These days, it’s hard to get away with the “all-natural” status if you incorporate even a drop of, say, PEGs or synthetic fragrances in your skincare products—at least stateside. But with K-beauty, you can’t always expect the same. Sure, the cultural beauty phenomenon is still taking the U.S. by storm with no signs of receding, but you can’t assume Korean brands are as exacting when it comes to going au natural.
Turns out many “natural” or “organic” K-beauty brands do feature lots of extraordinary earthly ingredients, ranging from ceremonial-grade green tea to Jeju Island orchids, but the story is a little different if you look at the full ingredients list (phenoxyethanol! silicone!). But not all is lost—here is a simple skincare routine with K-beauty products and brands that are truly, beautifully natural (and of course, give photo-worthy glowing results, K-beauty style).
French women learned a long time ago that plain (hard and French) tap water wasn’t doing any good for their skin, so they developed micellar waters, a liquid you sweep on with a cotton pad that thoroughly cleanses, conditions, and nourishes without rinsing. With over 44% mineral-rich, detoxifying Himalayan pink salt and a bouquet of ten botanical extracts, Blithe’s cleansing water features teeny molecules (micelles) of cleansing oil that are suspended in soft water to purify your pores of pollution and other congesting particulates. Use morning and night to wash your face without stripping it of its precious natural oils.
Next up in the K-beauty ritual is the once-underappreciated toner, which helps rinse off any residual debris, balance pH, and prepare your skin for following treatments. Aromatica’s toners are alcohol-free and slightly acidic to mesh nicely with your skin and all of them are made with USDA-approved organic aloe vera leaf extract. Use the Tea Tree Balancing Toner for oily or acne-prone skin, Rosemary Refresh Toner for dry and sensitive skin, or Lavender Relaxing Toner for normal or combination skin.
The almighty essence is truly a Korean-unique skincare step. Benton (a portmanteau for “Benjamin Button”) simplifies their formulas with extremely powerful ingredients, as they did with this lovely hydrating, brightening, and anti-aging elixir. This essence is concentrated with 80% galactomyces ferment filtrate, which was discovered in sake breweries where aging workers saw shockingly soft and youthful hands. Another 10% of the formula is made of bifida ferment lysate, a probiotic ingredient believed to help skin repair itself.
Moisture and dewiness are the hallmarks of Korean skin, but you don’t need chemicals to get there. This serum contains the highest-grade pure organic argan oil, which provides major hydration to skin without clogging pores. Tamarind polysaccharides work to firm, while copoazu seed butter paves the way for effective absorption. Aromatica is known for their ECOCERT products. In fact, they’ve been rewarded with EWG's Skindeep Champion Status.
In the evening (and the morning, if you’re particularly dry or dehydrated), you want to lock in the moisture and active ingredients of your essences and serums. Whamisa makes your skin as pretty as their packaging looks. Nine-five percent of their ingredients are organic and instead of using purified water as the foundation of their formulas, they use but aloe extract and chrysanthemum flower ferment filtrate for a boost of skin-loving nutrients.
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