The Do’s & Don’ts of Korean Skincare

By September 19, 2014 10 Comments

The Do’s & Don’ts of Korean Skincare

As you’ve probably heard, Korean skincare is the hot new trend on every beauty enthusiasts’ stained lips these days. These products are becoming so popular that mass stores like Urban Outfitters and Target now carry a selection. If your Bikram Yoga class isn’t giving you that highly coveted “inner glow”, this is the skincare regimen to try.

Put simply, Korean skincare is a very different industry from what is sold and marketed here in the United States, particularly given the difference in price point. In the United States, skincare falls into two categories: prestige or mass. Compare this to Korea, where quality products are affordable and reach a middle ground. This allows consumers to explore their options without draining their shoe funds, and beauty brands are pressured to constantly unveil new and improved products to keep up with demands and expectations.

According to Charlotte Cho, Founder of popular Korean beauty website Soko Glam!, Korean beauty companies are more innovative. Based on her perfect complexion (as is evident in the picture above), it’s safe to assume she knows what she’s talking about. Charlotte explained that “popular products aren’t necessarily invented in Korea; rather, company’s produce and advertise new products before they become a trend. Beauty Balms, one of the most popular products to come out of Korea, was actually first invented by a German dermatologist. Similarly, snail extract is a highly regarded ingredient in Korean skincare, but was first used in Chile.” Yes, Korean beauty enthusiasts actually encourage putting snail mucen on your face to support cell regeneration. And yes, it really does work!

So, what really sets Korean women apart from their American counterparts? One word – technique. Korean women (and men!) have a dedicated routine that is motivated by prevention. They are proactive, rather than reactive, to skin issues and concerns. Koreans stay out of the sun, yet still religiously apply sunscreen, and aim to have skin so perfect that limited makeup is even needed. As Charlotte explained, “it’s a misconception that women need to devote endless time to a Korean skincare routine and follow a tedious 10 or 12 step process. My personal routine takes about 15 minutes, unless of course I decide to use a sheet mask.”

Natural skincare is hugely popular among skincare aficionados who rightfully claim that if you’re concerned about ingesting natural foods, the same should be true for anything that your skin soaks in (not to mention that the epidermis is the largest organ in our bodies). Despite this claim, Charlotte points out that “many Korean skincare products include chemicals that are naturally found in your own body.” Yes, you read that correctly — certain chemicals are good for you. Go on, green juice drinkers, try this stuff out.

Here are 5 key Korean skincare products that you should consider working into your skincare routine, ASAP:

1. Banila Co Clean It Zero Purity ($29): If you have oily or acne prone skin (hands UP!), washing with a thick oil may seem counterintuitive. However, this cleanser removes all traces of Manhattan grime and even your heaviest makeup without stripping skin of its natural needed moisture.
2. Etude House Collagen Moistfull Freshener/Toner ($18): No, not the Seabreeze “toner” from your teenage years. Korean toner doesn’t contain alcohol, and the ultimate goal is to soothe and soften skin. Plus, anything with “collagen” in the name that doesn’t require a plastic surgeon is an immediate “yes” in my book.
3. Missha Time Revolution Treatment Essence ($42): To avoid wasting any of this magic liquid, put it in a spray bottle and mist directly onto your face. Korean essence is an affordable alternative to the cult-favorite, SKII Essence. Even better, every time I use this I think of Zoolander.
4. Lioele V-Line Sleeping Pack ($16): Don’t tug and rub at your skin! Charlotte advises “using a light patting technique to apply.” Think of this product as a marinade for your skin… except you won’t smell like a chicken after using it.
5. Too Cool For School Eye Contour Roll-On ($25): Eye cream is a non-negotiable, even if you’re tipsy or tired. I’m not sure if the cool rollerball applicator actually does anything for my dark circles, but it certainly feels good.

The best advertisement for these products are the complexions of those who follow a Korean skincare routine. The flawless, glowing faces basically speak for themselves. And if you’re into that healthy, dewy skin thing (ummm, and who isn’t?), give the Korean regimen a whirl.

Let us know your favorite Korean beauty products in the comment section below.

Casey Sharbaugh currently resides in New York City working in the fashion industry. In her spare time, you can find Casey spinning, trying new beauty products, or browsing the city for the best ice cream cone. Find her on Twitter at @chs_psu

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  • Jana

    I love this article. I haven’t tried much Korean beauty except for Dr Jart BB cream and they are great!
    Can’t wait to try these ones out.


  • Leigh M

    I use Zero Purity and I love it! Big fan of Korean skincare,,, I highly recommend the cleanser for acne skin. Also, SK II makes a wonderful sleeping mask that I like to use when my face feels dry or raw.

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  • Love the Heimish Balm Cleanser and CosRX oil-free moisturizer! The innisfree soybean essence works very well for my sensitive, acne-prone skin as well. :)

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