We’ve talked about Korean beauty from just about every angle. We know the products celebrities swear by and the underground ingredients infiltrating the mainstream. But what we really want is a crash course in “K-Beauty for Dummies.” Are sheet masks really worth the hype? Does snail slime actually deliver next-level hydration? And why should I shift my focus to the makeup brands, too?
For the answers, we turned to aesthetician Charlotte Cho, who cofounded Soko Glam, a one-stop online shop for the latest and greatest in Korean beauty. She also wrote The Little Book of Skin Care: Korean Beauty Secrets for Healthy, Glowing Skin, in case you doubted her expertise. Ahead, she shares seven key trends to look out for through the rest of 2018.
Sheet Masks Aren’t Going Anywhere
For more than 15 years, sheet masks have been a staple in Korean skin-care routines, and according to Cho, their success will continue to grow stateside. “The idea of self-care at home is growing. No longer do we need to schedule a facial into our busy schedules, skin care can be part of your routine in the comfort of your own home,” she says.
Ceramides as Sun Protection
The benefits of sun protection are literally life-saving, and in Korea, using sunscreen or simply minimizing time in direct sunlight is part of the skin-first lifestyle.
While most of us typically reach for a zinc-infused sunscreen at our local drugstore, Cho cites ceramides as a popular and trendy K-beauty ingredient for keeping the skin barrier protected. As a lipid molecule, it’s able to better keep skin cells bound together, thus preventing moisture loss and promoting plumpness.
“I highly recommend using a product like The Plant Base Quesera Ceramide, which features 74 percent rice ceramides,” she says.
Application Methods Are Changing
Sheet masks and other types of face masks alike aren’t lacking in variety and the ability to target specific skin concerns. Although there isn’t a particular ingredient being used in excess, Cho says the way masks are being applied is evolving into some pretty cool methods.
“Take the Neogen Capsule Masks for example,” she says. “They infused hyaluronic acid into their capsules so that they can be freshly broken and mixed into the sheet mask upon use. I love the fit and the quality of this mask and the fresh ingredients. Recently I also tested the SkinRx Marine Energy Sheet Mask, which also allows you to freshly mix the essence into the mask, and we will curate this soon to Soko Glam.”
Sensitive Skin Is a Priority
Because of the high pollution levels in Korea, the number of people with sensitive skin symptoms is high. As a result, gentle but effective ingredients such as centella asiatica extract (commonly referred to as “cica”) and madecassoside are frequently used in K-beauty products. Both of these calm inflammation, redness, and irritated skin.
“Also, sensitive skin treatments such as gentle exfoliants are coming to the forefront. They are a rare category that is being addressed through K-beauty,” says Cho. For example, “the Neogen Cica Pads contain centella asiatica extract and offer a gentle way to tone and exfoliate.”
Snail Mucin Is Still Popular
We don’t recall exactly when snail mucin skin care became so popular, but according to Cho, it continues to be a best seller on Soko Glam because it provides anti-aging benefits in addition to hydrating, soothing, and calming the skin. In short: It does a lot of good things at once.
“This ingredient is compatible with a variety of skin types, from dry to oily and acne-prone. It also treats one of our biggest skin concerns: acne and acne scarring,” she adds.
EGF Is on the Rise
The focus on animal ingredients begins and ends with snail mucin, but the other need-to-know ingredient for 2018 is EGF, which is short for epidermal growth factors. These are naturally occurring chemical compounds found in your skin that regulate cell growth. In other words, they help your skin maintain its vibrancy and health. Beauty brands often create topical versions of EGFs to infuse in their products, thus making them more effective during use. And although EGFs have been around for quite some time, their popularity is reaching new heights in 2018.
Soko Glam recently curated a brand called EasyDew that fuses high concentrations of medical-grade EGF into their products through unique patents. “We lose EGF naturally at the age of 29, and now this line has been able to supplement that natural loss that can lead to loss of elasticity,” says Cho. “Through these EGF products, we’ve seen amazing results in reducing acne scarring and fine to deep lines.”
Dual-Use Makeup Reigns
Although skin care remains at the top of the K-beauty totem pole, makeup is slowly making a name for itself, too. Brands such as Etude, Innisfree and Tony Moly are creating dual-sided products, which Cho sees as a standout trend.
“My favorite is the Etude House Balm & Color Tint, which has been my go-to lip tint and moisturizing balm over the past year, and it’s finally curated to Soko Glam!,” she says.
Be sure to familiarize yourself with more top-rated Korean beauty brands if you want to experience any of these trends for yourself.