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The New K-Beauty Standard

Walking into any makeup store, you may notice a new-found emphasis on natural beauty. The no makeup trend is not new; it is a migration of a staple look in many parts of Asia. As trends spread from east to west, Korean beauty products have created a new standard in the beauty industry.

Asia has replaced France as the leading country in beauty. While both focus on a minimalist approach to makeup, Korean beauty infuses skincare directly into the makeup. This skin-first concept allows the wearer to appear flawless, even without makeup. Chemicals such as ammonia, BHA, and coal tar dyes, which are common in American beauty products, are nonexistent in Korean beauty.

Korean beauty products tend to follow the guidelines of traditional Chinese medicine, which takes a more holistic approach. Foods, herbs, and animal products equivalate to healing in Traditional Chinese Medicine. K-beauty brands take pride in their locally sourced ingredients that are heavily monitored by the Food and Drug administration. In short, quality is key for these products.  The natural, organic ingredients in K-beauty are both healthy and effective; a shocking revelation to western beauty industries.

Ground-breaking innovations in these products have left America sprinting to catch up; challenging cosmetic companies with the goal of improving the consumer rather than cover up.

This year, South Korea’s beauty products were their top export. According to a study done for The Cut, South Korea’s GDP reached 1.067 billion with the total export value of K-beauty products to America being 52 million. Online South Korean cosmetic sales in November 2017 was over 600 billion, setting a record for the country. The popularity of the products is also influenced by social media platforms being that the average age of consumers is 15-24 years.

Products like BB creams, CC creams, cushion foundations and putty blushes have found their way into the heart of the Western makeup industry and have given new value to natural beauty. BB creams and CC creams are now a staple in makeup collections from companies like Too Faced and It Cosmetics. These products offer a refreshing concept of enhancing your natural beauty due to their low pigmentation and plentiful skin benefits— a mind-blowing  concept to American consumers.

Cushion foundations are another growing product in western culture. The product offers multiple benefits such as SPF, serums and hydration as well as coverage. Most include packaging with a handy mirror and sponge like the MISSHA M Magic Cushion. This cc cream in a sponge includes SPF 50 and UVA/UVB coverage to protect your skin from harmful rays. Bamboo water and Baobab tree fruit extract give the skin a naturally dewy finish free of chemicals.

The handiness and effortlessness of Korean makeup products have made them appealing to the masses. Convenience is key in these products, being that 32% of respondents in a study taken in 2016 for Men’s Health Magazine South Korea stated they looked for an all-in-one product when buying Korean products.

As society grows busier, it craves more instant gratification. K-beauty provides the perfect natural look in little time. With popularity of these products not slowing down anytime soon in Western culture, everyone is able to achieve an enhanced version of their own beauty.

Written by Victoria Long

Illustration by Nathanael Osburn