One of the highlights of visiting South Korea was definitely to try out their skincare products. After all, Koreans are famous for having the most flawless skin in the world. Although, this is more likely a combined product of diet, genetic, environment etc.; skincare is also one of the important factors that contribute to this amazing flawless skin. So what is their secrets?
Firstly, their traditional skincare routine is rather elaborate. It involves about 10 steps from beginning to finish. Secondly, their traditional herbal skincare products are highly effective especially extracts from ginseng, red pine, white lilly and Solomon’s seal.
While I was in Seoul, I tried a few range of products from several brands and found that a combination of Sulwhasoo’s Timetreasure range and brightening sheet masks was the most effective on me. After one week, my skin texture improved significantly. It was smoother, more plump and brighter. I definitely looked less tired and the fine lines under the eyes were less noticeable. However, you have to be very consistent and follow the 10 steps routine everyday to see this significant improvement.
For those who are interested in trying out this holistic approach to daily skincare regime, the good news is that Sulwhasoo is also available in the US and several countries in Asia such as Thailand, Hong Kong, Singapore etc. so it is possible to try these out if you are outside of South Korea.
Here are the steps:
STEP 1: Make-up remover & oil cleanser
Before you can nourish your skin properly, you have to remove all the obstacles, i.e. makeup, dirt, general environmental impurities on your face. The best way to do this is with oil cleanser because it moisturises your skin while deep clean it of all impurities. Massage oil cleanser over dry face, add a splash of lukewarm water to emulsify, then massage again. Once your face looks very messy due to runny makeup, rinsing everything away with warm water.
Try Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Oil EX which contains apricot kernel oil and tangerine peel which are very gentle on sensitive skin.
STEP 2: Water-based cleanser
Now you can wash your face with normal water-based cleanser such as foam wash or cream wash to make sure that all oil residue and remaining impurities are removed.
My favourite for this is Sulwhasoo Herbal Soap which contains extracts from red ginseng, solomon’s seal and Chinese peony. It leaves the skin very clean and soft.
STEP 3: Exfoliate
Exfoliating is a crucial step to polished complexion. If your skin is prone to pigmentation and scars very easily like mine, exfoliation helps to improve these problems immensely, and is an absolute must because it slough off dead skin cells and debris, so skin care products can penetrate your skin more effectively. It is recommended to exfoliate once a week, but I usually do this twice a week.
For this, I make the exfoliator myself using oatmeal, organic natural live yogurt and wild honey. Scrub your face with the mixture then rinse off everything with warm water. You will be surprised how soft your skin becomes!
STEP 4: Toner
Time to prep your skin with toners or skin softener. Imagine your skin is like a sponge, it is more difficult to rehydrate when it is dried up, so it is important to dampen the skin first.
Try Sulwhasoo First Care Activating Serum EX to help balance your skin and boost absorption and effectiveness of any treatments used after it. It is especially suitable for sensitive skin, and is made from Korean herbal medicine.
STEP 5: Essence
This is considered the heart of Korean skin care routine. Essence has dual purpose, it is a kind of toner and serum hybrid that hydrates and aid skin repair and cell turnover. You apply it directly to freshly toned skin with your hand and pat it in.
Depending on your skin concerns, there are many essences to choose from. As my main concern is anti-aging, I use Sulwhasoo Timetreasure Renovating Emulsion EX
STEP 6: Serum
Serums are the main treatment products, depending on your skin concerns, you may use more than one serum. These are concentrated essence with strong doses of active ingredients to address any issues such as brightening, pore-refining, pigmentation, wrinkles, acne etc.
Try Sulwhasoo Timetreasure Renovating Serum EX which is a premium grade anti-aging serum that simultaneously addresses all skin issues mentioned above.
STEP 7: Sheet Masks
This is another very important step in Korean skincare regime. Sheet masks offers quiet meditative, skin nourishing rituals that imparts maximum treatment into your skin while you relaxes for 20 minutes. You can do this once or twice a week, but if you have time, you can also do it every night before going to bed.
There are many sheet masks on the market, all addresses different skin concerns, so you can always have a few and do different treatment each night.
So far, I find that Sulwhasoo Snowise Brightening Mask with white ginseng extract is very effective.
Another one which I have been using (not sure if you can get these outside South Korea though) that instantly brightens your complexion is Hanskin Super Snail Essence Hydrogel Mask, which as it says in the label, contains extracts from snails… Might sound a bit scary, but works miracle!
STEP 8: Eye Cream
The skin around your eyes is the most delicate and should be treated very gently. Never rub eye cream around your eyes, gently pat the product into the skin with the tip of your finger.
STEP 9: Moisturiser
Hydration is the most important step to dewy glowing soft skin, and never to be skipped. Once a week, you can also substitute an overnight hydrating mask to keep skin protected and hydrated.
Try Sulwhasoo Timetreasure Renovating Cream EX for overall hydration with active ingredients that address anti-aging, pigmentation concerns as well.
STEP 10: Sun Protection
Any dermatologists will always tell you that no matter how lazy you are at looking after your skin, the one step that you should never ever overlook is applying sun protection. Sunscreen is the best thing you can do to prevent premature aging. It is an important last step to shield your skin from harmful UV rays from diluting all your prior skin care products. Apply every morning and reapply throughout the day as needed.
Carrot Seed Oil provides between SPF35-40 sun protection factor. I usually mix them with a little virgin coconut oil and use it every morning and throughout the day. With these natural oil, a little amount goes a long way, so you only need to use a drop or two, and your face won’t feel greasy or shiny at all.