Ever since BB Creams landed here in 2011, Canadians have gone cuckoo for K-beauty. But BBs (and CCs and cushion compacts) aside, the heart of Korean beauty has always been skincare, says Christine Chang, co-founder of Glow Recipe, an online store that specializes in it. Hence the famed 10-part regimen. So far, we western adopters have extended our routines with hydrating essences and overnight masks, but the next phase of K-products will focus on the very first (and most important) step: cleansing.
“Korean women have two types of cleansers because they believe in thoroughly washing the face,” says Charlotte Cho, author of The Little Book of Skin Care: Korean Beauty Secrets for Healthy, Glowing Skin and co-founder of K-beauty e-tailer Soko Glam. Some Canadians double-cleanse already, but the process is about to get a lot more fun. “We call it cleanser-tainment,” says Chang. “For a while, cleansers were a category where there wasn’t much innovation. Now, it’s about next-generation concepts and textures, which create this amazing sensorial experience, versus it being a chore.”
Case in point: cloud cleansers, which have a spongy, marshmallow-like texture that produces a nimbusy foam. Bubble beans are colourful single-dose beads that transform into a lather with a splash of water. Carbonated, enzyme and powder cleansers come in sachets but work similarly—“they start out as a powder and turn into a sudsy liquid,” says Cho—with gentle exfoliating benefits. Even some new types of masks can be used as mild cleansers, adds Chang. Splash masks, 15-second pat-on, rinse-off liquids, contain lactic acid for speedy exfoliation, while mesh masks are sponge pads presoaked in vitamin C and alpha-hydroxy acids that produce a lather when wet. No time to wash twice? Pool cleansers are viscous two-in-one formulas that give you the makeup-dissolving benefits of an oil with the thorough cleansing power of a foam.
But these aren’t just novelties. Dermatologists, once skeptical, are getting behind the K-skincare movement, too. “What changed for me is that I think there is some merit to following a regimen,” says Dr. Nowell Solish, a Toronto-based derm. “The majority of people in North America are not spending the time to take care of their skin.” That’s starting to shift. Korean skincare saw triple-digit growth in Canada last year, and products from brands such as Seoul-based Tonymoly, with its panda-and banana-shaped packaging, are “flying off the shelves” at Hudson’s Bay, according to Shelley Rozenwald, the retailer’s senior vice-president of cosmetics.
“It’s not a trend,” says Cho. “Something much bigger is going on here. People are enjoying taking care of their skin with a multi-step routine, and they’re using Korean women as role models for that lifestyle change.”
Worn day or night, these small circular gel stickers are popular in Asia for treating blemishes, and
the rest of the world is catching on. Skyn Iceland Blemish Dots ($40 for 48) are infused with volcanic ash to absorb oil and salicylic acid to exfoliate.