When you are in your twenties or early thirties, washing make-up off your face at the end of the day and every once in a while slapping on a bit of moisturizer is considered to be an effort. Fast forward to our mid-thirties to late forties and we find ourselves having a completely different conversation: if your bestie tells you that she just uses a facial wash and an over the counter anti-aging cream, this alone is enough to send your heart racing with anguish and disbelief.
Unfortunately, when we get to our mid-thirties, something very unfortunate happens to our skin, we are no longer able to stop the aging process, there are thankfully some beauty products that millions of women have used over the years and that are effective in slowing down our skin’s aging.
Korean women have documented over thousands of years the ingredients and routines that help them stay youthful and the beauty about Korean skincare products is that they are: highly innovative and breakthrough, beautifully packaged and don’t cost a fortune. Best of all… they are now available in the west through online channels.
So what makes us obsessed with the Korean way? What are the building blocks of the Korean skincare regime? To simplify matters there are a few main principles that define the way Korean women take care of their skin:
- The 10 step routine: there is a myth about Korean women spending half an hour in the mornings or at night going through 10 products to take care of their skin. While this is true to some extent, it is simply not feasible to apply all 10 products every time; this is why one day they might exfoliate and another day they may use a patch mask. The 10 steps of their skin care routine can be summed up to: 1-oil cleansing 2- foam cleansing, 3-exfoliating, 4-toning, 5-essence, 6- serum, 7-sheet mask, 8-eye cream, 9-sleeping mask, 10-SPF
- Double Cleanse: Korean women are using an oil based cleanser to remove make up, sebum and the dirt that has built up throughout the day. Since water and oil do not mix, a regular water based cleanser won’t remove these oil-based residues. We have tried Banila Co Clean it Zero and it really removes make up and dirt gently and effectively. The cleansing step goes a step further with a foaming sebum-regulating facial wash to refresh the skin.
- Exfoliating and pore targeting: Korean women have a fixation with pores and a finer skin texture, virtually every other skincare or make up product is pore minimizing to allow serums and moisturizers to settle into the skin better. We have been road testing the following products and have found them both gentle and effective: Laneige – Mini Pore Blurring Tightener and Missha Super Aqua D-Tox Peeling Gel. Three times a week you can also use a mild exfoliator, Korean women believe that less is more when it comes to exfoliating and prefer natural ingredients to harsh acids.
- Targeting different parts of your face with the right product: which is where the use mask sheets comes in. If you have an oily T-Zone there really is no need to apply a deep moisturizing product there, you should instead focus on reducing the appearance of oiliness and pores through the earlier steps and some pore refining clay masks such as Etude House – Wonder Pore Black Mask Sheet or Etude House – Wonder Pore Modeling Ultra Clear
- On the other hand we age dramatically around the jawline, the mouth and the cheeks, which is why Korean women use essences and serums and deeply nourishing creams. We love Laneige – Firming Sleeping Pack and Laneige Water Bank essence: they are made of thermal water and their gel cream texture is both cooling and sifts through the skin better especially if you’ve exfoliated and refined your skin earlier. The one product we haven’t tried yet is the 40 min firming jawline mask Etude House – Petite Beauty Firm V-Zone Patch which should be effective in pulling the skin upwards and firming up the contour of the face.
- We also love the targeted masks for the eye zone and the lips: applying them just before bedtime while reading in bed yields the best results: you wake up the next morning looking refreshed and your lips look plump and smooth. Try Etude House’s Cherry Lip Gel Patch for its yummy candy flavoured gel texture and lip augmenting properties and Etude House Eye Patch for a restful night look.
- To fight the signs of aging, Korean women are also big on Snail masks and creams, as yucky as it sounds, snail-based products are believed to have anti-aging properties strengthening the skin’s elasticity and helping it with cell regeneration, we tried Etude House Snail Mask Sheet which made our face noticeably fresher.
- Last but not least the use of prescription-grade retinols especially at night is quite well-spread: Retinols force the skin to renew itself by shedding away dead cells and forcing new skin to come to the surface. The effects on wrinkles and overall skin tightness are quite noticeable when used frequently, however for some skins, irritation may occur. Since these products need a dermatologist’s prescription, we are unfortunately unable to provide the links to buy them. However some slightly milder versions are available from SkinCeuticals (American brand).
- To finish off your beauty routine, combine your moisturizer, SPF and make up into one wonder product the BB cushion. Laneige’s BB cushion comes in a pore minimizing formula or a regular one, in both cases the cushion delivers a refreshing layer of ingredients and primer to your skin in just the right amount. The result is a dewy even skin tone. We bought these cushions in bulk from fear of running out of them.