The Korean Skin-Care Trick We're Ridiculously Excited About

Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
By Naomi Nachmani

All right, you can go ahead and file this one under things your S.O. will never understand. You know, along with Shrek-reminiscent face masks and owning 15 pairs of black boots (but they’re all so different!). We’re talking facials — sparkling-water facials. "Dunking our heads into a bowl of carbonated mineral water" facials. Yes, it’s a thing.

Strange as it sounds, the fizzy face-cleansing technique — originally from Japan and popularized in Korea — claims to be skin’s saving grace, not only purifying it post-cleanse, but firming its overall appearance. And we've applied snail slime to our epidermis in the name of beauty experimentation, so what’s a little sparkling H2O?

Before we start showering in San Pellegrino, however (because that would be an expensive trip to the grocery store), we turned to Alicia Yoon of cult Korean beauty site Peach and Lily to tell us the real deal when it comes to carbonated mineral water and its effervescent advantages. Let’s just say we’ve finally decided to invest in a SodaStream.

The Background
Yoon explains: “Some spas in Korea (and Europe and, originally, in Japan) have used carbonated mineral water to treat the skin — sometimes it's soaking the face in this water, or the aesthetician may recommend soaking cotton pads with carbonated mineral water and dabbing them onto the skin (no tugging or rubbing) after cleansing."
Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
"Mineral water is popular in Korea," she says, because it is used "as a base and simple treatment in a lot of ways. I see women making DIY facial mists with mineral water and even mixing it into bath water. I've seen some dunk their whole heads into it to help improve scalp healthiness (which is also a fun one to watch). There are also mixes now that brands are making that include skin-benefitting ingredients mixed with carbonation. The idea is that instead of using just plain mineral water, they use carbonated water as well, creating a treatment that is even more nourishing and beneficial."

The Benefits
Yoon explains that some aestheticians love this treatment because, aside from its simplicity and timeliness, "the mineral water can help keep the cells between collagen fibers strong, aiding overall firmness and plumpness of the skin. The sparkling water is also known to help mechanically wash out the pores without too much harshness."

Because the treatment is believed to be compatible with all skin types, "aestheticians can turn to [it] without being too concerned about irritation or being overly harsh on the skin,” says Yoon.

Related: What You Need To Know About Eyebrow Tattooing

Regular Sparkling Water Vs. Sparkling Mineral Water
Yoon breaks down the difference between regular sparkling water and sparkling mineral water: “The mineral content mixed with the carbonated water is what is supposed to help deliver the benefits beyond that of mechanical sparkling water cleansing the skin. Typically, the ratio of the water mixes should be one-to-one. Also, the mineral water helps dilute the harshness of the fizzing in the carbonated water, so it's best to mix the two together. Alternatively, you can use carbonated mineral water, but this should then be mixed with regular water — the idea is to dilute the carbonation to be gentler on the face.”
Illustrated by Anna Sudit.
The Carbonated-Water Face Bath
So how does it work? “It's so simple!" exclaims Yoon. You take "one part carbonated water and the other part mineral water (or one part carbonated mineral water and one part regular water), all put into a clean basin that you soak your face in after cleansing. Typically, once or twice a week is enough. Some people say that any longer than 10 to 15 seconds is too much for the skin, and other folks will say that they soak for as long as they can hold their breath. The idea is that this shouldn't be overdone, and should be carefully monitored to see how one’s skin reacts in order to find that sweet spot of how long your skin should be soaking for."

She cautions, "You have to be in the mood for it because it takes a little bit of work (clean basin, get the mixture right, etc.), but when you are, it's a lot of fun and it always leaves your skin feeling revived.”

How It Feels
Not everyone will feel the same effects, but in general Yoon says you can expect the carbonation to feel "a bit warm." According to Yoon, some women say that, "you can feel the fizzing action on the skin. It doesn't necessarily hurt, but because it does warm up and feel slightly tingly, it can feel a bit unfamiliar and uncomfortable.”

Who It’s Best For
This Korean skin-care trick is recommended for most skin types, though "very sensitive skin types should proceed with some caution," Yoon notes. She's quick to say, "Moderation is key. Because of the fizzing action, this shouldn't be done excessively. More is not more, in this case."

Next: How & Why You Need To Start Dry-Brushing

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