In the Kit
inside alicia yoon beauty closet

Peach & Lily Founder Alicia Yoon Has Our Fantasy Skin-Care Closet

We’ve never seen so many beauty products in one place.

By: Hannah Baxter
Styling: Hannah Baxter
Photography: Jake Rosenberg

Skin-care junkies, prepare yourselves, because we may have found the mother lode of all beauty closets. We’re talking a full wall—floor to ceiling—stocked with products; shelves heaving with serums and creams for cleansing, toning, and nourishing your complexion; an LED helmet that looks like it was meant for motocross racing rather than preventing fine lines and wrinkles. Yes, there’s all that and more at the Manhattan home of Alicia Yoon, founder of Peach & Lily and ultimate skin-care guru.

 

To be honest, we never expected to find anything less than a bona fide archive of nearly every product under the sun. For Yoon, who built her e-commerce business on curating the best of the best beauty must-haves, it isn’t a vanity issue—it’s hours, nay, years of research. With her continued dedication to testing each and every product (whether herself or by her team), her stamp of approval has become the gold standard in the world of K-beauty (and now J-beauty, as well). That’s why her customer base trusts her so implicitly. If she says it’s worth our time and money, by god, we know our skin will be glowing soon enough.

But the Harvard Business graduate and licensed aesthetician wasn’t satisfied with just stocking other brands—she eventually funneled her industry expertise into Peach & Lily’s in-house line of skin-care products. And in the year since the launch, Yoon’s proprietary collection has rapidly reached cult-favorite status. Even J-Lo can’t get enough of her Glass Skin Refining Serum. Yet, during our conversation (after testing bottle after bottle of her current favorites), it became clear just how much she loves her work and how deeply she values her role in helping other people achieve healthy, beautiful skin.

Learn more about her journey in the skin-care industry, from her ongoing battle with eczema to her tips for incorporating a new product into your regimen (without causing your skin to freak out). Just try to keep your jaw off the floor when you see her beauty closet(s).

“I was always really interested in skin care because I have eczema. I was always curious about what my mom was trying to do to help me ever since I was two or three. When I started going to aesthetician school when I was 18, that was when the whole world opened up to me, because it was the first time that I started to see that it doesn’t have to be a guessing game. I could figure out exactly why this flare-up is happening and what to do about it and how to manage it.”

“Once you understand how your skin is working, and being able to visualize what’s going on, that’s really helpful. [Like] ‘Oh, my skin barrier is just weaker, so I have to do things to prevent the epidermal water loss and lock that all in.’”

“[What] started off with just being able to see the results [with my skin] and making sure that I’m analyzing things on-point very soon after turned into this passion of really wanting to help other people. The best way to describe it is like those mornings when your place is a disaster and you’re doing your makeup in the subway, and your hair is a wreck, the whole day feels a little ‘I don’t have my life together right now.’ That’s kind of what it felt like, and I think once I started to know how to manage my flare-ups, I just felt like that cloud was gone, and I felt so much more empowered and in control.”

“For Peach & Lily, from day one, whenever someone has a skin-care question, only our licensed in-house aestheticians can answer those questions. Because at the end of the day, I didn’t want to start a company that’s just providing general information, but really pinpointing the specific solution for every single person, whatever their specific issue might be.”

“When I first started Peach & Lily, that first moment when a customer wrote in to say, ‘I saw my skin transform,’ I just remember thinking, ‘Oh my gosh.’ Because I had been doing facials and skin consultations as a hobby. I never thought, ‘I can do this as a full-time career.’ I thought ‘career’ meant like, investment banking and consulting, and so that’s what I did. And then when I quit all that to start Peach & Lily, that was the first time an email came, and then it was like, ‘Oh my gosh, now I get to do this full-time.’ That moment, I still remember.”

“Some people might be like, ‘It’s just skin; how much is it really transforming your life?’ But when it’s something that you’re day-to-day dealing with, and that’s the first thing you see when you look in the mirror, and you’re so frustrated, I know all too well. It would have been very easy to be like, ‘It’s just flare-ups, whatever, focus on everything else.’ But it’s always there, so I’m like, ‘I want to fix this.’”

“If [a product] is not for my skin type, I won’t test it. But if it’s for all skin types, or for dry skin types, or sensitive skin, or a specific skin concern, 100 percent. And that testing process takes so long.”

“It’s really hard to keep my skin at neutral. I wish, sometimes, as much as I love testing beauty products, sometimes I wish I wasn’t, because sometimes you find a routine you love and you just want to stick with it.”

“Sometimes there are ingredient lists that I look at and I’m like, ‘I don’t think I’m gonna love it,’ but it still gets great reviews, I’ll still test it, and sometimes I’m surprised. And that’s when I start taking a lot of notes like, ‘Why is it that this ingredient list looks like it would have been irritating for me, and this other product had a similar one that [was], and this one [wasn’t]?’ It’s very interesting.”

“For my skin, I ensure that I’m not testing too many things at once. It is hard because I do have to test a lot of products, but what I’ll typically do is, if I’m testing a cleanser, I’ll start with just the cleanser for a few days and make sure that it’s going great, and if I also have to test a serum, I’ll do the cleanser and the serum, but I’ll give it a few days’ gap. That way I can isolate some of the issues. And I’ll try to test things that are different product categories at the same time.”

“When I have to pare everything back, I use a very basic hydrating gel cleanser for a few days. These days I use a Power Calm Cleanser if I end up getting irritated, and then I just do a very basic hydrating toner, and then I’ll do a moisturizer. Then SPF and no makeup.”

“I always tell people, ‘Get to know your skin. Become friends with it.’ Just look at your skin, see what you use, because you can tell what kind of irritation your skin is going through. If it’s irritation because it’s dried out, completely angry, and flaky, I’ll do the Reset Button Mask and then I’ll do the K-Beauty Rescue Balm. I warm it up in my hands and press it [into the skin]. That helps to hydrate and relieve skin super fast.”

“I used to live by myself, in a one-bedroom on the Upper West Side. I’m a terrible cook—I burn water—so my refrigerator had a little section for takeout, and then the rest of it would be sheet masks and products. When we we moved into a one-bedroom, it was tough. There was one bathroom. I basically had the closets, and I had these big metal bins, and I had all of my beauty products in there. That was Eddie [my husband] being very generous. It got tough, because, first of all, it’s really heavy. And then you forget what you have if you’re not looking at it all the time.”

“When we moved here, I was like, ‘I just want this whole area.’ I wanted to make sure that everything in rotation, I can see. It actually forces me to get through things and test efficiently and all of that, because ultimately, I think it’s very fair that I have this, and, you know...he has his bathroom [laughs].”

“Every four to six weeks, I have this little suitcase that I keep in the office, and I’ll bring a whole bunch of stuff back to the office and a whole bunch of stuff here. I’ll make sure that I’m finding what’s really highly reviewed and bringing that in and having it as a comparison point. So some of the non-Korean beauty brands, that just stays here. And then eventually, if I have to test more, I’ll...give some away to friends, because I feel like I’ve tested it sufficiently.”

“Fragrance is probably the one ingredient that I do get afraid of when I see it on the ingredient list, because you just don’t know exactly what’s in that fragrance. Some are fine for me, and some...I look like I painted my face red with lipstick. It just gets so upset, because it’s the one ingredient on the ingredient list where you have no idea what it breaks down into.”

“One thing people are loving [in K-beauty] right now [is] micro-spicules in serums. It’s called the Meso Ampoule, and basically, there are hydrolyzed sponges inside it that act like micro-needles. So it looks just like an opaque white serum, but when you apply it, your whole face tingles. And it doesn’t tingle like a chemical-peel tingle, it tingles like there’s the gentlest, tiniest little pricks everywhere. It’s supposed to boost collagen production. The largest spa in Korea, Eco Your Skin...created this. It’s really interesting. I’m seeing that more in products in Korea, and I think it just hasn’t caught [on] here as much because it’s not everywhere. It’s not a BB cream, where now every brand is carrying it. But when people discover this product, they swear by it.”

“I really appreciate when brands disclose the percentage of their actives. Gone are the days when you can just be like, ‘It’s a proprietary blend.’ I think a lot of brands are shifting away from that. We get a lot of emails from our consumers asking about the percentage of actives in our beauty, and we’re very transparent about that. Fruit and vegetable extracts, typically you’re not as concerned about, but if you have, like, 5 percent niacinamide, you want to know what is included.”

“That is such an expensive mask, so I’m definitely like, ‘I want to see some crazy results in order for me to tell our customers to purchase it for $1,500.’ Typically if brands want us to carry it, they’ll just give it to us. They had us purchase that with a little bit of a discount, and I was like, I mean, I’ll test it. So TBD, but if it’s amazing, I think it’s worth it. It has three different light settings. And it’s interesting, because it’s very immersive. And apparently it works on your head, as well.”

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