In the last decade, Korean beauty has made waves in the Western world’s beauty sphere. Many Korean skincare trends have been adopted into western society and have generated high popularity and appeal due the effectiveness and unique aspects of many K-beauty.
While the Western world has adopted many skincare practices seen in South Korea, it’s important to note that Korea is a soft power in the Western world’s beauty industry. While many Korean skincare products and trends operate uniquely and independently in the Eastern world, the Western beauty industry has adopted some of its traditions and have made it their own. In recent years, Sephora released a line of Korean-inspired sheet masks, while beauty brand Yves Saint Laurent created a line of cushion foundation and cushion blushes.
Many Korean skincare trends and products rely on the long-understood Eastern philosophy of skincare – a philosophy that focuses on prevention and protection, which is mentioned in an article published by Gentleman’s Quarterly. This is starkly different compared to the Western beauty and wellness philosophy, which focuses on providing cures and treatments after a concern has occurred.
Following recent Korean skincare trends that have made its way into the Western world, here are some skincare trends that have become increasingly popular in the last couple years.
“Glass skin” is an extremely popular Korean skincare trend that emphasizes the skin’s texture, closely resembling that of glass. This Korean trend has taken the world by storm and many Koreans make naturally glowing glass skin an important skincare priority and goal.
Achieving the glass skin look refers to having an extremely smooth and even texture as well as an intensely moisturized complexion, according to a Vogue article. Achieving glass skin requires a consistent skincare routine and a long-term commitment to healthy skin.
It is important to discover the correct skincare products that work on one’s specific skin type in order for glass skin to flourish. Once one achieves a well-rounded texture and evenly moisturized complexion, an all-over sheen allows the skin to appear dewy and radiant.
Glass skin is associated with youthfulness and wellness in Korea and is one of the most well-known Korean beauty terms.
However, it is important to note that the trend has also been criticized for creating unrealistic beauty standards and has been suggested as “the final tilt towards grand objectification,” according to an article by The Guardian.
Critics have suggested that the Korean skincare trend has propagated a culture of female obedience by contributing to the long list of unrealistic beauty standards imposed on women. While perfect, smooth glass skin may be impossible to achieve, its goal of healthy and hydrated skin is a great way to approach thinking about your skin.
Here are some product suggestions in order to achieve the glass skin look.
Products to Achieve “Glass Skin”
Innisfree is a popular beauty brand in Korea and is entirely created based on Korean skin care philosophy – preventing skin concerns before they arise and preserving the skin’s natural state.
This lightweight gel formula is a K-beauty cult favourite. The formula provides an impressive 70 per cent increase in hydration of the skin’s natural moisture barrier, according to the brand.
This hydrating cream provides a quick-absorbing hydrating formula that does not weigh the skin down or leave any unwanted residue. The “Clean at Sephora” cream is unique in its creation which consists of a germination technology, combining a concentrated formula of wild strawberry sprouts and blackberries.
Skip-care is the Marie Kondo version of taking care of the skin, Marie Kondo being known for her home organization philosophy of minimalism.
Skip-care is essentially the opposite of 10-step skincare routines which are also popular within the Korean beauty community. Skip-care is a more streamlined, minimal approach to skincare routines and only incorporates the basics.
The philosophy consists of curating a skincare routine that reduces the amount of ingredients being used, saving time and selecting the most essential products–such as cleanser, toners and moisturizers–that offer several skincare benefits at once.
A minimal skincare routine can also do better for the skin as it prevents the possibility of creating adverse effects and potential irritation from an excess amount of ingredients being used on one’s face. So if you’re a student with a busy schedule, this routine may be something you might want to try!
Use of Centella Asiatica (Cica)
Centella asiatica, otherwise known as cica on many skincare products, is a popular soothing ingredient that has been trending in the Korean beauty community.
The ingredient is derived from the plant centella asiatica and mainly sourced from tropical countries such as Indonesia, South Africa, India and Madagascar. The natural extract has been widely used for its regenerative properties, ability to heal and help soothe sensitive skin and irritation.
The ingredient also stimulates collagen production and carries anti-aging properties as it effectively reduces fine lines and wrinkles. Cica can be found in various types of skincare products such as moisturizers, serums, toners and in hair products as well.
Products that contain Centella Asiatica:
Dr Jart + , a Korean brand, carries several products that contain centella asiatica through its collection Cicapair. One of the most well-known Cicapair products is Dr Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Cream, a soft cream that helps soothe sensitive skin with its reparative Cicabond complex. The product also includes Jartbiome, helping to balance the skin, and Centella Rx, which helps protect sensitive skin.
Kiehl’s Cica-Cream is another great alternative that includes several benefits from centella asiatica. The product is suitable for all skin types and specifically targets redness and dryness through intensive moisturizing.
Cream skin and the concept of hybrid products
Cream skin has been one of Korea’s most increasingly popular skincare trends since it emerged in 2019. Compared to the K-beauty trend “glass skin,” cream skin requires a less intensive skincare routine and does not require several products to achieve.
Cream skin, in essence, only requires one product and it is recognized by its milky, lightweight consistency. The skincare trend requires the use of a hybrid toner and moisturizer. The product combines both products into one step, creating lightweight cream–an item that everyone is currently laying eyes on.
Cream skin refers to dewy and supple skin; however, differs from “glass skin” as it is not as blindingly sheer and does not emit a transparent or translucent skin appearance. Since the trend requires only a minimal number of products, cream skin has also been associated with the skip-care skin routine.
Products to achieve cream skin
Considered a staple product for those who want to achieve the “cream skin” look, Laneige’s Cream Skin Toner and Moisturizer pays tribute to what hybrid products are all about and displays the essence of the “cream skin” trend. The product contains valuable ingredients such as glycerin, plant oils and white leaf tea water which is rich in amino acids.
This product is a great option for those who prefer a more lightweight option in achieving the cream skin effect. The hybrid moisturizer contains SingenecellEnmei which targets signs of aging, while several Japanese botanicals help to renew the skin’s appearance.
This moisturizer ensures that the skin does not feel sticky or tacky when applied and provides long-lasting hydration while also absorbing excess oil. The product contains Avène’s signature thermal spring water, squalene and a patented lipidic trio that helps restore the skin’s moisture barrier.
Also known as modeling masks, rubber masks begin as a thick gel-like formula and harden into a rubbery peel-off mask, providing various skin benefits based on the ingredients contained in the peel-off sheet.
Rubber masks have been a consistent skincare trend in Korea and is favored for its instant results and benefits based on the targeted skin concern. Results are often seen instantaneously due to ingredients being absorbed very effectively into the skin.
This is due to the mask’s rubber-like barrier acting as a humectant and forcing the active ingredients into the skin in a one-way direction. Similarly to most face masks, applying rubber masks depends on each individual’s various skin care needs and skin type. Therefore, researching and understanding your own skin type is key before over applying rubber masks.
Dr. Jart + carries a line of rubber masks, consisting of four different types. Each mask has been created to target various skin concerns such as brightening, moisturizing, soothing and firming. Each type of cryo rubber mask set includes a stick ampoule and a rubber mask template.
Dr. Dennis Gross’ Hydrating Modeling Mask provides intense hydration and leaves skin dewy and radiant. The modeling mask consists of a two-step process of gel and powder ingredients and dries into a rubbery, cushioned texture. Key ingredients include marine algae and hyaluronic acid, providing ample moisture to the skin’s barrier.
Ampoules are a trend that skincare fanatics have been raving about worldwide. Similar to that of a serum, ampoules contain high concentrations of active ingredients that work to address key skin concerns. Ampoules can come in a variety of different active ingredient concentrations that target concerns such as discolouration, dark spots and aging.
A small dose, approximately 2-3 drops, can go a long way as the highly concentrated ingredients work fairly quickly. It is recommended to use ampoules specifically when skin concerns arise such as dullness, dryness and discoloration for example, and are not recommended to be used daily.
This ampoule provides instant hydration and targets fine lines and wrinkles, dryness and uneven texture with its serum formulation. The formula contains hyaluronic acid, an ingredient well-known for its moisturizing and anti-aging properties, as well as purslane, an antioxidant that supports skin rejuvenation.
This is an excellent product for those who prefer a multitasking hybrid product that provides both the benefits of a toner and serum in one. This ampoule is infused with ginger and honey to provide intense and long-lasting hydration to the skin. Betaine also helps to lock in moisture in the skin’s natural barrier.
Lancôme’s ampoule is a highly concentrated serum of 100 percent sunflower seed oil, as well as hyaluronic acid, vitamin E and salicylic acid. This serum specifically targets uneven texture, dryness and dullness with its dual-phased formula. One drop is enough for effective results.
Sleeping masks have become commonplace in Western retailers in the last few years, with many new sleeping mask products being developed and sold on the market fairly recently.
Sleeping masks help to optimize the skin’s natural abilities to restore and rejuvenate and helps moisturize the skin’s barrier with a variety of active ingredients. The masks can be used one to two times weekly and is a thin sheet mask that is applied to the face before bed.
The active ingredients soak into the skin and are absorbed overnight for maximum benefits. Sleeping masks are a great alternative to traditional cream-based masks as they do not dry out and allow the skin to effectively absorb key ingredients. This is due to the thin sheet’s layer acting as a humectant for the skin and the external environment. You’ll wake up with moisturized dewy skin!
Glow Recipe’s Watermelon + AHA Glow Sleeping Mask has been a popular favourite that contains a blend of ingredients such as watermelon extract, hyaluronic acid and AHA (an ingredient that lightly exfoliates the surface of the skin). The vegan product helps to provide hydration, soothe the skin and gently exfoliate by removing dead surface skin cells.
Also a cult favourite, Laneige’s Water Sleeping Mask is a gel mask that absorbs into the skin overnight and provides intense moisture. The mask is formulated with Hydro Ionized Mineral Water to help soothe stressed and parched skin. Ingredients such as evening primrose and apricot extracts help brighten the skin.
As Korean skincare trends and philosophies continue to influence the Western world’s beauty market, skincare enthusiasts can explore more products and methods to take care of their skin. Next time you reach a beauty store, try a Korean skincare product out!