5 Thought-Provoking Korean Beauty Blog Posts That Changed Everything

As I run around this weekend trying to find things without half-unpacking every box underfoot, I've been reflecting on changes- I assume this is a typical mental state when one is undergoing mega life changes a decade in the making- including the evolution of this blog and the overall Asian/K-Beauty landscape.  The latter has definitely undergone huge changes in the years I've been observing (and blogging about) it!

With K-Beauty being everywhere in popular/mainstream media and hitting big bloggers and youtube gurus, it can be hard to imagine the days when snail filtrate was freakish and exotic, and BB creams were only available online from Asian companies.  Over the years, I've personally undergone profound development of my skincare philosophy, knowledge, awareness, and review style, but that "didn't happen in vacuum", as they say.

The western interest in beauty products from Asia has really been a grassroots movement made possible by the internet and social media; as a result, there is a strong community network of people who love the products and love to share and discuss them with one another.  As a result, now and then an earth-shattering post comes along that spreads like wildfire in the community, changing the communal landscape.

This is a short list of a few posts that, in my opinion, profoundly impacted the K-Beauty and Asian beauty landscape, reaching far beyond the tight-knit community to the larger public, influencing trends, curation, inventory, and even new product development.

Skin and Tonics: The Importance of Fatty Acids, pH & the Moisture Barrier: How I Eliminated my Acne & Decreased my Skin Sensitivity
Screen capture from skinandtonics.com
Kerry's post on low pH skincare set off a revolution in the English-speaking Asian beauty product market, and her blog's blend of scientific citations and detailed reviews after long-term use set a new standard in the K-Beauty blogging world that continues to influence the community to this day.

Screen capture: "The Importance of Fatty Acids, pH & the Moisture Barrier: 
How I Eliminated my Acne & Decreased my Skin Sensitivity" skinandtonics.com
One of the frequent criticisms of the beauty blogging scene, and especially in the early days of the K-Beauty scene, is the tendency towards 'reviews' of products that have been used once or twice before proclamations of "it smelled pretty and the package was cute! 5 stars! You should buy it!" are made.

Some products- such as makeup or fragrances- don't need in-depth scientific research, long-term testing, or careful analysis, but as Kerry mentions in her blog, skin renews itself every 28 days and thus tends to require a bit more of an investment.  Kerry brought a more serious, educational tone and legitimacy to the world of K-Beauty, and in my opinion, we're all the better for it.

In fact, this post sparked my torrid affair with the science of skincare and the low pH life; after I read this world-rearranging post, I set out to dive even deeper into the science behind low pH, hoping that there would be a loophole.  There wasn't, and I detailed my in-depth findings in Why the pH of Your Cleanser Matters.

Fanserviced-b: Korean vs. U.S. Cosmetic Ingredient List Order Differences
Screen capture from fanserviced-b.com
If Kerry's post catapulted me into the science of skincare, this game-changing post by fanserviced-b pulled me out of the morass of ingredient list obsessing and formulation over-analyzing.

As Tracy suspected, hypothesized, tested, corroborated, and finally confirmed, Korean ingredient lists are a different animal and can't be viewed the same way as we're used to in the west.  This was incredibly liberating; ingredients and formulations are still important, but they're not the be-all and end-all of skincare; when it comes to skincare, sometimes the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

Screen capture: "Korean vs. U.S. Cosmetic Ingredient List Order Differences" fanserviced-b.com
The product she used as an example (one of her favourites) did not become less of a favourite just because she was looking at it with new eyes.  Sometimes an ingredients list that seems ideal "on paper" will be a total failure for your skin, and something that seems chock-full of triggers and flags can be the best thing you've ever used.

Do I still pay attention to ingredients?  Of course.  Do I still consider potential triggers, and investigate any that have a high rating?  Absolutely.  Do I reject products with triggers that I, personally, do not react to?  Nope, although that's not new.  Ingredient triggers deserve consideration, but unless there is something that you, personally, have confirmed is a trigger for you, it's best to take the often-outdated flags from sites like Cosdna with a grain of salt.

My own triggers are chemical sunscreen filters, but they work just fine for most of the population; Cosdna (unfortunately) can't figure that out for me- learning your own skincare triggers is part of your skincare journey.  In fact, knowing your personal triggers is something that adoredee urges in the this next post:

adoredee: How to Beauty Haul responsibly
Screen capture from adoredee.com
It's so easy to get caught up in the next trend, new product releases, new favourites of people you respect, and end up overextending yourself.  It might be more than you are comfortable with spending, more than you have room for, or more than you can use.

Adoredee is a Consumer Psychologist, and her guide to developing a 'responsible hauling' approach based off whatever factors that you decide matter for you, is a must-read.

Screen capture: "How to Beauty Haul responsibly" adoredee.com
Not only was the post itself insightful and thought-provoking, many Asian beauty product bloggers were inspired to add their own thoughts to the discussion over the weeks that followed, bringing new perspectives and ideas to the table.

One of them is the post that adoredee and I wrote together about blogger boundaries + the psychology (and the dangers) of viewing bloggers as dermatologists, Tracy at fanserviced-b wrote a post on the concept of Skincaretainment: Connection and the Culture of Korean Beauty, and Jude from 50 Shades of Snail wrote an eloquent counterpoint that emphasized adoredee's point that it's not about denying yourself, it's about being aware and invested in what's right for you:

50 Shades of Snail: How My Elaborate Korean Skincare Routine Helps Me Fight Depression

Screen capture: post by Jude of 50 Shades of Snail for Fashionista
Some people mistakenly see adoredee's post as an argument for frugalism, for moderation, for controlling your spending in order to avoid guilt and shame, but it's really about mindfulness; knowing yourself, what's best for you, and being true to that.  That's the same theme as Jude's incredibly touching, honest, and relatable post on how her Korean skincare routine-turned-lifestyle has become a form of self-care, and the effect it has had for her.

Screen capture: "How My Elaborate Korean Skincare Routine Helps Me Fight Depression" 
by Jude of 50 Shades of Snail for Fashionista
Jude's post struck a chord with me not because I intimately know the painful struggles of the disease, because I don't, and I can't (I have what my doctor wryly calls "Circumstantial Depression- there's nothing chemically wrong with [me] it's just that [my] life sucks" and thank snail for things changing now) but because I know that there is a culture of shaming any acts of self-care in our society, particularly for women.

On the one hand, women are scorned as being shallow, vain, and self-indulgent for buying beauty-related purchases, but on the other hand they're also judged for not wearing makeup/having a groomed, attractive appearance.  We often hear comments like "So-and-so would be so pretty if she just took better care of herself."  The irony is intense.  Women are also expected to take care of their families, but aren't necessarily encouraged to take care of themselves; leaving women ping-ponging between being 'virtuously' frugal and binging on retail therapy.  To me, Jude and adoredee's two sides to the same coin are like guideposts to how to invest in yourself and your well-being while still feeling in control of your purchases and happy with your choices.

Aside from what I, personally, gleaned from Jude's post, I admire her courage for honestly and openly discussing something that frequently gets glossed over in a sea of bubbly beauty frenzy that wants to focus on cute packaging and glittery new trends and captivating ingredients.

And speaking of captivating ingredients, this brings me to the last post, which I suspect might become the next narrative to catch fire in the community: a new way of looking at ingredients, formulations, and the cost of cosmetics from Chel at Holy Snails.

Holy Snails: A Rant on OST's C20 and C21.5 Serums, and Some Thinky Thoughts on Vitamin C

Screen capture: holysnails.com
I struggled a little to choose between this post and the follow-up post Adventures in DIY: Vitamin C + E + Ferulic Acid Serum Part 1, because Chel's narrative is evolving, from what I can tell, more or less through her own exploration and thus it develops naturally and organically as she writes.  Possibly also as she has very late night conversations with some of her fellow skincare nerds- some of whom have benefitted by getting to test her prototypes. *cough*   But that's not why I'm including her post here, although I'm of course super grateful to be able to beta some of them.

There have been rumblings for some time about the formulations of certain popular products, but without supplying accessible explanations (with citations) as to why the formulations aren't good.  Plus, there's no mistaking that something twice the price and only slightly better in terms of visual results just isn't going to convince legions of fans (including me) to turn away from a product that works for them.
Screen capture: "A Rant on OST's C20 and C21.5 Serums, and Some Thinky Thoughts on Vitamin C" holysnails.com
What's unique about Holy Snails is that while the DIY game has been around for a very, very long time, she's the only one approaching DIY from an Asian skincare perspective.  She's combining the ultra-customized, flexible, multi-step approach with science so potent that I have rearrange the amount of room in the crotch of my pants (metaphorically speaking) every time she posts about it or sends me messages like "what do you think of a fermented Hanbang essence with proven scientific ingredients in it?" and I have to take a cold shower before I can manage to reply.

DIY is one of those things that sounds simple until you start looking into what it would really take to do it effectively; she often posts snapchats of her alchemical processes and posts regular updates with her latest thoughts and discoveries, and it looks ... intense.  She makes it look easy, and she keeps it real, but she also can say Astaxanthin three times fast without stuttering; I leave the chemistry to her and simply enjoy the view (and gifs) from the passenger's side.

Final Thoughts

This list is in no way exhaustive (unlike the task of unpacking this house, huehuehu- sorry, I'm tired and possibly high on cleaning fluid fumes) but they're all posts that I find myself coming back to and reading over and over.  They influence how I perceive skincare, and K-Beauty especially, and they do so on an ongoing basis.

I love reading and writing reviews, but it's the posts that spark conversations and additions to the communal narrative that excite me the most, have the most long-term relevance, and are the ones that make us all grow- bloggers and readers alike.

Now having spent time contemplating the meaning of K-Beauty blogging and its evolution in the west, I have to tackle the practical task of shopping for a storage unit to fit all my stash in.  Snesus take the wheel.

All the best,


  1. This is a great roundup of game-changing posts. A couple of which I actually haven't read yet ^_^

    1. Thank you, and happy dive into the rabbit hole for the ones that are new to you! :D

  2. Your post on layering depending on pH fits right into the list. I reference it in one of my posts and come back to it time and again myself. But that's not all. Each post provides so many helpful infos – your blog definitely and decidedly counts among the must-reads when it comes to Asian skin care. At least for me!

    1. Thank you, I am so glad you found it helpful and thank you for the kind words about my blog. :)

  3. This is a wonderful post. Skin &Tonics was the first kbeauty blog that I took seriously. And from there I was able to learn about fanserviced-b, fiddy, holy snails and you. And now you have shown me adorabee. I agree that your post on ph and layering shpuld also be included in the list. I very much love your blog and the ton of information i get. Thank you. Korean skincare regime has made a change in my life, self care, yes so important and something i have not done for many years. Thanks again for being a light when the night is dark.

  4. The best of K-beauty advice in one place! Thank you for making this happen. :)

  5. All I can say is SLAY CAT SLAYYYYYYY! Thanks for doing all this research and making your blog so awesome. I hope one day my blog can be one like yours and like the many others' that I look up to!