Your skin feeling a little … meh? Are you bored with your basic skin care regimen of wash, moisturize, sunscreen? Or have you been fairly diligent about your skin care routine, but feel like the results have plateaued and need a little boost?
Well, look no further than to the skin care experts of the world — Korean women. They’ve nailed the 17-step skin care regimen, made BB cream a household name and mastered the no makeup-makeup look. In fact, they’re so far advanced in their skin care, they make us Americans look like Neanderthals.
Thankfully, we’ve got three easy ways for you to upgrade your skin care regimen. Make these switches and you’re bound to get some of that glow back into your complexion.
1. Bored with BB cream? Try the CUSHION COMPACT.
When Korean cosmetic brand Dr. Jart+ debuted its BB cream to the U.S. market in 2011, it caused a sensation. Every cosmetic company rushed to put out its own version of BB cream and every alphabetic permutation thereof (CC and DD, anyone?). Now there are BB creams at every price point and in a much wider range of shades. But women in Korea are so beyond BB cream at this point; they’re obsessed with something even better (and no, it’s not EE or FF).
Enter the cushion compact. The first one in the U.S., Color Control Cushion Compact Broad Spectrum SPF 50+, was introduced by venerable Korean brand AmorePacific in 2013, but didn’t really take off. In the summer of 2014, however, with all eyes on Iope (the Korean cosmetic line was featured prominently in the hit K-drama My Love From the Stars), their Air Cushion XP just exploded.
Inspired by a sponge-like “parking stamp,” the cushion compact solved the problem of having to reapply sunscreen every two to three hours for effectiveness. Press on the sponge with a special ruby cell puff, which holds 1.6 times more water than a synthetic latex puff, and simply “stamp” (don’t smear or rub) on the liquid sunscreen onto your face, on top of your makeup. Since it’s tinted, the product blends in well even if you have foundation or powder. And a bonus: the cushion compact imparts a perfectly mul gwang (“water sheen complexion” — that chok chok wet look Korean stars favor) look with one application.
Wanna try it out for yourself? Check out some of our favorites here.
2. Toner too tight? Switch to a HYDRATING LOTION.
A hydrating lotion — sometimes called “skin lotion” or just “lotion” — is different from the toner that we here in the States may have grown up with: that harsh, alcohol-based liquid we swept over skin with a cotton ball to wipe off any residual makeup that our cleanser may have missed. Rather, “lotion” is a post-cleansing hydrator, usually applied by sprinkling into hands and pressing the palms over the face to ensure proper penetration. Not only does it hydrate, it preps skin so that subsequent treatments can more effectively penetrate skin’s top layer, allowing all those expensive serums and creams to work more effectively with less.
Lucky for us in the States, we don’t have to fly to Korea to get a hydrating lotion onto your bathroom shelf. Asian skincare companies available in the States already have a hydrating lotion in their line, and recognizing the brilliance of Asian skincare products, a number of non-Asian companies are coming out with their own versions. With a broad price range, these lotions are something everyone can get on board with. Check out some of our favorite hydrating lotions at all price ranges here.
3. Mask feeling meh? Go for a HYDROGEL MASK.
When we think of old-school masks, we may think of thick, green-colored goo that we smear on our face while we wait for it to dry into a crusty mess. But that’s so 1980s. In Korea, sheet masks elevated the mask game, with cotton masks made to fit your face, complete with eye, nose and mouth cut-outs, infused with all manner of skin care ingredients. Apply for 20 minutes and your skin is left glowing, plumped and hydrated.
And while sheet masks are gaining popularity now in the States, a true skin care baller forgoes paper or cotton for the next evolution in sheet masks: a hydrogel mask.
A hydrogel mask or gel mask (Koreans pronounce “gel” with a hard “g”), “is made of polymers that are very absorbent and hold water against your skin,” says Jessica Wu, M.D., Los Angeles dermatologist and Assistant Clinical Professor of Dermatology at USC Keck School of Medicine. “The mask traps water more effectively than a sheet mask because water evaporates more slowly from a hydrogel mask.” It feels different, too — like a solidified gelatin that is “more flexible and conforms to your face better than many cloth or paper sheet masks,” says Wu.
A favorite of Dr. Wu’s is Dr. Jart+ Water-Full Hydrogel Mask ($9). We like Korean brand Missha’s Prime 24K gold Collagen Caviar Hydro-gel Mask, about $22 for 3, which has a nice golden hue, so you look a little less freaky as you soak in the benefits. For a real upgrade, try When Mask, $28 for 4, which is made of a more eco-friendly bio cellulose material — the fit is unsurpassed.