The simplicity behind Korean skincare is beneficial, but misleading

An aesthetic green and brown photo of a Korean skincare line.

Attire Media

An aesthetic green and brown photo of a Korean skincare line.

A trend that wavers every now and then has graced my TikTok For You Page—Korean skincare. As the name suggests, it is skincare from South Korea that is supposed to help fight acne on skin like mine, and it’s supposed to mimic child-like skin for people well into their adulthood. 

I’ve tried every hack and face wash marketed towards acne; it’s something I’ve struggled with for what seems like forever. However, in the fall of 2018, I realized I have what is called cystic acne and “normal” acne products in stores are not going to solve my insecurity. 

Right now, I use prescription Benzoyl Peroxide face wash and Adapalene. For a moisturizer, I use CeraVe in the tub, not the watered-down product in the bottle. It’s an intense routine that will only get more so when, in a month, I start the horrible drug, Accutane. 

Korean skincare, also referred to as K-Beauty, uses simple and natural ingredients that supposedly reveal the best in everyone’s skin. TikTok influencers in the beauty community swear by K-Beauty, but I am scared to purchase their holy grails. 

K-Beauty emphasizes the importance of hydration. A lot of skin products have Hyaluronic Acid, a scientifically proven ingredient in a lot of skincare globally that plumps the skin and nourishes it. K-Beauty uses a lot of natural ingredients like various flowers and plants to keep its products clean. 

Generally, Korean skincare is safe for the skin and totally affordable. As weird as it sounds, some skincare companies put damaging alcohols and chemicals in their face products that do nothing besides strip the skin and dry it out. As for the price, Korean skincare isn’t a luxury, nor do those companies believe that healthy skin is worth hundreds. 

Korean skincare is formulated to benefit people with all skin types, even those with sensitive skin. The simple ingredients don’t overwhelm the skin, however, its simplicity might be the problem. 

The simple ingredients don’t overwhelm the skin, however, its simplicity might be the problem.”

The Korean skincare hashtag on TikTok shows positive videos that explain the proper usage of these products. Nowhere under the hashtag does it include people with severe acne or highly sensitive skin. Their perfect skin and well-thought-out scripts mask the fact that simplicity isn’t always better. 

Back in 2020, I got sucked into the Korean skincare trend. My acne was at its peak, and I was willing to do anything for it to go away. I purchased the Etude House Soon Jung PH5.5 Relief Toner as well as a moisturizer whose instructions were all in Korean. After using the toner, my skin felt tough. After a week or so of using the toner and the moisturizer, my skin had never felt so raw in my life. 

I saw a difference in my skin that was frightening. I noticed that on the days I used the toner, dry flakes would form under my eyes and next to my nose. The moisturizer, to me, felt as if I were spreading thickened water on my face. The two “holy grail” items from a random girl on TikTok provided me with next to no benefits, and only inflamed skin and purple cysts. 

Although Korean skincare isn’t quite what it seems, it’s a cheaper and cleaner alternative compared to their competitors. Even with their gentile formula and suave approaches, it’s just another overhyped TikTok trend that is heavily misleading the beauty community.