South Korea is home to some of the world’s most advanced skincare and leading the way is AMOREPACIFIC.
Its innovative formulas centre on one hero ingredient, green tea – with the plants harvested in its private gardens on nearby Jeju Island. Lucy Simpson travelled to Seoul in South Korea to witness first-hand the innovation that goes into creating this gamechanging Korean skincare powerhouse.
The AMOREPACIFIC offices are like a scene from Gattaca
Even in a city as ultra-modern as Seoul, the AMOREPACIFIC headquarters make a breathtaking statement. Designed by British architect David Chipperfield, the cube-shaped building is flooded with natural light from an open ceiling, decorated with hanging gardens, and equipped with galleries, cafés and restaurants. The ground floor holds the enormous reception area and a pair of tea rooms serving green tea confections, including cold drip, smoothies and even brownies (your first clue on the primacy of green tea). On the first floor there’s a space for customers to test the company’s products. As MECCA’s retail skincare manager, it’s my job to explore skincare rituals from around the globe. After testing, swatching and skimming hundreds of products, I made my way to the in-house museum.
[AMOREPACIFIC] are so far ahead of the curve in terms of innovation that their products have the potential to completely reinvent your beauty regime.
The company has been innovating in beauty for over 70 years
The museum traces the brand’s origins back to 1945, when founder Suh Sung-whan had the foresight to establish Korea’s first in-house research laboratory along with his own cosmetics company. He was motivated by his mother, Yun Dokjeong, who made hand-pressed oil from camellia plant seeds in the 1930s. Since 1997, Suh Kyung-bae, his son, has nurtured the brand to become one of the biggest cosmetics companies in the world and a multitude of world-first products have followed.
Their R&D centre is brimming with art
Since AMOREPACIFIC is a company as well as a brand, their research and development centres span Korea, China, Singapore and France and employ over 500 researchers and product developers across the globe. The R&D centre located just outside of Seoul was the kind of meticulous scientific facility you’d expect you to find at a leading hospital, only far more beautiful. I was taken by the many art pieces and installations on site, added to inspire creative thought among its researchers. That, and how optimistic everyone seemed. The company has patented over 2000 ingredients across their brands and 109 of these belong to the AMOREPACIFIC range. In short, they are so far ahead of the curve in terms of innovation that their products have the potential to completely reinvent your beauty regime.
AMOREPACIFIC is so passionate about using only the purest ingredients that they harvest their own
Signature ingredients include green tea and bamboo
It was at the lab that I witnessed the important role of Asian botanicals, including bamboo and green tea. Although we are familiar with green tea as a superior antioxidant, it does so much more for the skin than we know. Green tea can repair damage within skin cells, create a protective shield and neutralise toxins, and thereby affect the ageing process. The other ingredient critical to AMOREPACIFIC is bamboo, the incredibly resilient plant filled with a precious, mineral-rich sap. The sap is extracted and used for its ability to deeply hydrate the skin, whilst also brightening and reducing the appearance of inflammation. Bamboo sap, carefully extracted over 12 hours in peak season, forms the basis of the brand’s Moisture Bound capsule.
They have their own tea garden on an island off the coast of South Korea
AMOREPACIFIC is so passionate about using only the purest ingredients that they harvest their own. On Jeju Island, a holiday paradise an hour flight from Seoul, lies the company’s Dolsongi Tea Garden. It is the source of some of the most potent, antioxidant-rich green tea in the world thanks to mineral-rich soil and the environment in which it flourishes. Set on a slight incline, which allows for water irrigation and optimal exposure to sunlight, the garden is brimming with lush and leafy tea as far as the eye can see. Weather conditions on Jeju Island can be harsh, and the plants are forced to develop protective mechanisms that are harnessed to help protect our skin. The company utilises every single part of the green tea plant, including the seeds, stems and baby and adult leaves which are harvested during specific seasons for ideal potency.
An essence is the most important new product to add to your regime
If you were only going to alter one thing about your skincare routine, this would be it. I learned that in Korean beauty, it is all about layering. The more layers of hydration that you apply means more layers of the skin that you will quench. Carefully extracted from green tea leaves that are fermented and aged for 100 days, Vintage Single Extract Essence drenches the skin in potent and targeted ingredients. Applied between your toner and serum, the essence also prepares the skin to better absorb your treatment products. While travelling, my skin felt dry and dehydrated, but using the essence for a few days remedied it. It takes only five extra seconds to apply and it instantly calms and brightens the look of your skin.
AMOREPACIFIC is the only company in the world to have cultivated a specific type of green tea for beauty application.
This moisturising mist is not be missed
Inspired by the idea of applying multiple hydration products, I also discovered Moisture Plumping Dewy Mist. To revive skin, this mist can be applied at any time of the day. Placed in my handbag, it helped to keep my skin refreshed during the hot, humid days in Seoul. I also loved spritzing my complexion before applying the Vintage Single Extract Essence for better absorption, and then as a final step to set my makeup. The refreshing mist also contains bamboo sap as a base (rather than water which would evaporate) and really sinks into your skin to keep it enviably moisturised. It’s the easiest way to create dewy, fresh-faced skin.
Why you might want to splurge on this decadent cream
AMOREPACIFIC is the only company in the world to have cultivated a specific type of green tea for beauty application. Its researchers conducted thousands of experiments to create a supercharged, nutrient-rich green tea named ‘Jangwon 3’ which is featured in its opulent Time Response collection. Of all, my new holy grail moisturiser is the brand’s Time Response Skin Reserve Cream. It delivers bouncy-looking skin, potent plumping and cellular rejuvenation all in one. Since using it day and night, my skin looks firmer, renewed and noticeably glowing. At the end of my visit, I took part in a traditional tea ceremony, where I learned how to brew green tea (without burning it). It is a ritual of self-love and relaxation, much like your daily skincare routine. The benefits of not only drinking but nourishing your skin with green tea extract are truly impressive. Are you ready for a cup?
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