The Korean skincare fad fails to produce promised results

January 17, 2020 — by Jayne Zhou

One dot led to two, which led to three, and then one day, I woke up with 10 pimples. It was worse than when I was in middle school — I didn’t know how to care for my own skin. 

Determined to get rid of these new bumps on my face, I asked my friends for advice on revamping my skincare routine. All I had used was a foaming cleanser, some random lotion from Target and prescribed pimple cream; switching to a more elaborate routine seemed like the way to go. 

One of my friends, senior Megan Chen, recommended a website that was solely dedicated to selling Korean skincare products called SokoGlam. I had already heard about SokoGlam through social media and beauty videos on YouTube and the accessibility on websites like SokoGlam helped Korean skincare gain popularity. I also knew that Korean skincare was popular because of the “glass skin” look that many Korean pop stars have, meaning they have very clear skin. On SokoGlam, I decided to take the skin type quiz to see which products I should use on my skin. 

The quiz determined that I had combination skin, meaning I had both oily and dry areas and should use a certain regimen with a double cleanse, toner, essence, lotion and moisturizing cream. After reading the description for each product and doing my research on what they would each do for my skin, I decided to buy them. The entire package was $95 for five full-sized products, and shipping was around $6. 

My supposed skin savior arrived a week after I ordered them all. I was so excited to start using my super complicated, almost 10-step routine. Immediately after beginning my new regimen, I started seeing results — the wrong ones, though. 

New pimples began sprouting on my face left and right, and I didn’t know how to stop it. For a couple months, I didn’t identify my new skincare as the cause and continued to watch my skin worsen. I used the Korean skincare routine until I finally had enough of it and decided to visit a dermatologist. 

It turned out that the new routine not only clogged my pores and made my skin more oily, but it also took up a lot of time in the morning and at night; roughly 20 minutes daily. First, I had to cleanse my skin twice with an oil and then a water-based cleanser. Then I had to follow it with toner, essence, lotion, plus a serum. I also added my own spot treatments for pimples, eye cream and face masks, so overall it was almost eight steps. 

When I finally determined that the new skincare routine was backfiring, I simplified my skincare routine to a foaming cleanser, benzoyl peroxide lotion, moisturizing lotion and occasionally a mask or two. In a few weeks my skin began to clear up.

Despite my high hopes and all the social media hoopla, the Korean skincare products did not benefit me at all; after all, my skin was negatively impacted by the long, complicated routine. But I don’t know if I can attribute that wholly to the skincare routine. For someone with skin like mine (combination and pretty sensitive), sticking to a simple routine might be the best approach.