So in my last post I talked about my 8 year beauty journey and mentioned that I had switched my skincare and makeup routine to predominantly Korean products. Some people may be thinking why in particular I changed it and what makes Asian beauty products so different.
This post will look at some main reasons why I find it works better for me and why I prefer Asian beauty overall:
1. Ahead in the latest skincare technology and innovation and Western companies are always looking to Asia for the next trends. Korea had a huge BB cream market and were using it for years before it caught on in the Western market in 2012. Even now though, I still prefer Korean BB creams because they have more multi-functional skin benefits and work better for my skin in terms of coverage and consistency.
The cushion compacts have also emerged out of Korea which have been gaining popularity over the past couple years and toward the end of 2015 we started seeing beauty companies such as Lancome, Mac and L’oreal debut their own versions. Maybelline and Dior are just a couple others that are set to launch their own cushion compacts this coming year. (I personally love this innovation and I’m fully onboard the cushion compact craze – the application is quick, convenient and fuss-free). And as for sheet masks, (a staple in most Asian skincare routines), its popularity is evident in the increasing number of Western celebrities wearing them and posting selfies on social media.
2. The focus on beauty in Korean culture. Of course there are negative social aspects to a culture so heavily focused on appearance but the upside is that there is no shortage of companies that are willing to cater to a market that highly prioritises having good skincare and makeup. Koreans buy A LOT of skincare and have more demands and expectations of their products than the average Western person. This means more money is poured back into R&D to create more varied, higher quality products while the competitive market and demand drives down the cost of these beauty products. This means that generally, I find Korean products are better value for the quality I’m getting compared to their Western counterparts.
3. Korean skincare is a multi-step process focused on layering. It can be very confusing to someone new to K-beauty to get their head around just how many products are involved in a daily routine. Korea is infamously known for its ’10 step skincare regime’ but in actuality it’s very dependent on the individual and can be more or less than 10. A routine can incorporate:
- Makeup remover
- Facial cleanser
- First essence
- Sheet mask*
- Face oil
- Treatment Creams (target specific issues like acne/wrinkles/pigmentation)
- Eye Cream
- Sunscreen (morning)
- Sleeping pack* (evening)
(* Products usually 1-2 times a week not everyday)
When I worked in the airline industry, many people frequently exclaimed to me that Asians never look their age, Asians don’t age, Asians have flawless skin, Asians have such clear skin, what’s the secret etc etc. And while all of this is a big over-generalisation (since plenty of us have far from perfect skins and do have skin troubles), I think a big factor asides from good genes, is that we try to take care of our skin and pay attention to what it needs, and layering helps us achieve that even if its only 4 or 5 steps.
Its no surprise then, that in many Asian countries, skincare products actually outsells makeup – the opposite is true of the American/European market. It’s about targeting the root of the problem and achieving healthy glowing skin from within while makeup is used lightly to enhance the ‘natural’ look of the skin. I personally prefer this approach rather than the view that makeup creates good skin by concealing bad skin. Inadequate skincare and heavy makeup will only worsen the skin’s condition in the long run.
It wasn’t until I delved into Korean skincare that I realised the error of my ways and began paying more attention to my skin. My skin feels so pampered since I started layering products and it feels and looks healthier than it has been in a long time. The 3 step cleanse, tone and moisturise was not helping me target problems such as excess sebum, fine lines, scarring, pigmentation and dull, dehydrated skin. The highlight of my current skincare regime are the essences, serums and ampoules I can layer up due to their thin water-like consistencies which doesn’t clog up my oily prone skin; yet each one targets a different skin concern.
For me, it is worth investing the extra time into taking care of my skin when I see such great results and knowing it is working in the long term. I used to rush my skincare but now, like most Koreans, I just see it as a natural and normal part of my daily life and actually really enjoy doing it. It’s not about being obsessed with how you look and wanting to stay young. It’s about respecting and treating your skin right so it can be the best it can in return.
4. The ingredients. Another aspect of Korean beauty that I love is how they constantly innovate and use creative ingredients that haven’t made their way into the Western mass market. Bird’s nest, snail slime, bee venom, donkey milk etc. If I didn’t try Korean snail products I would never have known how much my skin loves slimy snail goodness and it always helps irritations and inflammations. Yeast ferment with antioxidant properties is also more commonly seen in skincare which has great skin benefits including reducing redness and accelerating the skin healing process.
Not only that, but ingredients usually include those that are indigenous to Asia such as goji berry and ginseng – in which their use dates as far back to ancient traditional Chinese medicine. Growing up in an Asian household I can attest that some alternative Asian remedies are as effective, if not more so than some prescribed Western medicines in treating ailments.
I also love how both skincare and makeup is focused on UV protection and it’s standard for all base makeup, even concealers, to contain high levels of SPF. While many Western brands are only focused on protecting against UVB rays (that cause sunburns), Asian products are equally as focused on UVA rays (cause wrinkles, sun spots etc). UVA rays are one of the biggest contributors to signs of early ageing and wrinkles, as well as a major cause of skin cancer as it can penetrate the skin much deeper than UVB rays. Therefore Asians are known to apply sunscreen everyday no matter the weather (as UV rays are still there on cloudy, rainy days and even penetrates through windows).
This emphasis on sun protection means better quality products because there is a bigger market and demand for sunscreens and are better than what you would find in the Western market – thin, light consistency, easy to spread, absorbs quickly, dries down matte, non-greasy and leaves no white-cast. This all makes it much easier to wear under make-up without feeling thick and heavy.
5. Lastly, the packaging. A superficial reason, but we all tend to judge a book by its cover and Korean products in particular are made that much more appealing by its bright colours and cute, creative packaging. It’s hard to resist something when it just looks so adorable and they often come out with limited edition packaging to entice consumers.
So those are the main reasons why I’ve been interested and invested in Asian beauty and why it personally suits me better. I’m eager to continue my AB journey through discovering and trying new products and continually adapting my beauty routine to achieve the best skin I can.