Welcome to Soko Secret! Here, we shine a light on the people living in Korea who inspire us. Straight from the streets of Seoul, their approach to beauty and style will impress you. Here is an exclusive interview with Claudia Kim, a native Korean actress who’s been making international waves since her breakout role in The Avengers.
Strikingly tall and a fluent English and Korean speaker, Claudia Kim is not your average Korean actress. After winning a modeling contest while attending the prestigious Ewha Womans University in Seoul, she quickly developed her Korean acting career into a global one. Although she may be known for her breakout role as Dr. Cho in The Avengers and as the official model for Physiogel, she’s also known amongst her friends as the “research queen” for her skin care knowledge.
I got to chat with Claudia Kim and find out her best skin care tips, as well as the products she loves:
Is there a beauty tip or advice you learned from your family that you still use now?
The women in my family have influenced my beauty routine. They’re incredibly diligent in their skincare routine and believers of natural remedies. When I was young, I had skin allergies. They would teach me how to wash my face with rice water, which is the water that remains after you used it to wash rice grains with. Rice water is full of minerals and vitamins. It brightens, smoothes, and heals skin. It makes a great natural toner and a perfect anti-inflammatory treatment for allergic skin.
I was also introduced to chamomile masks, which are used to calm my skin and brighten dark circles.
My mom and aunt love trying the latest beauty products. They would have made great bloggers. They try a lot of Korean beauty products, but also brands from Europe as well. They’ve never been to European or French pharmacies, but they’ve tried everything. Bio-Oil and the Natura Bisse Diamond Extreme Oil are some of my favorite products they’ve introduced me to. I love the Lucas Papaw Ointment, too. We use it for chapped lips and scars, on our nails, and also on my puppy Winter’s paws.
When shooting Korean movies and shows versus American movies and shows, how does your makeup differ? What is the difference between Korean makeup and American makeup?
For both Korean and American shoots, I normally don’t put on a lot of makeup. The roles I’ve played never called for heavy makeup.
In the U.S., they focus on keeping everything very natural. The directors and makeup artists I worked with didn’t like to make me look too different. I’ll usually be done in 5-10 minutes. For my character Khutulun on Marco Polo, maybe just an additional five minutes for the dirt and blood. They barely put eyeliner or mascara on me. At first it made me feel a bit insecure, but now I like that they celebrate my natural look. I also think it’s more appropriate for the character.
In Korea, I believe that it’s all about perfecting a look. It’s still very natural because they’re so strict with the amount of product that they use. I think creating a sheer, dewy look is a skill that Korean makeup artists have.
How many steps are in your skin care routine?
I have eight steps. Believe it or not, I just started using oil cleansers. I was very insecure about using oil on my face, because I was afraid that it would mess up the balance of water and oil. But now that I’m getting older, I do feel like my skin is getting drier and I actually feel more moisturized after using an oil cleanser. I also use cleansing waters and gels afterwards to remove the oily residue. Then I use a toner, an essence with natural exfoliators, and one that has caviar extract. I use a moisturizer at the end, and I use a facial oil around the eyes, nose, and chin.
I always change my products. I believe you need different products for different seasons, and your skin is changing all the time. And there are so many amazing different products out there so it’s fun to try . If you don’t change your skin care products, it’s similar to eating the same food all the time. Your skin needs different food.
Right now, I really love the La Mer Cleansing Oil, the Bioderma Sensibio H2O Micelle Solution, the Institut Arnaud Perle & Caviar Range Eye Contour Elixir, the Physiogel Daily Moisture Therapy Cream, the Physiogel Daily Defence Gentle Facial Cleanser, and the Physiogel Daily Defense Replenishing Night Cream. I’ve also been using the La Prairie Skin Caviar Liquid Lift Serum, and the La Mer lip balm, as well as the Uriage lip balm.
You mentioned that depuffing your face is a big concern. Can you share what you do to help depuff?
I make it a rule to work out in the morning on a workday—or any kind of work and no matter how early. Usually, I don’t have a very puffy face in the morning but I like how my cheeks and nose look much more defined after a good workout.
Most actresses don’t eat prior to their shows, restrict their diet, or rely on special shakes for depuffing, but I believe working out is the healthiest and most effective way possible. You also get a nice glow in your face. I use Kayla Itsines’ workouts in my hotel room when I don’t have access to a gym. Working out before a shoot makes me feel mentally and physically prepared.
What is your biggest skin concern and how do you address it?
My biggest concern is allergies because the dust in Korea is very bad right now and it’s affecting our skin. It doesn’t matter what kind of skin you have. The environment affects us all. I’m also traveling all the time, so my body is confused which timezone it needs to adjust to. I’ve been talking to my dermatologist about how to intensely moisturize my skin and to create a barrier to protect it from pollution. Primrose oil is one of my remedies. I take the primrose supplements my dermatologist prescribed for me but the Solgar Evening Primose Oil Softgels are good too.
I also do a lot of skin care research. My nickname amongst my friends is “research queen.” Researching a lot about diet and how that affects your body and skin helped me to reduce skin problems and allergies.
How would you describe your fashion style?
I like to keep things very simple. I’m almost conditioned to be that way because they say actors should be a blank canvas. When I choose clothes I go for something that is timeless and classic, or something very simple, like a T-shirt and jeans. I’ve never been into really girly outfits. The only thing that I wear that would be trendy are my shoes. I like unique shapes too, but I’m not into crazy patterns and colors.
What’s a beauty product or treatment you’re excited about?
I’m into collagen supplements right now. I tried them and I feel the difference already. I was very skeptical at first, but it helps restore and heal my skin. My skin is also a lot less dry. I’ve taken the Shiseido Collagen Powder before. I mixed it in my morning smoothies. Recently, I went to Japan again and I got the DHC Collagens Supplement. It’s a small packet of collagen pills that you take once a day so it’s perfect for traveling.