Korean Beauty: Hot Trends and High Expectations

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Korea is well known for having some of the most beautiful people in the world, and with the spread of the Hallyu wave these beauty trends have become the envy of people worldwide. Speaking from an outside perspective, Korea seems to have a very high standard of beauty that is both alluring and evasive. Due to the recent increase of exposure, many people have begun to utilize Korean-made skincare products and cosmetics. However many people wonder how well these miracle products actually work, and what about them is different from their usual western counterparts.

Skincare: Is more really better?

Skincare is highly emphasized in Korea. As such, the first step to attaining the coveted Korean beauty look is having smooth and flawless skin. A lucrative market for companies specializing in skincare has been created. The pressure to have beautiful radiant skin affects both men and women in Korea and compels buyers to try a wide variety of products ranging from snail cream to bee venom. Unlike the traditional three-step systems that are so popular here in the States, you can find skincare regimens in Korea with up to ten steps. People who wear makeup on a regular basis or struggle with acne will typically use skin systems such as Proactive to cleanse, tone, and moisturize their skin. Now thanks to the many online stores which carry Korean skincare and offer international shipping, these beauty products have become the hottest trend. Everything from mask packs, cleansing oils/waters, essences, ampoules, and emulsions are used as part of everyday Korean skincare routines.

Although many Korean trends have been picked up here in the U.S. there are still some fundamentally differing opinions when it comes to skincare products that ‘improve’ complexion. It is well known that a light and glowing complexion is highly sought after in many parts of Asia, Korea included, which is why there are numerous products on the market that whiten or brighten skin tone. These products are widely used in addition to protective clothing and visors that prevent exposure to the sun. While these products also exist in the West, there are a greater number of products marketed to do just the opposite. Tanning oils, instant self-tan sprays and products that give skin a ‘sun kissed glow’ are considered favorable to many.

Suzy provided by The Face Shop
Suzy provided by The Face Shop

Makeup Trends:

Similarly, Korean cosmetics are enjoying an equally rapid growth in sales around the world. Despite the fact that the products are becoming popular with Western buyers, there are many makeup trends that remain unique to Korea, giving them a trademark style. The difference in makeup styles directly correlates with differing standards of beauty in Korea and the West. It can be said that while American makeup styles aim to make women appear more mature and refined, Korean makeup styles tend to have a softer and more youthful appearance.

In order to help consumers achieve this youthful look, Korean makeup tutorials will often only include a few products and will emphasize traits in a natural looking way. A signature look in Korean makeup is the straight brow. Completely opposite to American style, which prefers an arched and darkened brow, one of the hottest trends in Korea is an almost completely straight eyebrow that supposedly gives a softer, more natural appearance. Also in an attempt at creating a cute and un-retouched look, “aegyo sal” is the popular look of emphasizing the puffiness under the eyes. Lastly, one of the more prominent trends to come from Korea is the gradient lip style. This characteristic look gives the appearance of a lip color that is fading from the outside in and almost resembles the effortless tint your lips have after eating a cherry lollipop.

American makeup style takes a less subtle approach and usually consists of more products to give a thickly made up and glamorous look. Popular trends in the U.S. include darkly filled in and shaped brows, overdrawn lips, and a heavily highlighted and contoured face. Despite the differences in makeup styles, Korean cosmetics such as peel-off lip stains, cushion foundation compacts and brow tints are becoming the new face of beauty.

By Raychelle Tunstalle