Making the Most out of K-Beauty: 5 Simple Hacks

I'm gearing up for a major post that will take a few weeks of hard research, so here's a fun little list of things I do on the regular and thought I'd share while I work on some in-depth projects in the background!

The usual suspects
The best part is that everything is either readily available (including from Amazon), repurposing what you already have, or just using things differently.

In this post:

Tips for:
  • Avoiding shipping 'sticker shock'
  • Cushion problems solved
  • DIY sheet masks are the new hotness
  • Get a perfect sheet mask fit with little effort
  • Mists are more useful than you'd think
Also includes two bonus tips for even more cushion enabling usefulness.

1. Estimate your shipping costs before you buy

This is especially important if you are considering using a buying service like Avecko (click here for a Guide on how to find the items you want, even if you don't know Korean!) or if you're shopping somewhere that only has 'estimated' shipping weights and will refund you back the excess once you item ships, like 11st.  (For a screenshot-heavy guide to 11st including the refund process, click here.)

Many people have contacted me in distress over the shipping costs Avecko is charging them for a small amount of products, not realizing that packages can start at almost $20 usd shipping for anything 0.5kg or lessaccording to Korea Post.

Find the shipping tables for a vendor if available, and if not use a site like KoreaDepart to see what they have listed for the weight of the product + use their shipping table for an estimate of costs:
Left: shipping cost table, Right: rough estimates of product weights by type, both from KoreaDepart
KoreaDepart has this cool little chart if you click on 'Approximate weight of products' which tells you what the approximate weight of products could be depending on their size and the material of their package, i.e. glass vs plastic.  Not a solid number, but it's a start!

I had planned to make a spreadsheet to help with estimating costs but it really needs its own post, so onward!

2. Keep your cushion mirror smudge-free with a cotton facial pad

I found the inner mirror of my cushion cases pick up oil and product from the top of my cushion puff; I have no idea if it's just that the case presses down too hard on the puff or what, but I've talked to other cushion users and they have the same issue.  (Hey, at least I know I'm not unusually grimy?)

Even with regular puff cleanings, after a day's worth of use, the mirror inside your case looks like this:

Click here for my review of the Missha Special Edition Magic Cushion Case
While experimenting with a few options to keep my mirror smudge-free without adding too much bulk or making things awkward to use, I discovered that the round cotton facial pads I use for cleansing water and makeup remover fit perfectly:

Look ma, no smudges!

Blam!  Simple, cheap solution using readily-available supplies most of us already have in our bathrooms.  They're the perfect size and shape, very clean, easily swapped out, do the job, don't scuff the mirror, and are even handy for emergency use while you're out and about.

3. DIY Sheet Masks - Do's and Don'ts

You may have heard of this trick; using DIY sheet masks such as the ones pictured below, and then using your own serums/essences or leftover essence from sheet masks to soak one of these dry cotton sheets:

This should be easy, right?
As you can see, there are a lot of options for DIY sheet masks; clockwise from bottom left are: compressed full face sheets that expand when wet, undereye patches, full-face sheets, two kinds of thin cotton squares that can be used like facial pads or for spot-area sheet masks, and lastly even a t-zone mask.  Also pictured: precious serums/essences that I like on the left, things I dislike and am trying to get rid of on the right.

To be honest, I am not a fan of the full-face DIY masks, but I have grown to love the spot-area DIY ones.  Here's my trial-and-error tips:
  • Do: Use up unwanted toners, essences, and serums- anything that isn't bad but that didn't wow you.  Liberally soak the DIY mask (of any type) in product, which has the win-win of using it up, and also not feeling guilty about how much is being wasted, which brings us to:
  • Don't: Use your precious/expensive essences, serums, and toners for this.  It takes one dropper of LJH Tea Tree Essence (I'm addicted to this thanks to fanserviced's review) to apply all over my face, but it takes ... a lot to saturate a mask. Even the cotton squares took 4+ dropperfuls!  No thank you.  Add a drop or two to the cheap/unwanted stuff if you must, but what benefit will you really get from it being that diluted?
  • Do: Soak the cotton squares and undereye patch types in leftover sheet mask essence- just stick it into the bottom of the pouch overnight, and in the morning, you have a spot patch mask!
  • Don't:  Try to saturate a full-face mask, either compressed or regular, in leftover sheet mask essence because it's not going to be enough, or it takes longer than 24 hours to get really moistened.  You would have to save up several masks' worth of leftovers (ew) or leave it soaking for a few days (ew.)
The smaller size spot patches, though, are perfect for soaking up leftover essence in just one night:

After the night's sheet mask, I tucked these squares into the leftover essence at the bottom of the pouch, and folded down/sealed the end.
Then you can use them the next morning, which is my next tip:
  • Do: Use the spot patches in the morning/while you are putting on makeup; doing a full mask in the AM takes too much time for most people.  However, you can multitask with spot patches- put undereye patches on while brushing your teeth, picking out clothes, doing your hair, etc, so your eyes are smooth and hydrated before makeup.  Put them on your dry areas (cheeks, chin, wherever) while you are doing your eye makeup to prevent dry flakes before you put on your base makeup.
And my favourite spot for spot patch sheet masks?  My nose.  I have serious pores/sebaceous filament (SFs) problems living in the desert, but I have discovered that doing nose masks (not strips, just sheet masks on your nose) not only minimizes the appears of pores, it helps my SFs slide right out with gentle rubbing.  Score!

4. Customize the fit of your sheet mask

This was a game-changer for me.  As I mentioned in my April Favourites post, I had an epiphany about the struggle to get a good fit; now I cut all my sheet masks in the same shape as hydrogels, and everything fits perfectly!

You can also fuss around with folding and crimping and tugging and other annoying methods that make me cuss a lot, or you can just make a few snips and get a smooth-fitting mask,.

You don't need pretty scissors, but it's good to have a pair just for this for hygiene reasons.
There are two types of cuts I do, depending whether the mask already has slits cut into it.

One is straight across to the nose gap, exactly like a hydrogel:

I make a horizontal cut that reaches to the already-existing gap under the nose.
I find this works well with every type of mask, whether it has existing cuts in already, like this one does, or not.

The second type is where I take existing slits and then just extend them to meet the gap under the nose:

This is also useful if you need to talk, or eat, and don't fit a Daiso silicone mask.
The second type is usually what I do because I am lazy or I need to be able to move my mouth (I sometimes sheet mask at work while on conference calls- perks of working at home), but I find I get an ideal fit with the first type.

Play around with it and see what type works best for you!

5. Decant products into mist bottles

Conventional K-Beauty wisdom says your skin starts to dry out within 30 seconds of rinsing, so it's important to get your first products on ASAP.  This is why products like the Holika Holika '3 Second Starter' exist (which was terrible, I might add), so that things can be applied while your skin is still damp.  You know what's a fast, even, light application method?  Mists.

I have a routine that heavily features acids (you can read more here) which are pH-dependent, so I use a pH-adjusting toner right after rinsing so the desert air can't suck the moisture out of my skin.  I have decanted it into an empty LJH Tea Tree Mist bottle, and can just mist my face right after patting my face dry after cleaning and it will adjust + keep my skin hydrated while I fumble around with my next product:

Recycling and repurposing for the win!
At left, Mizon AHA/BHA Daily Clean Toner, decanted into the empty LJH mist bottle, and at right: Cosrx Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol, decanted into an empty Cosrx AHA/BHA Clarifying Treatment Toner bottle.  (You can read my comparison review of these two toners here.)

The Mizon toner is hard to find, so I looked for a way to evenly apply it to my whole face but use very little product- too much was being soaked up by my hands or a cotton pad.  The mist is perfect; it goes on super fast, is very even, and uses barely any product at all.  I also tend to knock things over when I'm not wearing my glasses.

The Cosrx A-Sol decant I keep at my side table to avoid a trip back to the bathroom during my PM routine active wait times; I don't even have to worry about washing my hands, since I'm not touching my face.  I just grab the mist, spritz it on troubled areas, and carry on.

Want a DIY blend of essence + serum + ampoule to shorten your steps?  Pop it in a mist bottle for easy reach/quick application; heck leave them all over the house- I do.

And here's two bonus tips!

If you have a rubycell puff with your cushion, it has applications beyond just applying the product it came with.

Bonus #1:  Spray your cushion puff with a mist

You can mist your cushion puff and then pat it on your face to re-hydrate your skin without disturbing your makeup too much (your mist spray may just settle on the surface and react strangely with your makeup) or to hydrate the skin before you apply/reapply.

However, I prefer to mist my cushion puff before I pick up the product, because I find a damp puff applies product even more naturally than a dry one, sort of like a damp beauty blender sponge vs a dry makeup sponge.

Mists, cushions, and sunscreens, so happy together.
Bonus #2: Use your cushion puff to apply other products

Like the beauty blender, the rubycell cushion puff has some amazing application properties, and many Asian product fans use the puffs for applying BB cream, CC cream, foundation, sunscreen, even moisturizer.  It gives an even, smooth coverage and the gentle patting motion blends in the product without overworking the skin.

This is especially great for physical-only sunscreens, because they are a pain to apply and blend in my experience (hello dry flake, I didn't even know you were there?) and their white cast is intense without good blending.

And that's it!  Have some K-Beauty hacks that you swear by?  Leave me a comment below, or shoot me a message on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram!

All the best,


**Disclaimer: All products mentioned are 100% purchased with my own money and my opinions are entirely my own, with the exception of the Sunkiller Baby Milk Sunscreen which was a Christmas gift.  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. Hey Cat! Where do you get your dry cotton undereye patches? I already have some of the compressed face masks coming my way but I have combed ebay and I cannot for the life of me find undereye patches that aren't already soaked in essence. (Unfortunately Amazon is not an option for me; long story.)

    Thanks! :)

    1. I did some quick googling and found some on Muji and on ebay. If you have a Daiso in your area, that would be the best bet as that was where a friend got mine from! :)

      Hope that helps! My full face DIY sheets from amazon also came with eye patches so other DIY full face ones may as well.

    2. I get mine from Muji as there is a shop near me. Totally agree about the amount of essence needed for those things (especially the compressed ones). I wrote a post about it a few months ago and was caught out a bit! x

  2. Thanks for sharing it cat, ur blog is a new addiction to me :)

  3. thanks for the bonus tip! misting always mess up my makeup >.< will try misting the cushion puff before touching up!

    1. Mine too, especially if I am wearing sunscreen; it seems to break up the layers of things and it becomes a splotchy mess, argh!

  4. Oh no! I just ordered the Holika Holika 3 second I going to hate it? Where in my routine do I put it? Le sigh...the joys of trial and error

  5. best tip I found for a DYI sheet mask is to use the rice paper wraps often used to make Vietnamese spring rolls as your mask material. Simply soak in lukewarm water to soften the rice paper, then dip in whatever essence, serum or whatnot and apply to face. Have not tried yet but it seems like a good idea given the rice paper is very close in texture to a hydrogel mask. It is suggested to cut into quarters and apply one to each cheek, one to forehead and chin.

  6. Hi Cat! Do you recommend any nose masks for FS/pores? Love re-reading your posts!

    1. I've yet to find any mask that worked as well as a pore-declogging active (like BHA or Azelaic acid) + a gentle oil massage. Unfortunately, nose masks that peel off (like pore strips) may damage your skin, so I avoid them. I miss them, though!