It’s no secret that K-beauty is 10 years ahead in terms of ingredients, formulations and skincare trends. It’s also no secret that these products are becoming more widely available here in sunny South Africa. The question is just how to incorporate them into a South African lifestyle, where high doses of sunshine and a carefree attitude are the orders of the day.
Let’s begin with the most important aspect of K-beauty - SUNSCREEN.
South African summers are renowned for the intense sunshine bringing us longer days and more time outside. It's a time for endless braais with friends and family, hours spent frolicking on the beach, and happy hours that begin way before the sun sets. One thing that all of these festive activities have in common - the sun. Time spent under the South African sun hits harder, literally.
Glancing at the UV Index is useful in determining the measure of just how much damage the sun can do to our eyes and skin. Essentially, it’s a measure of the sun’s intensity. This index is internationally recognized and can be a good indicator of the level of sun protection needed before you step outside.
Currently, South Africa’s UV Index ranges between ‘very high risk’ and ‘extremely high risk’. Very high risk means that extra protection is needed, and a minimum of SPF-15 sunscreen should be applied to exposed skin. Sun exposure should be avoided as much as possible, especially between midday and 3pm. Extremely high risk means all of the above, and that it is not advisable to be out in the sun at all.
So, what is UV light? Ultraviolet light is invisible to the human eye and is a form of radiation. Ultraviolet wavelengths are made up of UVB and UVA rays, which both damage the skin and are thought to contribute to skin cancer. UVB causes sunburn, while UVA contributes to ageing as it penetrates deep into the skin’s layers. You want to avoid both of these as much as possible, and if you have to head outside, Korean sun protection can help.
When it comes to sunscreen, K-beauty knows best. Korean sunscreens offer more variety when it comes to the SPF filters used and innovation in terms of texture and ingredients. They use the PPD (Persistent Pigment Darkening) test for UVA rays, and the PA rating system, ranging from PA+ to PA++++ to rate the level of UVA protection. Pick the highest rating you can find and apply your sunscreen religiously.
Childhood summer holidays in South African meant being slathered head-to-toe in thick, white sunscreen that left me looking like I’d fallen into a bucket of paint. Summer holidays now involve a silky-smooth layer of sunscreen that is as sheer as satin and blends right in. Some favorites include Etude House Sunprise Mild SPF 50 and COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPF 50. Sunscreen should play a major role in our daily lives and form a key pillar in our regime.
Moving on to the second aspect – ROUTINE.
If there’s anything that is able to ground us during a global pandemic, it’s something as straightforward as routine. K-beauty is renowned for its 10-step routine and using it to center your day can help in de-stressing and creating a sense of order. Focusing on personalizing your skincare regime can be a healthy self-care moment and brighten your complexion while brightening your mood. Remember that the key is to be flexible, and only do as many steps as you need to. Feel like using an extra serum tonight? Go for it. Desperate for a double cleanse to get rid of that sunscreen? By all means.
Finally, to the last aspect - NATURE.
In South Africa, we are surrounded by nature in all its vivid colors, varieties and forms. From the glistening oceans to the towering mountaintops, we have it all. Tourists pay decent money to visit us to experience this natural world, and for good reason. We’re proud of our nature and are always looking for new ways to incorporate it into our lives. When it comes to skincare, there has been a major shift in focus on using natural ingredients to benefit the skin.
There is a demand for natural ingredients, and K-beauty is there with the offerings. Natural enzymes are an ingredient to watch, especially as an alternative to chemical exfoliants. These can be found in papaya, apple, kiwi and pineapple, and purchased in products like Heimish Refresh Water. Other ingredients to keep an eye out for include propolis, pearl, yuja, bamboo and birch.
If you’re looking for a natural cleanser, look no further than the hypoallergenic cult favourite cleanser Banila Co Clean It Zero 3-in-1 Cleansing Balm. Natural toners are the order of the day, and the Benton Aloe BHA Skin Toner is packed with aloe water, snail mucin, and even Rooibos extract. For moisture, you can’t go wrong with Pyungkang Yul’s Nutrition Cream.
There’s a natural, gentle K-beauty product to be found for every single step in your skincare regime. Now that the world is finally on our doorstep, give it a try and report back to us on your experience. We’d love to hear!
(Megan Bursey - Guest Blogger)