10 Korean Beauty Secrets Every Girl Should Know

I am, once again, on a mission to reveal every single beauty secret of Korean women from the 2-step facial sheet masks to the 424 technique. Let’s face it: We all idolize the flawless, radiant skin of Korean women. Their poreless, smooth and milky-toned complexion have sent plenty of women knocking down doors of dermatologists and aesthetic clinics.

I want to know what daily skin secrets Korean women swear by, what skincare advice Korean mothers have passed on to their daughters and what Korean women are dishing out as their beauty rule-of-thumb. Here are 10 such secrets every girl interested in Korean beauty needs to know.

1. Start Skin-Education Early

In Korea, beauty starts with healthy skin and at a young age. Korean mothers begin teaching their children (boys and girls) to take care of their skin at around 10 years old. They are taught how to properly cleanse, exfoliate, tone, moisturize and protect their young skin and how important it is to be in control of their skin’s health. They grow up as self-taught experts when it comes to skincare and learn how to identity and treat their own skin problems.

2.Wash Off Makeup as Soon as You Get Home

According to Suyoun Kim, a Korean jewelry designer, this is her beauty rule-of-thumb passed down from mother to daughter. As soon as she gets home, she washes all her makeup off and immediately applies toner and serum. This allows her skin to breathe and for the serum to work as early as 6pm in the evening. Just before hitting the sack, she will follow up with an overnight sleeping mask or night moisturizer.

3. 2-Step Cleansing Method

The idea behind double cleansing, also known as the 2-step cleansing method, is that different types of dirt require different types of cleansers to remove. While oil-based cleansers help to remove oils from makeup and skin, water-based cleansers help to remove water-based impurities like sweat. Korean beauty expert Yuna Shin says “Cleansing is the key to great skin. It is a must, whether you have makeup or not, because oil and dirt build up throughout the day.” Read Double Cleansing: Is This the Secret to Flawless Skin?.

4. 2-Step Facial Mask Routine

According to Go Hyun-Jung, a Korean actress, she and her mom share a 2-step facial mask routine that they do every 1-2 times a week. It starts off with a cleansing mask followed by a nourishing mask. Korean face sheet masks are unique compared to other face masks in that they comprise of a two-step process to ensure the nutrients of the mask is absorbed into the skin. Step 1: Usually a mask booster or ampoule to prep and prime the skin. Then followed by step 2: A sheet mask that is soaked in serum or concentrated facial essence.

5. 424 Technique

When it comes to face washing secrets, Korean actress Suzy Bae coined hers the ‘424 technique’. She does this face cleansing technique every night before bed. 4-2-4 refers to the duration of each cleansing step. First step is to remove dirt and makeup with an oil cleanser. Apply the oil and gently massage your face to loosen all dirt, grime and makeup. This also helps to increase blood circulation. Do this for 4 minutes. Second step is to apply your favorite foam or gel cleanser. Gently work the face wash into a lather for 2 minutes. Third step is to wash your face for 4 minutes. Splash and wash with lukewarm water and finish off with a cold water rinse to shrink your pores.

Useful Tip: I’ve tried this 424 technique. I don’t know about you but I cannot spend 10 minutes just cleaning my face. 5 minutes into the process and I am starting to lose patience and interest. I found it better to do it all in half the time. So I’d call it the ‘212 technique’ instead. This works better for me and my skin feels just as clean.

6. Egg White & Honey Mask

I have read this time and time again. Korean women love this DIY egg white and honey mask. Basically, crack an egg and only collect the egg white. Add a spoon full of honey and stir. Apply this mixture to your face and let it sit for 10 minutes. When the egg white honey mixture dries, it will harden. This is time to rinse off. Do this mask once every fortnight to help tighten pores, dry out pimples and even whiten skin.

7. 10-step Skincare Routine

Actually, the Korean skincare routine is anywhere from 10-18 steps. Just when you thought you are doing good with the traditional 3-steps of cleanse-tone-moisturize, it is beyond elementary for a Korean. The basic 10-step skincare routine starts off with eye-makeup removal and progresses to skin essences and boosters. I will write about this process in a separate post. But what you need to know is, this is a complex yet intricate daily process that is fundamental to all Korean women. The amount of skincare product pile on face is noteworthy.

8. Love for Exotic Ingredients

These days, it is not uncommon to see snail slime, snake venom, bee venom, sheep placenta and frog skin listed as ingredients of mainstream Korean cosmetic products. While women in from all over the world take beauty and skincare seriously, Korean women are in a league of their own. Rather than shuddering at the thought of applying snake venom face cream to treat wrinkles, Korean women are happy to pay top dollar to get their hands on these exotic and premium products.

9. Advance Technology

The latest holy grail of Korean skin care is the use of stem cell extract technology. Koreans have taken advanced technology to radical levels by extracting actual stem cells from adult bone marrow and excess body fat tissue; and formulating them into consumer skincare products. While it may not be cheap and can run around $2,000 for one-month supply, Korean women are definitely more than willing to foot the bill.

10. Take Hydration Seriously

Korean women and their skin professionals take hydration very seriously. Korean dermatologist Dr Wonwoo Choi believes that hydration is the most important part of any skincare regime for any age. “When hydration falls apart, nothing else works” he says and adds “There is a common misconception that people with oily skin may be well-hydrated. Even those with oilier skin types can be insufficiently dehydrated.” The goal of all Korean women is to have incredibly moisturized, dewy and hydrated youthful-looking skin. They achieve this by using spray mists, essences, sheet masks and moisturizers loaded with hydrating ingredients.

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