Korean beauty secrets revealed

At the DIY skincare creation workshop I attended, the Korean trainer told us that women in her country are very particular about their beauty and would make sure that they’re all well groomed from head to toe even when they’re just heading to the supermarket. I was also told that most of them prefer to use soap to wash their face. Anyway, I couldn’t find out more Korean beauty tips from her but I’ve just come across some interesting ones from Laneige’s International Trainer, Jin Lee at K-popped.com which include:

Using outward & upwards strokes when washing your face
When washing your face, do not use vertical up-down strokes which will loosen your facial muscles and promote skin sag. Use outward and upward strokes instead. I think this is quite in line with what I wrote yesterday and certainly make sense. However, it’s quite an effort to remember this because I’m so used to washing my face in circular movements. But I always try to use outward and upward strokes when I apply my facial creams and oils though.

Using lots of whitening products
If you want to have clear complexion, you should follow the Korean women who are fond of using whitening products to combat skin pigmentation problems. And with the great number of whitening and brightening products available in the market, I believe most of us are already into this regime.

Using sunscreen to prevent premature aging
Like the rest of the world, Koreans believe that sunscreens are an important aspect of skincare routines. So prevent premature aging by using sunscreen diligently as early as possible and this is also something that is achieveable given the flood of sunscreen products in the market. The only problem is picking one that provides sufficient sun protection and suit your skin type.

Using 17 – 18 products to achieve flawless complexion
The one that caught my attention most was that Korean women apply 17 – 18 products every morning before stepping out of the house! Gosh! That’s something I cannot follow for sure. One, I don’t have the time for the full works and two, I really can’t tolerate having too many products on my face!

If you’re interested to read more about the products they use, then check out the article here.

* Oh and don’t forget the BB creams that originate from Korea!

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  1. says

    ohh I’m interested to learn more, I’ve got Korean students in the past and I asked for their secrets too coz their skin are super!!

    They told me they go to weekly “sauna!”

    Nikki: Weekly sauna? So steaming works well for them? Interesting…

    • felicity says

      maybe that’s why in some Korean drama’s they include some scenes that the actor/actress will go to a sauna.

  2. Dee says

    Using 17-18 products on the go! Wow! I only have 3-4 products that are still alot to finish. I always envy Korean ladies, they have flawless and supple skin. And their BB creams works wonders for me! =)

    Dee: Yeah, I thought that’s too much and quite unthinkable for me cos I only use 4 – 5 products at most including toner!

  3. says

    Incredible! So many products?!!! @_@

    Thanks for the link to the article. I had a couple of Korean neighbours who looked really youthful even though they were quite auntie already, so I do think they must have some good beauty secrets!

    Karen: I suppose some of their good skin were also “inherited”…

  4. Florence says

    Using 17-18 products on the face!!!By the time apply all the products plus the make up, I think I will be too lazy to go out :)

    Florence: I think my face will drop to the floor due to the burden…keke…

  5. pf1123 says

    I don’t think all the women in Korea has got great skin. The SAs in beauty shops like Etude House, Skinfood and The Face Shop are don’t exactly have flawless skin either. Most of the SAs have a lot of acne, etc. I don’t know why.

    One The Face Shop SA was trying to sell me those nose patches to get rid of blackheads on the nose. She said she also uses them. BUT when I see that the pores (or maybe golf holes) on her nose were SO BIG (MY GOSH!), I didn’t dare to get them.

    In addition, a lot of people complain online that they break out on Korean skincare.

    When I ask my colleagues in Seoul, most of them tell me they prefer to use international brand products, such as Bobby Brown, Dior, Lancome, etc.

    pf1123: Are the SAs you’re referring in Korea? Most of the Korean ladies I’ve come across personally in Korea have great skin. Come to think of it, those from North Asia seems to have better skin that those in SEA and I wonder why. I suppose not everyone’s skin agrees with Korean skincare but then again, so many also raved about their success stories with BB creams isn’t it?

  6. pf1123 says

    Yeah…the SAs are koreans.

    I suppose it could be the climate?

    pf1123: My guess is similar to yours about the climate. But also, I think maybe the all the loading of products sometimes give the illusion of perfect skin too. Hee…

  7. nikki says

    Just wondering, but by outward strokes, does that mean towards the nose or ear?
    And 17-18! That is extreme! Are they extremely hardworking or crazy? I get tired from just using 3-4 products. Can’t imagine using so many! Is it good for the skin?

    Nikki: Towards the ear…it’s actually quite hard to follow when it comes to washing our faces.

  8. says

    Wow… 17-18 products on face only will kill my sensitive skin :p

    I had worked in Korea for my project before and I didn’t think many Korea girls have really good skin. They might just like you and me who have issues about their skin.

    I seriously think it was due to climate because my skin & complexion looks fabulous in autumn/winter, which makeup hardly achieves the complexion. (I don’t hv flawless skin)

    BT: I’m sure not all the Korean girls have great skin but I think on the whole, Korean, Taiwanese, Chinese and Japanese girls have better skin. Maybe it’s just my perception but those that I’ve come across are great. I remember I used to drool just looking at my colleagues’ faces (those from Korea and China)… I agree with you about the weather. So darn our hot and humid weather here!

  9. says

    wow 17-18 products is totally insane! O_o who would have the time in the world to do it before heading to work early in the morning. lol. I am doing 6 layers and I think is taking up too much of my time. And, one of the factors is the weather here. The hot and humid weather does no good to our skin either. And i heard they use ALOT of ginseng in everything, so i guess that must be one of the reasons too?

    Prettybeautiful: Yeah, I agree with you that climate and food play a part. Just look at the Japanese. They eat a lot of raw stuff and that helps in terms of giving them good health too.

  10. sarah says

    I keep hearing about BB creams…what are they?

    Sarah: BB Creams are treatment creams meant to cover blemishes and soften skin texture. I wrote about it and if you like to know more, check out my entry here.

  11. says

    17-18 products??? I am just trying to figure out what those products could be:) There’s no doubt that koreans have beautiful skin but I like Japanese women’s skin a lot, they look so flawless.

    Leon: The 17-18 products also include makeup. But still, it’s a lot! I haven’t seen too many Japanese women up close but yes, those I’ve seen seems to have rather good complexion.

  12. says

    I only use about 5 products on my face, and already I find myself almost late for work everyday! I cannot imagine doing 17 – 18! It’ll take all day!!!

    Em: You’re so right! It’s too time consuming!

  13. Hakimah says

    what is a refiner? its one of korean 5 skin care steps.

    Hakimah: If I’m not wrong, it helps to minimize the pores…

  14. says

    I’m a Korean American and I can say that most young adults (pass high school years) in Korea have great skin. This is because they put a lot of time and money into it. You’ll notice that most of the high schoolers have crazy acne that all seems to clear out by the them they graduate. I’m thinking it’s stress related.

    But with Korean women, I think it’s a combination of sauna, skin care, facial & spas, diet and application of make-up. You won’t really see crazy large pores or zits because in Korea they sure know how to cover them up.

    Darn it I want to go to Korea and learn how to apply make up the way they do ebcause they can fake such good skin.

    CJ: I think beauty is something Korean women takes pride in and something I would love to emulate but I don’t want anything too time consuming.

  15. SG says

    Being a Korean women myself who does not live in Korea, I think a lot of having good skin is genetic. The women of Korean origin that I know, and myself, have great skin without having to use many products. I don’t even wash my face, and only apply moisturiser when I remember (every few days). I’m approaching 30.

    SG: You’re lucky! Yes I think it’s true. It’s definitely good genes and perhaps diet too.

  16. says

    i think that if u eat well exercise well and moisturize clean ur face and all that stuff then u dont need any beauty tips from any country.it is hard to do so much stuff in 1 day.I would advice to stay happy and healthy and use natural products.use sunscreen and stay clean.it has worked for me

    vs: I agree with you and in general that should work but some of us are not so blessed with good genes or have to deal with hormone issues and have more skin issues to deal with.

  17. says

    I am Korean 21 and have been living in CA for 8 years.. I have noticed that most Koreans who just came to US have perfect skin. Then they start having acne problems in a few months. It could be the sunlight, diet, skin products, sauna, etc..,
    but definitely not genetic..probably sunlight…But I see this problem more from the teens. Those who came here as adults wouldn’t experience so much difference.
    Maybe US is just dominated by skin related bacteria!!!!

    Lu: I’m inclined to believe it might be the diet and perhaps water.

  18. rachel says

    i m interested in bb cream but how would i buy ‘my shade’??/ i m 22 nd the bb cream brtc one comes in anti-wrinkle and they claim to firm ur skin..which one shd i buy ?? also i m not fair ..i m motre like medium to dark olive skin …do they do my shade?? please help!!

  19. mooni3 says

    hmmm…well i am totally obsessed with skincare and learning about routines of different countries etc…skincare routines…i live in saudi arabia and i went to an international school here from where i fortunately encountered girls from different countries etc. i even had a korean friend who used to hang out with her other korean friends from different classrooms. that korean friend of mine DID NOT have flawless skin…but her friends did have good skin. she had acne etc. but she used this herbal treatment that used to leave two red round marks on her cheeks…i even have some chinese girls in that school and their skin IS flawless…i have been in this country all my life and honestly…the only people who dont ever get acne regularly in their life are arabs…i have never seen an arab woman get crazy acne…never. i myself never had acne problem in my teens but now im starting to have them…my sisters have quiet alot…i think its just genetics…the skin type you get is genetics BUT you can control your skin condition and make it better by improving your LIFESTYLE, not by dumping a gazillion creams on your face…its not magic, its what goes inside your body that really makes a difference…your diet can beat genetics ladies so try eating healthy and avoiding fast foods…goodluck 😀

    • nur says

      hello there,
      wanna know more bout arab’s routine skincare. maybe u wanna share. here acne so troubled me. tq

  20. gaga says

    i have acne since i enter college,,i think the factor is;
    >>>thats it!!!now im more concern about my diet and my skin looks better lol,,,still have to deal with the other problem tho,,,damn it!!!

    • says

      Hey! I agree…I think stress and exercise are big–and so is sleep! Once, I had all 4 of my wisdom teeth removed and had felt sick for about a week, so all I did so sleep practically non-stop and drink water/fluids. I had the most clear skin then. Now I’m back to my old bad habits of sleeping late though… -_-

  21. dee says

    “Using 17 – 18 products to achieve flawless complexion”

    No wonder korean skincare line are so confusing! while others only have cleanser, toner, moisturizer, exfoliator, sunscreen and serum for spesific concern, koreans have additional emollient, lotion, serum, and other creams I don’t understand. >.<

    Personally, I believe the simplier, the better. What more important is how effective your skincare regime, not how many you put on your face everyday.

    be real. if you put 17 products in your face everyday, but your lifestyle is not healthy, will you get the flawless face?

  22. nancy says

    BB cream was NOT invented in Korea…It was actually invented in Germany, but Korea has the largest market for BB cream.

  23. says

    Okay, I agree about the sunscreen part (although there are time when I don’t feel like putting sunscreen on because it’s rather oily and sticky) but using 17-18 products, I think, is totally overkill! What about those women back then, back in the day when they didn’t have all those beauty products? It wasn’t like their skin was horrible and that they were hideous. Some of my Korean friends just said they use more make-up so the complexion *seems* better. It’s hard to know what to believe anymore!

  24. felicity says

    i’ve tried 5 products in a month.
    but after applying those products on my face i’m so lazy to go out! When I put those products it takes me for about an hour! that’s why i stopped using those because it always makes me late in work.

    • sesame says

      It’s not possible for us to apply so many stuff on a routine basis…plus, it may not be necessarily good for our skin. I suppose we also have to consider the weather as in some humid weather, a lot of stuff on the skin is bad news.

  25. faezeh says

    i m really interested to learn more about korean secrets of having such skin.i m from iran,here most people who pay attention to their skin are teenagers.i m a teenager myself i used to have acne on my face but now i use my dr.’s orders and i got rid of them but if i stop using my drugs i ’ll have them again,for me it’s not from stress, in iran half of the teenagers have acne until 20 here women use make up but the way they do is really diffrent from korean women.i really like to learn how they do it!i use sunscreen creams such as uriage & bioderma,comparin to my sister that doesn’t use sunscreen products it has really worked for me.i think the climate is really effective and Thanks for the link to the article

    • fluff says

      i am from the us, i visited seoul for a month and a half to see friends. i immediately noticed how beautiful the koreans skin was. it was like nothing i had ever seen. very surreal, ethereal & illuminating. i then found out that they use many whitening products and foundations. i loaded up on tones of products from cleansers to masks. i really loved all the products. i bought so many, i had to have them shipped home. atlanta has a lrg korean community, i am deciding that i need to find a korean makeup shop because the products i look for online are insanely over priced…..

  26. Lisa says

    BB Cream, aka Blemish Balm is an innovative multifunctional product category that blends skincare and cosmetic using botanical ingredients. It started off as a soothing treatment balm that dermatologists and surgeons used on patients who underwent laser skin treatments. It was used to help shield and protect as well as regenerate delicate skin. Korean celebrities soon noticed and acted on this cream sparking a huge craze in Korea, due to its excellent results. The craze has grown exponentially into over 10 countries and now in North America.

    BB cream moisturizes, covers up naturally while rejuvenating skin underneath, as well as a sun protectant. Some have whitening and wrinkle repair as well as a glossy shimmer. The colour seeps into the skin naturally that it hardly seems like one has makeup on (unlike foundations) yet sill creating a flawless look. This is why it usually comes in one colour (the more you rub, the more it ‘seeps’ into the skin). It is also a natural moisturizer and makes the skin feel dewy and not oily. BB Creams are made from high grade nutrition with anti-bacterial, anti-fungal and anti-oxidating properties that are healthy for the skin. The ingredients vary in different types of BB creams.

  27. Miss Vinny says

    Actually, isn’t cosmetic surgery pretty big in South Korea? So the illusion of “flawless skin” might just be from the usage of botox or some other operation. Because high schoolers aren’t allowed to wear makeup(very very strict rules regarding personal appearance), so many male and female students will go for surgery after finishing high school.

    But maybe it’s only the more well-to-do people who can afford to put on that many products on their skin. After all, they don’t really need to work much, do they? You can also count the more famous actresses and actors who may have a makeup team to help them apply all those creams, lotions and makeup. Of course if you have a few different people working on your skin at the same time, it’s definitely much faster! =P

  28. Miss Vinny says

    And actually, it’s better to eat more vegetables and fruits instead. I’m currently eating a partially organic diet. But it’s a hassle since I’ve got to run around finding the right shops, since I don’t own a car and my family doesn’t believe in organic food.

  29. Lala says

    Oh yes, plastic surgery is top in South Korea! That’s one reason why they have such great skin. In South Korea, the plastic surgeons will make you look natural, that’s why they don’t look fake, as oppose to in Western countries.

    But also, the government spends billions on skin care research! Its insane. One of the best and natural skin care companies in South Korea is Sulwhasoo by Amore Pacific and The History of Whoo which is researched by LG. They are really expensive, all medicinal herbs, but they show results instantly.

    I admire Koreans for taking care of their appearance. I would not call it superficial because it is in our nature to feel good and look good! It is important, I mean, its your skin!

  30. Lisa says

    I am so interested in using Korean skin products, as I have noticed poreless and spotless complexions on many K women I’ve seen.
    My personal concern? Gluten!I have problems with coming into direct contact with gluten containing ingredients, especially with shampoos,conditioners and lip products.Thanks for the recent Vivawoman article you wrote on the subject.
    Are you aware of any K product lines that have gluten free product lists? While generating such a list is pretty standard in the U.S., it may not be standard everywhere. This information would be most helpful!

    • sesame says

      Hi Lisa: unfortunately, I don’t think any of them are made gluten free. Probably have to sieve through the ingredients individually to find out. But yeah, their products do give flawless complexion. I’ve begun to like BB cream.

  31. says

    hayzz a lot of koreans have a good skin specially korean girls cause they eat a healthy foods or a lot of vegie foods so it can help to glow their skin and maintain their beautiful skin so girls try eat healthy foods to help your skin glow.. :)) advice lol :))

  32. Kyuu says

    it’s impossible for me to use too much product. i live in a hot country and i have a combination skin. putting more products will only cause break outs.

  33. says

    Koreans together with the Chinese and Japanese beauty secrets are eyelid plastic surgery and rhinoplasty. To get rid of those slant eyes and tomato noses. Their women don’t have natural beauty. Born with mongoloid faces, they always need to get plastic surgeries to get rid of their down syndrome infected look. ROFL!!!

  34. ashley says

    i think its the climate because my one asian friend said that after coming to america her skin has been breaking out

  35. Antz25 says

    Woaaah… That’s INTENSE!!! o_O

    I only apply moisturizer and sunblock every day…and thank God, my skin looks as good as korean actresses w/ full make up on… ;p

  36. meadow says

    There are a lot of Korean and Japanese international students at my college. Most of them SEEM to have really nice skin, except a few. I was amazed at their skin.

    Then one night, as I came into the restroom to take a shower, I saw one of those girls without her makeup and such things, and the difference was really dramatic… she looks waaaaay different from when she had makeup on. And her skin wasn’t great at all, it just seemed normal, with blemishes and spots here and there. I was surprised haha. Those Japanese and Korean girls really know how to use beauty products and makeup.

    But I heard from the Korean guys that a few of the Koreans girls at my school had plastic/cosmetic surgeries…

    Another time, I was saying to this one Korean guy how Korean girls’ skin is sooo beautiful, and he said it was all because of the makeup and cosmetic procedures in order to maintain/enhance their skin/beauty…

  37. Agirltalking says

    Seriously, don’t ever use so many products! I’m 17 years old and I already have wrinkles and my face was used to be ‘oily’ but after that I used SO many products for acne, oily skin (yes I was really crazy) etc. But now, I wash my face with ‘Clinique 7 Day Scrub Cream Rinse-Off Formula’. It’s really good and it doesn’t make it dry. My dry skin became oily again. Believe me, I’ve tried so many products, but this one is really good ^-^

  38. Kristen says

    I love their makeup and intend to go Korea. I want to learn from them. Any school or academy to recommend.

  39. K says

    koreans have great(white, and soft) skin because they eat spicy foods a lot, they’re barely exposed to sun and their weather in korea is different from us. Hey!we’re tropical here in the Phil.

  40. Sara says

    I normally cleanse and moisturize my face in circular motion (counterclockwise), is that good as using upwards and outwards motion?

    • Sesame says

      Circular motion is fine but you should exert less strength if the motion is going downwards. The whole idea is to give your face a lifting effect.

  41. says

    I don’t even know how I ended up here, but I thought this post was great. I don’t
    know who you are but certainly you’re going to a famous blogger if you are not already 😉 Cheers!
    Nadine last post is: Nadine

  42. eun- hae says

    the post really made me learn something. Im using Korean Brand Cosmetics like Etude House and their products really suit me, I didn ‘ t have anyproblems like irritation or any damage on my face it’s just that I have pimples on my forehead maybe 2 everymonth but it doesn’t bother me, it would disappear few days later. I guess it is really because of the weather.


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