Welcome to Soko Secret! Here, we shine a light on the people living in Korea who inspire us. Whether it’s straight from the streets of Seoul or another part of the country, their approach to beauty and style will impress you. Here, we share Joan Kim’s tips on how to master the Korean dewy makeup look.
Joan Kim is a 25-year-old YouTube Korean-American vlogger who’s from Los Angeles. She moved to Seoul when she was 21 to participate in a teaching program and was only supposed to be there for a year. It’s now been three years and she has no plans of returning back to the U.S.
“I started making YouTube videos to document my life in Korea for my friends and family in the U.S. to watch,” she says. One day her teaching program asked her to create a video to show incoming teachers how to teach their students and Kim filmed herself showing her Innisfree empties. Then the video blew up on the internet. “So I decided to film more Korean beauty videos,” says Kim. “I got asked to do an interview for a radio station and I got a job at the broadcast station. Now I’m stuck here and I love it.”
Something else Kim loves? Korean skin care and makeup. Browse her YouTube channel and you’ll find dozens of videos where Kim reviews and raves about her favorite skin care and makeup brands. That’s why we had to pick her brain and find our her favorite products, as well as her tips to nail the coveted dewy Korean makeup trend.
What’s the big difference with how Americans view makeup versus Koreans?
I was in San Francisco a week ago and I walked into Sephora and M.A.C., and I noticed that in the U.S., people stress makeup more than skin care. It broke my heart because it’s really about the base and not covering it up, and I have acne-prone skin, so it was understandable that you wanna cover up your skin, but moving to Korea helped me realize it’s more about worrying about skin care first.
The main difference is that in the U.S., people wanna cover everything up, but in Korea, it’s all about skin care and the natural look. It’s about looking glowy, dewy, and making sure your skin looks bouncy and not overdone, and enhancing your features. I wish America went in that direction because when you remove your makeup, you still want to have good skin and not worry about heavy makeup breaking you out.
What are your best tips for people who want to change their makeup routine and gravitate towards a more dewy, natural look?
First off, get a good primer. Recently, I’ve been using the Erborian Glow Creme that came in The Klog Box. Another thing to take note of is when you use a cushion compact, don’t overdo it. One layer of foundation is fine. Just tap it gently and then lightly mattify your face with a translucent powder. But I think the main reason some people feel they can’t achieve the dewy look is because they don’t pay enough attention to their skin care. The rule should always be skin care first and then light makeup.
What should people be doing in their skin care routines?
Double cleanse. That’s so important. I think double cleansing changed my life because it really cleans your face, and that’s important if you have acne-prone skin and you won’t break out. I actually learned about double cleansing from Soko Glam.
Toning is also super important. I feel like the 10 step routine is necessary. And this depends on your skin type, but I have dry skin, so moisturizing is super important. Moisturizing is really important when you want the dewy, bouncy look, because if your skin is desert dry, you won’t be able to achieve that look at all.
What cleansers, toners, and moisturizers are you using right now?
Right now, the oil cleanser I’m using is the Heimish All Clean Balm. I really like the Beyond Phytogenic Facial Foam. It’s a gel cleanser that removes everything. For toner, it changes all the time. It really depends on my skin’s need, but I love the Cosrx Natural BHA Skin Returning A-Sol and the Cosrx AHA 7 Whitehead Power Liquid. The Cosrx line is amazing.
For moisturizers, I really like the Cosrx Oil-Free Ultra Moisturizing Lotion, the Innisfree Orchid Enriched Cream, and the Klairs Rich Moist Soothing Cream. Because moisturizing is so important to me, I have over 10 that I love and can’t live without.
Are there any American brands you still love using?
When it comes to eyeshadow, I use Western brands, like the Urban Decay Naked palette. But when it comes to base, I always stick to Korean brands. All the Western base products I’ve tried—like Clinique and Chanel—all broke me out, except Bare Minerals. But in Korea, the brands make sure even the foundation doesn’t break you out, so I never have that problem with Korean foundations.
How do you shop for Korean foundations?
In the beginning, I used to check the ingredients because my skin is sensitive and certain ingredients will break me out, but the more I checked the ingredients, the more I noticed that in Korea, they don’t use any of the ingredients that broke me out in America. So I stopped checking the ingredients, and now when I look for foundations, I usually look for the packaging. If it’s pretty, I’ll want to buy it. And if my friends recommend it, I’ll check it out. I’m always changing up my foundations, but I’ve been liking Too Cool for School’s new Studio de Teint Artclass Liquid Air foundation.
Are there other makeup looks or tricks you wish people in America knew about?
You should wear less eye shadow. When I was living in America, I’d sometimes use four colors from the Naked palette at once. But in Korea, I only use two different eye shadows because I’m lazy, and also, too much eyeshadow is like a clubbing look. I feel like people ask me where I’m going tonight. So I stopped wearing too much eye makeup.
What are the new emerging brands in Korea you’re excited to see?
I was in Myeongdong yesterday, and I noticed this new store called Vprove. These stores are popping out all over the place because Park Bo-gum is the model. I see it on ads all the time on YouTube. In terms of brands emerging in Korea, I wish Moonshot was growing because I’m a huge K-pop fan, and it’s owned by YG entertainment. But when it comes to makeup, I like Etude House. Their eyeshadows are creamy and last quite long.
Watch Joan review the beauty products she tested in February: