When it comes to Korean skincare, ritual-and patience- is the holy grail. Beauty brand Saranghae, which is inspired by Southern Korean beauty treatments (these can include upwards of 20 steps!), is looking to bring the classic beautification routine to modern times with a simple, effective line of skin-changing products.
And, it's catching on. In the past few months, Saranghae- a brand born in a small Korean town - has popped up in the beauty influencers' social feeds, in editor's must-try lists, and is discovering a cult following all its own.
Melding a highly scientific approach with 600-year-old beauty secrets and ingredients, Saranghae, or “I Love You" in Korean, is all about the love, literally. Utilizing thoughtful formulations that feature precious ingredients like truffle extract, gold and an extremely rare mushroom with cancer-reversing abilities, the family-owned brand is a noble one. At the heart of the Saranghae universe is a focus on results rather than promises, a dedication to showing real women rather than models, and a commitment to offering classic skin care rather than trend-based formulas.
Packaged in simple but chic royal blue vessels, the Saranghae collection crossed our desk, like many have, but there was just something about this one. The straightforward, scientific nature of the brand, married with centuries of tradition and culture even caught the eye of our Founder, Iman Oubou, a beauty queen and scientist, who knows a thing or two about skincare. “As a scientist, I am a total geek when it comes to ingredients and technology in my skincare formulas," she says. “Intrigued by the unusual extracts in the line, as well as a no-nonsense brand ethos that I related to, I started using Saranghae products a few months ago, and immediately started noticing an improvement in my skin texture. I also love the reminder to stop what I'm doing each day and take some time for myself, which as a female founder I often forget to do."
As a brand, Saranghae is built on the belief that it is important to take time out for yourself, and to do things which make you feel empowered and confident. With their trending hashtag #OurLoveStoryStartsNow, they hope to inspire women across North America and beyond, to be comfortable in the skin that they are in.
“Our mission is to make everyone across North America feel beautiful," says Sandra Starr, Saranghae's Customer Care Manager. “We are passionate about sharing the best in Korean skin care, and staying true to our genuine love for our customers. We want to be your personal skin care gurus."
Rooted in history and modern science, Saranghae offers women a classic 5-step routine with power-packed formulas that feature innovative high-tech ingredients along with ancient Korean botanicals, including a unique mushroom found in a remote part of Southern Korea. Although there have been recent trends in the US towards minimalistic one-size-fits-all products that can act as your toner, serum, and moisturizer in one, the ritual-minded team at Saranghae is looking to provide American women with a complete solution to skincare.
“I'm not into complicated fussy products, but I do like to take my time at night with a beauty routine that I've been doing for over ten years," says Oubou. “At the root of good skincare is routine, and of course, products that have all the right ingredients."
The brand has a marked focus on transparency, revealing each of the ingredients used in each product, as well as sharing images of the results on real people. To wit, they routinely work with influencers across the US and share their personal experience with Saranghae. This includes their authentic, genuine opinion, as well as their photos. Saranghae also features their customer photos and testimonials across their platforms-- you could be next.
What's perhaps the most marked difference between Saranghae and other skincare players today is that they're not promising an incredible overnight transformation. In fact, the brand's three-phase program focuses on a process of longevity and self-care, allowing your skin to rejuvenate and regenerate overtime, the first of which focuses on healing. The dermis layer is repaired with a view to the next step: regeneration. The formula now begins to enrich the deepest layers of your skin with antioxidants and amino acids, smoothing wrinkles and lines to create a more youthful appearance. Finally, Saranghae forms a protective layer that penetrates right through to the cellular level. It's at this stage you will notice results, notably an effervescent glow.
What's in a Mushroom?
At the heart of all Saranghae formulations are ancient ingredients that are proven efficacious, including the Phellinus Linteus Mushroom (Sang Hwang in Korean), which has been used for hundreds of years in Korea to treat everything from obesity to cancer to depression. Fast forward to modern day, Saranghae is the only skincare brand to use this particular mushroom in beauty product formulations, which it also combines with ginseng (not to mention 20 additional botanical ingredients) to support healthy cellular function, and of course, glowing skin.
Rich in phytonutrients that stimulate the skin's metabolic processes, ginseng also contains active compounds that can increase the production of collagen and elastin and neutralize free radicals. Makes sense that the average ginseng-loving Korea lives 8 years longer than the average American!
The 5 Steps
“The 10, 12, 14 step Korean skin care routines are a myth," says Peter Lee, CEO of Saranghae. “In Korea, there is no set 10 or 14 step routine. Every Korean woman has their own routine and it can get as much as 10 to 14 steps. It's because Korean women enjoy the ritual, it is a pleasurable experience."
"Our data tells us that the majority of American customers feel overwhelmed with even a 5 step routine and most American customers do not have time for a daily 10 step routine. We've learned that it was imperative to listen to our customers and fit the routine into the average North American lifestyle, which is different from Korea," he continues.
When it comes to her own beauty ritual, Iman lives by the belief that slow and steady wins the race. While many people might be looking for immediate signs of changes, healing from the inside out as Saranghae does will deliver lasting results.
Despite the fact that we might not have the time in today's fast-paced digital-first world to devote as much time as we'd like to beautification, the Saranghae team has specially formulated the line to fit the lifestyle of the busy North American woman, while still delivering the results from traditional Korean routines. Below, you'll find the step-by-step process:
Long-Lasting Beauty in A Few Steps
First up is the Saranghae Nourishing & Moisturizing Oil + Foam Cleanser, which stars truffle Extract, gold, and 20 Korean essential oils. Combining the skin-healing benefits of an oil cleanser with the makeup-removal power of foam, this power-packed formula will make your skin squeaky clean, not to mention nourished, in no time. Next, you'll reach for your Saranghae Deep Radiance Essence + Serum, which is designed to penetrate skin and deliver antioxidants, amino acids and vitamins directly to your living cells to help increase blood circulation. Step three is the Saranghae Firm & Lift Cellular Regeneration Cream, which is said to reduce damage due to oxidative stress by up to 220 percent, promises fewer dark spots and redness, leaving behind a smooth, soft canvas for your next step.
The eyes have it in step number four, which stars the brand's magical Saranghae Focus Renewal Eye Cream. Packed with ingredients like vitamin B3, elastin and collagen, this light cream will visibly lift and firm and brighten the appearance of dark circles around the eyes. And finally, for days you need an extra dose of radiance, use the Elemental Essence Mask, which is said to actually enhance the natural contours of your face with antioxidants and hyaluronic acid, making your need for complicated makeup steps a thing of the past.
“Every single sheet mask on the market is different. What they all have in common? It all began in South Korea," says Andrea McDonald, the brand's Marketing Manager. “This trend along with many others, originated in South Korea. The Saranghae Elemental Essence Sheet Mask is formulated with Hyaluronic Acid. The unique and intense formula delivers radiant results instantly after use. It's definitely a customer favorite."
Although it may seem complex, various beauty experts report that multi-step regimens are on the rise, as is an interest in holistic wellness, crystal, and essential oil therapies, and ancient beauty hacks, like jade rollers; it's clear that consumers are learning that not every trend is worth chasing.
“If Paris is the capital of Fashion, South Korea is the capital of Skin Care," says McDonald. “Innovative ingredients, advanced product development, harmonized routines and so much more. Saranghae is passionate, excited and thrilled to bring attainable, yet luxury Korean Skin Care to everyone's bathroom counter."
Because when everyone goes for 1, why not go for 5?
For decades, women have been unknowingly suffering from PSD and intergenerational trauma, but now Dr. Valerie Rein wants women to reclaim their power through mind, body and healing tools.
As women, no matter how many accomplishments we have or how successful we look on the outside, we all occasionally hear that nagging internal voice telling us to do more. We criticize ourselves more than anyone else and then throw ourselves into the never-ending cycle of self-care, all in effort to save ourselves from crashing into this invisible internal wall. According to psychologist, entrepreneur and author, Dr. Valerie Rein, these feelings are not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you— but chances are you definitely suffering from Patriarchy Stress Disorder.
Patriarchy Stress Disorder (PSD) is defined as the collective inherited trauma of oppression that forms an invisible inner barrier to women's happiness and fulfillment. The term was coined by Rein who discovered a missing link between trauma and the effects that patriarchal power structures have had on certain groups of people all throughout history up until the present day. Her life experience, in addition to research, have led Rein to develop a deeper understanding of the ways in which men and women are experiencing symptoms of trauma and stress that have been genetically passed down from previously oppressed generations.
What makes the discovery of this disorder significant is that it provides women with an answer to the stresses and trauma we feel but cannot explain or overcome. After being admitted to the ER with stroke-like symptoms one afternoon, when Rein noticed the left side of her body and face going numb, she was baffled to learn from her doctors that the results of her tests revealed that her stroke-like symptoms were caused by stress. Rein was then left to figure out what exactly she did for her clients in order for them to be able to step into the fullness of themselves that she was unable to do for herself. "What started seeping through the tears was the realization that I checked all the boxes that society told me I needed to feel happy and fulfilled, but I didn't feel happy or fulfilled and I didn't feel unhappy either. I didn't feel much of anything at all, not even stress," she stated.
Photo Courtesy of Dr. Valerie Rein
This raised the question for Rein as to what sort of hidden traumas women are suppressing without having any awareness of its presence. In her evaluation of her healing methodology, Rein realized that she was using mind, body and trauma healing tools with her clients because, while they had never experienced a traumatic event, they were showing the tell-tale symptoms of trauma which are described as a disconnect from parts of ourselves, body and emotions. In addition to her personal evaluation, research at the time had revealed that traumatic experiences are, in fact, passed down genetically throughout generations. This was Rein's lightbulb moment. The answer to a very real problem that she, and all women, have been experiencing is intergenerational trauma as a result of oppression formed under the patriarchy.
Although Rein's discovery would undoubtably change the way women experience and understand stress, it was crucial that she first broaden the definition of trauma not with the intention of catering to PSD, but to better identify the ways in which trauma presents itself in the current generation. When studying psychology from the books and diagnostic manuals written exclusively by white men, trauma was narrowly defined as a life-threatening experience. By that definition, not many people fit the bill despite showing trauma-like symptoms such as disconnections from parts of their body, emotions and self-expression. However, as the field of psychology has expanded, more voices have been joining the conversations and expanding the definition of trauma based on their lived experience. "I have broadened the definition to say that any experience that makes us feel unsafe psychically or emotionally can be traumatic," stated Rein. By redefining trauma, people across the gender spectrum are able to find validation in their experiences and begin their journey to healing these traumas not just for ourselves, but for future generations.
While PSD is not experienced by one particular gender, as women who have been one of the most historically disadvantaged and oppressed groups, we have inherited survival instructions that express themselves differently for different women. For some women, this means their nervous systems freeze when faced with something that has been historically dangerous for women such as stepping into their power, speaking out, being visible or making a lot of money. Then there are women who go into fight or flight mode. Although they are able to stand in the spotlight, they pay a high price for it when their nervous system begins to work in a constant state of hyper vigilance in order to keep them safe. These women often find themselves having trouble with anxiety, intimacy, sleeping or relaxing without a glass of wine or a pill. Because of this, adrenaline fatigue has become an epidemic among high achieving women that is resulting in heightened levels of stress and anxiety.
"For the first time, it makes sense that we are not broken or making this up, and we have gained this understanding by looking through the lens of a shared trauma. All of these things have been either forbidden or impossible for women. A woman's power has always been a punishable offense throughout history," stated Rein.
Although the idea of having a disorder may be scary to some and even potentially contribute to a victim mentality, Rein wants people to be empowered by PSD and to see it as a diagnosis meant to validate your experience by giving it a name, making it real and giving you a means to heal yourself. "There are still experiences in our lives that are triggering PSD and the more layers we heal, the more power we claim, the more resilience we have and more ability we have in staying plugged into our power and happiness. These triggers affect us less and less the more we heal," emphasized Rein. While the task of breaking intergenerational transmission of trauma seems intimidating, the author has flipped the negative approach to the healing journey from a game of survival to the game of how good can it get.
In her new book, Patriarchy Stress Disorder: The Invisible Barrier to Women's Happiness and Fulfillment, Rein details an easy system for healing that includes the necessary tools she has sourced over 20 years on her healing exploration with the pioneers of mind, body and trauma resolution. Her 5-step system serves to help "Jailbreakers" escape the inner prison of PSD and other hidden trauma through the process of Waking Up in Prison, Meeting the Prison Guards, Turning the Prison Guards into Body Guards, Digging the Tunnel to Freedom and Savoring Freedom. Readers can also find free tools on Rein's website to help aid in their healing journey and exploration.
"I think of the book coming out as the birth of a movement. Healing is not women against men– it's women, men and people across the gender spectrum, coming together in a shared understanding that we all have trauma and we can all heal."