Apr 17, 2020
And in a pinch, some of them may even serve as personal protective equipment (okay, not really).
What if I told you that all those potions and serums arranged aesthetically on your vanity could be even more potent when paired with a jade roller? And that a gua sha can lift your face after a night spent with fries? These days it seems like every celebrity on the skincare train is into beauty tools: Madeleine Petsch, her Riverdale co-star Cami Mendes, Jessica Alba, Korean YouTubers like Beautifymeeh. The trend of incorporating beauty tools into a skincare regimen is growing and here to stay.
I first noticed the creep of beauty tools into skincare routines when I started watching Korean dramas. As my interest in K-beauty intensified, I realized that there are dozens of these tools in Korea that are intended to maximize the effects of skincare. They range from plastic beauty rollers you can get for the price of a coffee and croissant to LED masks worth several exotic vacations.
Many of these tools claim to slim the face (an aspirational Korean beauty standard) and ease signs of puffiness (a side effect of their hard work ethic). They were also designed as DIY at-home alternatives to constant visits to facialists, thus serving as money savers in the long-term.
Let’s take a look at the range of beauty tools and the innovative ways in which they can take skincare to the next level.
In these days of self-isolation, you don’t have to miss out on esthetician services, at least not if you’re Son Ye Jin’s millionaire heiress in Crash Landing on You. In the drama, Son Ye Jin’s character is seen using the Vanav massage machine, which is supposed to help sagging skin and anti-aging.
While I believe exercise is a more affordable anti-aging option, Son Ye Jin’s amazing skin greatly tempts me to take this machine’s claims seriously.
I remember seeing face rollers pop up in Korean dramas a few years ago. They’re a great way to de-puff your face, especially after that night of ramyun, binge-drinking, studying, drama-watching (or all of the above). I personally enjoy rolling my face while watching dramas — it feels so good and relaxing!
While double-sided plastic rollers seem to be popular in Korean dramas, a jade roller is a step above the plastic roller and looks especially pretty on your vanity. I recommend applying a facial oil like the Extra Virgin Camellia Oil from SanDaWha or a light serum like Innisfree's Green Tea Seed Serum before using a roller so it does not tug at your skin. A tip for those using jade rollers in warmer weather: Stick your jade roller in the fridge and use it in your morning skincare routine to cool and wake up your skin.
Jade rollers are quick and easy, but if you have around five minutes or longer, a gua sha tool helps with a deeper lymphatic drainage massage. I’ve seen several Korean beauty YouTubers incorporating a gua sha into their beauty routines.
I love doing gua sha massages once or twice a week because it helps relieve my tired-looking face and makes me feel (and look) more ready to tackle the day.
Silicone face cleanser
I sat up and took notice when seeing Jin Ki Joo’s character in The Secret Life of my Secretary use a machine to cleanse her face. Cleansing is one of the most (if not most) important steps in a skincare routine, and this silicone cleansing tool is supposed to help with anti-aging as it purges your pores of all the gunk in a gentler way.
The Foreo silicone cleanser is a little too pricey for my student pocket so I got a dupe instead, and I have to say that I cannot imagine my night skincare routine without it! I feel so fresh and clean after using my silicone cleanser.
What I love about Korean skincare are the innovations that make you feel like you’re living in a movie from the future. LED masks debuted in the international market quite recently, and I’ve even seen a fairly affordable version from Wishtrend. While I may have to save up for months (or realistically, years) for an LED mask, I would love to try them at some point.
K-pop star Tiffany from Girls’ Generation mentioned her LED mask in her zillion-step skincare routine, and it whet my appetite for wanting to look futuristic while getting my skin snatched, ha.
As a disclaimer, despite the popularity of these masks, their claims are not vetted by clinical research trials. Also keep your skin sensitivity in mind if you are thinking seriously about purchasing an LED mask.
Maybe you’re thinking, “Dang son, I don’t have the pennies for those highfalutin’ machines!” Understandable. I’m on a student shoestring budget myself. An LED mask gleaming in my skincare closet must remain a guilty pleasure dream for now. (Besides, I want to wait a few years to see whether these tools weather the hype.)
I find my gua sha and jade roller completely adequate to the task of de-puffing my post-ramyun-noodle-and-drama-binge face. And if you don’t have rollers or a gua sha, you can use your hands! (My Indian mother is glad that I included this free option.) I usually do this face massage once a week and feel blissfully relaxed afterwards.
Please use a light moisturizer or facial oil before attempting any massage so that you do not tug at your skin. I recommend doing it during your night routine before you get into bed, as it can feel both cozy and soothing.
Have you tried any of these Korean beauty tools? What other beauty tools have you spotted in Korean dramas that you’re curious about?
When not traveling and pestering people of varying ages and histories with impertinent questions for research purposes (yes, it’s legit), Becky indulges her passion for narrative by watching Korean dramas (she’s a certified sageuk addict). Her obsession with all things Asian began at the tender age of 5 when her parents moved to Taiwan for a year. Since then she’s travelled and lived in China, India, and South Korea, and spends her face-masking moments planning the next great Asian exploration.