For many, being comfortable without makeup is something that only developed during quarantine. For influencer Joan Kim however, it came to be years ago. "I don't think four years ago I would have ever done this Zoom call without makeup," she tells me during our interview in early Jan. "I wouldn't leave the house without foundation, and wouldn't even look people in the eye because I was so shy about my skin." These days look a lot different, so much so, that makeup has taken a backseat to skin care as Day's top beauty priority. It explains why she's so passionate about Korean beauty brand Neogen, and why she's the brand's latest ambassador.
"I wouldn't say I'm a skin expert," Kim says. "I'm an expert on my skin. And when it comes to my skin, I want something familiar. Neogen is familiar to me. I've long been a fan of their Gauze Pads and their Green Tea Foaming Cleanser, so I knew I could trust the brand to create something awesome for me to represent, and they did." That something awesome is the revamped Refillable Vita Duo Creams Joan Day & Joan Night, an individualized version of the usually dual product. "I always have at least one Neogen product in my skin care routine," Kim says.
Kim says that her own skin struggles inspired her beauty journey. "Acne is what really made me begin paying attention to my skin," she says. "I didn't have acne during my teenage years, but once I left the house for college that's when it started to go downhill because my lifestyle changed in terms of sleeping patterns and eating habits. As a result, my skin started to break out more. That's when I began doing my research and stumbled upon product reviews and YouTube videos. It's also when I discovered Neogen. I really started falling in love with skin care, however, when I began seeing results from my regimen."
So you can imagine that in 2014, when Kim moved to Korea to be closer to family, that that love grew even deeper. "With K-beauty being so big, I was kind of forced to learn more about the true ins-and-outs of skin care," Kim says. "When I was in the United States I thought expensive products were the answer to all of my concerns. However, I was so impressed when I moved here because there are so many different options. No matter the price point, there's a product that works for you. I now know what ingredients my skin loves and how to treat my skin, without having to break the bank."
But it's not an abundance of products that Kim credits with her near-flawless skin. Instead, she suggests finding gentle formulas that slowly but surely show results. "Products out there will promise instant results the next morning, and if they do, I question the ingredients because it might be too harsh on my skin," she says. "It took me three years to clear my skin from cystic acne and constant breakouts, so I have found that a perfect skin care regimen requires patience and understanding."
And in case you haven't tuned into her YouTube channel, which already boasts 500K subscribers, she spilled some of her secrets in her must-watch videos. "My subscribers already know this, but I don't use a towel to dry my face," she says. "It's because when they're hanging in your bathroom they might absorb bacteria quickly. So after washing, I like to gently pat my skin dry with my hands." But she doesn't do it all alone. "I go to the dermatologist quite frequently," she says. "I go at least once a week. I've found that it helps me maintain clear skin and helps me clear up my skin from a breakout more quickly."
Skin care isn't the only beauty arena that Kim is well-versed in. She's also mastered hair health, despite bleaching her hair a whopping 20 times. "I take a lot of pride in how many times a hairstylist comments on the health of my hair," she says. "Every time they are curling it or styling it they ask how many times I've colored my hair. When I tell them the number they're shocked at what good condition my hair is in. Just as my skin care routine has steps, so does my hair care routine." Six steps, in fact: A pre-shampoo scalp mask, shampoo and conditioner, volumizing spray, lots of hair oil, and a heat primer. "This is actually the first time I've told anybody," Kim says.
And when she's not hydrating her skin or dyeing her hair, she's indulging in fragrances. "I personally love a good warm, woody scent," Kim says. "If there's sandalwood in the key notes, that's usually something I would pick up first." Surprisingly, however, she doesn't switch up her day-to-day fragrances as much as it may appear on her Instagram feed. "I like to stick with one fragrance," she says. "I know I have a lot of perfumes, but I always tend to go with my Le Labo Santal 33, but again, it depends on my mood."
While Kim's got a handle on her beauty routine, the one thing that she admits she still struggles with is finding balance in a career dedicated to sharing her personal life. "I was on autopilot last year," she says. "Every Monday I had to have a blog up; and the type of person I am, if I break my schedule, I can't forgive myself. So even if I was going through something emotional or wasn't having a good day, I would still have to put a smile on my face film, and upload that. That was a problem last year, but I'm getting better."
Ahead, shop Kim's favorites so that you, too, can have IG post-worthy skin, and can smell like a haven of sandalwood.
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