South Korea is well-known for its beauty industry, from plastic surgery to skincare to makeup. People from all over the world come to experience South Korea’s top-notch facial treatments and cosmetic surgery. According to the Korean Tourism Organization, in 2019, over 85,000 people visited South Korea for dermatological reasons and over 90,000 for plastic surgery procedures. Therefore, facial treatments in South Korea are considered the best in the world.
However, navigating Korean plastic surgery and dermatology services as a foreign customer can be nerve-wracking. That’s why Seoulspace interns Lisa Son and Sam Nguyen tried facial treatments in Seoul, South Korea, to help guide you through the experience.
Consultation with Seoul Cosmetic Surgery
We booked our facial treatments through Seoul Cosmetic Surgery, a licensed medical tourism аgеnсу in South Korea. By booking with SCS, we were able to have a stress-free experience. SCS’s concierge service takes care of its clients from pre-arrival to consultation and departure from South Korea.
Before traveling to South Korea, SCS helps clients navigate procedures such as body contouring, facial contouring, breast surgery, nose surgery, and more. Based on the initial application, SCS provides clients with a few clinic options with estimated prices. Working with over 20 board-certified clinics, SCS is capable of matching clients with a clinic that meets their personal needs.
Once you arrive in South Korea, SCS has already handled accommodations and transportation. Your case manager will also help you through all the medical appointments and services. For our facial treatments, we had the opportunity to work with Mona from SCS. She is the co-founder of SCS and has been living in South Korea for the past five years. With years of experience in the beauty industry, Mona could answer any questions about the facial treatment process. She was our advocate, accompanying us through the entire facial expertise for the day.
While in South Korea, you can even book regular tourism activities through SCS. Depending on your interests, SCS will curate your tourism package to include activities to help you explore Korea and Korean culture. These activities are also scheduled with your appointments and procedures in mind, so you don’t have to worry about anything.
The care doesn’t stop after you’ve recovered and left South Korea. Even after you’ve returned home from South Korea, SCS keeps in touch regarding your procedure/treatment and provides unending support.
Consultation at Wonjin Plastic Surgery
For our facial treatments, SCS introduced us to Wonjin Plastic Surgery. Wonjin provides a range of cosmetic surgery procedures in addition to dermatological treatments. These procedures include rhinoplasty, facials, body contouring, eye surgery, and more. Wonjin’s website features patients’ testimonials documenting their processes from before their procedures to months after.
According to Wonjin’s website, they provide services in English, Mandarin Chinese, Japanese, Russian, and more languages. We had personal translation services on site to help with communication throughout the experience.
Wonjin Plastic Surgery is located in the PAGODA Tower in the Gangnam area, the central neighborhood for Korean plastic surgery. The clinic spans seven floors in the building, but all floors are easily accessible by elevator. Because we had booked facial treatments, we headed to the 14th floor, where the Wonjin dermatology clinic was located.
When we arrived at Wonjin, we were greeted by a bright and peaceful reception area. As we waited to be brought to the consultation room, we browsed the skincare and beauty products on display, which included the kineff skincare range that Wonjin Beauty manufactures. We waited in the reception area for about 10 minutes before entering a consultation room. While waiting, Mona informed us that typical consultation for a facial treatment in South Korea involved a specialist examining our skin to figure out our concerns and suggesting specific treatments to address skin issues.
The specialist at Wonjin first looked at me, asking me what my skin concerns were. I honestly responded that I didn’t have any skin concerns. I’ve been lucky to have reasonably straightforward skin throughout my life and only have to deal with the occasional breakout. I was curious to hear what the specialist would point out and what treatments she suggested. She pointed out that I had some sebum build-up on my chin, which she said was likely caused by wearing face masks over the past few years. She recommended that I have a treatment to remove sebum.
After examining me, the specialist examined Lisa. Lisa’s main skin concern was acne scarring that had started in high school. In high school, Lisa underwent a trial-and-error period of various skin care routines to help clear her hormonal-acne skin. She had no luck, which led her to develop cystic acne. Over time, Lisa’s skin cleared, but acne scarring remains. Lisa was excited and nervous to hear what the specialist had to say. The specialist pointed out sebum build-up and skin discoloration from popping pimples. For Lisa, the specialist suggested coming into the skin clinic every few weeks for laser treatments to help with the acne scarring.
The Facial Experience
After the consultation, we waited for a few minutes in the room before going to the treatment room. They had a locker for us to store our bags and shoes. The room had two heated beds with blankets. There was also faint music playing, and once the facials started, the lights were dimmed. All conditions were conducive to making me fall asleep, which I almost did at some points during the experience.
Lisa and I had similar treatments with only a few different steps customized to our individual skin needs. The treatment started with cleansing, and then they removed dead skin cells with a scrubber. An ultrasonic scrubber helps remove excess oils and unclog pores and dead skin cells. The facialist moved the scrubber slowly across my forehead and cheek areas in horizontal motions. The scrubber felt slightly prickly because of the vibrations, but it wasn’t painful. Before using the scrubber on Lisa, the facialist did a steamer treatment to help open up her pores.
After using the scrubber, the facialist started the acne extraction treatment. This was a little more painful as the facialist pushed sebum out from my skin. The facialist warned me that it might be painful and told me to let her know if it was too painful. The process wasn’t comfortable, but the pain was bearable and didn’t last long.
To soothe my skin after the extraction process, I had the special ampoule device treatment done. The facialist used a device with a flat circular head to massage my face in three rounds. It had a cooling effect and felt nice.
At this point, I was fighting off sleep, but the bright light of the revitalizing laser treatment machine woke me up. The laser treatment was mild and required no numbing cream. The treatment was painless, and my eyes were covered to prevent the bright lights from blinding me. Laser treatments are non-invasive to help with skin texture, pores, and acne scarring. Lisa also had the laser treatment done and didn’t feel any pain.
After the laser treatment, both Lisa and I had a facial sheet pack treatment done. Facial packs are like face masks, except they are typically thicker in consistency and more potent with skincare ingredients. The facialists spread the thick cream on top of the thin facial sheets placed on our faces earlier. The pack covered every surface on my face save for my nostrils. After leaving the facial packs on for 15-20 minutes, the facialists removed the packs and used soft sponges to clean any remaining residue.
As the final steps, they applied toner, moisturizer, and sun cream to our faces. The whole process lasted about an hour. Although the facialist only spoke Korean, it was pretty easy to understand what was happening during the facial. The translator was just outside the facial room in case we needed him.
I was surprised by how much I enjoyed the facial experience. Not only was it relaxing to the point of me drifting in and out of sleep, but the treatment immediately made a visible difference in how my skin felt and looked. It already looked brighter, plumper, and more moisturized than when I came in. After the acne extraction and laser treatment, I was stunned that my face had no redness.
My skin felt cool and refreshed for the hour after the treatment, which helped combat Seoul’s hot weather that day. As much as a consistent skincare routine can help you maintain healthy skin, the facial gave me the extra boost of moisture and confidence that I needed for the week. It’s no wonder K-pop idols keep their skin looking glowy and healthy. The whole treatment for one person costs 220,000 won, or about $168, at Wonjin. I can honestly say that it was worth the price. Only a few hours after leaving the clinic, I was ready and eager to book another session in a few weeks.
For Lisa, the phrase “beauty is pain” rang true during the facial process. While she felt at peace during almost every point of the experience, the acne extraction portion was especially painful for her. After the treatment, Lisa says her skin felt relaxed and cooled, but she could see redness in the troubled areas around her face. She was concerned about the redness and hoped for more immediate visible improvements. However, the redness decreased after a few days, and she noticed a difference in her skin’s appearance. It looked more refreshed and clear. She is considering booking the laser treatment sessions the specialist recommended during the consultation to help achieve clearer skin.
If you plan on visiting South Korea anytime soon, book a facial treatment. There is no better place to get a skincare treatment done. With concierge services connecting foreigners with reputable South Korean clinics, it’s easier to get the whole K-beauty experience while in South Korea.
Make sure to also check out our article on K-beauty skincare tips for those living in Korea.