5 Obsessions For Porcelain Skin (the Korean Way)

Not long ago, I went to an international art fair hosted by Conrad Centennial Singapore and met quite a few Korean gallery managers who were showcasing their galleries’ art for sale. Art aside, I must say Korean women really know how to dress up and stand out.

Now regrettably wishing I had taken some photos, they were sported in stylishly coiffured hair, dressed in colorful traditional hanbok clothing and had creamy flawless luminous skin. I am no skin expert but I know fabulous skin when I see it. I asked one of them what her skin’s secret is. She chuckled and replied ‘It’s make-up. All make-up‘. What?!?! Not an answer I was looking for.

I observed her skin more in detail. Her make-up was not thick. In fact, it was almost translucent with minimal eyeshadow, subtle blush and a fine eyeliner. It was obvious that make-up was not the whole truth. The skin layer underneath all that makeup was naturally smooth, creamy-toned without a hint of blemish. They can be such humble beauties. So, if you are filled with envy for Korean complexion (like me), here are 5 beauty secrets Korean women are obsessed with when it comes to attaining porcelain skin.

Note: I am using the word obsession because that is truly how Korean women are with their skincare routine.

Obsession #1: Whitening
From chemical peels, laser and dermabrasion, Asians are beyond obsessed with skin whitening and preventing pigmentation. Popular whitening active ingredients include niacinamide, retinoic acid and kojic acid. Most of them can be found in your favorite skin whitening creams. However, some studies have shown that overuse of these ingredients may cause hyperpigmentation and aggravate skin sensitivity. A good whitening range is one that helps with cell turnover (which regular exfoliation can easily do). Unfortunately, I have not come across a natural/organic skincare brand that has a whitening range. I am on the look out though.

Obsession #2: Sunblock
In Korea, flawless skin does not simply mean skin without pimples or blemish. To them, it’s serious business. Flawless skin is like white jade with the absence of blemish, freckles and scars. While most of us wear our SPF on our face (only), Korean women wear SPF on their face, ears and neck (assuming the rest is fully-covered). And while the FDA recommends we apply no less than SPF15, Korean cosmetics start at SPF 25/PA++ and above. My favorite from 2012 is Heliocare’s SPF 50 Gel.

Obsession #3: Masks
If you watch enough kimchi drama, you will know that Korean women love masking. In fact, go into any Sasa outlet or beauty hall and you will find a plethora of Korean brand sheet masks being sold. However, too much masking can cause outbreaks. So, be careful and curb the urge to mask too frequently. For Singapore’s hot and humid climate, opt for gentle natural masks that hydrates and soothes the skin like honey, fruit and yogurt masks. Korres’s Wild Rose Mask is one of my favorites and suitable for all skin types.

Obsession #4: Facial Massage
Koreans swear by facial massage! And there are so many interesting face massage rollers to buy that come in extensions of 2, 4 and 8 mini rollers. Whether you are using your fingertips or handheld rollers to massage your face, the idea behind it is to stimulate blood circulation under the lower layers of the outer skin. This gives radiance to your complexion. When it comes to cleansing your face, the rule-of-thumb is: Use only upward and outward strokes. It helps to lift the skin and defy gravity over time.

Obsession #5: BB Cream
Not every woman in Korea has the genes and means to sport flawless porcelain complexion. This is where BB creams come in play. BB cream stands for beauty balm. In Asia (especially Korean), it is known as blemish balm. Blemish being the keyword. Although originally formulated in the 1960s by a German dermatologist, it exploded in South Korea and Japan in the mid-80s. Today, it is hailed as ‘the beauty secret of Korean actresses’ and heavily endorsed by many Korean celebrities. Just look at some of these Korean actresses and their skin!

Seong Hye Kyo, first Korean actress to reveal she uses BB Cream
Yoo Seon, Korean actress
Park Sin-hve, Korean actress
Hong Eun-hee, Korean actress

For a natural bb cream alternative: Try sOmang organic Ecopure Natural B.B. Cream SPF 30/PA++ made from natural herbs and Japanese cypress water, and Ecobeau BB Cream Plus made from herb medicinal extract and free of preservatives and alcohol.

Want to know skin secrets of Japanese women? Read 9 Beauty Skin Secrets of Japanese Women (No Matter Her Age) and 4 Extreme (and Bizarre) Beauty Treatment From Japan.

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