Many of us assume South Korea came to the fore of the international beauty industry when they introduced and popularized the now-ubiquitous BB cream. The year was 2011 and no one realized that this South Korean debut was just the beginning of a whole new, world-sweeping, trend-setting beauty routine called K-Beauty, also known as the 10-step Korean Skin Care Routine.

Now leading the way in skin care innovations and makeup websites, South Korea is at the forefront of the best skin care brands and best skin care products out there. While the Korean government has helped fund research and marketing efforts of local companies, the K-Beauty revolution has more to do with how Koreans have viewed beauty and skin care for centuries than anything else.

Korean Beauty History & Culture - Explained

So, how did K-Beauty start?

The rich, amazing beauty legacy of Korea goes back centuries, even thousands of years when Korea was a largely agricultural society. People worked outside in the fields and experienced the damaging effects of the sun firsthand. They looked for ways to protect themselves from the sun as well as to reverse the damage that was already caused.

Over time, as class difference was a big thing back then, tanned skin came to mean low class and porcelain-like untanned skin came to denote upper classes – unlike today where tanned skin shows just having come from the beach or a nice vacation.

Regardless of class or vocation, all Koreans learned to protect their skin from a young age. Children knew they should moisturize their skin; it was as natural as washing the hands when coming home from the outside.

Reliance on natural ingredients

The best Korean skin care products of the time included natural ingredients such as camellia, mung beans, and rice. Many formulas were prepared at home or by specialists if one could afford to hire one, and kept in small jars.

In the 1940s, as the beauty industry developed all around the world, Koreans too began establishing local beauty companies, incorporating centuries-old knowledge about ingredients and skin care practices. As Koreans prized moisture, SPF, and natural ingredients, local companies focused their efforts in meeting these demands.

Today, Korean face products include many pioneering ingredients such as snails, pig collagen, bee venom, or starfish extract. These may sound strange to Western ears but if they work, then hey, why not!?

The future of K-Beauty

K-Beauty is experiencing unparalleled popularity today both in Asia and in the West. With so much innovation and reliance on natural ingredients, we believe K-Beauty is here to stay. Beauty enthusiasts all over the world enjoy new, unique ingredients as well as innovations such as serums, essences, and whatever else Korean skin care pioneers might come up with.

Best Korean skin care products

To find the best Korean beauty products, look up local Korean brands. Instead of opting for brands that use exaggerated marketing, pick those that make less noise, use natural ingredients, and list each and every ingredient for you to see – whether you’re buying a cleanser, a serum, or a mask.

To find the best Korean sheet mask or the best Korean moisturizer, simply try different brands – Koreans go for products, instead of brands. Their cabinets feature many brands and formulas – that is their key to finding what works best for their skin. You can do the same, too! Have fun as you explore different products.