SG knows all about K-beauty. So many of our favorite brands are derived from Korea, including Glow recipe, MISSHA, AMOREPACIFIC, Skinfood, COSRX, Innisfree, Dr. Jart+, Peach & Lily, Klairs, and Mamonde. And what do these brands all have in common, besides their popularity? They're undeniably effective, and that's because of Korea's long-held beauty philosophy.
Alicia Yoon, founder of Peach & Lily, went into the history of Korean skincare in this blog post: "Thousands of years ago, Korea was largely an agricultural society. Most everyone was outside under the harsh rays of the sun. Searching for ways to heal sun damage has since been embraced by Korean beauty. During these times, natural ingredients like camellia, mung bean, and rice were popular for the rich antioxidant benefits and hydrating properties, and they would be kept in small celadon tubs in tiny amounts as preservatives weren’t used as much back then...Then, in the 1940s and onward as Korea’s economy began to grow exponentially, the beauty companies that started the modern K-beauty movement (many are still around today) set up shop."
K-beauty products are designed for long-term results, and instead of making products that work for just about anybody, K-beauty is all about customization and finding the products that work for your unique skin type. Most importantly, the K-beauty aesthetic is focused on protection from the sun (in staunch opposition to the Western chase for the darkest tan possible), hydration, and overall health of your skin. They're also responsible for the phenomenon of layering (always from lightest to heaviest!) and the 10-step skincare routine.
Yet another element that sets it apart is it's strict regulation. The South Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) regulates standards and guidelines for beauty products through the Cosmetic Act, which began in July 2000 and has been amended 14 (!!!) times since. Cosmetics are divided into two categories: general cosmetics and functional cosmetics. Functional cosmetics (aka brightening, tightening, wrinkle removing, and sun protecting) are subject to more stringent evaluation than general cosmetics (aka makeup you wash off at the end of the day).
Lastly, there's a cultural element to skincare that gives K-beauty the upper hand. It's called "hallyu", a Chinese term that means "Korean wave," referring to the global popularity of South Korea's cultural economy in exporting pop culture, entertainment, music, TV and movies. In other words, whatever is popular in Korean culture is bound to spread across the world, and when it comes to their amazing beauty products, it's no wonder why.
We want to know about your favorite K-beauty products. Make your recommendations below!
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