The world of K-beauty is much like Mary Poppins’s magical bag, from which she miraculously pulls out way too many items to count. Similarly, there are countless products from Korean skincare brands, beautifully packaged and boast innovative ingredients. Each brand carries various lines, and each line features an array of products, from toners to massage creams to sleep masks. It can all be quite overwhelming to both K-beauty newbies and veterans alike. But we believe figuring out the basics is a major step to better skin, so we’ve compiled a list of FAQs that we’re often asked and ones that we ourselves have asked before.

Why all the hype around Korean skincare?

There’s a lot more to K-beauty products than just the pretty packaging, although that’s a big fun factor! The skincare companies go to great lengths to introduce innovative, natural, and gentle ingredients, such as snail slime, sea kelp, and donkey milk. They also manufacture their products in original methods, such as fermenting and hand mixing. Due to the high expectations of Korean women when it comes to their skincare, Korean brands push themselves to deliver high-quality products with avant-garde aspects, from star ingredients to fresh modes of application. All of these elements make K-beauty worthy of the praise it’s receiving, but at the end of the day, it boils down to the fact that women are finding Korean products that work for them and keep them intrigued. The proof is in the mirror!

Do K-Beauty products work for non-Asians?

Yes. Korean skincare does not discriminate against race or age! It’s more about finding the right products for your skin type (i.e., normal, dry, oily) and skin conditions (i.e., acne, allergies). Identify your skin type, and search for products with ingredients that cater to your needs. You can read more about the best ingredients for each major skin type here. You’ll likely find a plethora of products suited just for you.

Do I have to use products from one line and brand, or can I mix and match from different brands?

It is definitely okay to mix and match skincare products from various lines and brands. Even though some brands may like you to believe that you need all their products to reap maximum benefits, the truth is, your skin won’t know that your toner is from brand X and your eye cream from brand Y. In fact, a brand may carry a toner that’s great for your skin, but its emulsion may contain elements that are too oily for you. What’s important is to find ingredients that work well together for your specific skin type.

What do the dates on the packages mean?

Korean products usually have either a manufacturing or expiration date somewhere on their packaging. If the Korean word “제조” is next to the date, that is the manufactured date. If you see the Korean word “까지,” that is the expiration date. Sometimes, you’ll see the letter “M,” which indicates that the numbers following it make up the manufacturing date. “EXP” stands for the expiration date. Often, the dates are written in the following order: day, month, year. You can find these dates usually on the bottom of bottles or at the edges of tubes.

Are all the steps in the K-beauty skincare routine mandatory?

There’s no hard and set rule that thou shalt follow all 10 steps. Rather, Korean skincare is built upon the pillars of thorough cleansing, balancing, nourishing, and protecting. You can read more about these fundamentals in our post here. With that foundation in place, it’s all about adding products with ingredients that are best for your specific skin type. When it comes to SPF, however, that might as well be a mandatory requirement for the last step in your daytime routine.

In what order should I apply all my products?

You can usually find instructions on which step to apply a given product on the packaging. In general, the order is based on the texture of the product, from thin to thick. Typically, that means the following order of application: toner, essence, serum, emulsion/moisturizer, cream. Make sure to apply your products immediately after cleansing and rinsing to prevent skin from drying out and to ensure max absorption of the product.

If you have any more questions about K-beauty that you’d like answered, please feel free to post them in the comments below or email us!

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