Does Korean skincare really work? Is it worth the hype? Ever wondered why Korean skin care is so good? Here's an inside guide on why you should choose Korean cosmetics.
If you're caught up on the basics of skincare, you’ve probably crossed paths with these terms: K-beauty, 10-step Korean skin care routine, glass skin or sheet mask by now.
Or you may have already seen (or tried!) the adorable cute packaged Korean beauty products on Instagram or at your favorite stores like Sephora or Amazon.
Are Korean beauty really better?
It's no secret that more and more consumers are becoming aware of Korean makeup and skincare brands, and many have tried them - and then are hooked.
Many Korean products are known to have a cult following in the beauty community, especially among beauty bloggers, Youtubers, and even makeup artists.
However, there are still many people who wonder why Korean cosmetics are so popular? Are they really better than the western products? Here is some helpful information for you to understand the reasons behind the global Korean skin care phenomenon.
What is K-Beauty?
Simply put, K-Beauty is an umbrella term for the Korean influence on skincare, beauty treatments, routines, lifestyle, and products that originate in South Korea.
In the last few years, the wave of Korean culture (Hallyu) has swept the world - from K-pop, K-movies, K-dramas to K-fashion and K-beauty. Think of BTS, Blackpink, the Netflix series "Squid Game" or the movie "Parasite".
The K-Beauty has always been one of the Hallyu trend leaders and is now becoming part of the mainstream beauty market in the U.S.
Korean women are known to have very soft skin in general; however, many Korean women desire more translucent and porcelain-like glass skin.
To fulfill their dearest wish, they invest considerable time and money in cosmetics and beauty products to take care of their skin—which explains where the famous multi-step face-care regime is coming from.
What makes Korean skin care so special?
Non-Stop Innovation and Advanced Technology
Beauty is a serious business in South Korea, and Korean customers are very knowledgeable about different cosmetic ingredients and product types.
They are always looking for something new and better and are willing to try the latest trends. The girls have very high standards for their skincare goals, such as "flawless skin," and they know what they want and need and how to achieve their success.
As a result, cosmetic companies have tried to keep up with the development of innovative and advanced formulas to satisfy high demanding customers by investing in research and development.
They have ended up creating never-before-seen products that the world soon became obsessed with, such as BB creams, sheet masks, the cushion compacts, acne pimple patches, and under-eye masks.
With the rapidly increasing demand for Korean skincare in global, the competition between major Korean cosmetic companies for the most innovative Korean brand has increased. Therefore, Korean beauty care is always one step ahead of others.
Gentle Formulas for All Skin Types
Another well-known strength of Korean skin care is its skin-friendly compositions, formulated with natural ingredients.
According to NCBI, studies show that 56.8 percent of Koreans have sensitive skin, while 44.6 percent of Americans and 38.4 percent of Europeans do.
For this reason, brands have focused on developing hypoallergenic, anti-breakout and naturally derived formulations that are safe for all skin types, including acne-prone, oily, dry and even extremely sensitive skin.
All About Prevention
Koreans tend to focus on prevention and getting to the root of skin problems rather than treating when necessary. In other words, they take time to care for their skin before actual skin problems occur.
This is how they usually think—why wait until acne or wrinkles appear when you can address the source and main cause? Yes, we all know that prevention is better than cure.
From a young age, they learn the importance of skin care and how to ensure their skin stays healthy. This includes typical facial care techniques such as cleansing, exfoliation, moisturizing and sun protection.
So it becomes second nature to them as they grow up. It's not uncommon for some people to start using eye cream in their 20s, rather than waiting until wrinkles appear.
With this ‘focus-on-prevention’ philosophy, they understand that consistency and patience play an essential role in its effectiveness. In their skincare routine, they use products consistently, rather than applying them just once and expecting immediate results.
In contrast, the North American philosophy is more focused on fixing the problem quickly once it has occurred. Unfortunately, once a problem occurs, it is more difficult to reverse the damage and return the skin to its original, healthy state.
Unique Ingredients from Nature
Bee venom serum, snail mucin essence, green tea toner, ginseng eye cream - yes, these are all beauty staples that originated in Korea.
South Korean companies have been on the forefront of creating the newest innovative functional cosmetics and cosmeceuticals. They combine properties of cosmetics, pharmaceuticals, technology and nature.
Many Korean cosmetics use much gentler formulas from nature thanks to their traditional use of herbal ingredients that have been passed down through several generations. These are commonly used as medicinal herbs in Oriental culture, but are difficult to find in the Western world.
Typical ingredients found in your favorite products include centella asiatica, birch sap, propolis, licorice root, rice water, mugwort, and various fermented ingredients.
Better Value for Money
An important realization when it comes to fundamental skincare rules is that you don't have to spend a fortune to achieve great skin.
Considering the fact that Korean products are developed with cutting-edge techniques and skin-friendly botanicals, their price-performance ratio is unbeatable.
Thanks to a competitive market, people can enjoy the excellent benefits of their skin care at a reasonable price without ever having to sacrifice quality. You'll be impressed with these high-quality, yet affordable gems and the results they deliver.
High Quality and Effectiveness
Besides the above reasons, Korean skin care is influential worldwide because of its effectiveness. The products are designed to improve skin from the inside out—moisturizing, nourishing, repairing, and enhancing compelling features for long-term results.
Korean face and body (and hair) care can help you get healthy, happy skin by focusing on the inside instead of just the outside. They are formulated to be used consistently to produce results that last months instead of days or hours.
Take the time each day to give your skin some love with your new beauty favorites, and you'll be well on your way to achieving the results you desired from a consistent skincare routine.
Personalized Skincare Routine
You may heard or read about the Korean 10-step skin care routine and feel pretty much overwhelmed. That's because it's probably not realistically possible for many people to perform all of these steps every single morning or evening.
The good news is that you don't have to use every single step the same way every time. It really depends on your skin and what your current skin concerns are.
You can think of it as there are 10 different products you can use, and you can choose as many as you need, depending on your skin type and condition, and create your own routine.
It may sound complicated, but it's not, and that's one of the main focuses of the K-Beauty philosophy—just focused on what skin needs. To best achieve your skincare goals, it's important to understand your skin type and find the right products for it.
(Not sure about your skin type? Here's a blog post you can refer to How to determine your skin type? Tips on how to treat them? )
Beauty tip: Look for ingredients your skin loves or hates
Many Korean products are designed for a specific skin type or problem and contain different active ingredients. Pay attention when you use a product and observe how it affects your skin—if you ever have an allergic or negative reaction to a product, or if it works well or your skin loves it.
Check what ingredients are in the product and make your own list to find out what ingredients your skin likes or dislikes.
Don't be afraid to switch out products if you need to, and slowly add a product that works into your individual routine. Your skin will thank you, and the results might surprise you.
Extensive Options for Everyone
The Korean beauty market also has notoriety for its huge assortment of products, ranging from oil- and water-based facial cleansers, vitamin serums, anti-aging essences, to face masks and lip care products.
When shopping for a skin care product in Seoul, anyone can find one that suits their skin, whether it's a young girl with sensitive skin or a middle-aged man in need of an anti-aging product. Taking care of your skin is considered part of a healthy lifestyle in South Korea, regardless of age or gender.
Think of K-pop idols like BTS, who openly talk about their skin care secrets and the effort they put into their beauty routine. With this trend, men's interest in beauty is also on the rise, and more products are being offered that are tailored to men's needs.
According to Euromonitor, Korean men spend more money on cosmetics than men anywhere in the world, and the market grew 44% between 2011 and 2017. Korean beauty is not specifically for women in their 20s and 30s, but for everyone, including men of all ages.