Ayushi Dhiman, New Delhi
In the past few years, South Korea has emerged as a leading soft power nation. With the rise of popularity of K-pop, Korean movies and dramas; the reputation of South Korea has grown immensely. But apart from music and entertainment realm, there has been another driving force that has benefitted the economy of Korea and that is: Korean beauty or “K-beauty.” The global rise of the Hallyu wave had made people more and more invested in knowing about Korean culture and society. K-Beauty is the blanket term for the skincare and beauty products that are derived from South Korea. Their focus of skin aesthetics such as brightening, hydration and achieving the glass skin effect is what distinguishes them from other skincare brands. Korean Beauty is a Billion Dollar industry which keeps expanding day by day; with an approximate worth of $13 billion (as per BBC 2017 survey). In this article, I would like to mention more facts and figures based on my personal research; and put forward the reasons why K-beauty is actually worth the hype.
K-beauty is a global phenomenon. It is all about perfection and exquisiteness. With extensive skincare, makeup takes a step back and it is easier to achieve the classic “no makeup-makeup look,” which is gaining popularity these days. But K-beauty has never been about chasing trends; rather it has been a trend-setter on its own. The history of K-beauty roots from the ancient times as one’s outer appearance was interlinked with one’s inner health and well- being. Moreover, Koreans closely associate ideas of skincare and beauty with cleanliness and personal hygiene. In the past, much like today, K-beauty aimed at inculcating natural ingredients like oils, plants, clay, etc. into the skincare regime. The use of such ingredients can indeed have a positive impact on the brain and help reduce stress and fatigue and also revive one’s connection with nature itself.
Breaking Gender Stereotypes
Korean women also tend to spend twice more money than American women on skincare and cosmetics and no; beauty is just not limited to them. K-beauty does not believe in conventional ideas like cosmetics belong to just women; and has played a huge role in redefining the definition of masculinity. K-beauty’s fluidity needs to be praised as well as normalized in other country’s too as it immensely contributes in breaking gender stereotypes. Some K-beauty products are especially produced for men serving in the military, too.
Affordability, Availability, Accessibility
The other factor that has been crucial for the rise of K-beauty has been its accessibility and availability to masses. Korea, being the hub of skincare and beauty that it is, makes sure that beauty products are made available to everyone. It is so fascinating to note that K- Beauty shops are everywhere in South Korea, even at the subway stations! They are quite affordable too, and sheet masks can be as cheap as $1. Therefore K-beauty is neither exclusive nor discriminatory because in Korea, Skincare is not a luxury but a basic necessity.
Ingredients and Benefits
Koreans never seem to age. This is because of their inculcation of skincare regime right from their childhood. Most of us might have been introduced to skincare terms at later stages in life; I myself was introduced to skincare once I turned 18. This is because we often do not realize its significance. Koreans tend to educate their children about terms like exfoliation, hydration, SPF right from the beginning. I can go on and on to write about how important SPF is in our skincare routine. It doesn’t only delay aging but also reduces the risk of skin cancer. People of color were often told that they do not require sunscreen on a daily basis which is absolutely far from the truth. Many dermatologists dedicate their time and energy preaching about the importance of SPF. Korea has blessed the skincare industry with some of the best sunscreens out in the market and hence, Korean sunscreens are absolutely worth it to splurge upon.
One of the additional factors that have been beneficial in marketing of Korean beauty products is their fun and cute packaging. Many skincare brands make the packaging youthful and lively, by drawing leaves, flowers or anime characters. This arouses the curiosity amongst the consumers to go give a shot to K-beauty. Brands smartly use social media platforms for marketing of their products so that they are able to communicate more efficiently with their consumer audience. K-beauty is not stubborn or rigid in its ideologies and it keeps innovating from time to time. For instance, Hyaluronic Acid is the hero or the savior ingredient of the moment, so brands will renew the formulas accordingly to keep up with the demand of the market. K-beauty also keeps introducing us to fascinating and interesting new ingredients and natural enzymes, such as cactus water or red algae. Snail Mucin is the ingredient of the time and it is definitely here to stay.
South Korea’s beauty industry is insanely ahead of its time. It’s “skincare first” ideology makes them emphasize more on the natural makeup or the signature Korean makeup look. They make use of long lasting lip stains that helps them achieve the gradient lip, which has been a worldwide trend. Cosmetic brands also produce cushion foundations, subtle and bright eye shadow shades and what not. Korean makeup industry has also introduced the world to techniques like “shading” which helps give more structure to the face and cheekbones. Many popular makeup lines have been inspired by K-beauty itself.
Hence, the hype around K-beauty is absolutely deserved. It is innovative, inclusive and affordable. Skincare specialists are amazed by this crazy phenomenon. In the coming years, the industry would continue to grow more and more and would definitely leave an everlasting impact on a global scale. What do you think? Tell us in the comments!