April 12, 2024

6 things Korean women know about anti-ageing skincare that we don’t

Including the preventative skincare habits that start at six months old

The best anti-ageing routine in your 50s is adequate skincare in your 20s, or so goes the popular adage. It is a truth that Korean women have wised up to before the world, choosing to opt for a preventative approach from as early as six months old. The payoff comes in the form of that ageless skin texture in their later years that the rest of the world has been trying to decipher ever since. However, the credit doesn’t rest on the shoulders of any one miracle ingredient—Koreans, and not just women, instead employ a holistic approach to their skincare that includes consistent routines, proactive vigilance and healthy skincare habits from an early age. In pursuit of answers, we found our way to Charlotte Cho, who holds credit for the masterful curation of Soko Glam as well as her own skincare line, Then I Met You. Ahead, she shares the anti-ageing skincare secrets that Korean women have grown up with. Take notes.

Skin first, makeup later

Having been brought up in California, Cho rues the fact that she didn’t follow a dedicated skincare routine as a teen. “I was very influenced by the Western mindset of focusing on makeup over skincare back then. This meant that I was often wearing makeup to bed, not washing my face thoroughly and didn’t know the first thing about exfoliation,” she recalls. However, she found her mindset changing once she went to Korea. “I understood the science behind double cleansing and saw immediate results, incorporated a hydrating toner, essence and a lightweight moisturiser into my routine followed by a sunscreen. I started using a pimple patch on flare-ups instead of attacking the skin with harsh ingredients. This was the beginning of my journey that completely changed my perspective on skincare which I still carry with me today through the curation at Soko Glam and my own skincare line as well,” she adds.

Prevention is better than cure

K-beauty is hinged on a skin-first philosophy, she believes. “This approach focuses on treating skin concerns at the root of the cause, rather than just the symptoms. The preventative philosophy comes into play heavily with anti-ageing skincare, and a precautionary approach is practised with calming and nourishing ingredients, like mugwort and ginseng, that are used in skincare routines across the board,” she says.

Skin education starts early

Koreans are incredibly savvy about their skin from a young age, she maintains. “They are taught the importance of sunscreen beyond just applying SPF to include staying out of direct sunlight for long periods of time, if possible. They visit a dermatologist not to solve solutions, but also to check on the health of the skin. Lastly, and this goes without saying, they take the time to indulge in a multi-step skincare routine, which they see as a delight and a part of their wellness routine—not a chore,” she divulges.

Age is no bar for skincare

According to Cho, preventative skincare in Korea begins when you start applying sunscreen or wearing hats and clothing that protect you from sun exposure at six months old. “Not only does this prevent sunburns, but it also hinders sun damage that can contribute to ageing later in life. This approach promotes a youthful appearance in the long run with fewer fine lines and pigmentation, while helping protect the skin and mitigate day-to-day oxidative damage from pollution and the sun,” she explains.

Humidifiers are for everyone

If you, like the rest of the world, have been riding the Hallyu wave and binge-watching K-dramas, you’ll know that it isn’t uncommon to spot a humidifier puffing away merrily at every desk. This stems from the belief that humidity and moisture in the air directly impact the health of the skin. “When the level of humidity is higher in the air around us, there’s little evaporation of moisture from the skin to the environment,” explains the New York-based skincare savant, and adds, “However, when the air is dry, such as when spending extended periods of time in an air-conditioned room, water readily evaporates from the epidermis. This can lead to dry, cracked and dehydrated skin while also leaving you more susceptible to breakouts, fine lines and wrinkles. Humidifiers can dial up the moisture in the air within your indoor environment and can help the skin retain the moisture in its barrier.”

Nature vs nurture

…and in the battle between the two, Cho believes that you won’t want to ignore the latter. “70% of your skin is dictated by your genetics, but 30% of your skin can be shaped by your lifestyle and your commitment to caring for your skin. Skincare is largely about prevention, which means that investing time and space in taking care of your skin now will ensure that you have smoother, clearer, more bouncy skin in the future. So take delight in it, and incorporate skincare as a part of your wellness routine,” she signs off.

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