Watching your mother put on her night cream as a child is a fond memory many have. Skin care has always been an old woman who desires to be young forever thing, and, even as a teenager with countless pimples, it just doesn’t seem like a thing for a young age. At most, cleaning your face with a soap bar will do.
However, with massive internet access and worldwide reach there is a new skin care culture growing among the younger population. In the past years Korean skin care has taken over the internet, gaining the attention of huge fashion magazines like Vogue, Cosmopolitan and People Style, and it has taken the Western world by surprise.
“I had seen K-beauty popping up around the internet for the past couple of years but didn’t pay too much attention to it,” commented Reddit user GlycosidicBond, who is part of the ‘Asian Beauty’ community on the popular forums website, Reddit, “Ended up buying Son and Park beauty water and immediately noticed redness in my skin going down. I hadn’t looked at my skin and ever been so impressed. And down the rabbit hole I fell.”
Korean beauty is a part of what is known as the Hallyu Wave (한류) which is the name given to the phenomenon of Korean entertainment spreading throughout the world. Along with skin care, Korean makeup, music, and TV dramas are all part of the wave, and are all connected.
“With Kpop,” said user Luna_182, who was one of many whom were influenced by Kpop, “I knew about Korean makeup, that made me look for cushions on YouTube and I found Meejmuse’s channel, and with her I totally got into Korean Skincare.”
There is some essential differences between Korean routines, and “Western” routines: the steps and the ingredients.
Korean skin care routines often have 5 or more steps, depending on the individual. There is minimalists routines, that use only two cleansing steps and a hidrating step, or full blown routines that can have two cleansing steps, exfoliation, serums, acids and essenses, as well as several hidration steps.
Ingredient wise Korean products are well known for using what we might think as strange and unconventional ingredients, such as snail slime, animal fat, placenta, and fermented plants. It all can be very intimidating for someone new, but there is plenty of forums and communities in the internet to help someone start their journey.
The ‘Asian Beauty’ community of Reddit has over 80,000 subscribers, and posts ranging from product recommendations, makeup swatches and skin care progress pictures. Reddit is not the only source of information for this trend, however, the well-known blogs Snow White and the Asian Pear and Fifty Shades of Snail are both hallmarks for anyone starting to get into Korean skin care.
Both blogs are run by one administrator respectively who started posting to keep track of their own skin care routine and new products they tried, “The purpose of my blog is to provide in-depth reviews with proven ingredients of scientific merit or interest, compelling or intriguing ingredients, guides to acquiring products, primarily from Asia with a focus on Korea, Japan, and Taiwan,” explains the owner of ‘Snow White and the Asian Pear’.
Both blogs function essentially the same: on them users can find product reviews, guides on how to start a Korean-based skin care routine, and what products might work for a certain skin type.
Although originating from South Korea and much of the community is based on the internet, there is more ways than just the internet to get Korean skin care products: in New York City’s Koreatown famous brands, such as Tony Moly, Nature Republic, and The Face Shop, are opening their doors to the Western public.
The trend has become such that not only are Korean originated brands are opening: Besfren Beauty is a New York based Korean skin care and makeup store with location in both Flushing and Koreatown.
The first location opened in Flushing in 2012, and three years later the next location, in Koreatown (315 5th Avenue), opened next to the Besfren Café, where customers can buy ginseng based skin care products, as well as Korean pastries, and coffee.
(The images are not uploading because of large files, here is a link to the photographs: https://docs.google.com/presentation/d/1YdoVI2kE3Db5Eosy0CiQNQk8D1qv-cGgYjy3MtRvMrw/edit?usp=sharing)
The aisles of Besfren Beauty are covered by face masks, makeup cushions, serums and other skin care and makeup products. Although most the products are Korean, there is also some Japanese shampoos and conditioners.
The 5th Avenue location is close enough to the Empire State Building, so many tourists pass by with curiosity. One of the workers there says although many non-Asian tourists pass by, it’s mainly young Americans, both Korean and of other ethnicities, that tend to buy products. Face masks, she tells me, are the most popular.
With growing popularity overtaking the internet, Korean skin care seems to have nothing but bright days ahead of itself. The Reddit community only grows bigger and more and more physical stores are popping up around the city and around the country.