How Science from Korea Can Save Your Skin

How Science from Korea Can Save Your Skin
Bad news bros: If you wait until your face looks like the surface of the moon, it’s too late.
Tiege Hanley LogoWhat if there was a company that took all of the world's best skin care science and made a dead simple solution for men without all of the gratuitous markup? Check out Tiege Hanley's system that provides boutique brand results at drug store prices. Primer readers save $5 off their first order with code “primer5”!

What is this?

Your skin is pretty amazing. It’s the largest organ of the body, measuring about 21 square feet and accounting for 15% of your body weight. Each of your skin’s seven layers has a different function, from pathogen protection to supporting the hundreds of species of microflora (i.e., very tiny critters). Every 28 days, your skin renews itself entirely.

I know I should take better care of my skin. I’ve been told how important it is to wear sunscreen and moisturize, etc., etc., but there’s so much information out there about skin care that comes wrapped in scientific jargon and marketing speak that I just haven’t given it much time. What should I use? What products are important? What works and what is snake oil?  I’m not going to go educate myself unless I have a problem, and I’ve been lucky to be relatively acne and blemish free since college.

But here’s the problem: skin starts to show visible signs of aging in your mid-20s, and since time is (unfortunately) linear that process doesn’t stop simply because you’re not paying attention. The moment to start a proactive skin care routine is now. But who has the time or bandwidth?

peptides skin care

Tiege Hanley is a new skin care brand founded to address exactly this problem. It works like this: You pick a level (1, 2, or 3) and they send you everything you need each month to take care of your skin; you can subscribe or just order as needed. Level 1 comes with 4 products that last you a month and only sets you back $25. Tiege Hanley stands out for two reasons: their laser focus on clinically-driven skin health (more on that later) and the work they’ve put into making skin care simple and streamlined.

Tiege Hanley isn’t so much a set of products as it is a system. Each month’s supply comes with an instruction card that tells you when to use each product and a diagram of exactly how much is the right amount. It’s simple to the point of idiot proof. If you want to do more than soap & water, this might be it: a skin care line designed from the ground up for busy guys.

The New Science of Skin

Tiege Hanley was founded by four guys: Rob, Kelley, Aaron and a man known only as The Chemist. Why the cloak and dagger routine? The Chemist is an accomplished international skin care industry scientist and formulator.  He brings decades of insider knowledge to Tiege Hanley but because of professional obligations wants to be discreet about it. He was attracted to the vision Tiege Hanley presented around quality and simplicity. I knew I wanted to talk to this guy. So I got on the phone with him and what he said surprised me.

The Chemist told me the most cutting-edge research on skin care comes out of Korea. Why? Good old capitalism. “They have a huge cosmetic culture for men,” he said. A larger market means more dollars for R&D. “The major cosmetic companies in US and Europe are monitoring Korea for advances.” Another reason? Korea has more permissive rules when it comes to biochemicals in consumer products.

The Chemist’s position as an industry insider means he’s aware of what the Koreans are up to. “We’re drawing on techniques and biochemical research from Korean researchers,” he says, “particularly in the use of peptides.” Peptides are an essential ingredient in Tiege Hanley’s strategy to protect your skin from damage. And it turns out, there’s a lot of things in the world trying to mess with your skin.

Skin Care is Nutrition for the Outside of your Body

Airborne pollution, especially in urban areas, is a leading cause of wear and tear on our skin. The Chemist told me “Aging in today’s world is a combination of stress and environment.” High levels of ozone lead to correspondingly high levels of free radicals in the air. You may have heard of free radicals: they’re the chemical species that attack DNA and cellular membranes, causing damage and mutations.

“Just by walking around the city on a high ozone day your skin cells are being attacked,” says the Chemist, and the solution is antioxidants. Tiege Hanley products have a high amount of antioxidants to counter the effects of environment. “Polyphenolics are a class of chemical in our products,” he says, “they’re no different than what’s in fruit and vegetables to scavenge free radicals. They also act as an antimicrobial.” Most of Tiege’s polyphenolics are derived from green tea and grapeseed.


Another component of Tiege Hanley products are peptides, the building blocks of proteins. Peptides are added to Tiege Hanley products to counter wrinkles. The Chemist explained that wrinkles form when the structural proteins collagen and elastin start to break down. “The peptides in our products actually target organelles within a cell, causing fibroblasts to secrete collagen,” he says. The use of peptides for skin care is one of the key discoveries to come out of Korean research in the last 15 years.

What the Chemist was saying boiled down to: I eat lots of fruit, vegetables, and protein to keep my insides healthy – how is my outside any different?

The Products

tiege hanley products

Daily Face Wash

The name says it all. Tiege Hanley’s Daily Face Wash is your day to day soap-replacer. I asked The Chemist, why not just use soap? “Study after study shows soap actually dehydrates your skin,” he said. “Soaps strip your skin of its natural lipids (fats). Once those lipids are reduced the floodgates are open for moisture to leave your skin.” That rings true to me. Especially in the winter, when my skin is already drier, it can feel unpleasantly tight and sandpaper-y after a wash and shave. Tiege’s Daily Face Wash is designed to clean your skin while maintaining proper lipid balance. The Wash is mild smelling without the overwhelming amount of scent in most face washes. True to the Chemist’s word, it left my skin clean but not dried out. The difference between this and bar soap is enough to be physically noticeable.

Morning Facial Moisturizer

Tiege Hanley’s Morning Facial Moisturizer has three components: moisturizer (of course), polyphenolics, and SPF 20 sun block. As explained above, the polyphenolics are there to address free radicals you encounter in your day to day. But what about the sun block? Turns out, getting a painful sunburn just once every two years triples your risk of melanoma skin cancer. And “sunburn” doesn’t necessarily mean peeling. If your skin has gone pink, it’s sunburned. In other words, we should all be wearing sun block most of the time because, well, cancer.

The Chemist explained the Morning Facial Moisturizer is useful even if you’re not out in the sun. “In the car you’re still getting UV exposure through the windshield. This product isn’t meant for sunbathing, but it gives you protection from daily exposure to UVA and UVB.” The Morning Moisturizer goes on smooth with a slightly minty feeling. Once applied, I quickly forgot I was wearing it – it blends well with my skin.

Bedtime Facial Moisturizer

I struggled with this one. Do I really need to moisturize my face before bed? The Bedtime Facial Moisturizer, however, contains the aforementioned peptides, which stimulate collagen replacement. Tiege co-founder Rob put it like this: “When’s the best time to treat a cold? It’s at night. Take medicine and let it work with the body’s natural healing process.” Fair point. I discovered the Bedtime product to be slightly thicker, with a nude color.

Exfoliating Scrub

Even I know what exfoliation is: the sloughing off of dead skin cells to allow new ones to grow. Tiege Hanley recommends using the Exfoliating Scrub just twice a week to stimulate cell turnover. Of all the Tiege products, this was the most enjoyable to use. It’s minty and after use your face feels like it’s been given a menthol-infused cleansing. Like an Altoid for your face.

AM/PM Eye Cream

I was very curious to hear about this one. Dark circles under the eyes is an issue that gets worse with age for everyone. The key to the Tiege Eyes product is in recognizing that the skin under your eyes is much different than the rest of your face because it’s so much thinner. The fat content in the lips and cheeks makes it easier for them to store moisture and circulate blood. Not so under the eyes. This product is meant to stimulate blood flow and address raccoon circles. Applying Eyes, it’s a thicker lotion that definitely feels like a serious moisturizer.

AM/PM Firming Serum

This was the most questionable Tiege Hanley product. Maybe it’s the word “serum” or “firming,” that set me off but I was skeptical. The Chemist answered my questions by explaining the AM/PM Firming Serum contains a mix of two peptides, Hexapeptide 8 and Pentapeptide 18, which studies have shown to act similar to Botox but, crucially, aren’t Botox. They work to suppress muscle contraction, thereby easing wrinkles and improving skin elasticity. The serum itself is thin and cream colored, and blends with my skin quickly.

The Verdict: Knowledge vs. Culture

After two weeks of use, my pores feel tighter without being dry and my skin feels moisturized in a light, non-greasy way. Tiege Hanley’s system is, without question, a positive experience. Levels range between $25.00 – $45.00 a month and I feel like the experience comes at a fair price. Considering that Neutrogena Gentle Daily face wash and a tube of sunscreen will run you at least $14 at the drugstore it seems reasonable overall.

Just as important as the experience is a new perspective I’ve gotten on skin care: it turns out, there is a real, science-driven logic behind protective skin care that makes sense to me and is worth taking seriously. Girls grow up with their moms teaching them how important it is – for both health and social reasons – to take care of their skin. As co-founder Rob put it, “Guys just don’t get this education.” For a whole bunch of reasons, most having to do with our conditioning, knowledge about skin health and upkeep is ignored. Culture is getting in the way of knowledge.

Rob pointed out, “We’re starting to see it changing out there. This is why Tiege Hanley exists. We’re trying to make skin care as simple as possible.” A proactive skin care regime may not be for you, but if you’ve made it this far at least you have the tools to make an informed decision. And who knows, maybe you’ll impress the skin care pro in your household. “The founder’s wives are all using Tiege Hanley,” says Rob. It’s unscientific data, but compelling all the same.

Primer Exclusive Discount

We've teamed up with Tiege Hanley to give Primer readers an exclusive $5 discount off their first order. It's time to start taking care of your face, seriously. Use code “primer5” at checkout.

Thank you for supporting the brands that support Primer!

Tiege Hanley

Andrew is the founder and editor of Primer. He's a graduate of American University and currently lives in Los Angeles. Read more about Primer on our About page. On Instagram: @andrewsnavely and @primermagazine.


  • Reply December 14, 2016

    Simon P

    This is cool and all. I like the idea of looking younger longer, duh.

    butt … 25 dollars a month. That’s 300 a year. If you use it the whole of your twenties, that means 3000 bucks into skin care. Lookin’ fresh af is fine and all, but I am just not sure if spending that much money is the most efficient way.
    In my book, a balanced diet and exercise takes care of everything alright. Sleep, too. And sex and happiness and such silly stuff. Applying chemistry seems overkill and and unsensible to me.

    Not to mention the environmental impact of the cosmetic industry.

    All this, I want to say to the women’s cosmetic industry as well.

    Cosmetics? I mean, possible, it works, but maybe just not the best, cheapest, most natural way. Thoughts? Who diagrees?

    • Reply December 14, 2016


      I hear you man, but there’s not a lot of actual data showing that diet and exercise make your skin look better. Sleep is definitely crucial but not enough. At the very least you should moisturize and use SPF in the sun. Worth the money in my opinion!

    • Reply December 14, 2016


      I think it all comes down to priorities and where/how you like to spend your money. As I learned from talking with the chemist, there’s a ton of things bombarding our skin from the outside and in. Cosmetics has a dirty connotation but there is science behind the good stuff (not the snake oil), and it’s not all about looking good either – our face is the largest uncovered area of the body. You spray on sunscreen when you go to the beach because we know it protects the skin and the alternative is dangerous. Using smart products on your face is the same thing.

      • Reply January 7, 2017

        Oliver Warren

        It’s so difficult to “trust the science” when there’s this whole “if you believe us then you are going to hand over your money” thing going on. In other words, they stand to gain money from us believing what they say, which automatically makes me sceptical. Are there any independent, peer reviewed studies on these products demonstrating a meaningful effect?

    • Reply December 14, 2016

      Jeffrey C. o(≧∇≦o)

      Prevention is THE best way to fight aging. Using this product in your 20’s will keep you looking 40 at 60, if done correctly. (With diet, exercise, sleep, and not smoking, like you’ve already pointed out).

      Whether that’s important to you and the value prop is worth it is entirely subjective.

      I currently have two products (Anthony Logistics Glycolic Facial Cleanser & Neutrogena Face Lotion, Triple Protect, SPF 20) in my skincare regimen, but this is a easier solution that I’ll probably have mailed to me once every two months or so.

    • Reply December 18, 2016

      Remi SansFamille

      I agree. Some gentle face wash and moisturizer is enough.

      There’s really no miracle here: drink lots of water throughout the day, nutrient dense food, no sugar, regular exercise and sleep.

      You’ll feel like a million bucks and your skin will look great.

      As for exfoliation, a dab of face wash + a simple wash cloth can do the job. Just be gentle with it not to cause irritation.

    • Reply January 7, 2017

      Garrett Busch

      Agreed, I would also add cold showers have incredible benefits for skin, while hot showers strip your skin of many essential nutrients and oils. That is a simple, quick fix that can go a long way.

  • Reply December 14, 2016

    Matt M

    Agreed with Simon’s comment regarding the price. Also curious as to how many things you’re actually putting on each day. First daily scrub, then moisturizer, then eye cream, then firming serum? That’s a crapload of stuff to put on every morning.

    • Reply December 14, 2016

      Alex Bear

      Welcome to the lives of the other half of the population

    • Reply December 14, 2016


      It depends on which level, the wash and scrub are like shampoo they don’t stay on the skin.

  • Reply December 14, 2016


    I’ve been using the system for a couple of weeks now, and it’s great. The #1 benefit for me is the moisturizer with SPF. Since I also use a topical retinoid to keep my skin clear, it’s crucial that I don’t go outside without some sort of sun protection. To have a lightweight moisturizer that has the sun block built in – without being thick or greasy – is worth the asking price (for me).

    I also like the face wash…very mild but gets the job done.

    Only time will tell, but right now my skin looks great, possibly better than it’s looked since pre-teen years.

    Oh, and awesome write-up, Andy! So cool that you talked to The Chemist and got into the science behind this stuff. So many of these types of reviews just say “I used it and like it” with no real info. Well done!

    • Reply December 14, 2016


      Thanks Brock! I found the science to be really interesting and changed my opinion on a few things.

  • Reply December 14, 2016


    I have oily acne prone skin. This seems useless for people like me. I also don’t care for the ever expanding monthly subscription scams. Beard supplies, cooking ingredients, snack packs, clothing, gear, and now facial care. Where does this end?

    • Reply December 14, 2016


      Couldn’t agree more with the thoughts about monthly subscriptions!!!!!!!!!

      • Reply December 14, 2016


        Haha I was just saying this to someone the other day: Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Spotify, Audible, HBOGo…..
        For Tiege, though, you choose how often you want to receive it or you can just get it the one time, the recurring shipment is for convenience, not required.

    • Reply December 14, 2016


      I have the same kind of skin. I’m actually testing my old routine (salicylic acid wash and spot treatment plus moisturizer) and my new routine (Teige plus Differin, a topical retinoid). Stay tuned for the results, but so far so good.

      If you’re interested, I made a YT video of my old routine and plan on making one of the new routine in a few weeks.

  • Reply December 14, 2016


    Is there a coupon code?

    • Reply December 14, 2016


      Hey Nic, Use code “primer5”

  • Reply December 14, 2016

    Matt M

    Visited their site to buy and test out a few products. Ugh, its that one guy from youtube. For some reason, his videos really rub me the wrong way. Not sure if he’s the guy behind Tiege Hanley or they simply chose him to be the spokesperson. Either way, that alone is an automatic pass from me.

    • Reply December 14, 2016


      Yeah he kind of rubs me the wrong way too.

    • Reply December 15, 2016

      David Bjerke

      It’s alpha m. and I couldn’t agree more. I was looking for sites similar to Primer about 4 years ago and stumbled across his channel and absolutely could not stand him. Videos with the title “10 Stylish Items That Make You Look COOL… Automatically!” are just part of the reason.

      Him being affiliated pretty much makes it an automatic pass for me as well.

  • Reply December 14, 2016


    Nice article but there’s been questions within the science community on whether the skin around the eyes is indeed ‘thinner’. If I had to cut one item out it would be the eye cream. The skin industry has been known to create stuff you don’t actually need. Using your regular moisturizer around the eyes is fine in my opinion. The use of the scrub though you should tailor to your skin. If you’re on retinoids I would advise only once a week mild scrubbing. Scrubbing frequently can make your skin worse.

  • Reply December 14, 2016


    Seems interesting, especially if you’re not already using products like these. As for me, I’ve already got my routine covered with a serum, eye cream, and moisturizer with SPF that I like.

  • Reply December 15, 2016


    Lots of mentions of science and research, but clearly the developers have a conflict of interest, scientists or not. Any peer reviewed articles on any of this making a difference to skin?

  • Reply December 15, 2016

    Matt B

    Andrew, is your mouthwash in an old Hibiki bottle? Nice touch!

  • Reply December 17, 2016

    Michael Lemus

    At 33 yrs old, I wish a system like this was around when I was younger. I have to give it to Tiege Hanley for creating an affordable solution to skin care for men. Level 1 is the basics that any guy with normal skin should be using. I will say that if you have sensitive skin or acne prone skin you should always stay away from scrubs as they will irritate your skin even more. This kit is really designed for men with little to no acne so if you are acne prone, give the scrub away. Level 2 and 3 include your advanced skin care that most men probably would not buy until they are a little more secure about what skin products work for you. I know it took me a few years of figuring out which store products were just junk and over hyped nonsense. In my opinion, this kit and the ingredients are not only affordable but they also cut out all the science and research you’ll do over the years.

  • Reply December 26, 2016


    No offense Andrew, but this is a pretty obvious plug and not required for most guys in their 20’s, I don’t care what chemist you talked to. As a guy in the latter side of his 30’s, let me give the young bucks some proper advice. 1) Wear sunscreen. 2) Use Moisturizer. 3) Wash your face before you go to bed every night. Done. There are no magic potions that make fore better skin, most of the stuff is snake-oil. I buy a 6.8 oz. moisturizer from Kiehl’s ONCE a year for about $35 on sale, and I’m just starting to look into anti-aging stuff now (I don’t think I need it, but I’m closer to 40 than 30, so worth my efforts). No need to spend $300 a year. I’m routinely told I look 10 years younger than I am. Skip the snake-oil and just take care of the basics and you’ll be fine.

  • Reply February 13, 2017

    Russell Greer

    I subscribed to the basic system and received it in the mail today. I used the discount code for the $5.00 discount (thanks for that, btw). Although the products seem to work well enough, I’ve got to say that the scent of these products is very off-putting. I’ve used many various skin care products over the years and this may have been the most unpleasant scent I’ve experienced. Obviously this is subjective but I have a hard time believing anyone would enjoy the scent.

Leave a Reply