As 2021 is soon coming to an end, the time has come for us to once again pen down our New Year’s resolutions that we intend to keep to in 2022.
While you’re at it, may we suggest that you also start taking better care of your skin, the body’s largest organ, if you haven’t already? To help you to do that, we speak to three of the industry’s leading Korean skincare experts.
From fermented ingredients to “skip care” and the “7 Toner Method”, here are all the upcoming Korean skincare trends that should be part of your daily skincare routine in 2022.
- Korean skincare trends 2022: Gentle, natural ingredients that protect the skin's natural barrier
- Korean skincare trends 2022: A continued focus on upkeeping a healthy microbiome
- Korean skincare trends 2022: "7 Toner Method"
- Korean skincare trends 2022: "Chok chok" skin
- Korean skincare trends 2022: Innovation of active ingredients for renewed efficacy
- Korean skincare trends 2022: "Skip care" is here to stay
- Korean skincare trends 2022: Skincare is still very much part of self-care
- Korean skincare trends 2022: Fermented ingredients
- Korean skincare trends 2022: Waterless washing
Korean skincare trends 2022: Gentle, natural ingredients that protect the skin’s natural barrier
Coming off the back of maskne and post-pandemic self-care skincare habits, Stephanie Ko, brand manager of AHC, sees more focus on “skin wellness” as more Korean beauty brands zoom in on “gentle, natural ingredients and formulations that build and protect the skin’s natural barrier while maintaining a healthy microbiome.”
“We’re talking about ingredients like centella asiatica, bakuchiol, prebiotics, probiotics, and even traditional ingredients like Korean ginseng. We’re also seeing highly effective ingredients like vitamin C and retinol (vitamin A) being re-formulated or stabilised even further to be gentler for daily use, or even being replaced by natural ingredients,” Stephanie explains.
“An example of such ingredient replacement is bakuchiol, which is a more natural alternative to retinol.”
Korean skincare trends 2022: A continued focus on upkeeping a healthy microbiome
“I’ve always known about the gut’s microbiome but taking care of the skin’s microbiome is definitely a trend that’s quickly turning into a movement,” Stephanie lets on. “Even though it’s not a new concept, it’s recently taken centre stage with more brands jumping on the microbiome-based skincare bandwagon.”
“The skin microbiome is made up of billions of bacteria, fungi, and viruses, and it forms part of a healthy skin barrier. When the skin’s microbiome is compromised, this leads to premature ageing, dryness, sensitivity, acne, and rosacea.
“Similar to your gut’s microbiome, your skin also needs good bacteria – this is where microbiome skincare comes in. By adding more strains of good bacteria or probiotic ingredients into the skin and using gentle ingredients to maintain its balance for healthy skin which is what we all wish to achieve, I think this science-based trend is definitely here to stay.”
A local brand representative for Dr.G, as well as Jungmin Lee, founder of Ksisters, are on the same page when it comes to microbiome skincare, with the latter revealing that she continues to see a lot of focus on probiotics as a powerhouse ingredient.
Korean skincare trends 2022: “7 Toner Method”
We aren’t exactly surprised that the 10-step beauty routine is declining in popularity; after all, the day-to-day routine is simply too complicated for a typical Singaporean skincare user, laments Dr.G’s local brand representative.
“Not only is it difficult to identify the efficacy of each product, but there are also concerns of conflicting ingredients among the skincare products used in the routine.”
But, the skincare-layering trend may have only given way to the next new thing – and it’s called the “7 Toner Method”.
“The ‘7 Toner Method’ is definitely on the rise, and it’s a multi-application technique that encourages skincare users to apply toner multiple times – well, seven times to be precise,” Stephanies expounds.
This method is said to allow the product “to be intensely absorbed into the skin for a hydrated, “glass skin” look.
Korean skincare trends 2022: “Chok chok” skin
Speaking of the Korean “glass skin”, you may think that it would be retired by skincare enthusiasts by now but Stephanie doesn’t think it’s going anywhere.
“Korean ‘glass skin’ or ‘chok chok’ skin is essentially healthy skin, especially one that is so well hydrated that it looks dewy. The Korean beauty philosophy has always been centred around ‘skin first, makeup second’ and while skincare trends may come and go, I don’t think the desire for ‘healthy skin’ will ever go away,” she says.
Jungmin doubts that it will be out of trend as well. While there may have been a slight preference shift, she feels that the glowy, healthy skin trend will continue to thrive, “especially with an increasing number of consumers chasing after the look of natural-looking skin these days.”
Korean skincare trends 2022: Innovation of active ingredients for renewed efficacy
Some ingredients like hyaluronic acid and niacinamide have been trending for a while and will continue to remain a staple as their benefits are undeniable and multi-fold, Stephanie tells us.
“As long as consumers seek that healthy, dewy glow, both of these hero ingredients will always be at the top of the list. But, what will set skincare products apart is how brands “use technology to re-formulate these active ingredients to make them more effective.”
Other ingredients like pearl, which has been used in traditional beauty treatments, may also step into the spotlight since it’s been said to help heal blemishes while keeping the skin hydrated, firm, and younger-looking, Stephanie adds.
She further predicts that yuja (also known as yuzu in Japanese), which naturally has a high concentration of vitamin C, would make an appearance in skincare formulations along with mugwort and squalene, which are lightweight anti-inflammatory ingredients that also help moisturise the skin.
Korean skincare trends 2022: “Skip care” is here to stay
“Skip care”, a.k.a. skin minimalism, has been trending since 2020 and according to Stephanie, a key part of this trend is choosing multi-functional products that treat multiple skin concerns like hydration and brightening or hydration and anti-ageing to minimise the number of steps in the daily skincare routine.
But, Stephanie thinks “skip care” – or minimalism in general – should be incorporated depending on your individual needs and lifestyle.
“Some consumers naturally turned to minimalism because lockdowns limited our social interactions and some items became scarce and harder to buy while others really adopted and embraced minimalism as a lifestyle choice as the global pandemic made us look inward and shifted our perspective on consumerism and the impact humans have on our planet,” she shares.
“So while some “trend adopters” may hang up minimalism in exchange for their previous lifestyle (and that’s totally fine), I feel that skin minimalism is here to stay as it’s more time-efficient.”
Aside from fewer socialising opportunities compared to pre-pandemic days, Jungmin also tells us that the interest in skin minimalism will only continue to rise due to maskne.
Korean skincare trends 2022: Skincare is still very much part of self-care
Ever since it catapulted to fame thanks to the pandemic, the self-care topic is definitely not going away. In fact, Jungmin tells us that it’s not a trend that will just die off anytime soon.
“It’s a timeless trend in Korea – even my mum takes care of her skin so well. It is also a social norm in Korea to care for yourself, and it is considered polite to others to present the best version of yourself. So, this self-care practice is tied to the core of Korean culture and will continue to stay relevant for years to come.”
In the same vein, Stephanie believes that more brands – both K-beauty and Western alike – will hop on the bandwagon to preach the “skincare as self-care” philosophy as their attention shifts to the growing wellness movement.
“I also think that self-care extends beyond skincare to topics like mental wellness and health wellness. The global pandemic has shone a light on these taboo topics that cannot be undone and I think it’s healthy for beauty brands and consumers to continue having these conversations on difficult topics that promote overall wellbeing,” she lets on.
“While I do see skincare as self-care, I think it’s also important to differentiate the basics from the superfluous. The skincare basics I think are non-negotiable are double cleansing, moisturising, and sun protection. Everything else you do on top of that is extra and up to you depending on your lifestyle and skin concerns or needs.
“As a busy urbanite myself, I think it’s important to have your own definition and standard of “self-care” (and not listen to other people or blindly follow popular opinion). For me, my daytime routine is just the basics – if I have time, I’ll add in a serum – but my nighttime routine is where I really indulge in self-care and depends on my mood and how my skin is feeling.
“If I have a bit of extra time and really want to pamper myself, I’ll do the whole nine yards and layer on my toners, essences, and serums, and top it off with a facial device and face mask or sleeping mask. But on days where I’m tired and just want to get into bed, I’ll do the basics (minus the sun protection) and top it off with a sleeping mask.
“I think sleeping masks or sheet masks are a great beauty hack for busy urbanites because you wake up with glowing skin after using these products.”
Korean skincare trends 2022: Fermented ingredients
According to Stephanie, K-beauty brands are going back to their traditional roots as they explore new ways to ferment or extract ingredients to make them more effective.
“Fermentation is a traditional Korean process that has been around for centuries and extends beyond skincare (think kimchi, beer, wine, and yoghurt). It’s a natural process that basically breaks down a substance or ingredient using yeast, bacteria or other microorganisms, making the nutrients more concentrated,” she explains.
“Beauty brands have been using this since the early 2000s simply because the process of fermentation has many skincare benefits which begets beneficial postbiotics, vitamins, lactic acid, and amino acids at the end of the process.”
Stephanie also tells us that using skincare made with fermented ingredients helps protect our skin’s barrier by rebalancing our skin’s microbiome, and allows for easier absorption as the fermentation process breaks down the ingredients into smaller molecules.
“Not only does fermentation produce additional amino acids to stimulate collagen production and antioxidants to fight against premature ageing, but the process also extends a skincare product’s shelf life,” she adds.
Korean skincare trends 2022: Waterless washing
WGSN, the global authority on trend forecasting, predicts that waterless washing is one of the key trend findings that give us a window into the future of tomorrow, today.
But, Stephanie contends that this practice has its origins in Korea and is meant to deliver more skincare benefits rather than a positive environmental impact.
“Products that don’t contain water or require water to rinse off are beneficial for the skin as the remaining ingredients are more effective (since the formula is not diluted with water) – this kind of product also tends to have a longer shelf life,” she lets on.
“However, the rising trend of waterless washing or water-free products is now more for conservational or environmental impact rather than skincare benefits as there is a growing consumer need for brands to be more environmentally responsible and socially conscious.
“Hence, the rise of such products are largely focused on how brands reduce water consumption (in the formulation), packaging as well as overall carbon footprint. I think this trend will only continue to evolve further as the millennials, Gen Zers, and future generations demand brands to be more eco-conscious and innovate to create more sustainable products.”
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