Uncover the 8 Korean Beauty Secrets Insiders Keep to Themselves

Korea is the first place beauty editors look for up-and coming trends. Korea is the source of BB creams and sheet masks. Cushion compacts also come from Korea. We hold Koreans so highly when it comes beauty because their skin is flawless and dreamy.

We decided to find out what Koreans use for their sheeny glow or mul-gwang, as they refer to it. We asked a dermatologist, three beauty bloggers and a Korean beauty expert for the inside scoop.

1. Pimple patches for blemishes

Korean women are more prone to pigmentation and therefore take extra precautions to protect their skin against harmful UVA/UVB radiation. Charlotte Cho, the founder of Soko Glam and author of The Little Book of Skin Care, says that Korean women never leave home without sunscreen. They avoid direct sun by wearing hats and umbrellas or gloves when necessary.

Cho says that Korean women are using “natural skin lighteners, such as vitamin C and rice extracts as well as exfoliators.” They will go to the dermatologist for stubborn brown spots and have them lightened using lasers.

Sheryll Donneson, a U.S. native who lived in South Korea for two years and founded the blog The Wanderlust Project tells Byrdie that “when I taught in a Korean middle school, all of my students would wear these pimple patch on their skin in order to treat their spots.” These patches are genius! They are amazing! I wear them only at night. If you want to remove a blemish quickly, they’re the best. “I love the COSRX Acne Pimple Master Patch.”

2. Do Deep Cleanses before Applying Makeup

Dermatologist Dr. Brendan Camp believes that double cleansing plays a major role in Korean skincare. He says that the process is a two-step one, in which you first wash your face with an oleo-based cleanser. This helps to emulsify any makeup, oils, or residues from skincare products, allowing them to be easily removed. The second step is to use a water-based cleanser to remove any additional impurities, such as sweat.

Cho believes that cleansing is essential to achieving a complexion that’s better than great. She says that cleaning is essential because excess dirt, oil and bacteria can cause premature aging and dark spots on the skin. It’s important to keep your skin healthy and clean. “Makeup will not look great without a clean base!”

Cho shares her daily triple-cleansing routine with us.

First clean: Use cleansing tissues to gently remove impurities from your skin. Pay special attention to sensitive areas like the eye area and neck.

Second cleanser: Massage a cleansing oil into your skin in order to remove impurities based on oil. Rinse.

Third cleanse: Add a cleansing mousse to a moistened face. This will remove impurities based on water. Rinse off and pat your face dry.

Donerson says powder cleaners are popular in Korea. “I love these! You can travel with them or put them in your gym bag without worrying about spills or liquid restrictions.

3. Use sheet masks to improve hydration

Camp says that the occlusive qualities of a sheet-mask trap moisture in the skin. This can help the skin to stay hydrated, and reduce the appearance of fine wrinkles.

“[Mulgwang] is about hydration!” Cho adds that using mists, masks and layers of moisturizer can help you achieve a radiant, dewy glow. There are eye creams, primers and other products that contain pearl extracts to diffuse imperfections and reflect light. This will make your skin look luminous.

4. Face Oil can be mixed with your foundation

Morgan Stewart, founder of The Beauty Breakdown and the Korean-American website, suggests that if you have dry, flaky skin, you can mix a face serum or oil with your foundation. This will not only make the application more fluid, but it will also give you a radiant glow.

5. Investing in a more extensive skin care routine

It’s well worth the time and money investment. Stewart says that layering is the key to success. Most people stick with a facewash and moisturizer. Do you know how to layer your products? Stewart’s daily skin care routine can be seen here.

After cleansing, Koreans use toner (similar in nature to beauty water) to balance pH levels. Camp says that toner is used to remove excess oil and prepare the skin for additional products. “A serum is then applied to deliver high concentrations of ingredients such as moisturizers or antioxidants.” Sunscreen is applied after moisturizing.

6. Tap Your Skin, Don’t Rub It

I prefer to gently tap my skin care products rather than rub them in. It’s not only gentler, but it also feels like a sort of ritual. Donerson suggests putting sheet masks in the refrigerator for a refreshing nighttime treat. Skin products that are water-like, such as Korean facial Essences, can be applied to the skin. They also work well with serums and moisturizers. For a refreshing skin treatment, try Son & Park Beauty Water Mist.

7. Use a product with snail mucin

Mucin, for the uninitiated is the slime that snails excrete when they feel stressed. (Not vegan friendly).

Camp says that snail mucin, a popular skincare product in Korea, contains ingredients such as hyaluronic acids, antioxidants and zinc, which improve skin hydration.

Donerson says, “If I were to pick a Korean product it would be COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Power Essence.” It’s 96 percent snail mucin and does a great job at removing any irritation while being extremely moisturizing. It makes my face glow like no one else.”

8. Dewy Skin? Go Lightweight

Donerson: “The Korean dewy-skin look is my favorite Korean trend.” “Dewy, youthful skin looks more realistic.”

Cho recommends using a primer that boosts radiance, such as IPKN Flash Cream Radiant Primer.

Donerson suggests using a BB Cream, BB Cushion (we love Missha Signature Essence cushion) or any light foundation to keep the skin looking dewy. It’s important to use a lightweight product so that your skin looks natural.

Makeup can be a great tool to boost gwang. This is especially true if your skin is oily and you don’t want to use too much skincare. Stewart suggests using a liquid highlighter to add glimmer.

Donerson recommends applying a shimmery highlighter to the eyelids and cheeks. This will enhance that dewy appearance even more. Bobbi Brown Shimmer Brick Compact is not Korean but it’s a great way to add a glow to your face.

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