Welcome to Soko Secret! Here, we shine a light on the people living in Korea who inspire us. Straight from the streets of Seoul, their approach to beauty and style will impress you. Here, we chat with two recent brides about their wedding beauty routines.
When it comes to wedding beauty, Korean women are serious about their skin care. Both Narae Hong and Mina Noh got married in Korea this year. Narae is 25 and prepped for her wedding by eating well, exercising, and changing her beauty routine two months before her wedding:
Mina is 28 and prepped for her wedding by cutting out alcohol, getting massages, and changing her beauty routine a month before her wedding:
Here, we ask them both a series of questions about their pre-wedding prep:
What were your biggest beauty concerns when you were prepping for the wedding?
Narae: Definitely my skin. I have acne on my chest and back, so I was worried it would show on my wedding day since I was wearing an off-shoulder dress.
Mina: Like most Korean women, I was concerned about my figure and my skin. I think for brides especially, it makes sense that you want to look your best on your wedding day, since it’s a once-in-a-lifetime event.
How far in advance did you start changing your beauty routine in preparation for the wedding?
Narae: About two months before the wedding. I started sheet masking every other day.
Mina: I started seriously prepping my skin and figure for the wedding a month before the event.
Did you make any changes in your diet or workouts? Which part of your body were you most focused on?
Narae: I wasn’t on a diet before the wedding but I was losing my weight naturally because I was preparing for my wedding so hard. I tried to eat well. I went to the gym to do some weight lifting, and I was mostly focused on toning my upper body. Since I was going to wear an off-shoulder dress, I wanted my shoulders and arms to look toned and fit. I didn’t have to care about my lower body since my dress covered everything.
Narae in her dress:
Mina: Personally, I stuck to my regular routine, which is to stretch and do yoga before bed and get a head-to-toe massage every week to relax. Because I’ve found that a strict diet messes up my health, I didn’t go on a special diet. On the day of the wedding photo shoot or the actual wedding, many brides skip breakfast or only have some juice. But my husband and I showed up to our appointments after a steak meal!
What I did change about my diet, though, is that I focused on eating healthy and paid more attention to my portions. It was really important to me that I continued to have dinners with people I love and enjoy our time together. But to avoid puffiness, I cut down on my salt intake, and I completely cut out alcohol. I also drank more water and slept more than usual.
Mina in her dress:
In Korea, are there any special skin care treatments made for soon-to-be-brides?
Narae: There are a lot of skin care treatments designed for soon-to-be brides at dermatology clinics. They mostly focus on brightening and restoring skin elasticity. A lot of Korean women not only go to dermatology clinics, but they also visit meridian massage shops to slim down their face and body. I also went to a dermatology clinic to get laser toning treatments.
Mina: My skin is very sensitive so if I go see a dermatologist and receive an intense treatment, like brightening, my skin becomes red and irritated. So I usually did my skin care at home and went to spas for occasional facials. Once a week, I used a face scrub and a sheet mask, and I also got a facial massage and skin care treatment at a spa. My friends did similar things to prepare for their weddings.
How did you take care of the skin on your body?
Narae: Because I was concerned about the acne on my back and chest, I used a body soap with tea tree oil and a cactus body brush to exfoliate.
Mina: I took care of it at home by using a body scrub and frequently applying body oil.
What do you think Korean women are especially interested in when it comes to pre-wedding beauty treatments?
Narae: I think most women go on a fierce diet and receive treatments to firm their skin like lasers and Botox. Of course, there’s waxing, too. I got my eyebrows tattooed in preparation for the honeymoon selfies!
Mina: Probably losing weight, though it’s important that you don’t go overboard.
What were your pre-wedding skin care routines?
Narae: In the morning, I started with the Son & Park Beauty Water and The Saem The Essential Galactomyces First Essence. I applied the Innisfree Bija Cica Balm on my trouble areas. Then, I went in with the Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum and topped it off with the Innisfree The Green Tea Seed Cream.
At night, I removed my makeup with the Bioderma Cleansing Water, again with the Beauty Water, and then washed my face with the Innisfree Bija Trouble Facial Foam. I also used the Innisfree Sea Salt Perfect Cleanser twice a week. After that, I put on The Essential Galactomyces First Essence, the Darphin Chamomile Aromatic Care, and then the same Innisfree The Green Tea Seed Cream from the morning.
Mina: Since my skin is very sensitive, I’ve been using the same products for the past ten years. I use the Sulwhasoo Essential Balancing Water EX, Essential Balancing Emulsion EX, First Care Activating Serum EX, and Essential Firming Cream EX. For scrubs, I really like the Primera Facial Mild Peeling. I’m obsessed with the Fresh Rose Face Mask as well.
How about your routine one week before the wedding?
Narae: My routine was pretty much the same. But I did go to the dermatologist to get one last treatment that was meant to help you have a good skin condition for the heavy makeup that will go on your wedding day.
Mina: I stuck to my usual routine. If you try new products for the first time, your skin might freak out, and I didn’t want to take the risk before the wedding photo shoot or the actual wedding.
Where do Korean women tend to do their hair and makeup for their wedding? How much does it usually cost?
Narae: The five most famous salons are: Kim Cheong Gyung, Jung Saemmul, Kim Hwal Ran Musee Neuf, Jenny House, and A.by Bom. I went to Jenny House and got my hair done by their head hair director and makeup from their head makeup director. Including services for the bride, the groom, and the couple’s parents and siblings, it cost a total of $2,000. But if I had gotten my hair and makeup not by the head director, it would have cost much less.
Narae’s hair and makeup:
Mina: My husband and I were moving to Canada right after the wedding, so I was in Canada when I was planning my wedding. Before I came back home to Korea, I consulted with a wedding planner in Korea in advance and as soon as I got to Korea, I visited a few salons to pick the one I liked. There are a lot of salons that do both wedding hair and makeup in the Chungdam area of Seoul, so most people seem to prefer that area. The price varies by salon but the one I went to cost $300-$400 per session. I ended up doing my makeup and hair at a Chungdam salon called Go By.
What was special about your wedding day skin care?
Narae: I heard from Jenny House that I should show up with nothing on my face, so I only used the Jenny House sheet mask before heading to the salon.
Mina: For the wedding and the rehearsal photoshoot, if you do an extensive skin care routine, your makeup will melt off and your skin will look shiny under the strong lighting. The salon told me to wash my face lightly and only apply a toner and a lotion before coming, so that’s what I did.
What do you think are the recent wedding hair and makeup trends in Korea? What kind of skin finish are Korean women looking for in their bridal look?
Narae: I think most Korean women prefer a natural look that doesn’t involve heavy makeup.
Mina: Back in the day, the trend used to be makeup so thick and heavy that your face looked practically white. But now, the trend is to keep the skin looking clear and simple and using shades that actually suit your skin tone. For hair, the trend was a half up-do with natural-looking waves.
How would you describe your hair and makeup look on your wedding day?
Narae: Since I had an outdoor wedding, my hair was done in natural-looking waves with flower circlets to match the flowers in the garden. My makeup looked amazing, and it matched my natural hairstyle.
Mina: The salons that do wedding makeup and hair have so many products that I can’t remember the particular brands. My skin is naturally a bit tan compared to other Korean women, so I wanted to brighten my skin tone and use coral colors instead of pink. At the wedding photo shoot, I got a half up-do at the salon and later switched to a ponytail and an up-do. At the actual wedding, I did a classic up-do.
Where did you find inspiration for your dream wedding look?
Narae: Unfortunately, I didn’t have the time to find my dream wedding look. I was too busy preparing for other things like the venue, decorations and wedding programs. So I only followed my hair and makeup artists’ ideas and direction.
Mina: I think that rather than being all of a sudden inspired for a major event, it’s more important to find your own personal style by trying out different colors and makeup styles in your daily life. At salons, they do a quick consultation before they do your makeup, and the process went smoothly and efficiently for me because I was in tune with my own personal style.