K-Beauty-- Fast Fad or Here to Stay?

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In the aftermath of heavy contour and full-glam, you may have noticed that the beauty world is currently experiencing its own counter-culture. What has emerged is a shining starlet: K-Beauty. The beauty industry in South Korea has been known for its innovative makeup and life-changing skincare regimens--seriously--and I (as well as the rest of the world) am living for it.


K-Beauty only began its international ascension in the past decade but its reach has been astronomical. Remember when BB Cream became an alternative for foundation in 2011? You can thank SoKo (South Korean) beauty for that. The blotted lip? Dewy skin? K-Beauty. I know. It’s amazing. Bask in the fresh light it has brought to your life. Through viral videos boasting foaming face masks and color-changing lipsticks, K-Beauty has not only proven itself to be on the cutting edge of the beauty world but it is now what American and European brands look to when they want to be “on trend.”

So many fad-hungry brands like Colourpop and Glossier have begun to create clear copy-cat products--check out Colourpop’s “ultra-blotted lip” and almost anything off Glossier’s website; from the subtle lipsticks and blushes to the natural skin tints to a dewy, shimmery highlight replacing the intense glow that the beauty industry has been obsessed with in years past.

So now you’re thinking: how have actual K-Beauty brands landed in the U.S. and other worldwide markets? The answer is simple: social media and quality products that work. I spoke to makeup artist and owner of the Newbury Street Asian and European cosmetics shop, Felicia’s Cosmetics, Felicia Kim. When asked about the international longevity of K-Beauty,  she said,

“Korean beauty has the power to last because these companies work hard to produce the best new beauty products for worldwide consumers. These products don’t have chemicals and artificial fragrances in them. Instead, they use unique and pure ingredients that balance instantly and make skin feel comfortable and healthy. It’s also gentle enough for any age group.”

The age of the beauty guru is in full swing at the moment, and Facebook and Instagram ads are always suggesting new beauty products. I remember seeing Memebox, (pronounced “Me-me-box” a Korean beauty company now based in San Francisco) in 2015 via Facebook. As time passed more and more of the entertaining reviews on viral products such as a peel-off lip stain and a super-satisfying charcoal peel-off face mask, peppered their way onto my timeline. This tactic makes SoKo beauty incredibly accessible to an international market.

Mega-makeup retailers like Sephora and Ulta and department stores like Nordstrom have taken notice of the innovative products and started selling high-end K-Beauty and skincare brands such as Sulwhasoo and AmorePacific. Ulta has collaborated with Memebox for a more moderately-priced collection featuring masks such as “Disco Kitten” a diamond peel-off that claims to “illuminate” the face.

The beauty of K-Beauty is its simplicity with a twist. They use the best of natural ingredients and turn them into something entertaining. It's a reminder that makeup is an art and skin-care is the basis of a makeup routine.

Photography by: Maddie Douglas