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K-Beauty 101 – Introduction to Korean Cosmetics

Introduction to K-Beauty

Korean cosmetics, K-Beauty, has achieved high popularity around the world in a short time. We at Bearel started to sell Korean cosmetics in 2016 when only a few in Finland had heard about K-Beauty. Now Korean cosmetics are available even in grocery stores and specialized stores across Europe. Korean cosmetics are more popular than ever. From this page, you can read our comprehensive introduction to Korean cosmetics. We hope that also you will find your new favourite products from our wide product selection.


What is K-Beauty?

In a nutshell, Korean cosmetics are quality products at a reasonable price. Korean cosmetic manufacturers use natural ingredients and combine the advanced technology of South Korea in their product development. The ingredient lists in Korean cosmetics are often long because the developers want to include as many active ingredients and as little filler ingredients as possible. Korean beauty products are often moisturizing and they protect the skin without being too heavy or pore-clogging.

If we go back in history, the roots of Korean cosmetics go back to the 13th century. Korean people used apricot oil and peach oil to fade out dark spots and freckles. The modernization of Korean cosmetics started in 1960 when South Korea banned the sales of foreign brands in the country. This led to enormous growth in South Korea’s cosmetic industry. Now South Korea is one of the pioneers in the cosmetics industry and other countries take inspiration from Korean innovations.

introduction to korean cosmetics

Why should I try Korean cosmetics?

Korean cosmetics offer a great quality-price ratio. For example, the products might include up to 50% of collagen or 40% of hyaluronic acid while similar Western products include only a few percents of these good ingredients. The ingredients used in Korean skincare products are often something that in Western products are found only from expensive, selective cosmetics.

Korean skincare products also include effective high-quality ingredients that are not used in Western cosmetics that much. One of these is a snail mucin filtrate which is used widely in Korean cosmetics. Snail mucin filtrate repairs and renews the skin and reduces inflammation which makes it a popular ingredient for anti-age products.

You can try out Korean cosmetics by starting from sheet masks for example. Korean sheet masks are packed with skin-pampering ingredients and the results are visible immediately most of the time. Sheet masks are in fact one of South Korea’s most popular innovations.


What is a Korean skincare routine made of?

The key idea in Korean skincare is investing in good skincare products and preventing skin concerns by taking good care of the skin instead of covering the skin concerns with makeup. This is why it is needed to put more effort into the skincare routine in the mornings and evenings. However, this does not mean that you have to buy tens of skincare products at once. You can freely mix and match Korean and Western products, and little by little add new products to your routine. It is recommended to start a new routine by adding one product at a time and test it out for a couple of weeks before adding any new products.

Transitioning into a Korean skincare routine can be started by examining how one applies products to the skin. Instead of heavily massaging in the products by pulling the skin up and down, it is recommended to gently pat the products with fingertips and with slow, rotating motions by gently pulling the skin upwards. This will improve blood circulation and the absorption of skincare products.

Korean skincare routine includes 8-10 steps, and often one might be horrified about the steps and be doubtful. Can my skin benefit from these many products? Won’t my face be full of new pimples the next day?

An example of a skincare routine:

  1. Oil-based cleanser 
  2. Water-based cleansing foam or cleansing milk
  3. Exfoliation (1-2 times a week)
  4. Toner
  5. Essence
  6. Boosting ampoule or serum
  7. Sheet mask (1-2 times a week)
  8. Eye cream
  9. Face cream
  10. Sunscreen at day, sleeping pack at night

introduction to korean cosmetics

The main point in Korean skincare is layering and the order of product application. As a general rule: products are added based on the consistency from lightest to the thickest consistency. Liquidy products absorb faster to the skin while thicker creams need more time to absorb and lock in the previous products.

The goal is to find products that suit the needs of one’s own skin. The skin needs days to get used to a new product. If there is a new pimple on the face after starting a new face cream the night before, there is no need to be alarmed and throw the product away. Keep track of the situation for a couple of weeks and see what the skin thinks about the new product. Then decide whether to keep it as a part of the skincare routine or not. Click here to read more about creating a Korean skincare routine.


Does my skin need all of this?

Often the most common skin concern is the dehydrated skin that is oily on the surface due to lack of hydration. However, everyone’s skin is different and there is no need to become a slave for the skincare routine. It is totally okay to combine Korean and Western products in your routine.

All skincare products are slightly different and they have different roles. They have a different amount of different ingredients. For example, a serum can be packed with brightening active ingredients, but might not be enough to hydrate the skin for the whole day. This is why it is recommended to add a thicker cream to hydrate and protect the skin for a longer time.

Investing in a good evening routine is a very good idea. While you sleep, your skin starts to work and the cell renewal process is at its fastest. During the night the active ingredients work on their magic and in the morning the skin is softer.


World-class innovations and high-quality ingredients

Many natural ingredients and plant extracts are used in Korean cosmetic products.

South Korea’s cosmetic industry is known for world-class innovations and product development. In the 2000s, South Korea has become a developed mecca of the cosmetic industry with a high competition rate. 90% of the cosmetic innovations come from South Korea and due to the high competition, manufacturers and brands put large amounts of money into product development. Due to the fierce competition, products must be better than before and more effective than before. Thus, Korean cosmetic products are effective and rarely there is a product that does not meet even the highest quality criteria.

Korean innovations often reach Western countries only after many years. For example, BB-creams, cushion foundations and super ingredient Centella Asiatica are all Korean innovations.

Korean cosmetics combine affordable price, good quality and effective ingredients that make South Korea the number one in the cosmetic industry.


Korean cosmetics are suitable for men also

In South Korea, also men are interested in skincare. Especially skin-calming after-shave products are popular. Skincare products are not really divided by gender so the products can be used by anyone no matter the gender.



Check out our constantly growing selection of Korean cosmetics.