A play-by-play of a writer's ten-step journey to achieve glass-like skin
A considerable chunk of my day-to-day is spent poring over photos of my favorite K-Pop artists, so I’m no stranger to the notion that Koreans have honest-to-god gorgeous skin. If I didn’t know any better, I’d think that my idol boy of choice keeps a pocket of skin-saving elixir created with some low level witchcraft on hand for whenever he needs to stand before a camera. How else would you explain the clear-as-day bare skin, baby-like texture and absolute lack of blemish?
The answer: consistency and a whole lot of it.
That voice in the back of your head that lets out a downcast murmur about how Koreans are just born lucky? Silence it right now. Shh. It doesn’t know what it’s talking about. It’s easy to write off good skin as something people are just born with, but even for these men and women with smooth-as-silk complexions, it takes work. If there’s a secret to unlocking glass skin status, half of it is this: commitment to a beauty regimen—skincare, facials, treatments, you name it. What the skin needs, it should receive regularly.
What then, is the other half of the secret? According to O2 Skin Lab, it’s their skin services and signature facials. Supposedly a cult favorite of the Korean community in Manila, O2 has actually been open for years. But if you ask any Filipino if they've ever been, they're bound to have never heard of it. Turning over a new leaf, O2 Skin Lab has relaunched and opened a new clinic in the heart of BGC.
Now the cat's out of the bag—but how far does the Korean signature facial go in helping Filipinos achieve their glass skin dreams? I unpack my personal experience below.
Like most facials I've tried, O2 Skin Lab's Korean Signature Facial starts off with a thorough cleanse. After ridding me of my eye makeup with a few cleanser-soaked wipes, we kicked off the double-cleansing process.
Straightforward and meticulous, the first step of the facial makes use of a cream cleanser. Doing most of the dirty work, the product eviscerates majority of the leftover makeup and grime, after which a gel cleanser is slathered all over the face for another round of tidying up. What's left is a completely bare face, all prepped and primed for the bulk of the treatment.
This is where things could get slightly intimidating for facial first-timers. The crucial exfoliating step is executed with a flat-edged metal tool, which is hooked up to a machine to help it warm up slightly and vibrate at a steady pace. The tool is dragged across the face to slough off dead skin cells (don't worry, though, it's absolutely painless).
The next steps call for wide-open pores, so this part of the process preps the skin with the help of a flat-ended ultrasound probe. A generous amount of ultrasound gel is spread all over the face and massaged with the probe, which is powered with a low-frequency electric current. Is the current strong enough to be felt across the skin's surface? Definitely, but the feeling registers as very light zapping at most.
Those pesky bumps don't stand a chance. The next part of the facial calls for patience and a little pain tolerance, as this is when the facial specialist painstakingly pricks every single blackhead and whitehead that has held residence on the face. A run-of-the-mill spoon extractor (that's the metal tool with a little eyelet hole you see in the third gif above!) is used to pinch and squeeze most of the comedones, otherwise a fine needle is used to lightly prick the skin and get the icky contents out in the open.
After opening up those pores and getting out all that deep-seated gunk, it's time to tighten the skin back up. A flat-ended tool hooked up to a bipolar radiofrequency machine is pressed against the skin to tone and lift.
Consider this a reward for getting through the most terrifying part of the facial. You've endured the vibrating scrubber, the abundantly-gelled ultrasound and the intensive comedone extermination––the least you could do is get a massage for your bravery. The Korean massage is a crucial step as it improves circulation and relaxes the face and upper body. Warm towels are laid on the face and decolletage before the facialist goes in with liberal amounts of oil and methodical swipes and presses. While I personally prefer my massages oil-free, the emollient goes in a long way in loosening up the muscles. I don't know about you, but I'll always be up for anything that releases the tension perpetually trapped in my neck and shoulders.
Hear me out when I say this: this facial is ultra sensorial. Step seven marks the slathering of a yellow pumpkin cream mask all over the face—and yes, it smells just as good as it sounds. Pumpkin is known to be rich in AHAs and fruit enzymes, which help further the glow brought out by the first six steps.
We aren't done just yet. This point of the facial is where the deep dive into Vitamin C-infused waters begins. Using yet another machine, O2 Skin Lab's unique, antioxidant-rich blend of Vitamin C is worked into the skin to brighten the complexion and keep any signs of aging from scratching the surface. Be warned: this bit feels extra tingly, especially in the less fleshy portions of the face.
The big finish comes in the form of a thick Vitamin C mask––and when I say thick, I mean it. Almost gelatinous in texture, this stuff is smeared indulgently all over, with gauze strips separating the mask and the face. This ensures the skin only drinks up what it needs to. Following all the prep steps that took place earlier on, the skin can now absorb up to 70 percent of the Vitamin C in the formula.
Something I learned the hard way is that if you are claustrophobic in the slightest, you might want to skip the eye area for this step. I didn't think I'd be bothered by it, but not being able to open my eyes (or move my mouth under the mask for that matter), had me feeling a little anxious.
After letting the mask sit and stiffen, the facial wraps up with peeling the gauze layer and slathering a small amount of moisturizer and SPF to finish things off. The entire process lasted close to two hours and, for someone who isn't at all used to sitting still and getting product rubbed in for me, those felt like the most hedonistic two hours of my life. I wouldn't say that's a bad thing, though. Don't we all deserve a little massage-assisted, specialist-supervised shut-eye from time to time?
I received very specific instructions not to wash my face that evening. I commute home on the daily, so I couldn't quite stay true to the doctor's request. I did, however, trade in my usual evening routine of cleanser, toner, essence, facial oil and moisturizer for a simple but thorough water cleanse.
|So, the question remains: Did I unlock the secret to glass skin after all?
You be the judge, although I personally think I'm as close as I've ever been. The photo on the left was taken the morning after I experienced O2 Skin Lab's signature Korean facial––totally filter-free. Sure, those persistent pimple scars are still there (I doubt there's any treatment capable of making those go away instantaneously) and there's definitely evidence of the comedone-pricking that went on the day before. However, my skin was brighter and felt more hydrated by a mile. Not to toot my own horn or anything, but that healthy, supple glow? Can't stop thinking about it.
O2 Skin Lab's Korean signature facial is available at an introductory price of P2,800. O2 Skin Lab is located at Unit 1218, High Street South Corporate Plaza Tower 1, Bonifacio Global City, Taguig. Book an appointment via mobile at (917) 182 2727.
Art Alexandra Lara