5 reasons why Korean women have good complexion and how we can model after them

Korean Women Have Good Complexion
Korean ladies have good complexion. This is my conclusion after making a conscious effort to observe the skin condition of ladies across different age group while I was holidaying in Seoul last week.

As I looked at scores of women on the streets, in the malls, at the train stations, and at various points of contact, I verified for myself that many of the younger women have the mul-kwang-pi-bu look–directly translated as watery glow.

The middle-age and older ladies may not have this glowy complexion but it’s only because they don’t wear makeup like the younger crowd. Otherwise, their skin tone is still very fair and much better than ladies of similar age in Singapore. Heck, their complexion is way better than mine! -_-

Sure, there are exceptions. A few of them have darker skin tone. Some of them suffer acne issues too. But what I’ve noticed is that their skin tone is still healthier.

Many people suggest that Korean’s good complexion is due to makeup, multi-step skin care routines or skin treatments but I have my doubts. Not all of the women I saw wore makeup. Some of them looked like they can’t even afford time for elaborate skin care routines.

So how is it that Korean women have such good complexion? Is it something we can emulate after? Do we want to?

I’ll attempt to answer this question as I look at five possible reasons why Korean women have better complexion.

1. Favorable climate
One of the reasons for their better complexion is the climate in Korea. As you know, latitude accounts for most of the variation in skin tone with darker skin clustering toward the equatorial regions and lighter skins found further north and south (source).

But for populations within one large region, very little variation occurs. That explains why most ladies from the Northeast Asian countries including Korea, Japan, China, and Taiwan have very fair skin tone.

Like I mentioned, there are variations but generally speaking, most of them are of a fairer skin tone than women like us in Southeast Asia. We can start out on the same page with baby soft skin but with the oppressive sun constantly on our radar, we are at a definite disadvantage as we age.

The good news is that although we do not have a choice when it comes to our weather, we can take preventive measures like slathering sunscreen and using more shading to keep our skin fair. Those who are more adventurous and willing to take risks might even venture to consume supplements that can help with skin brightening.

2. Low-glycemic diet
Those who refuse to believe that diet brings about any changes to our skin are going to dispute this but I am very certain that Koreans get their good skin from what they eat.

To quell any disquiet from this group, let me present a study that proves how adults adhering to a traditional low-glycemic Korean diet for 10 weeks demonstrated significant clinical improvement in the number of both noninflammatory and inflammatory acne lesions, with overall inflammation slashed by up to 50 percent.

I’m not sure if it’s the kimchi, the seaweed, the bibimbap, the ginseng, the Korean strawberries, or the combination of everything, but I’m certain what they eat makes a difference.

Well, forunately, diet is something we can model but how extensive and complete really depends on individual. Realistically, you probably need to learn how to prepare Korean dishes as buying them all the time aint’t gonna make wise economic sense.

3. Thorough cleansing method
I have spoken to Korean beauty experts and they have repeatedly stress the importance of cleansing. And let me tell you, their cleansing is very elaborate. More so than the Japanese’ double cleansing which we are all familiar with.

It’s not cleansing once, not twice, but thrice. Too rigorous? You bet. But that’s what they believe in. And have you heard of the 4-2-4 cleansing method made popular by Suzy Bae?

Don’t be fooled by the numbers thinking this is a complicated cleansing process. The numbers just represents a three-step facial cleansing method that takes up ten minutes of your time. The first step involves using a cleansing oil or cream to massage your face for at least four minutes. Step two involves washing your face with a cleansing foam for two minutes. Final step is to rinse your face with lukewarm water first and then finish off with cold water, taking four minutes altogether.

Actually this 4-2-4 facial cleansing method is but a more methodological double cleansing method. I like the idea of finishing off the cleansing with cold water but I’m not sure if it’s realistic to keep to set timings for the routine in the long run.

So can we do with the Korean standard of cleansing? I think so. But personally, I’m not keen to cleanse my face thrice. I’ve tried that for a season and found it too much. Double cleansing once at the end of the day works well for me. For 10 minutes? Well, can’t say I have the patience but we can always try together.

4. Skin care dedication
South Korea is really ahead when it comes to skin care. They beat every country hands down in terms of product offerings and beauty innovations.

What that means is that their ladies can get the best toners, serum, essence, face masks and treatments at the most competitive prices. They can afford to use a face mask daily if they want to. They can afford multi-layering with target products without worrying too much about burning a hole in their pocket.

Also, Korean skin care focus on keeping the skin clear and smooth which means pore refining, brightening, hydrating are key to keeping that watery, glowy face. Visiting dermatologists and aesthetic doctors is also something they do on a regular basis.

Following Korean skin care is probably the easiest thing to do. As it is, it’s already something that we practice. If you’re a skin care fanatic, keeping up with the various new innovations isn’t all that difficult. You just need to stay in the know and be prepared to part with your cash.

5. Perfection mindset
On top of what I’ve listed, I think the main reason for Korean women having better complexion is the priority that they give to maintaining good skin and the importance they ascribe to physical appearance.

Korean women are highly obsessed with good skin and have no qualms going all out to maintain perfection. They have impeccable standards when it comes to their looks. Even the men are equally demanding.

According to a CNN article, South Korean men are the world’s top per-capita consumers of skincare products, with four times the purchases of runner-up Denmark, and they are not just buying aftershave and lotion, either. Demand is increasing for anti-aging products, masks and mists.

Alex Taek-Gwang Lee, a cultural analyst at Kyunghee University, said that men are using more cosmetics because in South Korea, appearance is everything.

So is this something that we can emulate? Well, not overnight as only a select group are concerned about maintaining good complexion. We do have a sizeable portion who are less than bothered. But for those of us who are concerned (like you and me), having good complexion is already a priority.

What’s your take?
While we can try to model after the Koreans in terms of their diet, skin care and mindset, we may still not be able to achieve their standard of complexion. As it is, climate is something we can’t control. We can take measures to shield from the sun but what we do may be limited.

Also, noticed I have not said anything about genes? Why not? Well, going down that path would mean I’m admitting that Koreans have better genes. Perhaps there’s truth in that–at least when it comes to skin–but I’ve no ability to verify. All I can say for sure is, we have different genes and that’s why our complexion aren’t similar to begin with.

So what do you think? Do you agree that Korean women have better complexion? Do you think they have a secret we don’t know?



  1. Kate says:

    I do agree your take that the weather and the diet affects their skin in a nice way, we can mimic their diet but there’s very little we can do for the weather, heh heh. Except to chill ourselves with little cold towels placed at the back of the neck.

    When I was there last December, I also realized they are very diligent in applying hand creams for those aunties selling things at the roadside. Probably it’s the cold weather that makes their hands dry, but they have the softest hands I’ve touched. I should start to use more hand creams to achieve that kind of hands in 50 years 😂😂

  2. Peiqing says:

    i just realised by your related posts – that there are quite a number of korean skincare/ beauty related posts here. ; )

  3. stella says:

    well… s korea also probably has the highest penetration of derms/aesthetic drs/plastic surgeons per capita in the world? prices are competitive too due to the proliferation of these clinics


    i’m sure korean women do a lot of work themselves daily where skincare is concerned but don’t dismiss professional help; i’ve watched some of those beauty programs in korea and visits to the dermatologist seem to be the norm rather than the exception in the country! some k-pop celeb i read about even goes to the derm once every 10 days! so i reckon a regular woman goes once a month at least??

  4. Sesame says:

    Ah..yes. Check out my Korean edition. https://www.vivawoman.net/korean-edition/

  5. Sesame says:

    You’re right. They are so diligent and seek out beauty treatments very regularly. I won’t be surprised if it’s daily.

  6. Sesame says:

    Oh I didn’t notice their hands but I found even the older folks have fairly good skin. I noticed an old lady who was selling stuff by the roadside and she ate well–a full meal complete with side dishes in a big tray.

  7. Thiên Thảo says:

    yeah, i gotta admit that korean and japanese woman have the most beautiful skin among all orther asia woman.

  8. Sesame says:

    Yes, Japanese women have gorgeous skin too. But Korean women’s skin seems more chok-chok.

  9. nida khan says:

    Korean girls is always beautiful i like chorea and Korean girls Thanks for sharing This

  10. Bianca A says:

    It is very important to have a good mindset. Nice post.

  11. Sesame says:

    Yeah, that. More like a serious mindset about skin care.

  12. Esther says:

    I think korean women invest A LOT of time and efforts to their look. I noticed my korean lady friends wakeup in the morning and the first thing they do is taking care of their face. I agree with you that food and mindset matters greatly. In indonesia we hv the climate and partly the food but we’re that perfectionists when it comes to face and skin appearance so a lot of women hv sufficiently younger looking skin but the condition of the skin is often not so good.

  13. Sesame says:

    Interesting. I think Korean women are so amazing with their care. I noticed that even the Japanese’s complexion cannot compare with the Korean’s.

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