Whenever I tell people about my skincare routine or that I use sunscreen on my face every day, they seem shocked. And then I have to explain why I use so many products and why I avoid the sun so much. In those explanations k-beauty word always creeps in and people look even more baffled. So then I have to explain what that is too, and why it is better than European skincare products and practices. At the end I always add that this is why k-beauty is becoming more and more popular in the European world. So I thought I’d scribble a short post on k-beauty and why it’s becoming so popular. This time, however, I’m reversing the order and start (instead of finishing) with this statement about k-beauty and try to justify it by answer the why. So without further ado, here it goes.
Not always has K-beauty (Korean beauty & skincare) been known/accessible (yet alone popular!) in Europe. I remember a few years ago, when I was just starting to get to know Korean skincare, there were very few places where I could get hold of the products. And although Korean beauty & skincare is still not recognisable by many people, it’s rapidly gaining ground in the European beauty sphere and it’s turning many women’s beauty regimes (and approaches to skincare) around (I shall just add that Loreal has already heavily invested in Korean beauty/skincare brands because of the market potential they have).
So why is this happening? Why is K-beauty becoming so popular? Is it just a short-lived hype, another ridiculous trend or maybe it’s a novel to the European world approach to beauty that’s going to stay because of its effectiveness?
There certainly are a lot of reasons why K-beauty is attracting so many people- from Korean celebrities (largely famous for their pretty faces and ‘’ageless’ look, e.g. K-pop bands like BTS or BlackPink) to cute-looking products to the flair of exoticism it brings around as it’s ‘’Asian’’ and hence attractive.
But despite the façade of this seeming hype, there’s much more to the Korean beauty that definitely makes it worth trying and sticking to. There are two main points that validate the real value of the Korean approach to beauty.
1. K-beauty is all about prevention. And prevention is better than treatment of existing skin issues. It’s also less expensive. Koreans take really good care of their skin externally (which is reflected in, for example, their 10-step skincare regime or applying sunscreen religiously- and by religiously I mean every day a few times a day) and internally (ever heard of kimchi? How about bibimbap? Korean diet is one of the healthiest in the world, that’s why Korean women are going to outlive us all). This kind of approach goes even further than the healthy diet and skin ageing prevention. It also extends into the makeup culture. In most cases the best makeup is no makeup- the less ‘unnaturalness’ in the makeup look the better. When the makeup is applied, it should be as delicate and ‘’natural’’ as it can possibly be. However, the general aim is to have such clear, flawless skin as not to have to apply any makeup at all. The skin should look healthy, be dewy and glowing. The Korean concept of cloudless skin captures this ultimate skincare goal very well. But this dewy glow isn’t achieved by the external care of the skin only. It goes much deeper than that. The skin glows when it’s taken care of AND when the person beams with positive emotions. So the mental well being is as much important as the good skincare routine and healthy food. Korean women also aren’t afraid to visit dermatologists regularly. It’s something that differs them from most Western women who tend to regard visits to the dermatologist as the last resort, when they can’t take proper care of their skin themselves and are often haunted by serious skin issues. Korean people, on the other hand, consider visiting skin experts as something normal. It’s quite popular even among men. It’s become so widespread and ‘natural’ that it already makes up part of the wider Korean culture.
2. The Korean beauty products REALLY work. Not all of them live up to the marketing hype but most of them are far more skin-friendly than European products and you can definitely see their effects (obviously there are some exceptions but they exist all around the world). There is a simple reason why it is so. The Korean beauty market is vast. There are much more beauty brands in South Korea than there are in the UK or, most likely, any other European country (I would argue about France, but I’m not an expert). So the competition is fierce. And the Korean consumers want to get the best that’s on the market. To stay at the top Korean brands have to create the most innovative/most effective products that will lure in the buyers. And because there are so many skincare products available, they are also affordable because the competition brings the prices down. So effective skincare isn’t available only to the well off- anyone can create a personalised skincare routine that’s within their budget, that works, that prevents and keeps their look younger for longer. I’ve also read somewhere that the Koreans have generally sensitive skin so the products’ formulas are by and large gentle. It definitely doesn’t apply to all the products (I’ve come across many that weren’t) but it’s much easier for me to find something that doesn’t break me out and is effective from among Korean skincare products than the European ones. And I’m sure I’m not the only one. Plus! It’s not just what’s inside that makes Korean products worth buying – so many of them also come in cute packaging. Who wouldn’t like to buy a sheet mask with a cute panda on it or a night cream in the shape of a colourful, smiling egg? A feast for your skin, a feast for your eyes.
The Korean beauty & skincare has been slipping into Europe steadily but it’s already picking up the pace. The Internet certainly has played a big role in it- the information travels fast and so many things have become so easily accessible, including k-beauty products. However, despite it becoming more popular, I think k-beauty still needs a lot of attention. It needs to be talked about. It should be talked about as it’s such a great skincare & beauty alternative to the European one. We should take more care of our skin to prevent the ageing process rather than try to reverse it. To enjoy the healthy look of our skin for longer we should ditch applying heavy makeup and strive to reach the point when going out without it wouldn’t be something negative.
On the flip side, I noticed k-beauty has already positively influenced not just the approach of beauty product users but also the brands. The majority of the European products I tried a few years back were heavy, pore-clogging and ineffective. Or inaccessible- a couple of years ago it was a miracle to find an oil cleanser (which, by the way, was popularised by k-beauty as part of a double-cleansing routine). Now, because of the Korean trends that have reached the West, the brands have started launching more and more products inspired by k-beauty (think sheet masks, think BB creams, think creams with sun filters). The demand for the Korean-inspired beauty products has grown significantly and I can understand why. There’s still so much to be learnt and so much to adapt from k-beauty but I’m positive the k-beauty craze will not disappear anytime soon.
All the opinions in this article are mine. The images were created by me and are copyrighted so please do not distribute them without my permission.