How do you get the “clearest and most radiant skin of your life?” Apparently, by reading Charlotte Cho’s new guide: The Little Book of Skin Care.
Cho, founder of Korean beauty and lifestyle shop Soko Glam, promises to “help you find joy in the everyday beauty routines that will transform your life.” These are lofty goals for a book that’s under 200 pages.
Since I was a pre-teen, my skin has been a source of insecurity. Through reading magazines and experimenting, I’ve been able to improve my skin. But after trying Korean sheet masks, I wanted to take my skin to the next level and I hoped this book would get me there.
Cho begins the book with her own story about skin care and how she went from a tanned California girl to a board-certified esthetician. She follows with an explanation of Korean culture and its obsession with skin. Then she talks about the importance of various skin care practices: double cleansing, exfoliating, moisturizing and using sunscreen.
She also unpacks the ten-step Korean skin care routine and suggests the best products for different skin types. Cho ends the book with fashion tips, a no-makeup makeup look and intel on the best places in Seoul to “eat, drink, shop, and beautify.”
Conversational writing. Rather than sounding like a textbook, Cho writes like she’s having an informative conversation with a friend. She places anecdotes and short interviews throughout the story, breaking up the writing into digestible chunks.
Variety of choices. Cho realizes that everyone’s skin is different, so she offers different products for each of the ten steps. She encourages readers to pay attention to the nuances of their skin and attend to each need accordingly.
First-hand experience. Cho isn’t an outsider looking into Korean culture and skincare – she is an insider who understands both. While she may have grown up in California, she has lived in Seoul and is Korean herself, so she can give us expertise that others may not be able to. Plus, she’s a trained esthetician.
Lack of some explanation. While Cho includes a list of ingredients that are good for skin, she doesn’t explain the negative side effects of each. For example, benzoyl peroxide is good for treating acne, but it can also be very drying, which she doesn’t say.
Doesn’t include American products. Of course the focus of this book is Korean skincare, so one can expect mostly Korean products. However, not everyone has access to Korean skincare products, nor does everyone want to order things online. Having some products that are easily found in drugstores would have been helpful.
Ho-hum interviews. Some of the “Skin Stories” were interesting and helpful, but many of them didn’t really add anything to the content of the book. For example, the managing editor of Hearst Magazines Digital Media talked about how she discovered a Korean spa, how uncomfortable she feels getting naked there and how the language barrier isn’t a problem if you use hand gestures. But who cares?
Overall, I think this book is a really great introduction to Korean skin care and gives information thorough enough that you can start building a routine. I would recommend it for those who are obsessed with skin care and are ready to take it to the next step. I wouldn’t recommend it, however, for those who are looking for a streamlined routine or are on a really tight budget.