Is the Korean 10-step routine legit?
by Lucy Li on Dec 21, 2021
THE 10-STEP-ROUTINE: REAL OR GIMMICK?
A few years ago, Korean skin-care practices drew global attention through the so-called “10-step routine”. This complex routine centers around a careful sequence of cleansers, exfoliators, sun-creams, toners, acids, serums, moisturizers and other topical treatments. To a significant extent, it is true that a shockingly high number of young Koreans use multiple skin care products regularly. South Korea is the world’s 29th most populous country but ranks in the top 10 countries by volume of skin care product imports. And yet, the reality is the 10-step routine is a marketing gimmick practiced by very few. Just like most Indonesians (more 50% of which use three or fewer steps in their skincare routines), Koreans don’t have time for such elaborate sequencing.
SKINCARE’S CLOSE FRIEND: GOVERNMENT REGULATION?
What, then, could be the cause of that flawless “glassy” skin look? The South Korean government may also have something to do with it. Korea’s Ministry of Food & Drug Safety laid the groundwork for “functional cosmetics” over 20 years ago, applying strict labelling requirements and high quality standards for skin care products that promise various benefits — e.g. anti-wrinkle, UV protection, whitening, etc. All products follow an “all-ingredients-labelled” rule, enabling Korean consumers to forensically analyze exactly what is going onto their skin and its claimed impact. However, according to surveys, most Koreans aren’t exactly aware: only 20% read these labels before using cosmetics products.
THE REAL REASON: WHAT GOES INSIDE
A recent survey conducted by Korea’s Ministry of Food & Drug Safety gives a nice clue as to why Korean’s tend to look so damn good. The key takeaway: 70% of South Koreans consume health functional foods, regularly shooting back probiotics, ginseng, vitamins, minerals and more. This isn’t surprising: topical products (anything applied to the skin directly) have clear limitations when it comes to how deep they penetrate the 7 layers of our skin — most ingredients are made up of molecules that are too big to penetrate or evaporate too quickly to be absorbed.
Instead, numerous studies show that beautiful skin is a function of smooth-working internal processes — including robust collagen production and a healthy gut — which is where healthy diets, vitamins and functional foods can come in. Along with your multi-step nightly routine, make sure you’re giving your body the nutrients it needs to keep you looking young. There are plenty of options to choose from in the rapidly-growing “beauty supplement”, “nutricosmetics”or “inner beauty” category. If you are unsure where to start, THE APRILAB offers an essential set of portable, beauty-targeted foods, helping drive the inner balances that produce that outer glow!