Korean women have a very extreme relationship with skincare. Think: 11-step, twice-daily routines that deliver a newborn-like complexion. It’s this hardcore approach to beauty that makes K Beauty the gift that truly keeps on giving. When you think there couldn’t be an ingredient or technique left to uncover (sheet masks, cushion compacts, BB creams), some innovative Korean brand dishes up something completely genius.
The downside: It means there’s an overwhelming amount of products and tools to try, which is why we chatted with new online K-Beauty store, ETTINE, to spotlight some of the most effective skincare and cosmetic innovations straight outta Seoul.
Australian beauty fan Tash Todd and her Korean-born mother launched the store last month. Todd decided to open ETTINE after noticing K Beauty innovations being embraced in the U.S., but noticing Australia still didn’t have a broad offering of the country’s most effective products. “I noticed how fast the K Beauty trend was growing in the U.S., but when I looked around Australia I realised there was a real gap in the market for a business that could bridge the gap between Korea and Australia in a way that made K Beauty understandable and less intimidating,” she told Sporteluxe. Through her new online store, Todd curates thousands of products and delivers and explains them in an easy-to-understand online format.
Here, we asked Todd to outline the five things every newbie needs to know about Korean Beauty:
“Why is everyone so obsessed with K-beauty,” we hear you ask. Simple: there’s a strong culture of innovation in Korea that means the country is always improving on skincare and makeup formulas and techniques. “The K-beauty industry has become a booming billion dollar industry, which fuels research and development on a whole next level—you can expect to see between 20-30 new products per month launched by each major K Beauty brand,” Tash said.
As far as skincare goes, K-beauty is also relatively affordable. Importantly, it is also normally damn effective, particularly when it comes to preventing fine lines, pigmentation, and other signs of damage: “There are a few factors at play like affordability and the large variety, but I think the most exciting and effective K Beauty products are the ones that focus on organic ingredients and long term prevention,” Tash told Sporteluxe. “What excites me is the renewed focus on proactively nurturing your skin and protecting it for the future. Things like sun care and hydration are essential Korean beauty steps, being sun smart is something that is becoming more and more of a focus,” she added.
“The double cleanse is by far the best system in my opinion,” Tash said, adding that it’s not suitable for people with sensitive skin. This system involves removing anything oil-based or waterproof like foundation and sunscreen with an oil cleanser or cleansing balm, and then following with a water-based cleanser to remove any water-based debris like sweat or dirt, as well as anything that may have been brought to the surface by your oil pre-cleanse. “Only doing a single cleanse essentially lathers the day’s dirt, sebum, your foundation remnants, and more into a thin veil over your skin whereas the two-step process, with different cleansing types, eliminates this issue.” That means cleaner, healthier, less breakout-prone skin.
BB Creams, Cushion Compacts, and Sheet Masks all owe their beginnings to Korean Beauty. “Like most Korean products, BB creams and their kin have a focus on preventative skincare particularly suncare. BB creams were really the wave on which K Beauty has surfed into the mainstream,” Tash told us.
As for sheet masks—probably the most Instagrammed beauty trend of all time—this is another affordable Korean-born innovation. “Sheet mask sales are one of the fastest-growing skincare verticals worldwide. Their success is thanks to the way that sheet masks deliver serum to the skin. Pumped full of ingredients, sheet masks don’t dry out like the old-school paste or clay face masks,” Tash said. This promotes absorption and leads to glowier, more hydrated skin.
According to Tash, Korean women use at least one mask a day, but if this seems a little OTT for your more low-maintenance routine, try using just one each week.
Like with any skincare and cosmetics brands, some are more effective and deliver better value for money than others. Tash shared a few of her favourite brands to look out for:
Keep scrolling for our round-up of skin-saving Korean beauty products to shop online now!
Son & Park’s Beauty Water, $38
Not only is this one of our favourite products for its minimalist chic aesthetic, it’s also the most versatile and exciting on the market right now. It doubles as a makeup remover, as an after cleanse toner, as a skin prep product before makeup, as a hydrating spritz, and as a mild exfoliator; it contains willow bark and papaya extracts that exfoliate your skin and remove dead skin cells and impurities.
Huxley Essence Grab Water, $50
This essence is part of the watery gel trend in K Beauty as soon as it’s applied (which means the texture feels super lightweight). It’s great for combination or oily skin. Your skin afterwards feels nourished but not sticky. It uses 85% Sahara Cactus extract which has been found to be super hydrating for your skin. It also uses Sahara Cactus Seed Oil which is non-comedogenic and high in Vitamin E which allows the serum to quickly absorb into your skin.
Heimish All Clean Balm, $24
This Balm has total cult status; it;s packaging is chic as hell, and the formula turns the balm into an oil cleanser as you massage it into your skin. This balm cleanses without stripping away your skin’s natural oils and, unlike some of their competitors, there are no parabens of mineral oil nasties included in the formula. They use a lot of organic ingredients, including citrus oils and extracts that naturally brighten your skin, as well as tea tree oil that helps to prevent breakouts.
Too Cool For School, $9.95
All of Too Cool For School’s products have hit cult status over the last few years, but their sheet masks are by far the favourite. The texture of the actual sheet is a soft microfibre, and there’s plenty of essence there which means you often don’t need any after skin care, just tap and go! The sheet is soaked in egg extracts, coconut water and niacinamide that keeps your skin hydrated. Vitamin C also brightens.
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