K-Beauty – everything you need to know about Korean skincare
I wouldn’t describe myself as an early adopter. I’m the one trying to catch up with the rapidly disappearing bandwagon, rather than jumping on it. So, unlike me, you may already be familiar with K-Beauty. For late adopters like me, let me enlighten you.
K-Beauty is the term used for skincare products from South Korea. The beauty industry has lumped these brands together, because the Korean beauty aesthetic is different to ‘Western’ trends. The Korean way focuses on maximum health, hydration and minimum exposure to the sun, resulting in a pale, glowing, dewy complexion. Quite different to our obsession with mattifying and bronzing everything.
The Western skincare routine is typically three to five steps, the most basic of which is Cleanse, Tone and Moisturise. We then cover our skin in thick makeup (I am generalising here).
Many Korean brands on the other hand advocate ten, or even 12 steps to their skincare routine, for long-lasting effects, so the skin looks amazing without makeup.
If you’re vegan look away now
Korean manufacturers have been using innovative products for years, such as snail slime, bee venom and starfish extract. High factor SPF sunscreens feature heavily. And they were the first to bring sheet face masks to market.
The ten steps to great skin
The order of these ten steps to great skin, Korean style, isn’t set in stone – there is some variation depending on which source you read. This seems to be the most common routine:
- Remove eye makeup
- Sheet mask
- Eye cream
- SPF/night cream
I have tried products from six Korean brands for this post. There aren’t enough weeks in the year to properly trial ten products from all six and do them any justice. I have tried several products and these are my favourites.
I’ve written about these products in a previous post. Hyggee takes a ‘less is more’ approach to skincare. I have nearly finished the All-in-One Care Cleansing Foam (150ml for £22.90) and All-in-One cream (80ml for £41.90), and will definitely repurchase.
Using the cream is like applying a layer of silk to your face. The product is plentiful – this pot has been my go-to, twice a day moisturiser for over a month. My skin feels hydrated and soft.
By Wishtrend’s products are packed with quality ingredients. I’ve been using the Mandelic Acid 5% Skin Prep Water (120ml for £20.10), which refreshes and resurfaces the skin for an improved skin tone.
It doesn’t irritate – and can be used on sensitive skin – but you can feel it working, removing all traces of dirt and makeup, cooling and prepping the skin for moisturiser.
Klairs believes in making a range of products to suit the different needs our skin has during different seasons. Their textures include rich creams and water-like serums and provide multi-functional benefits for all skin types.
Klairs Freshley Juiced Vitamin Drop (35ml for £26.90) is a mild essence with impressive antioxidant benefits.
You can apply the colourless, serum-like drops directly onto the skin, or add a few drops to your favourite moisturiser. This product is packed full of fruit and flower extracts. The Vitamin C and L-Ascorbic Acid help to stimulate collagen production and improve skin tone and texture.
J.One was designed by a Korean celebrity – actress Ha Ji-Won. The J.One Hana Cream (20g for £22, or 40g for £38 from Boots) has a cult following, and sold out during its first week in the UK.
Each pot contains individual pearls of moisturiser – each sphere delivers just the right amount for one serving of proteins and peptides to improve the skin’s elasticity. The rich texture goes a long way, but the scent is reminiscent of Nivea.
I also tried J.One’s Jelly Cream, a concentrated moisturiser (30ml for £32), a cool, gel-like cream, which is a good alternative to the Hana Cream for Spring and Summer.
Packed with plant, flower and fruit extracts and Hyaluronic Acid, the Jelly Cream is for brightening, firming and softening the skin, while Manuka Honey hydrates and nourishes.
Make P:rem (short for Making a Pragmatic Remedy) uses Micro Trans Moisture technology, which ensures hydration reaches deep into the skin to give a smooth and plump look after just a couple of applications. Another key ingredient is the wild Arctic Raspberry sourced from Finland, which contains a high concentration of natural Vitamin C, Omegas 3 and 6 and other essential antioxidants. Skincity has products from Make P:rem for each of the ten skincare steps.
I used this scary looking Make p:rem Wrapping Me Moisture Sauna Mask (30ml for £4.90).
The aluminium sheet mask was so full of moisture, it was dripping down my neck. The foil prevents the active ingredients from evaporating and gently heats the skin. The mask contains a blend of minerals and stress-relieving extracts. My skin felt incredible after using this product and the nourishing effect lasted for a couple of days.
Leeheehaam has an extensive range of topical skincare treatments, particularly for oily, sensitive and acne-prone skin. The products are split into four categories: Life; Grow; Hope and Master – each one addressing a different need. Life provides daily essentials to keep the skin healthy and balanced. Grow products take on inflammation and dullness. Hope products are to manage sensitive and oily complexions. And finally, the Master range comprises innovative sheet masks with active ingredients.
Leegeehaam Life Hyal B5 Moisture Mask (27ml for £3.90) is another deep hydration mask, containing Hyaluronic Acid to attract water to the skin’s surface, and Vitamin B5 to keep it there.
It is made with natural cellulose from bamboo trees. This is a gorgeous product to relax with after a stressful day. It is recommended you wear the mask for 20 minutes, so pour yourself something you can drink through a straw and relax.
Those are my top picks. I’d love to try more – particularly the essences and serums, so let me know if you’re a fan of K-Beauty and which brands you swear by. I’d love to hear from you.
Much love, Vx
[Disclosure: AD – contains gifted products and affiliate links, with thanks to Skincity and Sparkle PR]