K-beauty is spreading throughout the world fast, which means lots of K-beauty myths have been created. It’s time to clear them up.
When do you need to apply sunscreen and what exactly is an essence? While we love answering each question on its own, we’ve identified the top 10 myths about K-beauty and the Korean skin care routine that need you need to dispel ASAP. Here’s the truth.
Myth #1: Korean skin care works only for Asian skin.
This is one of the biggest K-beauty myths. Contrary to what you may see on TV, many Koreans in real life deal with the exact same issues non-Koreans deal with, like acne, oiliness, dryness, and sensitivity, just to name a few. Korean skin care works for everyone not because it’s specifically meant for Korean or Asian skin but because it’s meant for skin in general, which we all have. So you’d be missing out if you reject Korean skin care as a whole because you’re not Asian.
If you’re still skeptical, try double cleansing morning and night for two weeks and see how it changes your skin. You’ll see a difference, no matter your age, ethnicity, or skin type.
Myth #2: It’s impossible to find Korean makeup for deep skin tones.
It was certainly difficult to find Korean makeup suitable for skin tones deeper than shade 23 a decade ago. But thing are changing fast. As Sarah from 2hearts1seoul has noticed, Korean brands are expanding their selections to accommodate consumers from all around the world. For instance, the Missha M Magic Cushion (one of my all-time favorite cushion foundations) offers shades from No.21 (Light Beige) to No. 31 (Golden Beige), indicating that Korean companies are conscious of the need to create shades beyond what Korean women are used to.
As Korean beauty becomes more and more global, you can expect to find a wider range of colors, and this goes beyond foundations. Revolutionary products, like the peel-off brow tint by Etude House, work for everyone.
Myth #3: You only need to apply sunscreen when it’s sunny out.
You need to apply sunscreen every day. It doesn’t matter if it’s sunny or cloudy, snowy or rainy, sleeting or hailing. If you’re going to be exposed to the outside world—and sitting at home all the day also counts if your house has windows—you need sunscreen. No skipping on weekends or neglecting the neck, either. I apply sunscreen down to my collarbone every day and carry around a sample moisturizer with SPF so I can apply it on my hands throughout the day.
Besides evening out your skin tone, wearing sunscreen every day protects your skin from sun damage, which also prevents various skin issues like wrinkles, acne scars, and sun spots from worsening. If you want to be hardcore like my Korean mother and be the queen (or king) of anti-aging, wear sunscreen every day and wear sunglasses and a hat every time you leave the house.
Myth #4: Men and women need different Korean skin care products.
Generally speaking, men tend to have larger pores and have oilier skin than women. But in practice, skin needs wildly differ from person to person, and your gender doesn’t necessarily dictate your skin’s needs. So it’s very possible that skin care products marketed towards men and women have very similar if not the same exact ingredients within the same brand.
The differences come down to product names and packaging. This is where learning how to read the ingredient list comes in handy. You don’t need to restrict yourself to the women’s or the men’s section, and a gentleman’s skin care routine doesn’t have to differ from a lady’s. Skin is skin, and a good skin care routine is a must for healthy skin, regardless of sex.
Myth #5: If you start anti-aging early, it’ll actually make you age faster.
The thought behind that myth is this: Anti-aging is for old people because you only need anti-aging when your skin shows signs of aging. But many Korean women start anti-aging way before their skin shows signs of aging, sometimes as early as in their early-to-mid twenties. This is because anti-aging isn’t just about using fancy products that claim to reverse time. Anti-aging is about taking care of your skin, which you should be doing at every age, whether you have wrinkles or not.
If you’re young and not particularly concerned about wrinkles or loss of elasticity, know that anti-aging doesn’t have to be a grand, difficult project. Start simple by double cleansing and wearing eye cream day and night and applying sun screen every day. If you already see signs of aging, know that it’s never too late to start a skin care routine.
Myth #6: You only need to double cleanse at night.
Before I learned from Charlotte that I need to double cleanse morning and night, I only used water and maybe a foam cleanser to wash my face in the morning. I’d feel slightly greasy afterwards, but I thought this is what I wanted because after all, squeaky clean skin is bad.
But it turns out, that greasy feeling is from a mix of sweat and oil my skin has produced overnight and what is remaining of the skin care products I slathered on the night before. I switched to double cleansing morning and night, and I honestly feel a huge difference. If you want your skin to be more even and feel more balanced, try double cleansing in the morning, too.
Myth #7: If you have oily skin, adding oil to your skin care routine will make you oilier.
This is one of the most wildly believed K-beauty myths. If you have oily skin, adding more oil to your skin seems ridiculous. But you need oil to break down oil, which is why you need an oil-based cleanser, and you also need a moisturizer that balances your moisture level so your skin produces less excess oil. If you’re using harsh and drying products that leave your skin matte, you’re stripping moisture from your face, and your skin will produce more oil to compensate. It’s a vicious cycle, and you need to become friends with oil-based products to break it.
Myth #8: You can only get age spots when you’re old.
Sadly, signs of aging can appear earlier than you think. This might be due to genetic factors or from environmental damage. The best thing to do is to wear sunscreen every day and incorporate brightening products into your routine. If you live in an area that gets a lot of sun or if you enjoy outdoor activities, you need to pay special attention to your skin. Remember: It’s OK to be extra.
Myth #9: You can only be one skin type.
So you’ve found your skin type and developed the perfect skin care routine. But after a couple months of sticking to it meticulously, you find that it doesn’t work, and you’re stuck with the same, or worse, entirely new issues. Why? Skin types can shift, depending on the season, your age, and other random factors life throws in your way. You might have perfect skin and find that your skin suddenly became acne-prone in your early-20s or that your skin became as dry as a prune as soon as you hit your 30s. Either way, you need to be perceptive to the changing needs of your skin.
Ideally, you’ll examine how your skin feels every day and adjust your routine accordingly. I like to have options in my skin care routine in case my skin feels extra dry or oily on that particular day. One day, I might use a hydrating serum like the Klairs Rich Moist Soothing Serum or a moisturizing serum like the Erborian Elixir Au Ginseng. Just be aware that your skin type can change so you can quickly respond to its changing needs.
Myth #10: You can use your moisturizer as an eye cream, so you don’t need to invest in a separate eye cream.
I’ve heard this before, and I’ve thought it, too. Applying moisturizer on your eye area is certainly better than applying nothing, but when it comes to hydrating the eye area and keeping it firm, nothing beats eye cream. There are so many choices nowadays, from affordable to luxurious and hydrating to rich. Of course, as with anything in skin care, the choice is yours. But the eyes are where you see aging first, so taking good care of the eye area with an extra step in your skin care doesn’t hurt.
If you prefer something hydrating with a matte finish, perfect for daytime, try the Erborian Seve de Bamboo Matte. If you want something more moisturizing for nighttime that’s also good for anti-aging, try the Goodal Moisture Barrier Eye Cream.