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What’s the difference between Korean and Western skin care?

Hi Lovelies! I am Elisa Lee from @Sokobeauty on Instagram and I have been using Korean beauty products for 8 years now, I cannot stop using it anymore as I love it so much!

I love their skin care in particular. Korean skin care differs from Western skin care in many ways and I will tell you more about it in today’s post.

How it all started

I started using Korean products since 2010. I was searching for a foundation that would suit my skintone. In the Western beauty market I was always struggling with searching for the correct shade, the shades were all just too orange for me. I was on a holiday in Asia that year and discovered BB Cream there, which stands for Blemish Balm. It was the biggest trend back then. BB cream is a multi-functional cream that gives coverage, keeping your skin moist, while protecting your skin from UV rays. Who wouldn’t love a cream like that? My curiosity among Korean beauty started to grow and I noticed that there are many differences between Korean and Western Beauty.


In South Korea they start early with skin care, parents teach about skin care when their children are young. There’s a definite focus on skin care when you walk in the famous streets in South Korea, and most importantly, the philosophy is different. According to Koreans, beauty is defined by good, healthy skin; they use skin care to heal any skin problems, while Western beauty often uses make up to cover up flaws.

Korean routine

It is very common in South Korea that your skin care routine contains 10-12 skin care products, while Western skin care mostly contains 4. I am in love with layering skin care products and I have noticed great improvements by doing so. For my PM routine I follow a 11-step skin care routine: I use an oil cleanser, foam cleanser, 2-3 times a week exfoliating pads, toner, essence, ampoule (also known as a serum), I use a sheet mask once or twice a week, eye cream, moisturizer, cream and a lip mask. Even though the skin care routine can take 30 minutes up to an hour, especially when using a sheet mask, it’s all worth it! Your skin will thank you later, especially when using regularly.

Change the Western mindset

I noticed a difference between the masks that are on the market. Western skin care tends to focus on clarifying the skin with clay masks, while Korean sheet masks focus on moisturizing, brightening and a healthy glow. I always try to make time and include a sheet mask in my PM routine. Nowadays, in our busy lives, we all say that we don’t have time. But why not try changing that mindset; we do have time but we just need to create some “ME-time”. Applying a sheet mask is definitely a pampering moment. It’s a way to relax for a good 20 minutes, while letting the skin absorb all the good ingredients.

I love MILU’s anti-aging mask in particular. It contains amazing ingredients like Korean ginseng, a collagen booster; chia seeds that help reduce fine lines and improve skin texture; avocado for moisturized skin and soybeans which improve the skin tone. It contains so many great ingredients, that my skin needs. Most importantly, it’s free of parabens, sulfates & mineral oils.

Korean skin care focuses a lot on outstanding ingredients and is ahead of the curve when it comes to innovation. Koreans think of different ways to improve the skin, different formulas, different ingredients, and even different textures. For example a pudding or a jelly cream, or a hydrating face mist. While in Western beauty, things are still more traditional like liquid toners, creams, etc..

No wonder so many people prefer Korean skin care above Western care! And I haven’t even started about the adorable Korean packaging!