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Kay Beauty

Beginner Acids: How To Get Started With Acid Exfoliation


Hello my fellow beauty lovers! Kay Beauty here, for another edition of skincare tips for you lovelies! Today we are going to discuss beginner acids. Many of you have told me that starting acid exfoliation can be intimidating with the sheer amount of information and the variety of products out there, so maybe it’s a time for a bit of hand-holding!

If you have no idea what acid exfoliation is, please take a look at one of our previous posts: AHAS, BHAS, AND PHAS: WHICH ACIDS ARE RIGHT FOR YOUR SKIN? This will give you a general overview of what chemical exfoliants are, and which ones you might want to use.

A Few Words Of Caution

One of the greatest dangers with starting acid exfoliation is over-exfoliation and irritation. The best advice I can give you is to LISTEN TO YOUR SKIN. If it feels taut, itchy, and stings, it’s a good idea to back off of the acid exfoliation and let your skin recover.

The second danger is sun damage. Acid exfoliation (especially with AHAs) can leave your skin more sensitive to the sun. I know I don’t need to tell you to be wearing sunscreen every day, but be hyper vigilant with the broad-spectrum sunscreen when you’re exfoliating.

Now, let’s go step by step with a few different sample products, so we can understand how to apply them to the skin.

Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid


The Cosrx AHA is a classic acid exfoliation product. AHAs help to smooth skin texture, lighten pigmentation, and impart a glow to the skin. This light AHA liquid contains 7% AHA, which is an effective concentration, but not overly harsh.

How to use it:

  • Cleanse your skin with a mild cleanser, and pat your skin dry
  • Apply the AHA evenly over the skin with your hands or a cotton pad (if using hands, be sure to rinse off the liquid afterwards)
  • Give the AHA liquid a few minutes to absorb and to do its work before continuing with the rest of your skincare routine
  • Give your skin extra nourishing and moisturizing products to help it recover from the exfoliation
  • When first starting, use every 3-4 days and then increase frequency as your skin permits

Note on wait times: You may have heard that you should wait after cleansing your skin to allow your skin’s pH to normalize before applying AHA, and to wait several minutes again after applying the AHA to allow the acid to work. While wait times may optimize the efficacy of the product, this isn’t something you need to worry about as a beginner. If anything, you want to err on the side of slightly more attenuated or weaker effects rather than the optimal strength possible!

Wish Formula Optima 7 Pads

Wish Formula is an up and coming KBeauty brand that specializes in treatment products with effective actives such as AHAs and BHAs. I’m quite excited to see what new products they have to offer! The Optima 7 Pads contain a 5% AHA solution, which is quite gentle, making it perfect as a beginner acid product. The jar contains 50 sheets, and when used every few days will last you a few months.

How to use it:

  • Cleanse skin gently with a mild cleanser and pat skin dry
  • Swipe pads GENTLY over skin. Because this AHA is in a pad form, be careful not to physically over-exfoliate by rubbing the pad too hard on your skin.
  • Give the AHA a few minutes to absorb and to do its work before continuing with the rest of your skincare routine
  • Give your skin extra nourishing and moisturizing products to help it recover from the exfoliation
  • When first starting, use every 3-4 days and then increase frequency as your skin permits

As you can see, you’re using it almost exactly the same way as the Cosrx AHA Liquid, except in pad form.

Wish Formula C200 Bubble Peeling Pads

You can trust a KBeauty company to make a utilitarian skincare step like exfoliating into something fun and innovative. In this case, the Wish Formula C200 Bubble Peeling Pads contain a sponge saturated in AHA and Vitamin C, and a bubbling formula. You squeeze the sponge to make it bubble up and massage it over your face for 3 minutes. Unlike the previous two AHA products discussed, you rinse the solution off after exfoliating with it.

This is the one of the most unique exfoliating products I’ve seen on the market. It also gets great feedback for how effective it is and how fun it is to use.

How to use it:

  • Cleanse skin and pat dry
  • Remove C200 sponge pad from package and squeeze to produce bubbles
  • Massage the textured sponge side over face GENTLY for 2-3 minutes (stick to 2 if you have more sensitive skin)
  • Flip the sponge over (you can move the ribbon to the other side) and use the smooth side to pat the essence into your skin until absorbed
  • Rinse off the excess foam with lukewarm water
  • Continue with your skincare routine

There are a few exfoliating products that need to be washed off, like the Neogen Wine Peeling Pads, so be sure to take a look at what the package instructions say to do.

General Guidelines

  • In general, use acid exfoliants directly after cleansing skin
  • The exception to putting acids directly on cleansed skin is if you want to use a pH-adjusting (acidic) toner to prep your skin so the acids can be more effective. I wouldn’t recommend this if you’re a complete beginner though.
  • Follow up with your regular skincare routine, taking extra care to moisturize and nourish the skin, because even the most gentle exfoliation compromises the skin’s moisture barrier to some extent
  • When you’re using an exfoliating product, your skin might purge its clogged impurities by breaking into small pimples or whiteheads. This can be normal and should resolve within a couple weeks. However, if your skin is reacting with major breakouts, inflammation, irritation, or a rash, PLEASE STOP. Not all products are for everyone.

I’ll leave you with a little infographic I made if you need help visualizing where to put acids in your routine.


I hope you enjoyed this week’s blog post, and leave me a comment if you have questions!



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How to Shrink Blackheads, Without Squeezing!


Hello, my beauties, Kay Beauty here! Recently I’ve had a lot of people asking me about the best way to remove blackheads, so this post is dedicated to those little pesky dark dots!

Are They Really Blackheads?

Blackheads are open pores clogged with sebum and debris that turn black because the gunk in them oxidize when exposed to air. Many people struggle with blackheads on their nose and T-zone area, because that’s an area where the skin produces more sebum.

However, there’s a difference between blackheads, which are clogged pores, and the normal appearance of your pores. To an extent, dark spots in these areas are inevitable and normal. Your pores naturally produce sebum to lubricate and protect your skin, and there will always be at least a small amount of oxidization when the sebum is exposed to air. Those darkened pores are known as sebaceous filaments, and no matter what you do to remove them, they will always fill back up.

Whether those spots are true blackheads, however, or merely sebaceous filaments, there are things you can do to minimize their appearance without resorting to squeezing (which can stretch the pore and permanently damage your skin).

  1. Apply BHA

BHA, which comes in the form of salicylic acid or betaine salicylate, is oil-soluble and is thus able to exfoliate inside the pore, loosening oil and dead skin that may be clogging pores. Consistent use of a BHA product should cause blackheads and sebaceous filaments to appear less prominent.

A favorite in the KBeauty community, and a perennial bestseller, the Cosrx BHA Blackhead Liquid is one of the best gentle BHA products for keeping those pores clear.



  1. Exfoliate

Removing excess dead skin cells from the surface of your skin can help prevent buildup of pore-clogging debris. Whether you exfoliate with AHA or with a gentle physical scrub, make sure you keep the exfoliation extra-gentle to avoid irritating or inflaming your skin, and limit use to a couple times a week, especially if using in conjunction with BHA. As always, be sure to wear sunscreen, as freshly-exfoliated skin is more sensitive to the sun.

One of our favorite choices for gentle exfoliation is the Neogen Bio-Gauze Wine Peeling Pads. These delicious smelling pads physically exfoliate with the gentle textured pad, and chemically exfoliate with AHAs and wine extracts. The best part is, they are extremely gentle.

Another option for gentle exfoliation is a peeling gel, like the Mizon Apple Smoothie Peeling Gel. This gel-like product rolls up into little balls when massaged over your skin, taking dead skin and debris with it.

  1. Oil Cleanse

As I touched upon in my post on double-cleansing last week, oil dissolves oil, and is therefore a particularly good choice for cleansing oily or clogged skin. Massaging the oil cleanser over areas that have blackheads and clogged pores will help to clean them out.

Some of our favorite oil cleansers include the A By Bom balm cleanser, and the Blossom Jeju Camellia cleansing oil.

  1. Reduce Oil With Clay and Charcoal Masks

Clay and charcoal masks naturally absorb oil that may be clogging pores, and regular use can help to keep pores looking smaller and clearer. If you find clay masks drying, use them just in the T-zone or on problem areas.

We love the Dr Jart Dermaclear Clay Foam masks/cleansers for drawing out impurities from the pores. This innovative clay mask absorbs oil and when mixed with water, gently foams to thoroughly cleanse skin and leaves it refreshed.

Consistent care of your skin with these four methods should help to reduce the appearance of blackheads and sebaceous filaments.

What are your favorite ways to shrink blackheads?


See you next week for more skincare tips!



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What's So Great About Double Cleansing?

What's So Great About Double Cleansing?


Hello lovelies! It’s Kay Beauty, resident skincare addict and KBeauty lover here, bringing you another info-packed blog post to help you with your skincare needs!

Today we’re going to tackle the topic of double-cleansing, the practice of cleansing your face twice -- once with an oil-based cleanser, and once with a foaming cleanser. Double cleansing is integral to the KBeauty skincare routine, and you’ll find that it comes with multiple skin benefits.

Step 1: The Oil Cleanse

Did you know that most water-based cleansers aren’t formulated to remove makeup? Most makeup (and many sunscreens) are designed to be water-resistant, and can’t be scrubbed off with a standard foaming cleanser without using extremely harsh surfactants that dry out your skin. The solution? Oil cleansing.

The idea is that oil dissolves oil. An oil cleanser melts makeup, dirt, and excess sebum without stripping the water content of your skin. In the KBeauty world, most oil-based cleansers are formulated with emulsifiers, meaning that they rinse off cleanly with water, no washcloths or flannels required!

An oil cleanser can come in oil or balm form. They work essentially the same way, except that an oil cleanser is runnier and a balm cleanser is more solid. Both melt away makeup and impurities and rinse off, leaving you with clean, makeup-free skin.

Because of its ability to dissolve impurities, you might find that oil cleansing reduces pore clogging, promoting clearer, smoother skin.

Some of my favorite oil and balm cleansers include:

A by Bom Ultra Watery Eoseongcho Cleanser

Blossom Jeju Camellia Soombi Cleansing Oil

Whamisa Organic Flowers Cleansing Oil


Step 2: The Foaming Cleanse

In the KBeauty skincare regimen, the role of the second cleanse is simply to remove any residue or dirt left over from your oil cleanser, leaving your skin ready to absorb subsequent products. Because the oil cleanse does the heavy lifting in terms of removing dirt and makeup, the foaming cleanser can be very, very gentle.

In fact, it’s of utmost importance that you choose a very gentle cleanser, so as not to strip your skin of moisture. After all, preserving a healthy moisture barrier is essential to getting the plump, dewy, moisturized skin so prized in Korea. Because our skin is at its optimal health at a slightly-acidic pH of about 5.5, choosing a low-pH cleanser is the gentlest and best for naturally healthy skin.

Some of my favorite gentle cleansers include:

Cosrx Low-pH Good Morning Cleanser

Wish Formula Enzyme Washing Powder Jelly Cleanser

Of course, the double cleanse isn’t set in stone. If you haven’t worn makeup all day, or you just need a refresher in the morning, feel free to just do the second cleanse with a gentle cleanser. And some people like to remove makeup with a cleansing cream, or a cleansing water, instead of an oil. The important thing, and the key to the double cleanse, is that you’re thoroughly removing all makeup and dirt, without drying your skin out.


I’ll be back next week to bring you some more useful skincare tips! Let me know if you have any questions you’d like to have answered!




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Moisturizer: The Definition and Some Distinctions

Moisturizer: The Definition and Some Distinctions

Hello again, beauties!

It’s me, Kay Beauty, and today I’m here to tell you what you need to know about different moisturizing ingredients to get you that perfectly plump, smooth, and silky skin you’ve been dreaming of!

Moisturizer: The Definition and Some Distinctions

So what is “moisturizer”? At first, the answer seems obvious. Moisturizer is a product that adds moisture to skin. For those of us in the West, the word “moisturizer” usually brings to mind lotions or creams. But there’s actually a lot more to moisturizer than that, especially if your goal is juicy, bouncy K-beauty skin.

To understand different types of moisture, first we need to consider the structure of our skin and its different moisture needs.

The primary function of skin is to keep things inside that should be inside, and to keep things out that should stay out. That includes moisture. At the upper layers of skin, this is accomplished through what we know as our “moisture barrier.” Our moisture barrier is comprised of dead skin cells and fatty lipids arranged in a kind of brick and mortar structure. This structure helps to hold water in our skin and keep irritants and contaminants out. Deeper within our skin, water is key. Water maintains our cells’ shape and proper function. Water in the deeper levels of skin keep our complexions plump and give it a dewy glow.

To stay in top condition, therefore, our skin needs both watery and fatty moisture. Unfortunately, we can lack either or both of those types of moisture for many reasons. Overly harsh cleansing and/or too much exfoliation can compromise our moisture barrier and lead to rapid water loss, dehydrating skin. Dry skin, on the other hand, is caused by too little production of lipids in skin. And the aging process reduces our natural production of both.

Here's where moisturizers come in. To choose the right ones for your skin, understand the different types of moisturizing ingredients they use, and arrange your skincare routine accordingly. Most products contain a mix of more than one type of moisturizing ingredient, but in different proportions for different results.


Humectants are ingredients that bind water and deliver it to skin. They are used to hydrate skin and are best for plumping and to smooth away fine lines and crepey texture caused by dehydration. Some of the most common humectants are glycerin and hyaluronic acid/sodium hyaluronate/hydrolyzed hyaluronic acid. You’ll find humectants most strongly represented in hydrating toners and watery-type sheet masks. Use these to deliver water deep into skin.

My picks for humectant moisture:


Emollients are ingredients that fill in the microscopic gaps between cells at the surface of the skin. Remember the brick and mortar structure we talked about earlier? If there are any cracks, crevices, or other holes in that structure, emollients temporarily seal those up. This creates a soft texture and smooth, supple surface. Plant oils are very common emollients in Korean skincare. Snail secretion filtrate or snail mucin is also wonderfully emollient. Emollients are most strongly represented in moisturizing lotions and creams, as well as in creamy-type sheet masks.

My picks for emollient moisture:


Occlusives are moisturizing ingredients that sit on top of skin, due to having molecules too large to penetrate into skin. Usually heavier than emollients, they create a physical barrier to prevent moisture loss. The most common occlusives in skincare are mineral oil and petroleum jelly, but when used in large enough proportions, emollients such as ceramides and plant oils also become occlusive. Shea butter is another common occlusive. Occlusives are most often emphasized in heavier moisturizing creams and sleeping packs.

My picks for occlusive moisture:


Most effective skincare routines will contain a mix of all three types of moisture, adjusted according to your skin’s needs. For example, if you have dehydrated but oily skin, you should layer more humectant hydrating products and finish with a fairly light emollient moisturizer. If your skin is quite dry, heavier occlusives may need to come into play. Consider your skin condition, experiment with products, and find the balance that’s right for you.

Until next time,


Kay Beauty

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Sheet Mask 101

Sheet Mask 101

Sheet Mask 101

The concept of a sheet mask is very simple. Sheet masks are actual sheets of fabric—usually cotton but sometimes silk, microfiber, or other material—cut to fit the face and saturated with a cream or liquid serum.

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