In the last few years a great interest in K-Beauty (that means everything related to the Korean beauty universe) is consistently growing. Its innovativeness, its packaging care and the singularity of Asian products tickles the consumer imagination, who finds himself buying the strangest products often asking himself "What is it?" And "Why is it so odd?" To be fair, Asian products are different from European products because they are born and developed following a different audience needs and cultural background. To make it easier for our customers to choose and understand Korean products, we at Glamourflare decided to tell you about some differences between Korean and Western beauty, explaining why some choices have been made. Ready? Let’s go!
The very first thing that catches your eye when looking at a Korean advertisement is a great emphasis on the skin. A natural (or even none) makeup emphasises a very clear, bright skin without any blemish. Moreover, it is shiny, as “glass skin” has always been a trend in Korea. Koreans tend to adore the sheen, as a symbol of nobility. In the ancient times the peasants, working under the sun, had tanned skin. The nobles, locked
in their palaces, had a very fair skin not tarnished by the sun. For this reason, bright skin is still associated with positive values, nobility and wealth and for this reason it is preferred to a dark complexion. That explains why there are a very few soft colours among makeup products, and because they are all quite pale.
This fair skin obsession has led the Korean women to follow a well-known trick, followed by all Korean makeup artists - to apply a pink pearlescent or violet base, so that the primer can lighten the skin and make it look brighter. Subsequently, a foundation of a two lower tones from your natural skin is applied, creating a visible gap between the neck and the face. Traveling on the Seoul metro it is easy to see how this trend is not just limited to the models on the adverts, but it is something real; many Korean girls wear make-up with very clear foundation colours, in order to obtain a quite pale skin. Although in Korea the trend is called "Pure Skin", in Europe or in other countries we would identify it with the rather negative practice of doing a "white washing".
This type of obsession has led the cosmetic industry to different outcomes. A first one is to create the so called "brightening" or "whitening" products. There are skincare lines designed to progressively lighten the skin and perfect the complexion, eliminating dark spots, freckles, scars and even clearing their tone. The most common whitening ingredient is the adenosine, followed by licorice extract. The introduction of whitening ingredients in cosmetics initially designed for other uses - both skincare and makeup - brings the obsession for Korean products to the next level and beyond!
Another huge consequence is the very high number of sunscreens on the market. Whether in Europe sunscreen brands are relatively few, Korea and Asian countries in general are the owners of the sunscreen business. Creams are produced in every type of package: compact, spray, creamy, liquid, stick ... and of course, they are made for every type of skin. In Westerner countries though, sunscreen is a pharmaceutical and not a cosmetic product. We do not use sunscreen to preserve our idea of ‘pure skin’ and to keep it fair, we do use it just to protect the skin and prevent diseases caused by excessive sun exposure, along with prevention of possible aesthetic damages. In Korea, however, the first reason why Koreans wear sunscreen is for aesthetic purposes, basically to not have their skin tanned, whereas protection is only a secondary matter.
Today we have thoroughly talked about the reasons why Koreans are obsessed with fair skin. Stay tuned and follow our blog, as in the next articles we are going to talk about "glass skin" and differences between Korean and European makeup.