We’re thrilled to launch our Mask Bar this week at our Madison Avenue and Downtown stores in New York, as well as online. The offering includes individually sold sheet masks from Starskin, Karuna, Dermova, and a specially curated selection from Peach & Lily founder, Alicia Yoon. More than just a Korean beauty guru, Yoon is a trained esthetician who is passionate about, in her words, “the tradition of skincare rituals being passed down through the generations, and the knowledge that is infused into the products that are used.”
For Yoon, growing up in Seoul meant that skincare was part of the social fabric. “It’s sort of like working out together in the U.S. We have a facialist that the entire family sees, everyone from my grandmother to my sister and me,” explains Yoon. “In Korea, the approach to skincare is longterm. Results aren’t going to happen overnight. It’s about consistency and keeping skin as healthy as it can be—proper cleansing, proper hydration, and proper protection are the three important pillars of the Korean skincare philosophy.” Through Peach & Lily, Yoon has a namesake line of sheet masks that she developed, while she also focuses on importing Korean beauty to the States.
Below, she highlights both her journey toward becoming a skincare expert and her trip to Korea to source the best Korean masks to bring exclusively to Barneys through our partnership with Peach & Lily.
The Window: How did you get into the world of skin care?
Alicia Yoon: As a toddler, I recall my mom teaching me how to brush my teeth on my own and how to apply SPF and a good moisturizer. In Korean culture, taking care of your skin is such an important way to take care of yourself. After all, skin is your body’s biggest organ. In 1999, I began to take a professional interest in skincare when was I enrolled in esthetician school, which changed my life because it was the first time I saw that there was a science behind skincare. I became a skincare and beauty formula junkie! I also became the girl who gives facials to friends and family.
How did you take it from hobby to career?
After esthetician school, I moved to New York and entered the world of finance—all the while continuing to give facials to my friends. I ended up at Harvard business school, where I was able to explore what I really wanted to do. Two things kept coming up: my passion for skincare and the desire to create my own business. Since Korea was still years ahead of other countries in terms of innovation and it was hard to find these products in the U.S., I realized that I needed to bring hard-to-find, cult-worthy products from Korea to the states. Peace & Lily was born.
You grew up in both the states and Korea. Why did you decide you wanted to bridge the two?
In Korea, there’s a very open culture around skincare, so there’s a lot of sharing about what facial massages, products, and ingredients work and don’t work. I love that there’s a huge emphasis on skincare as a way of taking care of yourself and staying healthy. Through Peach & Lily, I wanted to ensure that everyone in the U.S. could access these innovative Korean beauty products, and I also wanted to share the wealth of knowledge from the Korean beauty culture of putting skin first.
Tell us about your trip to Korea to source for Barneys.
I go to Korea about once a month. Over the last five years, I have developed a particular route that takes me to visit the top dermatologists and estheticians to hear about the latest innovations they are seeing. I also interview cosmetic chemists and labs, as they are at the very forefront of innovation. I speak to celebrities, bloggers, and editors about what they use. It’s about keeping my finger on the pulse. I created a short list of brands that made the first cut. Then I met with them and conducted an interview—I want to see a real commitment to quality. Finally, I brought everything back to the U.S. to test all the products with real users. Products needed to receive at least 8.5 stars out of 10 across every dimension—texture, scent, performance, packaging, ease, etc. This extensive curation process was done so that we could hand-select only the very best for you.
What were you looking for in the masks you chose? What discoveries excited you?
Skincare is that moment in my day where I can slow down and connect, so I wanted to curate masks that have a meditative element, whether it’s through the actual mixing before application, through a calming scent, or through a soothing ingredient—all while producing radiant results. It’s hard to pick favorites because I’m excited about all of it! Let Me Skin Modeling Masks are great and a classic part of many Korean facials. An esthetician created these whimsically packaged modeling masks so that these spa treatments could be done at home. Not only are these jumbo-sized pill packs so fun, they can be repurposed (maybe a sunglass holder when traveling or even a cute way to transport toiletries!). I also love the Shangpree mask that comes from Korea’s most revered spa and is a total indulgence with ingredients like gold (really) and silk. The sparkling bubbles resurface skin gently, charcoal draws out impurities, and blackberry delivers antioxidants. Skin is totally refreshed, exfoliated, and left supple. I love this mask!