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Christine Chang and Sarah Lee met when working in marketing for the beauty industry, and became fast friends with their shared passion for skin care thanks to their Korean heritage. A stint on Shark Tank (they ended up not accepting investment) and research trips to South Korea inspired for them to launch their beauty brand Glow Recipe, which realised their dreams of skin care products inspired by their bi-cultural background that are big on results but uses only natural ingredients. New to MECCA, Chang and Lee share the Korean skin care rituals that we all should be doing.
“From a very early age, we were taught skin care from our mothers and grandmothers, and it was very much a moment of pampering, indulgence and enjoyment for them,” remembers Chang, and elaborates on how it has shaped her approach on beauty and skin care now—she looks forward to her skin care routine at the end of the day. “It’s that moment when you can truly spend a few minutes to yourself applying these beautiful, sensorial textures, enjoying it and getting results as well.” It was definitely a factor when it came to concocting the products and even designing the packaging. “We wanted the whole journey to be enjoyable from the moment you see the product, to when you open the jar, smell it, and apply it.” Adds Lee: “We thought about it from every angle. When people apply our watermelon mask, we always had amazing feedback not only about the effect on the skin, but how much they enjoy using it too. That has very much inspired this shift towards skin care becoming a true self care moment.”
The founders share memories of going to Korean bath houses with their mothers and grandmothers and splashing green tea or patting milk on their faces. “Our grandmothers used watermelon in the summers to soothe our heat rashes. So miraculously, anytime she would rub watermelon rind on our red, irritated skin, the rash would be gone the next morning, so we want to harness the power of that ingredient,” explains Lee of the fruit that has gone on to feature in their Watermelon Glow Sleeping Mask and Watermelon Glow Pink Juice Moisturizer. “It’s giving that Korean facial experience in one jar, that works so hard overnight that you wake up to this smoother, brighter skin.” The Avocado Melt Sleeping Mask uses PHA, an active ingredient that Lee describes as “having a larger molecule than AHA, but it’s more gentle so it’s for drier, sensitive skin.” The ingredients are so natural, that the Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser can be applied as a mask for a deeper clean, too.
Chang explains that this aids absorption and ensures that you’re as gentle to your skin as possible. “Rubbing is a very fast moment and there’s a lot of friction for the skin, which over time can cause micro tears, and it pulls and tugs at the skin, potentially contributing to wrinkles as well,” she says. “A lot of people’s skins tend to be very dehydrated and the patting actually helps to drive into the product deeper into the skin layer so that it’s really hydrated.”
Derived from the patting technique, Chang advises against using a face towel because “it can cause friction once again,” she says. “Not to mention, the fact that your towel can very often hang near your toilet and there’s a spray radius with unseen particles, so it’s very hard to keep it clean.” She suggests patting skin care in after cleansing when the skin is still damp. “It’ll actually absorb better as well.”
According to Lee, this is the most unique part of Korean skin care. “It’s focused on prevention versus repair. From a young age, women and men are taught to take care of their skin, to cleanse as soon as they get home,” she says. “But, this gap is getting closer and closer.” “In a Korean skin routine, the process is, you hydrate your skin, you cleanse, you hydrate your skin, you exfoliate and exfoliate, and then you go back to hydration. And then at the end of the routine you would sooth the skin to make sure that it's very calm, and you walk out with glowing skin. Korean women consider translucent, beautiful lit-from-within as their beauty ideal,” says Chang, pointing to glass skin as an extension of it—use the Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Ultra Fine Mist to achieve this (the product regularly sells out in the US). “'Chok chok' is a really fun word in Korean that explains how hydrated your skin is. ‘Gwang’ means glow, so there are certain beauty treatments that’ll have menus where you can select the type of ‘gwang’ you want, so there’s water glow, inner glow, and even ‘chok chok’ glow. People are still so obsessed with glowy skin that there’s these very intricate definitions within the glow term.”
The over multiple steps of Korean skin care may have generated headlines, but the Glow Recipe founders clarify that Korean skin care rituals are really about being aware of what your skin needs. “It’s like listening to your body. If you’re tired, you sleep earlier, and maybe take some vitamins. It’s the same for skin care,” explains Chang. “We have been on that mission to break that barrier because in the end it’s not about those overwhelming steps but the results and experience of skin care. The Korean women customise their routines based on what their skin needs.”
Words by Zara WongJuly 2019
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