum for my MIL rather than OST, there's a bottle of OST in my mother's and aunt's refrigerators as we speak. Note: L-AA vit C serums are pH-dependent so they need to be used a specific way; you can read about it here: Putting your products in order, including pH dependent acids
4. Moisturizing cream:  Beauty of Joseon cream ($20 on Prime)
Yep, back again with my top discovery of 2015: the Beauty of Joseon Dynasty Cream, which was then-unknown and has really taken off in popularity, and for good reason.  This was in my mother-in-law's birthday box this year, after I had her swatch and test some of mine during our visit over the holidays.  She liked and emptied a jar or two of the Skin79 White Reviving Cream that I'd gifted to her a few years ago, and the Joseon cream also contains the same active ingredient (yep, niacinamide again) so the Joseon cream is a good alternative.  It's also not too heavy, because she's still not quite comfortable with skincare and she doesn't feel that her skin needs it.
5. SunscreenBiore UV Aqua Rich Watery Essence SPF 50+ PA++++ ($9, $11 on Prime)
My mother-in-law doesn't wear sunscreen, so it's my hope that the ultra-light, invisible charms of this popular Japanese sunscreen (much loved by blogger and Snailcaster Fiddy of Fifty Shades of Snail) will woo her to the side of sun protection.  As I mentioned in Kit #1, this this is a gold standard sunscreen if you don't have issues with chemical sunscreens.  I cannot use chemical sunscreens without causing mega skin reactions, so I use physical UV-filter sunscreens only.  You can see what I use/have reviewed via the sunscreen tag
Bonus optional item: Sheet masks, preferably silk ones like My Scheming Hot Spring Water Moisturizing Silk Facial Mask Box of 10 ($15)
My mother in law also isn't into sheet masks, but she raised two boys and loves to do 'girly' things with her daughters-in-law.  Sheet masking can be a really social activity, and it's also a nice way to relax and give yourself some pampering time.  Since my MIL is not particularly into sheet masks, silk masks are a good option as they are ultra thin and soft so they're super comfortable to wear.  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.
Phew!  It's a relief to get all of these done; I thought it would be so simple to organize and talk about these, but as always it ends up being a larger task than I anticipated, but as with food, it's worth it in the end.  I've been really astonished and happy to see how much people have been enjoying these posts; so I'm pondering what I might do in the future if people are interested in more posts like these.

Have you bonded with family members through skincare and beauty treatments? 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. Yeah.............. I kinda went against your advice and completely replicated your skin care routine and my skin is AWESOME.

    Well, almost entirely, I can't find any Mizon AHA BHA Toner on :'(
    Any ideas what I could use instead? Don't like the CosRX Toner either so we must've been separated at birth or something... :)

    1. D: *shrieks in horror* LOL!

      Sadly no, I have not found any replacements for the Mizon AHA BHA toner and I'm hoarding my last bottles. TT_TT

    2. ...Only realised how creepy that sounded when I reread it... ;o
      But to my defence, I've been reading your blog for a while now and a lot of the products you react to I react to, we have similar skin type and colour, and live in the same climate. I built my routine up according to your suggestions (and whatever was trending at the time). So, I guess I wouldn't recommend replicating someone's routine either...!

      I hope you find another HG pH toner since I've yet to get my hands on Mizon AB (I'm using Eucerin Clarifying Toner). I won't be able to rest in peace until I find it! >;c

    3. peach and lily stock the toner!

    4. i live in the uk and stuff is not so easy to find -- but i have found a lot of this stuff on ebay uk (shipped from korea) and it is competitively priced.

    5. Did you hear that the toner is just out of stock of the container bottles?

  2. I'm curious why the Vitamin C serum is only in the PM routine. I use my Vitamin C in the morning because I read that the antioxident action helps prevent sun damage when paired with a good sunscreen.

    1. It's pretty simple, actually! :D My MIL, mother, and aunt don't have time in the AM for wait times, and they'd balk if I suggested it, so into the PM it goes. :) It reportedly does boost the effect of sun protection, but I've got to pick my beginner battles. ;)

    2. When I read it I thought, "Brilliant! 'Cause that way it doesn't have a chance to oxidize!' Didn't have ANY LUCK with C20 during the morning (locked in my bathroom. With the curtains drawn. Without lights). (Maybe it was a bad batch?)

      ...Well at least I got a kick out of freaking my BF out when he just woke up and was about to take a shower! ;D ;D ;D

  3. This is my set- thank you! Of course I have added about 10 more steps lol! I came here to ask if you have tried the reformulated Dynasty- I got and love mine because of you but have seen a lot of dismayed comments that it is not the same ...sobbb!

    1. I haven't but I'm thinking I should buy one to compare, I just saw the reports of it changing. I'm so peeved.

  4. Good! Now everyone will SUFFER LIKE I DO! MUHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!

    ...Sorry, I musn't joke about people's K-skincare woes... Y_Y

    Have you tried Neulii? I've been getting tons of samples and I think it's very similar to CosRX. Very gentle ingredients that are also clearing. I'm thinking if they formulate a toner it could be good too!

  5. So I do the shark serum, but I'm so confuse on how long I'm suppose to wait in between time from Mizon Aha/Bha toner and the joseon moisterizer.
    So it goes like this:
    -shark serum
    What is the wait the time in between them if any is needed? Please help. Thank you.

    1. Hi there! If you have questions on product order and wait times, I recommend checking out the beginner's post on putting your products in order, and the general order of products (including pH dependent products) both of which are in the Recommended Reading tab at the top of the blog.

      Take care!

  6. Apparently they have added the paper lid back but the reformulation makes me nervous.

  7. Hi!

    I have been reading up on all you beginner post and i have been loving you kits! but the problems is that none of the kits really tailor to my skin type, and i really don't know where to start about purchasing korean products because i still have so many western products that i felt bad about throwing them out.

    I was wondering if you can recommend a routine that addresses my skin issues :( i am 24, western defined as combo oily during summer, but combo dry during winter. my problems are (ranked):
    1. dark spots
    2. pores
    3. fines lines around my eyes/dry patches on my cheeks

    thank you for addressing the difference between dry skin and dehydrated skin. I know that I am definitely dehydrated. Do you have few actives/peels/acid/ routine that you can recommend?

    Much thanks!

    1. Hi Nicole,

      Unfortunately, as I stated in the first post of the series, I will not be able to do personalized kits:

      "Not all skin types will be represented here, and replying to requests would cross the line into recommendations, so please do not ask me to build a routine for your personal skin concerns. (Reminder: I legally can't.) If you'd like me to do more of these curation care package posts in the future for a different skin type, shoot me a message on Facebook or Twitter with the general skin type, but please do not get too detailed into your personal skin type as I'm not a medical professional and cannot give personalized advice. This is me trying to be a K-Beauty dealer trying to get my family and friends hooked on the good stuff, like snails and hanbang. Huehuehue."


  8. At least you got to try it! I will never know... All the ones I saw were over 50$ to ship to Canada. Then they were gone...

    Hmm... Let me check my nifty excel sheet (Snow isn't the only OCD beauty junky). OK, so I tried the Aloe BHA Soothing Serum, the Teatree BHA Blemish Control Serum and the GreenTea BHA Pore Tightening Serum in samples (TWICE).

    Yep, they're all serums and not toners but are quite watery and gel-like. My favourite was the Teatree one because it was surprisingly moisturizing and gentle. But they're all really great and 'clean' according to CosDNA. I think they have a few more available that I haven't tried. They're also really cheap! I'm thinking of buying the full size this week.

    Right now I use Eucerin Clarifying Toner and I mix-in a teaspoon of niacinamide powder into it. That is, until I find a HG toner ;3

  9. Hi,

    Which mists would you recommend for this skin type!

    1. I don't really think that there is a lot of difference between different kinds of mists, to be honest. Just go with something that appeals to you, and feels nice!

  10. Thank you so much for this! I am going to quickly wish list all teh things! on Amazon. Im just happy to have a place to start. But I have 4-5 bottles of japanese stuff to get through before I should (I repeat *should*) buy new stuff. I've spent too many years not taking care of my skin and it is starting to show the closer to 40 I creep.

    1. It's never too late to start taking care of your skin! Granted, we can't go back and fix those mistakes we made earlier on and in life, but at least we can know that we're taking good care of it from here on out and that it will look better than if we had carried on the way we were?

  11. My mom is concerned about age spots. She's starting to get them on her face now and really wants to find something that helps. The perfect opportunity for me to drag her into my skincare hobby :D! Would this be a good routine for her? And I know to Joseon cream is discontinued now, do you know another good option?

  12. I used this as my jumping point as I've always had kinda meh skin that put up with everything I throw at it so far.
    I just want to say THANK YOU CAT. My skin FEELS AMAZING and omg. I wish I'd known this years ago! <3

  13. The rose cleaning stick is out again. *cry*