We’ve Got Korean Beauty Skincare Routine Fatigue

by Alyx Carolus


Ah, skincare. You can spend a lifetime honing the perfect routine for your own skin – from cleansers to serums, tonics, moisturizers, and more. It can start to feel like a never-ending journey. When you’ve just found your groove, there’s always another skincare routine trend (hello, Korean Beauty) popping up to dodge the aging process and make sure your skin barrier stays as lush as possible.

What is K-Beauty? 

We’ve talked about Korean Beauty, or K-Beauty, before. It has become a skincare staple in the West. It used to be hard to find but now you can purchase K-beauty products both in stores and online. The lines are relatively affordable, although if you’re sticking to a multi-step routine – those products do add up before long.

Korean skincare can include a lengthy 10-step routine from double cleansing to toning 7 times and sometimes applying multiple layers of serums and essences. Are you overwhelmed yet? 

Well, the fact remains that Koreans have crafted skincare to combat issues that occur from living in that particular climate. Koreans often avoid the sun, seek out high SPF in sunscreen and aim to have poreless skin. There is a distinct focus on looking beautiful and meeting the cultural beauty standards in order to advance in life, career and love. It’s paid off handsomely – according to CNN, the Korean beauty industry is worth a hefty $13.1 billion and one of the top 10 in the world.

The rise of Korean skincare routines hasn’t been a surprise. Asian women are often renowned for having incredibly plump and well-moisturized skin, plus the rising popularity of Korean music (we’re looking at you, BTS!) has increased the interest of the Western world in Korean culture as well as fashion. We’ve welcomed the multitude of options in skincare products, brands, and the focus on maintaining ageless skin. There’s multiple steps, multiple products, and hopefully, the end result of glass-like skin. The media has shown us what Korean skin often looks like: it’s poreless, flawless, and glowing. Now who doesn’t want that?


Is K-Beauty Sustainable?

However, in a world where consumers are becoming far more aware of their own carbon footprint, the waste they generate and where the packaging ends up – is a 10-step routine doable in the long run? There’s the considerable impact of using multiple products, that also be an irritant to the skin barrier. And if you’re a newbie – piling on the chemical exfoliants (BHAs or AHAs) might not be the wisest thing. Modern women are also running low on time and don’t often have the space to work in a multi-step routine or nightly sheet-mask. We unpack why women are paring down their skincare routines – although not the trusty double cleanse!


Why are our skincare routines changing?

Three years ago, consumers might have been enamored with the newness of multiple products and crafting a routine built for self-care, but lately there’s been a shift. The overwhelming choices, the concern around environmental impact, and lack of time to spare on skincare has prompted a lot of women to pare down their routines. If you’re worried about where your clothes come from or where your trash goes – chances are you want to make less waste in every aspect of your life. 

There is an urgency that has trickled into our lives, now more than ever, from global politics to the ongoing furore around climate change along with life just getting in the way. Consumers want products that work without too much fuss or too much packaging and are multi-use. We’re trying to change the world and possibly the size of our pores. 

Another issue is that plenty of products in your routine can cause more harm than good. Korean beauty products are notorious for having whitening agents and often products use the words “brightening” to fly under the radar. While the products are helpful to combat hyper-pigmentation – your skin might not be ready for the chemical overload. Commonly, you might be using the wrong products together (like maybe don’t use a alpha-hydroxy-acid with vitamin c serum) and may be prone to adverse reactions. If you’re attempting a complex routine without professional guidance, you may be damaging your skin in the long run. 


Sheetmasks and chill?

The multiple products, bottles and plastic packaging is also not an attractive marketing tool when people are feeling climate change anxiety. The pivot to caring about eco-conscious packaging, using less where you can and being mindful about purchases is how many consumers are feeling across the board. 

The evolution of self care to a finely honed marketing strategy has also seen some women not buy into the candles and sheet-mask to fix my life mood. The skincare industry is constantly reinventing itself and consumers are also wising up to the usual spiel along with how trends shift every few years. Does this mean that K-beauty is obsolete? Well, no. The products do work and they’re relatively accessible, I just personally won’t be buying into a ten-step routine.  


How are we moving forward?

Skincare is still a vital step for many women. It’s the way we protect the biggest organ on our body and goes beyond cosmetic vanity. But beauty is also political and while skincare isn’t frivolous – many women are going against the multi-step, product dense routine to make their lives easier. There’s nothing wrong with loving K-beauty. But perhaps we just want 4 steps instead of 10? But as I mentioned earlier, my double-cleanse step is staying around! 

Are you in the process of changing up your routine? Let us know how you’re feeling about skincare and what you’re doing now. We love hearing from you!


Image via Soko Glam and Business Insider 


Related All The Pretty Birds Beauty Posts:

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Skin Fasting – Is It for You?

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