Take a minute and think about your skin as if it were your stomach. Imagine eating a diet full of processed foods containing preservatives, stabilizers, artificial sweeteners, and filler ingredients like high fructose corn syrup. Not only do you miss out on all the nutrients and antioxidants needed to maintain optimal health, but you are damaging your gut by killing the positive bacteria that helps absorb nutrients when you choose to go for that salad or eat some other kind of vegetable.
Do you know your skin is your largest organ? Then why do we tend to treat it differently? What we put in our body should be just as important as what we put on our body. The world of natural and organic skincare can be confusing as hell. Tons of brands label their products “non-toxic,” “green,” and/or “clean,” but in reality, those terms don’t mean anything because they’re not focused on quality and proven products. That’s not to say everything you see on your favorite product label is a lie—it just means that as a consumer, you need to do your own research when it comes to buying natural and quality skincare.
Beauty should be fun! From parabens, phthalates, and sulfates to oxybenzone, triclosan, hydroquinone, and artificial fragrances, these dirty beauty words are fear inducing enough to elicit a Marie Kondo-style purge of one’s entire bathroom cabinet, even in the most apathetic among us. But what does clean beauty even mean? Can you trust all-natural labels? And are nontoxic products important?
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has no authority to recall toxic beauty products unless a manufacturer volunteers. And while the European Union has banned more than 1,000 chemicals common in personal care products, the United States has banned just 11. Should you be concerned? And where do you even start on a path to a cleaner beauty routine?
Let’s start with South Korea! Snail mucin. Bee venom. Glass skin. These are just some of the beauty trends to emerge from South Korea in the past five years. Whether you’ve dabbled in a bit of donkey milk (good for rejuvenating the skin with protein and fatty acids) or you’ve played it safe with a weekly face mask, K-beauty is everywhere. In fact, Allied Market Research says that by 2026, the K-beauty market will be worth an estimated $21 billion. According to Jenni Middleton, director of beauty at trend forecasting company WGSN, “During the coronavirus pandemic, consumers searched more for K-beauty, looking for innovative products to add to their lockdown beauty regimes.”
In Korea, many body-care rituals originate from the bathhouse culture, where milk treatments are slathered on the face and body, and baths are steeped with skin-beneficial ingredients, such as green tea and probiotics.
Carrot seed oil is an unsung hero at the moment, although it has been used in K-beauty for more than 10 years. It contains vitamin A and is a great antioxidant. It’s antiaging, antifungal, antibacterial, and anti-inflammatory—so it’s ideal for anyone looking to brighten up their skin.
K-beauty’s ‘skin first’ approach continues to be strong; especially given that self-care and skin care are so important right now. There’s no denying retinol’s powerful antiaging properties, but the K-beauty approach uses a lower percentage, so the skin stays healthier and less irritated. Retinol is highly efficacious without causing unnecessary damage.
Flexible minimalism is a focus on clean and simple product lines, which makes customizing your routine easier. Right now there is a push towards paired-back lists of ingredients. Single and minimal ingredients are appealing because of their simplicity and high concentration of the hero component. Less is more.
Skin care has a functional element—it has to work and deliver results. Korean beauty products not only accomplish this functional element, but provide meditative, soothing, and spa-like moments that take off in a big way. They not only optimize the health of your skin, but they transport you mentally and emotionally to another headspace.
How we treat our skin reflects how we treat ourselves. Using skin care products and having the knowledge of how to use them can help prevent common skin care issues and premature signs of aging. During a difficult year, personal self-care has taken on new importance for many, so we expect to see the definition to include all of the skin, from head to toe.