Although I'm Korean, I was adopted when I was baby and have lived in America my whole life. I've done some identity searching here and there from when I was younger, and more recently after getting in touch with my birth mother last December. So, I've started to work to learn the language for the nth time. This time around, though, I've also started watching K-dramas (Crash Landing On You and It's Okay Not To Be Okay are my favorites at the moment and available on Netflix!) and decided to do some research into taking care of my skin, as Korean skincare seems extremely popular. My adopted mom is very into skincare herself and while I never used to pay attention, I thought it might be a great way to get into a hobby and passion that my mom likes while also connecting a bit to my culture. Plus, your skin is your body's largest organ and it's important to take care of it. After all, who doesn't like some self-care?
Now onto doing my research! I looked up various articles, websites, and frequented the r/AsianBeauty and r/KoreanBeauty subreddits to find out what people recommended -- and boy, let me tell you, the folks there are incredibly knowledgeable and helpful. by sharing their experiences and reviews with products first-hand. First, I had to figure out what my skin type was; I believe I'm a combination skin type as my face sometimes feels pretty oily, but very dry on other occasions -- but I'm still not sure.
Then, I was looking at websites to purchase from. It seems like Amazon isn't the best place to purchase Korean and other Asian skincare from as it may be expired product, knock-offs or fakes from third-party sellers, or all sorts of other horror stories that people have referenced -- it seems it's not worth the risk. I then found Soko Glam, a website with gorgeous marketing that sells all sorts of K-beauty items, founded by Charlotte Cho. If you're interested in checking it out, it's a reputable website with a great rewards program that quickly grew on me. Please consider using my referral link to get a sweet $10 off your purchase (please note: the Then I Met You line is not subject to this discount)!
When perusing through Soko Glam, I found that Charlotte Cho had launched her own line within the last couple of years called Then I Met You. As I mentioned before, Soko Glam's branding and marketing is on point and Then I Met You is the prime example of this. This line is encased in a dazzling periwinkle blue with golden and raspberry pink accents in The Living Cleansing Balm and The Giving Essence respectively. Two things you should know about me: I'm a sucker for good marketing and blue is my absolute favorite color. When you put these two factors together, you've probably managed to sell me. Plus, the Then I Met You line is all about jeong or 정 (look, proof I'm learning Korean!). The concept of jeong is about the warm and fuzzy feeling you experience from sharing a close relationship with another person. For example, I used to have a co-worker of mine who I'd speak with and share experiences with to get to know each other on a better basis. Then, one day, she offered me some of her food (and let me tell you, I love food). Although this may be a very Westernized version, I felt jeong that day.
Finally, I'm the type of person to dive into something headfirst, so of course I ordered the whole set to try as my first skincare products ever.
I purchased the Glow Deeper Essentials Set, which comes with the Living Cleansing Balm, Soothing Tea Cleansing Gel, Birch Milk Refining Toner, Giving Essence, and Calming Gel Tide Cream. The only thing it didn't include was the Honey Dew Lip Mask, most likely because that's not necessary or part of either the 5-step or 10-step Korean skincare routine -- I still ended up purchasing it separately. This set did come with a complimentary canvas tote bag instead, which is normally $12 separately on Then I Met You's website.
The set in total was $168 and is exclusive to Then I Met You's website, so it cannot be found on Soko Glam's -- however, you can purchase each item separately or purchase the Cleansing Duo for $68 and/or Skin Balancing Duo for $78 if you want to try one or the other and don't need the rest. If you decided to purchase each part of the set individually, here would be the breakdown in price:
Giving Essence: $50
That's $30 in savings, plus the Signature Canvas Tote Bag that's priced at $12 (only available on the Then I Met You website) with another purchase -- so, technically, $42 saved by getting the whole set. If you were to purchase both duo sets and the Calming Gel Tide Cream separately, the total would come to $188, so the set is still $20 in savings or $32 including the tote bag. Not a bad deal if you're looking to try the whole Then I Met You experience.
But anyways, let's get on to the nitty gritty -- the actual experience of the products. Keep in mind that this is my first real experience with any skincare routine, so this is coming from a newbie's perspective.
The Living Cleansing Balm:
This is my first experience with an oil-based cleanser, so I don't really have a point of reference to others. However, this golden sunflower yellow goes absolutely perfectly from an aesthetic point of view. The texture of this balm is thick in its consistency and is almost like digging into a sorbet; gliding the little tool included through this product is so incredibly satisfying. The balm also smoothly applies to my skin and does not feel too heavy or greasy, giving me a nice and satisfying shine to my face before I wash it off to move to the next step. There is a bit of a scent to it that's almost a bit like orange (citrus) and reminiscent of fruit. It's a wonderful experience that I look forward to as a part of my night-time routine, although it pains me to scoop out more each time since the product looks so nice! I may have to give another oil-based cleanser a try just for comparison's sake, but I am looking forward to re-purchasing this.
The Soothing Tea Cleansing Gel:
Again, this is my first go around with a water-based cleaner, but I also really enjoy the experience that it offers. The consistency of this product feels incredibly dewy like jelly and soft to touch in a beautiful burnt amber color. You take about a pearl-sized amount of the gel and rub it into your skin. I feel like it's hydrating and my skin drinks it up. It has a comfortable and relaxing scent, which helps me enjoy waking up and winding down in the evening. This is the other main part of my skincare routine that I look forward to, and I do this one twice a day. To summarize, I love both of these cleansers and I would absolutely buy them again in the future for the experience of the texture, smell, and how hydrating they feel for my skin.
The Birch Milk Refining Toner:
This toner is a milky white in color, which is fitting given its name. It's a very liquid but not quite sticky in its texture. Given this toner's exfoliating nature, Then I Met You Instagram account recommended "For beginners that don't regularly exfoliate, we recommend incorporating the Birch Milk Refining Toner slowly into your routine about 2-3x a week until your skin gets acclimated to the product." Of course, I saw this about a week and a half into my brand-new routine, so I believe my skin is still in the process of getting used to this toner. They also wrote "For those accustomed to regular exfoliation with acids, this can be integrated into your regular routine though we recommend alternating use with your other acid products (i.e. day vs. night or every other day) to prevent over-exfoliation. As always, listen to your skin and slowly incorporate new products to give your skin time to acclimate."
I use this toner in the morning, and I have another toner that I use in the evening to follow their recommendations. Compared to both cleansers, I don't feel particularly strong about this toner but seems to do its job -- the same can be said about my other one, which is the Swanicoco Multi Solution Vitamin Toner. I received this particular toner as a free gift for making a purchase of $95+ at the time on Soko Glam, so it was nice to have the comparison. They certainly feel different in scent and consistency, but I haven't noticed any particular changes. I'll be looking at exploring other toning options in the future.
The Giving Essence:
This essence has a very attractive pink color to it. It comes in a nice frosted glass bottle, so it's on the heavier side. As much as I want to like it and desperately want it to work, I'm not sure my skin agrees with it. I have felt a bit of a stinging sensation when applying this essence to my face, but there's a chance I may be applying too much of it since I am a newbie to skincare. Otherwise, this essence has left me worried I have more sensitive skin than I realize. Keep in mind that everyone's skin types are different, so give it a try if you're curious. However, given the price point at a whopping $50, it also may be worth your time trying something else.
Considering my problems so far and the cost, I'm exploring other essence options. I just ordered the Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium Lotion from YesStyle, which is another great option to buy a variety of Asian products, including but not limited to skincare, makeup and other beauty products, haircare, clothing, and even food! Please consider using my YesStyle referral link to get an extra small discount off of your order or use the code 4JZETT at checkout. I'm hoping that I'll have better luck with this product, as I've heard great reviews. Fingers crossed that it gets along with my skin!
The Calming Gel Tide Cream:
As much as I also wanted to love this moisturizer, like the toner, I had a lot of trouble with it. The consistency is a nice creamy gel as the name says, and it's very lightweight with a slight scent to it. I enjoyed that it blended into my skin so easily and that it had a very thin texture. The cream also felt hydrating at first when I applied it, but then my skin would quickly dry out and I would have a reaction to it. My face would sting and there was a minor burning sensation, so again, I'm led to believe that either I have more sensitive skin than I initially thought or I'm reacting to one of the ingredients in this.
At first, I thought it was the essence and not the moisturizer; however, the uncomfortable sensation got worse after applying the moisturizer and I thought initially that it might be making it worse somehow. I tried using one and not the other on a couple of occasions, to which my face still felt this painful tingle -- leading me to the conclusion that my skin is simply not compatible with either product. My face now has splotches of red on it, it feels dry and itchy, and my pores are fairly visible when I didn't think they were before. My mom who has dry skin also gave it a try and also did not have the best experience with it. Dry and sensitive skin types should most likely stay away from this product, especially at a price point of $42 which is a steep amount to pay if it doesn't work out for you.
The Honey Dew Lip Mask:
This lip mask is the only product that was not included in the set. I purchased this separately from Soko Glam, as I was getting some other products from them and thought it would be nice to rack up some rewards points in an effort to get me to VIP sooner rather than later. I've never liked anything on my lips including chapstick and lipstick, but my lips are now fairly dry, cracked, peeling, and have suffered as a result. The feeling is normally strange to me and I hate trying to eat or drink anything with something coating my lips. This mask felt better to me than any other experience I've had, and it feels both cooling and hydrating. It also gives my lips a nice, glossy sheen and compliments the dewy glowing look. It has a pleasant aroma that reminds me of melons. If you're looking for something to hydrate your lips, this may be a product worth checking out.
All in all, I had a very mixed experience with the six products I tried from the Then I Met You skincare line. I don't regret getting it as my first products to try, as you never know what's going to work until you give it a go and I had no idea what to expect my skin may or may not like. Sadly, my skin seems to be worse right now than when I started due to the essence and moisturizer not getting along with my skin type. Please keep in mind you may have a completely difference experience than me with especially those products, and I really hope so in the case of the essence and moisturizer! It's an overall excellent and classy line that radiates the feeling of premium quality, which is what I like -- I can't get over this gorgeous periwinkle color!
Regardless, I'm looking forward to continuing my skincare journey as I discovery and experiment with more and more products! Thank you all for taking the time to read and take care of yourselves (don't forget to wear sunscreen and a mask)!