The Real Reason Koreans Have Amazing Skin — and How You Can, Too

Courtesy of Soko Glam
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Korean skin care has made its way into the lives of many Americans, and no one knows this better than Soko Glam founder Charlotte Cho. The California native spent five years living in Seoul, South Korea, learning the ins and outs of Korean beauty before launching her online shop, where she sells curated Asian beauty products. The site also doubles as a go-to blog for all things K-beauty. Now she's taken that knowledge and turned it into an addicting read — The Little Book of Skin Care: Korean Beauty Secrets For Healthy, Glowing Skin.

If you devoured her book in a few days, like I did, then you probably ended up buying a couple of sheet masks (from Soko Glam, obvi) and vowed to start a more diligent skin care routine. If you didn't read her book yet, you haven't missed out on any important secrets, because we had the chance to chat with Charlotte at her NYC book launch. The certified esthetician touched on skin care mistakes, myths, and even recommended some of her favorite products. And ladies, she really knows her sh*t.

POPSUGAR: What made you decide to write a book on Korean skin care?

Charlotte Cho: I was not planning on writing [a book] because I was in the middle of esthetician school and doing Soko Glam. I didn't have any time and I didn't think about it, but a literary agency reached out to me and said that Korean beauty is getting more and more popular, we love your blog, and think you have the perfect voice. We ended up working on a proposal and a lot of publishers out there wanted this book and thought it was something people would want to read.

PS: A common advice is to "drink lots of water" for glowing skin. Is this actually true?

CC: Drinking water is great for your overall well-being, but it doesn't necessarily hydrate your skin. Your body doesn't hydrate from the inside out. That's why you need to apply topical products that have humectants, an ingredient that brings nourishment and binds moisture to your skin. That's the only way you'll see results for a dewy glow.

Instagram | charlottejcho

PS: What are the top three skin care mistakes you see women making?

CC: Something I wouldn’t recommend is when women apply their creams, some people slap it on and tug their skin repeatedly, which can lead to wrinkles, so it’s better to apply products very gently. I also know people who splash water on their face when it feels dry. But that actually draws moisture away from their skin because water molecules are so large.

Another mistake is when people keep sheets masks on all night — some sleep with it. There’s a reason the directions say leave for 20 minutes and discard. If you leave it on any longer, the cotton pads can actually soak moisture away from your skin.

PS: Speaking of face masks, why are some sheet masks more expensive than others and are they necessarily better?

CC: It depends from brand to brand, but hydrogels are slightly more expensive because they are made with 100 percent liquid, meaning with essences or ample, so all the nourishing ingredients are made into a mold. The mask will actually melt if you put it into the microwave. It makes sense that the hydrogel cost more because they're made with 100 percent soluble ingredients.

PS: Is there a hydrogel sheet mask you recommend trying?

CC: The MANEFIT Bling Bling Hydro Gel Mask ($6) is our best seller. The company actually makes sheet masks for some top luxury beauty brands out there, and this option is more affordable than some $30 ones you see from other beauty retailers.

Instagram | charlottejcho

PS: What’s the real difference between American and Korean skin care?

CC: Koreans churn out products really quickly because they’re really focused on innovation, since there is so much competition. They are not afraid of risks and that makes Korean skin care very exciting. The packaging is always very innovative, sophisticated, and cute. And the skin care is always very affordable. Growing up in America, I’d have to go to department stores to buy these expensive products but in Korea I can find quality items for $20.

PS: What types of products do you recommend sharing with your significant other?

CC: I always say make sure you both have similar skin types. If you have dry, sensitive skin, try not to use products with alcohol. That will cause more dryness and inhibit wound healing. If you have acne, many people use products with lots of alcohol in it, but that actually doesn’t help it heal any faster. My husband uses Son & Park Beauty Water ($30) all the time. It's a multistep product, so it hydrates, exfoliates, and tones.

PS: Do you have any tips for newbies to Korean skin care?

CC: I think that's the whole reason I wrote this book. It is to make skin care more accessible and fun because if you think about skin care, it sounds dry and boring, but with this, hopefully readers will be inspired to start a routine. Skin care in Korea is fun and I’m hoping to transfer that same feeling, mood, and environment.