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Is Korean Skincare Better than Western Skincare?

Jason Park
Published by: Jason Park
Published on:

Are you thinking about buying Korean skincare or Western skincare?

Don’t know which one is better?

Korean skincare does tend to be better than Western versions. However, just because it may be better doesn’t mean it IS better. This is because everyone’s skin is different and has varying chemistry. 

While people with acne and sensitive skin may find K-beauty products a god send, severe oily skin may find it an absolute nightmare.

Let’s dive deeper into Korean skincare!

How Is Korean Skincare Better?

What makes Korean skincare better is the fact that the routine is custom and particular to each person. There is no one-size-fits-all solution. They change their routines according to the season too. The West doesn’t generally follow or practice such principles.

Also, Korean skincare focuses around long-term results to achieve a healthy, beautiful complexion. Western skincare efforts merely target problems as they come up, not as a preventative measure. Koreans also incorporate the most natural and gentle ingredients so the skin adapts to products easily.

In What Ways Are Korean Skincare Products Different from Western Ones?

There are several aspects to how different Korean skincare products are versus those in the West. Korean brands will adjust and modify their ingredients over time to reflect the needs of particular skin concerns. Western products, specifically American drugstore brands, never change their formulations and include questionable chemicals that always seem to cause cancer later on.

This isn’t to say there aren’t Western brands that promote healthy ingredients and stand by the quality, but you do have to pay more money for them. This leads to yet another reason why Korean skincare tends to be better, which is price and affordability.

Affordable & Effective

Since K-beauty creams, toners and essences contain natural and sustainable ingredients, the cost is very affordable for the most part. Of course, there are luxury brands in Korea that rival ones in the Western world. But, on the whole, Korean skincare is easy on the bank account.

Detailed Attention to Ingredients & Formulations

Also, the consistency and feel of Korean skincare products tends to be lighter and more refreshing. They avoid heavy creams, thick oils and slathering things onto the skin. It’s more about hydration and relishing in skin rather than hiding or covering imperfections.

In light of this, Korean skincare companies focus on research and adjusting formulations to suit finite differences in skin requirements. For instance, it’s not nearly as difficult to find products targeted for anti-aging that also tackles combination oily skin in Korean product lines as it is in Western ones. [1]

Korea Has a History with Skincare

A major component to why Korea has better skincare is that they’ve been doing this far longer than in the West. They have documentation of skincare regimens going back as far as 37 BC. Therefore, they have a traditional value system around it and, as such, they have a whole world and culture surrounding its importance.

What Do Koreans Believe about Skincare and How Does It Compare to the West?

Beautiful, bright and glowing skin is a value held in high regard among the whole of Korean culture. It focuses on prevention and they begin caring for their skin at an incredibly young age; in some cases, this is as young as six months old. Older women adjust their skincare regimen as they age, which may include as many as 12 steps.

K-Beauty Skincare Philosophy

This is because Koreans have a philosophy about self-care and skincare is an integral part of that. Therefore, skincare is not about vanity but about improving mood, reducing anxiety, relieving stress, developing a relationship with the self and a simple way to care for one’s overall wellbeing.

Western Skincare Practices

In the West, if women don’t understand the importance of their skin by their teens, they don’t discover it until their mid-20s. By that time, lots of damage may have already set in from things like smoking, alcohol, poor diet and overexposure to sunlight. They then spend their lives hunting down anti-aging products inappropriate to their skin requirements. [2]

However, this is beginning to change, especially in the last couple of decades and with the influence of Korean skincare. With the internet, Gen X, Gen Z and Millennials can discover various skincare routines, learn about their skin type, discover ingredients to tackle specific issues and get advice from real experts.

Because of this, many American and European skincare companies are following suit. You’re starting to see more transparency of ingredients, there are harmful constituent watch lists online and people demanding more natural and organic formulations.

How Does K-Beauty Products, Philosophy & Process Benefit Skin?

Makeup and cosmetics are secondary in Korea, where the skin’s overall texture and health reign supreme. This, in turn, focuses on treating and prepping the skin as a canvas for makeup. When the skin is clear, healthy and at its best, makeup goes on beautifully, smoothly and evenly.

Following the standard 10-step routine will provide a radiant, youthful glow that’s bright, flawless and natural. However, women in the West may or may not have patience or time to do such an involved beauty routine. This means it takes time to see results and it requires setting time aside to do it.

What ends up happening is that they go back to their old skincare routine, which is usually wash and moisturize but with K-beauty products. This can develop its own issues because it’s the whole of the routine with care taken for each step. So, problems like sensitivity and acne can become worse.

What Ingredients Are in Korean Skincare Products?

Korean skincare products contain many of what you’ll find in Western ones, but its formulation is different. However, the following ingredients are most common to K-beauty:

Antioxidants: vitamins provide a host of antioxidants to help the skin fight off free radicals, reduce damage and induce healing. For instance, vitamin C encourages the production of collagen while also lightening hyperpigmentation.

Ginseng: packed with antioxidants, this is a great anti-aging ingredient. It provides for more a more youthful appearance while enlivening the cells for better turnover. [3]

Green Tea: Korean women have used green tea for centuries and it has tons of antioxidants along with antibacterial and detoxification properties. It can treat acne, redness, irritation and swelling while delivering hydration and offering environmental protection.

Ground Mung Beans: many facial washes and cleansers incorporate mung beans for its high concentration of vitamin E.

Hyaluronic Acid: natural to the skin, it helps retain water down to a cellular level. It maintains hydration in the skin and is a great benefit for anti-aging concerns. It’s a staple in Korean skincare formulations but it’s also excellent alone as a toner.

Rice/Fermented Rice: rice is famous for its benefits outside of food. It’s in scrubs, cleansers, toners, essences, creams, moisturizers and sometimes provide the base for SPF formulations. It tones the skin while making it soft, supple and healthy.

Snail Secretions: mucus provided by snails hydrates and rejuvenates skin at a cellular level. It absorbs quickly into dry, parched skin while also removing fine lines. It can also soothe acne, reduce dark spots and nourish pores.

Turmeric: a common ingredient in Korean skincare because of its amazing anti-aging ability. It relaxes muscles, soothes tension and plumps the skin.

Wrapping Up

After all, Korean skincare tends to work better for most people. However, it varies from person to person since there’s no one size fits all.

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    About The Author

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    Jason Park

    Jason has been living in Seoul for over 4 years, and during that time, he has experienced many of the city's hidden stores. He loves to write about his experiences and share them with others. Jason has been quoted and referenced by different major media companies like Mashed, Distractify, ThePrint and TastingTable. In his free time, he likes to watch Korean dramas and learn more about Korean culture.

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