David Yi, the founder of Very Good Light, a men’s grooming and beauty site for Generation Z and millennials, sat down with us to share his skin care secrets and the biggest mistakes being made by men with their skin. Read on to find out what he had to say!
After working at editorial sites like WWD and Mashable, David decided there was a beauty site that was missing in the fray. “I’ve been a journalist and editor for about 10 years now, and I didn’t really see a space for young guys who were really into beauty or grooming, he says. “So Very Good Light started almost exactly a year ago to be a safe space for guys to express themselves, but also to get reviews from other guys to see how these skin care products or makeup brands really look on a guy’s face.”
According to David, Very Good Light is the place where men (and women!) can get “progressive beauty tips” and useful information for men who “want to learn more about an eyeliner or an eyeshadow or even Korean skin care.”
Even more, David says men’s skin types are very different from women’s, making the existence of VGL vital. “Men’s skin is 30% thicker, which means it has more collagen, more sweat production, and more oil,” he says. “A lot of products don’t necessarily work for guys the way they do for women.”
Here, David chats with us about VGL, the biggest skin care mistakes men make, and how the relationship between men and makeup will become stronger in the near future.
What’s the inspiration behind the name, Very Good Light?
We are all looking for that “very good light” for our perfect selfie, right? We’re all looking for that awesome Snapchat filter. But my hypothesis was: What if we didn’t need to rely on the elements? What if didn’t need to rely on that filter because we have that confidence and “very good light” from within? And that’s what “very good light” means—it’s confidence from the inside out.
When you were first getting into skin care what kind of products were you using?
I grew up in a Korean household and my mother was all about Korean skin care. She would give us facials when we were five or six-years-old. It wasn’t until years later that I realized that was not a normal thing most American families did. Growing up, I used a lot of my mom’s Asian beauty products, whether it was IOPE or AmorePacific, or Shiseido. I really grew up being taught to use a cleanser, tone right away, and then use a moisturizer.
But I really didn’t do anything until after college when I started getting industry of beauty media and started getting gifted a lot of these men’s traditional grooming products. I didn’t feel like they were so effective and they didn’t really speak to me. I didn’t think that the packaging or the fragrance or even that the actual product on my face felt right.
It wasn’t until I got back into Korean skin care and got back to my roots that I realized I can use these products that are for everyone. And that’s when my skin started to change. That’s when I became more confident in my skin, and more knowledgeable about what it needed.
What types of products specifically work better on men’s skin?
A lot of men, specifically in Western culture, don’t like that oily or dewy look—I personally love that—but for most men their fear is to look oily. That’s a real thing for guys since they do produce more sebum and are more prone to sweat. So a lot of products with mattifying qualities tend to work better on men’s skin. One brand that I love that I really think does a good job is a brand called Do the Right Thing. It’s a Korean brand specifically for men.
I also think that guys tend to need a very heavy moisturizer in the winter, and a lot of time their skin tends to produce more oil when it is trying to overcompensate because it’s so dry. That’s a clear signal that you’re not moisturizing properly or your skin obviously needs more moisturizer.
I also think that cleansing is very important, but you don’t want something that is so harsh that it strips all of your oil and gets back to that vicious cycle of your skin producing even more oil. The best products for men are gentle cleansers that balance out the pH in their skin and heavier moisturizers with a mattifying quality.
What are some of the most common skin care mistakes that you see other men make?
They don’t tone! Toning is the unsung hero of skin care. It’s probably one of the most important steps, and a lot of guys just don’t understand why they need a toner. They use a toner with an astringent that has a lot of alcohol and then it dries their skin or irritates it.
And a lot of guys just go straight from washing their face with warm water to moisturizer, but the moisturizer isn’t sinking into their skin. So how I explain it is that toner is kind of like water dripping on top of your face, and your face is a dry sponge. Water will not drench the sponge if there are only drips, but if you drench the sponge with a lot of water, or in this case toner, then the hydration will go through the top to bottom a lot better. To allow the moisturizer to do it’s job you need the toner to be placed after cleansing.
I also think men are really bad about is SPF. They say “Oh, my family doesn’t have a history of skin cancer” or “I don’t burn in the summertime so I don’t know why I need that skin protection.” There’s a huge lack of education. Obviously we need SPF every single day of our lives. Even if you do or don’t see any damage on your skin immediately, you don’t know the various effects that are happening under the skin. You can get sun spots and wrinkles. More so, if you don’t wear SPF, you make yourself more prone to cancer.
I think that guys just haven’t found an SPF that doesn’t leave a gray film on their faces and that’s why they’re afraid of it. Or maybe it’s just an added step that they hate doing because they want to be efficient with their time. But it goes without saying, SPF is the number one preventative measure to having great skin.
Are there any non-greasy sunscreens that you recommend for men who don’t want to look super oily?
A lot of men should use a chemical sunscreen because they don’t leave a greasy film at all. But I’m acne-prone and a chemical sunscreen will sometimes break me out, so I need to have a physical sunscreen.
For that, I definitely recommend Elta MD. I’d read about it, a lot of my friends use it, and then I saw that Kendall Jenner uses it because she’s acne-prone. So I thought, if Kendall Jenner uses it, it must be working! A lot of plastic surgeons used this sunscreen on their patients right after surgery, and it was so efficient at protecting their skin after surgery from the sun that they started offering it to the masses. It just caught on because it was actually something that was very effective.
Do you think that men should have some kind of exfoliation routine?
Definitely for facial hair. I think that most men who do have facial hair don’t think about exfoliating often and that’s where the under beard dandruff comes from. It’s really real. It’s just a common signifier that a guy is not doing a thorough job exfoliating.
Men should use a physical exfoliator, like the Clarisonic brush, or even wash underneath their beard. More so, they need to moisturize with beard oils and creams that go on top of the beard. There’s a beard brand functionally called Beard Brand that’s out of Chicago and they have an amazing line of products and tools that will prevent a lot of the dry rough patches.
How is beauty perceived by men in different cultures? And how are you trying to make some of the “boy beauty” conceptions less stigmatized?
I think that with the advent of Gen Z coming into the zeitgeist and becoming the biggest consumers, we’re seeing that men’s beauty products are not far-fetched and guys are more progressive than ever. They are more free to accept themselves.
Korea is 5-10 years in the future of where the US will be. They’re always kind of projecting trends. BB cream is not even considered makeup there; it’s skin care. Just as they will brush their teeth or wash their face, they will use BB cream. Now a lot of Korean men are getting into eyeshadows, makeup, and eyeliner, and K-pop stars are really into lip tints or contouring. I really think that stuff makes them feel more masculine, more beautiful, and more confident.
I think there’s nothing more masculine or manly than a guy who is so secure with who he is, and expresses himself in a way that is authentic to who he is. American guys are 5-10 years behind, but I do think that with Gen Z craving trends, we will see more guys wearing makeup, and we will see guys more interested in trying to do things. They won’t find that trying makeup will have the repercussions of years past, or experience what other guys had to go through. They’ll find a more accepting and more inclusive world where they can be whoever they want to be.
+ What do you think about David Yi and his skin care advice for men? Share your thoughts in the comments!