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Growing up with K-Pop and K-Dramas, I always gasped at how flawless Korean actresses’ and singers’ skin were. Korean beauty, also known as K-Beauty, dominates the skincare industry. Its innovative beauty products, such as foundation cushions, splash masks, and even “bubbling” masks, have been cult favorites among Korean women. You will be mind blown when hearing the bizarre ingredients like snail mucus, mushrooms, and bamboo, or when you hear the complicated regimen that Korean women commit to every day to achieve the “Chok-chok skin,” which is translated into moist and damp skin, or “Kkul-Gwang,” a super dewy skin like a glazed donut. Or you might let out an “aww” when seeing products with super cute packaging.


Actress Park Min Young in Healer.


Korean skincare focuses on creating a healthy and glowing skin base. The philosophy here is that a healthy complexion will lessen the amount of makeup coverage you need.

Korean women prefer having a fair complexion, instead of the bronze goddess glow that Western beauty embraces.

“Honey skin,” “glass skin,” and “cloudless skin” have been the notions that Korean beauty has cherished. To achieve glowing skin, moisture is key. The majority of the ingredients are humectant and gentle. Hyaluronic acid and green tea are common ingredients used to create an aura on your skin.

Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum — one of the most famous green tea skincare lines.


Propolis and bija oil are lighter ingredients than some acids that are used to treat acne, but are still effective at keeping stubborn blemishes at bay. My favorite ingredient is fermented soybean for anti-aging, and barley for soothing irritations.

Innisfree Firming Energy Essence with Fermented Soybean.


Layering products is another essential regimen to achieving glowing skin. The mind-blowing 10-step Korean skincare routine is a perfect guidebook for beginners on how to layer your skincare products. You will notice some steps that aren’t typical in the West. The first step is double cleansing with oil-based cleanser and water-based cleanser to say goodbye to the impurities. Toner, without any astringents, balances the skin’s pH level and softens the skin. Now here comes the new steps that you might have never heard of before. After toner, essence — the spirit of Korean skincare, which you might call a pre-serum — will take its turn. Essences are lightweight and enhance the overall condition of the skin, such as brightening and hydrating. 


Benton Snail Bee High Content Skin Essence — my saviour, it really brightened my acne scars.  


Missha Time Revolution The First Treatment Essence — a famous essence that is considered to be a dupe to SKII Facial Treatment Essence.


Then, treatments such as serum, boosters, and ampoules, enriched with powerful and active ingredients such as Vitamin C, will have its track to target concerned areas, such as hyperpigmentation and acne. We have not reached the final step yet (yes, it’s such an involved process). Emulsion, a featherweight version of regular moisturizer, will supercharge your skin with nutrients.

Skinfood Yuja Water Whitening Ampoule In Serum.

COSRX Natural BHA Skin Returning Emulsion.


Korean skincare routine is also famous its sheet masks. Without sheet masks, there would be no Korean skincare routine. When the sheet stays on your skin, it delivers optimal hydration and nutrients to your skin. Although there is a trend that Korean women tend to use them every day, using them twice a week will still keep your skin plump. With diverse ingredients, you will definitely find a perfect one for your skin.

Innisfree My Real Squeeze Mask — 18 types to suit various skin conditions.


The Face Shop Character Mask.


Finally, a moisturizer will seal all the earlier efforts. Other steps are eye cream, exfoliation, and sunscreen — a must for daytime.

You can buy Korean skincare products at Soko Glam, YesStyle, and Wishtrend. My favorite products that you might want try are Skinfood Wash Off Rice Mask, Banila co Clean It Zero Original Cleansing Balm, Neogen Tea Real Fresh Foam Cleanser, Cosrx Hyaluronic Acid Intensive Cream, and Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch.


Skinfood Wash Off Rice Mask.


Cosrx Acne Pimple Master Patch — a rescuer for bumpy face day.


How should you start your regimen? My tip is to follow some Korean beauty channels on YouTube. My favorites are Liah Yoo, Gothamista, Wishtrend TV, TheBeautyBreakdown, and Joan Kim. They will help you navigate tailoring your own routine that meets your skin concerns.

Have a conversation with your skin. Listen to its concerns, then do some research and start building your own skincare ritual. Korean skincare won’t guarantee you a glowing complexion, but it is worth a try to boost the energy and healthiness of your skin.


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If you would like to write for Her Campus Mount Holyoke, or if you have any questions or comments for us, please email mt-holyoke@hercampus.com.

Thien An (she/her/hers) is currently a junior at Mount Holyoke College, majoring in English, with a minor in History.
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