Just as Koreans approach acne completely differently from Americans, fine lines and wrinkles have their own course of action that is uniquely Korean. In fact, Seoul is a growing hub of innovative medical technology to combat fine lines and wrinkles with injectables and laser treatments, says Daniella Jung, the founder and CEO of Seoul-based K-beauty incubator agency Most Inc. "Ulthera, Thermage, and InMode have a huge market size in Korea," she adds. "We are super obsessed with having 'perfect' skin."
I asked Korean beauty experts, as well as board-certified dermatologists based in Seoul and New York City, to share with Allure what exactly separates Korea's ways of fighting fine lines and wrinkles from America's.
Prevention Is Pivotal
If you ask Sophia Hong, an aesthetician licensed in Korea and founder of sheet-mask subscription service Mask Moments, Koreans start treating fine lines and wrinkles the second they are born. Y. Claire Chang, a Korean-born, New York City-based, board-certified dermatologist, will tell you the same thing. "Most Koreans take a preventative and multifactorial approach" to aging and often start preventative skin-care routines early in their lives, Dr. Chang adds.
Children are taught the importance of cleansing, exfoliating, and moisturizing their skin alongside other typical hygiene practices, like brushing their teeth, Hong says. Let's be real, most kids in America aren't truly taught to care for their skin until puberty wrecks havoc on it.
Speaking from personal experience growing up in Florida, I didn't own a face wash until I was about 13. But I often watch The Return of Superman, a Korean reality show about celebrity dads taking care of their children solo while their mothers are out and about, and those adorable babies are constantly shown washing their faces of their own volition, which amazes me each time. It's as if, along with the alphabet, they are taught facial cleansing is the most important part of a skin-care routine, as I've learned from Ban Jae Yong, a board-certified dermatologist in Seoul and director of Banobagi Dermatology Clinic.
The Western approach to skin concerns, in general, veers more toward treating them after they strike rather than preventing them from happening. For Koreans, on the other hand, skin care is "about creating a healthy environment for your skin before it shows signs of aging," Hong explains. "When your skin is in this optimal state of hydration and balanced, your skin is in an environment to heal itself, and thereby, signs of aging can be delayed."
Board-certified Korean dermatologist Choi Bo Youn supports Hong's statements, noting, that if you continually allow your skin to get dry, wrinkles are sure to appear. With that in mind, Koreans, again, constantly keep their skin hydrated and nourished in any way they can. Dr. Choi says she continuously slathers on moisturizer from the second she gets home from work to when she falls asleep at night.