For Japanese and Korean cultures, skincare isn’t a chore; it’s part of their lifestyle. Japanese and Korean women are known for their flawless, youthful complexions, thanks to their skincare and lifestyle habits (keeping out of the sun, eating a healthy diet, etc.). And while both cultures are powerhouses in the world of beauty and skincare, there are some key differences between them.
Japanese skincare routines are simple and pared down. They have a minimalist philosophy that focuses on essential steps – cleanser, essences/lotions, serums/emulsions, moisturizer, and sunscreen – and applying light layers of products. Less is more with J-Beauty, so most routines are around 5 to 6 steps with exfoliation once to twice a week. The idea is that you want to give your skin time to rest and rejuvenate, so it’s best not to overload it with products.
In keeping with its minimalism, Japanese skincare emphasizes natural, luxurious, and effective ingredients that have been used for hundreds, if not thousands, of years. Japanese women take pride in their products and routines and the generational wisdom attached to them, which is why J-beauty is all about high-quality products that take a natural, often holistic approach to skin.
Japanese skincare ingredients are so powerful that you can do less, but they’re also extremely gentle. In contrast to Korean skincare, Japanese skincare prioritizes nourishing, gentle products that promote skin care and prevention. The goal is mochi hada or rice cake skin, which refers to skin that is plump, bouncy, and healthy with minimal fine lines and wrinkles. Mochi skin is all about suppleness, which is why so many Japanese women have velvety smooth, baby-soft skin.
Cleansing is an integral part of both Japanese and Korean skincare routines. However, Japanese facial cleansers are some of the gentlest products. Delicate cleansing oils (like this one from Ruhaku) and milk-based cleansers maintain skin hydration and remove dirt, oil, pollutants, and makeup without stripping the skin of its natural oils. The double cleanse is a favorite method in Japanese and Korean skincare because it’s so effective. The Japanese take extra time with their double cleanse, cleansing the skin so well in the evening that they can skip a morning wash.
Popular Japanese Skincare Ingredients:
- Green tea (Find it in the Kyoto Komachi Matcha Face Pack)
- Rice (Find it in the Medel Balancer Face Milk)
- Pearl (Find it in the ONSENSOU Golden Silk Hair Mask)
- Silk (Find it in the Comoace UV Cream)
- Algae (Find it in the ONSENSOU Scalp Care Shampoo)
- Camellia (Find it in the QINUDE Cleansing Gel)
- Vitamin C (Find it in the CORECO Placenta VC Moisture Lotion)
- Mushrooms (Find it in the COCOCHI Ultimate Ocean Mask)
Take a trip to Korea, and you’ll be transported to a world of skincare and beauty shops full of amazing products, unique ingredients, and innovative technology. While Japanese skincare sticks to tried-and-true ingredients, Korean skincare isn’t afraid to take risks and be creative. Korean skincare brands are always on top of trends and pushing the envelope to create new, intriguing products and ingredients. This is why many K-beauty products have textures and consistencies that set them apart from standard cosmetics.
Compared to Japan’s matte mochi skin, Korean skincare is all about dewy, glass skin—skin that is so hydrated and reflective that it looks like a sheet of glass. To get this look, Korean skincare layers lots of hydrating ingredients and targeted products, such as ampules or serums. Korean skincare is known for its 10- to 12-step regimen that focuses on these primary steps: oil cleanser, water-based cleanser, toner, exfoliator, essence, serum, sheet mask, eye cream, moisturizer, and sunscreen. Of course, not every K-beauty routine is this lengthy, but it is a mainstay of Korean skincare.
Popular Korean Skincare Ingredients:
- Snail mucin
- Centella asiatica