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Protect Your Skin The Korean Way

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    In South Korea, the latest obsession in skin care seems to be "face-locking." No, this isn't some kind of pop-and-lock massage technique, although that would be kind of cool. Formulas are touting their ability to fortify skin and create a secondary barrier to "lock in" all the products you’ve applied during your skin-care regimen. While I had never suspected that my products were just flying off my face after application, according to some brands that's apparently what’s happening.

    One of the key factors in the aging process is the loss of moisture. As we age, skin deflates and wrinkles, and a mix of genetics, diet, and environmental factors help this evil process along. The skin barrier is our champion, and is made up of chains of little cells held together with lipids. Think of it as the red-rover line of defense against that precious water trying to escape. Sadly, external factors like pollution and UV rays weaken the barrier significantly.

    I first picked up on makeup-as-face-armor a few years ago, when the Korean population was starting to grapple with mounting pollution and air-quality issues. Not to sound like a total doomsdayer, but pollution is like poison for your complexion — and what the sun doesn’t suck out in terms of moisture and skin structure, the winter months will rob you of with harsh winds and freezing temperatures. So, basically, a barrier is the answer your skin has been waiting for.

    In Korea, technological innovations have pressed forward to the point where even your rice cooker is expected to do more than cook rice (mine makes yogurt, too). Technology answers the call of shielding your face, too. The new class of skin-care products, which I consider the Avengers of skin, protect your complexion in a multitude of ways — sunscreen to block out UV rays, antioxidants to combat free radicals, ceramides to fortify the skin barrier, and protective films that form another defensive layer on the face. Combined with a glow-seeking obsession over beautifully hydrated skin, this has resulted in a beauty arms race to keep skin plump and hydrated.

    Bottom line: Security detail for your face is important. You can sneak this batch of products into any routine, so they'll serve and protect you. Click ahead to see our picks.



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