Popularization of K-Beauty


*We are not dermatologists, everything in this article is simply an opinion. Self care comes in many different forms.

K-Beauty has been gaining popularity since 2015 as the key to a glass-skinned and dewy look. It’s been becoming more and more well known as celebrities like Emma Stone and Anne Hathaway use the products. Youtubers and “skinfluencers” boast them in beauty routines and K-Beauty hauls, from places such as YesStyle and Ulta. As the name suggests, K-Beauty are beauty products from Korea that usually focus on clarifying and hydrating the skin to achieve “glass skin”, skin that is smooth and shiny. It was formerly seen as something preppy that only teenagers in Korea sought after. Then skin care became a larger thing and everyone became intrigued by this new trend. Those who are obsessed with skin care inevitably learn about K-Beauty and more often than not support it. Korean beauty brands have done very well in piqing interest, probably because of the amount of endorsement they get and their promise of achieving glass-skin.

Women in Korea focus more on a good foundation of clear skin rather than using makeup to feel confident. The 10-step beauty routine that is popular in K-Beauty focuses on toning, clarifying, and hydrating. Here’s the 10 step routine (with a few steps you can repeat or only do on a weekly/monthly basis)

  1. Make-up remover, typically a cleansing balm

  2. A foam cleanser, and people use both to double cleanse and fully get rid of any dirt on their skin

  3. Exfoliator, which is usually done with a chemical peel

  4. Toner, to clean the skin and balance the pH level

  5. Essence, for extra hydration and prepping for the serum

  6. Treatments, also for your own needs (serums, creams, etc.)

  7. Sheet mask, typically done on a weekly basis

  8. Eye cream, to reduce wrinkles, dark circles, and puffiness

  9. A heavier moisturizer, usually for night time to seal it all in

  10. In the morning, sun screen is essential

This routine only works for some people of course, and usually simpler is better. But if you want to do this, then go for it! Self care comes in many different forms, and that includes taking time each day to care for your skin.

Youthfulness, pale skin, smooth skin, etc., is the ultimate goal of this beauty routine. It doesn’t focus on makeup, and rather on making your skin as clear as possible. It also highlights practicing a healthy lifestyle, hydrating on the inside and outside, taking ingestable supplements, and brightening. All these goals are signs of wealth, which you’ll also need to afford all the beauty products. Some popular products include snail extract for youthfulness, aloe vera for a light moisturizer and scar treatment, serums specialised for whatever you need, eye creams, sheet masks for ultra hydration, double cleansing to get rid of any dirt and dead skin cells that clog pores, and sunscreen to reduce wrinkles and hyperpigmentation. There is a lot when it comes to K-Beauty, but the most objective is to make your skin dewy, focusing on exfoliation and hydration. Typically, K-Beauty products are quite expensive, so here are some more popular brands and products all under $20:

*which may or may not work for you. It all depends on your skin!

- Soko Glam

- Peach & Lily

- Glow Recipe

- Aloe Vera Mask

- Brightening Velvet Mask

- Facial Peeling Gel

- Makeup Cleanser

- Miracle Toner

- Tea Tree Cleansing Water

Another possible reason these products became popular is because of their connection to the sudden increase of awareness on self care. As a society, we’ve become obsessed with self care. People are constantly hashtagging it and boasting how they “ate a doughnut” or something else along the lines of “spending money.”. K-Beauty is seen as a different way to practice self care. Society as a whole likes self care, it’s almost like a sign of supremacy (especially if it centers on spending money), and it just feels nice.

Self care is incredibly important, but it’s different for each person and isn’t always spending a lot of money to buy something. It can just be journaling, taking a walk or even just participating in that 10-step beauty routine. You decide what you do for self care, so don’t feel compelled to spend big bucks on beauty products if that doesn’t work for you. This sudden emphasis on K-Beauty impacts the Asian culture as well. Suddenly our modern beauty standards are being emphasized in Western countries. Instead of a tan and sharp cheekbones, people are striving for that pale and glossy-skinned doll-like face that K-Beauty promises. It means that some people just don’t fit with the type of person K-Beauty champions. K-Beauty can also be inun-accessible, and the goal un-achievable, either because it’s too expensive or your skin just isn’t compatible. Ultimately, it’s another way to make money for the beauty industry. In the face of giant beauty companies profiting off your insecurities, it’s important to do what’s right for you, and remember that it’s not you, it’s society.

For me, K-Beauty is a good way to indulge in self care. Except instead of a 10-step routine, I make my own skin care routine. I think that it’s important to find a moment every day to do what you love and just look after your body, but 10 steps can be excessive. I believe that simplicity and doing what works for you is the best thing, as well as ignoring everyone who tries to bring you down. Don’t listen to other people, they don’t know anything about you. K-Beauty is also expensive, and it can make people hate their skin even more by promoting impossible skin. In reality, nothing on social media is true. The glass skin that celebrities have is probably a result of extremely expensive treatments, good lighting, and photoshop. And celebrities also have bad days. It doesn’t matter if your skin isn’t dewy or smooth or soft, because no one’s skin is, and that’s not what makes you beautiful.

For K-Beauty’s impact on Asian culture, I’ve realized western culture has started to embrace aspects and innovations from Asian countries. They have embraced bubble tea, guashas and jade rollers, K-beauty, anime, Buddha-inspired decoration, saying Namaste, Tiki faces, mandalas, Pocky sticks, Chinese tattoos and then turn a blind eye to racism. Snail slime was seen as “weird” until non-Asian media started talking about it. You can appreciate our culture, but don’t belittle it at your next turn. There are ignorant people who often take these things and then degrade the culture they got inspired from, or feel as if they’re entitled to Asian culture and not accountable to speak out for awareness. If you appreciate these parts of Asian culture, go further and call out racism, educate yourself, and bring awareness to stopping AAPI racism. So enjoy your 10 step beauty routine, but do so while honoring the culture that popularized it first.


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