Is getting a Korean facial a luxury? Probably. But I see it as an essential component of my skin and self-care routine.
Best of all, it doesn’t have to be expensive… especially in a city as beauty-obsessed as this one. Finding a high quality, affordable facial in Seoul is easier than you think. You just have to know where to look (and understand a little bit of Korean).
But I get it. It actually took years of living here to find the perfect spa. One where I could get high-quality facials, that check all the boxes I look out for, like serenity, convenience and a good price point.
I’ll fill you in on exactly where that is later on, as well as tips for finding affordable spas in ANY neighbourhood in Seoul. First though, I’ll break down exactly what’s involved in a Korean facial, and why I think it’s important to take care of your skin, right from the start.
Jump to what you want.
- 1 Korean skincare lessons learned from mom
- 2 Why facials in Seoul are an integral part of my skincare routine
- 3 The steps of a Korean facial
- 4 Where I go for Korean facials in Seoul
- 5 Quality, affordable facials in Seoul at K Spa
Korean skincare lessons learned from mom
Some of my earliest childhood memories involve watching my mom carefully cleanse, tone and moisturize her skin before going to sleep. She instilled in me from a very young age, the importance of a proper Korean skincare routine to prevent early aging and problems later in life.
It’s something that’s stuck with me.
I can’t remember the last time I went to bed without at least washing my face, putting on toner and moisturizing. It’s not an exaggeration to say it’s probably never happened. Not even in my wild party days in Toronto, staying up all night long, dancing in smoke-filled environments.
Has it contributed to me looking younger than my 46 years? Who can say for certain, but it’s something I make sure I do each and every night, no matter what.
When I moved here many, many years later, I discovered that Korea’s obsession with beauty was next-level, and that my mom was actually somewhat of a cultural outsider in this regard. She hardly wears make-up and is as UNobsessed with physical appearance as could possibly be.
This is something she also passed on to me (fortunately, imo), so I’ve never been much into cosmetics, but I do think that proper skincare is essential.
Just like my mom.
Why facials in Seoul are an integral part of my skincare routine
Now, as mom to my very own 3 year old crazy monster, I just don’t have the time or patience to do a 10 step Korean skincare routine every night. Truth is, I never did. However I do consider a Korean facial every 2 or 3 weeks to be not just a treat, but an integral part of my skincare routine.
It’s not only a great break for this tired mommy, but I see almost immediate results in my skin, in terms of hydration, health and general glow.
The steps of a Korean facial
A facial in Korea is usually made up of 4 broad categories: double cleansing, facial massage, masks, and the application of ampoules and creams. There’s probably some slight variation to this process depending on which spa you visit, but this is basically what you’re signing up for when you book a facial in Seoul.
The entire procedure takes around an hour, and you’ll come out of the room with noticeably hydrated, dewy skin.
Double Cleansing during a facial in Seoul
One of the most important parts of a Korean facial is double cleansing. No facial in Seoul, affordable or not, will skip this essential step.
A double cleansing typically uses an oil based product first to remove make-up and foundation. A second deep cleanser is then applied using products tailored to your skin type. After your skin is squeaky clean, toner is applied. There’s usually some kind of gentle exfoliation involved during deep cleansing, but nothing close to the painful extractions we’re used to in North America.
It should be noted that toner or “skin,” as it’s often called in Korea, is very different from what we’re used to in North America. Toners in Korea are super moisturizing and add to your skin. You’ll never find a toner here that strips your skin of moisture like they do in North America.
When I get a facial in Seoul, there’s often a short scalp massage included to stimulate the muscles and nerve endings in the head. This service varies from spa to spa. The cleansing process is completed with a hot steamed towel to remove any product residue and a 2nd application of toner.
Korean Facial Massage
The cleansing is followed by a décolleté massage that includes neck and shoulders. They’re not shy about getting close to the breast area. I have even had décolleté massages where they massage all around the breast WITHOUT actually touching the breast itself. Do not be surprised if this should happen. It’s quite normal.
Next is undeniably my favourite part of the entire process – the Korean facial massage. If I could find a massage spa where someone just rubbed my face for an entire hour, I’d be all over it, but usually it lasts about 10 incredibly blissful minutes. The facial massage hits acupressure points and stimulates the skin, leaving it plumped up and glowing.
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Have you ever had a facial massage? Well they're an important component of any Korean facial, hitting acupressure points, shaping the face and boosting circulation. * If I could find someone to do this for me for an hour, I'd sign up right away ?, but usually it's about 10 minutes of utter relaxation. * * * * * #kbeauty #koreanbeauty #koreanskincare #facialmassage #kspa #jamsil ##잠실 #seoulite #seoullife #lifeinkorea #kbeautyskincare
The massage portion is completed with another hot steam towel and the third application of toner.
By the way, if you’re interested in the dreaded, but much loved Korean V-Line Massage, you can try one out at A.H.C Spa in Gangnam.
Application of Korean Facial Masks
There are 2 masks applied one on top of the other, during a Korean facial. The first is tailored to your skin type and essentially painted onto your face. A thin gauze is placed on top of this mask, and then a very thick modelling mask with collagen is placed on top of the first mask. They use icy cold water to prepare this mask, and it usually covers the ENTIRE face, including eyes and sometimes, the lips.
You’re treated to a short arm and hand massage while the masks are drying, and then the aesthetician leaves the room, so all that goodness can soak into your skin. This is usually the point in the Korean facial, where I fall into the deepest of power naps. If you’re claustrophobic though, you might want to mention this to your aesthetician. The mask could feel suffocating if you were so inclined.
After about 10 minutes, the masks are removed, any residue is cleaned off your face, and there’s a final application of toner.
Application of ampoules and creams
Sadly, the Korean facial is all but complete at this point. All that’s left to do is apply various ampoules, skin creams, eye cream, and SPF if you desire.
*Thanks to my niece for letting me photograph her during this facial. I’m sure she didn’t suffer too much. 😉
Where I go for Korean facials in Seoul
I go to Seoul spas not just for Korean skincare, but also to relax and take a much needed break from mom life. A peaceful atmosphere is super important to me. And that ain’t gonna be possible, if your aesthetician is chattering a million miles a minute to someone else. Or if the stranger next to you is snoring, as is unfortunately all too common when you get an affordable facial in Seoul.
That’s why I’ve been going to K Spa in the Jamsil area for the last several years. Not just because it’s close to home, but because they offer something I’ve had trouble finding at a reasonable price in Seoul – quality Korean facials, private rooms, and a silent, spa environment.
Quality, affordable facials in Seoul at K Spa
At more famous Seoul spas like Shangpree, you’ll spend a minimum of 130,000KRW for a single Korean skincare treatment. But at K Spa, the cheapest a la carte facial is 66,000KRW.
It’s a super reasonable price for what you’re getting if you ask me, but even better are the incredible monthly promotions and events that make it incredibly affordable to visit regularly.
My most recent packages have included a 40 minute back massage, followed by an hour long Korean facial.
It cost a total of 600,000 won for a package of 10 sessions, to be used within 6 months. This means that each 90 minute session costs just 60,000 won each. The total amount needs to be paid upfront, and if you pay in cash, you don’t have to pay any extra VAT.
How to make an appointment at K Spa
They speak very limited English, so if you’re visiting for the first time, or interested in finding out more about their promotions and events, it’s best to have a Korean speaker call for you.
Address: 더샵스타파크 B동 306호
K Spa is a little bit tricky to find, because it’s tucked away in the B-block of an officetel. You have to buzz up to get into the building.
If you want to drive, there’s free parking available on the B1 level of the officetel. Make sure to ask for a stamp or coupon before you leave K Spa.
The closest subway station is Jamsil on Line 2. Take exit 7, and walk straight past the McDonalds and 2 separate Starbucks until you reach the traffic lights. Without crossing the street, make a right and walk straight until you pass the Samsung SDS Building.
K Spa is located in the #Starpark building directly behind Home Plus. Don’t go in the main entrance. Walk all the way to the end of the building, past the KEB bank. Once you reach the end of the building, make a right, and then another immediate right into the complex of buildings. Look out for the entrance doors that say “Officetel B,” in Korean on your right hand side. Buzz #306, and you’re just a short elevator ride away from Korean facial nirvana.
If the whole speaking Korean thing to make an appointment is a bit too intimidating, check out these other famous spas in Seoul. Yes, they’re a tiny bit more expensive, but still totally worth it!
> Whoo SPA in Nonhyeon is a favourite of Korean celebrities who flock there for facials, massage and treatments utilizing luxurious cosmetic brands like OHUI, Whoo, and SU:M. Be sure to reserve this one at least 24 hours in advance. Book a skincare treatment at Whoo Spa.
> Choose from various facial and body care packages at SPA 1899, which is known for its specialized red ginseng treatments. Pamper yourself at SPA 1899.
Are you into K-beauty or skincare? Have you tried a facial in Korea? Do you know any affordable places to get a facial in Seoul? Share your tips in the comments below. We’d love to hear from you.