Gold is a prominent ingredient in anti-aging products because it increases the integrity of the skin’s collagen and is often in Korean beauty products.

Antipollution products are an additional step to the traditional Korean beauty routine. The products go on last to prevent outside pollutants from affecting the skin throughout the day.

Korean beauty products have become so popular in the United States that they are abundant on the shelves of CVS drugstores in Columbia.

High-end Korean beauty products like Tatcha can be found at your local Sephora at Columbiana Mall.

The price of a Korean skincare routine is high. So high, you might think to yourself, “this better be made of gold!” And depending on the product, it just might be.  

“Gold is the only thing that’s clinically proven to build the integrity of the collagen and elastin in skincare,” Scott Medwatz, international event ambassador for the skincare brand Chantecaille, said.  

“A dry sponge, that’s like good skin — you put it under water and it puffs up. A soaking wet sponge is like damaged collagen and elastin — it can’t soak anything up.” 

The minerals in gold can rebuild or prevent the erosion of the skin’s collagen and elastin so that it can continue to absorb the products put onto the skin to keep it youthful, the main goal of a multi-step Korean skincare routine.  

The typical routine consists of eight or ten steps in the morning and at night. In South Korea, women start this routine as early as age 10.

“Brands like Chantecaille are making it easier with things like this roller ball for eye serum,” Tara Monroe, an esthetician and makeup artist who has been at Pout, a local beauty boutique, since 2017. 

Monroe keeps the brand’s eye serum, which features gold as an active ingredient, next to her toothbrush to roll on in the morning and speed up her multi-step skincare routine.  

Chantecaille is just one brand that offers products to fit into each of those steps.

Beauty products are one of South Korea’s main exports. In 2016, K-beauty products produced $225 million in sales in the United States alone, a 30 percent increase from the year before.

The rise in popularity of K-beauty products in the U.S. is in-part due to the South Korean government’s support of the beauty industry to grow the country’s gross domestic product (GDP).

The government invests money in new beauty technology and supports nonprofit organizations that helps small Korean beauty businesses break into foreign markets.

If the number of beauty steps in the Korean beauty routine doesn’t intimidate you and you’re ready to take the plunge, the price could still scare you away.

However, the rising popularity of Korean skincare routines and products has brought the price point down recently.

You can still find higher-end products stocked at local boutiques like Sephora or Pout, but more affordable options can now be found in Ulta Beauty and CVS.

At Pout, specialists try to recommend products that fit the customer’s lifestyle and skin type.  

“We’re good at really customizing it to the customer,” Monroe said. “So, if somebody’s not comfortable doing that many steps, we can give you three core products and send you home with that to help with your personal routine.” 

Monroe and Cille Galante, a buyer and makeup artist with Pout for 13 years, both use a 10-step, Korean-style routine.  

“I have a child too. It’s not going to take away from what my parenting skills are,” Galante said. “It’s just going to take me five minutes. It’s not a long, required routine.”  

Even though both women use a multi-step routine, each routine is different. For example, Galante enjoys using a toner to balance the pH level in her skin, while Monroe would rather skip that step.  

“In 2018, we’re all living a fast lifestyle and we need something that’s fast and easy to use,” Galante said. 

And she has tips to help women living a fast-paced life fit many skincare products into their routine, including cocktailing products to make two steps into one.  

“I’ll mix an oil and a cream together and apply that,” Galante said. “So, it’s not like it’s 1, 2, 3.” 

The best recommendation the two women suggest to speed up the process is practice. 

“It’s like getting into any kind of a routine, the more you do it the quicker you’re able to,” Monroe said. 

And like in any other routine, a few of the steps, are more important than others. 

“If someone came in and they were new to skincare they need a cleanser, serum or moisturizer, a vitamin C during the day, and SPF,” Monroe said. “By age, you need your nighttime products like retinol, which is great for more mature skin.” 

In addition, to those most important steps, Monroe recommends exfoliating twice a week.  

“If you’re not exfoliating, your products aren’t going to penetrate the skin, so that’s definitely important,” Monroe said. 

Although a routine so lengthy intimidates some, the results in the mirror may be worth the trouble. 

“You’re going to have your skin for the rest of your life,” Galante said. “Don’t you want to take care of it?”