My Love Affair with Korean Beauty Products

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The ultimate guide to Korean beauty products.

With clever campaigning and marketing, and packaging too cute for words, popularity of Korean beauty has skyrocketed over the last few years, with most of the products being the real deal when it comes to performance for both skincare and makeup.

Brands like IOPE, Erborian, CLIO, MISSHA, Son & Park, and so many more, it’s safe to say, Korean beauty products are here to stay.

Since Korean skincare brand Innisfree launched in Sydney in March 2019, I have been utterly obsessed with the concept of Korean beauty. From their naturally sourced ingredients, their ethos and how good my skin feels when using their products, every Korean beauty brand I have tried (including Innisfree) has left my skin feeling better.

According to Mintel, a Global Market Intelligence Agency, in 2018 the Korean beauty market is amongst the top ten in the world, with an estimated worth of over $13 billion in sales. Korean facial skin care products alone make up half of the total market share globally, with a projected reach of more than $7 billion by 2020 just for skin care.

Previously France and Japan were long considered the beauty leaders of the world. However, Korea caught up quickly die to their culture and evolutionary concepts in cosmetics.

In an interview with the BBC, Editor of the US-based Marie Clair Katie Thomas stated, “The fascination with Korean cosmetics is due to how innovative they are. Korea’s beauty industry is typically about 10-12 years ahead of the rest of the world.”

The history of Korean beauty goes back many centuries and is a great story, which explains their success and why their products are so popular.

Koreans have long believed that physical appearance was a way of reflecting the interior of a person. Men and women from Korean society always took pride to present themselves at their best, creating a unique culture which represents who they are in on the inside as well.

This dates as far back as 57BCE during the Three King era of Korea, which lasted more than seven hundred years. Cosmetic products played an important part in their culture and were often stored in lavish looking clay pots.

By the 19th Century, after many years of evolution in the beauty industry within Korea, where people began to take an even greater interest in personal care and physical appearance, foreign trade opened up new avenues ways for Korea to distribute signature beauty products across the globe.

Brands like The Face Shop, Innisfree, Sulwhasoo, Amore Pacific (also the founder of Innisfree), Skinfood and Dr Jart+ found a way into the Australian and global saturated beauty market, delivering high standard quality products which actually work.

Korean consumers are focused on prevention rather than cure, and prefer getting to the root of a skin problem before it develops into something concerning. This is the droving force behind some of the revolutionary skincare treatments coming out of Korea.

Starting before they are teens, at a young age and for both women and men, Koreans are taught about the foundations of having healthy and clear skin. From the food they eat, drinking plenty of water and of course skincare, and especially sunscreen.

Sunscreen from a young age is vital as it works as a preventative to premature skin ageing and having to deal with any UV associated skin issues later in life. Think prevention, not cure.

Korean culture is urban, sophisticated, and conservative and are generally at the forefront of most global trends, from food, fashion to beauty.

Some beauty trends coming out of Korea right now for 2020 include Peach & Lilly, made with well Peach ingredients. Cosrx Advanced Snail Peptide Serum. Yes, you heard correctly, snails are the latest thing to come out of Korea with the belief that snail secretion filtrate is an anti-ageing elixir.

These beliefs on staying up date with what’s new is what makes Korean skincare one of the best in the world and with most Korean beauty brands, their price point is so affordable, you could wash your mum’s car for pocket money and be able to use that money to buy at least four oR five Innisfree sheet masks.

Speaking of sheet masks, these were the core products by Innisfree which started my love affair with Korean beauty.

With a sheet mask for every day of the week and nearly there is literally a sheet mask for any type of skin concern you have. These are my favourite three K-beauty products I am using right now.

Sulwhasoo Gentle Cleansing Foam RRP $53

A little bit of luxury never went astray. Sulwhasoo uses ancient Asian medicinal herbs with advanced modern science to deliver a high quality product which delivers on outstanding results.

Although a foam-based cleanser, it works for any skin type as it uses nourishing botanical extracts which won’t try out the skin.

Dr. Jart + Cicapair Facial Calming Mist RRP $31

This hydrating and soothing calming mist designed for sensitive skin works wonders for inflammed skin, when you have breakouts and red spots (like when your shower in winter is way too hot – guilty!).

Made from the powerful Centella Asiatica Complex which is an antibacterial, antioxidant, anti-cancer agent and aids in the various processes of wound healing and skin irritations, this spray can also be used simply as a face mist when skin feels dry and flaky.

Innisfree Ginger Honey Cream RRP $39

My Top Pick:

This NEW face cream by Innisfree has been made with their Gi-ney™ Complex, a precious combination of Jeju canola oil and ginger, which helps protect skin that’s been weakened by harmful external stimuli and dryness.

I love the feel of this cream on my skin and it works wonders providing layering moisture and nutrition in the skin when used with their Ginger Honey Ampoule Skin Serum RRP $25.95

My journey with Korean skincare has taught me that skincare is about adopting a ten-step routine, it’s a ritual like producing art, based on a philosophy which can be applied to many aspects of art.

I am yet to travel to Korea, but I have heard from friends and family who have been there, that everything in Korea is cared for carefully, from public spaces to relationships – so it makes sense skin would be treated the same way, with the same respect.

Innovations in Korean cosmetics have captured the world’s attention, and I have no doubt they will continue to successfully dominate the beauty industry in many countries for many years to come.

My Favourite Beauty Product of the Week:

Biologi BQk Face Serum Radiance AM and PM Serum RRP $138

I love using face serums, but often I struggle to find the right serum for AM and PM, as many deliver different results and work to resolve varying skin concerns which focus on either protecting your skin in the day or repairing your skin at night.

The natural ingredients used in Biologi products are expertly chosen for their unique transformative effects which are loaded with active phyto nutrients which work hard to nourish, protect and defend skin cells, just as they do in their original botanical state.

Biologi have made things real easy with this set. The PM serum contains Quandong extract which is a potent antioxidant and plays a vital role in reducing pigmentation and redness helping to prevent the formation of further pigmentations from previous skin issues.

With both serums being water soluble, they absorb fast into the skin and can be easily worn with any other product.

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Rebecca Wilkinson

CONTRIBUTOR

Say hello to Bondi Beauty's Beauty Columnist. Rebecca is a pescatarian, who may yet become vegan. She loves all things beauty, health & travel with a weakness for coffee. If she's not answering her mobile - it's probably because she's trying out the latest beauty craze like ice baths or rubbing smashed avo on her face. We know, what a waste of smashed avo. Reach out to her with your beauty questions.

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