South Korean skin care, affectionately dubbed “K-beauty” by the skin care world, has taken the internet by storm. Whether you’re looking for a snail facial or a “foolproof” 10-step beauty routine, it seems like there’s a new K-beauty trend at every turn. So what is it about these products, ingredients, and treatments that seem to have the skin care world ooh-ing and ahh-ing over every new beauty fad that comes out of South Korea, and are K-beauty trends really more scientifically advanced than other skin care technologies and ingredients? We’ve got the answers.
What’s behind the K-Beauty Myth?
There’s something to be said for the “exotic” and “ancient” air that the Korean skin care industry has created around its products. After all, who wouldn’t want to tap into centuries-old traditions to keep their skin looking as healthy and youthful as possible? K-beauty products are also now all over the place, including online and everyday brick-and-mortar stores like Target, Nordstrom, and Sephora. Because of how rapidly popular Korean skin care has become, consumers seem to swarm to every new ingredient and product that comes out. But the reality is that just because an ingredient has been labeled “Korean skin care” or “K-beauty” doesn’t necessarily mean that it’s head and shoulders above other skin care products, or even that it really works.
Take a Closer Look
While there may certainly be ingredients in Korean skin care that can be beneficial for certain skin types and conditions, be wary of choosing a new product based purely on the fact that it’s part of this trend. For example, there are numerous Korean skin care fads that just flat out don’t work, or that could even make your skin’s appearance worse. Here are just three examples:
- Snail slime. One of the hottest Korean skin care trends involves slathering snail mucous on your skin, or even letting tiny snails crawl across your face in a sought-after snail facial. However, there is no scientific evidence that your skin is able to benefit from the small concentrations of amino acids, proteins, and antioxidants that snail slime contains . In fact, unless they are in their free, bioavailable form, amino acids are not useful to the skin, as they are already intertwined with the protein structure of the snail mucous.
- Oil cleanser. Part of the ever-popular 10-step K-beauty routine is to double cleanse your skin–first using an oil cleanser, and then using a foaming cleanser. There are quite a few problems with this tip, however. First, not all skin types can benefit from an oil cleanser, just as not all types can benefit from a foaming cleanser. Secondly, over-washing your skin can strip it of its natural lipids, resulting in a dry, dull, and lackluster appearance. Finally, one of the most popular K-beauty oils right now is sheep oil, or lanolin. This ingredient, however, can be highly comedogenic, with a rating of 4 out of 5 on the comedogenicity scale, where 5 is very comedogenic . Comedogenic means that the ingredient is known to clog pores, which can lead to acne and other unwanted skin conditions.
- Fermented skin care. You may be familiar with the fact that eating probiotic-rich food like yogurt and kefir can do wonders for the digestive system. But one of the latest K-beauty skin care crazes attempts to include fermented cultures in topical skin care products so that your skin might reap the same benefits. The problem with this approach, however, is that plant ferments do not offer the same benefits to the skin as live bacteria can offer the digestive system . Moreover, just as the beneficial compounds in snail slime are unusable by your skin, so, too, are the amino acids and antioxidants that are tied up within the proteins of plant ferments.
Stick to the Basics
While this isn’t to say that there are no K-beauty ingredients that might be helpful, consumers do need to be aware of the scientific evidence (or lack thereof) that can back up the claims that K-beauty companies make about their products. Otherwise, many of these products are not just a waste of money, but they can also end up making your skin worse. Instead of buying into the hype, a much more effective approach is to use skin care products that simply contain the free-form amino acids that your skin can readily use to stimulate its own natural production of collagen. Even better, because amino acids are already present in your skin, these ingredients are appropriate for virtually all skin types and conditions. Take a look at the innovative amino acid skin care products that AminoGenesis has to offer, and you’ll see that these have been formulated with all or nearly all 20 of the amino acids needed to create proteins. No gimmicks, just science-backed ingredients.
 The Guardian