The K-beauty acne strategy is radically different from how the rest of the world treats those pesky pimples. When you think of how to treat acne, the first thing that probably comes to mind is, “How can I dry out my face in order to prevent breakouts?”
Dermatologists in Korea, on the other hand, are always recommending that you increase hydration in order to reduce inflammation that causes the pimple under the surface. In other words, the radical difference is that hydration helps to clear skin, and if you zero in on calming ingredients, you heal instead of cover up blemishes.
Moisturize From the Inside Out
Hydration starts with drinking plenty of water. Think of yourself like a plant that needs eight glasses of H2O every day to stay vibrant and fresh. But you also need to hydrate your skin from the outside in order to stop bacteria from passing through the barrier.
Exfoliate with Acids
Helping acne find an exit strategy is key when you’re breaking out—gently exfoliate your skin with a chemical exfoliator once a week to slough off dead skin cells. “Acids act as chemical exfoliants and while they might sound harsher than physical exfoliants, I find that because they are available in a range of strengths they can really be tailored to skin type,” says Dr. Sejal Shah, dermatologist in NYC.
The idea of multi-masking—using different masks on different parts of your face—is a Korean beauty skin-care staple. You have different oil glands, so you’re going to produce different levels of oils and also have areas that are drier than others, so it’s really important to plan accordingly for those different zones.
Amp Up Sunscreen
Contrary to what you might think, you want to amp up your SPF when you’re experiencing breakouts. “Even if you feel that getting sun helps your acne in the long run, it can actually aggravate it,” says Dr. Shah. Most people think that adding sunscreen increases clogged pores, but Korean dermatologists always recommend to use sunscreen over your acne. It helps protect your skin from pollution and pigmentation.
Even if you don’t pick at a pimple, it’s considered a wound and more likely to leave mild scarring when it’s exposed to UV rays. So opt to cover up with SPF versus a foundation to heal the wound properly and for the skincare long game.
Double-Cleanse at Night
And of course, the best way to keep skin clear and fresh is to double-cleanse before going to bed every night!