Beauty trends nowadays are almost as fast-paced as stock market values. We see the emergence of routines, miracle products, different skin therapies, routines and their disappearance all within the blink of an eye. Partly, the reason for this is our never-ending pursuit of good skin.
Amidst the wave of new skin care culture, one particular routine that is taking the aesthetic world by storm is the “10-Step Korean Skin Care Routine“. It is all everyone seems to be talking about. If a while ago, you were feeling proud for having washed and moisturized your face in the morning in the name of skin care, today, followers of this routine are likely to put you to shame.
Originally gaining fame in Seoul, South Korea, this extensive but essential skin care routine is a part of the beauty empire known as “K-Beauty”. It helps that Koreans are world renowned for their obsession with perfect skin and the aesthetics in general.
Often jokingly called the “home of plastic surgery”, the country has also churned out miraculous solutions to achieve the best skin possible; this has helped keep the country on the map for skin care. However, rarely can we distinguish between the myths and truths surrounding this routine. So to what extent can it be trusted? And what is the actual routine?
The routine is a product heavy one, with particular emphasis given to the following criteria: Brightening, because that is the ultimate sign of healthy skin. Sun protection, because according to Korean experts the sun is a nemesis to the skin that can cause irreversible damage at times. Also, cleansing and replenishing, because it is believed that the skin requires products to replenish its pH balance and other vital oils and essences for beauty-enhancing purposes.
The routine in itself is similar for morning and night time (yes, it’s twice a day, but Koreans are known to believe that if you really desire something, you should be ready to put in the time for it). It is as follows:
In this routine, the cleansing is a two-fold process, once with an oil-based cleanser that removes heavier debris followed by a water-based one that leaves the skin feeling lighter and cleaner.
Research says that the removal of the outermost skin layer referred to as non-nucleated skin is integral to maintaining skin health (2). Without this form of desquamation (peeling/removal of skin), any routine is only half successful.
One of the techniques native to this skin care routine is the method of application. Instead of the usual rubbing, Korean skincare swears by only tapping and lightly slapping the skin to stimulate the skin to absorb the product effectively.
For instance, all those who are grossed out by the idea of applying “snail goo” on your face need to realize that yes, this is happening. In fact, snail mucus is an active ingredient often found in sheet masks with proteins and hyaluronic acid, also so is bee venom, which helps trigger collagen production (6).
This means that without natural oils to keep the skin elastic and supple, it is vulnerable to dryness and elastosis (losing its elasticity) (7), which then causes crows feet and wrinkling. However, the slight irony is that this cream when in contact with eyes causes irritation and must be rinsed out.
This may be why Korean skincare routines always wind up with a form of sunscreen lotion with a high SPF value. Although they are correct, other western practices to show that this isn’t the sole reason for skin damage, dispelling one of the rare myths.
In totality, Korean skincare has become a widely proclaimed and accepted one. This is partly because it consists of stages that are individually accepted by skin care specialists. One of the myths about the routine is the safety of the more exotic ingredients used in the products. However, the Korean skincare industry is one that places high quality above all else, and in almost all cases, the ingredients are tested and approved for an application.
This is just an introductory look at the extensive world of Korean skincare routines. The only question that is repeatedly asked is, “aren’t these too many products for the skin?” and this has experts divided.
Although some dermatologists do agree that overly subjecting the skin to products may put it under duress, others firmly hold the opinion that it ends up doing well for the skin. From a look at the momentum, it seems to be gaining in America and rapidly around the world, it looks like one that might stay around for a while.
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