Maria Im, Violinist

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'My name is Maria [@mariaoim] and I'm a violinist from Queens, New York. Living in the city, I walk just about everywhere. And when I walk, I work up an appetite—my main hobby really is eating. I eat a lot of Korean and Japanese cuisine, but I love me some good BBQ. Unfortunately though, my diet can really screw up my skin—it's like my face is a window to my stomach. If I eat something even slightly unhealthy, I get awful whiteheads and blemishes all over my face. But whenever I react badly to food, my mom always makes me eat a bowl of ripe papaya—it helps with digestion, Vitamin C intake, hydration, and everything good like that.

My mom is actually the reason why I got so into skincare. We're Korean, so it's embedded in our culture. When I was younger, she'd grate cucumbers to layer on her face and then mop up the juice with cotton pads to swipe over her skin after. One time when I was sever or eight, I woke up to her wiping my face with cucumber juice. I just remember all of a sudden being awake and having this cold juice running down my hairline! I still do it a few times a week after I wash my face in the morning.

Until recently, my skincare routine was really simple. Wash my face, put lotion on, and done. I basically used Dial bar soap and baby lotion up until my senior year of high school. At that point, my skin said, 'Nope, that's not going to fly any more.' I'm really sensitive now, so I try to stick to natural and organic products—but sometimes you need some chemicals in your life and that's OK with me. I start my day off with Malin + Goetz Grapefruit Cleanser. Then I apply Thayer's Alcohol-Free Witch Hazel and Rose Tonerwith my hands. I pat my face and neck with it until there's a slight dampness. And if my skin needs an extra pick-me-up that day, I'll grate up some cold cucumbers and soak a Muji Compressed Face Mask in them. The Muji mask starts out dry and then expands when you soak it in anything—toner, loition, whatever. I moisturize with Indeed Laboratories Hydraluron Serum. Or I'll use Amorepacific Future Response SPF 30 Crème because has anti-aging benefits without any harsh ingredients—I use the non-SPF version at night.

Koreans eat a lot of salt, which tends to swell our eyes and faces, so Vichy Aqualia Thermal Eye Roll-On or Kiehl's Creamy Avocado Eye Treatment help with morning puffiness. On occasion, I'll substitute my cream for Sunday Riley Artemis Oil, another amazing discovery! It smells awful but it makes my skin glow so I'll breathe through my mouth when I apply it. If my skin feels a little dry, I'll use Dr. Jart Water Sleeping Mask to seal all the products in, run the facial massager from the Body Shop over my face, then sleep for at least seven or eight hours.

My skin is too sensitive to use my Clarisonic every day, but I want a deep clean on the days I use sheet masks—about twice a week. If I don't use a face mask, I'll use my hands to pat on Cremorlab Mineral Treatment Essence. I buy a lot of my Korean products from Peach and Lilly. It's a total Godsend when I can't get to Korea for a while.

My makeup is really simple and takes about five minutes. I draw on my eyebrows with Anastasia’s Perfect Brow Pencil in Soft Brown, line my eyelashes with Chanel Liquid Eyeliner Intensity Definition in Noir, and pump up my eyelashes with Givenchy Noir Couture Volume Mascara. I finish it all off with Bobbi Brown Blush in Pale Pink and I'm out of the door.

If there's one thing I learned from my mom, it's to be careful when trying new products. Most of what I buy is on her recommendation. I never wear any foundation, concealer, or BB creams because I’m afraid too much product too soon might damage my skin for the future. If my skin is reacting to what I've eaten, pollution, or really anything, I use Clarin's Skin Beauty Repair S.O.S. Serum. Obviously, I was nervous to try this, too, it works. Really.”

—as told to ITG.

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