A Beauty Minute with Kathleen Hou

6 years ago by

Morning: I know this column is called A Beauty Minute, but can I get a few more? I have multiple Beauty Minutes — at least fifteen. I can’t do anything until I brush my teeth (I use Apa White). Then I make some Korean citron tea (Jin Soon Choi got me into it, and serves the same tea at her salon), by steeping a Japanese green tea bag.

Next, I splash some of New York’s finest tap water on my face. Then I splash some of Japan’s finest sake-infused water on it (SK-II essence), followed up with one of my favorite essences from Korea brand Id.Az. My friends, Christine and Sarah at Glow Recipe turned me on to it, it feels almost like a watery jelly, it’s so hydrating. Then to really layer on the hydration, I follow up with a moisturizing serum, like Innisfree’s Green Tea Serum. I use Tatcha’s Water Cream — one of my favorites, it has a gel-like texture but packs the moisturizing oof of a heavier cream. Finally, I pat on a creamy eye cream — honestly, I’ll just use any that are lying around my apartment that I’m testing out. I don’t really have a favorite. And I do all of this starting from neck up to forehead!

Sometimes, for extra credit, I do a little jade rolling or lymphatic drainage massage on myself. My face can get puffy really easily, so I can get anything ranging from night cheese face or “I ate a late-night cookie while watching Netflix” face. It needs a little face massage to deflate it back to normal. I also smear the lightest and most weightless sunscreen I’ve ever found from Make P:rem, as a last skincare step.

At this point, I generally have seven minutes left of my morning Beauty Minutes. If I still feel like I have a Jigglypuff face, I’ll start by using the Summer Fridays mask which somehow has the magical effect of de-bloating and tightening up puffiness. I thought primers were pretty much useless until I tried Tatcha’s. Since I started using it, all of my tinted moisturizers look like foundation. I usually use It Cosmetics CC Cream or NARS tinted moisturizer. I’ve used Cle de Peau Beaute’s under-eye concealers for almost a decade (yes I’ve had dark eye circles for that long) and don’t see any reason to stop now. Breakouts get Kevyn Aucoin’s Sensual Skin Enhancer as a cover-up. Then I use a fluffy brush to dust on some Tom Ford Bronzing Powder, light dab some cream blush and highlighter from the prettiest natural brand, Kosas on my face. My favorite part of my makeup routine is perking and curling my lashes using the best-designed eyelash curler in the world, Surratt Beauty’s Relevee curler. I also usually extend the top lash line of my eyes with Jillian Dempsey’s Dark Brown Waterproof Liner.

Day: I keep about three to five different lip products in every bag that I have. The assortment includes Dior Lip Glow in Raspberry, Fresh Sugar Lip Treatment in Rose, Tony Moly’s Bunny Lip Gloss which my friend Charlotte Cho of Soko Glam turned me onto, Kiehls No.1 Lip Balm, Canmake Stay On Balm Rouge (a tinted chapstick I picked up in a Japan at a drugstore), and Giorgio Armani Beauty Lip Maestro in 402. I’m probably wearing the Armani in this picture. If they discontinue this, I will have to stock up like a beauty doomsday preparer.

Night: Well, for this I need about 20 of those Beauty Minutes. First, during my shower, I double-cleanse with Shu Uemura’s Classic Cleansing Oil (they released a Super Marios Brothers version during the holidays and Luigi and Mario know what’s up). Then I follow up with a super gentle cleanser like Sisley’s Cleansing Milk or Biologie Recherche Lait. Next, a serum or acid. I heard that SkinMedica’s TNS Essential Serum has been the best-selling skincare product at Dermstore so I’ve been trying that out.

I use Differin, a retinoid on my chin to prevent hormonal breakouts. If I have a bugger despite that, I use Eve Lom’s Dynaspot treatment or Sonya Dakar’s Blemish Blaster to ensure that it gets terrorized and then obliterated. I then put on a heavier moisturizer, recently I’ve been loving a mysterious new cream from a Swiss doctor that sounds like a Bond character, Augustinus Bader. I once read that Michelle Yeoh has done a sheet mask every day of her life. I tried to do the same and stopped after a few days. When I remember, I use any of the low-high sheet masks I’m experimenting with. My favorites right now include My Beauty Diary, Dr. Colbert’s, 111 Skin, Sulwhasoo’s First Care Activating Mask, and any gel one from Leaders. My body gets some lotion love via Ellis Brooklyn’s Verb Body Milk and then I collapse into bed like the tired, thoroughly moisturized person I am.


We’re all geeking out over here for Kathleen’s beauty tips (okay, just Veronica is geeking out because she’s the beauty die hard round these parts). The geek-out is because Kathleen is the Beauty Director for The Cut and Veronica has been religiously following all skin care updates of Kathleen’s for longer than she’d like to admit. What’s weirder is that she’s writing this in the third person (Hi Kathleen!!!). But seriously, head on over to The Cut and dive deep into Kathleen’s chronicles of beauty. You won’t be disappointed.

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  • Hi,
    Can you please tell me how Kathleen does her eyeliner. I have yet to learn how to apply eyeliner to my hooded Asian eyes (sad but true) — and it’s not for sake of not trying either! I like how Kathleen’s appear so simple and unfussy.

    Thanks much,

  • Sara F. April, 19 2018, 1:36 / Reply

    Great post! Any tips about fighting “Jigglypuff face” (or eye baggage) with face massage/lymphatic drainage/microcurrent are _so_ appreciated.

  • Oh this is intense! Tatcha water cream is on my list. I recently reviewed The Ordinary’s Matrixyl here

  • Jessica April, 19 2018, 6:10 / Reply

    I am SHOCKED by the number of different serums and moisturizers and primers that the folks features in beauty minute use. I usually feel like I’m overloading when I layer sunscreen over my moisturizer/oil combo.
    And, is it just me, or is everything a “water” and not a “cleanser” these days? I feel very old, but when did we become afraid of (gently!) cleaning our skin?
    Not to say I haven’t looked up some of these products featured in this series, but as someone whose been using the same mild cleanser and essential-oil based serum/moisturizer for 25 years, I’m totally lost! And the company I buy from just went out of business, so… yike!

  • Good to read you moisturise so completely, it pays off as you age ….avoid over cleansing, it’s strips your face of natural oils fresh fruit and raw & cooked vegetables, drink water a d freshly squeezed oranges and moisturise, moisturise and moisturise ..I keep a small zip lock bag of moisturisers in my handbag and moisturise my eye area during the day if the skin feels/looks dry ..but then I am 62 but don’t look it

  • Great post

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