The insanity that is the Hallyu trend of K-pop and Korean culture has caused the world to seek and yearn for the latest in K-beauty. Even the toughest men have been swooned by the stunning appearance of kpop idols and celebrities. Needless to say, the land of flawless and youthful-looking skin is always on the cutting edge of innovation. Producing never-before-seen products that have become game changers. BB creams, sheet masks, acne pimple patches, and a variety of other products have become the core of Korean skincare. Let’s delve right into top Korean skincare trends, which combine the beauty of innovation and natural ingredients.
A Korean skincare trend that is finally gaining traction; clean beauty generally means removing as many toxins as possible from our daily beauty products, which include skincare, beauty, body, and hygiene items.
Clean beauty’s demand rose when customers became more conscious of the ingredients used in products. At its core, the Korean philosophy places safety over risk of harming your health. Sourcing only from clean and safe ingredients, clean beauty has much to do with transparency in the beauty industry.
A beauty brand is on the right track to clean beauty when it takes an effort to disclose all of its ingredients and label them appropriately. However, not all brands are open and honest. The inclusion of fragrance in beauty products is an example of a lack of transparency in the beauty industry. Fragrance is not an ingredient, but because the market is so unregulated, corporations can hide substances under the guise of “fragrance.”
Clean beauty is simple. It is not about being 100% perfect or natural. Man-made ingredients are considered ‘clean’ as long as they are safe and non-toxic. Clean beauty thus does not fixate itself over being all-natural or preservative free. Rather than focusing on words like “natural” and “organic,” switching to clean beauty products focuses on removing as many toxins from our daily products as possible. To get in on the trend, start by paying attention to what’s in your skincare and cosmetics. Learn about the chemicals that will be applied to your skin.
Many people have always believed that more is better when it comes to skincare — that the more active-packed serums you use, the glowier your skin will be. However, just as living life to excess always backfires eventually, excessive skin care efforts can leave behind a trail of destruction too, in the form of a compromised skin barrier, redness, irritation, and in some cases acne. Well, stripping back on our skincare (and make up) routines for a more simple approach would be beneficial to our skin. It’s all about taking a step back, utilising the potential of multipurpose products, and eventually committing to a more sustainable (and often less expensive) beauty routine.
There are many ways to add “skip care,” also known as skin minimalism, to your beauty routine. Depending on your skincare requirements, you can use fewer products or those that serve multiple purposes. For instance, if your skin is in need of gentle exfoliation, consider using an exfoliating cleanser containing AHA or BHA or a toner containing salicylic acid. A multipurpose product is the way to go. Afterwards, follow up with a moisturiser and sunscreen for added protection.
“Skip care” can extend beyond skin care too. Instead of applying a complete face of makeup that includes foundation, concealer, contouring, highlighting, and a slew of other products, consider natural or “no makeup” appearances that accentuate rather than conceal perceived flaws and defects.
There are many ways to practice “skip care” and regardless of how you want to apply the trend to your skincare, at the end of the day, having healthy skin is what really matters.
Pre-, Pro-, and Postbiotics: Biotic and Biome Friendly Skin Care
Fermented food has been lauded for its ability to heal the body from the inside out, but what about fermentation for the face? What began as a fad in South Korea has spread to the rest of the world, as natural beauty lovers look for substances that are both effective and free of synthetics. The fermenting process, similar to how grapes become wine and cabbage becomes kimchi, makes skin care products more absorbable and potent.
Globally known as Biotic or biome friendly skincare, this skincare trend places emphasis on nourishing the skin’s microbiome. Of which, the microbiome is the collection of bacteria, fungi, and microorganisms that dwell on your skin. This skin care subgenre’s growth did not come immediately, either. It unfolded with a slew of new research on the significance of the skin microbiome in our overall health, immunology, and skin barrier function.
Biotic or biome skin care is a broad expression for products infused with biome-specific substances such as pre-, pro-, and postbiotics. These substances all contribute to barrier support and the growth of a thriving microbial community, in varying degrees of potency and mechanism. What’s also amazing about these components is that you may utilise biotic skin care on your face, body, and scalp.
This trend has gained popularity due to the fact that it leads to improved skin. When our biome thrives—ideally the end result of these products—your skin is better able to stay hydrated, deal with inflammation, protect itself from environmental stressors, deal with skin conditions (like acne or rosacea), help your immune response, and age more gracefully.
Biotic & Biome-friendly Skincare Benefits
An example of one such product is the holy grail of Missha’s Time Revolution The First Essence 5x. Formulated with over 90% fermented yeast extract to help skin cellular renewal, its benefits can therefore be broken down into 3 parts:
The skin is essential in absorbing the active ingredients of topical application products. Efficacy of absorption of these active ingredients are thus tremendously reliant on their molecular sizes. A low efficacy results in irritation and sensitivity as the skin is unable to absorb the ingredients efficiently. With fermentation, it breakdowns the atomic particles in the ingredients into even smaller molecular sizes that allows for deeper penetration into the skin.
Reduction in Irritation
A widely adopted practice in skincare is the use of natural ingredients. However, while these ingredients may be natural and chemical free, their inherent benefits are deceiving. The ingredients may be riddled with heavy metals or pesticides that are not visible to the naked eye. As such, it may cause irritation or allergic reactions. The fermentation process however, neutralises these components, making them safer to use. The use of yeast (for fermentation) results in special byproducts that support the skin microbiome, making biotic and biome-friendly skincare suitable for all skin types.
Creation of Beneficial Ingredients
The fermentation process gives rise to the creation of new amino acids, organic acids and antioxidants that have hydrating and nourishing properties. In synergy with ingredients like milk, fermentation can increase the nutrient potency resulting in healthier skin.
A resinous, sticky substance made by bees that is used to sterilise and protect their colonies. Propolis is also a multi-tasking natural component that’s been used in Korean skincare. Because of its anti-bacterial, anti-fungal, antioxidant, and anti-inflammatory characteristics, propolis has several notable advantages. Primarily used to repair and treat acne, as well as to calm irritated, blemished skin. It also moisturises and softens the skin, stimulating collagen formation to maintain smooth and supple skin. Furthermore, as a potent antioxidant, it also helps to prevent skin damage caused by free radicals.
A botanical extract from the leaves and seeds of Psoralea Corylifolia, Bakuchiol is a multi-functional ingredient much like Propolis. An ingredient used in traditional Chinese medicine for its high antioxidant concentration. Bakuchiol’s benefits include a reduction of skin discolouration, elimination of toxins and creation of a soothing effect on the skin surface. Bakuchiol is often used in tandem with active ingredients such as retinol, AHA and BHA as a stabilising agent that reduces the side effects of these actives.
Typically found on Jeju island, South Korea, Yuzu (Yuja) is a vitamin C power rich fruit. Yuzu’s vitamin C concentration is over 3 times that of common citrus fruits like lemon. This makes Yuzu the ideal ingredient for providing deep nourishment and protection from harmful free radicals such as UV rays. Not to mention, it also promotes cell repair, collagen production and minimises the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Vitamin C and products enriched with this nutrient help in firming the skin and giving a healthy ‘glass skin’ appearance.
Hanbang has been around in Korea for a long time; it’s not an ingredient or extract per say but rather a traditional Korean approach to wellness. Hanbang incorporates natural, herbal ingredients with medicinal or therapeutic properties into daily food or self-care routines. Popular Hanbang ingredients in Korean skincare are: ginseng root (for its anti-inflammatory properties), chaga mushroom (also for its anti-inflammatory properties), lotus root (for hydration), licorice root (for its anti-aging and UV protection properties), etc.
Snail mucin, also known as snail secretion filtrate (SSF), is a well-known Korean skincare ingredient, and using ‘snail slime’ in skincare is no longer a novel concept. It’s now so common that you’ll find it in everything from serums and essences to moisturisers and sheet masks. This trusted ingredient moisturises the skin, promotes collagen production, promotes skin healing and cell regeneration. Snail mucin also contains skin-loving minerals such as zinc (an anti-inflammatory) and antioxidant vitamins A and E.
Bamboo, an easy-to-grow and fast-growing plant, is extremely versatile and has numerous uses. So, it is no surprise that it has become a key ingredient in Korean skincare. A powerhouse ingredient that is packed with skin-benefiting ingredients that heals and regenerates the skin. Bamboo complements a wide spectrum of users, from those who want to clear acne to those who want to look younger. Bamboo is versatile and with regular usage, it will surely leave your skin silky smooth and supple.
(Fermented) Rice Water
Bringing yet another food staple to the spotlight; rice, is another powerhouse in Korean skincare products. Found in a wide range of products, spanning cleansers, toners, moisturisers, and even face masks. Rice water is rich in minerals, vitamins A, C, E, ferric acid, and antioxidants, leading to its versatile use. Suitable for all skin types, rice water is especially useful for sensitive skin, with its soothing and healing benefits. Allantoin a compound in rice water, is the key component of keeping skin soft and supple. Meanwhile, rice bran also doubles as a natural exfoliator whilst nourishing and moisturising the skin.
These Korean skincare trends are just the tip of the iceberg of global skincare trends. With their own unique ingredients and take to the formulation of their skincare, it’s easy to see why they’re leaders in skincare innovation. Let us know which Korean skincare trend or ingredient do you think will be big in 2022? For more beauty trends and insights, click here.
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