How to formulate Korean skincare

How to formulate Korean skincare

To have Korean ‘glass’ skin is the epitome of beauty in the east – so much so this ideal is also highly sought after in the west. Glass skin appears perfectly clear without blemishes or pores and is incredibly radiant. This blog explains how to formulate Korean skincare to achieve the ideal glass skin.

Another place to get insights on the latest K-Beauty trends is at in-cosmetics Korea. Happening in Seoul on 12-14th July and featuring the K-Beauty Inspiration Zone, it will give you more in-depth knowledge into K-Beauty and its trends.

Essential Korean cosmetic ingredients

Reputable skincare brands in Korea contain a host of traditional and modern active ingredients. Some of these hail benefits from traditional Korean medicine, but all have very natural origins. To harness the essence of Korean skincare, make sure your cosmetic formulas contain at least a few of these ingredients:

  • Korean ginseng extract – also known as Panax ginseng, this ancient root goes back millennia in traditional Korean medicine for a myriad of benefits. Korean ginseng extract is most widely used in leave on skincare for its anti-ageing benefits, as it helps reduce fine lines and brighten the appearance of the skin for a more youthful appearance. Learn how to add liquid herbal extracts to formulas with this video.
  • Licorice root extract – another plant extract with its origins in traditional Eastern medicine, licorice root is a favourite in Korean skincare for its skin lightening, antioxidant and anti-inflammatory results. Look for extracts particularly rich in glycyrrhizic acid for the most potent benefits; and layer it in a few leave on products for outstanding visible effects. Some licorice extract comes in a powdered form; watch how to add powdered extracts to formulas with this video. 
  • Gotu kola extract – also known as Centella asiatica extract, this is yet another herbal extract with traditions in medicine. In skin care, gotu kola is used for its antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits to calm and sooth the skin – an ideal ingredient to help achieve the appearance of glass skin.
  • Yuza (yuja) extract – sourced from the pristine Jeju island, yuza extract is extremely rich in vitamin C for skin lightening and softening benefits. This is an important ingredient in serums or moisturisers as part of an overall skin care regime.
  • Snail mucin (also listed as snail secretion filtrate) – rich in hydrolysed glycosaminoglycans, this highly purified filtrate is a favourite amongst Koreans for its hydrating and suppleness benefits. Its skin plumping and luminosity results can be seen almost immediately and can even boost delivery of other actives.
  • Rice water – ideal to replace some of the water in a formulation, rice water boasts significant skin toning and firming benefits. It is ideal for pore refining in micellar cleansing and serum formulas. Get inspiration from our video rice milk micellar cleanser.
  • Bamboo water, extract or exfoliant – bamboo water and extract both refine the pores and soothe the skin for a luminous complexion; while finely ground bamboo gives a delightfully soft but effective exfoliating polish, just perfect to make that glass skin perfectly smooth.
  • Pearl extract – what is more luminous and perfect than a pearl? Pearl extract is rich in minerals to provide the same visible results in skincare.
  • Propolis – sourced naturally from beehives, this important structuring and anti-bacterial ingredient is a nutrient powerhouse with multiple benefits for the skin. At least one of the products in your Korean skincare range should contain this multi-active ingredient.

Other ingredients your Korean skincare formulas will benefit from include:

The skincare products needed for Korean glass skin

Korean skincare routines contain a long list of products for a layered approach. Make sure the selection of actives and ingredients in your cosmetic formulas delivers just the right amount of each for the best results.

  1. The double cleanse:
    1. the first cleanse is an oil-based balm or serum to remove make up and stubborn pollutants. Watch how to make natural cleansing oils and balms with this video.
    2. the second cleanse is to remove any oily residues and ensure pores are open for a deep clean. Watch how to create a gentle but deep cleansing micellar cleansing foam here.
  2. Exfoliate: use a crème based exfoliant with a natural exfoliating ingredient. Watch this video for a variety of natural exfoliant ingredients.
  3. Toner: the toner should provide instant tightening and pore refining benefits; rice water is an ideal addition here.
  4. Serum: the serum could be a non-greasy oil based serum, but would more commonly be a water based serum formula with an active mentioned at the start of this article to lay the foundation of hydration. The serum should leave the skin looking dewy but without residue, as more products are yet to be applied.
  5. Moisturise: the moisturiser should be a very light gel-cream formula packed with hydrating and skin lightening benefits. Products for more mature skin should promote anti-ageing and skin lightening benefits. The moisturiser is all about bringing the glow to the skin without greasiness.
  6. Sunscreen: an SPF protective product is essential for day use, to reduce any tanning or damaging impact of the sun. Koreans admire light, luminous skin – UV is the enemy of this goal! Read our overview of how to make sunscreen formulas here.
  7. Face masks: a staple in the Korean skincare routine, face masks are used to enhance the hydrating, lightening and perfecting effects of the other products in your range. Face masks are typically used three times a week, or sometimes more; and the traditional sheet mask is slowly being replaced by the more environmentally friendly sleep-in mask.

Koreans are also quite playful with their skincare – so they may look for funky or different product forms for the above products. Watch this playlist for some fun and creative skincare formulas to really wow your target market with different product formula solutions for their skincare needs.

Korean skincare is all about hydrating and caring for the skin – you won’t see harsh or powerful chemical peels in their routines! Instead, their layering effect is designed to soothe and comfort the skin with the right actives for a gentle yet effective brightening and luminosity results.

Bring glass skin results to women all over the world with these ingredient and formulating tips.

Happy formulating!

Fascinated with Korean skincare? Visit in-cosmetics Korea in Seoul from 12 to 14 July!

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Belinda is the Director of Institute of Personal Care Science, leaders in on-line Internationally Recognised Training for Cosmetic Formulation and Regulatory Affairs. She holds a Bachelor of Natural Therapies, Diploma of Cosmetic Science and Certificate in Training and Assessment. She has written 5 books on Cosmetic Formulation from Beginners through to Advanced levels as well as Organic and Colour Cosmetic Formulations and Brand Management. Belinda provides training to all levels of industry, from Beginners through to Advanced Diplomas both on-site and via distance. She has also developed thousands of personal care formulations and document dossiers over the years. She specialises in training on innovative and compliant product developments.

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