Over the last decade, Korea has been at the forefront of skincare innovation. Here are a few qualities that make K-Beauty unique within the global skincare industry:
Gentle, yet effective. K-Beauty ingredients and products are renowned for being gentle on the skin. These ingredients are highly researched and multifunctional. Something that smooths and prevents wrinkles might also boost moisture levels or shield against toxins.
Beauty for every budget. K-Beauty products are cost effective because Korean skincare brands have invested heavily into innovating the industry with in-depth ingredient research and more stable formulations suitable for sensitive skin, as well as unique and fun packaging. Quality doesn't have to be expensive.
Customizable routine. You may have heard of the famous 10-step routine. It may sound like a lot but it creates a framework for individuals to find the right products that work for their skin needs. Products are layered in a specific way that helps the person achieve his or her crystal-clear skin goals.
Universal. K-Beauty is genderless; men take just as much pride in the philosophy and practice as women do. That’s because in Korea, having healthy skin is ranked up there with having a good sense of style, good taste in design, and so forth.
What Korean skincare can teach us
Korean skincare fundamentals can teach us a lot about our own regimen. Even if you're starting off with a minimalist skincare routine, there is room for intention and complexity. In fact, that’s a very good place to start, since K-Beauty’s focus is about starting with the basics and building up a regimen that suits your specific needs. You may not need 10 steps in your regimen, but you can pick the four or five steps that you do need, and focus on those goals.
So, you can start with the basics—like cleansing, hydrating, and protecting the skin—and then target other areas that could improve your overall complexion and skin health. (For example, oily skincare regimens should add toner to help balance sebum production.)
And of course, K-Beauty also reminds us to consider the research and ingredients that go into each and every product that we put on our precious mugs. It’s all too easy to buy a product because its packaging is beautiful or because you’ve been using that exact brand for years without question. But K-Beauty is about asking questions, like “Are these ingredients actively improving my skin (and can I pronounce most of them?), or are they simply mass-sourced and underperforming? Even if you’re on a budget, there are products made with intention that work to firm, hydrate, and clear your skin better than many drugstore standbys.
Which ingredients should I look for?
K-Beauty products often use natural-based ingredients; many are plant-based like Centella Asiatica (commonly referred to as cica) or cactus extract, and some are wild like snail slime or bee venom. The big takeaway here is to understand the fundamentals of K-Beauty products: It’s not that you need to go looking for a specific ingredient, but rather, the ingredients in your products should have been carefully researched to serve a function and the brands should tell you precisely why these ingredients have been included. What are the products doing to work overtime in your favor, as opposed to a bunch of chemicals that make no promise above the bare minimum?
This is a big reason Cardon spends so much time developing products around cactus extract, an ingredient that soothes, hydrates, and is rich in anti-inflammatory, firming, and healing vitamins, as well as electrolytes to protect skin’s moisture barrier. Cactus extract is infused in every Cardon product, from the Clay Cleanser to the SPF 30 Moisturizer, so that people who use these products in their skincare routine get the benefits at every stage of the process.
Similarly, the cleanser uses clay to deeply extract impurities from the pores, and it deploys cica grass for its anti-inflammatory and anti-aging properties. The same can be said of Cardon’s using tumeric in its SPF moisturizer, while the Gel Moisturizer uses rosehip oil for its richness in Vitamin A, and its age-reversing superpowers.
Again, when it comes to the products you buy and the ingredients you look for, remember that every product should have this same level of research and consideration behind it. That’s a K-Beauty principle.