Should you try the Korean Skincare Routine?

Wednesday, January 18, 2017


Beauty trends come and go and one that is really popular right now is what's known as the Korean Skincare Routine. Just what is the Korean Skincare Routine and how does it differ from other facial skin care regimens? Let's learn more about this multi-step trend that has a cult following.





There is a great emphasis on prevention versus correction



  • At a young age, women in Korea are taught to take good care of their skin, often heading to bathhouses with their mothers. It is cultural to invest time and energy into the art of a skin care routine in order to keep skin looking younger longer.
  • By contrast, in the United States, women are generally more likely to take the minimalist approach with their daily regimen.
  • In the US, trends indicate that we do not typically to stick to a consistent routine until we begin to notice subtle signs of aging.

The Korean Skin Care routine is labor-intensive



  • There are ten steps, to be exact. Ten. It is truly a ritual -- and that is its appeal.
  • The idea is that a lengthy (typically 30 minutes) routine helps pamper and nurture your skin.
  • Says esthetician and Korean beauty expert Charlotte Cho: "It’s the lifestyle and mindset behind skin that’s really getting people interested in Korean skin care rituals."

10 steps of the Korean Skincare Routine: Layering is the name of the game



  • Cleansing oil dissolves makeup and remove environmental debris. Massage into face and neck, add a splash of water in order to emulsify the oil, and repeat. You can't go wrong with DHC Facial Cleansing Oil.


  • Foaming cleanser is used to remove all traces of makeup and other impurities left behind after step one. Following an oil cleanser with a water-based cleanser is known as the “double cleanse” method that is one of the hallmarks of the Korean skincare regimen. A gentle, fragrance free option is Neutrogena Ultra Gentle Cleanser.


  • Exfoliation is the third step. This step should be done once or twice a week and allows dead skin cells to be sloughed off. It is, perhaps, the most crucial step, as a clean face allows treatment products to absorb more readily into the pores. In other skincare routines, we tend to focus on chemical exfoliants like glycolic acid. A good old fashioned manual scrub is the norm in the Korean routine. My favorite manual scrub is one I have used for over 20 years! It's the Queen Helene Oatmeal & Honey Facial Scrub.


  • Toner is applied with a cotton pad to assist in restoring skin pH and helps to rehydrate the skin. Think of it as somewhat of a liquid primer for the skin. A makeup primer creates a smooth canvas with which to apply foundation and, similarly, a toner creates the right canvas for serums and masks. A soothing option is Seed Advanced Botanicals Toner. There are two options. My go-to is their Lemon Balm toner.


  • Essence is a lightweight, less concentrated product used before a serum and is considered to be the core of the Korean skincare routine. Think of essence as a toner-serum blend. Apply this skin repairing liquid into the skin with your hands and gently massage in. Caudalie Beauty Elixir is my top pick. 


  • Serum is applied after essense and it known as “ampoule” in Korea. It is highly concentrated and is the skin perfecting step. In this skincare regimen, your choice of serum is based on your key concern, whether it be congested pores, lack of brightness or fine lines. A luxurious choice for cell regeneration and brightening is Siam Seas Twilight Be Calm Elixir. I received three Siam Seas products in my last Boxwalla box and am VERY impressed with the quality.



  • Sheet mask follows a serum. Unlike the masks we are used to in the United States, a wet, paper-like mask is used. This step is relaxing and takes a bit longer than the other steps, as it is on up to 15 minutes. Sheet masks can be used every day of the week if desired. Unclog your pores with the Dr. Jart+ Pore Minimalist Black Charcoal Sheet Mask
     



  • Eye cream is a twice daily must. As the skin under the eyes is thinner than an eggshell, it is quite fragile and lacks hydration. A rich, nourishing cream formula is what is advised. My favorite eye cream is CeraVe Eye Repair Cream. I bought this on a whim after Christmas and am super impressed! 

    

  • Moisturizer to help skin seals in the previous steps and leaves the skin looking plump and dewy. Whether you prefer a lightweight lotion or a rich cream, be sure to look for one with niacinamide for its nourishing and anti-aging benefits. A tried and true is Seed Advanced Botanicals Daily Moisturizer. I personally use the Lemon + Grapefruit for brightening.
     

  • Sunscreen is non-negotiable in any skincare routine, but it is emphasized even more so in the Korean skincare routine. It is the very last thing to go on the skin and should be used every single morning -- whether it be cloudy and dreary or sunny and bright. Look for a product with broad spectrum protection to help prevent UVA and UVB damage. A non-greasy choice for the face is Exuviance Sheer Daily Protector SPF 50 . Yes, it is expensive, but it really is the best protective facial sunscreen available in the US.

Are ten steps really necessary?

No, no, no.

Here's my take: I have been in the skincare industry now for more than half of my life. I believe that taking preventive measures -- beginning a solid skincare routine with potent vitamins and active ingredients -- is really important. I believe that as a culture, we are always busy and in a hurry. This aspect of our lives tends to carry over to our skincare, doesn’t it?

We rush. We skip steps. We opt for fast over thorough. Sometimes we "forget" or our too tired to take off our makeup at the end of the day. Other times, we go a couple weeks without exfoliating, thinking "What's the big deal?"

In that regard, I really think that the aspect of taking a break to sit back, relax, and truly pamper ourselves is really important. I used to be rather skeptical of this routine thinking that it was nothing more than a ploy to get you to purchase more products. 

Here's my take: I have been in the skincare industry now for more than half of my life. I believe that taking preventive measures -- beginning a solid skincare routine with potent vitamins and active ingredients -- is really important. I believe that as a culture, we are always busy and in a hurry. This aspect of our lives tends to carry over to our skincare, doesn’t it?

We rush. We skip steps. We opt for fast over thorough. Sometimes we "forget" or our too tired to take off our makeup at the end of the day. Other times, we go a couple weeks without exfoliating, thinking "What's the big deal?"

In that regard, I really think that the aspect of taking a break to sit back, relax, and truly pamper ourselves is really important. I used to be rather skeptical of this routine thinking that it was nothing more than a ploy to get you to purchase more products. 

I was apprehensive about so many steps and the likelihood that it might irritate the skin and clog pores. I still am. It's unnecessary.

While this is still a big concern and YOU DO NOT NEED TEN STEPS IN YOUR ROUTINE (that's just cray), I really think that if we can learn a lesson from the lengthy routine: Take the time to relax and focus on the relationship between better self care and better skincare. In doing so, both our skin and our spirits will be revitalized.
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