Why are Korean skincare products so popular and what can they do for your skin?
From bespoke online purchase options to in-store alternatives. The best in Korean and Japanese beauty products
111 Skin Rose Gold Brightening Treatment masks, €120 at fetchbeauty.com
Many trends and products originating in Japan and Korea filter through to our department store counters and pharmacy shelves, often slightly adapted to fit the different aesthetic standards of European and US cosmetics consumers.
The focus in Japan and South Korea is skincare; makeup takes a back seat in cultures where perfect skin is idolised, and is generally used to enhance skin rather than to distract from it.
Indeed, this has its problems – South Korea has the highest rate per capita of cosmetic surgeries in the world, which indicates a certain cultural pressure to look a certain way. However, one of the benefits of enormous scientific research and investment into various areas of cosmetology is results-based, hardworking skincare which also influences best practice and research in brands on this side of the world.
Both authentic Japanese and Korean brands, as well as the Western products they inspire, tend to be slightly more affordable when purchased online. If you are unsure of where to start browsing, Fetch is an excellent Irish online source for premium versions of these sorts of products, while cloud10 is a nice online repository of more affordable and fun products.
Hydrogel masks, popular in Japan and South Korea are increasingly available. It is a highly effective delivery system for active ingredients. 111 Skin Rose Gold Brightening Treatment Masks (€120 at fetchbeauty.com), loved by model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, are as luxe as hydrogel sheet masks come. Skin is left plumped, glowing, and deeply hydrated.
For a more affordable and rather fun K-Beauty option, try Oh K! Antioxidant Coffee Bean Hydrogel Mask (€7.95 at cloud10beauty.com). Starskin Orglamic Pink Cactus Glass Mask (€10.95 at cloud10beauty.com) is another affordable option. Sheet mask are an excellent means of ensuring a maximally smooth and glowing base for makeup, particularly before an event or special occasion.
However, any skin enthusiast knows that you can impact your skin more from the inside out than the other way around, and skin supplements are wildly popular in South Korea and Japan.
Perricone MD Superberry with Acai Supplement (€76 at fetchbeauty.com) is a potent supplement powder with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits; it will benefit more than just your skin.
For those who can bear it, minimising (or even better, avoiding) smoking, sugar and alcohol, while wearing SPF and staying hydrated will make a major difference too.
Once your skin is primed, less makeup is needed. For Spring/Summer this year, Lucia Pica, Chanel’s Global Creative Make up and Colour Designer, created a sumptuous collection based on a photographic expedition to Japan and South Korea.
However, there is one product which stands out as especially beautiful. Pica simply never does what one might expect, and she has created a product which actualises that authentic ‘glass skin’ effect, which was originally a trend out of Korea, but with full awareness of the ease of use and quick results that European and US consumers tend to prefer.