When it comes to beauty, we have seen all sorts of fads, techs, and gadgets come and go like how Asian eyes eyelash curler improve again and again, but in recent years K-beauty has been gaining traction and doesn’t appear to be going anywhere. The beauty world is more than a little obsessed with it and I find myself wondering whether this is more than just one of those fleeting trends but rather a pillar that has deeply influenced how we use skincare.
Sure, we know that K-beauty refers to cosmetics and beauty trends that hail from Korea, but what exactly does it entail?
The goal is glowy ‘glass skin’, focussing on a multi-step skincare regimen which will help you attain this. K-beauty does away with the traditional three-step routine of cleansing, toning and moisturising and instead incorporates various layers of products – sometimes up to eight, to be precise. If this kind of routine sounds like your kind of thing you may want to set your alarm to go off half an hour earlier in the morning.
Some K-beauty brands have become household names, taking the world of cosmetics by storm, whilst others have retained their small business independent roots. The most famous brand is undoubtedly Glow Recipe, which was created by Sarah Lee and Christine Chung, former executives at L’Oréal who saw the potential of the K-beauty space early on. They found that there was a gap in the market as many Korean brands, although innovative, did not have the expertise and resources required to attain global reach. They were able to use their bicultural and beauty backgrounds to really catapult the brand to success.
The name Glow Recipe was taken from the names of spa treatments used in Korean skincare. Glow was always the common denominator and the ultimate aim.
Dr.Jart+ is another big name in this space. The company was bought by cosmetics powerhouse Estée Lauder, supporting the fact that this is much more than a transient trend; a community has been built around it in the skincare world, which promises longevity.
Lesser-known brands like COSRX and Laneige are quickly gaining more and more popularity. Until recently, these products could only be purchased from very niche websites, but they have now earned a spot on the Cult Beauty website making it all the more accessible – once again emphasising the fact that K-beauty is here to stay.
I’m sure all this background information has been interesting but I wouldn’t be doing my job as a proud beauty connoisseur if I didn’t take you through all eight steps of a K-beauty skincare routine.
STEP ONE sees K-beauty do away with the traditional notion of cleansing with a cleanser in the morning; instead, skin is to be cleansed with just water, as water on its own is deemed to be enough to cleanse any impurities that may have gathered on skin overnight. However, although the first step of the routine is stripped back, the rest of it is anything but.
STEP TWO includes toning, which is said to balance skin and prep it for the rest of the products that are going to be applied.
Innisfree Green Tea Seed Skin Toner, £25 is a refreshing and deeply hydrating toner blended with green tea oil and extracts.
STEP THREE incorporates the use of an essence. The only way to describe an essence is a mix between a toner and a serum; it is meant to aid hydration and is usually gently patted onto the skin.
Then I Met You – The Giving Essence, £48 is packed with nourishing ingredients like niacinamide and a rich blend of antioxidants.
STEP FOUR is only incorporated for a short amount of time, during phases when skin needs a little extra TLC. It involves the use of an ampoule. This is similar to a serum but will usually consist of a hydrating active ingredient such as hyaluronic acid. This step is said to act like a booster to target a particular skincare concern.
COSRX Triple Hyaluronic Moisture Ampoule, £21.50
STEP FIVE incorporates the use of a serum. Serums comprise of a powerhouse of active ingredients and tend to be made up of smaller molecules which means they are supposed to penetrate your skin more effectively than traditional moisturiser.
Purito Centella Green Level Buffet Serum, £17.50. The Centella leaf is hailed for its deeply hydrating and calming properties. Hello nourished skin.
STEP SIX – A traditional step that often gets overlooked is eye cream. Eye creams usually tend to be eye-wateringly (pardon the pun) expensive. Benton’s offering is a little more pocket friendly and effectively combats dark circles and puffiness.
Benton – Fermentation Eye Cream, £29
STEP SEVEN – Never underestimate the power of a good moisturiser. Dr.Jart+’s Ceramidin Cream, £30 is packed with ceramides that protect and bolster the skins barrier. A must-have for nourished and hydrated skin (especially in the colder months).
STEP EIGHT – No morning skincare routine would be complete without an SPF. Please don’t skip it, this is perhaps the most important step of all.
COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream, £18.25. Not a fan of heavy skin-clogging sun cream? This gentle lightweight formula has you covered (literally).