The Korean beauty industry has garnered a near-mythical status. From the coveted “glass skin” to the infamous 10-step skincare routine, it has captured the world’s attention.
The secret to their impeccable, glowing complexions lies within centuries of cultural influences and key practices. From double cleansing to slathering on products with potent ingredients, here are some of the secrets behind K-beauty’s unparalleled efficacy.
1. Double Cleansing
The most basic yet important step in any skincare regimen, double cleansing removes makeup, sunscreen, and other oil-related impurities from the skin, while also thoroughly rinsing away sweat, dirt, and other water-based debris. This simple, two-step technique (which has its roots in a 10-step Korean skin care routine) is the key to having clear, radiant skin.
The first step involves an oil-based cleanser that dissolves makeup, sun protection factors, and excess sebum. This is followed by a hydrating cleanser that washes off the remaining impurities, including sweat and pore-clogging dirt.
While this practice may seem like overkill, it’s actually the key to preventing clogged pores and blackheads, as well as reducing breakouts. Plus, it’s a relaxing beauty ritual that turns everyday face washing into a moment of self-care.
Toner is the first step in any Korean skincare routine. It’s a light liquid that removes any remaining residue from cleansing and prepares the skin for treatment-focused products like serums.
A typical toner has water and fermented ingredients that hydrate the skin, like niacinamide, aloe vera, or vitamin C. They’re also designed to balance the skin’s pH and reduce signs of aging, acne, or uneven tone.
There are many ways to use a toner, but some prefer to sprinkle it directly onto their face after cleansing, while others pour it into cotton pads and swipe them around their faces. The popular Mediheal cotton pad variety is soaked in toners that soothe, moisturize, or calm the skin (like Teatree Trouble and Watermide). These are great to throw in your bag for a quick pick-me-up on the go!
If you’re a fan of K beauty, then you probably know that exfoliation is an essential step for healthy skin. It helps to remove dead skin cells, which in turn promotes cell turnover and can give your skin that youthful glow we all desire.
Exfoliation shouldn’t be done too often, however, as over-exfoliating can strip your skin of moisture and other proteins. Our exfoliating mitt is the perfect sustainable at-home solution that allows you to exfoliate with precision and care, without harsh scrubs that can leave your skin feeling dry and flaky.
Emulsions are also a must for any Korean skincare routine, as they help to balance oil and moisture. Olive Young’s toner pads are a great example of this, with hydrating ingredients like tea tree, watermide and placenta.
Whether your skin is oily or dry, it needs hydration. Hydration is the key to preventing and minimizing many common skin problems like clogged pores, uneven texture, sensitivity, redness, flaking, and fine lines and wrinkles.
Toners are gentle, water-based products that balance and tone your skin. Essences (think of them as a cross between toner and serum) are packed with fermented ingredients that deliver deep hydration.
Serums are more concentrated and heavier than an essence but also deliver hydration by infusing your skin with powerful ingredients like peptides, botanical extracts, and shea butter. They target specific skin concerns and give your face a healthy glow.
Korean women use essences as a way to seal in all of the benefits of daily cleansing. These mild, skin-nutrient-filled solutions (not toners) prepare the skin for the hydrating serum and moisturizer that will follow.
If you’re looking to brighten your skin, try this hydrating serum with vitamin C and licorice. This is also great for reducing dark spots and fading brown marks.
A clean, sustainable beauty brand, Beplain’s serum contains multiple hyaluronic acid molecules of varying sizes and snow mushroom extract to increase natural hydration. Apply this to your face and neck for a smoother complexion. A good choice for all skin types.
6. Sheet Masks
Incorporating face masks into your beauty routine can help provide a plethora of benefits to the skin including hydration, brightening, soothing, healing and anti-aging. This is especially true when choosing a Korean sheet mask like the one we have here at Minou & Lily that is infused with rice, tangerine, cactus and camellia leaf extract.
Simply place the sheet mask over your face after cleansing and toning and leave on for about 20 minutes. Then, remove and massage the remaining essence into your face. You’ll love the results!