The Difference between K-Beauty & Western Beauty
K-beauty, another name for Korean skincare became a global phenomenon grounded in South Korea and by Western beauty we mean the beauty culture in other parts of the world expect Asia.
From the ingredients in the products, to the formulations, packaging, approach and even their purpose Korean skincare differs from Western skincare in many ways!
Skincare VS make-up
Western cosmetics tend to focus on using make-up to cover flaws while the Korean philosophy is that beauty begins with a great skin. Korean products focus on skincare to treat any underlying problems rather than covering them up.
Consumer spending in Korea also reflects this preference, with an estimated 89% of Korean women spending their money on skincare rather than make-up.
Layering skin care products
Korean skincare focuses on soothing and nourishing the skin, making sure it’s properly hydrated. Whereas Western skincare focuses on exfoliating to reveal new skin, Korean skincare is all about putting nutrients back into the skin.
Korean skincare adopts a more gentle approach with less of a focus on scrubs, retinols and harsh acids. Each product in a Korean beauty routine serves a specific purpose. It is designed to be softly applied, patted, tapped or massaged into the skin.
Korean skincare brands take UV protection very seriously and is a must to have in skincare.
From their religious use of sunscreen and covering up when outdoors, Koreans highly prize fair skin. This is a historical preference that reflected the distinctions between the classes.
The Korean preference for fairer skin is also evident in their beauty products, which are designed to make skin as clear and radiant as possible, known as whitening. Although whitening products do not contain bleaches they do contain ingredients like niacinamide and glutathione, which even out skin tone and get rid of sunspots.
Koreans are obsessed with hydration. They aim to make the skin look “Chok Chok (which means bouncy and soft). When skin is probably hydrated, it makes wrinkles and fine lines look less visible. This is also why there are so many layers of hydrating products in the Korean beauty routine.
Korean products are significantly cheaper than their Western brands, because manufacturing costs are lower in Korea. There is also a stiff competition between companies to offer the “best for Less”. In order to stay competitive, most brands keep their marketing costs low and products competitively priced.
Ingredients and formulas
Korean skincare focuses on using innovative and original ingredients and techniques, so that new products stand out amongst a sea of competition. There is a culture of honoring the timeless ingredients that are indigenous to Asia, like indigenous mushrooms or Ginseng. While for Western quality comes first, medical and pharmaceutical tested ingredients and products are the hit there.