I wasn’t always this obsessed.
I’m talking about skincare, of course. Yes, I’m that friend. The friend that tries so desperately to get people to stop using body lotion on their face and slap on a sheet mask. I know, it’s not their fault. They don’t know any better. Yet … it’ll be different by the time I get through with them.
But like I was saying: I wasn’t always this obsessed. In fact, it wasn’t until I was already out of high school that I started paying real, close attention to my skin. I was blessed with relatively problem-free skin (thanks, Mom and Dad), so I didn’t really have much to worry about. I certainly didn’t pay attention to Korean beauty. Who could keep up with all that? Especially with all the weird ingredients I kept hearing about! This, along with being a teen among teens, caused me to bear witness to a multitude of skincare sins without even realizing it.
Maybe some of you are still in that stage now. Hey, no shame about it. We all learn at different rates. But I’m here to help you. Because I’m that friend. So for your consideration, here are five popular skincare myths, debunked.
Sure, there are higher-end products and brands, but for the most part, K-beauty products are pretty affordable in comparison to their American counterparts. How else would so many of us be able to manage our crazy routines?
If you’re already a fully converted K-beauty fanatic, you may no longer fall prey to this anymore. Still, it’s hard for most of us to break this line of thinking. Things that are more expensive have to be better for you, right?
Not necessarily. The most important aspect of a product isn’t the brand name or its cost. It’s the ingredients. Find out what works best for you and look for it in high concentration. It might still be expensive, but in the world of K-beauty, chances are you can find a product to fit any budget. Yes, your skincare is an investment. But that investment doesn’t necessarily need to be high cost. It just needs to be high quality.
If you know anything about Korean beauty, you know about the focus on hydration, hydration, hydration. No, I’m not talking about getting your eight glasses of water in a day (well, not in this case, anyway; you should definitely still be doing that for your skin). I’m talking about loading up your skin with thin, lightweight layers of hydration. This can make the whole Korean skincare routine pretty daunting for anyone with oily skin. After all, why would you want to make your face even shinier?!
Turns out that this is a pretty misguided notion. For starters, many oil-controlling and anti-acne products contain drying ingredients. That means that, by some cruel twist of fate, skin can be simultaneously oily and dehydrated, causing your skin to kick up the oil production to make up for a lack of moisture.
A better way of reducing oil? Gentle, regular exfoliation and light layers of hydration through hydrating toners, essences, serums, and lightweight emulsions. And, as always, keep an eye out for potentially irritating ingredients in your products.
Please, please, please do not over-exfoliate. I know it can be tempting — who doesn’t love that fresh and clean feeling after a nice (and gentle!) scrub? When I was a teenager — one who didn’t know a lick about skincare — I sometimes even used the scrub that may not be named in lieu of my daily cleanser. As the old adage goes, how can it be wrong if it feels so right?
Imagine my horror when I found out that over-exfoliating is probably the single easiest way to irritate your skin. Your skin needs time to recover in order for exfoliation to actually do its job. This holds true whether you’re using chemical or physical exfoliants!
There’s no one universal guideline on how much exfoliating is too much. Like so much else in skincare, it all depends on the person. Give your skin a break once you see any irritation, dryness, oiliness (seem contradictory? Refer back to myth 2!), puffiness, redness, or even breakouts. Over-exfoliation just might be the culprit. This goes for both physical and chemical exfoliants. (Be extra careful not to overdo it on the chemical exfoliants, as those can cause chemical burns. Yikes!)
This one pains me. No, really. I can feel the stinging as I’m writing this. Listen, I get the rationale behind this. We, as a people, love instant gratification. If something stings, then it has to be evidence that good things will follow, right? Wrong. Aside from a few exceptions (active ingredients like retinol, chemical exfoliants, et al.), stinging is almost always a side effect of skin irritation. (Also, harkening back to myth 3: Physical exfoliation shouldn’t hurt, either.) A little tingle from ingredients like menthol is fine, but keep in mind that even that acts as an irritant for some folks. Maybe you’re one of the lucky ones! Maybe not. Your skin will tell you what you need to know.
Let’s get one thing straight: There’s nothing wrong with preferring “natural” ingredients. I love a good home remedy myself! Aloe, green tea, rice water — bring it on. And I’m always happy to see a good plant extract or two at the top of an ingredients list. There’s no denying nature’s bounty. But to think that this is the only way to good skin is simply not true. Actually, it’s impossible. Newsflash, everybody: Water is a chemical, too!
The world is full of chemicals. Some of them do wonders for our skin and some of them don’t. The same goes for “natural” ingredients. The most important thing is to do your research and find what works for you.
Aren’t you glad you have a friend like me?
What skincare myths did you used to believe, and what did you do now? Let’s talk about it.