Americans pick up on Korean skin care trends


Kat Sarafianos

Anyone familiar with Instagram and Youtube beauty gurus will have probably noticed a trend. Instead of the typical and familiar American skin care products, many content creators have been showcasing Korean products on their accounts.
Junior Yoo Jin Jeong, who moved from Korea to America in 2015, credits the effectiveness of Korean products as the reason for their new American popularity.
“I think [Korean skin care has gotten so popular internationally] because a lot of the beauty products show improvement instantly,” Jeong said. “I think there are more steps that are applied [in Korean skin care routines] than there is in American products, [which makes Korean ones] more effective.”

Jeong is not alone in her belief of the superiority of Korean skincare. According to the beauty magazine Cosmopolitan, ever since 2010, Korean beauty products have developed a cult following across the globe because of their effectiveness.
Korean beauty Youtuber Liah Kim of Wishtrendtv says the vast difference in results between Korean and American skincare products comes from Korea’s competitive beauty market. Kim said because Korean women have such a huge demand for beauty products, there are constantly new brands and products being introduced to the public to satiate the consumers. Furthermore, turnaround time for product production in Korea is very short.
“There is a really popular Korean beauty brand called Tony Moly that is famous for practically monthly new releases of new products,” Kim said. “They bring products from development to production in only six weeks. It’s all to feed the growing demand, but no longer only for Korean women but for the growing international consumer audience.”
Another major difference between Korean and American beauty routines is the sheer length of them. Most Korean beauty websites recommend skincare routines that have eight to ten steps. According to, a popular Korean beauty website, the extensive practice, day and night, usually entails a first step of washing the face with a cleanser.
Cleanser removes the grease and other obvious impurities like dirt, makeup, etc. from the skin so acne can’t grow, according to After washing the face, the skin, while clean, is naturally dehydrated because it’s stripped of natural oils and as a result, the skin’s pH levels are lowered. If a person allows their pH levels to stay low, their skin will become dry and dehydrated. To combat this, it’s important to use toner to give the skin immediate hydration. explains the next three steps in a typical Korean routine as essense, ampoule and then a serum. Essence is a product that is a mix between toner and serum and is meant to hydrate and promote new cell growth. An ampoule is a product that has a higher number of active ingredients to target specific skincare concerns. When picking an ampoule, people should choose it based off their specific skincare concern, whether that be acne, acne scars, skin lightening, wrinkles, etc. After ampoule, the next step is serum. Serums have concentrated formulas with huge amounts of active ingredients and, like ampole, target specific skin concerns.
After these targeted steps, recommends a moisturizer, eye cream and, last but most importantly, sunscreen.
“I think the biggest difference between Korean and American beauty products falls on the fact that Korean products put a lot more emphasis on sun-protection and moisture for the skin,” senior Bana Daghlas said. “These are aspects that I don’t think are reflected enough in the American skincare market given how important they are. Preventive measure like sunscreen are vital to good skin. To me it shows how much better Korean products are.”
Sunscreen and protecting the skin from the sun is the biggest and most effective preventive measure a person can take against major skin concerns. Kim said the key to avoiding wrinkles, acne scars, freckles or most other skin problems is to consistently wear sunscreen. Kim, however, sites the strengths that make up the Korean regimen to be its weakness too.
“The typical routine in Korea is so long because it involves so many great products, but to Americans especially, they view it as way too long and too much time and not worth it,” Kim said. “I think this has led to people using Korean products and cherry picking what they like about the routine but not actually adapting the full thing.”
Daghlas is a prime example of Kim’s belief. As big of a fan as she may be of Korean products and what they offer, she herself only does a shortened version of the routine and “cherry picks” her favorite products, like the Innis Free sheet masks, to use occasionally.
“I generally try to double cleanse with an oil based cleanser and then with a foamy cleanser, followed by a lot of moisturizer. In the morning I make sure to put on sunscreen as well,” Dhaglas said. “If I’m not lazy, I try to do a mask of some type at least once a week. I think my routine is probably more extensive than the average person my age, but I personally consider it to be pretty simple.”