With such high standards for beauty, it is no surprise that South Korea is the metropolitan for skincare. Skincare, in general, is so lucrative, people can spend upwards of $200 on single products.
More and more brands, such as Kylie Cosmetics and Amazon, are incorporating skincare into their cosmetic lines, and the industry is only moving up from here.
K-beauty has been a subject of fascination in the United States in conjunction with the influence of K-pop and mukbangs over the past decade. From unique sheet face masks to ambitious cream packaging, Korean beauty culture stands out through its attention to detail, both in presentation and ingredients. The typical Korean skincare routine can often be eight to ten steps long, involving toner, eye cream, ampoule, etc, with the objective of achieving subdued pigment and youthful looking skin. Yet many Korean women are not completely dependant on these regimens; professional facials are vital to Korean skin maintenance.
However, Seoul’s extensive repertoire of beauty locales may make it difficult to find the best location for your needs. If you’re ever lucky enough to travel to the beauty capital of the world, consider exploring the following options for facials to not only improve your skin, but to also experience Seoul’s contagious fervor for skin care as health.
Nestled in Gangnam-gu, Seoul, the Renovo Skin Clinic is a popular skin care clinic for both travelers and natives to achieve healthier skin through various treatments. Whether you are coming for issues with acne, pigmentation, or skin elasticity, the Renovo Skin Clinic is accommodating to the many situations brought by their diverse clients; their menu of procedures ranges from chemical peels to contour shots to BB laser treatments.
Like many facial spas in Seoul, the Renovo extends a free consultation in which the esthetician scans the client’s face to analyze problem areas and thus, offer solutions with a curated set of procedures. The in-depth consultation gives guests the opportunity to view oil levels, pigmentation, wrinkles, and pore activity, getting straight to the root of the problems. Not to mention, Seoul Guide Medical’s CEO Tony Medina is a welcoming face to the Renovo Skin Clinic brand, often sitting alongside the guest to discuss the details.
The Aqua Peel is popular among the treatment options, commended by many celebrities and even Youtubers such as cari cakes, sisilessthan3, and Hurricane Lala, who flew to Seoul with the intent of visiting the Renovo. Medina himself states that the Renovo can be booked for weeks with this treatment. Aqua Peels in Korea tend to run less than 240,000 won, or 200 US dollars, but the price may vary due to the assorted customizations and supplements offered at the Renovo.
The goal of the Aqua Peel is to wipe away dead skin cells and stimulate your skin’s hydration. The primary ingredients used are APA, BHA, and glycerine. APA is water-soluble and mainly softens the dead skin cells embedded in your skin to make it easier for suction to draw them from your skin’s surface, in tandem with encouraging the synthesis of collagen. Following APA is BHA, a fat-soluble ingredient meant to combat oily and acne-prone skin by a deep cleaning of your pores and T-zone. This facial concludes with the distribution of glycerine to the skin’s surface as an essence and conditioner. Glycerine is significant in its antioxidant properties, vitamin B, and hydration, as well as its ability to tame melanin production. The procedure’s function allows it to precede laser treatments as a layer of protection, which many clients find useful for sustaining their skin’s hydration. The Renovo’s Aqua Peel is so thorough that the effects of this treatment can last between two to four months!
Many travelers fear that the Korean language barrier may hinder accuracy and comfort of the process, but rest assured when they are welcomed by the CEO himself and the company’s own translators. This applies to many of the clinics in Seoul since the hype attracts countless tourists.
Shangpree Spa, termed the “model spa”, is no stranger to the vast world of skincare; it has been in business since 1999, maintains a cult following, and has earned 121 awards, penetrating the skincare conversation across the globe. Plenty of people have referred to the Shangpree Spa as the best in the nation, popular for its rubber masks and high volume of admirable clients, including K-Pop stars and actresses like Soo-Jin Park, a Shangpree regular. It runs at Myeong-dong and Chungdam in the heart of Seoul, only a five minute walk from exit five of the Apgujeong Rodeo station. Keep in mind that it is a women’s only spa.
Their mission is holistic therapy, utilizing European and Asian devices and philosophies, and the knowledge collected after 28 years in the industry. The estheticians themselves don’t even see clients until after at least three years of training, and the training is apparent throughout the whole procedure.
The S-Energy Facial is highly recommended and a relatively affordable option for those who want to appreciate Seoul’s skincare sphere without breaking the bank. It costs about 130,000 won, or about 110 US dollars. Lasting about 90 minutes, this procedure allows the guest to choose between the regenerating, brightening, and acne prevention foci, and generally fixates on maintaining youthful skin by improving elasticity and detoxification. This treatment is excellent for all skin types, because it’s free from harmful components, including alcohol and artificial odors.
If you find yourself at Shangpree, the pre-treatment addresses your concerns with a consultation to assess the current state of your skin. The actual procedure begins with the necessary preparation personalized for your skin type; dry skin can call for a soothing cream or moisturizer that may not be as effective on oily skin. During this, another woman joins the process to massage and clean your legs and feet. However, this differs from a generic foot massage because the masseuse employs an air compression massager.The esthetician runs an ionic tool, a device similar to roller and ball electrodes, over your face in short strokes in order to remove oily matter, or sebum. She follows this technique with a massage to allow the product to settle into the skin. The treatment continues with a thick mask made of a mixture of natural herbal components to cover your entire face, including your eyes and mouth, for about 20 minutes as she provides a chest and shoulder massage in the meantime. The S-Energy Facial runs around three rounds of facials during the entire procedure.
This facial is great for an introduction to Shangpree’s skincare techniques, resulting in a healthy glow. Many clients opt for the S-Power Facial, a pricier yet heightened version of the S-Energy Facial, after acquainting themselves with Shangpree products or for intense cleaning needs.
The question Shangpree Spa seeks to answer is “Can you please fix my skin?” and its amenities prove that it truly has its sights set on skin improvement without neglecting the importance of a sublime environment.
The facial spa, Troiareuke, is another contender in the skincare industry. Endorsed by YouTubers Joan Keem and TaYa Sunaz, this spa finds its name in the mouths of many skincare fanatics, especially for its ACSEN skincare line. And do not fret: the company’s staff is fluent in English, Chinese, and Korean!
Troiareuke’s Troipeel is an organic and non-chemical resurfacing treatment, lasting about 1.5 hours, for those hunting for a natural method of facial restoration. The Troipeel is advised for those who possess sensitive, acne-prone, wrinkled, and/or hyper-pigmented skin. The entire procedure costs about 250,000 won, or about 210 US dollars, placing it on the costly end of the spectrum. Nonetheless, the Troipeel is unique for the organicity that many spas cannot claim. This peel utilizes organic calcium crystals broken down into herbal needles to administer a prickly sensation, akin to exfoliation, alongside other 100% natural and safe ingredients involved in the science of your skin’s natural regeneration process. This micro-herbal blend promotes your skin’s metabolism and actually biodegrades the skin’s contaminants for 48 hours.
The procedure begins with a free consultation with the director, Director Choi, notable for over 24 years of experience. The esthetician opens the actual treatment with Troiareuke’s very own P.I.T. Cleansing Milk, special for its antioxidant effect from the pine tree bark extracts. This can be joined with other products personal to the client’s skin type or issues, such as the brand’s Skin Complex Formula, Anti-Wrinkle Eye Cream, or the Mela C Ampoule. The actual Troipeel treatment begins with a mixture of a percentage of organic calcium crystals and their ACSEN Selemix Serum for acne and inflammation control. The mixture is placed gently on the face in small increments, and the esthetician proceeds to gently rub or “plant” the concoction into the skin for thorough cleansing. Many describe this process as slightly uncomfortable, especially if this is your first Troipeel treatment. However, this is necessary to reach the deeper layers of your skin. The treatment is set with the Troiareuke BCC Cream to protect and heal the skin as it resurfaces.
The Sulwhasoo Spa in the Lotte Hotel of Gangnam-gu is also prestigious in the skincare circle. This spa specializes in providing anti-aging procedures, primarily using amber, jade, white porcelain, and of course, rich ginseng ingredients. It stands out greatly with its environment; the unique and memorable architecture, defined by its gold grid structure, provides guests with a warm embrace, simultaneously open and confining. It is true luxury that you can feel as soon as you step into the building.
Though slightly pricier than the previous facial spas, the Sulwhasoo Spa provides excellent and unique service for the best possible experience. The most expensive experience runs 650,000 won, or 545 US dollars, for the signature Ultimate Restorative Journey, and the cheapest runs 150,000 won, or 125 US dollars, for the Birch and Porcelain Moisturising Treatment.
Sulwhasoo’s White Ginseng and Jade Brightening Treatment is a facial that falls in between the rest, priced at 210,000 won, or 176 USD, while still offering the signature ginseng element without being too intense for first timers. It makes wonderful use of Sulwhasoo’s Snowise Line, composed of white ginseng and old world diamond flower. The treatment also involves a foot bath and scrub, and care for the hands and scalp, lasing about 80 minutes. The ultimate goal is to brighten and firm the skin to aid in anti-aging.
The treatment begins with a general questionnaire that inquires on the client’s skin history and lifestyle. Once your concerns are addressed, you are escorted to the treatment room to change into a robe to prepare for pre-treatment. This is followed by a red ginseng foot bath and ginseng scrub to promote blood circulation in the body.
The main products used in this procedure are a Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Serum, a Snowise Brightening Serum, and a Jade Applicator. The Jade Applicator, in particular, may raise interested brow, but functions to prevent aging while balancing the yin and yang within your skin. The Concentrated Ginseng Renewing Serum is the star of the show, because of the ginseng leaves, stems, and roots in the serum. The experience ends with a complimentary ginseng-based tea and Korean snacks where you’re taken to the powder room. This area provides Sulwahsoo’s very own makeup products for you to try.
Many Korean facials may land on the high-priced side on the scale, but they prove to improve like no other; though your wallet may feel an ample difference, your skin will as well. Regarding skin care as a form of health care allows you to realize the advantages of a nourished face.
Moreover, it is important to reinforce the idea that there is no singular “perfect” facial for everyone. Especially in the world of Korean skincare, the power of healing manifests itself via the seemingly endless selection of ingredients and treatments. The estheticians in these highly regarded spas are often willing to accommodate and customize these facials to best suit your needs.
Though the interest in skincare is often trivialized as simple in nature, a look into the world of Korean beauty offers a much more thoughtful outlook on skincare: a passion for health and wellness. So book that appointment in Seoul; your skin will thank you for it