The Asian beauty lexicon: Does it scare people away?

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Actives. AHAs. BHAs. pH levels. PIH. Closed comedones. Ceramides. Arbutin. Propolis.

That’s a lot of new lingo, and a lot to remember. In fact, I think maybe not every person interested in having better skin is going to become a skincare addict or a walking encyclopedia of terms. And while it’s perfectly good if that IS what you want to become, I believe that Asian beauty should be accessible for those who want to dive deep — and those who just want to be told what to put on to get better skin.

I haven’t posted in a few days because I’ve been battling a solid case of imposter syndrome when it comes to skincare. The reason for that is that I myself am still learning about it, and there’s so much I still don’t know.  There are a lot of bloggers out there I admire, and I keep up with what they do, as well as with the companies I like and what they’re doing to stay on the cutting edge of the industry. 

But sometimes, I see a list of ingredients I don’t know yet, or new products I’m not sure how to use, and a little voice in my ear whispers, “You have no right to write this blog because you are not knowledgeable enough.”

Well, shitty little voice, you’re wrong. I have every right. In fact, I built a career once on blogging with enthusiasm and ended up spending almost eight years in that industry. And so here in Asian beauty, it’s going to be the same — a ship piloted by yours truly, run on pure enthusiasm and the desire to learn. Because what can be better than curiosity?


There are much scarier things in the Asian skincare world than not being an expert. Like this thing.

I thought today it’d be good to speak to others like me who enjoy taking care of their skin, but aren’t sure yet that they’re ready to go to get their estheticians’ licenses. Perhaps you really  enjoy that Banila Co. Clean It Zero or that Son & Park Beauty Water makes your skin feel amazing. But maybe, also, you look at all that lingo and are worried that you’ll never learn it all, or grasp it all, or be able to hold your own among all the people who have fallen in love with K-beauty this past few years.

Here are a few of the things that I’ve come to learn in this conversations with myself about this newest pursuit.

There’s nothing wrong with not knowing.

Asian beauty is a complex universe to get into. But don’t let that stop you. If you don’t know where to begin or get overwhelmed….

Ask questions.

I can’t speak for all AB enthusiasts (and I have met a few sniffy Korean women when I’ve gone to beauty counters), but I can say the folks over at the Reddit Asian Beauty sub are super friendly and happy to answer your questions. You don’t know what something is? Go learn.

You don’t need to become a chemist to use these products.

Does deep-dive ingredient talk turn you off? Fine. To be honest, sometimes it does for me too, even though I’m happy to do it when I do a review. You DO have to know what’s in there to learn what does and doesn’t work for you. But you can also ask around and learn from others (again, more asking questions) to learn what works for your skin type without memorizing every ingredient under the sun.

If you enjoy it, you belong.

This one is probably more for myself, but I have a feeling it will resonate with some of you too. Whether you have an elaborate AM and PM skincare routine, or you prefer to just cleanse, exfoliate, and hydrate, there is likely something about your experience that is WORTH SHARING. There’s no degree in Asian skincare (yet, hah), and we are all on some level learners.

Be happy and be okay with not knowing everything today. Thanks to writing this post and sharing my fears with you all, I am, and just maybe someone else will read it and hear what they need to hear, too! ❤


5 Comments Add yours

  1. Maya says:

    Oh what a nice post, I totally agree with you. It’s impossible to know everything, especially about ingredients ). The AB reddit forum is amazing helpful, a place for everyone interested


  2. Crickett says:

    I’ve just taken the dive into the 10-step (I partially blame you), and have been reading more blogs to get ideas about products and usage, rather than get all of my information from one or two sources. And I will admit that, when reading one blog in particular, I was SCARED SHITLESS and intimidated like whoa because of all the hardcore pH talk. I…I must not be serious about my skin because I don’t keep pH strips on hand to test everything before I put it on my face? I dunno. I saved the link because some of the products she talked about looked nifty, but then I slunk away, feeling a little stupid. And I worked in skincare for years with LUSH!

    Having a blog like this one right here, that’s written in an accessible tone, with words I understand, by a person who readily admits that they don’t know everything but invites us along so we can all learn together is WAY more my speed. So thank you. My bank account might not be happy, but my face sure is, and so are my poor brain and ego.


  3. “There are much scarier things in the Asian skincare world than not being an expert. Like this thing.”

    ROFL, that was beautiful.

    I’m loving your blog! Beautifully designed and interesting. Of course, for some, all these new things scare away, and then for others such as myself, it attracts us in to a magical wonderland of obsessive learning, blog reading, and ill-advised hauling. 😉

    For me, what attracted me was the cute and unusual products, but what is making me stay is all of the knowledge I’m gaining about skin care, and that I can moisturize without getting huge painful cystic acne. Science!

    Definitely looking forward to more of your blog. 🙂

    (HermioneLovegood on r/AsianBeauty)


    1. colettebennett says:

      Thank you so much friend! I find the same experience as you — came for the cute, stayed for the knowledge. Isn’t it fun?


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