What is K-Beauty? An Estheticians Insight for Skincare Professionals

What is K-Beauty? An Estheticians Insight for Skincare Professionals

Posted by Sarah Kinsler-Holloway on

In the ever-evolving landscape of skincare, one phenomenon has captured the attention of professionals worldwide – the Korean Beauty, or K-Beauty, revolution. Beyond the captivating packaging and innovative formulations lies a profound approach to skincare that transcends cultural boundaries. As skincare professionals, understanding the essence of K-Beauty can not only broaden your perspective but also enhance your ability to niche into the esthetic industry.


What is K-Beauty? 


Simply put, K-Beauty is a movement within the beauty industry which not only encompasses skincare, but also depicts everything from routines, innovative formulas, and a holistic approach which is rooted from centuries of Korean tradition. Here are the fundamentals of K-Beauty:


Contrary to popular belief, K-beauty isn’t about having a 10/12 step routine. This was a marketing ploy by American-Korean skincare companies in an effort to, you guessed it, sell more products. America has developed a penchant for overconsumption, where abundance often becomes synonymous with success and fulfillment, and brands love to play into that. 

The fact is, the very essence of Korean skincare is an intentional ritual of choosing targeted products which benefit the greater good of skin, at a very granular, and individualistic level. 

Odile Monod explains it perfectly, here.  You can also watch the video version if you’re a visual learner, like me!


Holistic Approach

Korean skincare is not merely a routine; it’s a philosophy that prioritizes a holistic approach to beauty. This can often differ greatly from western esthetics where estheticians aren’t learning about the implications of diet, lifestyle choices, stress and all of the other extrinsic factors which greatly impact our largest organ. 

At its core, K-Beauty emphasizes prevention over correction, nurturing the skin rather than stripping the barrier with the constant use of exfoliants and chemical peels.  I believe professionals in the industry can draw inspiration from this philosophy, encouraging clients to embrace a routine that not only addresses current concerns, but also fortifies the skin’s resilience in the long run. 



Both government and private entities place an emphasis on research and development within the beauty sector. Their cultural value of continuous improvement enables their skincare industry to push the boundaries of innovation.

Korean cosmetic formulations often stand out due to their innovation, and unique blend of traditional ingredients with cutting-edge technology.

For instance, sheet masks which have become a global phenomenon, originated in Korea.  Also, fermentation, such as galactomyces ferment filtrate and fermented rice water, are commonly found in Korean skincare.  Fermentation can enhance the efficacy of ingredients, promoting better absorption and providing additional skincare benefits.  While fermentation is not exclusive to Korea, its extensive use in skincare formulations is a distinctive feature of K-Beauty. 


How to use Korean Skincare


Cleansing is arguably the most important part of a skincare routine. The type of cleanser you choose or recommend for your clients will be based on their skin’s needs and lifestyle (makeup usage, sports, etc).

I personally love the Corthe Oil Cleanser or KrX Pre-Cleanse Balm for a first cleanse for my clients who wear makeup or have oily skin themselves. Both instantly dissolve the day and prep the skin for a second cleanse.

Pro Tip: Heat Corthe’s Oil Cleanser in the towel cabby and start your facials with a warm oil cleanse massage - clients love it!

The second cleanse is for good measure, and the cleanser should be chosen based on an individual basis.   The KrX Glow cleanser is one of our best sellers and that’s due to the fact that it is great for all skin types.  Below is a quick breakdown of the other cleansers and who they’re formulated for:

KrX Glow Cleanser: A daily cleanser formulated with cantaloupe and primrose extract. A hydrating formula which removes all traces of makeup, but doesn't strip the skin of natural oils.


KrX Cica Recovery Cleanser: Formulated to support skin in need of barrier support, including rosacea.  This cleanser can be applied and used as an oxygenating mask as well. 


KrX Probiotic Cleanser:  Cleanses and balances skin with a blend of natural botanicals and probiotics. Aloe and Centella Asiatica soothe skin and reduce inflammation. A probiotic blend of Lactobacillus Ferment, and Bifida Ferment Lysate protect and strengthen the skin's natural barrier for long-lasting hydration. Suitable for all skin types.


KrX Acne Cleanser: Formulated to help tackle existing acne and prevent it from resurfacing with 2% salicylic acid, and other acne clearing ingredients like witch hazel and tea tree.  This cleanser also contains ceramide NP to deliver hydration to the skin which is essential.  


KrX Youthplex Face Lift Cleansing Fluid: Formulated with Volufiline™, Sarsasapogenin extracted from the roots of Asian botanical Anemarrhena asphodeloides.  It has a volumizing and firming effect.  This light cleansing fluid contains Ceramides, Squalene and Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, a substrate of Botox. Best for those who are concerned with fine lines, glycation and sun damage.

KrX Gentle Enzyme Milk Cleanser + Makeup Remover: This milky enzyme cleanser is gentle enough for all skin types, even sensitized skin with barrier impairment.  This formula contains Subtilisin, a protein-digesting enzyme, which gently exfoliates the skin, and removes all traces of makeup and impurities. 


KrX OxyGlow Spirulina Bubble Cleanser: Rich in nutrients, vitamins and both fatty and amino acids, Spirulina decreases inflammation, tones the skin and encourages cell turnover to promote a more youthful-looking complexion.  This would be a suitable choice for most skin types.


KrX OxyGlow Blue Tansy Bubble Cleanser:  This nurturing formula contains ceramides, niacinamide, and blue tansy. The blue tansy flower (Tanacetum annuum) is a member of the chamomile family, and contains the compound chamazulene, a type of antioxidant which has the ability to fight free radical damage.  Appropriate for most skin types, especially those with barrier impairment.


KrX OxyGlow Pumpkin Bubble Cleanser: Formulated for deep cleaning the skin by breaking down makeup and dirt.  Pumpkin is rich in Vitamin A and Vitamin C, both of which help hydrate and soften the skin.  Naturally, pumpkin boosts collagen production and gently encourages cell turnover.  A great choice for those who are looking to brighten their complexion. 


Corthe Oil Cleanser:  A gentle cleansing oil which fully removes all traces of makeup.  A great option for a first cleanse, or those with oily skin. 


Corthe Cleansing Milk:  Designed for gentle cleansing with soft texture that thoroughly removes makeup and impurities while hydrating the skin. Formulated with a pH balanced formula and free of sulfates, this cleansing milk leaves skin feeling refreshed and nourished.  A great choice as a first cleanse to break down makeup.  Also appropriate for those with rosacea, or other skin barrier troubles


Corthe Foaming Gel Cleanser: Specifically formulated for sensitive skin. Its non-irritating gel texture effectively removes impurities and purifies the skin while still maintaining hydration.  This is also used to neutralize either of their peels; Oxy and Beta.  Suitable for all skin types.


Corthe Super Enzyme Powder:  A gentle yet effective formula containing papain enzymatic complex.  Its unique blend of ingredients help to delicately and thoroughly clean the skin, leaving it feeling refreshed and hydrated.  Suitable for those who need gentle exfoliation




Korean toners and essences are distinctive in their formulations, often emphasizing hydration. 

Traditionally toners made for the western market often have astringent properties, containing higher concentrations of alcohol and witch hazel.  These ingredients aim to remove excess oil, and provide a sensation of cleanliness through a clarifying approach.  

Korean toners or essences, on the other hand, typically focus on hydration and nourishment. They often contain ingredients like hyaluronic acid, glycerin, and botanical extracts which help moisturize and prep the skin for subsequent skincare steps. 

It’s worth noting that skincare trends in the west have evolved, and there is now  greater emphasis on hydration and gentler formulations. Here is a breakdown of our toners:

KrX Quenching Glow Toner: A wave of hydration is the best way to explain KrX's Quenching Glow Toner. The fragrance-free, lightweight formula is enriched with fermented extracts and healing botanicals like Centella Asiatica. This toner is more than a skincare step – it's a multi-benefit elixir, combining the soothing properties of glycerin, aloe and a multi-weight hyaluronic acid to deliver deep hydration to the skin.  Suitable for all skin types. 


KrX Cica Recovery Toner: An antioxidant rich toner that is formulated to restore the skin's barrier. This plant-based toner is suitable post laser or chemical peels. Contains fermented ingredients such as Tremella fuciformis and Lactobacillus.  Perfect for those with barrier impairment. 


KrX Youthplex Toning Solution: An essential in any rejuvenation, pro-aging routine.  The Youthplex Toning Solution is a unique formula which contains Volufiline to replace lost volume due to aging.  It also contains adenosine, pea protein and a blend of peptides, all recognized for their pro-aging properties.  This lightweight formula is perfect for all skin types, especially those concerned with fine lines, wrinkles, and sun damage.


Strengthen + Protect Probiotic Face Toner: A refreshing and hydrating blend of natural oils and probiotics to deliver deep hydration.  This soothing toner also reduces inflammation with its high concentration of anti-inflammatory botanicals. Suitable for those in need of barrier support.


KrX Clear + Prevent Anti Acne Face Toner: A powerful treatment toner that fights blemishes and breakouts. Formulated with 2% salicylic acid and a blend of botanicals helps to visibly reduce redness and inflammation. Niacinamide aids in skin repair to further reduce future breakouts.


Corthe Soothing Facial Toner: Combining a selection of carefully-selected ingredients to deliver a multi-beneficial facial toner. Panthenol works to lock in moisture while hydrating, while aloe soothes leaving skin feeling soft, balanced and hydrated.  Suitable for all skin types.


Corthe Post L+C MistSpecifically designed to be used post laser and chemical peel treatments, however it can be used within any pro-aging/rejuvenation routine.The L+C repair mist contains highly concentrated EGF, FGF and antioxidants that strengthen the skin barrier. Aloe, Centella Asiatica, Hyaluronic Acid and Panthenol work to deeply hydrate the skin. 




Korean serums have gained immense popularity and recognition in the skincare industry due to several key factors that emphasize their importance in a skincare routine.  Here are some reasons why K-beauty serums hold a significant place:

  1. Korean brands invest heavily into R+D (research and development), incorporating cutting-edge ingredients and technologies not seen elsewhere.
  2. They provide targeted solutions for various skin issues with formulas designed to provide specific benefits which allow individuals to tailor their routine based on their unique needs.
  3. Most have a lightweight texture allowing for comfortable layering in a multi-step routine, promoting better absorption of subsequent products without a heavy or greasy feel. 
  4. Hydration is a key aspect of Korean skincare philosophy, and many Korean serums are formulated with ingredients like hyaluronic acid and glycerin to deeply hydrate the skin. Hydrated skin is considered fundamental for a healthy and radiant complexion. 
  5. Formulas often incorporate traditional ingredients from Korean skincare practices, blending ancient wisdom with modern science.  Ingredients like ginseng, green tea, and rice extracts bring a holistic and culturally inspired approach to skincare.
  6. Korean skincare places a strong emphasis on prevention rather than correction.


Here is a breakdown of serums we currently offer:

KrX Cica Recovery Serum: This recovery serum is antioxidant rich, with the soothing botanical elements like Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract and Melia Azadirachta Flower Extract, which are recognized for their soothing properties. It also contains variants from the Cica plant: Centella Asiatica Root and Leaf Extract.  Plant-based ingredients such as Soybean Ferment Extract, and Hydrolyzed Pea Protein help strengthen the skin barrier, protecting it from free radical damage.  Adenosine, a reliable ally in anti-aging, along with antioxidant-rich extracts like Willow Bark Extract, Origanum Vulgare Leaf Extract, and Chamaecyparis Obtusa Leaf Extract fortify the skin against environmental stressors.  This serum was designed for compromised skin including those with rosacea.


KrX Youthplex Serum:  A sophisticated fusion of science and nature, offering a precise blend of high-quality ingredients including Volufiline to restore lost volume, and a blend of peptides to rebuild collagen and elastin.  This lightweight, fast absorbing serum contains ceramides, glycerin, betaine and panthenol creating a foundation of deep hydration. Cutting-edge peptides such as Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, Copper Tripeptide-1, and Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-4, deliver comprehensive anti-aging benefits. Ceramide 3, Squalene, and Olea Europaea Fruit Oil contribute to skin barrier support and moisture retention. This serum is free from unnecessary additives and fragrances.  Developed for those concerned with fine lines, wrinkles and hollow areas.


Corthe Bifida Ampoule: Created with the microbiome in mind.  Corthe's Bifida ampoule utilizes Bifida Ferment Lysate, a probiotic that's been shown to strengthen the skin's barrier, making it less reactive to environmental aggressors by reducing the proliferation of harmful organisms on the skin's surface. This formula is also rich in natural skin brighteners (licorice root), and Edelweiss stem cells, which help increase collagen synthesis and regulate melanin production.   Best for improving barrier function. 


Corthe Revolution Ampoule: Corthe's Revolution ampoule is a true gem in the realm of rejuvenation.The skincare alchemy of Soluble Collagen, Glycine Soja (Soybean) Germ Extract, and Hyaluronic Acid, work in tandem to infuse replenishing moisture and support natural elasticity. Tocopheryl Acetate and Ceramide NP provide a protective layer, fortifying against environmental stressors.

Age-defying properties with 1,2-Hexanediol and Adenosine, revealing a symphony of revitalization for a more youthful complexion. The harmonious synergy of PEG-32, Sorbitol, and Betaine deeply hydrates, while Sodium Polyacrylate and Arginine enhance the overall efficacy

Appropriate for all skin types, but designed for your backbar to enhance your pro-aging/rejuvenation facial treatments. 


Corthe Bright C Ampoule: Transform skin with every application.  The Dermo Bright C Ampoule is designed to target hyperpigmentation.  It is formulated with Niacinamide, Ascorbyl Glucoside, and Resmelin to help suppress melanocyte activity, and improve hyperpigmentation.  

Extracts including Malva Sylvestris, Mentha Piperita, Primula Veris, Alchemilla Vulgaris, Veronica Officinalis, Melissa Officinalis, and Achillea Millefolium contribute to the serum's advanced botanical profile.  All of which are soothing, anti-inflammatory, and help reverse free radical damage within the skin.  Created for those suffering with PIH and PIE. 


Corthe Dermo Sensitive Cica Ampoule: A blend of nature and science.  This formula was designed to reduce erythema (redness) and provide antioxidant support, and fortify the barrier against environmental aggressors.

Centella Asiatica (Cica), a staple in Korean skincare, is the heart of this ampoule. Cica brings soothing and healing benefits, calming irritated skin and promoting overall balance. A harmonious blend of botanical extracts, including Portulaca Oleracea, Lavandula Angustifolia, Monarda Didyma, Freesia Refracta, Chamomilla Recutita, and more, deliver a spectrum of advantages—ranging from antioxidant protection to soothing effects and nourishment.  Suitable for all skin types 


Corthe Dermo Sensitive Relief Ampoule: An advanced formula, with much more antioxidant support than it's sister, Sensitive Cica Ampoule.  This product is intended for backbar use only. Key ingredients like Hyaluronic Acid, Centella Asiatica Extract, and Guaiazulene (a derivative of Azulene), offer a multifaceted approach to skin nourishment.

Notable components, including Allantoin and Glycine Soja (Soybean) Germ Extract, help hydrate and soothe the skin.  Polyglutamic Acid has been added for its renowned ability to enhance hydration and support the skin's natural barrier.

This ampoule was designed to calm the skin, reduce erythema, and strengthen the skin barrier.  A great addition to any facial which focuses on the above skin troubles. 


Corthe L+C SerumSpecifically designed to be used post laser and chemical peel treatments, however it can be used within any pro-aging/rejuvenation routine.  This regenerating serum contains highly concentrated EGF and FGF that strengthens the skin barrier. It contains CTS which provides skin soothing, moisturizing and regeneration.




Hydration is a central theme in Korean skincare philosophy, and they’re renowned for their innovative moisturizing formulas.  They feature advanced technologies, unique textures and cutting-edge ingredients to address various skin concerns.

Many Korean moisturizers boast lightweight and fast-absorbing textures. This is particularly beneficial for those who prefer a non-greasy feel, making them suitable for layering without overwhelming the skin.

They also place a strong emphasis on ingredients coursed from traditional remedies, featuring extracts, herbs and plant-based components for their soothing and nourishing properties. Below is a detailed overview of our favorite moisturizers:


KrX Aqua Cream: This unique formula instantly melts into the skin providing instant hydration without a greasy feeling.  Rice Milk and Lemon Extract to help regulate sebum production, while also having a natural brightening effect.  This moisturizer is suitable for all skin types.  We especially recommend it to be used in combination with the Green Sea Peel for best peel results.


Cica Recovery All Day Cream: Recovery All Day Cream is an antioxidant rich formula containing fermented extracts, made to protect and strengthen the skin's barrier. The blend of ceramides and antioxidants makes this cream perfect for post laser or chemical peel treatments.  This botanically forward serum features Centella Asiatica Extract, Hydrolyzed Collagen, and Palmitoyl Tripeptide-5, Hydrolyzed Hyaluronic Acid and Ceramide NP, to work harmoniously to restore and fortify the skin's natural barrier. Best for those with erythema, and barrier impairment.


KrX Youthplex Face Lift Cream: A sophisticated fusion of science and nature, offering a precise blend of high-quality ingredients including Volufiline to restore lost volume, and a blend of peptides to rebuild collagen and elastin.  This nourishing, fast absorbing cream contains ceramides, glycerin, betaine and panthenol, creating a foundation of deep hydration.  Cutting-edge peptides such as Acetyl Hexapeptide-8, Copper Tripeptide-1, and Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-4, deliver comprehensive anti-aging benefits. Ceramide 3, Squalene, and Olea Europaea Fruit Oil contribute to skin barrier support and moisture retention.  Best for those concerned with fine lines and wrinkles. 


KrX Strengthen + Protect Probiotic Face Cream: A probiotic face cream designed to support the microbiome.  Enriched with Olea Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil and Simmondsia Chinensis (Jojoba) Oil, this rich formula offers a lavish infusion of nourishment. In addition, the probiotic-rich lactobacillus ferment helps support the skin's natural microbiome, the community of microorganisms that live on the skin's surface. A balanced microbiome is essential for healthy skin function.

This moisturizer is not merely a skincare essential; it's a sensorial journey, leaving the skin feeling replenished and hydrated. Suitable for those with sensitized skin, seeking to repair and strengthen the skin barrier. 


KrX Clear + Prevent Anti Acne Face Moisturizer:  A dermatologist-tested moisturizer that guards your face from acne breakouts. Formulated with 2% salicylic acid, lactic acid, and botanicals, it eliminates excess oil without drying out skin. Added oligopeptide-1 helps accelerate healing, and renewing of skin cells.  Specifically designed for acne prone skin.


KrX Repair Cream: KrX Aesthetics Repair Cream is a Paraben Free ointment type cream that creates a barrier over the skin and protects it post laser or chemical peel. This botanically rich formula accelerates healing, and prevents trans-epidermal water loss.


Corthe Ice Soothing Gel: A soothing gel that provides hydration and nourishment to irritated skin. Ingredients like Bioplasma and B-Glucan help strengthen the skin barrier making this a perfect post peel or laser treatment.  Also recommended for use with KrX Green Sea Peel


Corthe Dermo Rejuvenation Post L&C Cream: Specifically designed to be used post laser and chemical peel treatments, however can be used within any pro-aging/rejuvenation routine. This hydrating, yet fast-absorbing cream is designed to protect the skin barrier and encourage gentle cellular regeneration.


Corthe First Aid Lotion: Dermo Pure First Aid Lotion is an effective treatment for acne, containing a high concentration of proven antimicrobial, anti-inflammatory, and sebum controlling ingredients. This unique formula, featuring Centella Asiatica and Houttuynia Cordasta Extract, helps to reduce redness, and inflammation to repair the skin's barrier and accelerate the healing of current acne lesions.  Best for acne prone skin.


Corthe Brightening Cream: Formulated with powerful natural ingredients to promote brighter skin. It infuses moisture and nourishment to improve skin tone and texture while brightening the complexion. Safe and effective, it is designed to improve the look of uneven skin tone, dark spots, and overall radiance.  Designed to reduce hyperpigmentation, PIE, and can be used as part of a tyrosinase inhibiting routine to prep for chemical peels.


Corthe Rich M Cream: Rich M Cream provides a long-lasting moisture by creating an occlusive barrier preventing trans-epidermal water loss. Ceramide NP helps strengthen the skin barrier and increases natural ceramide production in the skin.  Suitable for dehydrated skin or those in need of barrier support. 


Corthe Rich M Lotion: Corthe Rich M Lotion, is a lighter version of it's sister Rich M Cream.It contains Ceracare H30S, a pre-liposome containing 30% of human skin identical ceramides.  It replenishes the natural ceramide level in the skin. It is also rich in Fucoidan,  which regenerates cells and initiates the repairing ability of the skin. This lotion was created to repair, and protect the skin at a cellular level.  Perfect for those who are dry or dehydrated. 


Corthe Moisture RX Recharging Cream: Dermo Essential Moisture RX Recharging Cream is an oil-free, mono-layer moisturizer that hydrates skin and minimizes trans-epidermal water loss. Formulated as a water barrier gel for intense hydration.  It's free of alcohol, mineral oil and fragrance for a gentle touch on skin. Perfect for those who need maximum moisture and support for a  recharged complexion.  Ideal for those who are oily, or perfect to layer with the Rich M Cream for added hydration.


Corthe Re GelA professional barrier gel formulated to preserve and fortify the skin's natural barrier. Hydrolyzed Glycosaminoglycans and Sodium Hyaluronate support optimal hydration levels and promote a resilient skin barrier, while extracts such as Spirulina Maxima, Helichrysum Arenarium, and Centella Asiatica calm, soothe, and nourish. Ceramide NP, Copper Tripeptide-1, and Palmitoyl Pentapeptide-4 work synergistically to quickly regenerate and heal the skin.  This recovery gel is the perfect alternative to aquaphor.  It can be used for slugging, or used during outdoor adventures in the winter to prevent trans-epidermal water loss.

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