“Investment, innovation and a dash of obsessive thinking have made Korean skin care the single biggest beauty influence of the present day” – Vogue
Sky high standards
You’d be hard pressed to come across a Korean woman who doesn’t have flawless, beautiful skin. Ever wondered why? It’s because Koreans tend to view caring for their skin as the ultimate investment. Most perform an intricate 10-step cleansing and moisturising routine – every single night and which almost always ends in the use of an ultra-hydrating sheet mask.
Traditionally women in the West were taught to cover up their blemishes with makeup and that skin care was more of a chore. Because of the rise in popularity of Korean cosmetics we are seeing a shift towards a more skin centric beauty regime – with fresh, luminous skin and the ‘no makeup’ look trending at fashion shows and in glossy magazines.
Not only has Korean women’s near-mythical skin care regime caught the West’s attention but also the sheer volume of innovative products coming out of the Korean beauty sector.
Ever since the BB cream takeover in 2012 industry insiders and consumers have become obsessed with Korean skin care. The hype for the countries offerings has even eclipsed Japan, which has long been known as the beauty innovator in Asia. In fact, Marie Claire dubbed Korea the new skincare superpower, calling them 12 years ahead of skin care innovation globally. So why the infatuation?
“We’re seeing so much innovation come out of Korea and with globalization it’s coming a lot faster,” Erin Flaherty, Marie Claire US health and beauty director. “Korea is the new France when it comes to beauty and skin care.” From never seen before textures and applicators to cutting edge ingredients, Korea is the mecca for skin care innovation.
Competition is fierce
Intense competition (there are 112 beauty stores packed into just 8 adjacent street blocks in Seoul, Korea), coupled with Korean’s sky-high standards and keen appetite for skin care products, has resulted in a hyper-competitive, incredibly innovative industry that’s at the forefront of the beauty world. “Fierce competition in the Korean beauty sector has fuelled innovation resulting in some of the most advanced beauty products the world has ever seen” says Samantha Wilson, director of Skin Republic.
East meets West
Korean beauty products utilize the most effective Western ingredients – and so much more. Korean beauty heritage is steeped in natural ingredients passed down from generation to generation. This tradition continues today with formulations that tend to shun harsh chemicals and draw from nature’s restorative properties.
Tried and tested ingredients combined with an impressively large repertoire that includes ground breaking ingredients such as Epidermal Growth Factor, Stem Cell Plant Protein and Platinum, their advanced formulations can deliver results you could not have hoped to have achieved before.
Not only are the formulations superior but the sheer number of targeted treatments is putting Korea on the map. With a plethora of masks from sheet masks, hydrogel masks and under eye patches to dual layered foot and hand masks and specifically designed neck and décolletage masks – if you’ve got a skin concern Korea’s got a mask to fix it.
“We are in the early days, but we are completely convinced that the best of innovation will travel from the East to the West,” said Fabrice Weber, president of Asia Pacific for Estée Lauder Cos. “The most discerning skin-care consumers are Asian women and men.”
Korean beauty inspired hysteria has even infiltrated the top echelons of society with celebrity endorsement gathering momentum. Over the past few months we’ve been seeing more and more celebrities snapping selfies proudly showing off their love for sheet masks. It’s no wonder Marie Claire US recently proclaimed Korea as the “new skin care super power”.
So what can we look forward to? “We’re experiencing a paradigm shift in the world of beauty. Before we looked to Western markets such as France for beauty trends and innovation, now our sights are firmly set on Korea. Scrubs and peels are having a big moment in Korea. We’re also seeing a trend towards carbonated skin care products and highly specialized products such as foil masks” says Samantha Wilson director of Skin Republic.