Did you know that there’s a subset of Korean beauty, known as hanbang, that focuses on harnessing the benefits of traditional herbs? It’s a little known fact, since Korean skincare is well-known for using weird and wonderful ingredients. Some popular examples include snail slime, bee venom and donkey milk, so much so that little attention is paid to the usage of Korean herbs.
Hanbang refers to traditional Korean medicine – think of it as the cousin of Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM). While it was influenced by TCM in its advent, hanbang is vastly different from its Chinese counterpart. Read on to find out more.
1. What are the types of herbs used in hanbang?
Korean ginseng is well-known around the world for its health benefits. Naturally, it’s also heavily used in Korean skincare. Besides ginseng, other commonly-used Korean herbs include chaga mushroom, lotus root, ginger, angelica root, licorice and goji berries. However, you’ll notice that these ingredients aren’t exclusive to Korean skincare, and neither are they exclusively Korean. So what sets them apart? It’s the process.
2. What is the process involved in hanbang?
The key highlight of hanbang is the process of ageing and fermentation. Hanbang skincare products typically rely heavily on fermented ingredients, and this process gives rise to probiotics and good bacteria.
Probiotics and good bacteria are not just good for your gut – it’s also great for your skin. It helps keep acne-causing bacteria at bay, and also strengthens your skin’s barrier function.
3. What are the benefits of hanbang and Korean herbs in skincare?
Hanbang skincare products generally have a distinct herbal smell, and for some people, that’s a huge plus in the aromatherapy department. Scent is huge part in skincare, and that herbal smell can aid in relaxation.
Korean herbal ingredients also tend to be rich in antioxidants and polyphenol. These herbs often also contain anti-inflammatory properties. When used in skincare, it translates into soothed skin and reduced redness. It can even help with anti-ageing, and improving the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Combined with probiotics from the fermentation process, regular use of hanbang skincare products enriched with Korean herbs can give you glowy and healthy skin.
Korean skincare companies are starting to jump onto the hanbang bandwagon, but it is best to start your Korean herbal journey with established names. Scroll through the gallery for an intro to brands who are acing it.
Text: Engracia Ang
Additional text: Zoe Zeng
Image: Shutterstock, Retailers and Brands
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