Last week I went to a Skincare 101 class at K-Banana, the new woman-owned Korean beauty store at University Village in Seattle. Here are my notes:
Instructor: Ashley, the Director of Education at K-Banana
K-Beauty is all about innovation, clean beauty, and cute packaging, which equals happiness.
What do people in the audience think of when they think "K-Beauty"?
- sheet masks
- 10 step
- double cleanse
- glowy skin
In the US, people spend the most money on makeup, which results in the best makeup products at affordable rates (see drugstore makeup). In Korea, this is flipped. They focus on skincare. This breeds competition and increases innovation.
The 10-step skincare routine is no longer as popular in South Korea. Now people are paring down and taking an effective, minimal approach to skincare.
Note: Not all of the products here are vegan and cruelty-free. The Knours mask and the Skin Grammar cream are though :)
Non-Negotiables - 7 STEP SKINCARE ROUTINE
Cleansing is the basis of any important routine. If your makeup is not properly removed, the next active ingredients can't work as well.
(STEP 1) 1st Cleanse - Oil Cleanser. Oil dissolves oil and breaks down dirt and makeup. Why is this important? A lot of makeup and SPF is water-resistant. Water-based cleansers will be resisted. Use with dry hands and on a dry face.
(STEP 2) 2nd Cleanse - Gel, Foaming, or Milk. Check the pH in your products. A lower pH is good. Your skin is around 5.5. A good 2nd cleanser is between 5-6 pH. You want this cleanser to clean your skin without overly stripping your skin barrier. Squeaky clean is bad. It sends your brain an SOS message and your body revs up oil production.
Gel Cleanser - Doesn't foam, doesn't strip. Can use with a tool such as a Foreo for some exfoliation.
Milky Cleanser - Great for dry skin. More humectants than a gel or foaming cleanser.
Pro tip: You will know that you have thoroughly cleansed if there is nothing on your toner cotton pad after you cleanse.
What's the Difference Between Dry and Dehydrated Skin?
Dry is a skin type. It usually represents as flaking, dry patches, and topical dryness. Responds well to richer, oil-based products for topical treatment.
Dehydrated is a symptom occurring on the lower levels of the skin. Responds well to humectants and thin hydrating products applied as layers, allowing them to penetrate. Try the 7 layer method out of Korea by applying 7 layers of humectants. This is like using a water can to hydrate your skin instead of a bucket.
(STEP 3) Exfoliation - This step is not talked about as much in K-Beauty. There are two types of exfoliators, chemical and physical.
Chemical Exfoliator - These are acids. AHAs and BHAs. Put a chemical exfoliant on after cleanser so it can be most effective. Apply with a cotton round, wipe, dispose. Start off mild at first, not with intense peels. Don't use during the daytime as it make you more photosensitive. Helps with skin cell turnover, especially when used at night.
AHAs - Topical, used for post-acne pigmentation, brightening, and flakiness. Mandelic acid is a less known AHA that is good for sensitive skin.
BHAs - Go deeper, used for blackheads and to decongest pores. You have to see a dermatologist if you want a formulation over 2%.
Physical Exfoliator - These are granules. Stay away from these if you have sensitive skin.
Pro tip: Start by using an exfoliator every 3 days and build up to more frequency over time once you see how your skin reacts.
(STEP 4) Serum - This is a really concentrated treatment. You can use an anti-aging serum every night. Recommend alternating day and night serums. Anti-aging serum for night and vitamin C serum for day.
(STEP 5) Sheet Mask - Use to treat a concern that you have that day. Use with your normal skincare routine. For example, if you skin is red, use a sheet mask to combat redness instead of going out to buy a whole new anti-redness skincare routine. Use as a booster to your normal routine.
How Long Should I Leave a Sheet Mask On?
When the sheet mask is wet, the ingredients are pulled into your skin.
When the sheet mask is dry, it pulls moisture out of your skin.
Sheet masks are most effective if you take it off when it is still moist. Don't fall asleep with your sheet mask on!
Put it on after your serum. The sheet mask material is a physical barrier that pushes treatment further into your skin.
(STEP 6) Moisturizer - This step locks in your previous treatments by providing a barrier. Skin Grammar Super Good Repair Cream is vegan, cruelty-free, and provides intense hydration. Water creams that are a cream-to-water formula are also popular in K-beauty. You can also mix oil with your moisturizer or add it on top, but never apply before your moisturizer.
(STEP 7) SPF - Biggest anti-aging tip is to wear SPF. Makeup with SPF does not have enough coverage. It's more of a touchup.
"Listen to your skin, it's talking to you." - Ashley