8 popular Korean beauty and skincare myths: Debunked
Is K-beauty all that it’s cracked up to be?
The world grows smaller, and slightly more ridiculous, every day with the advancement in technology and the readily available information about literally anything under the sky. So it wasn’t really a surprise when the world caught on to the intense skincare regimen practiced by women of all ages in Korea.
K-beauty (as it’s called by people in the know) is the gift that keeps on giving. Over the years, it has given us a lot, including the life-changing BB cream and a skincare trend that makes us look like an amateur Leatherface. But before you immerse yourself fully in the world of multiple masks and innovative beauty products, you need to sort the myths from the facts.
Dermatologist Dr Kiran Lohia, who is a self-confessed K-beauty aficionado, recently returned from Seoul, Korea, and decided to help us do just that. “Korean culture requires the women to look flawless at all times. This has caused and entire industry to develop and thrive,” she says.
Truths and myths about Korean skincare
The usual Korean skincare regime has more than 10 steps- FACT
K-beauty is as intensive as it comes. While it’s not unusual to see a Korean skincare regime with less than 10 steps, as a norm, a standard beauty routine could include almost 15-16 steps. “They believe in layering a lot of products on their skin. Because their skin type is different ours, they get away with it too,” says Dr Lohia, and as an afterthought, added, “It’s actually pretty insane.”
The extensive regime consists of 3-step cleansing, essence, serum, moisturizers, sun block and a host of masks. “They have water masks, masks for sleeping, even one just for your neck. There’s no end,” she says. But having a regime that intense is not necessarily a bad thing.
“Before going to Korea, I used to believe that using these many products on your skin is not right and is probably harmful. But I tried all of them myself. I have a tendency to get zits, so while I identified a couple of products that were bothering me, over all I found out that my skin was more moist, dewy and looked healthier,” she says.
You only have to apply sunscreen when it's sunny outside- MYTH
If you thought you can get away with skipping sunscreen the next time it’s raining outside, then you have another think coming. “(Koreans) apply sunscreen all the time, no matter if it’s sunny or cloudy,” says Dr Lohia, “On top of that, they wear hats and masks everywhere. They are so obsessed with getting an even complexion that they wear these inside subways as well!”
If you start anti-ageing treatments earlier, you age faster- MYTH
“Koreans start using anti-ageing products when they’re in their teens, and they have amazing skin,” she says, “The earlier you start, the better your skin is going to be in the long run.” It’s never too late to start, though.
You can only be one skin type to adopt a K-Beauty regime- MYTH
“They have products designed to tackle different skin types, like dry skin, combination skin etc,” she stresses, “You can choose what you want to include in your skincare regimen based on this. For instance, you may want to add an oil-based mist instead of a powder one, if you have dry skin.”
K-Beauty is not suitable for Indian skin- MYTH
“Absolutely not true,” exclaims Dr Lohia, before adding that we should be judicious in what we take from their skincare regime. “We can benefit greatly by adopting their culture of using masks for everything, they’re excellent for hydration. We can also do with adding an extra step in our routine by finding a good serum that works for our skin, along with a strong sunblock,” she advises, “It makes sense for us to add an extra cleansing step to our routines. You can use two face washes, one for gentle cleansing and one for slightly deeper.”
If you have oily skin, you should avoid adding oil to your skincare regime- ARGUABLE
While this might seem like a no-brainer, Dr Lohia doesn’t reject the idea outright. “It depends on which oil and on what combination you’re applying it in,” she says, “Can you use oil in your skincare regime if you have oily skin? Absolutely, as long as it’s non comedogenic (products that don’t block your pores).” The right kind of face oil can result in a radiant and hydrated complexion. Check out our handy guide to figure out what oil to pick for your skin type.
There’s no specific treatment to cure acne- FACT
If you’re prone to breakouts then you might need to look elsewhere for a solution. K-beauty doesn’t have many beauty products for acne prone skin. “They take such good care of their skin that they don’t require as many products to fight acne. I think I only saw five people with acne the entire time I was in Korea,” says Dr Lohia, while laughing incredulously, “There’s just one Korean product that I really loved, and would recommend, which is Etude House Ac Clinic Intense Sheet Mask-Anti Acne. Besides that, there’s not much available for acne.”
You can use your regular moisturizer as a night cream- FACT
If you, like most of humanity, haven’t been able to figure out the difference between day and night creams, here's some good news. “As long as your moisturizer has the right ingredients, you don’t need a separate cream for your night skincare regime,” says Dr Lohia, adding something we always suspected, “Night creams are just regular creams with ‘night’ added in front of their name.” According to her, night creams were introduced as a way to increase hydration and to fight ageing. “Nowadays, most moisturizers have anti-ageing ingredients and hydrate well, so while getting a separate night cream might sound luxurious and fancy, it’s actually unnecessary.”