SKINCARE 101 : HYDRATION AND THE K-BEAUTY 7-SKIN METHOD
Hydration is everything. It’s key to optimizing the health of your skin. And, as a consequence, it’s essential to holding off the visible signs of aging as long as possible. Water-based hydration isn’t all you need to achieve that, of course. Oil-based moisture is important for keeping skin from drying out. And, sun protection is the most important anti-aging tactic we have in our product arsenals. But I truly believe that a healthy skincare routine must be centered around water-based hydration — layers upon layers of it. In fact, that’s the philosophy at the heart of K-Beauty. Healthy, hydrated skin has a certain reflectivity to it — the complexion glows, no makeup and mirrors needed!
Think about this:
70% of the human body is composed of water.
According to NASA, “From ancient times, explorers have ‘followed the water.’ Water's unique chemical and physical properties are essential to human survival. Without water, basic physical processes would be impossible. Cells within the human body would die. None of the essential physical functions, such as breathing, digestion, or muscle movement could take place without water. About 70 percent of the human body is made up of water and, coincidentally, more than 70 percent of Earth is covered in water. Water creates an environment that sustains and nurtures plants, animals and humans, making Earth a perfect match for life in general.”
And within the body, water content breaks down as follows: “The brain and heart are composed of 73% water, and the lungs are about 83% water. The skin contains 64% water, muscles and kidneys are 79%, and even the bones are watery: 31%.” - H.H. Mitchell, Journal of Biological Chemistry 158
Like I said at the outset, hydration is everything.
Over the last 3 years, I’ve immersed myself in all things K-beauty — from which I learned about the famed “double cleanse” and the more obscure but equally intriguing 7-Skin Method. Sure, like everyone else on the planet, I’ve been caught up in the fervor of the wild sounding brands, cool product innovations — and ingredients I’d never heard of let alone imagined putting on my face.
Like snail mucin.
As if the concept of snail slime weren’t enough of a turn off, now it’s hot to massage it into your face. You know what? The only interaction I want with snails is in a plate of mouth-watering escargot. Like this magnificent serving of escargot from my trip to Paris last year. There’s no way in hell I wanted to smear that on my face, but hey, garlic and olive oil are good for your health, too.
The concept of double cleansing I fully understand. In fact, I was an early, eager adopter of the double cleanse method. After all, it’s not all that difficult for me to imagine the damage the pollution in the New York City air is doing to my skin. Free radicals and particulate matter have a profound effect on the health of our skin no matter where we live, but city life can be particularly harsh. At the end of the day, I want to wipe it all away, clear the slate, and prevent damage if I can. Short of wearing a mask outdoors, the double cleanse is all I’ve got!
In every K-Beauty routine, the step immediately following cleansing is toning, where true hydration begins. Keeping skin hydrated isn’t easy, particularly in the colder, winter months. The dry air around us literally sucks the water and oil out of our faces. That big sucking sound you hear in January? It’s your skin dehydrating. One way to combat it is by sheet masking often. Yes, I sheet mask every day — sometimes first thing in the morning, but most often in the afternoon after that delicious double cleanse.
So, including a toner at the outset of your skincare regimen is the ideal way to reverse and prevent water loss.
I can’t say it enough:
use a toner,
use a toner,
use a toner.
Here’s the thing. If you’re not using a toner, you’re not only falling short in keeping your skin hydrated, you’re actually not getting the most out of your skincare products. Skin care isn’t cheap. And, on top of that, it’s time consuming. Why not do everything you can to ensure you’re maximizing the benefits of the products you’re using? The point of a toner is to dampen your skin — contrary to the absurd claim of American skincare brands that a toner is intended to clear away any residue left over from your cleanser. Really? If your cleanser isn’t cleansing, then it’s not a very good cleanser, is it?
As I said in last week’s post on my PM regimen, I think of my skin as a sponge. A wet sponge soaks water up off the kitchen counter more quickly and effectively than a dry sponge. And, damp skin soaks in skin care more effectively than dry skin. Wet skin actually draws essences and serums deeper into the skin where they can be most effective.
And now, the 7-Skin Method!
I first heard about the 7-Skin Method from my friends at Glow Recipe. In fact, they gifted me with the very foundation I needed to understand K-beauty — introducing me to brands, products and regimen tips that helped me to step up my skincare game in pursuit of the coveted yuri pibu, or “glass skin”. Glass skin is the holy grail of K-Beauty! Glass skin, or hyper-reflectivity, is what you should aspire to if you’re putting the time, money and effort into a great skincare routine. And the 7-Skin Method is the way tr. Like a lot of Konglish — or “Korean English” — it sounds English, but you have to think to really get it. In Korea, toners are commonly referred to as “skins.” So the meaning that’s really intended is “seven toner method.” Even then it’s still a bit perplexing. (I love Konglish!) The 7-Skin Method doesn’t actually require the use of seven toners. It means the application of a toner seven times…in a row!
As cumbersome and slightly nuts as it sounds, it works. And it only takes about five minutes. I like to use a watery toner and a thicker, pulpy toner intermittently. It’s just my personal preference. What’s important is that you’re using a well-formulated toner with no denatured alcohol or skin-irritating fragrant plant oils.
Today, I alternated between the Laneige Fresh Calming Toner and the Primera Pure Brightening Fluid. Both are excellent formulations loaded with protective antioxidants, nourishing vitamins and other plant extracts.
You simply take a small amount of toner in your palms, warm it up by pressing your palms together, then gently pat the liquid into your face. Wait a few moments to allow absorption to commence, then do it again. Seven times. That’s it! The 7-Skin Method is an inexpensive, effective means of restoring and preserving skin hydration — and your complexion will be better for it, especially as the cold air takes its toll.
Watch me use the 7-Skin Method to rehydrate my skin here:
There’s an excellent video tutorial from Glow Recipe on the 7-Skin Method just below:
The Ingredient list of the LANEIGE Fresh Calming Toner:
Water, Propanediol, 1,2-Hexanediol, Ppg-13-Decyltetradeceth-24, Butylene Glycol, Sea Water / Maris Aqua / Eau De Mer, Ethylhexylglycerin, Disodium Edta, Litchi Chinensis Pericarp Extract, Tocopherol.
The Ingredient list of the Primera Pure Brightening Fluid:
Water / aqua / eau, butylene glycol, glycerin, niacinamide, betaine, 1,2-hexanediol,peg/ppg-17/6 copolymer, ppg-13-decyltetradeceth-24, acrylates/c10-30 alkyl acrylate crosspolymer, tromethamine,ammoniumacryloyldimethyltaurate/vp copolymer, fragrance / parfum, ethylhexylglycerin, disodium edta, trehalose,lavandula angustifolia (lavender) oil, lactobacillus ferment lysate, lecithin, lepidium sativum sproutextract, tocopherol
The Ingredient list of the Mamonde Hydrating Beauty Water:
Water, butylene glycol, rose extract, phenoxyethanol, peg-60 hydrogenated castor oil, polyacrylic acid, tromethamine, ethylhexylglycerin, disodium edta, fragrance, glycerin, nelumbo nucifera flower extract, prunus mume fruit extract, tocopherol, lactic acid, citric acid.