If you’re not already obsessed with K-Beauty, you probably will be very soon. Why? Just look at their skin! Seriously though, the Korean method of addressing skin is so completely different to how we tackle beauty in the Western world, and if their skin is anything to go by, you’re gonna want in on it too. As Sarah Lee, Co-Founder and Co-CEO of K-Beauty site Glow Recipe explained, “Korean beauty is all about having a dialogue with your skin – listening to the skin’s needs with a holistic approach. Layering hydration while also preventing damage from environmental factors, pollution, and harmful UV rays is key.” In essence, K-Beauty is all about perfecting your skin so it’s flawless au naturel.
Here’re 3 reasons why we fell in love with K-Beauty:
The K-Beauty routine is nothing less than luxury: It’s all about layering hydrating products to make your skin glowy af – the way they see it, your skin is like a sponge; plump it with water (like toners and essences) and everything else will absorb more easily. It might seem like there are extra steps involved (there are), but spending the time gently patting products into your skin will end up being a part of the day you look forward to – it’s the ultimate unwind time.
K-Beauty products use awesome ingredients: Natural ingredients like botanicals, Camila, green tea, and fermented grains have been used for centuries, while they stay clear of chemicals or nasty ingredients that could irritate your skin. They also have one of the most advanced and innovative beauty industries in the world, boasting scientific ingredients like ceramides and hyaluronic acid, and futuristic face masking techniques.
K-Beauty comes without the price tag: Korean women demand the best beauty products, and Korean beauty companies are constantly competing to provide them. Manufacturing beauty products in Korea is also much cheaper, so products cost less to make. Sure, there are some expensive options, but there are amazing affordable options too.
If you’re wondering how to get started, it’s easy. This is what your K-Beauty skincare routine should look like.
The K-Beauty Skincare Routine:
Step 1: Double cleanse
This is key. Starting your routine with completely clean skin makes it ready to absorb the following steps. Start with an oil cleanser to melt away oil-based makeup and sunscreen, then use a water-based or foaming cleanser to remove any leftover grime and pollution.
Step 2: Tone
As Sarah from the Glow Recipe says, “Toners are the first liquid step of hydration and absorb into skin faster than the other steps, hydrating the skin and setting it up to better absorb following skincare steps.” Unlike western beauty toners, which often contain astringent properties like alcohol which strip moisture from your skin, Korean toners add moisture.
Step 3: Essences and Serums
Although these aren’t the same product, if you’re just starting a routine, you can start with one – we suggest using a serum, which is slightly more potent. An essence is a watery hit of hydration packed with soothing ingredients, whereas serums have a thicker consistency and are bursting with rich, active ingredients like AHAs, antioxidants, vitamins, and hyaluronic acid. They also have a small molecular structure that allows them to penetrate the deep layers of your skin.
Step 4: Eye Cream
Your eye area is extra delicate and one of the first places to show signs of aging, so treat it with care. Use an eye cream to keep this area extra hydrated and boosted with active and anti-aging ingredients.
Step 5: Moisturize
Okay, you all know what moisturizing is all about, and you know it’s an essential in any routine, as they create a barrier to lock in the moisture from all your previous steps. K-Beauty moisturizers are packed with super hydrating and nourishing formulas, and just like in Western beauty, you can find thicker or thinner formulas to suit your skin type.
Step 6: SPF
This is beyond important in Korean beauty – they believe that fair glass-like skin is goals! Using an SPF to fight damaging UV rays and pollution is the final step in a routine that will keep your skin looking younger and more flawless for longer. A minimum of factor 30 with SPF and UVB protection is essential. Obvs you can skip this step at night time.
As well as these steps, Korean women love to mask! Sheet masks are a daily part of their routine, and these can be used after essences and serums. Rubber masks can be done weekly, and this new masking method offers even more of a glow-boost than sheet masks. Once or twice weekly, gentle AHA and BHA exfoliators are used as well.
Now you know the skincare routine, here’s our guide to our fav K-Beauty shopping sites and products so you can find everything you need to get your K-Beauty routine started:
Where To Buy The Best K-Beauty:
The Glow Recipe
If you’re looking to make the move into K-Beauty, this is a great place to start. The Glow Recipe has some very affordable options, as well as curated K-Beauty Routine Sets that mean you can buy everything you need to start your routine in one tailored-to-your-skin bundle. They also have an awesome offering of our latest K-Beauty obsession, modelling rubber masks – aka the glow givers!
Our fav products: Skin prep: MD’s Pick Pearl Brightening Water Rubber Mask, $9. Daytime moisturizer: Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Pink Juice Moisturizer, $39. Makeup-prep: Blithe InBetween Makeup Prep Essence, $38.
If you’re a newbie to K-Beauty, you may find this site a little overwhelming, but it has an insane amount of the most authentic K-Beauty you can get. As well as offering cult brands like Dr. Jart, Shiseido, Laneige, Tony Moly, Etude House, and Mizon, they have some of the coolest K-Beauty tools. Whether you want to try a sheet mask for $2, snail and placenta potions or a luxury face cream for $50, this is the ultimate destination for ERRRYTHING K-Beauty – especially as almost every product is always on some kind of discount! Warning, keep an eye on your shopping basket, as this site is addictive. Also note, some products may take up to a month to ship, but most are delivered in the US within a week.
Our fav products: The best SPF: Shiseido Multi-Defense UV Protector SPF 50+, $65. The ultimate nighttime moisturizer: Laneige Water Sleeping Mask Lavender, $30. Soothing serum, iUNIK Tea Tree Relief Serum, $18.
The Face Shop
Opening their first store in Korea 15 years ago, this is the OG K-Beauty destination. The Face Shop has over 20 unique skincare collections: each focuses around a different set of ingredients that work for certain skin concerns. For example, Chia Seed for normal and combo skin, Jeju Volcanic Lava, which absorbs sebum and cleanses pores, and Rice Water Bright, a nourishing vitamin-rich line packed with ceramides for dry skin. We also love the Dr. Belmeur line, which has a mini cleansing starter kit for less than $14.
Our fav products: Second cleanse: Dr. Belmeur Clarifying Bubble Foam Cleanser, $13. Oil cleanse: Rice Water Bright Light Cleansing Oil, $18. Skin Smoothing cleansing tool: Charcoal & Konjac Cleansing Puff, $5
Peach & Lily
What we love about this site is you don’t have to filter through hundreds of products to find ones that will work for you. They have a super helpful category called ‘Skin Concern,’ and here you can choose from 14 categories, like oiliness, acne, redness, dryness, pores, and uneven skin tone. Each category has a curated selection of all the products that will work for you, from cleansers and toners, to spot treatments, brightening serums, hydrating sheet masks, and targeted cleansers.
Let us know in the comments below if you’re already into K-Beauty or if you’re going to give it a go.