Korean skin care products are no different from American skin care products.

French consumers want American skin care products, American consumers want Korean skin care. Why do we think that our neighbor’s grass is greener? Because, in this case, it isn’t. There is a strong uniformity in the skin care ingredient lists around the world. There are reasons for this: the background of formulators is usually a bachelor’s diploma in chemistry and some expertise in the industry, and both chemistry and the curricula are the same everywhere. Also, the same skin care ingredients are sold everywhere by multinational companies like DuPont, Nexeo, BASF, Dow, etc. As more and more companies consolidate into larger conglomerates, there will be even less manufacturers of ingredients, so the homogeneity will only increase.

Homogeneity of the skin care industry is facilitated by the fact that the main skin problems are shared around the world, even though there are some genetic differences. For example, the early signs of skin aging in Caucasians, like wrinkles and skin thickening, are less evident in Asian skin. However, pigmentary problems tend to occur at a younger age. Another difference: darker skin is less prone to skin cancer but more likely to develop hyperpigmentation.

If there were ever differences about the incidence of acne between the USA and Korea, they are no longer significant.  The number of acne patients in Korea has increased by 60% in the last 10 years, and the number of patients under the age of 19 has doubled in that same period.

If you still don’t believe me when I say that skin care products are the same throughout the world, have a look at the ingredient lists. You will find that some ingredient lists are terribly long, a way to obscure how ordinary they actually are. In the industry, this is called “label value” and the Latin names of plants are perfect for this purpose, because many people will be deterred from looking at what they are when they find such a long list of names. But, as always, what you have is solvents, thickeners, emulsifiers and maybe some actives if you are lucky.

Here is an example:

Some By Me AHA-BHA-PHA 30Days Miracle Serum

Solvents: Water,Centella Asiatica Extract,Butylene Glycol,1,2-Hexanediol,Ethylhexylglycerin, Cetyl,Ethylhexanoate, Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride, Glycerin, Water, Olive Oil, Propanediol, Alcohol, Water, 1,2-Hexanediol, Butylene Glycol, Pentylene Glycol,Caprylyl Glycol,1,2-Hexanediol, Water, Butylene Glycol, vegetable oils (rice, rosehip, meadowfoam, etc.) , Butylene Glycol, Ethylhexylglycerin,.

Actives: Niacinamide, turmeric,  Disodium EDTA,Water,Sodium Lactate,Sodium PCA, Glycerin, liquorice, green tea, madecassoside.

Acids: Citric Acid, Glycolic Acid, Malic Acid, Lactic Acid, Pyruvic Acid, Tartaric Acid, Lactobionic Acid,

Thickener: Xanthan Gum,

Extracts of : tea tree, neem, holy basil, lilac, rosemary, basil, cranberry, green tea, and many more.

Essential oils of orange, grapefruit,

Preservatives (in the extracts).

Here is the full list: Water,Centella Asiatica Extract,Butylene Glycol,1,2-Hexanediol,Ethylhexylglycerin,Cetyl,Ethylhexanoate,Caprylic/Capric Triglyceride,Glycerin,Water,Olea,Europaea (Olive) Fruit Oil,Propanediol,Alcohol,Water,1,2-Hexanediol,Niacinamide,Melaleuca Alternifolia (Tea Tree) Leaf Water,Butylene Glycol,Pentylene Glycol,Caprylyl Glycol,1,2-Hexanediol,Sodium Chloride,Citrus Paradisi (Grapefruit) Peel Oil,Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil,Curcuma Longa (Turmeric) Root Extract,Melia Azadirachta Flower Extract,Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract,Melia Azadirachta Bark Extract,Corallina Officinalis Extract,Moringa Oleifera Seed Oil,Ocimum Sanctum Leaf Extract,Melia Azadirachta Leaf Extract Melia Azadirachta Flower Extract,Water,Citrus Aurantium Dulcis (Orange) Peel Oil,Citrus Paradisi,(Grapefruit) Peel Oil,Boswellia Carterii Oil,Pelargonium Graveolens Flower Oil, Amyris,Balsamifera Bark Oil, Ethylhexylglycerin, Disodium EDTA,Water,Sodium Lactate, Sodium PCA, Glycerin, Citric Acid, Glycolic Acid, Malic Acid,Lactic Acid, Pyruvic Acid, Tartaric Acid, Gaultheria Procumbens (Wintergreen) Leaf Extract,Lactobionic Acid,Xanthan Gum,Water,Butylene Glycol,Lavandula Angustifolia (Lavender) Extract,Ocimum Basilicum (Basil) Leaf,Extract,Houttuynia Cordata Extract,Syringa Vulgaris (Lilac) Extract,Rosmarinus Officinalis,(Rosemary) Extract,Angelica Keiskei Extract,Althaea Officinalis Root Extract,Camellia,Sinensis Leaf Extract,Butylene Glycol,Vaccinium Macrocarpon (Cranberry) Fruit Extract,Camellia Oleifera Seed Oil,Rosa Canina Fruit Oil,Limnanthes Alba (Meadowfoam) Seed Oil,Camellia Sinensis Seed Oil,Oryza Sativa (Rice) Bran Oil,Prunus Amygdalus Dulcis (Sweet Almond) Oil,Butylene Glycol Water,Centella Asiatica Extract,Polygonum Cuspidatum Root Extract,Scutellaria Baicalensis Root Extract, Glycyrrhiza Glabra (Licorice) Root Extract, Camellia Sinensis Leaf Extract, Chamomilla Recutita (Matricaria) Flower Extract, Rosmarinus Officinalis (Rosemary) Leaf Extract, Madecassoside.

As Shakespeare would have said: “an alpha beta serum by any other name is still an alpha beta serum“. Although, to be honest, I could not find the “beta acid” they mention in the name of the product. If you want a real alpha/beta, have a look at the one made by Skin Actives.


DISCLAIMER: These claims have not been evaluated by the FDA and are not intended to diagnose, cure, treat or prevent any disease.

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