If French women don’t get fat, Korean women don’t get old (or fat for that matter). The best testament to Korean anti-ageing is my mother being asked for ID in New Zealand at the ripe age of 44. Honestly, there is no single secret to the Korean fountain of youth, but an assortment of lifestyle and beauty choices that keep the men and women looking uncannily young. Dedication to anti-ageing is about as Korean as Gangnam Style and addictive dramas with insane plot twists. The country harbours an intense admiration for people who are able to retain their physical youthfulness as it indicates diligent self-care and the purposeful attention to detail. The aim is to look fresh not fake.
The first step to achieving this look is a militant approach to suncare. In Korea, it’s a national pastime to find more ingenious ways to protect yourself from the sun, but if you’d prefer not to wear an entire mask covering your face, a nice reliable sunscreen is a solid minimum. While wearing a high SPF is important, reapplying your sunscreen especially in the smouldering heat, is just as essential. That’s why Koreans factor in portability when they choose their sunscreen, which has made sunsticks the flavour du jour. They don’t spill and they’re easy to apply. When applying sunscreen, Koreans prefer to tap their products gently into their skin to avoid stretching it.
Koreans have always been hyper-sensitive to the interaction between their skin and the environment, which is why ‘anti-polluaging’ skincare is a huge phenomenon in the country. Pollution is a growing issue in South Korea and the increased number of free radicals in the air and in UV rays can create more wrinkles and skin discolouration. The key to anti-polluaging? First, antioxidants. They help to nullify the effect of free radicals, so look at the ingredients lists on the back of your product and make sure one of the top five substances is an antioxidant. Two of the most popular antioxidants in Korean skincare are green tea and yuzu. Also, keep your skin hydrated to strengthen the barrier and prevent damage in the first place. Hydrating ingredients to look out for include hyaluronic acid and ceramides.
Finally, Koreans have their antioxidant rich diets to thank for their wrinkle-free skin. The national dish, kimchi, is a spicy fermented cabbage that is not only great for gut health and weight loss, but its long fermentation process produces even more antioxidants that slow down the ageing process. You can purchase kimchi from your local Korean grocery store, but be warned, this delicacy is pungent and unless you use your most airtight container, you’ll be Febreze-ing your fridge forever. Who knew that the secret to holistic anti-ageing may lie in pickled cabbage and high-end Tupperware?