K-Beauty: What is it? A guide on all you need to know

By: Olivia Munson

It is no secret we in the U.S. tend to follow different trends from overseas, especially when it comes to beauty. If you have not already heard of K-beauty, get ready to learn about America’s newest beauty obsession.

FaceMaskKorean beauty, or “K-beauty” for short, emerged in the U.S within the last 10 years during the Hallyu or Korean Wave. At its basis, K-beauty products are ones made in Korea and with Korean beauty principles in mind. Their cute packaging and interesting ingredients can be deceiving, since in reality, they can make all the difference for your skin. They focus on catering toward your specific skin type while promoting health and hydration. K-beauty is about taking care your skin so it looks flawless without makeup, rather than the Western standard of using products to cover everything up.

Like most teenagers, I struggle with acne. Whether it is on my face or chest, I can almost guarantee something will show up at the least opportune moment. During middle school, I did not do much to combat my skin problems. Instead, I tended to overuse makeup to cover my imperfections up. Once I got to high school, I started to focus more on my skin care routine. I began to research more into my skin type and learned what I should be doing to improve my skin. Toward the end of my junior year, I discovered K-beauty and made a complete turn around in my beauty routine. I stopped wearing as much makeup and completely switched all my products. Today, my skin has never been better (even though I do get the occasional flare up due to stress) and I rarely wear makeup.

I have combination skin, meaning on some days it can be oily and others it will be dry. Likewise, certain parts of my face are more prone to attracting oil than others. I also have larger pores on my nose than the rest of my face. The best part about a K-beauty routine is you can custom tailor it to your own specific skin needs. There are so many products on the market that do different things. By paying attention to what you are using, you can find what ingredients make an impact on your skin. For me, I learned harsh astringents dry out my skin too much to the point where my skin begins to itch and crack. I switched to a more natural option, witch hazel. Witch hazel reduces skin inflammation and irritation without stripping it of its essential oils, like some astringents do. Staying on top of your skin care and understanding what works best for you can help your skin to be the best it has ever been.

When most people think of K-beauty, they might think of the lengthy 10-step skin careGlassSkin routine featured on various media outlets. However, to achieve so-called “glass-skin”, you do not have to spend countless hours on a lengthy regimen. The 10-step K-beauty routine emphasizes the importance of a routine for long-term results.

The routine usually consists of:

  1. Cleanse: Use an oil-based cleanser to remove the oil and makeup from your face.
  2. Double-Cleanse: Use a water-based or foam wash to get rid of any remaining residue.
  3. Exfoliate: Use a mild face exfoliant to remove the dead skin cells from your face. (Note- this step should only be done once or twice a week to avoid creating micro-tears in your skin.)
  4. Tone: Apply a toner to balance the natural pH of the skin and bring back hydration.
  5. Essence: Use an essence or face lotion to amp up the hydration of the skin.
  6. Serum: This step is the most personalized since the key of this is to use oils and serums targeted toward your specific skin needs.
  7. Masks: The most fun, and well-known, step of the K-beauty routine. You can use sheet, clay or any other hydrating mask but the main goal is to let the skin absorb more serums for further hydration. (Note- this step should not be done every day.)
  8. Eye Cream: Apply an eye cream with your pinky finger to avoid stretching the sensitive skin around your under eye area.
  9. Moisturize: Seal all the previous skin care steps in with a non-greasy moisturizer.
  10. Sunscreen: During your daytime routine, remember to apply SPF to your face to protect from sun damage.

Now I know this may be a lot to take in and may seem a bit time consuming, but taking such good care now will help your skin in the long run. You do not need to do all 10-steps, in fact I do not even do all 10. Like I said before, do what works best for you. Whether it be only doing five steps or going above and beyond and trying out a 15-step routine (yes those exist), what is most important is finding what can fit into your personal day-to-day schedule. Some brands are even making this routine more achievable by creating products that combine multiple steps into one to save time.   

K-beauty is very unique and from this comes various brands and products that are more amazing than the next. My favorite part about my personal routine is the masks. Nothing is more satisfying than enjoying some quality “me time” at the end of a long day by putting on a sheet mask, drinking a cup of tea and watching some Netflix.

CremeShopMaskCreditPinterestMy favorite mask brands are the Crème Shop and Nature Republic. Both companies are manufactured in South Korea and focus on natural products that bring out your inner beauty. The Crème Shop is also a 100% cruelty-free brand, meaning none of their products are tested on animals.



Some other favorite products come from the brands are TONYMOLY, Etude House  andSKINFOOD. My major recommendations include 


SKINFOOD’s Peach Sake Toner, TONYMOLY’s Tako Pore Blackhead Scrub Stick  and the Crème Shop’s Rose Oil Overnight Gel Mask.

Do not fear not being able to find these products in American stores! As a matter of fact, most K-beauty brands can be bought at CVS, Ulta, or even through Amazon. There are hundreds of brands to choose from, so I recommend you try out some and find your perfect match.

Now go out and embrace the K-beauty routine. Give yourself a little self love and treat your skin right. Trust me, you will thank me later.


What was your favorite skin care product? Let us know on Instagram and Twitter!

Reach out to the writer on Instagram!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s