I’ve written a lot about Korean beauty in the past few months. Not that that makes me unique in any way. There’s tons of great info about K-beauty here on The Gloss, there was a big spread in the September issue of Vogue, and there are expert bloggers, and shop curators creating smart content too. Calling Korean beauty a trend feels like a major understatement. There is a thirst for Korean skincare and cosmetics so strong it’s hard to imagine the pressure.
Of course, you can read all about the fact that such pressure originates in Korea where an estimated 2,000 brands compete for the attention and dollars of discerning consumers. It’s said that Korean brands are ten years ahead of U.S. manufacturers—and when there is demand for a new product, Korean companies can make it a reality in 6 months as opposed to an approximate 3 years in the states.
And yet, now, writers (and customers) like myself are just as bad. I spent a solid two weeks hounding the amazing (and female!) entrepreneurs behind some of the best, most beloved US K-beauty shops, and while they all offered smart observations and recommendations I quickly made mental-notes to buy, I found myself in awe at the speed at which I myself was looking for a total revelation.
So, I tried something new. I contacted Tracy E. Robey, the blogger behind Fanserviced-B, whose blog I started reading about six months ago. Robey’s blog serves up smart, well-researched, and extremely frank takes on the products she reviews. So I wondered what she thought. Her response was just as no-bullshit as I’d hoped. “The problem is that for all the talk of Korea being so advanced and prolific in setting trends, there aren’t enough good ones to go around and it’s creating a cannibalistic situation,” she said.
Okay—so, with that said, both Robey, myself, and tons of others are still pretty rabid consumers of K-beauty—and there are trends and new innovations to look out for…just don’t ask me for any more for at least a couple months.
1. Adorably Tempting and Innovative Makeup
From jello eyeshadows you’ll have to resist digging your fingers into, to cushion blushers (a natural follow-up to the cult favorite cushion compact) Korean cosmetics take packaging, textures, and applicators to new heights.
- M Line from Mizon Correct Jelly Shadow (Peach and Lily, $17)
- Chosungah 22 Click Click Click Tint Multi Color & Lip Tint (Sephora, $20)
- Peripera Ah Much Real My Cushion Blusher (Peach and Lily, $16)
- Too Cool For School Dinoplatz Escalator Mascara (Sephora, $25)
- Chosungah 22 Hidden Foundation (Sephora, $38)
- Chosungah 22 Dong Gong Minn Jello Color Eyeshadow Palette (Sephora, $39)
- Too Cool For School Dinoplatz Guggenosaurus Concealer (Sephora, $28)
Though much has been made of the 10/15/20-step skincare regimen: let’s be real: there just isn’t always time (at least not everyday!). According to Sarah Lee, co-founder of Glow Recipe, the multitasking product, or she calls it, the Supertasker, is about to explode. These three products are just a few faves that pack the punch of a full-regimen in a fraction of the time.
- Shara Shara Honey Bomb All-in-One Ampoule (Glow Recipe, $40)
- Skin Factory 7 Seconds Morning Sheet (MeMe Box, $18.45)
- Blithe Crystal Iceplant Pressed Serum (Glow Recipe, $49)
3. Skincare In a Stick
You probably own a moisturizer and a face wash. But do you own them in stick form? Add these to the list of things you didn’t know you needed, but most definitely do. From SU:M 37’s cult favorite rose-petal cleansing stick to Caolion’s cooling moisturizers, these sticks make skincare on-the-go easy. Face wash for your gym bag + hydration for the coming cold winter months = win-wins all around.
- Caolion Bab Pool Cool Water Cream Stick (Peach and Lily, $39)
- SU:M 37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick (Soko Glam, $28)
- Caolion White Cake Cool Water Cream Stick (Peach and Lily, $39)
4. Yummy Ingredients You Can See
“The use of real ingredients in the packaging is trending,” notes Charlotte Cho, founder of Sokoglam. “It started with the roses in the Su:m37 Rose cleansing stick (see above), and now as you can see, the Neogen cleansers utilize real cranberries, real cereal, and green tea leaves in the formula. I predict this is going to be more and more prevalent in K-beauty!”
- Neogen Cranberry Real Fresh Foam Cleanser (Soko Glam, $19)
- Neogen Green Tea Real Fresh Foam Cleanser (Soko Glam, $19)
- Neogen Cereal Real Fresh Foam Cleanser (Soko Glam, $19)
- Blithe Vital Treatment Pulp Essence — 8 Nourishing Beans (Glow Recipe, $46)
- Re:Cipe Rose Cleansing Oil (Insider Beauty, $21)
- Whamisa Organic Flowers Olive Leaf Mist (Glow Recipe, $38)
5. The Bonuses: Keep your eyes peeled for these!
Robey was kind enough to share a few predictions for something K-beauty fans might want to keep on their radars. Basically, when these hit it big, remember—you heard it here first!
Korean Hair + Scalp Care
“Korean haircare is fantastic overall and it deserves to be a trend. The good brands feature gentler ingredients and hair-and-scalp-friendly pH levels,” Robey says. “The concept of scalp care rather than just strand care is really cool. La’dor makes amazing haircare products.” Her picks include: the LPP Treatment (a low-pH conditioner) and Perfect Hair Filler (more of Tracy’s opinions on this pick here), and Skylake’s shampoo.
We’ve already gone from sheet masks—the ones that make us look semi-serial-killer-esque, to instagram-worthy faves like Banila Co’s lacey hydrogel + Mediheal’s Masquerade masks, but the trend is far from over. But according to Robey, there’s still space for the market to expand. “I think that the trend that we will see is K-beauty fans looking outside of Korea for the Asian Beauty kick—there are already lots of people interested in sheet masks from Taiwan and makeup from Japan. Hopefully that interest will expand because these countries and others have lots of amazing stuff to try.” She’s right. Already knee-deep in my search for new, amazing products to try, I spoke to Margaret at MelodyCosme, which stocks an assortment of Taiwanese sheet masks, including Robey’s faves—the silk ones by Love More. She recommends the Snow Lotus mask for reducing redness and brightening skin and the Rhodiola mask for “a natural glow as well as smoothing out your skin.” Another Taiwanese brand to try? The gorgeously packaged L’Herboflore—try the Camellia variety (a popular ingredient in tons of Asian skincare).
All Cleansers, All The Time: Especially, Cloud Cleansers
“I think that consumers should be looking at cleansing, honestly,” Robey says, because really, good cleansing is one of the most important parts of achieving clear and radiant skin! “One of my favorite new brands is LG’s Makeremake, which is entirely devoted to cleansing. Imagine: a whole brand that just gets you clean!” Robey says. “The trend that I think is really fun and worth trying is using a cloud cleanser like Re:cipe’s Slowganic Cleanser (which comes in a green tea and a lemon flavor) or Makeremake’s Cloud All-In-One cleanser. Both are water-soluble, sub-7.0 pH cleansers that are fun to use and really unique to kbeauty.” Robey notes.
(Writer’s Note: LG, yes—the electronics company, is a major beauty conglomerate in Korea responsible for favorite brands including SU:M37 and Belif. Makeremake isn’t even available yet stateside but we’ll be keeping our eyes peeled!)