Do you follow PDXBeautiful on Instagram and marvel at her amazing flat-lays and love reading her reviews? Same! We interviewed Julie, the woman behind PDXBeautiful, and found out everything, from her favorite acid, how she cured her acne (dermatitis), what she thinks is overrated in skin care, and her favorite K-beauty products.
How did you get involved in the beauty and skin care world?
About 21 years ago and now I’m in my early 40s. I actually used to model in my teens (and 20s) and for some odd reason, when I was in my 20s, I started struggling with a lot of acne in my early 20s. I began searching for ways to combat that and heal it so I could get more modeling jobs. I was getting turned down because my skin just looked so unhealthy. I decided I wanted to learn about skin, so I went and did an internship with a woman who had 30 years of experience in esthetics. I just fell in love with skin care and helping people achieve optimal skin health, and it just went from there!
What were some of the first things that helped heal your acne?
I definitely think that we live in very fast-paced world where there’s a lot of stress that affects our nutrition, lifestyle, and exercise habits that aren’t the best, and especially for me, if I don’t get the proper amount of sleep, it’s going to show. So I think that doing some inward thinking about what’s going on your world and around you is most likely affecting the way your skin heals.
When did you first start to get into K-beauty?
I started in the mid-2000s. I was kind of befuddled about the UVA/UVB regulations in the United States for sunscreens and that kind of brought me to Japanese skin care and K-beauty. At that time, Asian brands took a very different approach to sunscreens and the products themselves were much more elegant in their formulations than products like Neutrogena were at the time. I’m not saying that Neutrogena is bad, it’s all about the formulations. So I ordered a bunch of sunscreens from Japan and Korea and I just found that I love K-beauty and Japanese skin care because they look at the skin so differently than here in U.S.
What are some of your holy grail K-beauty products?
Lately I’ve been really into Benton. I don’t know why I’m so drawn to it or if it’s a popular brand in Korea, but I just love the formulations because many of their products are not water-based. COSRX has very, very good formulations and I love how they approach skin care. They typically leave out a lot of irritants, like fragrance, that a lot of other brands put into their products.
One of my holy grails is the Missha First Treatment Essence Intensive Moist. I’ve been using that for a long time and I absolutely love it. I also really enjoy their sunscreens and I think they’re really well-formulated. I’m also a huge fan of Sulwhasoo.
Can you tell us a bit about your struggle with perioral dermatitis?
I’m still struggling a little bit with it, but after doing a lot of research in it (I’m a research fanatic), I realized that it’s something that a lot of women go through with hormonal changes, especially going into pre-menopause. Not that it doesn’t affect younger women, but there’s studies that I have read that perioral dermatitis primarily happens when women get a fluctuation in their hormone levels. And that, combined with stress, not getting the proper amount of sleep, and some poor lifestyle and nutritional choices, led to perioral dermatitis for me.
My plan of attack started on the inside by making changes to my diet, taking a probiotic, reducing my stress, getting proper amounts of sleep, and making lifestyle changes, like exercise and meditation. And it’s cleared up!
What are some of the skin care products you’ve used to treat it?
At the beginning, when I started seeing spots around my chin, I thought that it was acne, and I was treating it like it was acne but it was getting worse. Obviously dermatitis is a medical condition, so I reached out to my doctor and I was prescribed some topical treatments that were very expensive and actually didn’t make a whole lot of difference in the way my skin looked.
It wasn’t until I just started researching some natural solutions like aloe vera and cold compresses that it started healing. A lot of natural products worked better and were more effective at healing it. If you think about the skin, it’s its own micro-biome and putting back some of those healthy probiotics on the inside and the outside, like a full fat Greek yogurt mask, will help to balance the skin. Dermatitis can get quite uncomfortable and a lot of the natural remedies can help conquer that redness, itching, and irritation.
What probiotic are you taking?
Probulin. Most probiotics dissolve and absorb in the stomach, but this brand has 12 strands and will survive past the stomach and goes into the colon where it’s needed to be able to work. It’s much more effective and it’s gluten-free, soy-free, wheat-free, and dairy-free.
What do you do when your skin is overwhelmed from testing so much skin care? How do you detox it?
I believe in patch testing. I know that there is a lot of research that says that patch testing is not going to be effective in letting you know if a product’s going to break you out but I think it will help in giving you an idea if a product is going to cause any type of sensitivity or irritation. I definitely patch test my products for a lengthy amount of time.
And I definitely do get to that point where my skin is like, ‘No! What have you done?’, so I normally just try to step back and do some natural remedies. I love aloe vera gel straight from the plant or sheet masks with honey or propolis. I really love Leaders masks, especially the Moisturizing Recovery and Balancing Recovery. Also, anything full of ceramides is great.
What is your go-to acid?
I personally love mandelic acid for my skin type. I not only have issues with surface issues like hyperpigmentation and freckles, but I’m also acne-prone and prone to getting clogged pores so I also need a oil-soluble acid that’s going to get into the pores, and exfoliate and loosen all that gunk that gets stuck in there.
I know that some people are gung-ho about BHAs because they need more of that deep pore cleansing while some people want surface exfoliation so they go with AHAs. And there’s nothing wrong with either, but I just find that using mandelic acid is kind of like the best of both worlds because it’s both water and oil-soluble.
What’s your favorite product with mandelic acid?
The product I recommend to my clients is from a women owned brand called Stratia. It’s a 10% mandelic acid.
What do you think is overrated in the skin care community?
I know that there’s a lot of confusion, especially in a K-beauty routine, about essences, serums, and ampoules. People often ask why they need all three. How do you fit them into our routine? Using all three is often overrated because they may not do any good or cause any change in the skin.
The K-beauty routine is effective, but using so many products may not be the best thing if you want to tackle one specific concern. Now, if you have a lot of different concerns, then a separate serum or ampoule for multiple concerns makes sense.
You take so many great shelfies. Do you have any shelfie tips for our readers?
Oh my gosh, yeah! I’m so excited I can do shelfies because we just remodeled our bathroom and finally got a medicine cabinet. I just kind of put products that I use a lot. I’m not going to show readers or followers products that I just don’t use. Make sure that you’re sharing products that you use on a regular basis! And just be really creative in how you approach it, throw in a candle or a bath salt or body scrub!
We saw that you’ve been masking twice a day. We’re really intrigued by that because it seems like a lot!
It is. My husband and I spent almost 90 minutes going through my mask collection and sorting them in order based on month of expiration. My skin has just felt really dull lately and I have a ton of masks that were just kind of sitting there. And I wasn’t motivated to use them, so I decided that when my microblading healed I was going to start masking again to try and get through all the masks.
I just needed to take some time for myself, especially because lately I’ve been kind of struggling with self-care. I needed something more than just my normal skin care routine. I kind of wanted to start doing a little bit more self love. I do one in the morning and one in the evening. I had forgotten the soothing aspect of sheet masking. Even if it’s only on for ten minutes, I just need that time, and it’s even improved my overall mood. And within two days, I was in awe of my skin. It was glowing!
We get of lots of questions from teens struggling with acne. Does your son use any of the products you’ve tested? And what advice have you given him?
I’m a big proponent of double-cleansing. I always describe it like this: You need to shower but you’ve got clothes on. But in order to wash your body you need to take them off if you’re getting to get into the shower. So taking your clothes off is doing the oil cleanse, and actually washing is the water-based cleanse.
My son has tried many topicals from the doctor which only aggravate his skin instead of help it. They caused more skin issues, like redness, peeling, flaking, and dehydration. So I’ve got him on a pretty strict regime. He uses some Benton products, some COSRX, and he uses facial mists. It’s really funny. He’s 17 now and he’s using facial mists. I love it! He’s doing sheet masks and we also do DIY masks like oatmeal, manuka honey, and aloe vera. I also make him do a yogurt mask at least twice a week. When it comes to teenagers, the thing I stress is cleansing the skin but not over-cleansing it and make sure you’re using a really well-formulated neutral pH cleanser.
I don’t think people should shy away from facial oils either, especially when they have acne or oily skin. There are definitely oils that these skin types should stay away from, like coconut and avocado, but ones like jojoba oil are great for balancing sebum production. And when you’re an adolescent and going through puberty, your oil glands are producing oil like crazy! So if you can teach the skin by using an oil to naturally balance and decrease the amount of sebum your glands are producing, you’re definitely going to see less acne and less oil.