Eight Skin-Transforming Secrets from a Korean Facialist

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Korean skincare products are a staple on American vanities, and our routines are constantly expanding to accommodate the next big k-beauty discovery. But the truth is, we’re still way behind on the country’s newest innovations, and there’s no one more knowledgeable about caring for skin than a highly-trained Korean skincare expert. Ahead, eight skin-changing secrets from Araceli Elchami, the lead aesthetician at Sulwhasoo.

1. ONE CLEANSE IS NEVER, EVER ENOUGH.

The leaders of the skincare world are thorough: “Korean skincare rituals begin with double cleansing: use an oil-based cleanser to remove makeup, sunscreen and other oil-based impurities, then follow up with a cleansing foam or soap to clean out the pores,” says Elchami.

2. YES, WATERS, EMULSIONS, AND REFINERS ALL SERVE THEIR OWN PURPOSE.

Each one has a specific consistency and serves a different purpose. A water, the most lightweight of the bunch, replenishes nutrition and hydration after cleansing, while a refiner addresses texture issues to refine pores, improve skin clarity, and smooth texture.

3. THE ORDER YOU APPLY YOUR PRODUCTS IS EVERYTHING.

Layering is the key to maximum efficacy: if your skin is primed to absorb your products, they’ll work even better. And easy way to remember the steps? Go lightest to thickest in terms of texture. One step you might be skipping, according to Elchami, is balancing: “In this step, you should use a water followed by an emulsion to balance out the oil and moisture levels in the skin, which maximizes the skin’s potential to absorb nutrients.

4. SUPPLEMENTS ARE THE NEXT BIG THING IN SKIN HEALTH.

“One of things I notice becoming really popular in Korea is taking skincare vitamins or supplements,” says Elchami. She’s not surprised, though, as her training taught her that many skin ailments are derived from an unhealthy gut. “Beautiful skin truly starts from the inside out,” she says. If your diet is lacking in micronutrients, a skin supplement can help fill in the gaps.

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