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Korean Beauty Guru Charlotte Cho Predicts This Year's Big Trends

Photos: Soko Glam

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Korean beauty has taken the US by storm, and one of the biggest forces behind it is Charlotte Cho, the founder of the Korean beauty company Soko Glam. Cho, a native Californian who moved to Seoul after finishing college, currently resides in Manhattan, where she's also a licensed esthetician. This week, she's in San Francisco to promote her book, The Little Book of Skin Care: Korean Beauty Secrets for Healthy Glowing Skin, which came out late last year.

We caught up with her before her Sephora appearance in the Bay Area this week to get the full rundown on what new Korean beauty trends are coming up for this year.

A photo posted by Soko Glam (@sokoglam) on

What inspired you to write The Little Book of Skin Care?

I wrote it from my perspective: a Korean-American girl who moves to Seoul and experiences K-beauty for the first time. The beauty culture flips my world upside down and changes the way I think about my skin. As a licensed esthetician, I pair my knowledge about skin and Korean beauty culture into a book that hopefully inspires others to start up a routine and care for their skin.

My goal was to make this skincare knowledge easily digestible, because I know most skincare books tend to be very dry. Korean beauty and skincare is fun and accessible! And I wanted to pass on that sentiment through the book.

What advice do you have for protecting your skin from environmental conditions?

Environmental conditions have so much to do with the look and health of your skin. I live in Manhattan, which means a lot of walking and exposure to the elements. I triple cleanse daily to get all that pollution off my face that collects throughout the day.

The trick to the triple cleanse is to actually use well-formulated cleansing tissue that's designed to remove impurities from the face. It's important to use cloths that not only cleanse thoroughly and effectively, but also nourish the skin.

I recommend the Skinfood Brown Rice Oil Cleansing Tissue because it uses gentle brown rice antioxidant extracts to moisturize the skin at the same time that it removes impurities. There's also the Skinfood Rice Brightening Cleansing Tissue, which has natural brighteners derived from rice.

I'm a pretty typical New Yorker who's always pressed for time, so I like to use multi-tasking products like Son & Park Beauty Water. It removes makeup and tones and exfoliates. If I multitask when I'm in a rush, why shouldn't my products?

A photo posted by Soko Glam (@sokoglam) on

For the Korean beauty newbies, what are some K-beauty products starters?

K-beauty is known for its 10-Step Skincare Routine, but that can be a bit daunting for people just starting out, so I recommend the double cleanse, applying essences, and putting on a sheet mask. These are all crucial in the K-beauty skincare regimen, and should never be skipped.

I carefully curated specific products to treat the various skin types so you don't have to miss a step. On Soko Glam, you can find sets for oily, dry, or normal/combination skin types. The essence is considered the most important step to Korean women, but it's still a mystery for many. Soak your face in Missha First Treatment Essence, which a lot of people compare to the popular SK-II Facial Treatment Essence. It affects skin on a cellular level, so it speeds your cell turnover rate, which makes skin smoother and brighter. I've had the most noticeable results from adding this this to my regimen.

A lot of American and European beauty brands are adopting Korean beauty standards like BB creams and cushion compacts. Are there any upcoming Korean beauty trends for 2016 that we should have on our radar?

Next-level sheet masks. 2015 was the year of the animal sheet masks and other pretty lacey designs. What I've personally realized is that sheet masking (and skincare) should never be boring, and I wouldn't mind if they just came out with more fun patterns in 2016.

In reality, I think we're going to find more serious innovations in the sheet mask category. They'll come with more skin benefits than your standard hydrogel or microfiber sheet masks. I've already seen some sheet masks that are injected with vitamins right before you smooth them onto your skin with amazing ingredients. I just curated the Skinfood Real Tea Gel Masks (which also belongs in the next category! It's that good!)

A photo posted by Soko Glam (@sokoglam) on

I'm also seeing a lot of fermented extracts used across various skin care product categories, which are popular because those are extracts that are not cultivated in a lab. Along that same vein, I predict the use of more "real" ingredients in all products.

I'm already seeing wash-off masks infused with real herbs, floating rose petals in cleansing waters, and sheet masks where you can see the real ingredients (yes, real petals and herbs!) infused into the hydrogel/sheet masks for extra skin-loving effects. I hope it doesn't go too far, because I'll draw the line if I see real snail shells in my jar of snail cream.

Lastly, K-beauty is known for its multi-step skin care routine, I know that multi-functional products have the potential to be huge in Korea. For example a toner, essence, and moisturizer in one and cleansing waters that remove makeup, tone, and exfoliate. No matter if you're in Seoul or New York, everyone is busy and it's hard to fit a multi-step skin care routine into an already hectic schedule.

People will be looking to make their skin care routine more efficient while maintaining the same benefits as a full 10-step skin care routine. For that, I'm loving the NEOGEN Essence and Tox Tightening Pack.