If you’re into fashion or cosmetics at all, you’ve probably heard the term “K Beauty” floating around a lot lately. In short, the K stands for “Korean” and the buzzword represents some of the latest trends and technologies in the Korean beauty industry. As someone who has wanted to invest a little more time in pampering myself and has dealt with some pretty uncooperative skin over the last decade, I was interesting in finding out what all the talk was about. At the same time, I’m very picky about the products I choose for myself and my loved ones and I’m not about to slather a bunch of chemicals on my body in the name of vanity.
After my mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2004, my family started talking a lot more about the kinds of products we were putting on the inside and outside of our bodies. My father is a chemist for a cosmetics company, so I can’t say that everyone was on board with boycotting certain products and ingredients, but I decided at a young age that I wanted to make good choices about what I exposed myself to. Over the years, I have found products that I love and I feel good about using and supporting. With a little bit of research, I was able to put together a K-Beauty routine that relies largely on clean beauty products and has worked wonders for my skin!
Admittedly, I was a bit nervous about incorporating a “ten-step routine” into my already busy schedule. After giving it a try, however, I found out that most days my routine only takes me five minutes or less (I do it morning and night) and the more “involved” days, which add a few minutes of exfoliation or 10-20 minutes with a mask, feel like special times that I am treating myself. I haven’t regretted the switch for even a second. Without further ado, here is my version of the 10-step K-beauty skincare routine:
Oil-cleansing helps to loosen dirt and impurities while removing even the stubbornest of makeup. I have really been enjoying this Squalane and Antioxidant Cleansing Oil from Biossance. The natural scent is a bit muskier than I would usually pick out but it is so lightweight and effective. Burt’s Bees Facial Cleansing Oil and Crude’s Everything Oil are great options I’ve tried as well.
Yes, the ten-step routine includes washing your face twice, which I was worried would strip my skin of its protective barrier, but with all the hydration that follows, those fears haven’t proven true. I have not experienced any dryness or irritation that I’d think would occur if I were overwashing. I love the clean, fruity smell of Youth to the People’s Kale and Green Tea Age Prevention Cleanser.
Depending on your skin type and sensitivity, the K-beauty routine generally recommends exfoliating at least twice a week. I’ve been using this chemical exfoliator from Neogen, which is made without parabens, sulfates, or phthalates. The main ingredient, lactic acid, gently exfoliates and has made a big difference in unclogging my pores and smoothing out my skin’s texture. If you prefer physical exfoliators, I recommend the Pore Clarifying Facial Scrub (for a gentler scrub) or the Brightening Facial Scrub (with a grittier texture), both by Acure.
I have been happy to stick to the basics for this category. My go-to toner is witch hazel from Thayers. I love, love, love the rose petal scent, which I have seen at Target and Whole Foods.
Korean “essence” is described as a “toner/serum hybrid” and was the hardest for me to find on the natural products market. Not to be discouraged, I decided to make my own. I have been combining three drops of Biossance’s Squalane and Vitamin C Rose Oil with two mists of Rose Geranium HydroSoul from organic skincare line EvanHealy—super refreshing and helps to restore balance to the skin after cleansing.
This is one of those “time consuming” steps that you only do once or twice a week. My go-to masks are made by Andalou Naturals. They make several on-the-go, single-use masks that I have enjoyed using. If you haven’t caught on yet, I love roses, and their rosewater cream Instant Soothing Face Mask and Instant Hydration Hydro-Serum Sheet Mask are two of my favorites. I usually snag mine at Whole Foods, but have seen them in Target’s ever-growing natural beauty section as well.
I am absolutely loving Youth to the People’s eye cream. I have also had a great experience with Acure’s eye cream, which I actually think helped heal/lighten some old acne marks around my temples as well.
I have had a love-hate relationship with moisturizers over the years because I have oily skin and always feel too greasy when I put it on. Biossance’s Squalane and Probiotic Gel Moisturizer has been awesome. It’s lightweight, fast-absorbing, and has helped even out my skin tone. What’s not to love?
For days when I know I will be spending a lot of time outdoors, or when I want to look a little more put-together in public with minimal effort, I use BareMinerals Complexion Rescue. I don’t think it gets an A+ on the all-natural scale, but I at least take comfort knowing that it’s paraben and fragrance free and that the SPF comes from one of the two “natural,” physical sunscreens: titanium dioxide (zinc oxide always leaves me with a white film on my skin).
Everyone’s skin behaves differently, so these products are not guaranteed to work for everyone, but they are part of a routine that has been very successful for me. I have been following my ten-step routine for the last three months and my skin is noticeably clearer, smoother, and more even—even my husband has said my skin looks great (and that’s saying something). Do you have a clean beauty product that’s working well for you? If so, please share!
Jenna is a writer, educator, wife, and mama living in Colorado with her husband and two children. She founded American Ingenue as a personal blog in 2008 after losing her mother to breast cancer, using the forum as a reminder to live life to the fullest. Jenna loves cooking, dreaming, and adventuring with her family. She has been inspired to share her experiences with others as she navigates this crazy life and strives to have "it all."