"Skincaretainment" is a thing, and the Koreans have mastered it

It wasn’t too long ago when we thought of skin care as a strict regimen featuring tubes and bottles of serious-looking products. They felt very utilitarian and unexciting but you had to apply them daily, without fail, else all hell would break loose. Over the recent years though, we’ve learned that it can actually be a good idea to deviate from routine every so often. We now know that our skin’s needs can change over time, so it’s important to pay attention and switch out products to keep our regimen effective.

What’s more, new beauty regimens like the 10-step Korean skincare routine are just too intriguing not to try. Sure, it seems incredibly daunting but the Koreans have turned a process that we used to follow with military-like precision into a cute, effective, and surprisingly fun experience. A term has even been coined for it: “skincaretainment” is such an apt description to use, as evidenced by our current fascination with all things K-beauty. What’s especially fascinating is that the whole thing is a full production from start to finish, starting with...

Image via Etude House

Image via Etude House

The Shopping Experience

Though my husband adores me, it’s only at Etude House that I’ve been greeted with a “Welcome, Princess!” upon entering the store. Everything is cute and pink and girly – even the beauty assistants sport frilly pink aprons! The mood differs from brand to brand: clean, minimalist interiors at The Face Shop, K-idol standees at Nature Republic, purple-themed whimsy at Holika Holika.

Even online shopping is made fun by websites like Althea, with cute, image-heavy product descriptions. I still pick up the wrong product sometimes because the labels can be confusing but for the most part, the graphics are incredibly detailed! And speaking of the products, we often find ourselves unable to resist purchasing an item or two even without first checking for reviews because of...

The Packaging Design

It’s often love at first sight (and smell) when we encounter K-beauty products. Korean brands are masters in the art of making cosmetics look vanity display-worthy, and it adds so much pleasure to actually using them. Case in point: I usually neglect applying moisturizers but when they come in jars that look like cute fruits and animals—well, I use them! They almost always smell so good, too.

Image via ebay.com

Image via ebay.com

Some products literally contain an element of entertainment by featuring K-pop and K-drama idols, which become collectibles for fans and turn many into beauty converts. It feels quite different from the typical celebrity endorsements done by Western brands because Korean idols (including men) are well-known for investing in various beauty routines to maintain their appearance. We haven’t yet seen one that didn’t have that famous Korean glowy complexion so we’re very much inclined to copy whatever they’re doing!

The User Experience

Aside from the attractive packaging, we’re also given the chance to experience something totally new. As a way of highlighting the star ingredient, the “white” and the “yolk” in this Egg Sleeping Pack from AboutFacePH must be mixed together with the included “spoon” prior to application. It’s a simple yet fun additional step to putting on our skincare!

The Elizavecca Carbonated Bubble Clay Mask has been making its rounds on blogs and vlogs alike, including this one by YouTube superstar Tati. The clay mask activates and foams after application, which is both bizarre and fascinating to watch.

Though sheet masks aren’t a new experience, brands are constantly finding ways to make it more interesting. There are animal designs like these ones from Proud Mary and pretty lace prints from Banila Co.  We’ve also seen other designs that contain 24k gold or look like something you’d wear to a fancy masquerade! They aren’t really necessary but they sure make that 10-step regimen a lot less tedious.

The Results

The clincher to all these is: these products actually do the job. Through the hype that surrounds them, Korean skin care typically makes the most of tried-and-tested natural ingredients and constantly pushes the envelope by foraying into strange actives like snail slime and horse fat. At the height of its skincaretaining, we find ourselves part of the narrative as we stay glued to the mirror, almost not believing how good our skin has gotten from using these products.

Fortunately, the price for all this skincaretainment is pretty easy on the pocket, too. Compared to their Western or even Japanese counterparts, K-beauty offers a wide range of affordable products that deliver great results. So while novelty may be what initially draws users in, many do continue to use and explore Korean skin care.

What do you think about products that are designed for skincaretainment? Have you tried using any? Tell us about your favorites!

Product photography by Samantha Gonzales