If you thought that hopping over to a Paris pharmacy or jetting off to NYC would lead you to the very best new beauty buys, think again – for the latest beauty breakthroughs, you need to head to South Korea, which is almost seven years ahead of us in terms of beauty trends. Most East Asian women have flawless skin thanks to a multi-step beauty regime that they perform nightly, using products that you might not even have heard of before.
“It’s a very usual custom for Asian women to have various steps in their skincare routine every day,” explains Tomoko Kinoshita from Asian beauty brand Suqqu. “Each of the skin’s layers have different functions and contain different components, so having only one step doesn’t work for everything. Plus, there are different sizes of molecules in different forms of skincare and these reach different depths of your skin,” he adds. The latest high-tech beauty products turn to the Far East for inspiration, and here’s how you can too.
It may sound time-consuming, but triple cleansing your face every night really gets your skin clean and ready for applying your skincare products much better than a quick sweep of a wipe. Start by pre-cleansing with an oil cleanser, like TonyMoly’s ‘Floria Brightening Cleansing Oil’. Massage it thoroughly into the skin and mix with water to melt away makeup, excess sebum, and dirt. Then, use a gentle foaming cleanser like the Erborian ‘Double Mousse Gentle Cleansing Foam’ to remove any oil and stubborn grime.
Next, to brighten and smooth, use an exfoliator or buffing sponge to help slough away dead skin cells. South Korean women swear by Konjac sponges, so try one from the Konjac Sponge Company. Made from the root of the Konjac tree, which grows in Asia, these sponges are infused with natural clays to provide deep pore cleansing and clarifying properties, and gentle enough to be used every day for a deep facial cleanse.
The Konjac Sponge Company ‘Face Sponge’
Layer, Layer, Layer
Right after, you need to layer various water-based products to prep and prime your skin for the masks and richer creams that will follow. Start off by using a gentle toner like the Skinfood ‘Royal Honey Essential Toner’, sweeping it all over your face and neck on a soaked cotton pad to remove any final traces of grime and prepare the skin for the application of an essence – these are at the heart of most East Asian skincare regimes and have a long heritage in Korea.
“An essence is designed to make your skin condition healthier and boost collagen production and barrier function,” explains Tomoko. Formulated as a concentrated pre-treatment containing nourishing ingredients like hyaluronic acid or glycerin, it also preps the skin for serum and moisturizer, helping them to penetrate deeper into the skin. Try the Suqqu ‘Moisture Repair Essence’, a hydration booster that softens and revitalizes the skin and can be layered under other products to improve moisture levels in dehydrated skin.
However, don’t assume you can skip on serum if you’ve dosed your skin with an essence; it’s an important next step in your regime. More concentrated and potent than the watery texture of an essence, serums work on targeted skin problems such a lines and wrinkles, pigmentation, or oiliness. Choose one to help with your particular skin concerns or layer a few together. Try the supercharged serum counting ampoules from South Korean brand Innisfree. A highly concentrated and organic serum, it contains a seriously high concentration of active ingredients to promote skin rejuvenation and strengthen the skin’s barrier.
Innisfree ‘Eco Science Serum’
AED136 / SAR139
Now it’s time for a sheet mask, which has long been a staple part of most Asian women’s regimes. Try Korean brand TonyMoly’s ‘Pureness 100 Hyaluronic Acid Sheet Mask’. Drenched with a potent hyaluronic-acid formula to hydrate and plump up the skin, the sheet works to stop the active ingredients from evaporating. Simply apply to your skin for ten minutes and then massage in any excess once you’ve removed the mask. Follow this with a gentle but nourishing eye cream. Try Korean brand Mizon’s ‘Snail Repair Eye Cream’, which harnesses snail extract to help stimulate the formation of collagen and elastin.
Finally, instead of a night cream, try a sleep mask. Sephora’s collection of sleeping masks contains eight variations, each of which is designed to infuse skin with a different active ingredient – think: pomegranate to revitalize tired skin and pearl to even out skin tone. These Korean-inspired masks are almost gel-like in texture, creating a film across your skin to seal in all the layers of skincare and helping to plump and firm your skin as you sleep.
Sephora ‘Sephora Collection Sleeping Mask’
AED20 / SAR20