Why Korean Skincare Did Not Work for Me – Things I Did Wrong

To have the extensive influence of Korean Skincare system reached our country is a blessing for every Filipino who wanted to achieve a clear and healthy “Korean glowing” skin – myself included. Growing up, I have always had that sensitive, oily and acne-prone skin. So, when I heard how my cousins raved about certain Korean skincare products and how significantly their skin has improved, I went straight ahead and binge-watch YouTube videos of Korean skincare enthusiasts they recommend to find products that might be good for my skin type, grabbed my credit card and made a major impulsive skincare haul.


That was about a year ago. Sadly though, that is still where I am right now – in search of those perfect skincare products and routine to salvage my seemingly hopeless, angry, acne-prone skin. Over the course of one-year, Korean Skincare did not seem to work for me. But what went wrong? Here is my skincare story, plus 5 reasons why I failed at Korean Skincare.



Introducing multiple new products to routine

Anybody with bad skin all their life is not foreign to trying out different products with the hope of saving their skin. This repetitive cycle of trying new products and failing made me somehow aggressive and more complacent in buying and trying any product that is said to contain something that can help acne-prone skin. This resulted to complex and irregular skincare routines for me. Thinking that the results will be faster if I reset my entire routine altogether, I used to buy a new set of cleanser, toner, serum, and moisturizer and try them all in one go. Instead of a dramatic transformation, this process is more like a risky gamble. A particular product or set of products might have worked well for a lot of people, but because skincare is very personal, and considering how sensitive my skin has become, there is not an absolute guarantee that all those products will work positively for me. Instead, it made all those products useless as I cannot tell anymore which product worked or which product caused more breakouts. Instead of introducing new products in bulk, it’s better to slowly integrate each product one by one into the routine to see how it takes effect and works with the others that are already performing well.



Not giving enough time for products to work

The Korean Skincare industry has tons of great products to choose from and it is always very tempting to try them all out especially those products that people rave about from reputable brands. Despite my already confused and angry skin, ever so often, I give in to this temptation. After about 1-3 weeks of not seeing major improvements, I ditch my product as ineffective and try another one that is positively reviewed by many. This has been very detrimental to my skin. Constantly introducing new product has stressed my skin even more as it has to repetitively adjust to a new formulation.


Even with the right product, it is never possible to transform your skin right away. Skin cell turnover takes about 28 days. This means it would need about a month – or more – for you to see significant results. So, concluding that a certain product cannot work for me only to have tried it for a few weeks is an utter mistake. Aside from self-control, patience is a major key in order for one’s routine to work.


Korean skincare products that are positively reviewed by a lot of people but failed to work for me because of my habit of not using them continuously

Complex routine – too many actives.

YouTube studying Korean Skincare taught me about active ingredients. AHA, BHA, Vitamin C, Niacinamide, Hyaluronic Acid and Retinol are a few of the highly praised active ingredients. They are called active ingredients because they work on the cellular level and can deliver immediate results. Sounds great, right? They work great as long as you know how to properly mix and layer them in your routine. One major mistake that I did, however, was overdoing them making my skin barrier more damaged and irritated.


Skin resurfacing ingredients AHA and BHA are ideally helpful for acne-prone skin with hyperpigmentation as they exfoliate dead skin cells and push skin cell turnover rate. So, one time I loaded up my routine with BHA and went for a Salicylic acid-based oil cleanser, facial wash, and toner and top it with a serum with a concentrated amount of AHA and BHA as well, and voila! Crazy zits party the following week!


Instead of fixing the skin, a routine overloaded with active ingredients can compromise the skin barrier and irritate the skin even more


Thankfully, I have learned my lesson and as a changed woman, has temporarily done away with too many exfoliants. Instead of focusing on these active ingredients, I learned to prioritize a simple and basic routine that concentrates on hydration to allow my skin barrier to repair.



No commitment

Reading above, you might think I have become overly obsessed and can’t live without slathering layers of skincare products to my face. Truth is, the major problem why Korean skincare failed to fix my skin problems was because I was never truly religious at it. If I am to give an excuse, I think it was because of our toxic Filipino trait called, “ningas-cogon”. I am only doing it very carefully and regularly in the beginning or when my products are new and I am expectant of the positive transformation people claim these products gave them. After weeks of not seeing the results that I wanted, it’s either I try another product like I mentioned above, or I start dropping products from my routine one by one until I’m left to just applying toner – sometimes even without washing my face. Then on the following days, I would find myself watching product reviews or recommendations again. The next thing I know, I have a new entire-skincare-routine worth of products coming my way – only to drop them all again when I get discouraged thinking they’re not working.


As skincare products need more than weeks to deliver long-term effects, one needs to be very religious and committed, not only to “have a routine” but to “a specific routine”.



Relying solely on skincare

Lastly, and I think the most important mistake to note, is relying on skincare alone to solve skin concerns. Most of the time, the state of one’s skin is a manifestation of his/her inner health – something that skincare alone definitely cannot fix. For a woman who is almost in my 30s whose work demands staying up until 3:00 am everyday, it’s probably hormonal imbalance. No matter how effective my products are and how lavishly committed I am with my routine, with my hormones remaining unstable, acne will constantly reappear as the main cause of the problem is not fixed.


This is actually a recent realization for me. I have been doing my best to make use of the lessons from the mistakes I mentioned in 1-4 and thankfully, I have noticed quite a significant improvement. My skin is not as sensitive and oily and I feel like the products penetrate my skin better now that I have committed to a skin-barrier repairing routine. However, every now and then, I still get a couple of painful and bloody zits around my chin and jaw that takes too long to go away. So, I guess, as long as my lifestyle remains unchanged – improper diet and lack of exercise and quality sleep included – I think my dream for clear skin will remain far-fetched.



Learn from me

Although, as of writing, I still haven’t achieved that “Korean glowing skin” despite going for it for more than a year now, I will still continue trying. Quoting Thomas Edison, “I have not failed. I have found 10,000 ways that don’t work.” If you’re a rookie to skincare like I was a year ago, I hope you will find this article helpful as you begin your skincare journey and avoid these ways that don’t work. Please don’t make the same mistakes that I did. Have patience and be committed as much as possible because…




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4 thoughts on “Why Korean Skincare Did Not Work for Me – Things I Did Wrong”

    • Hi Kelly! Korean Skincare has tons of great brands and products and I’m glad you found a brand that your skin instantly loves! Right now I have been religiously using and enjoying the brand Missha, particularly its Artemisha line – we’ll have our review about it pretty soon. 😉🧐

  1. I have the the same problem as you. I have tried Korean skin care products, but I have not found the right one. I think they provide too much moisturizer for my latin skin. I am still looking for the best combo. I have change my diet recently. I think I will go back to my previous skin care routine, it works best for me. I am into the 4 months trial right now, but I am still waiting for the changes. Good luck in finding what suits you.

    • Thank you Vanessa! Fortunately the recent products I found has been working great for me. Like you I have always thought to bring myself back to using my old routine before I have Korean skincare, but I have seen them worked perfectly for my cousins so I’m still not ready to give up! I am into calming ingredients like mugwort now, and it’s really doing well for me. Here are some products I found that works great for my oily acne prone skin. You might want to check them out in the future! https://hanadulses.com/k-skin/korean-skincare-products-we-love-and-enjoy-at-the-moment/


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HanaDulSes is a blog created by cousins Von and Mara who share the same enthusiasm to the Korean Popular Culture. This blog centers in three things: Korean Skincare, Korean Popular Music and Korean Drama. Thus, the name: hana, dul, ses! With the Korean wave being at the peak of cultural blending, we aim to provide a rookie guide to people who love similar Korean contents as we do.

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