Beauty

K-Beauty: What is it? A guide on all you need to know

By: Olivia Munson

It is no secret the U.S. tends to follow different trends than overseas, especially when it comes to beauty. If you have not heard of K-beauty yet, get ready to learn about America’s newest beauty obsession.

FaceMaskKorean beauty, or “K-beauty” for short, emerged in the U.S. within the last 10 years during the Hallyu or Korean Wave. At its basis, K-beauty products are ones made in Korea and with Korean beauty standards in mind.

Their cute packaging and interesting ingredients can be deceiving, since they can make the biggest difference on your skin. The products cater toward your specific skin type in order to promote health and hydration.

K-beauty is about taking care your skin so it looks flawless without makeup, rather than Western styles where products are used to cover everything up.

Like most teenagers, I struggle with acne. Whether it is on my face or chest, I can almost guarantee it will show up at the least opportune moment.

During middle school, I did not do much to combat my skin problems. Instead, I tended to overuse makeup to cover up my imperfections. In high school, I focused more on my skin care routine. I researched more into my skin type and learned what I should do to improve my skin.

Toward the end of my junior year, I discovered K-beauty and completely turned around my beauty routine. I stopped wearing too much makeup and switched all my products. Today, my skin has never been better (even though I do get the occasional stress-induced flare up) and I rarely wear makeup.

I have combination skin, meaning it can be oily some days and others dry –certain parts attract more oil than others. I also have larger pores on my nose in comparison to the rest of my face.

The best part about a K-beauty routine is you can custom tailor it to your own specific skin needs — there are so many products out there that do different things. When you pay attention to what you use, you learn what ingredients make an impact on your skin.

For me, I learned harsh astringents dry out my skin too much to the point where it begins to itch and crack. I switched to a more natural option, witch hazel. Witch hazel reduces skin inflammation and irritation without stripping its essential oils, like other astringents do. Staying on top of your skin care and understanding what works best can help your skin to be the best it can be.

When most people think of K-beauty, they might think of the lengthy 10-stepGlassSkin routine featured on various media outlets. However, to achieve so-called “glass-skin”, you do not have to spend countless hours on a regimen. The 10-step K-beauty process emphasizes the importance of a routine for long-term results.

The routine usually consists of:

  1. Cleanse: Use an oil-based cleanser to remove the oil and makeup from your face.
  2. Double-Cleanse: Use a water-based or foam wash to get rid of any remaining residue.
  3. Exfoliate: Use a mild face exfoliant to remove the dead skin cells from your face. (Note- this step should only be done once or twice a week to avoid creating micro-tears in your skin.)
  4. Tone: Apply a toner to balance the natural pH of the skin and bring back hydration.
  5. Essence: Use an essence or face lotion to amp up the hydration of the skin.
  6. Serum: This step is the most personalized since the key of this is to use oils and serums targeted toward your specific skin needs.
  7. Masks: The most fun, and well-known, step of the K-beauty routine. You can use sheet, clay or any other hydrating mask but the main goal is to let the skin absorb more serums for further hydration. (Note- this step should not be done every day.)
  8. Eye Cream: Apply an eye cream with your pinky finger to avoid stretching the sensitive skin around your under eye area.
  9. Moisturize: Seal all the previous skin care steps in with a non-greasy moisturizer.
  10. Sunscreen: During your daytime routine, remember to apply SPF to your face to protect from sun damage.

Now I know this may be a lot to take in and seem a bit time consuming, but taking good care now will help your skin in the long run. You do not need to do all 10-steps, in fact I do not even do all 10.

Like I said before, do what works best for you. Whether it be only doing five steps or going above and beyond and trying out a 15-step routine (yes those exist), the most important thing is fitting one into your personal day-to-day schedule. Some brands make this routine more achievable by creating products that combine multiple steps into one to save time.   

K-beauty is very unique and gives free reign for brands to express their creativity. My favorite part about my personal routine is the masks. There is nothing quite like some quality “me time” at the end of a long day. Just to relax with a sheet mask and cup of tea while watching some Netflix.

CremeShopMaskCreditPinterestMy favorite mask brands are the Crème Shop and Nature Republic. Both companies are manufactured in South Korea and focus on natural ingredients that bring out your inner beauty. The Crème Shop is also a 100% cruelty-free brand so none of their products are tested on animals!

Some other favorite products come from the brands are TONYMOLY, Etude House  andSKINFOOD. My major recommendations include 

TONYMOLYTakaoStickCreditPopsugar

SKINFOOD’s Peach Sake Toner, TONYMOLY’s Tako Pore Blackhead Scrub Stick  and the Crème Shop’s Rose Oil Overnight Gel Mask.

Do not fear that these products cannot be found in American stores! As a matter of fact, most K-beauty brands are sold at CVS, Ulta, and can be purchased through Amazon. There are hundreds of brands to choose from, so I recommend trying them out to find your perfect match.

Now go out and embrace the K-beauty routine. Give yourself a little self love and treat your skin right. Trust me, you will thank me later.


What was your favorite skin care product? Let us know on Instagram and Twitter!

Reach out to the writer on Instagram!

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