Though the famed 10-step skincare system might seem to imply otherwise, Korean beauty rituals don’t just revolve around products. I attended skin school in the ’90s in Korea and fell in love with the Korean beauty philosophy—not just the products but the whole approach. Since then, I’ve avidly kept up with the evolution of Korean beauty for the last 15 years.
One fundamental aspect that remains unchanged is the holistic approach. Korean skincare is as much about topical products as it is about improving things like circulation and keeping muscles underneath the skin healthy to help your skin from the inside out.
Keep scrolling for three easy things that you can do for your skin that make a big difference—and don’t cost a dime!
Your blood vessels carry much-needed oxygen and nutrients to your skin for optimal cell function—and, therefore, are vital to skin health. The blood flow also helps remove free radicals from working cells. Spas will sometimes have “ban-shin-yoks” (translates loosely to “half baths”), which are hot baths that are only deep enough that the water reaches the belly button; the upper body does not get wet. The idea is that the temperature difference between the top and bottom halves of the body will boost circulation. To re-create this at home, settle into a shallow bath, keep your hands dry, grab a book, and unwind as you give your body some TLC.
Korean estheticians will typically massage your face during facials because this is known to help work out your muscles and boost circulation. The massages can range from lightweight strokes to lymphatic drainage–focused types and even intensive deep tissue massages. Here are four easy massages that you can do every a.m. and p.m. (or whenever you feel like you need an extra boost) and can all be done in under three minutes:
1. Take your knuckles and rub your chin and forehead muscles horizontally for 10 seconds, applying light pressure. This helps to both relax and energize the muscles on your overworked forehead and chin.
2. Press your knuckles into the cheek, right underneath the cheekbones; this pressure point massage helps to boost circulation and keep the sag-prone cheek area more energized.
3. Take your (clean) thumbs, and with a moderate amount of pressure, press down for three seconds on the corners of your eyebrows that meet your nose bridge area. This will help relieve tension around your eyes and increase circulation to keep the eye area rejuvenated. Be careful not to press too hard or jab thumbs into the orbital area; keep them placed gently over the brow bone area only.
4. Take your four fingers (index finger to pinky), and starting from the jawline on both sides of the face, massage upward and outward toward the outer cheek area and your ears. Only go one way, upward and outward, using the four fingers repeatedly for 15 seconds. This helps to work out and boost circulation the cheek area gently.
For massages #1 and #4, we recommend using a silky serum to help reduce friction and unnecessary tugging between the hands and the face.
Enhance this mini facial massage with Mizon’s Hyaluronic Acid ($42), which is a non-irritating, moisture-retaining serum that absorbs seamlessly into the skin for flawless hydration and works on every skin type.
Editor's note: we put together four more anti-aging facial workouts you can do in GIF form.
Just like your body, your face has muscles. Over time, it’s not just your skin that can lose firmness; the muscles that support your skin can start to weaken and sag. There are all sorts of facial muscles exercises (and even devices that help you work your face out) that Koreans do.
Here’s an easy one that can help keep your muscles strong and sag-resistant: Say your vowels out loud, “A, E, I, O, U.” Do so with exaggerated expressions, focusing particularly on your lips (e.g., when you say “A,” feel your mouth opening wide across and try to widen it from side to side as much as you can; when you say “U,” pucker and stick your lips out as far out as they can go). Repeat three times, morning and night, right after you’ve finished your last step of your skincare regimen, when your skin is supple and moisturized. Think of it as a quick Pilates class for your face!
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