Once a person discovers korean skincare, they get sucked into this vortex of brands and products and routines and are never to be seen again! Well, ok, that's not quite true, but you get the idea. South Korea takes skincare to a whole new level. Formulations wise, they are years ahead of the West. and unlike the West, koreans actually spend more money on skincare rather than cosmetics like westerners do. They believe that if you have good skin, the less makeup you need. I very much agree with this mentality. However, their main motto comes down to this: layering. Koreans take layering skincare products to the extreme (in a good way).
The West preaches this kind of routine: Cleanse, Tone, Moisturize. Thanks to several skincare specialists online, we now know this is simply not enough. It's now: 1st cleanse, 2nd cleanse, acid tone, serum, moisturize. So that accounts for 5 steps in total. Well, in Korea they follow a 10 (sometimes 11) step routine... It looks something like this:
1) Remove Makeup aka 1st Cleanse - this is typically done with an oil cleanser.
2) Cleanse the skin aka 2nd Cleanse - this is usually done with a foaming cleanser (which I've discussed in this post here, that this only does damage to your skin) or a cleansing cream.
3) Exfoliate - usually done with a scrub. Again, I'm not a fan of scrubs. Acid toners (post detailing it here) do a much better job and don't aggravate the skin like most harsh scrubs do.
4) Tone - usually a hydrating toner.
5) Essence - an essence is essentially a less intense/milder form of a serum, packed with some active ingredients
6) Serum - a much more concentrated form of an essence, contains active ingredients. There are also products called "Ampoule", which claim to be an even stronger version of a serum (supposedly).
7) Sheet Mask - contains some nice ingredients and are moisturizing. Not necessarily used every day.
8) Eye Cream
9) Emulsion - a light weight moisturizer
10) Cream - a night time moisturizer (heavier)
*11) Sunscreen - if day time. If night time then a sleeping moisturizing mask to lock in all moisture
Like with all things you read online, you need to take things with a pinch of salt. There are some things that are great about this kind of routine, and there are some things that are best to forego. Of course, please do your own research before you decide on anything. Don't instantly assert to follow a korean skincare routine or Paula's choice's advice as if it were the bible (biggest pet peeve right now that I'm seeing online). You can pick and choose bits that you like and don't like. You don't have to 100% agree with one form of skincare.
For example, I love that the Korean Routine preaches double cleansing, but I'm against the use of foaming cleansers. I'm also against the use of facial scrubs, I believe they're too strong and abrasive for our delicate skin. The rest I completely agree with, especially that they sun protection seriously. Sure, some steps might be unnecessary, like Sheet Masks or Essences but they certainly don't do any harm. In fact, layering products so far has only given me amazing results! The more the merrier really. Is it a faff though? It can be to some.
Now, here are some reasons as to why you should consider giving korean skincare products a go:
1) They're cheaper - this is due to the intense competition between korean companies. They have way more brands than we do (like x 5), so in order to stay competitive among each other, they bring the prices down (yay!).
2) Their ingredients are out of this world - they have been reported to be 5-10 years ahead of us westerners in terms of science in their formulations. Koreans are constantly trying to discover new amazing ingredients and they put them to use a lot faster than they would able to in the west due to less red tape. For example: snail mucin (an amazing healing agent), bee venom (increases production of collagen and reduces lines), stem cells, etc.
3) Variety - again, due to the endless amount of brands.
4) You will see results
P.S. don't be scared when you see the term "whitening" on some their products. It doesn't actually whiten your skin, it means brightening/skin tone evening :).
If you're interested in giving some a go, I use this website for basically all of my purchases: http://w2beauty.com/
The owner is a sweetheart, you get free-worldwide shipping (!!), AND you receive a ton of samples and full-sized freebies (as pictured above with my latest haul ^^).
Next time on the Skincare Guide: Retinol