It’s time for another report from the land of women with flawless skin—namely, Korea. Alicia Yoon, co-founder of Peach and Lily and intrepid Korean beauty expert, is here to share five skincare hacks she picked up on her previous trip overseas. Read on!
A large part of our mission at Peach and Lily is educating and empowering people to take better care of their skin, whether it’s through sharing easy-to-apply tips and insightful information from beauty-forward countries like Korea, or, of course, curating products from Asia and bringing them stateside.
I travel to Korea often to stay up to date with the latest beauty innovations and to pick the best products (and content) to share in the U.S. Some of the most illuminating and fascinating conversations happen when I meet with the Korean beauty brands’ Research & Development teams. These R&D teams not only know the science of beauty and skin inside and out, but also have a pulse on the market of what Korean products women are seeking, along with the beauty habits these women have.
Given that skincare is notoriously challenging in frigid weather, many of our conversations in my recent trip back revolved around winter skincare—namely, how to ensure your skin looks glowing even in the face of freezing temps.
Ahead are my five favorite easy, effective Korean winter skincare hacks. Keep scrolling to see what they are!
Add a Booster Essence to Your Routine
Hydration is everything in the winter months, and more than any other season, a booster or first essence goes an incredibly long way in keeping your skin healthy. This watery, humectant-rich product is used right after applying toner to pack moisture into the deeper layers of the skin. My favorite analogy comes from our family’s facialist (this is not uncommon to have in Korea!): “Your skin is like a sponge, and you need to fill it up with water first for everything else to be absorbed well. This will let it be plump, and guard it against micro-cuts, which can lead to acne and irritated skin.” Add this vital extra step to your winter skin routine and get your booster essence on.
Pictured: Mizon Water Volume Ex First Essence ($19)
Try a DIY Hot Pack
It’s no secret that blasting the heaters in the winter months will leave indoor spaces dry. This is not only bad for your skin, but your overall health, too, since dry airways can also leave you more susceptible to catching a cold. Humidifiers help with this, but can be a challenge to keep clean. Both a R&D team and a leading dermatologist in Korea (Dr. Cho of S&U Clinic) explained that they advise clients to turn down the thermostat, and instead opt for hot packs placed on the stomach to keep the body warm.
Dr. Cho pulls out her homemade linen hot pack, filled with raw, uncooked black beans, which she microwaves for seven minutes. The result? An aromatic hot pack that stays warm for a couple hours. During our two-hour meeting, despite the cold room, I stayed warm and the tight feeling on my skin did seem to ease up after spraying a face mist on, which didn’t evaporate off my face in two minutes the way it would have if the room was heated. My own mother keeps our house cool in the winter months and passes out homemade hot packs of her own (which may be one of the reasons she is often mistaken as my sister).
Layer on Skincare
Come winter, it’s not just about layering your clothes. For women in Korea, it’s just as much about layering the right skincare products. Buildable skincare products that each serve a specific purpose and act symbiotically with each other are highly recommended.
For example: Use a toner as usual, followed with a booster essence. Serums are used to target specific skincare needs as any other season. And importantly, contrary to what we’ve been taught in the U.S., a face oil (we love the Neroli Brightening Facial Oil ($42) by Aromatica) is applied before moisturizer, because it helps to keep the lipids balanced to ensure the outer layer of your skin remains supple, and not flaky. It also helps create a stronger moisture barrier to help seal moisture in your skin. Topping that off with a hydrating cream, like Be the Skin's Botanical Moisturizing Soothing Cream ($35), is the double-whammy sealing combination that will help you beat those pesky winter flakes!
Korean women are some of the most sophisticated beauty mavens I have ever met. It seems that every Korean woman I speak to on the street has a DIY trick up their sleeve. I jotted down some highlights and shared them with the R&D teams, and here’s one that made it to the top.
1) Either steam up your bathroom to create your own steam sauna or place a warm (not hot, as that can make your face more sensitive) wet towel over the face. This will open up your pores, help your skin’s circulation, and prep it for your DIY treatment.
2) Mix mashed up bananas (full of antioxidants and water, which will help hydrate), egg yolk (helps with skin elasticity and combats dry, flaky, itchy skin on top of hydrating and soothing), and flour loosely—all equal parts—in a bowl.
3) For extra points, you can add a couple drops of your favorite face oil into the mix.
4) Place your DIY treatment on your face, like a mask, or take the goop and massage it into your face for 10 minutes.
5) Simply wash it off with lukewarm water and proceed with the rest of your skincare regimen. Try this twice a week for best results.
Use Gentle Cleansers
Dry skin leads to heightened sensitivity and vulnerability for infections and skin irritation. When the weather gets cold in Korea, women switch to more mild and gently formulated products that aren’t as harsh on their skin. Swapping in a non-drying cleanser, like Mizon’s Sail Cushion Foam Cleanser ($24) or Banila Co. Clean It Zero ($22) is usually the first thing they do when the temperatures drop.
Note: Korean women usually have a two-step cleansing process. First, they use an oil-based cleanser to gently remove impurities, then they will follow with a water-based cleanser to remove sweat, residue, and other water-based impurities. Both steps tend to be much milder compared to harsh scrubs and drying ingredients; they coax impurities out of the skin, leaving the face clean but soft and supple. This is especially important in the winter. A non-drying cleansing process can be half the battle, so give your face a winning start!