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The Korean Beauty Trends Loved by Consumers

Keeping an eye on the latest Korean makeup and skincare trends is the only way to ensure that your business stays ahead of the curve. The K-Beauty market is constantly looking for the next big thing, and customers expect you to be clued-up on what’s happening in the world of Korean beauty. You’ll also need a good grasp of what’s in demand if you’re to manage stock in an effective and profitable manner.

Fortunately, we’re here to give you the latest industry developments, insights, and trends, so you can grow your beauty business.

Korean Skincare Trends

If you’re hoping to develop your understanding of the 10-step Korean beauty routine or want to discover the latest Korean skincare secrets, you’ve come to the right place. Here, we’re going to help you identify some of the industry’s most important trends, developments and emerging techniques, ensuring you understand the products that your customers want, need, and will ultimately buy.

10-Step Korean Beauty: A ‘Skin First’ Approach

In K-Beauty, there’s a strong emphasis placed on skincare, with a range of different aspirational terms used to describe the various ways healthy skin can look. We’ve had the ‘honey,’ ‘glass,’ ‘cream,’ and ‘cloudless’ skin trends.

At one time or another, they’ve all blown up to become the biggest things in K-Beauty, and they can be summarised as follows.

  • Honey Skin: Skin with a soft, plump and dewy appearance.
  • Glass Skin: Skin with a clear, poreless, light and almost transparent look.
  • Cream Skin: Both a look and an approach. Touted as an alternative to the 10-step regimen, cream skin uses hybrid toner-moisturiser lotions to achieve a soft, supple, and dewy look, without requiring many products.
  • Cloudless Skin: Like the cream skin trend, cloudless skinis more than just a look. While it does imply entirely clear and spotless skin, it also refers to the kind of healthy glow your skin gets when things couldn’t be going any better. In other words, it’s that aura you project when you’re in a good place both physically and emotionally. It’s that fresh-faced, head-over-heels in love, on-top-of-the-world look. 

All of these super-popular trends (with the exception of cream skin) are built around the classic 10-step Korean skincare regimen. In fact, it could be argued that the 10-step process is the foundation of the modern K-Beauty philosophy – or at least the most popular skincare trend to emerge from it.

If you haven’t heard of the 10-step routine before or want to refresh your memory, here’s a quick rundown:

  1. Oil Cleanser: The first step in the routine is the ‘double cleanse’ – washing your face with both an oil cleanser or water cleanser, and a foam or cream cleanser. The oil cleanser works on oil-based contaminants such as pollutants and sebum.
  1. Foam or Cream Cleanser: A foam or cream cleanser is the second part of the double-cleanse. These cleansers go to town on sweat and everyday dirt. So, when used in conjunction with oil cleansers, you’ve got all bases covered.
  1. Exfoliator (2-3 times a week): Exfoliators remove dead skin cells and clean pores. Though it does help your skin to absorb products more easily, too much exfoliation can agitate the skin. With this in mind, exfoliating two or three times a week should be sufficient.
  1. Toner: Contrary to other beauty routines, K-Beauty toners are used to apply a delicate layer of moisturiser to the skin, helping to soften the surface and normalise pH levels.
  1. Facial Essences: The 10-step routine is all about layering products to properly nourish the skin. After the toner comes an essence. Facial essences provide another layer of moisture that penetrates deep into the skin. These also prep your face for other products used later in the routine.
  1. Targeted treatments: When it comes to our own skin, we’ve all got our pet peeves. Step six is the moment you apply your favourite combination of boosters, serums, and ampoules to tackle any personal skincare issues, such as dryness, wrinkles, or excess oil.
  1. Sheet masks: Sheet masks are applied to rehydrate and treat the skin, so it’s great to use these whenever your face feels a little dry. You don’t need to use a sheet mask every day, but there’s no harm in doing so either!
  1. Eye cream: Eye creams are typically designed to moisturise the skin that’s prone to wrinkles and creases around the eyes. The skin around the eye is particularly thin and delicate, so it’s important that you apply your cream with a soft touch.
  1. Moisturiser: Moisturiser caps off the regular routine by locking in all the products you’ve already used and letting them work their magic. Moisturiser creams are designed for a wide range of skin types, so it’s worth looking out for products that meet your customer’s needs.
  1. SPF: Sunscreen is a key component of the K-Beauty 10-step routine. It’s used every day (not just on sunny days!), and is supposed to be reapplied every couple of hours. The sun’s UVA and UVB rays can really damage and prematurely age the skin, so protection is a must.

Natural Ingredients & Anti-Pollutant Protection

Another big K-Beauty trend to have emerged in recent years is clean beauty. Clean skincare places an emphasis on natural ingredients, and eliminates any ingredients that aren’t required for the treatment to work. This commonly means removing substances such as parabens, sulphates, colourings, and artificial fragrances.

Clean skincare has gained a lot of traction with the K-Beauty community for several reasons. Firstly, there’s growing concern surrounding the impact of pollutants on both skincare and general health. This is particularly important in South Korea, where micro dust (a type of air pollution) is a major issue, and citizens are often advised to wear face coverings or masks.

The growing awareness of pollution, and the effect it has on our skin, has led to the rise of anti-pollution skincare too. Not only are anti-pollutant formulations natural; they protect and replenish the skin, strengthening its barrier and supporting cell renewal.

Superfoods for Your Skin

We all know that we are what we eat. It’s an important concept when trying to get into shape, and it’s an important consideration in the world of skincare too. It’s widely acknowledged that the food you eat will affect the clarity of your skin, but the skincare superfoods trend takes things one step further.

Food-based ingredients are increasingly being used in beauty products to help nourish the skin. Currently, there are two ingredients leading the superfoods charge:

  1. Noni Fruit: Grown in the southern Pacific region, noni is a nutritious fruit that helps regenerate the skin by tightening pores, moisturising, and preventing the formation of wrinkles and lines.
  1. Probiotics: Typically found in yoghurt and mushrooms, probiotics are collections of microorganisms that tackle the harmful bacteria often found on the skin’s surface, and act as a powerful anti-inflammatory.

Korean Makeup Trends

If you’ve been interested in Korean beauty for a while now, you’ll probably know that no K-Beauty makeup collection would be complete without a brilliant blusher. How else would you get that youthful glow?

However, K-Beauty culture is constantly evolving, adapting, and adopting new products – so you’ll need to keep up-to-date if you want to stay at the forefront of the scene. With this in mind, we believe there are a few more Korean makeup trends you need to know about.

‘Natural Glow’ Makeup

As the glossy, dewy, glass skin look has dominated K-Beauty for so long, it was only a matter of time before there was push-back and some fresh ideas took hold. Chief amongst these is the ‘natural glow,’ ‘no makeup makeup’ look.

Yes, one of the biggest trends in K-Beauty right now takes a step back from the glossy look, and emphasises makeup techniques that give you a natural ‘no-makeup’ glow instead.

To adopt this look, consumers are investing in cushion foundation, tone up cream or base makeup, and cheek powder, highlighter, or bronzer. They’re the key products for the Korean ‘no-makeup makeup’ look, and should be stocked if you want to keep your customers happy.

Korean Ombre Lips

Ombre lips (or ‘gradient lips’) use various shades of the same colour, or similar colours, to achieve a graded effect. The look became popular after being sported by some of South Korea’s top actresses.

With ombre lips, the variation in shade is achieved in many different ways. You can have one lip lighter and one darker. The inner part of the lips can be darker and the outer lighter, or vice versa.

Eye Makeup Trends

When it comes to K-Beauty eye makeup trends, there are more techniques, tools, and products than you can imagine. However, a few recent trends really stand out as worthy of a mention.

To begin, straight eyebrows are now cornerstones of the K-Beauty look. Many followers are rocking medium-thick eyebrows that are often referred to (positively!) as ‘seaweed brows.’

While it’s difficult to track down the origins of the trend, they’re likely rooted in the K-Beauty preference for an authentic, natural look. Understanding the popularity of a specific trend can really help when it comes to ordering your stock – cushion compacts and eyebrow pencils are a must for this one!

Next up is the preference for light and natural eye makeup and peach, pink or nude eyeshadows. K-Beauty experts enjoy these bright tones because they enhance the natural look and, when combined with a little sparkle, result in a dewy, ‘just-cried’ look that’s all the rage right now.

Body Care Trends

While K-Beauty certainly seems to focus primarily on the face, skincare and makeup, there’s also a considerable amount of other body care to look into. Exfoliating and moisturising products play a key role in most routines, but there are other lotions and creams to discover.

Perhaps the biggest body care trend to have emerged recently is the increasing demand for tone-up products. These brighten skin tone and help prevent hyperpigmentation, whilst protecting the skin from damaging substances, such as micro dust, too.

Though some K-Beauty trends end up sticking around until they become an established norm (glass skin has been around for so long now that it’s hard to keep calling it a trend), the vast majority come and go over a relatively short period of time. This means that it’s absolutely vital that you’re aware of what’s happening in the industry, so that you’re able to stock products that customers really want. With K-Beauty, you need to be ahead of the curve and ready to respond to increases in demand, not always playing catch-up.

That’s where having a partner like UMMA comes in handy. We provide our members with up-to-date market information on both a regional and international level, so your business can really thrive. We’ll make sure you know what your customers want before they do, so you’ll be ready for the next big thing when it hits the K-Beauty blogs, social networks, and websites. Simply sign up to register your free UMMA account online today!