Tuesday, May 19, 2015

South Korean beauty products

For decades the French have been revered to have the finest beauty products, but in the last 5 years people are looking to the far East, but more specifically South Korea. The BB cream craze apparently originated in S. Korea and I know sheet masks are a huge trend right now, another popular import from S. Korea.
But I recently read an article in Allure (March 2015) about beauty products coming from S. Korea and that the S. Korean government realized the enormous margins they could make from exporting beauty products, which has resulted in a huge source of revenue for their country. It got me thinking, are the S. Korean beauty products legitimately amazing, or is this all propaganda?

I've read about this stick cleanser from a couple different bloggers and have been intrigued to use it myself. I found the cleanser on the site SOKO Glam (as in SOuth KOrea Glam, which shipped out of Missouri by the way), as well as a few other products that piqued my interest.
A couple years ago I had a young, Asian client ask me about acne patches to treat a blemish. I'll never forget it because the concept intrigued me. She explained that the patches were like a clear, invisible band-aid that contain acne treatment and are applied directly on each blemish.
So you can imagine my surprise and delight to find the acne patches on the website. Eight individually sealed packages come in the box and each sealed package has 12 patches, ranging in small to large depending on the size of your blemish. With so many packages, I gave many of them away to friends so that I could poll their reaction and outcome. It may sound silly to tell you that I was excited to get a blemish, just so I could finally use a patch!

Per the directions, I cleaned and dried my face, then applied a patch right on top of the blemish (the patch won't stick if you have other skincare products on). I finished with the rest of my nighttime routine and then went to bed. In the morning I peeled off the patch and found the blemish to look the exact same...no progression and no improvement. The patch contains salicylic acid and tea tree oil, so I should've at least see the pimple come to a whitehead. My friends had similar reactions. None of us were really impressed, except my sister loved them and would buy them again. As for me? I prefer benzoyl peroxide and sulfur in my spot treatments, so maybe this just isn't the right product for me. 
I've never heard of, or seen a stick cleanser before (and I love a good cleanser!) so I was ready to love this baby. It contains fruit oils and rose extract, as well as real rose petals in the stick. I made sure to take my makeup off first (with a makeup wipe) and dampen my face with a bit of water. Then I twisted up the stick and rubbed it all over my face. I wiped off any water residue from the stick and used my hands to rub it around; it gently foamed and smelled amazing. I liked that my face was soft after I washed, but a little dry and tight, so I had to immediately follow with my serum and moisturizer.   
I also purchased these sheet masks because I wanted to get the free shipping with a $50 purchase. I've tried many other sheet masks before, but I liked that these contain an ampoule (which is similar to a concentrated serum) and the sheet mask. So after I cleansed and dried my face, I applied the serum all over, without letting it absorb, and immediately followed with the gauzey sheet mask, which was also saturated with product. There was so much liquid pressed to my face that it started to drip into my eyes and onto my lips. Not good. The sheet mask was also cut too small, especially around the eye area, making me feel a little claustrophobic. After 15 minutes I couldn't wait to rip off the mask and then rub in the serum/ampoule. There was still so much product on my face that if felt a little tacky, so I didn't even bother applying any other products (which normally I would've at least put on my moisturizer). 

**Overall, the stick cleanser and acne patches are ideal for folks who travel a lot (no leaking all over your suitcase!). And if your skin responds well to salicylic acid then the blemish patches should work great on your skin. The packaging on the masks is kitschy and cutesy, not really something I'm looking for on my skincare products, but that's what appeals to the Asian population. I was also unimpressed with the ingredients (it said the "active ingredients" were allantoin and dimethicone- ingredient's that are the opposite of active) and the way the mask was cut and shaped. I've used other sheet masks that I thought were much better. 

Now I know I only tried a few products from South Korea, so I can't really make generalizations about the validity of all the products that come from that country, but I do believe there is a hype to them that may have more to do with trendiness than anything else. For instance, BB Creams are really just tinted moisturizers, and we've had those in the U.S.A. for decades. As for sheet masks, they were popular in the 80's and have also been used in spa treatments during facials. Points need to be given for ingenuity in regards to the stick cleanser and acne patches, but their effectiveness is entirely subjective (as is anything, really). I think the important thing to remember, with any new/popular product is to read the ingredient label and figure out if it will truly impact your skin in a positive way. Otherwise, don't bother. 

Have you tried anything new that you're crazy about?


  1. While I don't use these products, this was a good read...your research and description of your testing of the process is fascinating. Great thoroughness.

    1. Thank you so much Mark. I've been working on this post for almost 2 months, so I'm glad it shows :)