From sleeping packs and treatment ampoules, to glass skin and a full 10 step skincare routine, the world of K-Beauty is as intimidating as it is fascinating. According to industry experts, South Korean trends are roughly a decade (if not even more!) ahead of the skincare on the retailer shelves in the West.
Retail researchers at Minte estimated South Korea’s beauty industry to be worth over $13bn in 2017. And although it may look like there’d been a huge boom of K-beauty over the past year or so, the thing is the rest of the world is just trying to catch up. Believe it or not, it’s been a minute since the trend of looking as fresh-faced and luminous as possible had emerged from the depths of Reddit. Koreans have always been some of the most demanding beauty consumers in the world.
The heart of beauty innovation beats in Seoul, a city with less than 10 million people but hundreds of beauty stores and spa centers.
Starting at a very young age, both young girls and boys are taught about the importance of moisturising, exfoliating and applying SPF (almost) religiously. Here, skincare is not a luxury and with thousands of brands competing for market share, the industry is hyper-competitive and incredibly innovative, continuously launching products that deliver results at an affordable price.
In recent years Korean beauty trends have grown in popularity thanks to the Korean wave culture, called hallyu. Spreading the word about all things Korean, with K-pop stars at the forefront, the trend took over social media, entering the mainstream through Western beauty bloggers and influencers always on the lookout for the next big thing.
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Based on tradition, Koreans turn to natural and harsh-free ingredients to create the dewy, glass-like glow. With prevention instead of treatment in mind, K-beauty brands are not shy to experiment with an impressively large repertoire of ingredients from snail secretions, to bee venom and starfish powder, combining cosmetics and therapeutics to satisfy the sky-high standards of their consumers. But, it’s not just about the results. What differs Korean beauty products from their Western competitors is they turn skincare into an experience. Unique, and highly enjoyable textures, flexible usage methods and eye-catching packaging is all part of the deal.
Although the widespread belief is that a truly radiant complexion doesn’t happen overnight by simply treating the skin’s outer layers, Western brands have started to take notice. What started with sheet masks and alphabetized BB, CC and DD creams, turned into full-range K-beauty inspired collections, from brands such as YSL introducing cushion foundations to retailers such as Primark launching a full range of K-pop inspired products, that, should not come as a surprise, sold out instantly.
With continued advancement of technology and the science behind skincare and cosmetics, one can safely say that we can expect more innovative products with functional properties hitting the shelves of beauty retailers worldwide.
As for K-beauty trends, what’s next? Only time will tell but one thing’s for certain – reaching #Skingoals has never been more within our reach.