K-beauty, another name for Korean beauty 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.
What’s the main difference between K-beauty and Western beauty?
Korean women are known for their flawless skin, we tell ourselves it’s just good genes, but the reality is, it’s their skincare routines! From the ingredients in the products, to the formulations, packaging, approach and even their purpose K-beauty differs from Western skincare in many ways!
While Western skincare generally focuses on anti-aging, K-beauty is all about having a dialogue with your skin – listening to the skin’s needs with a holistic approach. K-beauty’s priority is on maintaining a healthy skin barrier while Western beauty will focus on problem solving.
Layering skin care products
K-Beauty is all about thin, light layers of active ingredients to achieve a hydrated, lit-from-within glow, while also preventing damage from environmental factors, pollution, and harmful UV rays.
K-beauty focuses on soothing and nourishing the skin, making sure it’s properly hydrated, bright, glowing and protected while Western beauty rather focus on exfoliating to reveal new skin. K-beauty is all about putting nutrients back into the skin.
K-beauty 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.
Koreans are obsessed with hydration. They aim to make the skin look “Chok Chok" (which means bouncy and soft). When skin is properly hydrated and glowing, 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.
K-beauty 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 brightening. Although brightening products do not contain bleaches they do contain ingredients like niacinamide and glutathione, which even out skin tone and get rid of sunspots.
Ingredients and formulas
K-beauty 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 hyaluronic acid, licorice root extract and ginseng. While for Western quality comes first, medical and pharmaceutical tested ingredients and products are the hit there.
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.