My List: SuChin Pak
The legendary journalist, host, and podcaster shares 12 things she finds absolutely essential.
If you, too were glued to MTV from 2001-2013, you probably remember SuChin Pak. To twelve-year-old me, being a VJ on MTV was about as cool as it got. As the elegant host of MTV News, True Life, MTV Cribs, and iconic video countdown show TRL, SuChin was one of the network’s most ubiquitous faces.
Her run on MTV was an era defined by Britney Spears, boy bands, and baby Beyoncè. But the more we resurface Millenium nostalgia, the more we find some of it it didn’t age well. And as Britney herself has shown us, the bubblegum veneer of the early aughts was not as sweet as it looked.
Earlier this year, a wave of anti-Asian hate crime crested not far from where I write this, in Atlanta, Georgia. A gunman entered a Piedmont spa, senselessly taking the lives of six Asian women and two others. It prompted SuChin to speak up about her isolating experiences at the venerable TV network, where she was the first Asian anchor. Despite being one of the early aughts’ most important youth culture voices, she dealt with workplace racism and misogyny, eventually parting ways with MTV altogether.
But speaking up ended up connecting SuChin with a new audience — many of whom reached out with stories of their own, codifying experiences that for her, once felt siloed. It also reconnected her with MTV, who nearly ten years later asked her back to host a revival run of Cribs during the pandemic.
Around the same time, SuChin launched a podcast with Comedian-writer-director Kulap Vilaysack called Add to Cart. The duo doles out subversive hot-takes on consumerism, chatting about how what we buy relates to who we are. Of course, there are also a lot of great shopping recommendations, including SuChin’s recent Paris rundown, which includes pharmacy favorites and (awesomely) a megastore raid.
Whenever someone asks me for a podcast recommendation, Add to Cart is usually the first I volunteer.
As a seasoned cultural consumer (and a piece of pop culture in her own right) I thought she was the perfect person to launch our new series “My List”. Here are twelve things she considers absolutely essential.
True life: SuChin’s still cool as hell.
SuChin Pak: This is something I discovered over ten years ago, when I was running a wonderful outdoor market, The Hester Street Fair. You spray this on dry skin before your shower, let it sit for 10 seconds, and then as you wipe off, your dead skin peels off like a scrub in a spa. It's so satisfying — and then of course your body feels like a baby's bum.
SP: My husband has a very sensitive reaction to mold of any kind. I could do a whole list on dealing with mold in your house, but this is a simple thing we do every time we wash, especially anything that has been damp or smells kind of funky. Remedy by Citrisafe is all-natural, non-toxic, safe for the whole family to use, and extremely effective. Normal washing and drying, turns out, will not eliminate mold...now you know.
SP: This is not an eye mask, but it’s also not a pillow, it’s something in between. Guest on the pod Lauren Lapkus introduced this to us, and at first, I was like what is this, now I can’t sleep without it. It’s a pillow that you put over your face to block out sound and light that has a notch for your nose/mouth so you can breathe. Do you know that feeling after the yoga sesh and you can just lie down in Shavasana and it’s the deepest relaxation you’ve had all day? This is that.
SP: I’ve tried just about every kind of pain relief cream for chronic neck and shoulder pain. This one is like turning the lights out on nerve endings that are screaming for your attention. It’s like ice without the cold. It’s a miracle.
SP: I’m a sucker for any kind of skincare gadget. This Opte Skincare System was recommended by a past pod guest, dear friend, and fashion icon, Chriselle Lim. When she adds something to her cart, I'm listening. She gets to try so many things first, so when she recommends a product, you know it's going to be good.
It’s hard to describe how this works, but basically, there’s a tinted serum that gets lightly “printed” on over your skin so you look like you have a permanent filter IRL. There’s also a blue light that emits as the makeup/serum is getting applied so it tackles dark spots and uneven skin texture. This is perfect for someone who is a skincare junkie and does not like to look like they've got caked-on foundation. It's incredible.
SP: I joked on the podcast that when I first used this product, I felt like I had "glass hair" because my hair was so smooth and silky. I have coarse, frizzy hair and I refuse to spend a single minute on it in the morning doing anything about it, so it just ends up in a bun.
This is a shampoo and conditioner I use a few times a week, in between my regular shampoo formula from Prose (another highly recommended company) and it's almost like I've had a blowout. It's especially good for color-treated or damaged hair, but I find that it almost eliminates my frizz.
SP: Again, this is a recommendation from a past podcast guest and friend, Laura Izumikawa. When she said this heating device had virtually gotten rid of her chronic back pain, I was in. I suffer from chronic neck and shoulder pain and this has been such a great way to combat this effectively. It's literally a rock made of tourmaline that is heated up for 6 minutes on a charging dock that stays hot for 2-5 hours using far infared heat.
Unlike electric heating pads, which don't do anything, this raises your core temperature — so it's heating up muscle and tissue on a cellular level. It's been a huge bestseller in Korea for years. CEO/mother of 3, Haerie Pang discovered it when her mom had health issues and is now bringing it state-side.
SP: This is a fantastic company that is trying to eliminate plastic consumption, especially around cleaning products. You buy this kit of beautiful glass bottles and then you can purchase [eco-friendly] tablets that dissolve in water [to make products like glass cleaner and countertop spray]. I highly recommend the hand soap and their starter kit. Really effective cleaning products that are super cost-effective and obviously you have zero guilt using them.
SP: This new skincare line by activist David Yi is all about protecting the skin barrier, which is at the heart of all K beauty skincare. They only have three products and they're all great, but this milky toning lotion, which you liberally splash on your face after your wash, preps and hydrates your skin for the next step.
It's something I don't think I would've believed in just by looking at it: it’s the consistency of water. But it's a fantastic way to get the most out of your serums and moisturizers. Packed with meadowfoam seed oil, snow mushrooms, niacinamide, AHAs, it's the key to that dewy just-got-out-of-a-steam-shower look.
SP: I've been a subscriber and a fan of this service since it launched. For a small monthly subscription, you get access to a very well-curated list of books. It's great for anyone that wants to read something before everyone is talking about it and for anyone that loves to discover new writers. They do all the homework for you, and they rarely get it wrong. I also gift this all year long.
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Photo of SuChin Pak: Robyn Von Swank