South Koreans may be famed for their ten-step skincare routines, but chances are you don’t have the time – or money – to see it through. Fortunately, your complexion can reap the benefits of a K-beauty regime without going the full mile. From cleansing tricks to the under-the-radar products to add into your repertoire, here are eight Korean hacks for a brighter, more youthful complexion...
A sure-fire route to a fresher complexion, double-cleansing is at the cornerstone of every good Korean skincare regime thanks to its ability to rid your skin of make-up and grime as well as preparing the skin to fully absorb the benefits of your serum and moisturiser. Make like the Koreans and start with an oil-based cleanser before moving onto a foaming formula.
Skincare guru Caroline Hirons advises using a more expensive cleanser for your second cleanse: “This is where it’s time to use your good stuff – this one is your skin cleanser more than your make-up remover. Its job is to make sure your skin is clean, balanced and comfortable.”
Get Sheet Masking
According to recent research, millennials worldwide are using at least one sheet mask every day – but not all of them were created equal. For some of the best in the business, look to South Korean brands Dr. Jart, Tony Moly and Etude House. After all, South Korea is a hub of beauty innovation, with ingredients and techniques said to be seven years ahead of the UK beauty industry, so invest in your sheet masks wisely.
Both Cult Beauty and Selfridges stock a wide range of Korean sheet masks.
Use An Essence
A skincare category created in Korea (like BB, CC creams and cushion compacts), an essence is at the heart of the famed ten-step routine. With higher doses of active ingredients than a toner, an essence will deliver goodness directly into the skin post-cleansing and will help to balance pH levels for a smoother, more radiant complexion.
Don’t let their lightweight, water-like nature fool you – essences have been known to pack more beautifying benefits than creams and serum combined.
Hit The Pillow
Up the ante on your night cream with a sleep mask – yet another K-beauty innovation. A super-concentrated moisturiser used to provide an extra dose of hydration in place of your usual night cream, a sleep mask should be worn overnight for more gradual absorption during your skin’s natural repair cycle.
Bloggers and industry names alike rave about Mizon’s Good Night White Sleeping Mask while we rate Erno Laszlo’s Hydra Therapy Memory Sleep Mask, £78.
Anti-ageing, acne-fighting, spot correcting and skin protecting, ginseng has been the hallmark of Korean beauty for centuries. Apply it topically (Korean brands such as Erborian champion ginseng-based products) but try drinking ginseng tea too, which is packed with antioxidants.
Other Korean-inspired ingredients that pack a real punch include snail slime extract (yes, really – it’s known to work wonders for sensitive skin types), green tea and yeast ferment.
Try The 3-Second Rule
A steadfast rule in the Korean regime is to apply your skincare immediately post showering or cleansing, ideally within three seconds. Why? The longer you wait, the more dehydrated your skin becomes.
While the Koreans start their ten-step routine with a toner (some even keep it in the shower), you can get the same benefits by starting with your favourite moisturiser. The bottom line? The faster you can lock in that moisture and keep your skin protected, the better.
Up Your Serum
Combining the potency of a serum with the comfort and protection of a cream, it’s no wonder pressed serums are big beauty news in Korea. Working to infuse the skin with high levels of targeted actives whilst warding against the skin-ageing effects of the elements, try using a pressed serum in lieu of your usual serum and day cream.
We love Blithe’s potent Velvet Yam Pressed Serum, £44, touted for its moisture replenishing and re-invigorating properties, it’s also a brilliant way to streamline your regime by condensing two steps into one.
Master The Massage
Skin clinics can be found on every street corner in South Korea, with express facial massages as commonplace as a mini manicure. Mimic the results at home by taking the time to massage your face daily – use circular motions with your fingers as well as tapping in rotating motions; start on the forehead before moving on to the cheekbones, cheeks and working down to the jawbone.
Massaging increases circulation and creates a dewy complexion – for boosted results, use with an oil cleanser to maximise hydration.