Beauty 101

Korean Skincare vs Western Skincare

Rachel Gibbons Beauty Expert
Korean Skincare vs Western Skincare

Toners, essence, moisturisers and masks sit perfectly on every girl’s dresser. Extreme skin care regimes are constantly taken up in order to get that perfect flawless glowing complexion. There’s been a constant battle between the Korean and Western regimes; Which skincare regimen is truly better? Or are they the same?

Western Skincare

Western skincare regimes are not as thorough as Korean skincare. It isn't very common in western societies to follow an intricate skincare routine. For those who do, the steps and products involved are fairly simple:

  1. Cleanse 
  2. Toner 
  3. Serum 
  4. Moisturise 

The first step is to cleanse the skin. Use a cleanser that’s best suited for your skin type. The next step is to apply a toner. Commonly western skincare includes toners or sprays that are designer or drugstore. The infamous Mario Badescu Facial Spray with Aloe, Herbs and Rosewater is one of the most used toners in the west. Next is a serum; they contain active ingredients that target certain benefits for the skin. Serums tend to run a little higher on the price scale, a good one is The Ordinary Niacinamide 10% + Zinc 1%. Lastly is moisturiser. A lightweight moisturiser with a high SPF is favourable such as CeraVe AM Facial Moisturising Lotion with Sunscreen Broad Spectrum SPF 30

Skincare in western societies are fairly upfront and simple. The most common skincare regimen is water! Lots and lots of water! Water with lemon, water with mint, and water with cucumber. Water keeps your skin hydrated and flushes out toxins. This helps to prevent breakouts and to help clear up the skin. It isn't common to follow a strict routine, but it is very common to drink water. The best part about water other than the fact that it gives you amazing dewy skin? It’s free! Or a few ringgit from a vending machine, but you get the point.

Korean Skincare

Skincare is one of the most popular topics in Korea. Most people create a skincare routine that’s best suited for their skin type but the base is the same. Similar to the foundation of western skincare, the steps are as follows:

  1. Oil based cleanser
  2. Water based cleanser 
  3. 3 second rule 
  4. Toner 
  5. Essence 
  6. Serum
  7. Moisturiser 
  8. Sunscreen 

In Korea, two cleansers are used to wash their face in the morning. Firstly, an oil based cleanser, containing ingredients that are gentle on the skin like Klairs Gentle Black Deep Cleansing Oil. Next it’s a water based cleanser like COSRX Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser. Usually a lightweight, and breathable to soothe the skin. A toner is used right after such as Beauty of Joseon Ginseng Essence Water. This must be done within 3 seconds after cleansing. Yes, 3 seconds! This is to retain moisture. 

Next step is to apply essence. Essences are similar to serums. Some use either or, some use both, a good one is COSRX Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence. Moisturiser is the next step. Moisturisers in Korea are known to have high SPFs such as Hada Labo UV Perfect Gel SPF50. The citizens are very aware of the damage UV rays have on their skin. 

The Korean skincare routine might sound as if it will weigh the skin down, however, the products used are rather lightweight. They do not clog the pores or weigh down the face. 

Western Vs Korean Skincare

While the foundation for both skincare regimens is the same, the specifics are different. Western skincare regimens tend to use one cleanser, while Koreans use two. The cleansers used in western skincare are usually a specialty cleanser aimed to satisfy the consumer’s skin needs. Such as acne facial wash, dry skin wash, and oily skin wash. Whilst in Korea one cleanser is used to cleanse the skin of dirt, oils, and makeup. The second is to nourish the skin and attack the areas unique to the user such as blemishes, redness, and puffiness.

Another difference is the ingredients. The use of organic, raw natural ingredients is very common in Korea. Moreover, many skincare brands base their products solely using organic ingredients. This makes their products safer, more effective, and are gentle on the skin. In Western skincare the use of organic ingredients is rather new.

The third difference is the use of serums, and essences. While some skincare regimens in the West include using serums and essences, it is very uncommon. Compared to Korea where almost every skincare routine includes the use of either a serum, essence, or both; in the west most utilise only a toner.

Skincare is something taken religiously among Koreans. Learning in-depth about their regimens could aid us in fighting our age. 

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