Although it’s been around for years, the hype that has been sparked by K-Beauty (Korean Beauty) seems as if it’s emerged overnight. Major beauty publications such as Refinery29, Bustle and Allure are all upping the hype and telling people that K-Beauty is here to stay.
What is K-Beauty?
K-Beauty is the umbrella term for all South Korean imports in the skin care, makeup and bath-and-body categories that has been sending U.S. beauty enthusiasts into a tizzy. Within the last 18 months, K-Beauty has become some kind of mega-sensation in America, due to its claims of being natural and effective, but also coming in pastel-colored packages, cute shaped bottles like pandas, cats, peeled bananas or eggs.
What K-Beauty Entails
A typical K-Beauty regime calls for incorporating up to 10 (sometimes more) steps into your morning and evening beauty routines. This regime begins with a “dual cleansing” step in which oil and water-based products are recommended, a series of sheet masks, essences, serums and rich moisturizers. After your morning regime, K-Beauty suggests applying SPF 35+, where at night the alternative is a hydrating sleep mask.
New York based dermatologist Dennis Gross, is a fan of this overly through multi step regime. Gross believes that “there’s a positive in having a beauty regime that goes beyond the basics and addresses issues such as fine lines, pores, and uneven skin tone.” Gross who doesn’t necessarily prescribe 10-step routines for his patients, still believes that a “customized skin-care routine“ makes good sense from a skin-biology standpoint.
Where To Start
Although a K-Beauty regime calls for a “10-step” routine, this isn’t a rule. If it were, it’s one that can be broken. To simplify your routine, find products that multi-task. For instance, our “Awaken” Body Smooth Sugar is a natural and gentle exfoliating organic scrub. It is made with organic sugar, coconut and apricot kernel oils and glycerin and Vitamin E to nourish and protect the skin. Since it’s a gentle exfoliator, it can be used on face and body, but only recommended for to be used on your face 2-3 times a week or as needed.
For cleansing and cleansing pores, the Activated Charcoal Botanical Bar Soap is another great option. The shea and cocoa butter bar soap contains pure activated charcoal, which is known for its ability to draw impurities and excess oil from the skin and hair. This soap is great for oily skin, or for anyone who is looking for a deep cleanse.
The Best Of K-Beauty
Soko Glam is an online marketplace that specializes in K-Beauty products and has a page on their site which is dedicated to all the best of K-Beauty products. Consider their list the ultimate starter-pack to building your K-Beauty product arsenal.
Which Cleanser Is Right For My Skin Type?
There are three basic types of cleanser – 1)soaps; 2) surfactant (or detergent) cleansers; and 3) soap-free (or oil) cleansers. It may be difficult to know which cleanser is right for your skin type, with all of the choices available. Below are the basic differences to help you choose.
Soaps can be divided into bar soaps and liquid soaps. Soaps have been around for thousands of years. Essentially, a soap is classified as a product created by combining an oil or fat with lye, or sodium hydroxide. If this process doesn’t occur, it can’t be called a soap. An example would be WEBA’s Lavender/Rosemary Bar Soap. Soaps tend to be more basic, with a pH between 10 and 12, depending upon how much sodium hydroxide is left behind and whether or not they are “superfatted.” Unlike our bar soaps, which retain glycerin and use premium butters like cocoa and shea, commercial soaps remove the glycerin for sale. It’s important to read labels; not all bar soaps are created equal. Bar soaps travel well and cost less to use than liquid soaps.
Liquid soaps are made by combining fats or oils with potash, or potassium hydroxide. This is a “hot process” reaction – the ingredients are heated for a period of time until the reaction is done, after which water is added. If less water is added, you have a gel. More water produces a thinner formula. These also tend to be more basic. A major difference between liquid and bar soaps is that with liquid soaps, a preservative must be added due to the high water content. Again, read labels to see what preservatives or other ingredients are used.
Soaps, because they clean so well, are generally fine for people with combination or oily skin, although soaps can have ingredients added to them which make them more moisturizing for all skin types. Many also find liquid soaps convenient and more hygienic than bar soaps. It’s really a matter of personal preference.
Surfactant (detergent) cleansers
Surfactant cleansers include detergents (e.g. dish detergent, laundry detergent) and are generally synthetics (made in a lab). Many of the “Beauty Bars” are, in fact, a combination of surfactants formed into a bar under high pressure. Some surfactants like Sodium Lauryl Sulphate have fallen into disrepute lately, but there are other naturally-derived surfactants like Coco Betaine, which cleans more gently compared with soaps. These tend to be better for persons with problem skin (acne, ezcema, etc.). This class of cleansers is popular in shampoos, as well, because many have conditioning properties.
Soap-free (oil) cleansers
Soap-free cleansers can include oil-free cream and oil cleansers. They are good for dry, combination and oily skin and are good at removing makeup. Oil-free cleansers consist entirely of surfactants, some synthetic and some naturally-derived, with perhaps a wax and conditioning agents. Reading the labels on these products can be confusing because of the chemical names. What is polyethylene? (A plastic resin). What is Methyl Lactate? (A solvent.) It can also be difficult to determine whether ingredients come from plants or animals. Most have water as their first ingredients, necessitating a preservative. And just because these products are soap-free doesn’t mean that you can’t react to one or more ingredients. Companies are required to provide common names on their labels; you can search for information about an ingredient if you’re not sure what it is.
Oil cleansers are also soap-free, but usually contain a combination of oils along with other beneficial ingredients. Again, check the label if you want to be sure that you’re not sensitive to an ingredient like nuts or certain essential oils. One example of an oil cleanser is our Whole Earth Body Actives Gentle Facial Cleansing Oil and Makeup Remover. Ours is free of essential oils, perfumes and dyes. These also tend to be used exclusively for the face, unlike other cleansers. They tend to be less irritating to the eyes.
Our recommendation? It’s probably best to use a variety of cleansers, depending on your family’s skincare needs and their particular use. For travel, bar soaps are best. When skin is dry, try a cream cleanser. To remove makeup and excess oils, try an oil cleanser. Regardless of which you choose, always check labels so you know what is going on your skin, and to avoid irritation.
Aussie Soap Supplies article on surfactants
FDA webpage on ingredient names and labeling