Love for Korean skincare spreads across the world. People are getting intrigued and addicted to the amazing cosmetics. However, not all of us are able to say how it feels like to be an expat living in Korea and experiencing k-beauty on a daily basis at the heart of its origins. Therefore, I asked amazing Katherine, who spent over 3 years in Korea and has recently come back to the UK to share with us her thoughts on living in Korea and her experience with k-beauty.
ON LIFE IN KOREA
Hello Katherine. Tell us about yourself
My name is Katherine. I’m British, 26 years old, and love beauty and travelling! I spent 3 and a half years in Korea in total, from 2014 to 2018.
How would you describe this transition of moving into the Korean culture?
I immediately fell in love with Korea when I moved there, so the transition was surprisingly easy for me. I was more than ready for a change and a challenge, and I thoroughly embraced it.
What were the obstacles you faced and how did you overcome them?
I found the work culture the hardest- it’s very hierarchical and so different to what I was used to back home. I just tried to accept the differences, seeing it as part of my experience, and to focus on doing a good job in my work.
How did your daily routine look like?
My routine was similar to any working person. Get up and ready, commute and work all day. Come home and either cook or eat at one of the many very affordable Korean restaurants in my neighbourhood, or meet friends for dinner. Then I did a lot of beauty blogging and testing in the evenings! I often had meetings with beauty companies in the evenings too.
How did your social life look like in Korea? What did you do in your free time?
My social life was fantastic in Korea. For my first year I went away on trips all around the country almost every weekend, seeing different towns and countryside, activities like hiking, water rafting, skiing, going to the many festivals Korea offers (flower festivals, ice fishing etc). After a year I slowed down and stayed in Seoul more, visiting cafes and restaurants, exploring different neighbourhoods and shopping. The nightlife is also unbelievable in Seoul.
If there was one thing you could influence British to take from Korean culture, what would it be?
I really like the manners between friends in Korean culture. For example, if you’re at dinner with friends, someone else will always fill your cup and you hold your cup in a respectful way, then you fill theirs. Small things like that, and the sharing culture.
ON KOREAN SKINCARE
Myth or true? Are Asian skincare lines formulated “best” for Asian skin?
I’ve never even heard that myth! So I definitely don’t think it’s true.
What is it about Asian skincare in general that makes it so effective?
Well, I don’t think all “Asian skincare” is necessarily more effective than all western. But there are certain products, such as light hydrating layers (toners, essences etc) or sunscreens, that I do think Asian brands produce exceptionally well. I think there’s a big focus on hydration and protection of skin from the elements in Asian skincare, both of which work to protect skin from ageing, rather than reacting to skin problems when you’re older. This makes it very effective.
How do a Korean skincare regime and the products differ from a Western skincare regime?
It’s not so easy to differentiate between a western and Korean skincare routine as the western market is more and more influenced by Asian beauty. However, I would say there’s much more importance placed on hydrating skin in Korean skincare than in Western, with Korean hydrating toners, essences and serums. This filters throughout lifestyle too- having a humidifier at your office desk is very common to keep skin hydrated, misting throughout the day etc. This hydration focus and the products to help achieve it are the most apparent difference to me.
Atoclassic Real Tonic Soothing Origin Essence
What is/ are the biggest skin concern/ s nowadays?
I get a LOT of messages about adult acne and how to resolve it. I think it’s a huge skincare concern for many people, and I think people are gradually feeling more comfortable about opening up to experiencing acne as an adult, rather than feeling embarrassed thinking it’s just a problem teenagers face. It’s so common amongst adults!
Do you have any skincare tricks you would like to recommend?
I don’t think skincare tricks really exist, you just have to be super patient. I think making notes about your skin condition and how it changes over time/as you add or minus products from your routine can help you keep track and figure out what is working for you. And definitely, don’t throw a bunch of new products on your face at once! Give a few weeks per new product to see how it works
What are the ingredients you would recommend to incorporate into everyday skin routine? /What ingredients are key to Korean skincare?
One of my personal long-time favourite ingredients is snail mucin for repair and soothing. Propolis has been a newer favourite of mine- I find it so soothing and moisturizing. My skin seems to love propolis products and it’s very popular in Korean skincare generally.
What are two skincare must-have products everyone should have in their everyday skincare?
Hydrating toner/essence and sunscreen!
SKIN CONCERNS AND TRENDS
What are the biggest upcoming Korean skincare and beauty trends?
We’re seeing lots of “soothing” products right now for redness and troubled skin. In Korean skincare, there’s still a lot of new development of acid exfoliators (this was not as explored previously, it was much more common in western skincare). I also think skincare technology devices are growing in popularity too!
If you were asked to give one advice on skincare, what would it be?
Learn about hydration of skin and protect your skin from the sun (no matter what skin type/tone you have). With the prevalence of skin cancer in my family, I put a HUGE value on sun protection. I know so many people who, because they don’t seem to burn easily, think they don’t need to wear sunscreen, but I would advise everyone to use it on a daily basis. I also never understood that despite having oily skin my skin was so dehydrated and once I addressed that my whole face changed.
Dr G Brightening Up Sun SPF42 PA+++
You are now back to the UK. What are your plans for nearest future and will you continue your journey with K-beauty products?
My plans are definitely to carry on writing about k-beauty, both about the trends in Seoul and now here in Europe too. I’m interested in exploring the k-beauty scene here and seeing how it’s developed and what I can do to be part of it!
We really hope your return to the UK will be great and all the best in achieving future goals!
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