The Model With An Eczema-Friendly K-Beauty Routine


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“Hi! My name is Gina (@ladydownfall). I was born and raised in Queens, New York, and now I live in Bed Stuy. I moved to Brooklyn when I started my second year of college at NYU—I actually studied biochemistry. My high school was geared towards science, so that was kind of all I knew entering college. I worked at a research lab for a couple years, and at that point my parents and I thought I’d get my PhD. At the same time, I tried to explore my interest in fashion while still maintaining the biochemistry degree. I did a few internships, and I didn’t sleep much! My mom was a designer in Korea and had her own shop, so I think she kind of understood where I was coming from. She and my dad were obviously worried about me—leaving biochemistry was leaving something secure for the unknown—but they eventually supported my decision to go into fashion.

Right now, my main career is modeling. I had kind of been doing it for fun, sporadically, but during the pandemic I signed with Anti. I was thrilled when Glossier asked me to be a part of the film noir section of the Lash Slick campaign. Lately I’ve been watching a lot of neo-noir and tech-noir, which kind of combines film noir and sci-fi. I’ve always loved the fashion and beauty in those films, and it was so much fun to evoke characters from Demonlover and Angel Dust, which are two of my favorites. I also have this intense love for music, and want to explore that side of me more. Since the start of the pandemic I’ve been increasingly drawn to ikigai, a Japanese ideology about a reason for living. It’s basically about finding the intersection between your passions, what you’re good at, and what you can make a living doing.

I take skincare really seriously because it’s been ingrained in me from a very early age—my mom was always super into the 10-step Korean routine, you know? But my routine starts with putting on a record (something like Geinst Naït & Laurent Petitgand or O Yuki Conjugate) and the kettle for coffee. Only after I have my coffee will I go in with a cleanser. Skincare is a commitment to my wellbeing that’s become more about the process than the individual products—twice a day, every day, I set out to nurture my skin with intention. I definitely learn a lot about products from my job, but I have to be careful post-shoot because weird rashes can come up. If I come home from a day of work where I have a lot of makeup on, I’ll use this Sea Buckthorn Oil Cleanser by Living Libations. Otherwise, I like this gentle foaming cleanser from Iope, which is the only thing that doesn’t strip my skin and exacerbate the dryness. When masking, I go for the Mediheal line. I really love the Aquaring Ampoule mask that contains hyaluronic acid and ceramides, which really help seal in moisture.

The Josh Rosebrook Hydrating Accelerator also brings a lot of moisture to my face, and then I move into this Laneige Cream Skin Toner. I actually put a drop or two rosehip oil into the bottle to help balance my skin—my mom watches a lot of Korean beauty YouTubers and dermatologists, and I got that tip from her. This Korean Real Barrier Extreme Cream is a really thick moisturizer that seals everything in. I get dry patches on my neck, chin, and forehead, and this is the only thing that has been working for me in winter. In the summer I’ll use the Embryolisse Lait-Crème Concentré—I’ve been reading Into The Gloss for years now, and that’s where I found out about it. And finally, there’s this insane Synchro Cream that was actually developed for burn victims—it’s so expensive, but it has crazy regenerative properties and is great for my eczema. That’s the best cream I’ve ever used. In the morning I finish with Unseen Sunscreen from Supergoop, which is really nice because it doesn’t feel like anything. And at night, I use this Beuti anti-inflammatory oil to lock in the moisture.

If I am going outside, I’ll put on Glossier Skin Tint in G11, Boy Brow, and curl my lashes. If I’m really doing my makeup and want a little bit more coverage, I use a foundation stick from Westman Atelier sort of like concealer—I put it under my eyes and around my nose. Cloud Paint in Dusk is my favorite blush for sure, and Kosas lipstick in Vegas is my favorite for when I’m not masked up. I’ve been using the Ilia eyeshadow palette, and my favorite waterproof mascara is from Heroine Make. It has a separate mascara remover that comes with it, so it’s really easy to take off. I bought it at Sunrise Mart, which is so random, but they actually have a great beauty section. Otherwise, I buy a lot of products at The Amore cosmetics shop on Northern Boulevard in Queens. They carry Korean brands like Amorepacific, Iope, and Laneige, which all seem to work very well for me.

My hair has been long for about five years now—I had a mullet before that, and I’ve been growing it out ever since! I don’t really do much to style it. I’ve been using the shampoo and conditioner from this new brand called Act+Acre, which has been really nice. It smells amazing and I feel like it’s been bringing a lot of moisture into my hair. Before I shower I dry brush, which has really been helping the keratosis pilaris bumps on my arms. And in the shower I can basically only use the Avène Cleansing Oil because of my eczema. When I get out of the shower I’ll use some Osea Algae Oil while I’m still damp, and I’ve been running this Ouai Rose Oil through the ends of my hair. My favorite fragrance is Amor Fati, from Sigil. It’s woody, musky, but light at the same time… You just get a whiff of it when I walk by. I actually discovered it at the beginning of the pandemic, because Sigil does this crazy thing where they charge $55 to get samples of all their perfumes, and then you can take $55 off the price of a full bottle. I’ve really been loving it.”

—as told to ITG

Photos via the author