The outermost portion of our skin is generally made of 10 to 30 dead layers. Mine’s at about -5 at the moment, because just before I sat down to write this piece, a Korean spa Jedi took a scouring pad to my body and proceeded to power-scrub as though possessed by the Force. She then doused me with warm milk, slathered me in puréed cucumber, and sent me home a new woman. Or at least one with unrecognizably silky, glowing skin.
Although not all Korean skincare (or K-beauty, as it’s popularly known) is so extreme, it often shares two things with my evening’s adventure: visible results and foodie roots. Or actually, some combination thereof. One of the highest compliments — indeed, one of the most sought-after results — within this esthetic ecosystem is “honey skin.”
I was recently discussing the term with Sunju Hirsch, a Seoul-born and -bred superstylist at New York City’s Rita Hazan Salon, where we browsed through endless pages of returns after plugging #꿀피부 (Korean for “honey skin”) into an image search. “Look how incredibly smooth, spotless, and glowing everyone’s skin is,” she said. “That’s the Korean ideal, and there’s so much pressure to achieve it — even for professional success — that the country has produced some seriously effective skincare.”
Of course, no one’s going to endorse such pressure in the workplace — or any place, for that matter. But the resulting products are a different story. Having tried endless numbers of them at this point, I’m happy to share five kitchen-inspired favorites.
A superfood smoothie for the thin, delicate skin around your eyes.
A superfood smoothie for the thin, delicate skin around your eyes (and lips), Eyeconic Eye Cream blends ginkgo biloba nut extract, nutmeg extract, clove extract, grapefruit seed extract, and others into a super-nourishing but fast-absorbing wrinkle fighter. Bonus: The ergonomically pleasing pump, which helps with portion control (a little of this retinol-rich formulation goes a long way).
Look how incredibly smooth, spotless, and glowing everyone’s skin is...
That’s the Korean ideal.
— Sunju Hirsch