Have you noticed your skin looking dull and lacking glow despite having a good skincare ritual? Do those pigmentations, acne, and scars still bother you despite the plethora of expensive products or the numerous natural remedies you have tried?
Enter the Korean beauty skincare regime – the knight in shining armor to all your skin concerns!
Korean women are famous for their flawless, spotless, and younger-looking skin. They achieve this by following a prevention-first philosophy rather than resorting to quick fixes and covering scars with makeup. The Korean skincare regime is a multi-step (7-10) process that is built upon the principles of Cleansing, Toning, and Moisturizing.
But aren’t 10 steps a day too exhaustive? What if the process becomes overwhelming? Well, good things in life rarely come easily, and maintaining healthy skin is no different. Also, you don’t have to follow all the 10 steps every day. What you do need are consistency and discipline and over time you will start noticing changes to how your skin looks and feels.
We’ve tried to condense the 10 steps into 7 that not only will speed up the process but make it fun and enjoyable too. Here is the breakdown:
We’ve all been taught to wash our face with a good cleanser from ear to ear, covering all parts of our face and neck. But what if we told you that there might still be a buildup of residue, oil, dirt, and makeup that can leave the skin looking dull, clog your pores and result in acne? The Korean process religiously advocates for the double cleansing method as the first step in your skincare voyage.
Start by applying an oil-based cleanser or balm to pull out oil-based impurities such as sebum, SPF, and makeup which cannot be removed by water (oil and water are immiscible). Follow it up with a regular water-based foam or cleanser to remove sweat and dirt which are water-based debris.
Have you noticed more acne and blemishes on your skin lately? Then it’s time to include exfoliation into your skincare regime if you haven’t already. Exfoliation is the process of removing dead skin cells and impurities, a.k.a gunk, that is embedded deeper in your skin. Regardless of your skin type, age, or gender, exfoliating makes a huge difference in improving your skin health and complexion. You could use a physical exfoliator such as scrubs, peeling gel, and sponges, or chemical exfoliators that are made up of lactic acid, glycolic acid, or salicylic acid. Make sure to buy a gentle, non-irritating exfoliator and use it 2-3 times per week.
Toners often have a bad rep as being irritating, stinging, and drying out the skin. Chances are you might be using the wrong formula. A toner is water, alcohol, or gel-based liquid that is used to balance your skin’s pH levels after you wash and exfoliate your face. After cleansing, your face becomes more alkaline (higher pH) and is more prone to damage and inflammation. The toner helps you balance that and preps your skin for the next step by re-hydrating your skin. Make sure to apply it no later than a minute after cleansing as damp skin will absorb the toner better than dry skin.
Packed with a powerhouse of ingredients, treatments such as essence, serums and ampoules are the ultimate skin boosters. You can use any ONE of these products which fight specific skin concerns such as acne, fine lines, and hyperpigmentation.
Facial essence and serum are essentially the same; the former term more commonly used in Korea and the latter in the West. They used to be significantly different in the past with serums being thicker and essence being more lightweight but today you can find lightweight serums and thicker essence. However, what’s common is that both contain a higher concentration of active ingredients than a simple moisturizer.
If you follow beauty influencers on Instagram, then you know what we’re talking about. Sheet masks are an easy, and fast way to provide your skin with moisture, vitamins, and a host of other nutrients like hyaluronic and glycolic acid. Most sheet masks have cutouts for eyes and nose and are super easy to apply. To get the most out of your sheet mask, make sure to apply it after toning (you can skip essence since sheet masks contain essence/serum) and sit uninterrupted for about 10-15 minutes. Do it twice per week for best results.
Moisturizers and eye creams
Already exhausted? Hang on a bit longer, you’re almost at the finish line.
Now that you have cleansed, toned, and prepped your skin with essence/serums, it’s time to seal the layers with a moisturizer to ensure your skin soaks up all the ingredients and continues to remain hydrated. Use a lightweight non-greasy moisturizer and massage all over your face and neck. Some moisturizers double up as night creams but you can go for specific night creams with anti-aging chemicals like collagen. Don’t forget your eyes – follow up the night cream with a good under-eye cream to reduce puffiness, dark circles, and wrinkles.
While we all remember to apply sunscreen before going to the beach, the Korean skincare routine advocates for sunscreen even on regular days. Sun protection is critical to prevent harmful UV rays from damaging your skin. Most K-beauty sunscreens are not only inexpensive to their western counterparts but are also light, non-greasy, and have a gentle fragrance free from natural ingredients. Select one with the right SPF depending on your exposure levels and apply it as the last step during the daytime.
Don’t expect to notice benefits from the Korean skincare regime overnight – the key is to be consistent and have patience. Inculcate this multi-step process in your life as a way to practice self-care and self-love.
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