K-Beauty 101: Your Cheat Sheet for Flawless Skin
In recent years, there’s been a lot of buzz about K-beauty products. Korean women are known for their glass-smooth, flawless skin and exhaustive beauty routines. Skin care and beauty are important in Korean culture. In fact, most girls and boys are taught a skin care routine when they are very young. Competition among K-beauty brands is fierce, and new products and technologies enter the market at a breathtaking pace.
Korean women and men are very demanding when it comes to skin care, and Korean beauty companies have come up with creative ways to make their products stand out from the competition. K-beauty products are often packaged in super cute eye-catching packaging and feature unusual ingredients, like snail mucin (used to heal and hydrate the skin). Korean beauty products are priced competitively, too, thanks to the stiff competition among brands.
K-Beauty 101: Unusual Ingredients with Amazing Results
One of the first things you’ll notice when shopping for Korean skin care is the unusual, and often weird, ingredients that are commonly found in K-beauty products. What in the world does all that weird stuff do? Here’s a cheat sheet to help you demystify some of those unusual ingredients!
Snail mucin is just what it sounds like. Yep, it’s snail slime. Don’t worry, no snails are harmed when harvesting this ingredient! Snail mucin is included in skin care products for its amazing anti-aging properties. Not only does it stimulate the formation of collagen and elastin, it can repair damaged skin and increase hydration. It’s also used in acne products because it can lighten dark spots and soothe inflammation. It’s truly an all in one ingredient! Snail mucin feels just like any other serum when it’s applied to the skin and it’s packed with nutrients like hyaluronic acid, peptides, and enzymes. Look for it in K-beauty moisturizers, serums, and spot treatments.
Fermented Fruits, Plants, and Yeasts
Fermented foods, like Kimchi, are very popular in Korea cuisine, so it should come as no surprise that fermented ingredients are often included in their skin care products too. Fermenting natural ingredients, like fruits, plants, and yeasts, is meant to break the ingredient down so that the nutrients are more concentrated and absorbed by the skin more rapidly. The process also creates amino acids and antioxidants, which are very desirable in skin care products.
Bee venom has been used for treating back pain and arthritis for many years, but it’s fairly new as a skin care ingredient. It is believed that bee venom contains melittin, a compound that has anti-inflammatory properties that may be even more effective than hydrocortisone. When the venom is applied to the skin, it increases blood flow to the area and causes the muscles of the face to relax, which temporarily reduces wrinkles. Bee venom is considered a natural alternative to Botox.
Syn-ake is a synthetic compound that is similar to a peptide found in the venom of a temple viper. This synthetic compound also has a similar effect to Botox. It is meant to relax the facial muscles to smooth wrinkles. Syn-ake is often included in serums and moisturizers.
K-Beauty 101: The 10-Step Korean Skin Care Routine
The Korean approach to skin care requires a serious amount of commitment that most Americans aren’t used to. They focus on daily preventive care with a morning and evening routine that can include up to 10 steps. The routine can be customized to fit your individual needs, so feel free to add in or take away products as needed. Here’s an overview of the 10-step routine.
The Double Cleanse
Steps one and two involve cleansing the face with two separate cleansers. An oil-based cleanser is used first to break down oil, makeup, and sunscreen. It’s followed by a water-based cleanser that gets rid of any remaining residue.
Toner can be applied with a cotton pad or the tips of your fingers. It is used to balance the skin’s pH.
An essence is sort of like a serum, but it’s more usually more liquid. Essences prepare the skin for the treatments that are used next and they also start adding moisture back into the skin.
Serums and Ampoules
Serums and ampoules are super concentrated. They come in many different formulas that target specific skin problems such as fine lines, dark spots and scaring, and dehydration. Often, more than one treatment is used, depending on how the skin is looking and feeling that day.
Two separate moisturizers are applied next. One is an eye cream that is made specifically for the delicate skin around the eyes. Eyes creams generally feature ingredients to tighten and brighten the under-eye area and reduce dark circles. After the eye cream, an all-over facial moisturizer is applied to lock in all the beneficial ingredients you’ve just applied.
Preventive care is a key element in Korean skin and sunscreen is vital for anti-aging and preventing sun damage. In fact, The Skin Cancer Foundation recommends that you use a broad-spectrum sunscreen with an SPF of 15-30 on all exposed skin each day, depending on how much time you will be spending in the sun. Your sunscreen can be a stand-alone product, or it can be built-in to your moisturizer, BB or CC cream, or foundation.
Exfoliating is done 2-3 times a week to promote cell turnover and unclog pores, which means that your other products will be absorbed better. K-beauty favors botanical and fruit extracts that exfoliate without harsh abrasives that can damage the skin.
Sheet masks are very trendy in Korean skin care. A concentrated serum is put onto a paper or gel mask and then applied to the face anywhere from once a week to daily, depending on your skin care goals. They come in wide variety of formulations that will address almost any skin care need. Most Korean women keep a wide variety of masks on hand so that they can customize their routine based on what’s going on with their skin that day.
Sleep masks are used in place of a regular night time moisturizer a few times a week. Sleep masks are packed with active ingredients that help your skin heal while you’re sleeping.
Remember, this routine can be customized to suit your schedule and routine. You don’t need to do every single step every day. Add or take away products as needed, based on what your skin is looking and feeling like on a particular day.
It will take time and commitment to achieve flawless skin, but the amazing results are worth the effort!