of the hottest trends in cosmetics is Korean products,
which promise gorgeous skin but come with a
product-heavy, labor-intensive routine.
not uncommon for these routines to include 10 steps just
to cleanse and moisturize the face ó day and night.
Thatís at odds with more minimalist American skin-care
methods, which can be as little as washing and
moisturizing. Further, many of these products come with
ingredients not commonly found in Western skin care,
like pearl essence, snail secretions or donkey milk, to
name a few.
are Korean cosmetics living up to the hype? In general,
skin-care professionals say there are some good,
high-quality products that can be helpful, but like
anything else, consumers should do a little research
Lauren Ploch, a board-certified dermatologist in private
practice at the Georgia Dermatology and Skin Cancer
Center in Augusta, Ga., said the biggest difference
between Western and Korean beauty products is the focus
on "having clear skin first and foremost. Ö
Another thing about Korean skin care ó that I love ó
is itís very sunscreen-prominent."
is a big business in Korea and is geared to both men and
women. Because of this, cosmetics companies invest
heavily in research and development and have a lot of
products, said Rachel Weingarten, a beauty historian and
former celebrity makeup artist who also consults for
companies developing cosmetics.
first Korean products that came to the U.S. were
beauty/blemish balm creams, known as "BB
creams." The creams combine several products in
one, Ploch said, such as being a foundation, a
moisturizer, a sunscreen and perhaps including
antioxidants or other anti-aging ingredients.
said the creams took off not only because they were
different, but because of HDTVís sharper focus on
facial features, meaning newscasters needed more makeup
coverage, and that trickled down. Plus the "selfie"
culture of taking photos up close made people more
focused on their skin, she added.
was the novelty and the zeitgeist," she said.
helped lead to a wave of other Korean products,
including the introduction of the labor-intensive
Marie Jhin, board-certified dermatologist with the
Dermatology Medical Group in San Francisco, and author
of the book "Asian Beauty Secrets," said some
of the fundamental steps include using an oil-based
cleanser to remove oil debris and makeup. A foam-based
cleanser removes dirt, an exfoliate removes dead skin
cells, and a toner preps the skin to better absorb what
is applied next.
moisturize, an essence is applied to help with skin
regeneration, then a serum is added, which is a more
concentrated version of the essence. A moisturizing mask
layered on via a sheet is next, followed by an eye
cream. During the day sunscreen is added, while at night
there may be a second mask to wear while sleeping.
skin care is "a very different philosophy (from
American skin care) that if you want results, you have
to make the time for it," Jhin said. "If youíre
that diligent and doing all those things, as a
dermatologist, I can tell you, youíre going to have
good skin. A lot of it is just keeping the moisture
not everyone agrees that all those steps are needed.
more you do to your skin, the more irritated itís
likely to get. I think people have to sometimes take
that step back. Ö I find it completely unnecessary and
expensive. Unless someone goes to their dermatologist,
and their dermatologist says, yes, you need this extra
layer," Weingarten said.
said she thinks that 10 steps a day is overkill, but
people who want to try out Korean products should look
for gentle cleansers, serums and moisturizers based on
their skin type.
buying Korean products, be sure to buy those written in
English, so that you can read the ingredients. Major
stores like Sephora and online seller Peach and Lily
sell English-language products.
far as the unusual ingredients like snail secretions,
Weingarten and Ploch said to use a little caution.
old rule, is how far down the list are they? Is the
ingredient in the first three? Bear in mind, they are
creating it for an overseas market, and in this case, weíre
the overseas market. They know that novelty sells,"
and Jhin concurred. Over-the-counter "cosmeceuticals"
products claiming to have medical benefits arenít
recognized by the Food and Drug Administration. They donít
have the same testing as products dermatologists
prescribe for skin conditions, Jhin said.
products "may be tested, but they may not be
testing for efficacy. Instead they may be tested for
consistency, smell, texture, that kind of thing,"
these cosmeceutical ingredients arenít regulated by
the FDA, itís hard to tell how much of them a product
contains and whether it is making a difference. Also,
some of these ingredients can cause allergic reactions,
even if they are natural, Ploch said.
Ploch said, there is a lot to like about Korean beauty
thing to take away from Korean skin care is relish your
skin care, donít limit yourself (to a few) products
and donít hurry through it. Make sure to wear
sunscreen every day, and if you can find a good product
that multitasks for you, thatís a good one to
get," Ploch said.