What to Expect From Korean Cosmetics

Etude House "Kiss Note" Sandara and SHINee Advertisement 
Since I am doing more reviews and posts about Korean skin care and makeup, I wanted to write a quick post to explain the basics of Korean Cosmetics. Why? Because if you understand what the ideal for skin and makeup is for the country, you can know what to expect from the majority of products from that country. (For example, in the US we want lightly tanned skin, smokey and bold eyes, and a smooth, wrinkle-free face. So most products are tailored to give you that.)

So let's go over what the "ideal" is in South Korea!
(Note: I am not suggesting in any way that you need to look like this, or that if you don't you are "ugly", but I am merely showing you the ideal so that you know what you will be getting from their products.)

- Bright and Whitened Skin. To be tan in South Korea is a bit taboo, and you will never find tanning salons all over the place as you would in North America. Most of their fashion is covering the arms and upper torso to help prevent tanning (among other things). Most of the products you see will work as a sunscreen, a skin whitener, and a tone evener.  
I really love this aspect of the cosmetics because I have very fair skin, and so dark spots show very easily, and I also tan and burn easily. You don't need to have a light skin tone to use these products, and they will not bleach your skin like Michael Jackson. They will "brighten" your skin, by making it more even, less likely to tan and age, and will help heal scars or dark spots on your skin.

If you have darker skin, you are pretty much only limited when it comes to BB Cream. (And I personally think that dark skin is GORGEOUS, and that you don't need it anyways!) You can still use all of the Skin Care products, and makeup (if you are careful with the colors you choose, obviously, just like everyone needs to be), so don't worry too much or think that Korean Products are not for you!

- Glossy Skin. While most of the products you may be used to are meant for covering up "shiny spots", and giving your skin a matte look, it's not usually the same for Korean products. The ideal is a kind of glossy skin, like a natural glow. This actually looks very beautiful, once you get used to it that is, and not like they have oily skin. Most of the skin care is meant to help your skin have that natural sheen, and the BB Cream tends to have a glossy finish (though you can buy it either way).
Also, most of the powders and highlighters have a slight sparkle or sheen to them, so that your skin looks a bright or glossy, even with powder on. Though they don't say that they have sparkles in them, most of them do, in the metallic sparkle way.
I like this aspect because it gives a more natural look to your skin, and not an "I am clearly wearing foundation and makeup" look.

- Smooth and Firm Skin. Although you mainly find this in creams and cleansers, a lot of the face makeup is also supposed to do this. In the descriptions you will mainly find things like, "Firms and brightens skin, leaving it soft and smooth!" Most products will have ingredients to tighten pores, remove dead skin, and help firm and moisturize your skin. Things like creams, scrubs, and peels are very popular. There are a lot of "skin repair" products to help with dry, tired, skin. Most of the products to help with these things are natural, but not all of them, so read over the ingredients carefully. (I personally only like the more natural products)
I have the dry/combination skin type, so I love having products to help me smooth out my skin and remove dead skin, while still keeping it moist.

- Bright Colors for Makeup. When you look at "color makeup", pretty much anything that is not BB Cream or Foundation, you will tend to see shimmery and bright colors. I never saw orange lipstick before looking at Korean lipstick, but they have it in every shade and brand! Not all makeup is like this, they will also have smokey eyes and more mature colored makeup at times, but that's the more edgy look and it's not as popular. Bright colors are more casual, and help to keep you looking away and compliment lighter and glossier skin. So you will find coral, pink, and orange for most of the lipstick colors. Blush is a lighter shade to compliment your skin and not look over done. And eyeshadows will be in bright shades like orange, yellow, green, pink, purple, and light blue.
Like I said, this is not always the case, but it is the majority. I really like brighter colors because I look tired when I try to wear darker eyeshadows, and I love the combination of orange and lighter colors to bring out my eyes.

- Quality Over Quantity. Most of the products are in petite, little, containers and are very potent. The marketing in South Korea is amazing, and every product is designed to look adorable, to be small and
to be able to travel with you throughout the day. Because of this you need very small amounts of products, so a small container is normal. I know that, as an American, I want everything to be huge! I want to feel like I'm getting a bargain, and so family sized shampoos and large bottles of foundations were what I looked for. When I got my first order of Korean Products I thought, "They are so cute, but this will not last me long at all!" But their idea is "Why make a clunky bottle that you need to use a lot of, when we can make a small and cute product that you need very little of?" (Also, there is so little space in countries like South Korea and Japan, that they need smaller products to be able to fit them in their house and makeup bags.)
I have read about a small bottle of face wash that, when washing twice a day, lasted half a year! It's mind boggling to me that I could use a tiny amount of something and it covers my entire face and last for months! So, yes, things will look small or seem expensive, but they will last for such a long time that it is worth it! And all of the adorable packaging is so fun! (Tonymoly is the best brand for cute items, by the way.)
I love getting a lot out of a small package, so this is a big bonus to me! I need all the space I can get!


Those are some of the basics. The other things would be that a "V-Shaped" jaw line is the ideal, so there are highlighters to bring out jaw structure, but that kind of product is more worldwide.

Another thing is Natural Ingredients and Treatments.
I know that in The States we say this, but we do not take is as far or nearly as seriously as Korea does! We add some Shea Butter and Aloe and think we are like flower children living off the land! But the list of vitamins, minerals, oils, as well as fruit and vegetable extracts can go on for miles in their products! Things that we do not even consider for adding into products, they add in large quantities! Some things I would never expect, some things I have never even heard of (like nuts and fruits only found in Asia), and some weird things like snail extract! But knowing that your product is made from all of those things really helps you feel good about your choices, and you can feel the difference between artificial chemicals and natural extracts! The products do the same thing, but most of the AHA or Collagen is found naturally in different extracts.

And that is by far my favorite part about their products! I have sensitive skin, and buying natural products means that I do not need to worry about break outs or harmful chemicals!

My second favorite part, after the quality and healthy aspect, is that the products are always very beautiful looking-and by that I mean the packaging and containers! I mean, why have ugly bottles of makeup as a girl? Your makeup case should be as pretty as the makeup itself! And being able to feel playful and like a girl is a great feeling for me! I have more fun with my skin products and makeup this way!

I hope that this helps you know a bit more about what products you are buying when you look at Korean Cosmetics! These are by far my favorite skin products that I have ever used, and that I will continue to use!

Continue to read my blog for reviews and updates on specific products, and leave any questions in the comments!

See you next time you jump down the Rabbit hole,
-C.A.M.