Cho is an esthetician from California who traveled to Seoul, South Korea after finishing college and had her world turned upside down after learning about Korean skincare. Not only did she launch Soko Glam, an online retailer that specializes in Korean beauty products, but she also wrote The Little Book of Skin Care, which has become the go-to resource on Korean skincare.
When asked how she went about writing the book, Cho explained, "I wrote it from my perspective: a Korean-American girl who moves to Seoul and experiences K-beauty for the first time. My goal was to make this skincare knowledge easily digestible because I know most skincare books tend to be very dry."
Let's take a look at Cho's 10 simple steps to insanely beautiful skin.
First off, it's extremely important at night to remove any leftover makeup that could clog pores, cause breakouts and dull your complexion. Cho suggests a double-cleanse of your face. Start off with an oil-based cleanser that leaves your skin as a clean canvas to absorb all of the goodness that you're about to slather on it.
This oil cleanser, by KLAIRS, is perfect for sensitive skin with its combination of black bean oil, black sesame oil and black currant seed, all of which leave skin feeling clean and moisturized.
Scrub-a-dub-dubbing your face is also a super important part of this process. "You're basically buffing away any dead skin cells that are blocking your skin-care products from absorbing, and it also helps give you a soft, refined texture as well," said Cho.
This strawberry and black sugar scrub from SKINFOOD not only helps you shed some gnarly dead skin, but it also smells good enough to eat!
I don't know about you all, but I'm very much a "soak-a-cotton-ball-in-witch-hazel" type of modern millennial woman. Gone are the days of Sea Breeze Astringent drying your face out so severely that a mere gust of wind would split it open.
Toners in the Korean 10-step beauty system are utilized as a way to balance your skin's pH levels. According to Soko Glam's website, you should "think about your skin like a sponge””it's more difficult to rehydrate it when it's dried up and hardened than when it's already a bit damp."
This toner from Benton contains aloe and salicylic acid, which preps the skin for all of the luxurious products that you're about to layer on. Another ingredient? Snail mucin, which "supports natural cell regeneration and replenishes moisture to increase firmness."
This step is definitely the most magical. According to Cho, essence is the most important part of this whole routine for most Korean women. "Your skin usually sheds every 28 days, and toners expedite that process. But as you get older, the turnover time frame actually increases. So, when you're 50-years-old it will take 50 days for your skin cells to renew. That's why a lot of older people have dull, dry skin. Therefore, essences are essential, as they accelerate cellular turnover, which brightens the skin," explains Cho.
This "It Radiant Diamond Brightening Essence" by Banila Co. is straight up infused with DIAMOND POWDER.
This eye cream contains ginseng water, wild ginseng extract, reishi mushroom extract and deer antler extract, which Soko Glam explains is harvested humanely from the fallen antlers of stags.
Pro tip: Apply eye cream by tapping it gently under your eyes with your ring fingers. Why the ring finger? It has been said* that the ring finger is the weakest finger, therefore less likely to tug at the delicate skin around your eyes.
(*I honestly heard this from Kyan Douglas on Queer Eye for the Straight Guymany, many years ago, so I don't know if it holds up. Regardless, dude had BEAUTIFUL skin, so I'm inclined to believe him.)
While we Westerners like to think of moisturizers as simply a hydrator, Koreans use moisturizers as the final step to lock in all your previous work and leave a dewy finish.
This gel moisturizer by Tony Moly infuses "water-based moisture into your skin with marine botanicals like chlorella, spirulina, plankton and mineral willow water to keep your skin supple and dewy, while also sealing in moisture to keep you hydrated all day and night."
If it's daytime, make sure to finish everything off with an SPF and reapply during the day if necessary. The reason it's the last step is because it acts as a barrier against the harmful rays of el sol.
This Gold Kiwi Sun Cream by SKINFOOD uses zinc oxide and titanium oxide to block the sun and gold kiwi extract to soothe the skin.
So, while this may seem like a whole heck of a lot of work, the Korean 10-step system for skincare is the key to smooth and well-hydrated skin.
"It all boils down to cleansing, exfoliating, treating, intensely moisturizing and applying plenty of SPF during the day. I guess the real differentiating factor between how Koreans take care of their skin and more Western routines is that in Korea, you're programmed to start early”” well before your first training bra””while our more American version of skincare tends to be a sudden mad dash to Nordstrom to buy $100 eye cream, hoping it will reverse some of the teenage UV damage when we hit the age of 30," said Cho.