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.”
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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.