Back in 2011 Marie Claire reported that Korean skin care is about 12 years ahead of the States in terms of technology, and they are outpacing other countries in beauty innovation faster than you can say “glycolic peel.” South Korea has been the new France and for the past decade, a buzzed-about secret among beauty diehards, but the secret is out now!
So lately, I’ve been doing a lot of research on a variety of Korean beauty lines, regardless of its accessibility in the US or in the Philippines. On my research I’ve discovered an overwhelming amount of amazing products and noticed two things: 1) Korean’s are really into a product that does it all, like a 3-in-1, some are even 5-in-1 and 7-in-1, despite that they already have a rigorous skin care routine where 6-12 products are applied on their faces. And 2) Their products have bizarre yet fascinating ingredients, which I will thoroughly discuss below.
1. Snail Slime
I know the idea of putting snail slime on your face is quite, well, disgusting! But this skin care trend has actually been a huge trend in South Korea for years with no sign of slowing down, and you don’t have to literally put a snail on your face. Nearly every Korean skin care brand has a snail line of products, which contain high percentages of snail mucin. Although they are often marketed as anti-acne products, they also claim to have scar lightening, anti-inflammatory, wound healing, skin-regenerating, and anti-wrinkle benefits.
According to dermatologist Macrene Alexiades-Armenakas, M.D., “Snail mucin extract is a complex blend of proteins, glycolic acids and elastin.” This healing slime is the reason snails are able to move across sharp rocks and twigs without having sliced up little snail bellies – the mucin naturally and quickly heals cuts that occur on a snail’s body. Additionally, there was a snail mucin study back in January of 2008 in the journal, “Skin Pharmacology and Physiology.” The study was conducted by a group of scientists in the US and Spain, and concluded that, “Skin care products that include the soluble serum [snail mucin] help to orchestrate the correct assembly of the extra-cellular matrix, and avoid excess or abnormal scars, including acne scarring.”
The idea of putting a snail slime product may be hard for some, but honestly, I’m a huge fan of this beauty trend. Yes! I’ve been an avid user of snail beauty products for a while now, and no, it’s not as disgusting as it sound. It’s actually very nice, most are effectively scentless and have faster results compared to other products that I’ve used.
2. Bee Venom
I’m sure most of you have heard of Bee Venom products before like I did because it has been used for years to treat arthritis, back pain, and rheumatism, but as a skin care ingredient, it’s still a newcomer. The skin benefits from it because of a compound contained in the venom called “melitten” which contains anti-inflammatory properties that are said to be stronger than hydrocortisone. When venom is applied to the skin, it begins to break down cell membranes, causing the body to react as if it’s under attack, which results in increased circulation and triggering collagen proteins to become more active. Additionally, this causes a temporary relaxing effect in the facial muscles, which reduces the appearance of wrinkles. Avid users of bee venom products often refer to it as “natural botox.”
Nature Republic Bee Venom Mist Essence $23 available in W2Beauty
As of now, there are no completed study regarding the effects of bee venom in skin yet. However, it’s already wildly popular in the UK, thanks to the royal family. In 2010, it was revealed that Camilla, Duchess of Cornwall, had been receiving “organic facelifts” from a skin care expert that specializes in bee venom treatments. She is looking pretty good these days, I must say. Back in 2012, it was reported by multiple sources that Kate Middleton received a bee venom facial before her royal wedding. Michelle Pfeiffer and Gwyneth Paltrow are also reportedly bee venom fans.
Bee venom products are surely not for everyone since there are a lot of people who are allergic to bees. But if you don’t have an allergy, I guess if Kate Middleton tried it, there’s no harm on trying it too.
So there’s snail slime, and bee venom, and now I’m going to talk about snake venom. Well, not exactly. There’s a reason why I used Kaa of Jungle Book instead of a real photo of a snake, it’s because 1) I don’t like a photo of a scary snake on my blog and 2) those venom in Korean beauty products are not real snake venom, so why bother using a real snake photo?
Syn-ake is a synthetic compound that mimics the effects of a peptide called Waglerin1, which is found in the venom of the Temple Viper. What this product does is relax the facial muscles to smooth out wrinkles. Most products featuring Syn-ake are serums, although there are some skin care lines that feature moisturizing creams and emulsions containing the compound.
It’s Skin Syn-ake Agetox Cream $64 available in W2Beauty
Like bee venom, Syn-ake is touted as a Botox alternative, and quite popular in the UK too. Victoria Beckham, Kate Moss and Cheryl Cole are just some of its fans. But what sets it apart is that there have actually been studies done on its safety and efficacy. Studies have shown there to be no harmful side effects of usage, and in one study, forehead wrinkles were shown to have improved by 52% over the course of 28 days.
If you will ask me if I’m going to try syn-ake products, well, since it’s synthetic I wouldn’t say no to it. Plus, if you’re vegan, this trend is the only one for you among those listed here.
4. Bird’s Nest
This one may sound the most bizarre among those listed here above since when you see birds’ nests they’re usually made out of twigs, candy wrappers, and god knows what. But these are not just from any kind of birds’ nest, they’re from nests of swallows, also known as swifts, and are made out of a nutrient-rich, solidified saliva produced by the males of the species.
Actually in some Asian countries like the Philippines and most specially in China, birds’ nests have been used in cooking since the 17th century, most often as a soup. Consuming the nests is believed to provide all kinds of health benefits, such as strengthening the immune system, alleviating asthma, raising sex drive, and even improving mental focus. As a skin care ingredient, its high concentrations of antioxidants, water-soluble glycoprotein, Epidermal Growth Factors, and amino acids are said to fight signs of aging by promoting cell growth and tissue repair.
Holika Holika Prime Youth Bird Nest Gold Leaf Cream $85 available in W2Beauty
If you are concern about the swallow’s well being since their homes are being harvested for the sake of human’s skin care, there are now actually swallow farms throughout Asia with large structures full of carefully spaced rafters ideal for nest building since there was a time when the harvesting of these birds nests from their natural caves was ecologically devastating, but those days were over.
Will I try this product? Well, the idea of putting bird saliva on my face does not sound too bizarre since I already ate a soup made of it. And if you could notice, I’m quite adventurous when it comes to trying out new and even bizarre beauty innovations so, why not?
What about you? Which of these trendy Korean skin care ingredients would you dare to try? Do you currently use any products containing these ingredients? Share it below!
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