Sheet masks, cushion foundations, snail serum, bee venom treatments, 10-step skincare, “glass skin.” Does any of this sound familiar? If you spend just a little bit of time scouring the internet, you will definitely hear about one (or more) of these Korean beauty trends that have infiltrated international markets for several years now. So, let’s talk a little bit about the Korean beauty industry and I’ll share my thoughts about it as a makeup and beauty educator. Ready to dive in?
With an emphasis on dewy, naturally luminous skin, the Korean beauty industry is no longer a movement that’s just floating around specific communities. It seems that Korean beauty wave, aka the “Hallyu wave” is now a mainstream function of today’s beauty standards! You can find it everywhere, from Sephora to Ulta and even popular drugstores like Walgreens and CVS!
Go to pretty much any major beauty retailer in the US and you will see a large number of Korean brands on the shelves; brands like Amorepacific, Tony Moly, Laneige, Dr. Jart+, etc. These brands are no longer being sold exclusively under the umbrella of “K-Beauty.” You don’t have to shop for them through specific Asian beauty importers. Korean beauty trends are SO deeply embedded into current markets that they are now a staple to a general audience.
Here’s something else that’s fascinating. Mega conglomerates such as Estee Lauder are now cashing in and buying out major brands, too! In fact, the K-beauty market pulled in over $10.3 billion in 2021 and is estimated to double to $20.8 billion by 2026 according to Market Data Forecast. So, it’s not going anywhere!
Was the growing trend of Korean media, such as music and dramas, to account for this change in the beauty industry? Is it the fact that the Korean diaspora account for 7 million people worldwide, 2 million of which settled in the USA and China? Perhaps it’s simply a side effect of globalization. We’re not limited to the physical movement of people or goods because we have access to almost everything we could want these days via the internet.
While I think this growing market still encourages buying more than any one person actually needs, I am glad there’s a focus around having healthy skin. You know I am all about skincare. This new will give consumers more access to SPF, moisturizer, and preventative formulas that are SO good for skin health and anti-aging.
The standard Korean skincare routine generally encourages the use of over 10 products daily or twice a day. To achieve that signature glowy, radiant “glass skin” at home, this takes a lot of time and work. Let me know in the comments below whether you have the time and/or energy (and money) to sustain a 10-step skincare routine!
One topic I wanted to touch on before I wrap up this post is inclusivity. As the beauty industry becomes more focused on being inclusive, I’m definitely watching to see how Korean brands grow into international markets. Variety and customization is a big part of Korean beauty, so they might actually do really well in a diverse international market. It’s certainly popular right now, so we will have to wait and see if it has longevity!
For example, one of the most highly rated cushion foundations that I mentioned earlier, the Amorepacific Color Control Cushion, is one of the premier products of its type and is widely sold in major retailers like Sephora. Yet, there are only 5 shades available. The range starts with light pink and ends at medium yellow.
Although one could argue that the standard in East Asia is accommodating to the most common complexions, it simply is not all inclusive. Asian beauty is notorious for selling creams to achieve “fair skin” or for “skin brightening” which makes their current exclusion feel purposeful.
However, I can’t really say that American or European brands are that much better. It is certainly more difficult to get away with only selling 5 shades of a product if only a fraction of the population could use it. It is more advantageous to sell more shades if the shades can be sold in large volumes or used as good PR.
All that being said, I’m so curious to hear your thoughts on these Korean products and brands! Have you incorporated any of them into your daily beauty routine? Have you tried the 10-step skincare routine? As always, I would love to hear your personal experiences! Leave me a comment and let me know whether you’ve tried any of these products and if so, what you think about them!
If you have questions for me about K-beauty, or any other kind of makeup or beauty topic, you can always ask me here! I try to answer everyone who messages me directly, and sometimes your questions becomes topics for my blog or podcast! If you want to learn more about makeup from me, you can grab a copy of my book, Be Your Own Makeup Artist, or sign up to be notified about my upcoming Makeup For Beginners Course!