make up bag

South Korea is the secret leader of beauty and makeup. So for the next big makeup and beauty trends this spring, Ketsuda Phoutinane is looking to Seoul

Many people don’t realise that the foundation they put on in the morning or the eye cream they apply at night – or even how they wash their face – is influenced by the South Korean beauty industry. The country has been leading the pack, claiming a bigger stake in the British beauty market for the last five years.

It began with the success of BB cream, or beauty balm, in Europe and the US in 2011. The all-in-one mix of tinted foundation, moisturizer and sunscreen with natural looking coverage is now ubiquitous.

Boots now offers 66 different BB creams from 26 brands on its website. Its sales reached £23m annually in 2013, but few people know that BB cream has been around in Asia for over 20 years.

English makeup artist and global creative director of Lancôme, Lisa Eldridge says: “Most of the beauty trends and makeup styles have come out of Korea in the last few years. They’re all inspired by Korean makeup, Korean skincare and Korean technology.”

So what’s next? With intense competition between brands, Korean government subsidies and unusual ingredients (snail secretion and pig collagen to name a few), we’ve selected the next big trends coming out of South Korea in makeup and skincare.

  1. Cushion liquid foundation

1cushion foundation-Lancôme

Like BB cream, many Korean products are versatile. A cream isn’t simply skincare or makeup. It’s not surprising that cushion liquid foundation, a compact with a sponge lightly soaked in foundation, offers SPF and a glowy look.

Press the applicator – usually a soft pad that normally comes with pressed powder – into the cushion and sweep it gently across your face. Fold the applicator in half to reach the corners of your nose and mouth.

1cushion-LaneigeCheck out: Laneige BB Soothing Cushion, £31.90; Lancôme Miracle Cushion Foundation, £29.50


  1. Neon pastels

2neon pastels-Etude

Imagine softened fuchsias, sherbet orange, vivid lemon – neons and pastels aren’t polar opposites after all. The Budget Fashionista says the best comparison for neon pastels are the “deliciously not-found-in-nature shades of lime, raspberry, orange and lemon” of your childhood.

2neon pastels-HolikaTry bright peach colours when it comes to lips. As for eye shadow, Korean women prefer soft, shimmery colours on their lids rather than a dark, smoky eye. Brush a lilac or a soft aqua blue to lighten up your eyes.

Check out: Etude House Color Pop Shine Tint in #02 Sunny Pop, a vibrant orange £10; Holika Holika Aqua Petit Jelly Eye Shadow in aqua green, £10


  1. Jelly products

3jelly-Etude lip You may have last used jelly pens in school, but Koreans love jelly in their makeup products. They’re cooling to the skin and apply smoothly for that watery, dewy finish that’s popular in Korea.

Jelly blushes come in lip balm like packages that you can apply with your fingers. Blend and gradually build up the colour for a glossy and flushed look. Although most jelly products look neon, they look sheer on your skin and feel satisfyingly cooling.

3jelly-TopshopCheck out: Etude House Dear My Jelly Lips-Talk, £15; Topshop Cheek Jelly in Beep, £7

  1. Double cleansing

4double cleansing-oil

The Korean approach to skincare can be over 10 steps long. The idea is to layer products from lightest to heaviest carefully by patting gently or massaging products into the skin. Koreans focus more on skincare than makeup in comparison to Western markets, so double cleansing is a slow but effective way to get a deep, gentle clean.

You begin with remove makeup and sweat from your face. Gently massage an oil, like coconut or olive, into your face. Oil attracts oil and it works to melt all the dirt away. Wipe it off with a hot washcloth then wash your face with your normal face wash to actually clean your skin.4double cleansing-Mizon

Check out: For the cleansing step try olive oil or coconut oil: TIANA Extra Virgin Coconut Oil, £16.55 for 500ml; Mizon Pore Refine Deep Cleansing Foam, £8.

  1. Facial sheet masks

5facial masks-innisfree

6facial masks-nature-republic
If you’ve got a few episodes of House of Cards to catch up on, then try a new facial sheet mask. Made of unusual ingredients like bamboo, gold dust, snail goo, cotton or kelp, they’re a bit different than your regular wash off cream mask.

Facial sheet masks are great way to get into Korean skincare if you’re low maintenance. Peel on the sheets, which are soaked in a moisturising formula, peel off after about 20 minutes and go. They may make you look like the Phantom of the Opera, but they’re great for dehydrated skin.

Check out: innisfree intensive ampoule mask £2.75; Nature Republic Snail Therapy Hydro Gel Mask Sheet £5.08

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