Discover Korean Beauty: Summer into Fall Edition
With so many options to choose from, how do you pick your first K-beauty products? Whether you’re new to Korean beauty or just looking some new Korean beauty, let our summer 2018 discoveries be your guide.
I’ve loved helping K-beauty newbies build their routines ever since I started blogging back in 2015. It has gotten harder over the years. As complicated as the K-beauty scene was back in the day, it’s vastly more overwhelming now. New products have been proliferating like mushrooms after rain. How do you choose which ones to start with?
I had the starter product concept in mind when I wrote about Purito, but after I finished that article, I itched to expand beyond a single brand. I wanted to introduce K-beauty newcomers to a wider variety of brands and products that are fun, effective, and affordable — products that embody the most appealing aspects of K-beauty. So I created our special Discover Korean Beauty campaign. To go with the 50+ products I’ve selected as your introduction to K-beauty, here’s a quick review of my favorites along with brief intro to some K-beauty concepts to get you started.
K-Beauty Concept: Double Cleansing
It’s arguable whether K-beauty originated the practice of double cleansing, but not arguable that double cleansing is a foundational step in the famed Korean skincare routine. Great skin starts with perfectly cleansed skin, ideally prepared to absorb skincare yet never stripped or damaged from the process.
Nighttime double cleansing, which you can read about in this article by Beautytap Associate Editor Ruth Kim, uses an oil-based cleansing product followed by a water-based cleanser. The cleansing oil dissolves even the most stubborn makeup and water-resistant sunscreens, then emulsifies with water and rinses away. A gentle water-based cleanser as the second step removes any residue and leaves skin sparkling clean.
My picks for oil-based first cleanser are:
* SanDaWha Natural Mild Cleansing Oil, a rich and nourishing camellia seed oil-based cleansing oil with a thick, luxurious texture.
* Banila Co Clean It Zero Cleansing Balm Original, a sherbet-textured K-beauty legend that goes from solid in the jar to smoothly liquid on the face.
* Dr.Gloderm Oil Capsule Cleanser, a new hit for its travel-friendly single-use packaging and skin-beautifying natural ingredients.
After cleansing oil, of course, you’ll need that water-based second cleanser. As a starter second cleanser, it’s hard to go wrong with:
* Purito Defence Barrier pH Cleanser, whose gentle surfactants and skin-mimicking 5.5 pH make it an ideal choice for even the most sensitive skin. (And if you’re curious about why pH matters, read about that in my article here!)
K-Beauty Concept: Layering Skincare
You’ve probably heard of the fabled 7- or 10-step “Korean Skincare Routine.” The first thing you should know is that not all those steps are necessary for everybody. How many steps you use depends entirely on your skin, your budget, and your lifestyle!
With that being said, the real beauty of K-beauty lies in the incredible variety of products you can layer to treat any combination of skin issues. Those targeted toners, essences, and serums usually add hydration to skin as well, plumping, firming, and adding resilience almost immediately!
Here are some of my layering favorites from the Discover Korean Beauty collection:
* For redness, sensitivity, and breakouts: Anti-inflammatory workhorse Centella asiatica extract is a regular player in Korean skincare products. This extract calms irritation and sensitivity, boosts moisture levels, and provides antioxidant protection. Find plenty of it in the hydrating Purito Centella Green Level Calming Toner and the fast-absorbing, deeply calming Purito Centella Green Level Buffet Serum.
* For dull skin and dark spots: Korean celebrities are renowned for their otherworldly radiance. Purito Galacto Niacin 97 Power Essence combines two of the best brightening, spot-fading powerhouse ingredients in one product. Galactomyces ferment filtrate, a byproduct of the alcohol brewing process, and niacinamide, a derivative of vitamin B, both act to fade dark spots, brighten skin tone, reduce redness, and improve skin function and elasticity. This essence contains both ingredients in optimal amounts for optimal results.
K-Beauty Concept: Fun Ingredients, Fun Textures
In the hyper-competitive Asian cosmetics industry, it takes more than basic ingredients and pedestrian formulations to catch consumers’ attention. Brands rise to the challenge with daring, innovative, and just plain entertaining products.
For fun skincare that also benefits your skin, give these a shot:
* Snail slime: Snail secretion filtrate, aka snail mucin, aka snail slime, delivers myriad skin benefits. The protein-packed protective goo smooths, softens, and moisturizes skin. It may accelerate skin healing and even repair some sun damage. And Purito Snail Repair Advanced Serum contains plenty of purified snail goo in a non-sticky, non-slimy form, to introduce your skin to that mollusk life.
* Donkey milk: Cleopatra was reputed to have bathed in donkey milk. Now your face can, too. Rich with proteins, lipids, and vitamins, donkey milk moisturizes, helps repair compromised skin barriers, and provides antioxidants to defend against free radical damage. Now donkey milk also comes in the most adorable form ever: seaNtree’s donkey milk line, featuring a baby donkey in a variety of pastoral backdrops. I love seaNtree Donkey Milk Waterising Toner for its rapid hydrating and glow-creating abilities.
* Water drop creams: There’s more to moisturizer than lotions, creams, and gels. In K-beauty, there are also water drop creams! These chiffon-textured moisturizers look waxy in the jar, feel fluffy and silky to the touch, and, thanks to some liquid suspension chemistry magic, burst into drops of hydrating liquid when they hit your skin. seaNtree Donkey Milk Water Drop Cream combines these textural and skincare features with the benefits of donkey milk for a radiance-enhancing day moisturizer.
* A cream that bubbles when left alone: Nope, I have no idea what to call this concept. It’s OK. I love it anyway. So Natural Water Glow Sauna Cream quietly produces a pile of airy bubbles whenever it’s left alone in its jar. Come for the fun bubbles. Stay for the deeply hydrating, coconut water-infused skincare that leaves a satiny finish and lasting smoothness. Halfway between a gel and a cream in consistency, this product moisturizes without greasy residue and plays beautifully with sunscreen and makeup.
* Cooling cream: Centella asiatica and several of its derivatives make an appearance in Keep Cool Soothe Phyto Green Pair Cream, an ultra-soothing pale green cream for sensitive and damaged skin. Packed with a bevy of anti-inflammatory extracts, this soft whipped moisturizer instantly cools irritated skin but with none of the irritation of more standard menthol ingredients. Instead, it calms and reduces redness while repairing skin damage.
K-Beauty Concept: Sheet Masks
Like double cleansing, sheet masks may not have originated in K-beauty, but they’re inextricable from Korean skincare systems. With a high volume of hydrating essence soaked into a sheet that maximizes absorption, sheet masks are instant glow-boosters that can take years off of a tired face. I’ve put several of my current sheet mask go-to’s in the collection:
* Oerbeua One-Step Masks are extremely affordable basic masks for everyday (or “as often as possible”) use. While Western beauty practices often relegate masking to the “occasional indulgence” category, frequent use of hydrating sheet masks can actually have long-term benefits for skin. Well-hydrated skin not only looks better immediately but functions better for as long as it remains well hydrated. Stock up and mask often!
* Wonjin Effect masks: For a more intensive masking session, check out Wonjin Effect’s multi-step masks, which come with a toner and ampoule (serum) step. These extra steps make these masks perfect for travel, while the excellent ingredients and comfortable materials make them perfect for anytime use. Choose the Withbee Honey Bomb Mask for dry skin, the Relief Cure Mask for irritated or sensitive skin, or the Water Bomb Mask for dullness and dehydration.
* Etude House Black Hydrogel Eye Patch: The skin around our eyes is thinner, more delicate, and often drier and more prone to dehydration lines than the skin elsewhere on our face. A hydrating eye mask like this one can quickly plump up, smooth out, and brighten the area. As a bonus, refrigerate your eye masks for rapid depuffing!
K-Beauty Concept: Sunscreen!
Due to traditional beauty standards, sun avoidance and sun protection have long been a part of Korean beauty routines, leading to the development of extraordinarily wearable sun protection products. Forget about heavy textures, greasy finishes, and sticky white casts. Korean sunscreens are a whole new level. My absolute favorite in the Discover Korean Beauty collection is:
* So Natural Sebum Control Water Sun Gel. The high UVA and UVB protection in this summer-perfect sunscreen are just the start. So Natural Sebum Control Water Sun Gel applies almost as light as water and dries down rapidly to a natural satin finish with no white cast and no oily feel. This sunscreen’s quick setting abilities help it stay put under makeup and throughout the day, effortlessly protecting your skin from spot-forming, wrinkle-accelerating, cancer-causing UV radiation.
Ready to discover Korean beauty? Shop the collection here. There are plenty of other products to browse, including cushion makeup for that flawless yet natural Korean celebrity look, and adorable beauty tools to make your daily routine a little brighter. And don’t forget to use the coupon code DISCOVERBEAUTYTAP to get 20% off of all full-price items in the Discover Korean Beauty campaign!
What are your recent K-beauty discoveries? Let us know in the comments!