So, after we filmed our TL;DR, we were curious about something. In Korea, people protect themselves from the sun. I wonder if their skin cancer rates are lower as a result. We asked Soo Zee to look into this, and here’s what she found:

Skin Cancer in Korea

That’s the list of the most common cancers in four countries. Korea, then Japan, then the US, then the UK. Skin cancer isn’t in the top ten in either Korea or Japan, but 5th and 4th in the US and UK, respectively. Coincidence?

Anyhow, speaking of skin cancer, we mentioned in our video a bit about mole removal and how we got some of ours removed. You might remember, if you’ve been around for a while, how we had bandaids on our faces for a bit. I actually tried looking for those videos but they’re so old that I can’t remember. High five to anyone who does!

Point is, we didn’t remove them for cosmetic purposes, but because we noticed that they were looking a bit irregular, and we know that can lead to health complications in the future. I also had one on my chin, and at least five times a month, I’d cut it open while shaving. So, we went to a dermatologist to get some of them removed. Quick, easy, painless, and TEN BUCKS! That’s it! It was ten bucks a mole. And we didn’t need an appointment or anything. Just walked in to a place we were told about and got it done.

Then again, procedures in Korea are pretty cheap compared to procedures elsewhere, probably because there are dermatologists and clinics just about everywhere. Hell, across the street from us, where all the chicken shops are located, there’s a dermatology shop on the third floor. Great location! Feel like chicken? How about stopping by for some laser hair removal first? Great plan!

Anyhow, let us know what skin care is like where you’re from. Are we wrong in thinking that people take better care of their skin here in Korea than in North America? Do you wear sunblock on your face every day? How cautious are your friends about sun damage? We’d love to hear if it’s just a Korea thing!

Oh! One last thing we forgot to mention: a really cheap and easy way that Koreans take care of their skin so they can stay looking young and beautiful is – how could I have forgotten to mention this? – by clicking on the subscribe button below. Oh man! It’s so good for your health!

  1. Up here in Maine in the summer, there’s farmers tans all around. If you’re smart and keep yourself covered up, people will say that you glow or that you’re too gosh darn white! And you’re the subject of jealousy if you have a tan before everyone else. Although I see websites saying that you should put sunscreen on everyday, I just don’t bother. I’m outside whenever possible and have a pretty mean tan that is now going to disappear over the long droll winter……aaaaand now i realize why i’ve got so many freckles. And a dermatologist? Never been to one before.

  2. I live in America and everyone is always like, “Today I’m gonna tan for like three hours.” when its the summer and its 90 degrees outside (fahrenheit) but I’m all, “Nope not happening for me. I’m gonna be that person that doesn’t get skin cancer BITCH!” and so I sit wearing a sweatshirt with a hood and leggings the entire summer and then for the rest of the year too and people think I am INSANE but I just enjoy my paleness and don’t want to die.

  3. oh yes, Aussies are BIG on tanning although a lot of older people (parents and grandparents, teachers too) will tell us to wear sun cream, there is a song here that we follow, everyone knows it,

    ‘Slip, Slop, Slap!’ theres a few versions on it that plays on tv evey summer to remind kids to wear it as aussies spend a lot of time out doors swimming in summer

    all my friends are really tanned, they look almost completely brown, tanning cream, tanning oil, tanning spay, tanning salons are huge and can be expensive anywhere.
    I on the other like my pale look so i avoid the sun, my feel reflect the sunlight and when im in the car wearing short skirts my skin reflex onto the bottom part of the dash board.

  4. Here in Portugal people are in general crazy about tanning. The general population is perhaps a bit more relaxed about it and only worries about getting tanned in the summer, but celebrities and anyone a bit more obsessed about the way they look want to be tanned all year long. I make this distinction because, for better or worse, people in Portugal don’t seem to care about their appearance as much as people from many other countries. They do feel pressure to look good, of course, but for some reason the Portuguese aren’t particularly fashion-concious, don’t take very good care of their bodies (3rd fattest country in Europe), don’t commonly wear make up, etc. This is why the general population isn’t too obsessed with being tanned all year round, even though being tanned is considered beautiful while being white is not. Celebrities on the other hand are always tanned. Add to that the fact that most of them have brown eyes and honey-coloured hair, and the end result are people that look very monochromatic.

    As I mentioned, in this country being tanned is a sign of beauty. For that reason and because it’s a rather sunny country we have very high rates of skin cancer. Another reason for that is that a lot of people simply don’t use sun protection. They know they should, but they don’t. I think that on a subconscious level they think they’re not really going to get skin cancer.

    I personally don’t share many of countrymen’s beauty standards, which is why I don’t like the tanned look and am as white as I naturally can be. To be fair, in a country where being white is not a sign of beauty, that has never been a problem for me. My boyfriend sometimes tells me I’d look better with tanned skin, but since I don’t agree with him and I know the sun is highly damaging to the skin, I’m not going to get a tan any time soon.

  5. Tanning is popular in Argentina. And it’s a dangerous trend since many people here try to have a really dark tanning which means that they don’t protect enough their skins and are overexposed to it during Summer.
    I’m not a big fan of it, yet I think a little exposure to the sun is beneficial for the health. For example, it’s good to prevent dental cavities, depression, osteoporosis, etc. (In my home-town there is Vitamin D deficiency.)

  6. I live in norway and the sun rarely sets here in the summertime…but I gave up tanning a long time ago so i use spf all the time and usually carry a parasol/umbrella to keep the sun of my head…(i get migraines from sun exposure) I use a lot of korean products actually :)

  7. I’m Dutch but currently living in the UK and even though it’s only 1 hour by plane from my home town to here, there is a difference. In my experience in both countries people love having a tan, but the English skin seems to be less suited for it. European people will know what I mean… you can recognize English people when you’re on a holiday everywhere, because they are RED, ridiculously red XD Tanning salons are really big here, but especially the tanning spray thing. ORANGE is the new tanning colour here. I’m Dutch so I’m all pro orange (especially now with the world cup ;) ) but it’s kinda weird when it’s supposed to be a tan :’]

  8. Im from Puerto Rico and here being tan is pretty, people do get made fun of sometimes for being white.

  9. I live in AUS and am a mix of asian cultures and for a long long time I have remembered wanting to be lighter skinned, but I have come to the realisation that I simply love the sun too much. Having darker skin in a “lighter skin” ideal culture is something I have come to embrace. I do reviews of Korean/ Japanese/ Chinese and some western cosmetics on my blog: http://innervi.blogspot.com.au/
    From my experience I can definitely conclude that the products are not “whitening” but for “evening out” just like Martina said :) Seeing some people desperately trying to “bleach” their body to look whiter scares me for sure. We should just learn to love ourselves a little more; including our skin tone~

  10. I’ve seen commercials in China for this black tar stuff that you smear on your skin in the shower, and when you rinse it off, it takes all the pigment with it. I’ve seen women here so whitened and powdered they have chemical burns on their legs and faces. The whitening stuff is scary.

  11. I’m Chinese but I live in the US so I’ve experienced both the love for whiter skin (in China) and the love of tanning (in the US).
    ;D i have an EXCITING theory as to why:
    so in China, tanned skin meant you had to work outside in the fields to survive; aka, you were poorer and so turned darker. but if you didn’t have to work outside, aka, you were wealthy, then you had nicer, more desirable whiter skin.
    in the US, most people have never worked in the fields. and with the internet and staying inside for your entire life an actual possibility, a tan means you go out often with friends; aka, you have a (social) life. but paler skin meant you stayed inside because there was nothing for you outside; aka, you don’t have a socially acceptable life. (<– because, i mean, seriously, living on the internet all the time, like on tumblr/youtube/fbk has a negative… patina? sheen? impression? it's just not "cool")

    • It is true but it rather mainly applied to places like Europe where you see women wearing all sorts of clothing to cover themselves and carry those small umbrellas to stay white because that means they are at a higher social status and are richer compared to those who are darker.

  12. As you well know being Canadians yourself sunscreen isn’t a huge deal unless its summertime, but women actually have it a bit better than men, a lot of moisturizers and foundations have spf in it mine as 30 in my moisturizer ( I don’t really wear foundation unless its a special occasion) but BB Cream has it too. But what most Canadians don’t know is that you’re actually at a higher risk of getting damaged skin in the wintertime. I never used to wear sunscreen in the winter…until I got a sunburn while skiing… so now I do if I’m going to be out all day lol. Tanning is a big thing here too, especially if youre supposed to be a “gym rat” apparently if you’re not tanned you’re not working out. Anyways that was way longer than I expected :P

    • Haha I love that you pointed that out, but its seems that many people aren’t aware that the UV rays are quite harsh even if there is no sun out (ie. winter time) Its best if you can apply sunscreen everyday, sun or not !

  13. In America its totally normal to get a tan because pale skin isn’t sexy enough. People need that sun-kissed skin even though it causes cancer and can ruin it forever. You would think at least for how health crazy Californians are, they would appreciate taking care of their skin and wearing SPF and not tanning.

  14. Tanning is totally normal here in the U.S, people do it all the time. However the effects are depressed immune system function,accelerated ageing of the skin, and last but not least….skin cancer.

  15. Oh my goodness, where I live, tanning is so popular. I have friends that, when we get back to school on a Monday, first thing they’ll tell me is, “Oh my gosh, you guys, this weekend was awesome! I sat outside all day covered in oil and fried myself with the sun and look how tan I got!” And I shake my head with disappointment. Another time, a friend of mine was saying how she got a job at a water park during the summer, and another girl excitedly commented, “Oh my gosh, you’re going to get so tan!” as if it was a great thing. When I tell people here that I wear sunblock on a daily basis, they think I’m silly and stupid, they say, “The sun’s not even out!” but obviously there are still UV rays. No one around here except for the other friends of mine that are Asian and are still connected to the customs they had in their respective native countries, understand how dangerous tanning is.

  16. As a pale redhead, my Mom grounded me once after getting a bad sunburn. My dad who is also pale, had to get a bit of skin cancer removed as well, so I’m extra careful with sunscreen. Growing up there were tanning salons everywhere, but it seems people are more getting on board with “spray tans” instead. The tanned look is definitely more popular in LA, but in NYC there’s still droves of people heading to the beach to get some color. All of my friends in high school who were really into tanning look much older now because of it. But don’t get me started on American dermatologists. You have to get a physical from a regular doctor before even getting referred to a derm and shelling out $250 a visit. I’ll just stick with my Korean sheet masks and hope for the best.

  17. What about bugs or bug butes in Korea? Do they excessively protect themselves like they do from the sun, or are there just not a lot of bugs? Where I live, the mosquitos bite through jeans and the bites sometimes swell up to the size of a quarter! So does Korea get any pests like these?

  18. So here in Poland it is SO much different than in Korea.I’m not sure but maybe more similar to America…anyway, in Poland people sometimes even put tan on themselvs to have suntan. Some people go to solariums even though they know it might be the cause of a cancer. There is this girl at my school that has make up and everything but sadly she overused tan and now she looks rather orange than brown…It depends but generally Polish people like sunbaving. And one more thing, if you have an umbrella during sunny in Poland day you’ll look funny and stupid.

    • Tell me about it… I’m also Polish and when I say that I don’t want to tan ‘cos it’s not healthy my friends and family say that I’m weird and I need to go outside more so my skin won’t be so white…
      Once a stranger asked me if I had albinism… I have brown hair and oh come on I’m not that white to mistake me for an albino.

  19. So here in Poland it is SO much different than in Korea.I’m not sure but maybe more similar to America…anyway, in Poland people sometimes even put tan on themselvs to have suntan. Some people go to solariums even though they know it might be the cause of a cancer. There is this girl at my school that has make up and everything but sadly she overused tan and now she looks rather orange than brown…It depends but generally Polish people like sunbaving. And one more thing, if you have an umbrella during sunny in Poland day you’ll look funny and stupid.

  20. I would love to go to the dermatologist all the time. However, insurance only covers conditions that affect your life not cosmetic issues. :/

  21. what about hair removals … you only mentioned it ??? how it like there ???

  22. I have a question for TL;DR, In Kdramas/movies their is often gangs in schools and physical fighting between kids. Does alot of fighting actually happen at school? Also could you explain what Jjang means? I heard it meant the leader or best fighter. Is their one at every school? Is it just between boys or also girls?

  23. I actually used to go to a tanning bed place while i was living in Seoul
    It was in Itaewon right on the corner where the station is.
    I also recall a couple of other ones around there as well.

    I also recall most of the other people I would see using the sun beds were foreigners also.
    Yeah I don’t think I ever saw a korean going into or coming out of one of those rooms actually.
    Also i don’t do them anymore so nobody troll me about melanoma!

  24. Hmm, I’m trying so hard to see what responses to give to the questions provided above. I’ll speak based on my experiences living here (Dominican Republic) and the years lived in NYC. In the States is quite different – well, at least in NYC – when it hits summer, people do not hesitate to go the beach or the park – namely Central Park, for instance – to just lay down on the grass to tan for quite some time – and by quite some time, I mean it! – it’s crazy how people wait for that time of year to jam the parks and beaches just to tan! I used to hate summer over there – perhaps because of the overbearing humid weather – so I would stay home or stay indoors as much as possible. I live in DR now and people here are either naturally tanned or dark-skinned – there’re a lot of white people too. It’s crazy ‘cus I get mocked by my peers for being pale – I’m not even white, medium-toned to say the most. It’s not like it’s mandatory for you to be tanned here, but it’s pretty normal I guess. People here don’t really care much about sunblock or anything likewise, only if you actually go to the beach – I suppose. I guess because I live on the coast, in the capital – and we’re really close to the sea – that people really don’t mind much about sunblock or any kind of skin protector. It’s funny ‘cus some Asians here do walk with umbrellas when the sun is at its boiling point. Anywho, I’ve also noticed that skincare is not celebrated much here either – except, perhaps, girls of middle/high class but they just focus more on make-up. Regarding whitening cream though, do you guys recommend any brand in particular? I personally have this sort of not-that-noticeable unbalanced tone on my face.

  25. This is not a question, this is just something to add to Simon and Martina’s comment.
    They said korea don’t try and whiten there skin. But in some ways Koreans do.
    Because Koreans believe that only royalty have milky white skin, so everyone tried to have that.
    They believe back then, that only servants who worked out side gained darker skin, but since royalty stayed inside there skin stayed white. So Koreans kind of up hold that, where they believe that the whiter skin u have the better.

  26. Hey Simon and Martina! Growing up as an Asian-American, a lot of times I felt stuck between two different beauty standards. In the U.S, having tanned skin is great, but in the Asian culture I was largely raised under, (I’m half Chinese and half Laotian) very fair, light, skin is desirable. At one point I was just like, “screw it, I’mma just use sunscreen for health purposes and be happy with whatever color my skin naturally is.”

  27. I have lupus so i have to wear sunscreen all year round. I even buy sunscreen outside of Canada because it has higher SPF. My skin care regime consists of a lot of steps, and lots of UV clothing. I been looking for those ajmamma hats and arm sleeves for years. Can someone direct me to find them.


  28. HI EYK Crew! I, like Martina have EDS TYPE 3 and even though I haven’t broke any bones. I can’t walk far and have to use a wheelchair for moving outside the house. I know that the subject may be boring or useless for some nasties but PLEASE do a tl;dr on disability in korea. Things like, are places accessible to wheelchairs, would it affect getting a job and peoples reactions. Love from Lauren in the uk!

  29. Id love to see a TL;DR on a related topic to this: daily Korean skin care. I have heard a lot about how intense morning and night routines are to keep their skin looking young and healthy. Here in America our products tend to use a lot of alcohol and we have a 3 step process which includes make up removal, cleanse and moisturize. From my research on Korean routines it seems they have a 10 step process including double cleansing, using serums and even mists throughout the day. Would love to hear you guys talk about this and even talk about popular product lines that you have tried and where foreigners can buy them to try out.

  30. But Lee Hyori and Rain once met at tanning salon. And we all know that Lee Hyori is coolest female singer Korea ever had.

  31. hey Simon and Martina,
    just to start off, I’m a HUGE fan of you guys and the whole EYK staff (especially Spudgy and Dr.Meemers). So I was wondering: What are your thoughts on EXO’s Kris’s lawsuit againts SMENT? I know that was a week or two ago but IM SO CURIOUS YEEAAAAHHHH!!! TL;DR would be very much appreciated! Thanks!!

  32. Oh boy tanning, ain’t that a fun way to spend the summer. I live in the UK and tanning is a big thing for the youngns. We only get like 3 days of summer a year so on a rare occasion of the sun appearing, we will all be outside soaking it up. This is probably why our skin cancer rates are so high. My mum one time said I need to get out in the sun and get a tan. The problem is I don’t tan, I burrrrrn! Personally I like using a gradual tanning moisturizer, as my skin is pale as eff, anything too sudden will look weird. Yes I have jumped onto the tanning bandwagon here. But only the safe way! Remember the three S’s: Slip on a t-shirt, Slap on a hat and Slop on some sunscreen!

  33. I think sometimes “whitening” really means whitening. I know that there are quite a few products in Hong Kong and China that are actually supposed to lighten your skin. I’m Chinese American and so pale I’m rather dead looking (I’m secretly a zombie). In the US, Asian international students will also comment on my skin colour. Whenever I go to Hong Kong or China, people will literally stop me on the street to ask what I use to whiten my skin.

  34. I was wondering, if you can do some TL;DR’s about rural life in Korea, do you guys know or met anyone who is not in a big city in Korea? Or have you ever been there? Everyone talks about Incheon, or Busan, or Seoul, but what about the less talked about places? I’m curious about those smaller cities.

  35. I’m from Connecticut, and a majority of the people around where I live like to go to tanning salons or simply lay out on the beaches to get tan. I, on the other hand, am very, very pale (to the point where my family makes fun of me sometimes and says that I look like a ghost) because I don’t tan easily and don’t particularly enjoy staying in the sun for long periods of time. I’ll be spending a lot of time helping my dad cut lawns this summer though, and I’ll be sure to remember to put on sun screen!!

  36. Hi Lovelies! A couple of my friends and I have been wanting to go to SK for a while now– what’s really making the trip more of a priority is your new coffee shop that’s coming (!!!)– but while we’re there, we were thinking about looking into dermatologists. To be completely honest, none of us speak Korean, and we were wondering if you knew any places that were more english-speaker friendly? I remember Martina talking about Juno hair salon– is there a dermatologist equivalent?

  37. This was actually very informative! I carry around sun screen with me all the time because I am so light. Got it here in Korea. It’s only May and i already got sunburnt one day walking around in Sinchon lol (on my chest)
    Anyhoo. I had no idea that the ‘whitening’ meant ‘tone evening’. I will not be so afraid of BB cream now! Maybe I will even start to wear it! MWAHAHAH!

  38. In the U.S., I believe that tanning is more popular than being pale or just ‘wearing’ their natural skin tone. Sunscreen and sun protection is becoming more prevalent than it used to be. There are many skin protection tips in magazines with charts to check moles and prevent them from becoming cancerous by going to the doctor to get them removed if they are possibly dangerous. I have never been to a dermatologist, but that is because it is really expensive, and it is seen more for one that has an issue like severe acne.

    I think in S. Korea, or Asia as a whole, that prevention is key in skin care. Sun protection and hydration to prevent aging, where as in North America it is more fixing the skin problems after they have happened, usually with anti-aging products targeted to women in their 30/40’s and above. Not so much focus is on sunblock and keeping a skin care routine from a younger age.

  39. Thank you so much for explaining whitening is the wrong term. I had heard it on a few korean dramas and it made me cringe just as tanning salons make me cringe. I just think it’s bad to chemically make the skin a different color.

    US is getting much better teaching kids about wearing hats and sunscreen. But only for the young grades. Rash guards, shirts to wear in the water are really common with the little kids at least. I don’t know if that training will follow through life?

  40. TLDR Question.
    In Canada (more specific BC) there have been for what seems like ages , been having issues teachers having problems with class sizes and pay issues. Have either of you experienced those issue in Canada and do teachers in Korea have the same issues?

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