“Every time I watch Korean dramas, all the Koreans seem to have flawless and plumped up skin! Does it mean that with sufficient hydration we do not need to worry about anti-aging?”
I’m getting this question a lot lately. I totally see why.
Korean women seem to have discovered the fountain of youth. No matter their real age, their complexions are smooth, radiant and without a blemish in sight.
When you ask what their secret is, they tell you it’s all down to moisture, moisture, moisture. Kinda like plastic surgery addicted celebs who swear their new nose is down to genetics. Yeah, right… 🙄
Truth is, Korean women are more addicted to anti-aging than the rest of us. 😉
Why Moisture Makes You Look Younger
If you thought moisture was really the secret behind Korean women’s flawless complexions, you were onto something. Moisture is the oldest anti-aging trick in the book.
Moisture is how all those fancy moisturisers at the department store – Yes, Creme De La Mer, I’m looking at you – work. Forget about the algae, rare extracts and all that nonsense. It’s moisture that makes your wrinkles look smaller.
Here’s the deal: your skin is made up of 64% water. You know what that means? It needs water for everything:
- Plumpness: When skin has enough moisture, it plumps up. That alone makes your fine lines and wrinkles look smaller. But only for a while. As moisture evaporates, skin plumps down and your wrinkles look as deep as before.
- Softness: Moisture makes your skin softer to the touch.
- Brightness: A TON of moisture gives your skin a natural, dewy look.
- Smoothness: When skin is well-hydrated, it exfoliates better on its own. Now dead cells are sloughing off, your skin is smoother and fine lines, wrinkles and large pores look a little smaller.
- Faster healing: Ever noticed acne disappears quickly when skin is well-moisturised? Same for eczema, psoriasis, irritations and any other skin condition. Everything heals faster when you moisturize, moisturize, moisturize.
So yeah, moisture is definitely a part of the antiaging puzzle. While it doesn’t directly fight wrinkles, it keeps skin in top shape so that it looks and behaves better.
But only moisturising your skin won’t keep wrinkles off your face. That’s when antiaging skincare come in.
P.S. Do you have dry skin that never has enough moisture? Click on the image below to subscribe to my newsletter and receive the “Dry Skin Skincare Routine Cheatsheet.” It tells you the right order for both your AM and PM skincare routine + my fave product recommendations:
The Real Antiaging Secret Of Korean Women
Korean women know that the more moisture their skin gets, the better they look. That’s why their use 10+ hydrating products morning and night. Crazy, I know.
But that’s not the whole story. Their real antiaging weapon is sun protection.
Korean women are obsessed with sunscreen. It’s a religion for them. They happily slather it on every morning and reapply it as needed.
Sure, it’s easier for them. Their sunscreens have much lighter textures than the heavy, greasy, white “crap” we get here in the West. They’re a lot less irritating too.
Blame it on the FDA. They’re too slow to approve the newer, lighter and safer UV filters the Koreans have access to. Until they do, you’ll always try to find excuses not to use heavy sunscreens.
“Hey, it’s winter, do I really need it?! I can’t see the sun, so it means I’m safe, right?”
Nope. Put that sunscreen on. UV rays are sneaky buggers. They can get through clouds and windows and even be reflected on snow. Until the sun comes down (even if you can’t see it), your skin ain’t safe.
The ugly truth is that UV rays are responsible for up to 80% of premature aging (wrinkles, dark spots, etc). Only the remaining 20% is due to genetics, too much sugar in your diet, and other culprits.
This damage doesn’t show up straight away either. It can take years before that sunburn you got at 5 shows up on your skin in the form of wrinkles. But you can rest assured it will – when you least expect it.
Just by using sunscreen every single day, you can prevent a lot of damage down the road. The earlier you start, the more slowly you’ll age.
Seriously, I see so many teenagers and young adults wondering if they should already start using retinol or go for peels (NO, YOU SHOULDN’T), when using sunscreen every single day is all they need to keep wrinkles at bay.
I know, it’s not sexy. But it works.
P.S. While we’re on the subject, sun avoidance is a cultural thing in Korea. It’s not unusual there to see women use parasols, for example. They also seek the shade whenever possible and NEVER tan.
Related: Is Sun Exposure Through Glass Dangerous?
If You Use Moisturiser + Sunscreen, Can You Do Without Anti-Aging Products?
If you focus on hydration and sun protection, you won’t need to worry about antiaging for a long, long time.
How long? It depends on you. Your genes. How healthy is your diet. How polluted your neck of the woods. How diligent you’ve always been with sunscreen. You get the drift.
As a rule of thumb, if you live in a big, polluted city or you’re not getting enough antioxidants in your diet, it’s a good idea to start using an antioxidant serum in your early 20s.
I recommend CEF serums (vitamin C + vitamin E + Ferulic acid), a combination that’s proven to fight free radicals, increase collagen production and boost sun protection. You can check out my fave CEF serums here.
In your late 20s/early 30s, you can start adding SMALL concentrations of retinol (leave the strong 1% stuff for when you’re older and REALLY need it). I’ve shared my fave retinol products for new, intermediate and pro users here.
As for everything else, listen to your skin. If it needs a peel, a filler or just a stronger concentration of retinol, it’ll tell you.
But don’t use that stuff just because an aesthetician or influencer told you you need them. They don’t know your skin. You do.
Related: At What Age Should You Start Using Antiaging Products?
The Bottom Line
Just because your skin is perfectly hydrated, it doesn’t mean you should neglect antiaging. The secret is to focus on prevention. Wear sunscreen every day, moisturize well and you won’t need retinoids, lasers, fillers and all that malarkey for a long, long time.