What's the difference between K-beauty and US skincare?

Before We Go On


The West has been fascinated by K-beauty for the past few years now. From a Western perspective, it's almost like magic that Asian beauty - specifically K-beauty, is able to provide Asians with flawless, and healthy skin. The fascination with K-beauty brought up a lot of interest: what was the secret? Not so long ago, we were sure that it must have been the 10 step skincare routine that made Korea famous for its beauty. The 10 layers of product, applied by in order from lightest viscosity to the heaviest. This includes cleansers (x2), exfoliator, toner, essence, treatment, sheet mask, eye cream, moisturizer, and SPF. Each and every product serves a specific purpose for your skin and within each product, a type is a large variety to choose from. Luckily for Korean skincare products, it is rarely about the skin concern you should target but rather the skin type and its' most probably skin concerns that you are trying to mitigate. Trying to achieve a 10 step regimen still sounds daunting. Thankfully, trends have shifted - K-beauty now means that less is more, as most Koreans are opting for a 'skincare diet' or 'skip care' while simultaneously maintaining amazing skin. So the question becomes - if not the 10 steps then how? What kind of products are they using then? As we go deeper into learning about K-beauty it's easy to discover that this is where Korean beauty is very different from Western products - Korean beauty focuses on overall health, protection, and preventative care. Other things include the all-natural ingredients that are the base of many (if not all) Korean brands. We can't forget the accessible facial treatments and dermatologists - but skincare starts from daily, consistent preventative care.
K-beauty treats skincare like a marathon - it requires training and constant learning. Whereas American skincare is a quick fix that fits neatly into a busy day as it's uncommon for people to invest time in understanding, let alone take care of, their skin.  Reading this article on the major differences between Asian and Western beauty philosophy will give you a better idea of how to approaching K-beauty and your own beauty routine.

Preventative Care

The base of Korean skincare philosophy is the idea of preventative care or 'skin first'. This means results are not always immediate and require some level of self-discipline to obtain. It is proactive, gentle, and accounts for long term effects. In comparison to US products, skincare is focused on providing immediate solutions to create flawless looking skin. Many US products will provide results immediately or in 2 weeks. The skin concerns may appear to be solved for a period of time before resurfacing again later. K-beauty products (not including the ones tailored to the American market) require at least one skin cycle (approximately 3 weeks - a month) to see noticeable results. For example, if you use Dr.Althea's Premium Intensive Line, throughout the month the signs of skin health improvement appear as a natural dewy glow (without product) which indicates a stronger skin barrier, appearances of wrinkles and blemishes are subtly reduced, and slightly less sensitive skin (because of the skin-strengthening formula).  


Although preventative care is the core of K-beauty, customization is the way that consumers and brands approach skincare and is the driving force behind innovation in K-beauty. Skincare is something that Asians aren't afraid to try new products out in. If their skin isn't looking good or reacting well then they switch to a product that won't irritate their skin. They also consider the texture, smell, and experience of applying the skincare product - if it doesn't suit their preference then they can happily choose another one. It's common to constantly swap out components of the skincare routine to find something that would work better and fit with the experience they are after. From the Western perspective, it's best to stick to what's tried and true or what everyone is saying is good. Experimenting is not a preferred way to go about skincare and it is easier for people to buy an entire line. Koreans prefer to stay flexible, some even owning 10 skincare products for each step but only using the necessary steps depending on their skin. A lot of effort is invested in understanding what works and what your skin might feel in various situations - which changes its' behavior. This ease into skincare is the understanding that skincare is also a part of health - which makes perfect sense as skin is our largest organ. Koreans approach to skincare is meticulous and they treat it like any other health care. 

Next Up: How to Prevent and Repair Blue Light Skin Damage


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