Korean beauty is a hot trend right now and at the core of it is luminous, perfect skin.
We all want it, but the Korean skincare regiment is loaded with a million products, lets be honest it can be absolutely bewildering.
So many steps, and so many weird names where do you begin?
|Yep, these are all the products I use.|
Here's a simple breakdown and translation of Korean skincare products using all my own skincare products to demonstrate:
|Missha Green Tea Makeup Remover, |
The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Foam,
The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Oil Light
Cleansing is the most important part of any skincare routine. Korean skincare is no different, the much talked about "Double Cleanse" method is the heart of the Korean regiment. So you will see many different types of cleansers. The key is that you can really file them in to two different categories: oil cleanser and foam cleanser.
Oil Cleansers are exactly that, oil based facial cleanser. These products can come in liquid or cream form but the key is that they are made of oils that breakdown makeup and oil on your face. Yes, they are good for any skin type including those with oily skin, you just have to find the right one for you. I'll get more into this in another post.
Foam Cleansers are your traditional "soapy" cleansers. These are used after the oil cleanse to remove residual oil and broken down makeup from your face, the culprit of most of our breakouts. The biggest difference between Korean foam cleansers and American ones is that they focus on gentle cleaning and don't strip your face leaving you tight and dry.
| The Face Shop The Smim Fermentation Concentrate Toner|
Missha Super Aqua Pore Correcting Toner
Here in the U.S. most of us think of toners as astringents, harsh alcohol based products much like aftershave that is supposed to "close your pores". Having tried a few American drugstore toners I gave up on them pretty fast because they just seemed to dry my face out and then several hours later my skin would respond by producing a ton of oil and I looked like an oil slick hit my face.
Korean toners are the exact opposite, the philosophy behind Korean toners is to return your skin to it's natural pH. Soap by nature is alkaline or "basic" and your skin is naturally slightly acidic applying a toner brings your skin back to it's natural state and makes it, well... happier!
Korean toners can range from a the traditional, very watery consistency we are used to here in the States, to a slightly thicker more serum like texture. They often contain other ingredients that will help treat your skin problems like large pores, discoloration or just some great anti aging properties. There are so many to chose from that are targeted for every skin type from sensitive to oily.
For me this is the one step I never skip, since I started using a toner I find I use much less moisturizer because my skin absorbs it way better.
From left to right back row: Boots No.7 Youthful Eye Serum, Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence, Cosrx BHA Blackhead Power Liquid, SK-II Facial Treatment EssenceFrom left to right front row: Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator Ampoule, The Face Shop Myeonghan Miindo Heaven Grade Ginseng Neck & Decollete Serum,Goodal Waterest First Essence, Shiseido Ultimate Eye Serum
This is where things start to get overwhelming, serums, essences, ampoules, what the heck are these thing and what are they for? When I introduced a few friends to Korean skincare they looked terrified at all the bottles and tubes I had hanging around, "You use ALL of these?" they asked.
Well yes and no.
Essences are the lightest of this group. They tend to have a very thin watery consistency and are patted into the skin to treat common issues like discoloration or aging. The idea behind them is that the water like consistency allows them to absorb right into your skin taking all the great skin perfecting ingredients right where it is needed. These are generally applied right after cleansing and toning your skin for maximum absorption and effect.
Serums tend to be a little thicker and more viscous liquid which like essences target skin issues.
Ampoules are heavier than serums but basically do the same job as the other two.
Serums, essences and ampoules are all targeted treatments for your skin issues, so let's just file them all under a big heading of "treatments". They all basically treat a skin issue you hate, wrinkles and fine lines, dullness, discoloration or blemishes such as blackheads or acne. The key to these are finding the right ones for you and layering them. As you can see I own a ton of "treatments" but I don't use every one of them daily. It's like creating a personalized cocktail for your skin to respond to what it needs that day. In the winter my skin gets dull and sallow so I layer on an ampoule that targets these issues over my anti-aging essence. In the summer I am very prone to blackheads so I layer on a serum that targets excess oil along with my anti aging essence. It's all up to you!
|Coola Cucumber Moisturizer, Innisfree Green Tea Balancing Lotion,|
The Face Shop Flebote White Crystal Emulsion, Innisfree Green Tea Balancing Cream
Again another place where things can get a little tricky. Here in the States most girls have one bottle of moisturizer and if you are starting to stare 40 in the face like me, you may have invested in a night cream. If you haven't caught on yet Koreans are all about layering! So it is no surprise that they have multiple moisturizers and layer them on to get the most out of them.
Emulsions and lotions are very light liquid like moisturizers. The very thin texture allows them to soak right into your skin and hydrate quickly. These are layered on after your treatments and before a cream.
Creams are thicker in texture, they often come in little jars or "pots" and are scooped out. Most Korean woman have one cream for the day time which contains SPF and an even heavier one that is a night cream.
The key to moisturizers is layering them, the light emulsions and lotions sink in to moisturize deeply and then you seal it in with a heavier cream to get deeply moisturized skin that is hydrated and soft.
|WAY too many sheet masks to list!|
Innisfree Wine Jelly Sleeping Pack, R:EP Bio Fresh Mask with Real Calming Herb, SNP Don't Worry Mango Sleeping Pack
Now this is where things get fun! Koreans love masks, and there are a ton of them to chose from. Don't panic, these aren't everyday items, just for when you really need a pick me up. I tend to use them about 3 times a week on my days off to help recover my skin from 12 hour shifts and to relax.
Sheet masks are thin face shaped paper masks that are infused with serums that target just about any complaint you have about your skin. They can detox you, brighten you, and remove blackheads, but more importantly to me they are super relaxing and cheap! Most sheet masks cost about $2.00!
Wash Off Masks are a lot like the clay masks we all remember from high school sleepovers. Not all of them actually have clay in them but the premise is the same, goop onto your face, laugh at how silly you look and wash off to reveal soft, glowy skin
Sleeping Masks or Sleeping Packs look like super thick moisturizers and come in jars or single serving packs. These are applied to the face just like a moisturizer and left on all night, in the morning you wash them off to reveal super soft skin. These products basically lock in all of the great products you applied and holds moisture into you skin over night. Perfect for those of us who don't always have 20 minutes for a sheet or wash off mask.
Okay, so that wasn't SO bad was it? I hope after you have read this you are thinking that maybe this whole Korean skincare regiment isn't so scary and overwhelming after all.
And if you are saying "But it takes so much time, effort and money... " remember this:
It may take more time, effort and money to get beautiful skin and maintain it, but if you don't take care of it won't you be putting a ton of time, effort and money into "fixing" it with make up or worse?
What would you rather do?