Why Korea’s Cotton Pad Skincare Trend Actually Works

You might’ve seen Korean Youtubers with cotton pads all around their face. Sticking product-soaked cotton pads on your face has been known as a bit of a DIY skincare trick in Asia for a while. However, in the past year, it’s taken off more than ever as a trend in Korea with videos and tutorials popping up left and right.

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Image via Yoo’s Beauty Youtube

Known as a “skinpack” in Korean, cotton pads are soaked with lotion, essence, or toner and applied on moisture-deprived areas of the face. After 10 minutes, they’re removed, and the rest of the skincare routine can be completed. The claim? Your skin absorbs the product much more effectively than simply applying it with your hand.

The Experiment

Recently the Korean broadcasting program 만물상 did their own little experiment to show whether that claim is actually true and whether this method is worth trying. They compared the absorption of a cotton pad applied lotion to a hand applied lotion, and the results are intriguing.

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Image via 살림9단의만물상

Two slabs of pork have been prepared for the experiment. Why pig skin? It is known to be most similar to human skin in terms of general structure, thickness, and hair follicle content. It’s often used as a model for human skin in dermatology studies.

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Image via 살림9단의만물상

Left: Lotion to be applied by hand. Right: Lotion soaked in a cotton pad.

Image via 살림9단의만물상

Lotion is applied to both slabs via hand or cotton pad. Additional blue tinted moisturizing cream is added to track absorption.

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Image via 살림9단의만물상

After an indeterminate amount of time, cross sections are inspected. The moment of truth!

Image via 살림9단의만물상

A clear visual difference in absorption! Left: Hand-applied pork slab. Right: Cotton pad applied pork slab.

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Image via 살림9단의만물상

Now the broadcast claims the cotton pad slab displays a 200% higher absorption level than the hand-applied slab. Whether that percentage is actually empirically true or just for dramatic effect, the visuals do speak for themselves. Using a cotton pad to apply your product does seem to result in significantly greater absorption!

Worth a try? Well regardless of whether this pig skin experiment is convincing, the materials required for a “skinpack” are probably already in your bathroom cabinet or at the very least, cheap and accessible. And the overall process is pretty straightforward.

How to Do It

Image via 로토루아8

Steps for the “skinpack” vary across Youtubers, tutorials, and broadcasts. But generally, thin, soft cotton pads and a lotion, toner, or essence of your choice are all that are necessary. Even one of the cheaper lotions in your cabinet will do.

Image via 로토루아8

1. Soak thin, soft cotton pads thoroughly in lotion, toner, or essence.

Image via 로토루아8

2. Optional: Add 2-3 drops of facial oil.

Image via 로토루아8

3. Stick cotton pads to cheeks, chin, nose, forehead, and/or neck depending on needs.

Image via 로토루아8

4. For maximum effect, apply more product to the top of the cotton pads.

Image via 로토루아8

5. Wait 10 minutes. Remove cotton pads, flip over, and stick the other side onto your face for an additional 10 minutes.

Image via 로토루아8

6. Remove cotton pads and dab skin gently to absorb residual product.

Though it’s a fairly barebones process, it’s still significantly more labor intensive than the few seconds using your hands would take to apply a product. However, on occasion the skinpack might be a great cheaper alternative to a mask or a way to combat problem areas especially during the trickier seasons of the year.

Featured Image via Stylenanda

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