Among the many beauty adventures I’ve had in the last year, K-beauty stands out as the most unique. There’s been experiments with ampoules, essences, cushion compacts and fermented sea kelp masks, to name a few. I’m completely open to the unknown when it comes to Korean beauty. The trends are always years ahead of us yet grounded in ritual and tradition not just a fad. I asked the globetrotting ladies of Glow Recipe – the U.S. hub of Korean skincare, remember Christine and Sarah?! – to dish on what we need to know about in 2016.
Rubber Masking. Apparently, rubber masks have been a celebrity facial staple in Korea for many years. They’re made of a blend of alginate, diatomaceous earth (powder that is essentially the fossilized remains of tiny aquatic organisms!), calcium sulfates and various vitamin/ mineral powders. You sort of mix it all up together with a little water, which the first three ingredients react to for a rubber-like mixture. Spread it on your face and be fascinated. The ‘rubber’ creates an evaporation free barrier, meaning your skin is able to absorb more of the mask. It’s also super satisfying to remove because you can lift away in nearly one piece.
Splash Masks. For those of us who don’t have lots of time to mask and relax, there’s the Splash Mask. It’s an uber concentrated liquid that works in 15 seconds, giving you the same benefit as wearing a sheet mask for 20 minutes. You literally splash it on your face and then pat in before quickly rinsing away. Christine and Sara recommend using it in the shower to take advantage of the steam after you rinse it off.
Aqua Peels. Korean dermatologists have been doing this for some time but now there are at-home products. The focus on extra hydration is what makes this so different than what you’d normally consider to be a peel (dry and peeling skin). “Aqua” refers to the deep hydration provided by five different types of botanical extracts and 85% deep sea water. “Peeling” is the gentle exfoliation delivered by lactic and glycolic acids. You also can use them on just a portion of your face for a custom treatment.
What do you guys think? I am so down for a 15 second splash mask!
That magical 5-in-1 tinted moisturizer on speed known on the street as BB Cream was the start of Korean beauty (a.k.a. K-beauty) making its way to the U.S. BB went legit gangbusters and captivated a nation. I say that with just the slightest hint of dramatic sarcasm because I do, yes, really love me a good BB. However, we’ve barely scratched the surface with K-beauty. Just as there are so many indie eco rock stars here making skin care with natural and unique ingredients in the most effective and interesting of formulations – Osmia, La Bella Figura and Kypris to name just a few – there are just as many niche brands in Korea that are flying way under the radar. How do you discover them and if so, where the heck do you even buy? And then proceed to decipher the label?
Enter Glow Recipe, founded by two former L’Oreal globetrotters Christine Chang and Sarah Lee. These two beauties have been scouring Korea vetting oodles of products to find the best to make readily accessible on Glow Recipe. This online Korean apothecary meets educational destination (to help with that label-deciphering part!) is filled with hidden treasures you’ve likely never heard of: think ampoules, elastic essences, serum foundations and ocean-laced facials. Christine and Sarah recently made their way through Chicago while launching belif, a hugely popular skincare brand in South Korea, at Sephora. Fun fact: belif’s Moisturizing Bomb is the #1 prestige beauty product sold in Korea across ALL categories. And, yes, it is the bomb…I’m a recent convert.
These ladies did Chicago right…Lou Malnati’s deep dish for dinner. I met up with them at La Colombe in West Loop where I soaked up all the K-beauty knowledge I could. It’s evident that there is a different approach to beauty in Korea that I really admire.
Koreans worship double cleansing. It’s something you have to do – not a novelty. And there are tons of innovations in the cleansing space. Cleansing water, oil, powder to foam, etc.
The state of your skin is front and center in the beauty context. The first question is “how is her skin?” – it’s why skincare is in hyperdrive in Korea.
Matte skin is undesirable. While it seems to trend every other season or so in the U.S., the approach to hydration in Korea is always more. Dewy and luminous skin is preferred and toners and mists are sprayed throughout the day to maintain that look.
Oil has a positive connotation. We’re getting there as well, but still playing catch-up.
Don’t you just want to go wash your face like right this second?!