In partnership with Saranghae

Ancient Beauty Secrets Revealed: 5 Simple Steps to Better Skin


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?

4 min read

Tropism, Mindfulness, and Responding to Your Environment

One of the few things I remember from grade school biology is the concept of tropism. In plain language, tropism is the reaction of a living thing, like a plant, towards a stimulus like sunlight or heat. You've likely seen this before but just didn't recognize it for what it was. If you've ever seen the leaves of a potted plant bending towards a windowpane, that's tropism in action. The plant is bending towards the sunlight.

If you've ever seen the leaves of a potted plant bending towards a windowpane, that's tropism in action.

In our everyday lives, we are all inundated with stimuli throughout the day. The driver in front of us that stalls at the yellow light and zooms through the red light, leaving us behind to wait. Or the customer service rep that leaves us on hold for an ungodly amount of time, only for the call to prematurely drop. There are so many examples both common and unique to our individual lives. The trouble begins when we form the habit of responding to everything — particularly negative stimuli. By doing this, our mental peace is disrupted and diverted making us slaves to whatever happens to happen. Much like the plant bending towards sunlight, we oftentimes react and lean into whatever is happening around us. Now take that concept and multiply it by the number of things that can happen in a day, week, or month. What happens to you mentally with so many emotional pivots?

For me, the result is: Restlessness. Anxiety. Sleepness. Mindless Eating. Everything besides peace of mind.

Much like the plant bending towards sunlight, we oftentimes react and lean into whatever is happening around us.

Earlier this year, something pretty trivial happened to me. I'm sure this has happened to you at some point in your life also. I was walking through a door and, as I always do, glanced back and held the door longer and wider than normal for the person coming behind me. My gracious gesture was met with silence — no thank you, no smile, not even a nod. I remember being so annoyed at this travesty of justice. How dare they not acknowledge me and thank me for holding the door? After all, I didn't have to do it. I know I spent the next few hours thinking about it and probably even texted a few friends so that they could join in on my rant and tell me how right I was to be upset. In hindsight, I should not have allowed this pretty petty thing to occupy my mind and heart, but I did. I let it shake my peace.

I've since taken some classes on mindfulness and what I've learned (and I'm still learning) is the art of being aware — being aware of the present and my feelings. Recognizing when I'm triggered towards annoyance or anger gives me the opportunity to take a step back to understand why and assess whether it deserves my attention and energy. We're all human and having emotions is part of the deal but as mindful adults, it's critically important to choose what you're going to care about and let everything else pass along. There are several tools on the market to help with this but the Headspace app has really helped me in my mindfulness journey. The lessons are guided and coupled with some pretty cute animations.

Recognizing when I'm triggered towards annoyance or anger gives me the opportunity to take a step back to understand why and assess whether it deserves my attention and energy.

Over the course of the next week, I'd like to challenge you to pay more attention to your reactions. How aware are you of how you allow your environment to affect you? Are you highly reactive? Do you ruminate for hours or even days on events that are insignificant in your life? If so, practicing a bit of mindfulness may be the way to go.