Inside the Mind-Blowing Skincare Routine of a Korean Model

Amanda Montell

Lee Sa-Bi

The woman in the photo above is 39 years old. This image wasn’t retouched or Photoshopped—that is actually what her skin looks like.

We’ll give you a moment to process that. All good? Now, let us introduce you to Lee Sa-Bi, a South Korean model, actress, and the first native Korean to pose for Playboy.

How can a 39-year-old’s skin possibly be this perfect, you ask? Of course, we’ve all heard about the superiority of Korean skincare, and most of us have sampled bits of it from lines like Amore Pacific and Belif. But we wanted to take a closer look at the real skincare routine of someone with skin as youthful as Sa-Bi’s. So, with the help of fabulous translator Alicia Yoon, founder of Peach & Lily, we spoke with the clear-skinned model. She told us the specifics of everything she uses—from toners, to sheet masks, and beyond. Trust us when we say her routine does not disappoint.

But before we get into products, let’s talk about the deeper side of skincare. “A big part of it is a healthy lifestyle—eating fresh, organic foods; exercising regularly (mostly by running around outside in the fresh air); and sleeping well,” says Sa-Bi. “To me, skincare was never about looking pretty or wearing a lot of makeup. Skincare was always about being healthy and taking care of yourself.”

Sa-Bi says that for her, as for many women in Korea, there has always been a “soothing, ritual-like” element to skincare. “Growing up, I saw my mother washing her face with rice water, which has nourishing and brightening benefits,” she describes. “It was all very ritualistic. The first batch of rice water is thrown out, and the second batch is used. Then, just water is used to rinse off thoroughly. I grew up doing this, too, because I saw my mother doing it. It was all a part of learning how to take care of yourself.”

Sa-Bi’s skincare regimen has grown and evolved since then. To find out her secrets, keep scrolling!

Want to know more about Korean skincare? Check out this in-depth look at the country’s beauty backstory.

This story was originally published on April 11, 2016 and has been updated.

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