It would be crazy to assume you haven’t yet heard of or even purchased a product that falls into the K-Beauty category. From the humble sheet mask to the infamous 12-step skincare routine, the K-beauty phenomenon has become more and more integrated into the mainstream. But, what does the term K-Beauty actually mean? How is it different from your regular skin care products and will it continue to dominate the beauty-scape? We caught up with Iain Jeffery, the Education Specialist for cult Korean beauty brand, Laneige to get the down low on everything K-beauty related and here’s what you need to know.
What is K-beauty and how has it become so popular?
It’s basically the “umbrella term for skincare that comes from South Korea,” explains Jeffery. “[It] includes everything from serums, moisturisers and masks, to more unique products like essences, ampoules” and even sleep specific skincare (if you haven’t tried the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask, you’re missing out). But how has it become so popular? Jeffery attributes K-beauty’s popularity to the focus “on the health, hydration and luminosity of the skin…traditionally [K-beauty products] use multiple layers of hydration [to help restore] the skin’s natural barrier function, overall making your skin more resilient. Speaking to its popularity, Jeffery explains “Korea is [also] one of the most innovative countries in the world”, meaning the country is constantly striving to find and create new state-of-the-art technology…this extends to beauty as well. “K-beauty prioritises prevention of skin issues, compared the masking them with makeup. This means that you’re able to find a K-beauty product for any skin concern that you might have.”
Another trademark feature of K-beauty, and a big contributor to it’s spike in popularity is the price point. “In Korea, everybody uses skincare, regardless of gender and age…and people have so many choices.” As a result, K-beauty brands have to keep prices “accessible to remain competitive…[which means] you can find much higher quality skincare for a more accessible price.” K-beauty is super cost effective in that way.
Is K-beauty really a 10-12 step process? Where in the world would a beginner start?
“Traditionally, yes [K-beauty involves a 10-12 step process], but it is shifting…you will find the number of steps are reducing,” he says. “The base routine for everyone – regardless of age or skin concern is a cleanser, moisturiser and masks.” In saying this, explains Jeffery you can play around and find what works for you in all aspects of your skincare. “You may only use three or four [steps] during the week, but on Sunday evening you may choose to include extra steps, like an exfoliation and mask.”
As Jeffery explains, skip-care is the new and biggest trend emerging in Korea. Inspired by Korean Millennials; “searching for a more streamlined approach to skincare, skip-care…allows you to identify the essential products and steps for your skin, for a minimalistic yet effective routine. Skip-care is about skipping steps, not benefits. If you’re building out a routine however, Jeffery recommends adding an essence to your cleanser, moisturiser and mask. A trademark product for K-beauty “[an] essence provides a surge of hydration and active ingredients, designed to boost the effectiveness of any other products that follow.” Try the Laneige Water Bank Hydro-Essence.
Do we really need to double cleanse and where do we fit it in?
While skip-care may be rising in popularity, cleansing is one of the steps that is non-negotiable and Jeffery recommends double cleansing for all skin types. “Start with a cleansing water to remove makeup, sunscreen, pollution and grime from the skin, and the second, foam or cream cleanser to thoroughly cleanse pores. Even if you’re not wearing makeup everyday, you should still be wearing sunscreen and can benefit from double cleansing.” Post cleanse, follow with an essence, before a serum or skip straight to the moisturiser. Fit your masking in between your essence and moisturiser on days when you have some extra time.
From skip-care to a 12-step routine though, we are here for it all. You do you baby girl, and get that glowing complexion in the process.