South Korea has become a go-to for skincare, using an incredible mix of high tech machines and natural remedies to keep their skin looking good. And now the gigantic Korean industry is trying out a few of SkinB5’s trusted skincare methods.
Before we look at how K-beauty is getting it right by treating acne from within, let’s see what makes it so interesting.
Unusual natural remedies
Eggs. In the West we have things like fish scales in lipstick, so we’re no strangers to playing with nature. Korea has long noticed that eggs help protect the skin and keep it hydrated. At first, it’s natural to double-take at that, but we do weirder things. K-beauty uses seaweed, which has caught on in health clubs. Kelp is a similar ingredient. You may have already taken a shining to kelp without knowing it if you like miso soup. Donkey milk? Whatever, we’ve come this far, and goat’s milk is amazing.
Then there’s snail slime.
Mucin is its official name. Snails can have a pretty glamorous image, like when they’re served as escargot. There are many types of snail, we just see the garden type. Well, the K-beauty mucin comes from the cryptomphalus aspersa, also known as … the common garden snail. Yep. Beauty was in our backyards all along. Mucin has some of the proteins and acids you can find in medical acne treatments. It helps to seal in moisture and lets in the active ingredients of a face mask or moisturiser. Products with mucin have proven to increase collagen and help heal wounds like acne flare-ups, which overall means they fight aging.
Then there’s bee venom.
K-beauty uses it as a more temporary botox, but without the botulism. If natural beauty is your thing, the venom can increase collagen and help cells work. It’s pretty ethical too. Beekeepers collect the venom by putting a glass pane next to a hive, which bees like to sting, but they keep their stingers and safely buzz off to find another flower.
Microneedling is one way to inject the skin with beauty products, by making the needles tiny and using thousands of them. This isn’t actually a great method because it can cause microtears, which lets in bacteria. You don’t want that around your pores. A derma roller looks like a handheld shaver, but the razor is a rolling pin covering in needles. Microneedling stickers that go over the skin also exist. But it’s not all medieval torture devices. We’ve talked before about skin masks, the serum-soaked fabrics that cover your face for a couple of hours. They may not be great for the environment, but a mask will hide your reaction to everything and I’ve never heard of them being banned from poker games. Maybe it could pay for itself.
Two-sided cleansing pads have a different cleanser on each side and seem to be designed for people who couldn’t be bothered applying and taking off different cleansers. The magic stone is a classy exfoliating ball containing charcoal. You can even get peel-off masks that contain wine.
Where K-beauty really gets it right
K-beauty may be about looking good, but it reaches that end by treating you from within — starting with the mind. A lot of these products come with 10-step regimens that you work into your day with discipline. There are specific orders that the products go in, for example, you might cleanse twice, exfoliate, then at night, you put on a moisturiser to keep hydrated. Where a lot of people patch together their own morning and night routines, K-beauty products know the best order and write it out for you. This might be like using a SkinB5 Five Minute Skin Purifying Mask in the morning, taking your Acne Control Extra Strength Tablets, then using the SkinB5 Moisturiser at night to lock in those vitamins. A lot of the products also use natural ingredients designed to soak into your skin, not just mask blemishes.
But the real genius is hydration. The middle steps are usually about getting water into your skin so that the vitamins can work. Popular K-beauty products contain things like bamboo water, or they come in spray-bottle hydration. SkinB5’s tablets and the new Superfood Booster go further, getting water into your body and individual cells so your whole system can keep itself looking good, and marine collagen is particularly good at this.
So there it is. It took a little snail juice and poison, but the mainstream is really catching on that the best skincare is internal and natural. And the more popular it gets, the cooler it seems to get.
Peter Matthews is a freelance writer living in Melbourne. When he sees Asian pop music videos on TV Saturday morning, he gets trapped watching them all day.