korean beauty secrets
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Like lots of other ladies, I've been obsessed with face masks for a couple of years now, but it wasn't until recently that I discovered their popularity is part of a much bigger trend of Korean beauty treatments, also known as K-Beauty. It makes sense to me, because the first time I ever saw a massive display of sheet masks was at a local Korean supermarket that has an entire beauty department that looks like a mini Sephora. The cool thing about K-Beauty is that it focuses on natural beauty and proper skincare, which makes it something that can literally work for everyone.

More from MamásLatinas: 40 Natural beauty secrets from all over the world

In Korea, the "no-makeup makeup" look is all the rage which means that the most important part of any beauty routine is proper skincare. And apparently, taking care of your skin is just a part of Korean culture--for both women and men. Since the idea is so ingrained in Korean culture, beauty products and treatments are also much more affordable than in the United States and other countries.

In fact, in South Korea beauty stores are practically found on every corner, offering a vast array of products at prices that nearly everyone can manage. Face masks can be purchased for as little as $1. I mean, seeing that the trademark of K-Beauty is a 10-step nightly routine, it only makes sense that the products needed have to be readily available and accessible for all.

Here are some things you should know if you'd like to give K-beauty a try:

 

Focus on skincare, not makeup. 1

Focus on skincare, not makeup.

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I know, I know. As Latinas, most of us love our makeup, but Korean beauty routines focus on letting your natural skin shine through and scaling back on makeup. The idea is that taking proper care of your skin, will minimize the need to rely on heavy makeup.

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Go minimal with makeup. 2

Go minimal with makeup.

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Rather than the matte finish and contouring that's popular in the U.S., most Koreans go for dewy skin and simply swipe on a bit of blush, lipgloss and mascara.

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Cleanse well...with oil. 3

Cleanse well...with oil.

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Most Korean skincare routines start first with washing your face with an oil-based cleanser, regardless of your skin type. Koreans believe that to keep a youthful appearance, it's important to keep your skin hydrated. And contrary to what you might think, oil actually works really well for drawing dirt, toxins and excess sebum out of your pores.

Speaking of hydration, drink up. 4

Speaking of hydration, drink up.

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Korean beauties know the importance of staying hydrated by drinking lots of water to keep skin supple, clear and healthy. Several Korean models told W magazine that staying hydrated is an essential part of their beauty routines.

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Now back to cleansing. 5

  Now back to cleansing.

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The next step involved in the 10-step routine is to wash your face a second time with a more traditional gentle foaming cleanser in order to remove any excess oil from the first cleansing. Yes, you are supposed to double cleanse!

 

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Consider cleaning in the shower. 6

Consider cleaning in the shower.

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Another tip is to perform your double facial cleansing in a hot steamy shower, which will open your pores up, allowing you to clean them more thoroughly.

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Exfoliate one to three times per week. 7

Exfoliate one to three times per week.

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After washing, you should exfoliate one to three times per week depending on your skin type. Regardless, you probably don't want to do it daily since that could be too harsh for the fresh new skin that will start to appear from exfoliating regularly. You can use a store-bought product or a DIY scrub.

Don't skip toner. 8

Don't skip toner.

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When I was a around 12 my mom got me started on a nightly routine that included washing my face with a gentle cleanser, using witch hazel as a toner and then applying a lightweight moisturizer. I stuck with this routine for a long time, though I eventually switched to using toner only occasionally. But in Korean culture, toner is a nightly part of the 10-step routine. The results speak for themselves, so I might just start doing it again.

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Essence is essential. 9

Applying what is known as an "essence" to your face is one of the most crucial steps of the Korean skincare routine. The essence is basically the first layer of moisture that you're applying to your skin after the ultra-thorough cleansing process. Plant-based essences are preferred, but you can also purchase versions that have special ingredients like hyalauronic acid. Hanskin Hyaluron Skin Essence, $42.

Try an optional ampoule. 10

Try an optional ampoule.

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To really lock in moisture, after you apply your essence, try applying an ampoule. This is especially beneficial if you have dry skin or your skin is in need of a little extra TLC, but isn't necessary for every person or every day. Ampoules are basically nutrient-rich serums that are loaded with vitamins and minerals. Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Science Activator Ampoule, $23.90

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Now it's time to pick a mask. 11

Now it's time to pick a mask.

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What I consider the most fun part of the Korean beauty routine, is picking out a face mask. These days you can find huge displays of sheet masks at pretty much any store that sells health and beauty products and it's totally fun to look through them in choose versions with cool ingredients that will meet your skin's specific needs. I only manage to do a face mask a few times a month, but it's recommended as often as twice a week.

Use an eye cream for anti-aging benefits. 12

Use an eye cream for anti-aging benefits.

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In Korea, many people start using eye cream long before they actually need it. It's thought of as a preventative measure to keep the skin around your eyes looking youthful. It's applied nightly, and can also help with puffiness and under-eye circles depending which product you choose.

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Before going to bed, apply a night mask. 13

Before going to bed, apply a night mask.

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The final step to the nightly beauty routine is to apply a night mask before going to sleep. A night mask is basically a very rich moisturizer or night cream that you sleep with in order to lock in the moisture from all the other steps in the routine and give them a chance to really soak in.

Always use sunscreen. 14

Always use sunscreen.

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Korean women use SPF religiously, either applying sunscreen every morning and/or by using products likes moisturizers and foundations that include SPF. Sun protection is an important step since sun exposure can amplify the effects of aging.

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Always remove makeup before going to bed. 15

Always remove makeup before going to bed.

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Since clean skin is a hallmark of Korean beauty, it might go without saying that removing all of your makeup every night is a must. Still, I'm guilty of not always doing this, so it's a good reminder. No makeup wipes? Try baby wipes instead.

Better yet, take it off as soon as you get home. 16

Better yet, take it off as soon as you get home.

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Some even say you should remove your makeup and begin your skincare routine as soon as you arrive home for the day instead of right before bed. The benefit is that your skin time to air out and gives the moisturizers you apply a head start. Just remember to apply the night mask right before going to sleep.

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You can add in special treatments as well. 17

You can add in special treatments as well.

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Many Korean women also use special beauty treatments that they don't do every day or even every week, but add a boost to their beauty and skincare routines. These treatments range from simple at-home steps to procedures performed by dermatologists.

Eye gels are popular. 18

Eye gels are a popular addition to beauty routines. They are simply little curved gel packs that adhere to the under eye area and are full of nutrients to help reduce the signs of aging, moisturize and lift the delicate skin under the eye. Marine Energy Eye Mask, $30

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If your lips need a bit of special attention, you can put a mask on those too. 19

Lip masks are another popular supplement to the Korean beauty routine. Lip masks are similar to eye masks in that they add a boost of moisture and hydration, but they can also help temporarily plump your lips for special occasions if they include ingredients like collagen. Collagen Infused Lip Mask, $24.99 per 5-pack

Lip scrubs are nice too. 20

If your lips tend to be drier and flakier than the rest of your face or if you simply don't like the taste of your facial exfoliator, you can even try a dedicated lip scrub to slough off that dry skin. Tarte Lip Facial, $16

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Get help from a derm. 21

Get help from a derm.

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Beyond quick-fix beauty treatments, many Korean women also turn to dermatologists for fillers and other injectables for longer-lasting results. However, this type of cosmetic work is typically done with a finer touch in Korea and needs to be repeated more frequently than comparable procedures in the U.S.

Try new things. 22

Try new things.

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According to blogger and esthetician Alana Mitchell, in Korea brand and/or product loyalty is pretty much not a thing. Koreans try new things all the time and are always looking for the newest, trendiest, most innovative product rather than finding something that works and sticking to it. It's one reason the beauty product market remains affordable.

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Gentle, natural, plant-based products rule. 23

Gentle, natural, plant-based products rule.

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Perhaps because their skin is so healthy, many Koreans do admit to having sensitive skin so they stick to gentle, plant-based and natural formulas. These tend to be a bit more expensive in America, but it's worth the investment. The higher the demand for the product becomes, the more companies will produce which will drive the price down and make it more affordable for everyone like it is in Korea. Then we'll all get to have healthier skin.

Get your glow on. 24

Get your glow on.

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As we mentioned earlier, dewy skin is the preferred look in Korea, so feel free to ditch the layers and layers of mattifying, pore-clogging makeup and get your glow on a la J.Lo. It's honestly so much more flattering. In Korea it's known as chok-chok, and it's all about achieving a radiance that doesn't even need a filter.

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Consider using a facial mist. 25

In addition to using a toner during your nightly wash and moisturize routine, you can use a toner mist when applying your makeup to help achieve chok-chok. A toner mist can both moisturize and set your makeup if you apply it between each layer of makeup application. Lagom Cellus Mist Toner, $23

Find a Korean day spa. 26

Find a Korean day spa.

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Most people in Korea visit the spa regularly. That's because a spa day there is not necessarily the over-the-top expensive experience we think of when we think of a spa day. It's more of a social experience and people in Korea typically go to spas with friends and family and get to spend the entire day there for a flat rate. These spas focus on cleansing and detoxing, which has the added benefit of making your skin look amazing.

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You can upgrade with a body scrub. 27

You can upgrade with a body scrub.

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Besides the standard spa experience, pretty much all Korean spas offer upgrades like massages and body scrubs. Body scrubs are a great way to get all of your skin looking fresh, clean and new.

But be sure to try the sauna. 28

But be sure to try the sauna.

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Last year when my husband and I discovered a Korean-style spa in our town, we tried it out and loved it. For less than $20 each we can spend a few hours relaxing and enjoying the detoxifying and rejuvenating benefits of a number of different saunas. Korean saunas are HOT and enhanced with different elements like clay and charcoal to achieve different purposes for your body and skin.

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The tubs and baths are amazing. 29

The tubs and baths are amazing.

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One of the trademarks of Korean spas are the baths and hot tubs, and they are also included in admission. Most feature tubs of water at different temperatures ranging from icy cold to super-hot, with some including herbal elements. They are awesome and can work wonders for detoxifying, softening and hydrating your skin. Just know that these are traditionally completely nude and shared with other patrons.

Visiting a K-spa will leave you feeling and looking amazing. 30

Visiting a K-spa will leave you feeling and looking amazing.

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Even if you do only the things that are included in admission, you will leave the Korean spa cleaner and more radiant than you've ever been before. The first time I visited one I couldn't believe how clean I felt and how glowy my skin was. It's the perfect way to prep your skin for your weekday beauty routine, and to make sure it is healthy, clear and detoxified.