this thing's incredible

I Use This Korean Moisturizer As a Makeup Primer, a Cheek Highlighter, and a Tattoo Brightener

Photo: Retailer

Much to my mother’s chagrin, I have been collecting tattoos since I was 27. These are not Tasmanian devils, nor are they $13 flash art picked off a wall on Friday the 13th — they’re beautiful works of art, custom designed by some of the country’s preeminent tattooists. One particularly elaborate three-quarter sleeve tapestry took a year to complete and cost more than three months’ rent.

Needless to say, I take very good care of them. Even the finest tattoos fade and stretch over time, but there are measures you can take to slow the aging process and preserve pristine color. As a rule, I avoid the sun like a vampire and slather myself in SPF 100. I have a whole tattoo-friendly shower routine, too, that I’ve been refining for years. I lather up daily with Loshi Horse Oil Soap from Japan and exfoliate twice a week with Aesop’s Geranium Leaf Body Scrub. When I step out of the shower, I spritz my wet skin with Nuxe Huile Prodigieuse, a dry oil from France with a deserved cult following. The next step is to moisturize, typically with Aveeno Daily Moisturizing Lotion or Sabai-arom Siamese Blossoms Body Cream from Thailand if I’m feeling fancy. Only recently did I add another step to the lineup: Touch In Sol’s Pretty Filter Glassy Skin Balm, which I discovered through my favorite beauty subscription box.

For weeks I’d been using this lightweight Korean cream as the face primer it’s intended to be, swirling it onto my cheekbones and brow. I was impressed with its lasting dewiness and how it caught the light in a really flattering way, thanks to a combination of refractive sunflower seed oil, skin-quenching shea butter, and ivy gourd, chinaberry leaf, and red algae extracts. It made me look healthy and well-rested, as if I’d been sunning myself on Jeju Island instead of, you know, spending ten hours a day in front of a computer screen. I also liked the faintly rosy scent.

Out of sheer boredom, probably on my 11,248th Zoom call of the day, I spun the cap off the pink tub and began mindlessly massaging the whipped balm into my forearm. The ink on my tattoos instantly came alive. The colors were juicy and rich, like I’d squished them out of a Winsor & Newton tube, and my skin practically sparkled. Unlike other tattoo brighteners I’ve tried, most of which are just overpriced moisturizers, Pretty Filter made my skin glisten without taking a million years to dry or leaving behind a greasy film.

Ever since my accidental discovery, I’ve been applying a thin layer of Pretty Filter to both my face, as the formula is intended, and my arms. A little dab goes a long way, so I anticipate the container lasting through Christmas. In fact, I can’t wait to test it this winter, when my tattoos are especially prone to looking dry and ashy. My mother may never approve of my tattoos, but I’ll do whatever it takes to keep those colors popping like an OLED TV screen.

Other products I use on my tattoos

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This Korean Face Primer Doubles As My Tattoo Brightener