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The founders of Glow Recipe on the Korean skincare rituals we all should be doing

January 1 | 4 minute read

Glow Recipe Founders Interview Hero 16x9

Words by Zara Wong

Originally published on | July 14

Christine Chang and Sarah Lee met when working in marketing for the beauty industry, and became fast friends with their shared passion for skincare thanks to their Korean heritage.

A stint on US reality series Shark Tank where they competed for funding from a panel of successful businesspeople (they ended up not accepting investment) and research trips to South Korea inspired them to launch their beauty brand Glow Recipe, which realised their dreams of results-driven, plant-derived skincare inspired by their background. Here, Chang and Lee share the Korean skincare rituals that we all should be doing.
Glow Recipe Founders Interview 3x4 1b
Glow Recipe Founders Interview 3x4 1a

Skincare isn’t a chore – but a self-care moment

"From a very early age, we were taught skincare from our mothers and grandmothers, and it was very much a moment of pampering, indulgence and enjoyment for them," remembers Chang, elaborating that this mentality has shaped her approach to skincare now; she looks forward to her routine at the end of the day. "It's that moment when you can truly spend a few minutes to yourself applying these beautiful, sensorial textures, enjoying it and getting results as well."

This approach also informed Glow Recipe's formulas and even the packaging design. "We wanted the whole journey to be enjoyable from the moment you see the product, to when you open the jar, smell it, and apply it," explains Chang, with Lee adding, "We thought about it from every angle. When people applied our [original] watermelon mask, we always had amazing feedback not only about the effect on the skin, but how much they enjoy using it too. That has very much inspired this shift towards skincare becoming a true self-care moment."

Korean women customise their routines based on what their skin needs.
Christine Chang

It’s worth focusing on natural ingredients

The founders share memories of going to Korean bath houses with their mothers and grandmothers and splashing green tea or patting milk on their faces. "Our grandmothers used watermelon in the summers to soothe our heat rashes. So miraculously, anytime she would rub watermelon rind on our red, irritated skin, the rash would be gone the next morning, so we want to harness the power of that ingredient," explains Lee of the fruit that has gone on to feature in their Watermelon Glow AHA Night Treatment and Watermelon Glow™ Pink Juice Moisturizer. "It's giving that Korean facial experience in one jar, that works so hard overnight that you wake up to this smoother, brighter skin." The ingredients are so natural, that the Blueberry Bounce Gentle Cleanser can be applied as a mask for a deeper clean, too.
Glow Recipe Founders Interview 16x9 2

Pat on – don’t rub in – your skincare

Chang explains that this ensures that you’re as gentle to your skin as possible. "Rubbing is a very fast moment and there’s a lot of friction for the skin, which over time can cause micro tears, and it pulls and tugs at the skin, potentially contributing to wrinkles as well," she says.

Chang also advises against using a towel to dry your face as "it can cause friction once again," she says. "Not to mention, the fact that your towel can very often hang near your toilet and there's a spray radius with unseen particles, so it’s very hard to keep it clean." And don’t reach for your towel immediately after cleansing - patting in skincare while skin is still damp helps it "absorb better as well."

Skincare is about prevention

According to Lee, this is the most unique part of Korean skincare: "It's focused on prevention versus repair. From a young age, women and men are taught to take care of their skin, to cleanse as soon as they get home," she says.

"In a Korean skin routine, the process is, you hydrate your skin, you cleanse, you hydrate your skin, you exfoliate and exfoliate, and then you go back to hydration. And then at the end of the routine you would soothe the skin to make sure that it's very calm, and you walk out with glowing skin. Korean women consider translucent, beautiful, lit-from-within [skin] as their beauty ideal," says Chang, pointing to the glass skin trend as an extension of it - use the Glow Recipe Watermelon Glow Ultra Fine Mist to achieve this. "Chok chok is a really fun word in Korean that explains how hydrated your skin is. Gwang means glow, so there are certain beauty treatments that'll have menus where you can select the type of gwang you want, so there's water glow, inner glow, and even chok chok glow. People are still so obsessed with glowy skin that there's these very intricate definitions within the glow term."

Korean skincare isn’t about complicated steps – it’s about listening to your skin

The multiple steps of Korean skincare may have generated headlines, but the Glow Recipe founders clarify that Korean skincare rituals are really about being aware of what your skin needs – not just adding in steps for the sake of it.

"It's like listening to your body; if you're tired, you sleep earlier, and maybe take some vitamins. It's the same for skincare," explains Chang. "We have been on that mission to break that barrier because in the end it's not about those overwhelming steps but the results and experience of skincare." Korean women customise their routines based on what their skin needs.

Related topics and brand tags

Glow RecipeFounder interviewBrand interviewSkin care

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