The Korean Acne Facial

First of all, let me apologize by saying that I wasn’t able to take any pictures. I know, I know! No pictures of me lying face-up on what was basically an operating table, wearing a shower curtain and several layers of goo on my face? What a shame.

I decided to book a facial because I now live in LA’s Koreatown, one of the densest neighborhoods in the city—and it’s dense with everything I like (despite the fact that I’m not Korean). That includes both skincare shops and spas. Since I don’t read hangul, though, navigating this world of skincare can be tricky. I also have problem skin, which I discussed briefly in my Into The Gloss feature, and that makes it risky to keep slapping on random products haphazardly. I have a routine that keeps my acne basically in check (besides monthly hormonal flare-ups), but nothing was really helping in a lasting way. Below, I’ll discuss my experience getting an acne-focused facial with a Korean skincare professional. Read on for more details:

While I’m admittedly not an expert on facials, I’ve been using Korean skincare products because of their focus on gentle but effective treatments, with an emphasis on moisturized, even-toned skin. I figured that seeing a professional in the same realm of skincare would be beneficial for my increasingly problem-ridden skin. I stopped by Peony Skincare in Koreatown after work for an acne facial with Jin-Ah. I’ve only gotten a couple of facials before at Western-style spas, so I wasn’t very sure what to expect. An acne-focused facial can be kind of risky, especially with skin like mine that scars easily and reacts strongly to products. However, Peony had a lot of medical-grade equipment and that kind of competent no-nonsense aesthetic (despite being a spa) that put me at ease.

We started out with a facial massage, which was really a way for Jin-Ah to feel out the problem areas of my face. I had a lot of closed comedones with hard lumps underneath, which she gently probed while making a constant tsk-ing sound (lol). Then came a multi-step cleansing process (makeup-remover, oil-based cleanser, deep cleanser). She then put a series of warm towels on my face to clean residue and open up my pores.

Next, the big guns: extraction. I couldn’t see exactly what she was doing, but from the sensation it felt like she was using a needle, and then a circular extraction tool to push out plugs and build-up. It was extremely painful, to the point that I was breathing hard and whimpering a little. “Don’t worry,” she said. “When I do this to men or boys they always cry.” 

A partial extraction is terrible, as it usually leads to acne that gets worse, not better. This extraction was extremely thorough, and was one of the main reasons I decided to see a professional facialist—inexpert, at-home extractions can lead to permanent scarring and can also cause infections to be pushed deeper into skin. Despite the pain, I was really satisfied because pores that had literally had deep plugs for almost a year were cleaned out to the root of the plug. After extractions, she used some kind of toner to soothe my face. Next came a machine that stung and used some kind of light to kill acne bacteria. Then, she finished with some more toner/essence, a serum, and a moisturizing and calming mint mask. This thick mask dried to a rubbery substance, making it easy for her to peel away. 

It’s the day after my treatment, and although my spots are still inflamed, my face is noticeably less bumpy and the skin without blemishes is glowing even more. I’ll be back next week for another round of pain (and hopefully gain), so I’ll keep you posted! 

 

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