As a flight attendant constantly fighting a fatigued body, mind, and skin in dehydrating and recirculated air, I am always searching for ways to continuously spark the mind, invigorate the body, soothe the soul, and hydrate inside and out.
Drinks may be refreshing for the soul, but is draining to the skin. Not only must you intensely hydrate internally after a weekend of I’ll-just-have-one-drink nights turned to regretable debauchery, hydrating your skin externally is also crucial if you don’t want your coworkers to think you have the case of the Mondays.
Here’s the cheapest quick fix at about a dollar or two a pop: the disposable sheet mask. You open the package, unfold the mask, place over your face avoiding the eyes and mouth with its openings, wait about 15-30 minutes, discard the mask, and voila! You can pat the excess moisture into your skin if you need that extra oomph, or you can wipe it off with a toner. Of course before applying, you need to thoroughly wash your face of any makeup or dirt.
I use Aritaum sheet masks from Seoul, but not to fret. Sheet masks are a dime a dozen even in the US. You just need to know where to look. Most Korean and Japanese grocery stores have either a separate cosmetics counter or cosmetics aisle. Each sheet should cost you over $1. I highly suggest that you only use Korean made or Japanese made masks. Take into consideration that this is going on your skin; you wouldn’t want to use brands that use harsh chemicals. Also, amazon.com and ebay.com sell them bulk so it is easy to stock up. Brands to look for, Missha, Etude House, Amore Pacific, Mamonde, The Face Shop, Skin Food, Kose, and, Kracie. I have yet to try the high-end brands, but if you must, look for, Clinique, Shiseido, Lancome, and SKII.
It all started in Germany by Dr. Schrammek for her patients who underwent chemical peels and laser resurfacing to soothe the skin and minimize redness. It was called, “Blemish Balm,” now known as “BB Cream.” This little tube caught wind in Asia and from then on, various recreations caused the largest sensation in Asian cosmetic history, especially in Korea. My stewardess girlfriend at Korean Air introduced me to the original Blemish Balm more than a few years ago telling me that flight attendants have been using it as a makeup base to prolong their makeup across time zones.
The original formula felt very water-based as it needed a lot of warmth in the fingertips to spread evenly, and it rendered some getting use to, but after a few applications, I used it religiously as it paired so well with Bare Escentuals mineral makeup or by using it alone just with a setting powder. After a year or so of searching for it in German pharmacies and in specialized cosmetic stores around the world, I fell upon Korean BB Creams during my many travels to Seoul.
At that point in time, I was bombarded with a plethora of different BB Creams from high-end to low-end cosmetic companies marketing their new revelation in makeup. Most of these companies offered UV protection, something that was never introduced in the original Blemish Balm. But what really caused the cult following of BB Creams in Asia was that it was not a thick, pore-blocking foundation as it acted partially as a primer, sunscreen, and tinted moisturizer with the benefits of targeted skin problems such as acne for oily skin, rosacea, and even fine lines and wrinkles for more mature skin and dry skin. The sensation even crossed boundaries within genders as it became part of the skincare regimen with teenage males who were insecure about their hormonal and unpredictable skin.
My favorite BB Cream I encountered was from a fluke of circumstances from my mother’s cosmetic bag. HerHanyul BB Cream made by Amore Pacific (the most luxurious and sought after Asian cosmetic company to hit the counters of Sephora and Neiman Marcus) fit me nicely! The only reason my mother forked it over to me was because it did not match her skin tone. It is actually made for dry/mature skin but the coverage is impeccable alone and balanced my oil-proned/combination skin. I think this product reaped many more benefits than Chanel’s Mat Lumiere Makeup with SPF 15 which I truly believed in, but realized that it sucked the life out of my skin of its essential nutrients.
About less than a year ago, I was intrigued by Clinque’s BB Cream that was first introduced to the US. As a beauty addict gullible of packaging claims, of course I had to try it to see if it met the standards of what I have been using. It failed in many ways. It claims to be an anti-aging solution with its SPF 30 and that it is suitable for all skin types with its oil-free formula, but I could not contest its benefits as advertised. Yes, it might have SPF 30 content, but I could find that in many sunscreens and even moisturizers. The disappointing caveat was that it caked upon application no matter how light or how heavy my hand was. I thought with regular use, my skin would adapt to its claims. It didn’t. It did not fair well as a primer nor tinted moisturizer.
Recently with my travels and frequenting Duty Free shops, I discovered that Estee Lauder and Dior have come up with their own formulations of BB Creams. I wondered about how they would advertise in the US market in magazines and ad campaigns as most Americans have not been exposed to BB Creams, its origination, and let alone, its acronym. With my respect and experience towards these true-to-claim companies, I think they will come up on top in competition. I cannot wait to compare their differences.