Hanbang (한방) refers to traditional Korean medicine practices. Heavily influenced by Chinese Medicine at the start, 한방 evolved over time to include more local ingredients and techniques unique to Korea- with an emphasis on the use of fermentation.
Some commonly used ingredients in 한방 skincare are:
╰ Licorice Root
╰ Green Tea
╰ Lotus Root
These ingredients are high in polyphenols (plant-derived compounds) with strong anti-oxidant effects that have great anti-aging benefits.
One of the most popular ingredients in Asian beauty, not just Korean beauty, is Ginseng. With its anti-inflammatory, anti-oxidant, anti-atopic and immunomodulatory properties, it is one of the most well-known 한방 ingredients.
There are two kinds of Ginseng,
White Ginseng: 4-6 years old, peeled and dried without any heating, has a moisture content of less than 12%
Red Ginseng: 6 years old, steamed at 98-100 degrees Celcius for 2-3 hours and then dried (hence the red color), with a moisture content of 12-15%
While Red Ginseng is preferred over the white (due to it’s more potent pharmacological properties), both the forms have some benefits in common, like their immunomodulatory properties that are used to treat inflammation, anti-oxidant properties, and anti-atopic activities which are used in the treatment of skin conditions like atopic dermatitis.
Benefits of Ginseng:
- Anti Aging
- Reduces wrinkles
- Prevents UV damage
- Suppresses collagen destruction
- Regulates hyaluronic acid generation
- Reduces hyperpigmentation
Green Tea, one of the most commonly consumed beverages in East Asia, is another very popular skincare ingredient, with brands such as Innisfree and TONYMOLY having entire lines of products dedicated to it.
Fun Fact: Green Tea essential oil is extracted from a plant called Camellia Sinesis and is also referred to as Camellia Oil (I had no idea about this until I read about this in some Vogue article, and honestly idk how I didn’t see this coming.) Camellia oil happens to be a pretty popular hair care ingredient. (Innisfree also has a Camellia oil hair serum that I like quite a bit).
Benefits of Green Tea:
- Rebuilds collagen
- Repairs cells from sun damage
- Improves the skin barrier function
- Boosts hydration and water retention reduces transepidermal water loss
- Reduces the production of excess sebum
- Reduces puffiness
Benefits of Licorice Root:
- Reduces dark under-eye circles
- Reduces discoloration
- Lightens age spots
- Balances oil (beneficial for the oily skin type)
Benefits of Lotus Root:
- Controls sebum production
- Increases skin elasticity
- Hydrates the skin
- Contains Vitamin A which reduces swelling and helps in healing the skin (beneficial to those struggling with acne).
- Vitamin C (which makes your skin bright)
Now personally, I haven’t yet tried any products with Ginseng, Licorice Root, or Lotus Root in them, but I have used quite a few Green Tea products and I have noticed that the ingredient does work as they claim it does (I hope that sentence made sense, I was trying to say it is effective). Innisfree and TonyMoly both have excellent products in their Green Tea lines- effective and affordable. Brands that are actually associated with hanbang tend to be more on the pricier side, like Sulwhasoo, the history of Whoo, Hera, Beauty of Joseon, etc. I’d be interested to try some of those at some point too.
If you have tried anything from the brands mentioned above, do let me know! I’d love to know if those products are really worth the price!