Korean skincare trends have quickly dominated the beauty world, and the key behind their successful mass appeal is no mystery. K-beauty is known to be innovative, affordable, and vastly different from Western skincare practice. While the West tends to focus on power ingredients and quick fixes, Korean skincare trends dabble on a vastly different principle.
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So What Makes Korean Skincare Stand Out?
K-beauty has a different skincare philosophy. It takes on a gentler approach—investing in natural (instead of active) ingredients that work their way into your skin slowly but surely.
This is why you’ll find Koreans to be some of the most knowledgeable customers when it comes to skincare. They don’t focus on what the product promises. Rather, they look into the composition of the product, then take it from there if they like what they see.
Notice how the majority of Korean brands have at least one-star ingredients in their collection. Take a look at Nature Republic’s Aloe Vera line, Innisfree’s Green Tea set, or COSRX’s Centella collection. Almost every Korean skincare brand’s main selling point is rooted in what the products are composed of.
The heavy emphasis on ingredients leads to an innovative market. In other words, Korean skincare companies are always out looking for the next best thing, be it snail extract, mugwort, aloe vera, you name it.
But outside of their beloved natural ingredients, K-beauty also gets creative on other things like essences, a new routine, or even packaging!
So to make it easier for you, we’ve listed down some of the most popular (and effective) Korean skincare trends to have ever existed. Let’s dive right in.
You may have heard of the ubiquitous Korean skincare trend that is the double-cleansing routine, but what exactly does this mean?
The goal of double-cleansing is simple: to address various types of dirt by using both an oil-based and water-based cleanser. If you’re familiar with the water-and-oil dynamic, you would know that both these compounds do not mix at all—ever!
That’s why you need an oil-based cleanser for oil-based debris (sebum, makeup, pollutants) and a water-based cleanser for water-based debris (sweat, dirt) in order to thoroughly clean your skin.
It’s a fairly simple yet extremely effective step. After all, a good skincare routine always starts with a cleanser. If you leave your face with a considerable amount of unswept gunk, the rest of your skincare routine will most likely fall flat as well.
But of course, this famous trend is not without its critics and non-believers. Many seem to think they can get a pass on skipping the double-cleanse simply because they do not wear makeup. And as much as we would like to think this is forgivable, it just isn’t!
Oil-based dirt doesn’t stop at just makeup. In fact, even sebum is considered oil-based—and everyone has them! This means that no matter the skin type, everyone can definitely benefit from a double-cleanse practice. You just have to find products that can work well on your skin.
#2: Essences and serums
Essences and/or serums are well-loved staples in the K-beauty scene. Both terms can be used interchangeably, but in actuality, essences and serums were once completely separate entities.
It used to be that the essence was a thinner, less-concentrated version of a serum. But lately, the lines are blurring. Now, essences are thick enough to be called serums, while some serums have devolved into thinner consistencies similar to that of the earlier generations of the essence.
Either way, both are basically a concentrate of ingredients served in a small (usually glass) bottle with a dropper cap. Because essences/serums usually contain high levels of active ingredients, they are meant to be applied sparingly, and usually after you put on your toner.
But the true charm of these magic bottles is in their ability to target specific skin issues. For instance, an ample concentrate of niacinamide serum can reduce pores and help make your skin glow. Some essences/serums also contain additional natural ingredients to help offset the harshness that comes with active ingredients.
#3: 10-step skincare routine
Arguably the most popular Korean skincare trend of all time would be the 10-step skincare routine. This routine is a huge deviation from your typical cleanse-tone-moisturize practice. It involves double-cleansing, among other things such as sheet masks, exfoliators, eye creams, and SPF. It may seem overwhelming, but it really doesn’t have to be. In fact, you don’t have to take this trend literally at all.
Many see the 10-step routine as a checklist. However, they fail to realize that it’s just really more of a guideline than anything else. Instead of religiously ticking off every step down to the last, the 10-step practice lets you play around with methods and lets you see the steps that work for you.
You don’t have to be exfoliating every day, nor do you actually need eye creams. The whole point of the 10-step skincare routine is to allow room for experimentation. And once your products work for you, then you’ve really got nothing to lose once you incorporate it in your personalized routine.