The Korea Herald


Makeup trends start here

By Park Min-young

Published : May 20, 2011 - 19:27

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‘Korean chic’ gains attention overseas via YouTube and makeup brands

With Girl’s Generation’s bubbly song “Snowy Wish” running in the background, a Thai girl with the YouTube ID onnbaby demonstrates how to pull off the “Korean flawless look.”

“I have seen lots of people doing Korean makeup styles and yes, I am now doing one of them too!” she says.

The basic steps she points out are ― one, clean and glowing flawless skin; two, thick, straight (or triangular) brows; three, minimum or no eye shadow and four, natural lip color.

The cosmetic brands she flashes in front of the camera before applying them are mostly low and mid-priced South Korean brands like The Face Shop, Etude House, or Holika Holika which are popular among teenage girls and women in their early 20s.

As hallyu, or the Korean Wave, sweeps across Asia and even some parts of the Americas and Europe, admirers of Korean actresses or singers are growing in number all over the world. Girls, especially, seem hooked on the Korean look.

Thousands of posts appear on YouTube when one types in “Korean Beauty,” “Korean Makeup” or “Korean Skincare.” Like onnbaby, girls from all over the world are sitting in front of their cameras with brushes and powders, demonstrating how to apply makeup like Korean celebrities. 
A Vietnamese girl demonstrates how to do a “Korean eyebag look” in her YouTube post. (Captured from YouTube) A Vietnamese girl demonstrates how to do a “Korean eyebag look” in her YouTube post. (Captured from YouTube)

Some specify their role models by posting tutorials like “Kim Yuna Monolid Natural Korean Makeup,” “How to do Goo Hara’s Eye Makeup (From Kara)” or “How to Do Taeyeon’s Natural Eye Makeup (From SNSD).” Popular videos have attracted well over 600,000 views each.

“Korean models and actresses always have perfect looking skin which looks like they are not wearing much makeup,” said a half French and half Filipino girl with the ID Vanity Makeup, who put up a video “Natural Korean Makeup Tutorial.”

“Korean women like delicate and effortless makeup so others cannot really recognize if you are even wearing any. They prefer feminine and bright colors instead of dark and passionate ones. Such makeup trends and products that enable them are spreading out to the world, first to Asian countries and now to America and Europe. Following ‘Hollywood style’ and ‘French chic,’ we can say that now ‘Korean chic’ is gaining popularity,” said Byeon Myeong-suk, principal makeup artist at MAC Korea.

‘B.B. cream’ excites women from all over

A blond haired U.S. girl named Marisa received so many questions about “B.B. cream” after she posted her tutorial footage “The Korean Beauty Secrets” on YouTube that she had to make a video about it.

Calling the cream “Korea’s secret magic makeup” and “the ultimate makeup product,” she explains that it is “basically a replacement for makeup base, foundation, moisturizer, SPF, whitening cream, anti-wrinkle product.”

“I have been using B.B. cream for over a year and my skin has gotten clearer and is less irritable when I use B.B. cream in place of my foundation and concealer. It also gives a fresh, dewy look to your skin. I really think a lot of people would benefit from using it!” she said.

Short for Blemish Balm, B.B. cream was originally recommended by dermatologists for patients who underwent treatment or laser therapy to soothe, protect and help regenerate irritated skin.

But Korean cosmetic brands picked it up several years ago and commercialized it, adding more functions to it that Korean women are fond of, like skin whitening and sun protection. They have become some of the best selling cosmetic products here ever since.

Apparently, B.B. creams have recently caught the eyes of non-Korean women as well. Global makeup brands are following the trend.

MAC is planning to sell its B.B. cream “Prep+Prime Beauty Balm” in department stores all over the world including Korea within the first half this year. The product is currently only available in duty free shops in Asian countries and in the U.S.

Bobby Brown launched its own B.B. cream for duty free shops as well, targeting Asia, in April. Bobby Brown made three different color types. The products will be on sale in department stores from July.

“B.B. creams were popular previously because they were simple and economic. But as products that have more functions were launched, it formed about a $60 million to $70 million market in Korea and is now influencing the overall Asian market” said Sebastian Tardif, Director of Artistry for Bobbi Brown Asia in an interview during his visit to Korea in February.

Korean cosmetic brands expand overseas

It is not just the “magical” cream that is gaining attention overseas.

After some paparazzi photos of actress Sienna Miller coming out of the Amore Pacific Beauty Gallery & Spa in SOHO, New York, carrying big Amore Pacific shopping bags were published, the high-end Korean cosmetic brand came under spotlight. Extra, an entertainment news program on WNBC, also introduced the brand’s best seller “Time Response Skin Renewal Cream,” as “the Rolls Royce of anti-aging creams.” 
A customer tries out a cream at the Amore Pacific counter in Bergdorf Goodman department store in New York, U.S. (Amore Pacific) A customer tries out a cream at the Amore Pacific counter in Bergdorf Goodman department store in New York, U.S. (Amore Pacific)

Starting with its New York flagship store which opened in 2003, Amore Pacific opened shops in a Bergdorf Goodman department store, in 27 Neiman Marcus department stores and in 97 Sephoras in the U.S., and in nine different department stores in Japan.

Sulwhasoo, a high-end Korean cosmetic brand which uses medicinal herbs such as Korean ginseng as the key ingredient, is especially popular in Hong Kong and mainland China.

The brand has six stores and one Sulwhasoo Spa in Hong Kong, including one on the posh Canton road. It opened a shop in Parkson Department Store in Beijing in March and is planning to open about eight more in Beijing and Shanghai. The brand also has a shop in New York.

“All six shops in Hong Kong show about 40 percent growth in sales every year,” said a Sulwhasoo PR official.

Sulwhasoo products were given as presents to the first ladies who visited Korea during the G20 Seoul Summit last year and also to the wives of the participants who were here this week for the G20 Seoul Speakers’ Consultation.

Low-priced Korean cosmetic brands have been advancing into other countries since around 2004 as well. Now, the local cosmetic industry estimates that there are over 2,000 overseas shops of low-priced Korean cosmetic brands like MISSHA, The Face Shop, Etude House, Skin Food, Banila Co., Beauty Credit, Tony Moly and It’s Skin.

MISSHA has the most overseas shops ― it started with four in Sydney, Australia in 2004 and now has about 500 all over Southeast Asia, South and North America, Middle East and Europe.

The Face Shop started its overseas shops in Singapore in 2004. Now it has more than 300 shops in 17 countries, including the U.S., Japan and China. Its overseas sales are increasing year after year ― from 19 billion won in 2009 to 27.3 billion won last year, a 40 percent growth.

Global cosmetic brands eye Korea

Recognizing the increasing attention on Korea’s makeup style, top global cosmetic brands are launching products that target the Asian market.

Bobby Brown launched 10 new lipsticks this month, named “Creamy Lip Color,” made especially for Asian women. The colors include Pink Glow, Sunrise Pink, Pale Petal, Hibiscus and Tiger Lily. 
Bobby Brown’s “Creamy Lip Color” lipsticks are made especially for Asian women. (Bobby Brown) Bobby Brown’s “Creamy Lip Color” lipsticks are made especially for Asian women. (Bobby Brown)

“Creamy Lip Color is creamy in terms of texture and wearable in terms of colors, just the way Korean women like it. It has various colors from coral, a steady seller for the Korean market, to nude-color which goes well with smoky eye makeup,” said a Bobby Brown PR official.

MAC Korea put in a special request to the brand’s headquarters to include four special colors ― “Behave Yourself,” a light blue-pink color; “Gotta Dash,” a pale coral color; “Full Speed,” a bright yellow-pink color and “Insanely It,” a watermelon pink color ― that would suit Korean customers in the March line up of “Sheen Supreme Lipstick.”

In February, the brand also launched “Studio Fix Fluid Foundation No. 18” which was custom-made to compliment Korean women’s skin tone.

“In case of cosmetics, market researches showed that what products Korean women use changes the dynamics of world’s cosmetic industry,” said Laurence Parisot, head of MEDEF, an association of French enterprises, at a meeting of Korean and French business leaders held in Paris on May 13.

By Park Min-young  (