Ten-step Korean skincare routines have been making waves for the past three or four years, introducing the world to a host of new skin product categories and self care rituals. But, what started as a luxurious way to pamper oneself soon became a bougie ritual, and then turned into an all-out ‘daily routine’. We’d be lying if we said that this is something even beauty bloggers have managed to sustain because, today, what’s trendy in skincare is minimalism and simplicity. Here’s why.
Using 10 different products helped most of us realise which of them we actually need
The typical ten-, eight-, or even seven-step Korean beauty routine isn’t for everyone, especially not those with acne-prone or oily skin. There are way too many layers of occlusive moisturisers involved in such routines, overloading the large pores in oily skin with more lipids. It is, however, great for someone with dry skin. Similarly, someone with normal or dry skin has no business exfoliating everyday or using serums with active ingredients which render skin sensitive and raw.
Using all these different products and practising different Korean beauty rituals helped us understand this on a personal level. We realised which products we need and which steps are unnecessary for our skin type—something no YouTuber or Instagram beauty guru could tell us.
A lot of steps in Korean skincare are indulgences, not necessities
Sheet masks, which are among the most popular Korean beauty products, are a luxury which you don’t need daily if you have a good skincare routine in place. However, a lot of beauty gurus who swear by the 10-step routine treat it like a daily necessity. Similarly, collagen under eye or lip patches, and sleeping packs atop nightly skincare–these are additional steps which don’t add a whole lot to your routine.
What Korean beauty really did was bring our attention to a lot of ingredients we weren’t using
Acquainting yourself with the intricacies of how the Korean beauty regime works and the system it is based on helped educate many on skincare science. For instance, what goes first–oil, cream, mist, or serum? Then, we were introduced to a host of new formulations unknown to us earlier.
As someone with oily skin who lives in India, an essence was alien to me before K-beauty rose to prominence. A light-weight, watery lotion which hydrates skin without leaving an oily residue, this is the perfect product for many of us living in the tropics and struggling with greasy creams. Power-packed emulsions which get absorbed into the skin way better than heavy oils and night creams also came onto the scene. Ampoules made a dent in the oily serum category as well.
Similarly, active ingredients like hyaluronic acid and Vitamin C, which might have always been present in skincare, became better known just for their benefits. Three years ago, most of us weren’t looking for skincare products containing these ingredients, but now we know what they do and why we need them.
Korean beauty brought our attention to ingredients, not function
An integral part of minimal beauty routines is being smart about what’s in your products instead of using a lot of them. Now, people know to look out for these ingredients, which is why brands like The Ordinary are becoming more and more common since they focus on ingredients in their marketing and not the “whitening”, “anti-ageing” or “life-changing” functions.
As the world gets hotter, layering products is getting more and more uncomfortable
As odd as it might seem, climates are changing and temperatures are rising. Summer skincare routines are no longer what they were ten years ago. The multiple layers of moisturising in Korean skincare is impossible to execute in hot and humid weather, not only because it feels uncomfortable, but because it starts melting and peeling off in the heat. Rise in particulate pollution causes dirt to get attracted to skin made greasy by such skin routines, making it impractical. You cannot use a sheet mask and go out in India without coming home with a face covered in soot sticking to the mask’s essence. You also can’t use different chemical exfoliators with retinol and Vitamin C, and then have a normal day out in the sun–even with SPF 50 on. The environmental aggressors at play here are too much.
There’s an overall shift towards doing less and using less
Keeping it simple and clean is the order of the day. The rise of minimalistic skin routines isn’t just the consequence of Glossier trying to sell the idea of a basic routine by using a model with naturally good skin. It is also because millennials and Gen Z are trying to use less products and cool down on consumerism and clutter.
More than a fear of using too much and getting a reaction, it is sustainability that is the order of the day, and using less means less will be manufactured. A growing movement against using single-use sheet masks, plastic bottles for shower gels, and other wasteful skincare habits is what is more popular now. A highly over-indulgent and expansive skin routine hardly says sustainable. Simplifying and shortening it, then, is the order of the day.