Why K-Beauty Is For Lazy Girls

by Maxine Builder

When I mention that I write about K-beauty, most people ask about the infamous 10-step Korean skincare regime. They wonder, "Who actually has time for that?" The subtext being, "It seems way too fussy and totally unnecessary." This, however, isn't fair to K-beauty, which, with its multistep routines and myriad serums, has developed a reputation for being high maintenance. In reality, K-beauty is a lazy girl's best friend.

I'm the first to admit the seemingly flawed logic here because, on the surface, my own Korean-inspired skincare regimen looks incredibly high maintenance. Sticking to my six-step nighttime skincare routine requires that I travel with an oversized toiletry bag filled to the brim with cleansing oils, foaming cleansers, moisturizers, and facial wipes. I've created a whole separate system of organization in my bathroom to keep my essences separate from my toners. My boyfriend sometimes catches me going through my skincare routine before I go to bed with equal parts awe and bewilderment, wondering how I actually have time for that, every single night.

And yet, despite my penchant for triple cleansing, I still think of myself as a lazy girl at heart. If anything, integrating Korean products and techniques into my routine has only facilitated my laziness. I'm convinced that the ideal K-beauty customer is someone who, counterintuitively, doesn't want to spend much time on their skincare and beauty routines.

Let's start with that complicated multistep, many product routine. It's true that I use a lot of different products, but many of them are multi-taskers, slaying two skincare needs with one balm, so to speak. Think about cleansing oils. They first remove your makeup, breaking down even the most stubborn of waterproof mascaras. Then, when you rinse, the oil emulsifies and cleans your face. And, of course, it leaves your skin more moisturized than a classic cleanser would. K-beauty is rife with these multipurpose treatments that streamline a skincare routine without even realizing it. It's like combination shampoo and conditioner: An oft-cited lazy girl beauty hack.

To create these versatile skincare products, K-beauty companies must find and effectively use innovative ingredients, many of which might sound a little bit weird at first blush. But these funky ingredients, like sea daffodil or tomato, are included because they work, and K-beauty's willingness to put aside prejudices against "gross" ingredients in favor of efficacy sets these products apart, IMO.

Perhaps the most famous example of this is snail slime. Many moisturizers openly advertise as being derived from snail, but snail secretion filtrate, as it's known on ingredients labels, is often found in products that aren't labelled as "snail" because of that initial ick factor, as Charlotte Cho of Soko Glam explained to The Coveteur. The reason snail is included, time and time again, isn't because of the shock factor of the kooky ingredient. It's because snail slime works, hydrating skin and reducing the appearance of fine lines and acne scars, according to Peach And Lilly.

The continual innovation and discovery of these "miracle" ingredients from out-of-the-box sources mean the final skincare products on the shelf are as effective as possible and use the most cutting edge ingredients that aren't just hype. This, in turn, ensures results as quickly as possible with relatively minimal effort, which is what every lazy girl really wants, no?

Being able to derive the maximum benefit from relatively quick treatments is a trick K-beauty has mastered. Consider the sheet mask. It's one of the easiest, and most cost-effective, skin treatments out there. Cleanse, dry, then slap on the sheet mask. Let it sit for 15 to 20 minutes and remove for glowing, hydrated skin. That's it. In less than the time it takes to get a gel manicure, I'm left with markedly improved skin for the rest of the day. This kind of inventive and user-friendly design helps maximize the impact of a product in the least amount of time possible.

There's certainly some research needed in order to understand how to put together a K-beauty routine or figure out which products are right for each person's specific skin type, and that initial investment of time is a barrier for many people. Figuring out the difference between an ampoule and an essence can be confusing if you're just testing the waters or don't have any help.

But considering yourself "lazy" isn't a good enough reason to avoid doing research and experimentation, because once you figure out what works best, you'll be able to streamline your routine, making it as easy as possible. It might be multistep, but eventually taking off your makeup and washing your face at the end of every night (which you should be doing anyway, for the record) should become automatic.

At this point, I've stopped thinking about how many steps I'm going through because it's just what I do. Cleansing is so ingrained in my current muscle memory that I've literally been broken-iPhone-screen drunk, yet somehow still remembered to take off my makeup. And because I keep seeing results and improvements, I keep at it. The process fits into my lazy girl lifestyle because I'm not even thinking about it all anymore.

And ultimately, the goal of K-beauty is to make skincare as instinctive as possible, with easy-to-use, effective products that can become part of a comprehensive, individualized routine. So call me high maintenance, but by devoting a little bit of time every day to my skincare routine, I don't constantly stress about said skincare routine. The end result is glowing, hydrated, balanced skin with as little effort as possible, making K-beauty the ultimate lazy girl hack.

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Images: Maxine Builder