Beauty Backstage: Serina Hwang, Korean Broadcaster

Serina Hwang is a force to be reckoned with in the Korean broadcasting world. Working with an eclectic group of networks (Arirang, EBS, LiTV, JEI English), she hosts for TV (Arirang Today World Edition, EBSe 지식 English) and radio (EBS FM’s Morning Special, Easy Writing) and emcees events (Samsung, G20). Outside of work, she’s a mom of two and running her Youtube channel focused on skincare and holistic wellness. Read on for her health hack recipes, how Korea changed her self-image, and why you should be face massaging.

Photographed by Judy Kim exclusively for Soak

How did you get started in the broadcasting industry?

I definitely wanted to work in broadcasting in my early 20s. [I was living in Canada], but I wanted to try out Korea because I knew that it was a totally different country and culture. I just felt like I didn’t have much to lose at that time since I was so young. I taught English on the side to support myself, and I tried to get my foot in the door by just applying to different jobs. What’s funny is I started off as a fashion reporter! I honestly don’t feel like I’m the most fashionable person and wasn’t an expert. But I was like – you know if I don’t do this it’s never going to happen – so I studied up on the latest trends in fashion and sort of just did it.

That was TV first, and then on to radio. How did that happen?

I started off as a reporter, and eventually, I was cast as a host for a show. Then, I just got a few recommendations for different radio gigs. But you know, I’m more known for doing TV shows, but I absolutely love radio. There’s just something about it, the atmosphere coming to a table with a few people and mot really caring about how you look or anything like that. Having good informative education topics about certain things. Yeah, I just love it it! It’s good.

Image via Serina’s Facebook

How did you get started on Youtube?

So Youtube was kind of funny. I gave birth to my son, and in Korea you’re not allowed to leave the house for 100 days. Apparently it’s a very sensitive period not only for the mother but the child as well. The sort of the extreme case is you don’t leave the house. You keep your body warm, and you eat really nutritious food and a lot of miyeokguk (seawood soup) for 100 days. So, I was super bored during the 100 days, I obviously was not working, so I started YouTube!

It was my outlet to express myself and destress. I had a lot of fun because I was the content creator! So I talked about anything that was important to me – health, recipes, food, taking care of your body, taking care of your mind, fashion, skincare.

Image via DannySeoul

What is your skin type and how do you target?

My skin type is dry, dehydrated, and sensitive. I make sure that I purchase products that are very gentle with no alcohol or harsh chemicals. I’m very consistent with keeping my skin clean and moisturized. And I also like to eat a lot of healthy fats like avocado, nuts, and fish oil supplements.

Can you tell us about your daily skincare routine?

My daily skincare routine involves a gentle cleansing balm Heimish All Clean Balm, cleansing oil, or a gentle cleanser like ATOPALM Real Barrier Control-T Cleansing Foam. Usually the cleanser that I use has a low pH level. I use a gentle toner non-alcoholic with usually no fragrance – Secret Key Aloe Soothing Moist Toner. Then a serum with an active ingredient. I usually like to switch up retinol (Paula’s Choice Resist Intensive Wrinkle-Repair Retinol Serum), vitamin C (Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin C Serum Drops), and some sort of moisturizing serum (NeoGen White Truffle Serum in Oil Drop). And then a cream Physiogel Daily Moisture Therapy. Then a sunscreen. I am very religious about sunscreen.

Image via Serina’s Facebook

Do you have a sunscreen that you love?

The only one that I really love right now is Cell Fusion C Laser Sunscreen 100. It’s recommended by a lot of Korean dermatologists, so you know that it really works! It’s not a super thin consistency, so it really protects and coats your skin.

What are you favorite brands?

You know what, I’m not that loyal to a specific brand! I like things that work. So I am not picky. Usually I stray away from department store brands because I know the money they put into it is for marketing and not so much about the quality of the products. I just like whatever has good reviews and good quality ingredients.

Image via Serina’s Facebook

How did your idea of beauty change when you came into Korea?

Outer beauty is just so much more emphasized than a lot of other things. It’s important to take care of yourself and present yourself well. But of course there’s a lot of other things that are important too.

What do you do differently for your skincare or makeup when you’re going on TV?

The most important thing I think is getting good sleep the night before. That way, both your skin and mentally, you’re just prepared for the shoot. If it’s something professional, I go to my makeup artist to get my makeup done.

Photographed by Judy Kim exclusively for Soak

Do you do anything differently when you’re stressed? Take a bath?

I haven’t taken a bath since 2012! Not to say that I don’t wash myself. Moms don’t really have time to take baths. I just make sure I take time for myself. I started getting into painting. I love yoga. I love meditation. Meditating can get difficult, but mine is just focused on breathing. I love having good music and having my diffuser on with some essential oils. But generally it’s just focused on deep breathing.

Do you go to any skin clinics or get any treatments?

I started seeing a dermatologist last year! I got a skin brightening package that includes different lasers for your face. It’s supposed to just tone your skin. I should be going regularly, but I go maybe once every couple months. But it’s very popular in Korea! I know a lot of women who swear by dermatologist clinics. 

Image via Serina’s Instagram

Do you have any holy grail products? 

I have a rose quartz crystal. It’s sort of shaped like an oval, and I use it to massage my face. I feel like massaging your face is so important!

Why is massaging your face important?

It’s like massaging your body, but often times people neglect massaging your face. I really feel it helps relax tense muscles in your face. We use a lot of muscles in our face like expressing our emotions. It really just helps relax wrinkle lines. 

I love using an oil like avocado oil, jojoba oil, or almond oil whether it’s to give myself a massage or to include it in my body lotion or cream. I also like to switch up the oils as well. 

Image via Serina’s Facebook

How about luxury products?

My Clarisonic! Is that luxury enough? That’s pretty luxury, don’t you think? It’s like over 200,000 won here in Korea! I also got the massage head for it. I use it not only to cleanse my face once a week but to give myself a nice sonic massage. 

What is your everyday make up look?

For when I’m not working and am just with my kids but still want to look presentable –  a good BB cream Skinfood Platinum Grape Cell Essential BB Cream and a nice lipstick Bbia Last Velvet Lip Tint in 01! But if I have extra time, then I’ll do a neutral colored eye shadow Laura Mercier Matte Eye Colour in Ginger with a nice rosy blush Shu Uemura Blush in M325! Before, in my 20s, I used to focus more on the eyes, but now I’m more about the lips. When I put on a nice lipstick, it completely wakes me up and makes me look human.

Image via Serina’s Facebook

What lip brands do you like?

I like Mamonde, Bbia, and YSL! I think those are my three favorite. 

Do you have any beauty or makeup tricks you swear by?

One makeup trick I learned from my makeup artist. It might be a little bit dangerous…but it’s basically using a wooden skewer like one you use for kebabs! You use a lighter to warm up the end, and you use that as an eyelash curler. You have to use it obviously with discretion. You don’t want to be using it if you’re under 18. But professional makeup artists use that all the time to curl your eyelashes naturally! If you use an eyelash curler, you get sort of that unnatural bend. But if you use that, you get a perfect C. But there are a lot of devices in Korea that do that for you.  

Image via Serina’s Instagram

How has being a mom impacted you?

Being a mom is the best thing that ever happened to me! Of course I love my career and it’s really hard balancing both, but it’s doable if you organize your life and set priorities. Being a mom also taught me how to be more diligent and effective with the time I have because obviously a big chunk of my time is dedicated to my kids. 

Do you have any advice for people transitioning into that stage of life?

You want to make sure you’re on the same page as the person you’re raising the child with. So a lot of open and truthful conversations with your partner before having children and during.

Shirt and skirt from boutique shop W.
Heels from By Mina. Photographed by Judy Kim exclusively for Soak

Are there are foods that help you look or feel your best?

I love making smoothies in the morning, and I like to add spirulina to it. Spirulina is a dried powdered algae that is like nature’s super vitamin. It’s so amazing for your skin. If you start adding that to your smoothie, you start seeing results in a couple weeks! It’s really great for your skin. It’s getting more popular in Korea. That’s one thing I swear by. 

Is there any feature you don’t like or didn’t like but now have come to embrace?

I never had a problem with my jaw until I came to Korea. The whole V-line thing made me self-conscious. At a certain point I actually even thought about the idea of possibly getting surgery. But then I really took time to think about it and realized I never had a problem with it before. It’s just more of a social pressure and now I’ve come to love my jaw. Actually I think things in Korea are changing a lot. People are liking more natural faces. It’s really important to take a step back and look at things in perspective. Sometimes you get so overwhelmed by what other people tell you.

Photographed by Judy Kim exclusively for Soak

What is your overall beauty philosophy?

Do what works for you and what makes you happy. 

I think beauty is an expression of yourself, so you have to be happy and comfortable about the way you express yourself. You should really just enjoy making yourself look nice in the morning or wearing clothes that make you feel sexy and comfortable. Don’t take it too seriously. Don’t let other people tell you what you should be doing and not doing.

Rapid Fire:

Current Favorite Brand: I don’t have one but at the moment CNP

Makeup bag essential: Lipstick and a mist

Current fave place: Jeju Island

Current favorite musical artist: Jazz. That helps me work.

Next travel destination: Santorini, Greece

Snack: Whole grain toast with cream cheese and sliced tomatoes, salt and pepper, with a bit of herbs

Photographed by Judy Kim exclusively for Soak

Featured Image via Judy Kim.

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