Clever and cute-as-can-be Charlotte Cho is the founder of Soko Glam, the international online destination for all things K-beauty and author of The Little Book of Skin Care, the latest and greatest read for the wellness-obsessed. She’s got the whole Korean skincare routine nailed down to a tee, a haircut that you will want to copy and a growing brand that expanding faster than ever before. Charlotte was born and raised in California, but after moving to Seoul, she quickly fell in love with the Korean skin care culture. She saw that the products were innovative, high quality and fun, but not available here in the US. She created Soko Glam to bring the best of K-beauty right to our doorsteps. I couldn’t be more glad she did.
Today, Charlotte lives in New York City with her husband Dave who helped her launch her perfectly curated online site. She doesn’t know what city to consider “home”, but she will always have a soft spot for LA, Seoul and NYC. On one cold but sunny day, I had the pleasure of meeting Charlotte at her shared office space, the trendy WeWork, to discuss what is up with her near perfect porcelain skin, that hair cut that I am just dying to copy, her life, her taste and, of course, her beauty faves. This is what went down.
Tell me about your gorgeous site. How did you and your hubby get started? What makes your K-Beauty site different?
Soko Glam is our baby! We started the site together back in 2012 because we wanted to be the bridge to Korea’s incredible beauty trends and products. We have a huge amount of respect for Korea and the culture, so spreading the awareness of Korean beauty has been rewarding. In just 3 years, we’ve already seen K-beauty make a huge impact in the global beauty industry and we’re excited to be a part of it.
Soko Glam is a one-of-a-kind K-beauty site because of the community we have cultivated through stories shared on our blog, The Klog. We also have hundreds of product reviews, which is really important for people who are just getting into K-beauty and don’t know where to start. Also, I’ve curated many products are from mainstream Korean brands, such as Skinfood, Neogen, Son & Park, and Missha. These are brands you can actually see and buy in popular shopping districts in Seoul such as Myeongdong.
Tell me about your book. How long did it take to write? Eva Chen gave you a little nudge?
The Little Book of Skin Care happened so fast, it still seems like a dream! About a year ago, I was approached by a literary agent after she read some of my Korean beauty articles on Refinery29 and Into the Gloss. I was in the middle of esthetician school and running Soko Glam so I was very daunted by the task of writing a full book. I reached out to several mentors because I was so conflicted. Eva Chen was one of them. She told me it was a great idea and encouraged me to go for it! I’m so glad I did. The process was actually enjoyable and seeing the finished product in bookstores is so surreal. I’m glad I did it because I got to work with talented women, such as Kate Williams and Gemma Correll. I consider myself very fortunate to have had this opportunity and I’m thankful for all the positive feedback from everyone from the US to countries like Russia, Germany and China!
Switching gears a little bit… I’d love to hear about your lifestyle. What is a typical breakfast, lunch and dinner like for you?
I usually don’t eat breakfast, which I know is terrible for your body and brain. The day goes by so fast, it’s already time for lunch before I have a chance to realize I’m hungry!
For lunch or dinner we try to eat whatever is easiest and/or fastest. That means we usually Seamless, make a sandwich or we go out to pick up a few things at a nearby bodega. We love cooking but we usually don’t have the luxury of time. I’m sorry I don’t have a more glamorous response but that’s the reality of being an entrepreneur – for us at least.
What’s your skincare regime like for morning and night?
My skin care routine changes daily because I’m testing so many products. But here are some of my current favorites that I tend to gravitate towards when I’m not testing.
You’ll see that I have been gravitating towards multi-tasking products. For example, my toning pads gently exfoliate and tone at the same time. The Son & Park beauty water removes makeup, tones and exfoliates, so if I’m pressed for time I’ll use Son & Park as my sole cleansing step. More of my favorites are:
Banila Co Clean it Zero Oil Cleanser
Re:p Toning Pads (tones and exfoliates!)
Klairs Vitamin C Serum (for pigmentation)
Re:p All night moisture & relief mask
When I have time, I’ll sheet mask! And, of course, if I go outside I use sunscreen!
If you could only use one Korean beauty product (or category), what would it be and why?
Cleansers are something you use every morning and night (hopefully!). They’re essential to your skin’s health. Cleansing properly can prevent breakouts, reduce blackheads and size of your pores and even help with anti-aging. People may think that because the cleanser is on your skin for at most a few minutes, it might not be that important – but I’ve heard so many people who have followed the double cleanse routine and seen incredible results.
What are your k-beauty predictions for 2016?
I predict the use of more “real” ingredients in all products. I’m already seeing wash-off masks infused with real herbs (for an extra exfoliating effect), floating rose petals in cleansing waters (for an extra antioxidant effect, straight from the source), and sheet masks where you can see the real ingredients (yes, real calendula petals and herbs) infused into the hydrogel for extra skin-loving effects. I hope it doesn’t go too far, though, because I’ll draw the line if I see real snail shells in my jar of snail cream!
You have totally turned me onto cushion compacts. Talk to me about your favorites.
I love cushion compacts because they are just so incredibly easy to use and they give you this perfect, airbrushed, dewy look without looking cakey. There isn’t a girl in Korea that doesn’t own one, and it’s actually amazing how fast this innovation is coming to brands stateside, I’m seeing them being replicated at Lancome, Sephora, etc. I am really into the Missha Magic Cushion right now. It’s very similar to the IOPE cushion (the original cushion compact).
Imagine you’re planning a Sunday night pamper party. What are your favorite ways to give your hair, skin and nails a little extra love?
Definitely sheet masks!
My favorite is the Manefit Bling Bling Hydro Gel Mask. If I want to get fancy, I go for the Banila Co Lace Hydrogel Masks.
I’m getting married in September and I want to get my skin in tip-top shape. What is your best beauty tip for the bride-to-be?
It’s all about being consistent with your skincare routine. You need to use a product for at least 4 weeks to see results, so you can’t be lazy! To get that luminous glow, I really recommend adding a brightening essence to your routine. I’ve been obsessed with the Neogen Essence & Tox Tightening set, because it’s an exfoliator and essence in one. Exfoliating is so key to better product absorption and buffing the dullness out of your skin!
Also, try not to stress out too much when planning fo royur big day! Stress causes cortisol/testosterone levels to rise, which causes hormonal breakouts!
Where do you get your hair cut?
Franck Provost and Hair Kuwayama (406 E. 13th Street)
Favorite non-Korean beauty item that you swear by?
Essie nail polish! I love all their shades and cheeky names.
3 essential items in your…
Fridge/pantry: Shin Ramen, jalapeños and Tapatio. What can I say, I like my food spicy.
Handbag: Sunglasses, tissues and my laptop, which means I’m usually with a backpack and not a handbag.
Travel bag: Hand sanitizing wipes for icky planes, Korean currency and sheet masks!
Restaurant/café: Her Name is Han is this cozy, authentic Korean restaurant on 31st and Madison. The décor, presentation and comfort food makes me feel like I am in Seoul.
Inspirational quote: I was at an entrepreneur conference and someone said, “Being an entrepreneur is like jumping off a cliff and building a plane on the way down.” Not sure who said it but it really resonated with me.
Nail art salon:
M&M Studio (New York, 3 E 33rd Street) – Very talented nail artists from Japan. Their English is limited but all I do is show her a photo and she can replicate anything!
Unistella Nail Salon (Korea) – Check out her Instagram!