Posted on by Beautihara Team

For thousands of years the fashion conscious have used make-up to get their look just right, and keep up with fast-moving trends. Now, the global beauty industry is experiencing a revolution driven by South Korea. Say hello to K-beauty.

Young people in Western countries have become infatuated with K-pop - Korean pop music - and Korean soap operas.

Many Korean celebrities and pop stars, including the seven-member boy band BTS, are known for their signature looks.

But it's not just Korean entertainment - in the last 18 months, there has also been a rise in Korean beauty trends coming over to the West.

In 2017, South Korea's beauty industry was estimated to be worth just over $13bn (£10bn), according to retail researchers Mintel.

The fascination with Korean cosmetics is due to how innovative they are, says Marie Claire's digital beauty editor Katie Thomas.

South Korea's beauty industry is typically about 10-12 years ahead of the rest of the world, she says.

"It's not that there's been a big boom, we're just catching up with them essentially, [helped by] the expansion of Instagram and beauty blogging."

Skincare first

Before even putting any make-up on, Koreans put in a lot of effort to take care of their skin.

"It's sort of ingrained in Korean culture from a very young age to look after your skin," Ms Thomas says, explaining that the Korean ethos is to ensure that you have good skin, rather than needing foundation and other products to cover up unsightly blemishes.

You might be used to the typical daily three-step routine of using cleanser, toner and moisturiser before applying make-up, but in South Korea, skincare regimes range from seven to 12 steps, with a focus on hydrating the skin using gentle, natural ingredients.

"Some people would see it as excessive, but the fact is, you're feeding your skin with these incredible ingredients. It's so different in the UK [in comparison]," says Ms Thomas.

Much more research is carried out into new products in South Korea than in other countries, she says, because there are so many competing brands, each trying to be the best.

"The Korean beauty industry doesn't shy away from introducing new, unique ingredients to their formulas that would never be considered in the West," says Karen Hong, the founder of K Beauty Bar, a concession stand for Korean beauty products found in Topshop's flagship store in London's Oxford Street.

Unique ingredients such as...? "Snail mucin for moisturising, pearl for brightening, green tea for oil control and propolis from bees for soothing and nourishing," she reels off.