Korean skincare trends 2023: the treatments & products to try for glass-like skin
On the quest for glass-like, super-clear, healthy-looking skin? Here's how to achieve it… with the expertise of Korean skincare specialist, Dr Christine Hall
K-Beauty in the UK has been a significant player in the skincare industry. However, it's moved away from kitsch pandas and sensationalist ingredients – like snail slime and starfish extracts.
The country's research is scientifically minded and at the forefront of skincare innovations with sophisticated formulas, packaging and treatments.
'The K-Beauty products market is expected to witness significant growth. Increased awareness among consumers regarding maintaining prolonged beauty and lifestyle changes have significantly contributed to the market's growth,' says Shankar Bhandalkar, team lead-research, consumer goods at Allied Market Research. Adding, 'Allied has predicted that the K-Beauty products market is expected to reach a whopping £10.5 billion by 2027.'
We don't have to second-guess what's fuelling the obsession – the famous South Korean skincare term, also called 'chok chok' skin (chok chok translates to 'moist' in Korean) refers to a dewy, glowing and luminous complexion. It also comes under the guises of 'dolphin' and also 'doughnut' skin – which refers to looking glazed in a sugary way - like the shiny coating of a Krispy Kreme. In the Western world, who doesn't want a bit of that?
Dr Christine Hall, South Korean skincare specialist at the Taktouk Clinic in London, reminds us that good skincare can only take you so far in some cases. She says, 'While skincare products applied to the skin can have some amazing results, sometimes it is not enough to achieve the dewy appearance of glass skin. This is because we are limited in what active ingredients can be absorbed through the skin due to their molecular size. The answer? In South Korea, injectable skin boosters are seen as a routine and regular part of skincare.'
So how do you play catch up if your skin isn't quite 'chok chok'?
Hall recommends, 'Redensity 1 (a hyaluronic acid injectable with antioxidants, amino acids, vitamins and minerals). It's my particular favourite as I have seen some great results.'
Read on for more Korean skincare advice, along with the best ingredients and treatments trending in K-Beauty that we will all want to try in 2023 for chok chok-tastic skin.
Probably the biggest and most exciting thing to come from South Korea that we will see a lot more of.
Fermentation has been used in the preservation of foods for thousands of years in South Korea – kimchi being the most famous and well known of these superfoods famed for its multiple health benefits, especially in the promotion of gut health.
Fermentation is the process by which compounds are broken down using yeasts, bacteria, or other microorganisms into smaller components, including antioxidants, lactic acid, amino acids and vitamins.
South Korean scientists have discovered that the incorporation of fermented ingredients into skincare products brings multiple benefits.
• The active ingredients become supercharged and much more potent than in their original form
• As the components are smaller in size, they are more readily absorbed through the skin
• They balance and promote the microbiome to repair and maintain the skin barrier
• They stimulate collagen
• Antioxidants help to brighten skin and reduce pigmentation, smooth out fine lines and wrinkles
• They're anti-inflammatory
• As with fermented foods, the shelf-life of the product will be longer.
Previously very costly due to manufacturing processes, however, South Korean technology has now formulated a much more cost-effective way of manufacturing these products, making them much more readily available.
FERMENTED SKINCARE PRODUCTS TO TRY:
Tatcha The Water Cream, £67 – buy here
Reome Active Recovery Broth, £110 – buy here
Venn Advanced Multi-Perfecting Red Oil serum, £120 – buy here
Venn Advanced Multi-Perfecting Red Oil serum, £120 – buy here
South Koreans are moving away from their famous 10-step skincare routine and are simplifying their products.
'Skip care' is a term that refers to skincare minimalism and has been growing in popularity since 2020. It incorporates all of the benefits and actives of the '10-step' routine into a quicker and simpler regime thanks to the formulation of multi-use products, for example, combining your toner and essence into one product.
This trend saves time, is more sustainable and makes travelling with your skincare products much more manageable.
If you have perfected your skincare routine and it is something that you enjoy and have time for, then don't change it. It's part of your 'self-care', a key pillar of South Korean skincare philosophy.
Waterless washing has been around for years in South Korea and was developed to increase the skin's hydration further. By using products that do not contain water and are not rinsed off, the active ingredients tend to be more effective and are more concentrated while being more eco-friendly by saving water. Waterless products also have a longer shelf life.
As part of the drive towards sustainability, waterless products and the waterless washing technique are now being adopted worldwide.
Another South Korean practice that became popular was called 'slugging' – putting an occlusive barrier product on top of your other skincare products before you go to sleep to 'lock in' all of the other products.
While both techniques will no doubt give you moist and dewy skin, it is not for everyone, and I certainly wouldn't recommend heavy oil-based products for those with acne. Many people don't like the feeling; as my South Korean mother says – she needs her skin to 'breathe'.
Centella asiatica, also known as 'tiger grass', is a herb grown in Asia that has been used in South Korean skincare for centuries. Alongside the active ingredient madecassic acid, it also contains amino acids, beta-carotene, fatty acids and phytochemicals.
Centella has multiple properties but is most known for its healing and restorative properties:
• Boosting hydration
• Improving elasticity
• Soothing sensitive and acne-prone skin, and is great for skin that has been irritated as a result of acne treatments
• Antioxidant – pro-ageing
• Madecassic acid inhibits enzymes that are responsible for causing redness ad irritation
Present in a vast range of South Korean skincare lines; we are now starting to see this more in the UK such as Clarins and La Roche- Posay Cicaplast Baume B5, which is soothing for adults and babies with dry or sensitive skin in need of repair. In addition, Erborian make-up and skincare products contain centella, which is excellent for acne-prone skin or rosacea and the Dr Jart+ Cicapair range.
(Note the colour-correcting cream is not suitable for all skin tones.)
Dr.Jart+ Cicapair Tiger Grass Sleepair Intensive Mask, £37 – buy here
One of the most popular aesthetic treatments in South Korea is 'micro tox' or 'meso tox'. In the UK, botulinum toxin type A, more commonly known by its trade name 'Botox', is injected into the body of specific muscles to temporarily relax them to reduce facial movements that soften lines and wrinkles.
The Microtox technique utilises Botox differently. It is used at a different concentration and is injected as micro-droplets very superficially and not into the deeper part of the muscle.
The toxin is injected in the most superficial layers of the muscle fibres at the point they attach or 'tether' to the skin. This reduces the pulling effects of the superficial fibres on the skin while the main body of the muscle continues to work – the result being that muscle movement and expression is maintained while finer surface movements and lines are relaxed. This gives a much more natural and relaxed look.
As the toxin is injected into a different layer than standard Botox, it has multiple other benefits through its action on sweat glands, lymphatics and sebaceous glands
• Plumper smoother skin
• Reduction in sweating
• Reduced oil and sebum production – perfect for oily and acne-prone skin
• Reduction in the appearance of pores as a result of less production of oil and sebum
• Reduction in facial flushing in conditions such as rosacea
Combining Microtox with skin boosters give the ultimate 'glass skin' result.
Available at Taktouk Clinic
‘If I am being lazy, I sometimes put my skincare into the palm of my hand and start rubbing it into my face. If I am ever caught doing this by my South Korean mum though, I am in for a telling off!
'But she is right. Not only am I dragging and pulling at my skin – I am wasting product by evaporating it and putting it in places it doesn't need to be.
'"Tok tok" refers to the sound made by gently patting products into the skin. It aids penetration, promotes circulation and reduces sagging. You can actually try this with any product – compare tapping with rubbing and you will see that the tapping method absorbs product much more quickly.
'After washing your face, tok-tok the water dry and then apply your skincare products. This avoids the use of towels, which can cause tugging and pulling of the skin and the risk of spreading bacteria.
'Place small dots of your skincare product onto your forehead, cheeks and chin and then tok-tok until they are absorbed.'
We have all heard of hyaluronic acid and its claims that it can hold up to a thousand times its weight in water – beta-glucan is 20% more hydrating than hyaluronic acid.
Unlike hyaluronic acid, which occurs naturally in the body, beta-glucans are derived from bacteria, fungi, seaweed and grains like oats.
Beta-glucan is a humectant, meaning that it attracts water to the skin resulting in increased hydration, which in turn plumps the skin and smooths out very fine lines.
But in addition to this, it is an antioxidant and an anti-inflammatory with a significant restorative and repair function. It is instrumental in treating dry or broken skin and in conditions such as eczema. Studies have shown that the molecules link together to form an invisible barrier on the skin surface. This protects against allergens, environmental stressors and unwanted microorganisms, with minimal to no side effects.
Present in a vast range of South Korean skincare lines, perhaps most famously in the Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask, we are now starting to see beta-glucans being more readily available in the UK in products such as Skinceuticals Epidermal Repair or Ren's Evercalm Overnight Recovery Balm, both of which I highly recommend.
The Redensity 1 formula contains pure hyaluronic acid alongside three antioxidants (glutathione, N-acetyl cysteine and alpha-lipoic acid), eight amino acids, two minerals (zinc and copper) and vitamin B6.
Injected very superficially into the skin of the face and or neck, Redensity 1 brightens skin tone, smooths fine lines through the stimulation of collagen and elastin and evens out texture to give a glowing and refreshed appearance that you cannot achieve through the application of products on to the skin surface.
For Korean-inspired skincare treatments, book:
Dr Christine Hall, Taktouk Clinic, Knightsbridge Court, 12 Sloane Street, London SW1X 9LJ.
Read next: K-Beauty SPF – why it's so advanced
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