Beauty Philosophies: Part I – K-Beauty

Gird your loins. We’re going to start a multiparty discussion and comparison of the major beauty trends going on right now. To begin we’re going to cover Kbeauty, JBeauty, and finally European beauty. European beauty is going to focus largely on the French and Italian skincare philosophies but with the emergence of the British beauty lines becoming more mainstream I’ll likely be adding a British beauty philosophy to that as well.  Let’s get this started with Kbeauty first.

K-beauty stands for Korean beauty. It’s a skincare routine that idealizes porcelain skin free of blemishes. It is a status symbol that denotes a woman who does not need to be in the fields working. If you follow K-pop at all you’ll see this is male pop stars as well. Just look at the K-pop group BTS or Girls Generation.

As you can see, regardless of gender the beauty standards are the same. All of them have porcelain skin and are as near to blemish free as possible and they’re all barely 20. AM I jealous? Yes.

K-beauty follows the 10 step beauty routine.

  1. Oil Cleanse
  2. Water Cleanse
  3. Exfoliate (2-3x per week)
  4. Toner
  5. Essence
  6. Serum
  7. Sheet Masks
  8. Eye Cream
  9. Moisturize
  10. SPF (obviously no need to use this at night)

There is a lot of focus on moisturizers and balancing the skin. As a result skincare can be very targeted. Toners focus on a balanced pH and many will use traditional Korean medicine like licorice root to act as anti inflammatory, anti-redness, antibacterial agents, and natural moisture boosters.

Hanbang or traditional Korean medicine is still popular in Korea. A friend of mine from South Korea, who is obsessed with skincare, tells me it’s super common to see new lines coming out in the mid price point that focus a lot on Hanbang. Companies like Acwell and Sulwahsoo who are gaining popularity due to the popularity of with its accompanying blog, Kblog, and PR measures on YouTube and other social media sites, shoppers from the US and Europe have become much more familiar with these popular Korean brands.

A great blog to follow for hanbang in skin care is Snow White and the Asian Pear. She hasn’t posted since May 2018 but her previous posts are a wealthy of information.

The ideal of K-Beauty is called honey skin. This is skin that glows from the inside and has a sparkling radiance similar to the sheen on top of honey. In order to achieve this skin is optimally exfoliated and performed more often but with more gentle exfoliates that creates a very even glowy complexsion. Peach fuzz is very commonly removed. White porcelain skin mixed with very dark brown or black hairs means hair removal via shaving is common place and not viewed as being a negative like it is in the US. Remember, over exfoliation leads to redness and irritation and using a sheet mask immediately afterwards to force moisture as deep as possible into the newly exposed skin helps boost the skins radiance.

K-beauty has been a HUGE seller of the sheet mask. It is promoted to sheet mask on a DAILY basis, although most people only sheet mask a few times a week. Sheet masking isn’t original to the K-beauty system though. Geisha use to drop silk into rice water and place it on their face for an added moisture boost and to keep their complexions as white as possible. Many Asian skincare lines be them Korean, Chinese, Japanese, or Vietnamese use sheet masks as a way of delivery moisture with the extra benefits of herbal extracts, gold, snail mucin, vitamins, or crushed pearls (to name a very very small amount of sheet mask formulations) to further aide individual complexion issues.

Most common K-beauty lines available in the US:

  • Tony Moly
  • Missha
  • Skinfood
  • Innisfree
  • Banila Co.
  • CosRx
  • MiseEn
  • Etude House
  • Saranghae
  • Pyunkang Yul

These are almost all available in the US market either at US retailers or are shipping to the US with free shipping on orders over a certain amount.

One of the best locations to look for unique K-beauty products is Soko Glam.  Additionally, YesStyle has a lot of Kbeauty products that can be found deeply discounted including SK-II products (Not Korean, this is a Japanese company). Until Oct 14 SkinFood and The SAEM are discounted at 60%. After this expires there will be another so don’t worry there’s ALWAYS a good deal. So stock up while you can! YesStyle and Soko Glam carry some of the same products. Ive purchased from both. The only thing to recognize with YesStyle is there are both full size and travel size products for sale so this Laneige Lip Sleeping Mask is a travel size but they also have the full size Water Sleeping Mask.  If you’re looking for sheet masks I highly highly recommend going to YesStyle or SokoGlam. They have a lot of options for every budget and ever skin concern. YesStyle has an entire page devoted to Korean Beauty products as well, so if you’re in the market for a new cushion foundation (which Kbeauty is known for) click here and it’ll take you to the YesStyle Kbeauty page.

In general K-beauty tends to lean more towards to less expensive. It’s geared towards producing colorful packaging with cute products without skimping on quality. The focus of these lines is repairing the skin and balancing skincare issues. There are also lots of skincare lines available to date with more making their way into the US on a regular basis. This means all that competition is going to keep the prices down and the bright package is necessary to catch the shoppers eye and increase sales. In example of the inexpensive nature of K-skincare, my favorite sheet mask is from a company called Dermal Korea. They are crazy inexpensive (88 cents at my Asian Food Market and available on Amazon for less than $1 US in all it’s wonderful glory) and boy do they work.

There’s my rundown of K-beauty. Next will be J-beauty. If you made it to the bottom of this you deserve a prize.  Leave a comment of your favorite K-beauty product. There’s so many out there I know I haven’t seen them all and new lines seems to be launching on an almost daily basis.

Love, Beauty, and Skincare


2 thoughts on “Beauty Philosophies: Part I – K-Beauty

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.