Half-Face Challenge: Asian vs. Western Skincare for Seven Days

If I asked you what brand and products would constitute your idea of skincare heaven, what would your answer be? Would you immediately vote for Western beauty brands, or do you prefer the Japanese/Korean approach to beauty?

Faced with the same question, I found myself struggling to figure out which I liked better. Their beauty philosophies are quite different; just think about how the West is so big on contouring and matte lipsticks while K-beauty is obsessed with dewy skin and cushion makeup! To figure out what actually works best for me, I shopped my stash for products that have common denominators and decided to do a seven-day half-face challenge! For a week, I applied exclusively Western skincare products on the left side of my face and Asian skincare products (from Korean and Japan) on the right. Do you think there will be a big and obvious difference?

Face Wash

For the first round, I pitted The Body Shop Vitamin E Gentle Facial Wash (P550) against the Hada Labo Face Wash (~P400 abroad). While I was digging up all my facial washes to find something to use for this experiment, I noticed that the Western brands I have are creamy, low-foam formulas while the Asian ones tend to produce rich lathers. Neither were particularly drying, but the Western one felt more emollient and, therefore, less stripping on skin.


To get rid of leftover residue without drying my skin out, I selected Dickinson’s Enhanced Witch Hazel Hydrating Toner (its regular counterpart is available in Healthy Options) to go against Tony Moly Nutra Energy Toner (P1,098). Both are meant to keep skin moist, but I notice that Western formulas still have more of an astringent effect. It also doesn’t hurt that a lot of Korean brands are coming out with gel-formula toners that don’t evaporate straightaway! At the very least, it gives off the feeling of more hydrated skin.


To add an extra layer of nourishment before I lock everything in with moisturizer, I massaged a few drops each of Olay Regenerist Miracle Boost Youth Pre-Essence (P1,399) and It’s Skin Power 10 Formula VC Effect (P390 at Althea Korea) on either side of my face. The consistencies are near-identical, and I didn’t notice any major short term differences on my skin. They both absorbed quickly and set up my skin for the last and final step.


I finish off the routine with half a face of Olay Regenerist Micro-Sculpting Cream (P1,699) and half a face of Dr. Jart Ceramidin Cream (P1,850 at Althea Korea). This is where the textures differ slightly: The tubed Dr. Jart is more solid and thick, while Olay is somewhat lighter and easier to spread. Both are marketed to provide intense hydration and have a satiny-matte finish that lasts well into the next day.

Before and after: I used Asian skincare on the left side of my face (right side in photo) and Western skincare on the right (left side in photo)

Before and after: I used Asian skincare on the left side of my face (right side in photo) and Western skincare on the right (left side in photo)


So were there any major differences in terms of results between the two regimens after a week? To be honest, not that much. There may have been noticeable differences in the first two steps (cleanser and toner), but they are also the parts of the skincare routine that don’t have lingering effects on the skin like the latter two steps do. (Even a drying facial wash can be corrected with a rich moisturizer, right?) Ultimately, both sides of my face felt hydrated, but still not as much as if I had stuck to the 10-step Korean skincare regimen.

The comparison of this somewhat basic routine to the elaborate one I tried before has gotten me to think that that extra dewy factor has more to do with properly layering progressively thicker products on top of one another than what country the brands hail from.

That said, mixing and matching products should be fine, providing that the active ingredients in each layer don’t clash with one another. The rest of what we perceive brands to be and do (natural and organic vs. cutting-edge lab science) has more to do with marketing. But there’s nothing wrong with preferring one side to the other, since it is a matter of finding what appeals to your skincare needs and even to your sense of aesthetics.

Do you prefer Asian skincare brands or Western ones? Are you the type to mix and match? Let us in on your layers of skincare!