"K-Beauty" Has Taken the Industry by Storm

Sherry McGuinn

The buzziest skincare products and trends have their origin in South Korea

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I love to read about new trends in beauty. Especially since one of my goals is to age in reverse. Sounds crazy, I know, but, we all want to look and feel as good as we can for as long as we can, right?

With that in mind, I do believe that having the kind of skin that belies our age is achievable, without breaking the bank. Sure, wrinkles will happen, but they don’t have to be like cracks in a faultline, do they? Nope. Not if we put in a little extra effort. Actually, more than a little.

Korean women know a thing or two about this. In fact “K-Beauty” is a big thing, right now. Huge. Check out the plethora of Korean beauty brands on Amazon and you’ll see what I mean. Etude House is a big one, along with Mishha and a host of others. From snail mucous gel to cherry blossom “essence,” the sheer variety and volume are mind-blowing.

“Glass Skin” is the hottest trend in K-Beauty right now. The term refers to skin that is perfectly smooth, even-toned, and practically pore-less, with a “finish” that is so luminous, it’s nearly translucent.

I’ve seen the pics, I’ve read the articles, and as a beauty product junkie, I just had to find out for myself, what all the fuss is about.

First, after a good long look in the mirror, I concluded that my skin’s in fairly good shape, but see-through, it ain’t. Not like the seat of my Pandemic Pants, anyway.

Diving deeper into the Glass Skin concept, I have to assume that many Korean women have a hell of a lot of time on their hands. But then again, I don’t have a real job so who the fuck am I to talk? Ergo, I have to give this a shot!

This is is what I found out: To have the kind of complexion that glows like an icy lake under a full moon, we ladies have to commit to a skincare routine that involves many steps, as in multiple. Twice a day. So, if you want to join me on this ride, prepare for self-care on steroids.

Here we go. To start with, let me stress what we already know. Great skin comes from the inside out, so load up on nutritious foods and stay hydrated. That last bit I can’t stress enough as I’ve been dehydrated for most of my life and am finally getting with the program. Of course, I spend a good part of my day in the can, but what are you gonna do?

Now, for the specifics. Here are the steps Korean women take to achieve their unearthly glow. Note: There is a ton of Glass Skin info online, but for this story, I consulted Healthline, Ipsy, and Dermstore.com.

Step 1: Double-Cleanse

Because total cleanliness is next to glassiness, your facial skin can’t be too clean. So start with an oil-based cleansing product to break down makeup. I use good old coconut oil and even on those days when I don’t slap on cosmetics, which is most of the time, I still follow this step.

After you’ve gotten good and slick, follow up with a more refreshing wash, like the kind you’d get from gel, or stick-based cleaners. I use an affordable, Vitamin C-based gel that I found on Amazon. The brand is Avalon Organics. Also, remember to exfoliate!

Step 2: Use a hydrating toner

A toner containing hyaluronic acid is perfect here as that ingredient works to seal moisture in the skin. It reduces the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles and even speeds up wound healing. These toners are easily found in drugstores or online. I’m not a shill, but I will say that normally, I purchase all my products on Amazon, as I appreciate the variety and the price points.

Note: Instead of a toner, I often use my homemade DMAE spray for this step as it’s the bomb. See my skin-tightening recipe for this in the story I’ve conveniently linked to at the end of this piece.

Step 3: Try an “essence”

Now, I realize this is where I might lose you, but hear me out. An essence is a thin, water-based product that adds moisture to the skin, and also aids in the absorption of other skin-care products. It feels like velvet on your skin and sinks in immediately. When I read about this I thought it was bullshit, but applying an essence is my fave part of this routine. I found one that’s dirt-cheap and smells like cherry blossoms. It’s by Sakura.

Step 4: Get your serum on

This might seem like overkill so let me stress that if you like, you can skip the essence and go straight for the serum, but, since I’m playing the role of guinea pig, I want to stick with the program. Here, I use either a retinol or hyaluronic acid serum. For that ultimate glow, it’s best to look for a hydrating and/or brightening formula.

For this step, you can also apply snail slime to your face. No lie. I’ve done it. According to board-certified dermatologist, Dr. Hadley King, the slime is actually an excretion from the snail called “mucin.” It’s often labeled as snail secretion filtrate on ingredient lists. “It’s made up of properties like glycoproteins, hyaluronic acid, and glycolic acid, all of which have long-documented benefits for the skin,” says Dr. King.

Alrighty! Just one more way we fuck with God’s creatures! Ready for the next step? Don’t fall out on me just yet.

Step 5: Slather on moisturizer

Whatever you normally use is fine, here. I have several, so I alternate according to my mood. Take note that in our steps, we’ve worked our way up from the clearest, most watery products to the creamiest. The idea is that every layer helps the one before it work even harder.

Step 6: Tap on an eye cream

I was never an eye-cream gal, but, since the Pandemic circles under my eyes make me look like the Italian actress, Anna Magnani on crack, I caved and purchased a jar. Look for one that will provide a surge of hydration while combatting fine lines and puffiness.

Again, you can say, “Screw you, Sherry. This is where I draw the line!”

We’re almost done, so try to hang in.

Step 7: Use sunscreen!

I wouldn’t bother with this at night, but you know how important it is to protect your complexion from the sun’s UV rays, even on cloudy days. This is a non-negotiable step in any K-beauty routine. An SPF of 50 is ideal, as is a cream or lotion that’s hydrating, protecting, and won’t leave behind residue.

Step 8: Finish with a hydrating sleep mask

This is too much, even for me. But if you want to go that extra mile, Freeman makes a luscious, creamy face mask that you can leave on overnight.

So that’s it, the Korean way to perfect and perfectly beautiful skin. I feel like a nap, now. How about you?

Yet, because I’m nothing if not “authentic,” I’m going to keep at this so I can let you know if all this work is worth it. And the very moment, no, the very second, that I can see through my skin, to whatever the hell is on the other side, I’ll report back. You have my word.

I’d be remiss if I didn’t finish by adding that if all of the above is beyond the pale for you…there’s always a highlighter. Drop me a line and I’ll ship you a box.

© Sherry McGuinn, 2021. All Rights Reserved.

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My goal is to educate, entertain, make you laugh, and above all, make you think. I will be running the gamut as far as my articles go because I have a restless mind and I allow it to ramble where and when it wants. I hope you enjoy what I'm looking forward to sharing with you. If so, I'd love for you to follow me. Thanks for reading.

Chicago, IL
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