Get ready for flawless skin with the 15 hottest Korean beauty trends this year, including Korean skin care and makeup trends from top brands.
Who doesn’t love Korean beauty products? These amazing wonders are beloved for their unique, albeit sometimes bizarre, ingredients — snail secretion, anyone? — and fun, eye-catching packaging. The fact that they make you look and feel fabulous is just the icing on the cake.
K-beauty products have been fast gaining steam in North America, with popular beauty supply stores like Ulta and Sephora devoting entire aisles to the stuff, and there’s no indication that the craze will slow anytime soon.
Here are the top 15 Korean beauty trends we predict are most likely to take off this year.
1. Egg Whites
The protein- and collagen-rich white stuff that comes from eggs has long been used as a beauty elixir in South Korea, but it’s only now gaining popularity in the American market.
As demonstrated by products like Egg Mousse Soap and Egg Mellow Cream by NYC-based K-beauty purveyor Too Cool for School, there are very few beauty products that can’t be enriched with egg whites. Korean beauty brands are enhancing BB creams, serums, sheet masks and more with the white, eggy stuff in order to help smooth skin and reduce the appearance of wrinkles and fine lines. We’ll have ours with an extra serving of toast, please.
2. Filter Creams
Soko Glam Founder Charlotte Cho is no stranger to the hottest K-beauty trends out there, running one of the top Korean beauty websites. Cho emphasizes the power of the filter cream, which can be used as a regular moisturizer and a concealer in one.
Naturally, these Korean skin care boosters are fortified with a variety of the most popular Korean skin care ingredients: pearl extracts, egg whites and snail secretion among them. Try out Any Cushion Cream by Seoul-based Etude House to see just how these beautifying wonders can transform your skin care routine. This version comes in several skin tones for the perfect fit.
3. Pearl Extract
You’ve seen gold-flaked skin care, and have probably even dabbled in copper-enhanced formulas to enrich the skin, but now it’s all about another precious material: pearls.
Pearl extract has been used in anti-aging and anti-acne skin care solutions for ages, with Korean women swearing by its healing power. Pearls are a rich source of antioxidants and amino acids, which help repair skin damage at the cellular level, so they’re a popular choice for many anti-aging elixirs. Oh, and the pearlescent glow of the gorgeous pearl helps give the skin a subtle sheen.
4. Ombré Lips
If you’re a big follower of Korean makeup trends, then this one will come as no surprise to you. K-beauty bloggers and Instagram celebs are all over the ombré lip, using Two-Tone Lipstick by Laneige and lipstick powder — another super-popular wonder that came straight from the Korean beauty industry — to create a striking contrast.
Despite its two-toned appeal, the ombré lip isn’t meant to be dramatic. Using natural shades, Korean beauty pros create a natural look that moves from a gradual, deep color at the center to a lighter hue towards the edges of the lips.
5. Tremella Mushrooms
Tremella mushrooms may be a fungus, but that doesn’t mean they can’t do wonders for your skin. This all-natural ingredient is beloved for its ability to provide skin with deep, hydrating benefits while giving it a big-time antioxidant boost.
These ‘shrooms have been used in Chinese medicine and beauty products for over a century, but they’re only now gaining traction among American beauty fiends. You can find tremella mushrooms in popular K-beauty formulas like Earth’s Recipe Moisture Bound Cream and Dual Hydrating Liposome Essence, which both use all-natural tremella mushroom extract.
Because, let’s face it, one cleanser is never enough. Double cleansing is a long-time K-beauty secret, which simply means washing the face twice. Also known as “single-double cleansers” these facial essentials pack the power of two cleansers into one. For example, Neogen Milk-to-Foam Pure Mild Cleanser — fortified with coconut oil and other natural oils to soften, brighten and hydrate the skin — promises to be the last double-cleanser you’ll ever buy.
Why do you need a double-cleanser, you ask? It all comes down to doubling-down on antiseptic properties to keep your pores clear, and then fortifying the skin with an extra dose of hydration.
7. Scalp Care Products
If you want the sleek, luscious locks of your favorite Korean stars and models, then you’ve got to shampoo like the Koreans shampoo, and don’t forget the essential oils. K-beauty hair products differ from American ones in that they first treat the scalp, which can lead to more luxurious, softer strands.
From a hair mask fortified with green tea to actual scalp massagers that help stimulate the scalp and give you a deeper cleanse, there’s no industry more scalp-centric than K-beauty.
8. K-Beauty Ingredients Go Global
Even time-tested beauty brands like Boscia are turning to K-beauty ingredients to help make their products more appealing to the masses. Example: UK-based Dr. Organic’s obsession with snail cream anti-aging products.
According to K-beauty experts Peach and Lily, all the major American beauty retailers — including CVS, Target and Nordstrom — offer a large collection of Korean beauty staples from which to choose. Expect to see even the most unconventional K-beauty ingredients on your favorite retailer’s shelves in the near future.
9. Cleansing Sticks
The Korean cleansing stick is just one more testament to K-beauty’s obsession with clean, pure skin. And what is a facial cleansing stick, you ask? These tiny wonders are simply solid facial soaps that come in swiveling tubes so you can easily apply them to your problem areas or use them to transform the entirety of your face.
Once you get the facial soap wet, it melts into a creamy, foamy consistency. Use these cleansers to double-down on treating acne blemishes, dry patches and the oily T-zone.
Everybody knows that bees produce byproducts that are excellent for the skin, including honey, which acts as a natural humectant to seal in moisture. But these buzzing bugs also produce a K-beauty ingredient called propolis — a mixture consisting of beeswax and saliva — that can super-beautify the skin.
Seoul-based beauty brands have long been using propolis to help seal in moisture and soothe damaged skin, and now American brands are jumping on the bandwagon as well. For example: Farmacy Honey Drop and J. One’s Black Jelly Pack.
11. Animal-Themed Packaging
If you’ve ever taken a stroll through the K-beauty aisle at your favorite beauty retailer, you’ve probably noticed colorful packaging adorned with sweet graphics and eye-catching fonts. But this year, it’s all about the lovable bunnies, pandas and otherwise animalistic packaging designs coming straight out of Seoul.
To see what we mean, just check out the latest collections by Tony Moly, a South Korean cosmetics brand whose name literally translates to “putting style into packaging.” Tony Moly makes the cutest-ever panda- and bunny-themed cosmetics and cushion compacts that’ll cheer up even the most tired and drab beauty routine.
12. Cool, Calm Ingredients
K-beauty is so hot, it had to cool itself down. So much so that it has started infusing its products with chilling ingredients that are not only designed to give you an instant boost of immediate cool, but also work to pacify inflamed, red and damaged skin.
You’ve probably heard of keeping your Korean beauty masks in the fridge for a cooling effect, but you can skip this step if you buy products infused with additives like aloe vera, green tea, ginseng and eucalyptus.
13. Pressed Serum
Ideal for those scenarios where a regular serum just won’t do, the pressed serum does double-duty with a two-in-one approach. These best-selling anti-aging serums are fortified with both serums and moisturizers in one, so you can simplify your beauty routine and get the most out of a single product.
Pressed serums are unique in that they tend to be a thick, spongy, jelly-like texture and need to be deeply massaged into the skin. Tundra Chaga Pressed Serum by Blithe is recommended by many of the top K-beauty retailers, including Glow Recipe.
14. Double Masks
Have you noticed a greater trend in our list of K-beauty trends? It’s all about doubling up. The double mask technique requires layering two or three of your favorite K-beauty masks at the same time. It may look kind of silly, but it’s actually a great way to customize your skincare routine so you get the exact formula for your specific skin issues.
You can double-layer your beauty sheet masks and creams, but you’ll get the best results if you start with a moisturizing cream mask or serum beneath and then finish it off with a sheet mask as the top layer.
15. Facial Mists
The now ubiquitous $18 Evian Facial Spray has its roots in K-beauty. But Korean facial mists are a bit more complex, according to Glamour. These spritzes are super-popular in the K-beauty community because they work to hydrate the skin, set makeup, nourish damage and cool down skin at the same time.
Get it all with Ariul Berry Vital Recharging Gel Mist or Lotus Leaf and Camellia Mist from The Lotus. Toss a travel-sized facial mist in your bag while you’re on the go to keep your makeup fresh and your skin glowing!