Over the years, beauty products from South Korea (also known as K-beauty) have found extraordinary success worldwide, somewhere to the tune of $13 billion in sales (in 2018), with skincare accounting for roughly half of that market share. No doubt, the success of K-Beauty is based largely on promises of flawless, porcelain skin, and if I had to guess, I think affordable price points helped a little too.
And while everyone seemed to be singing the praises of K-beauty, the marketing didn’t feel, shall we say, “inclusionary”? With marketing collateral and ads that use buzzwords like “whitening” and “porcelain,” K-beauty didn’t quite resonate with dark-skinned women.
However, if you dig a little deeper, remove the marketing, and take it down to the essentials, K- beauty at its core is all about hydration, exfoliation, and sun care. It’s built on the main principles of good skin care — regardless of skin color. Close examination of K-beauty products will also reveal that they’re not made with products that those of us with deeper skin tones should avoid. In fact, many are made with simple but effective ingredients. These products address universal skincare concerns, and truth be told, those reasonable price tags are a real selling point.
While there are a ton of K-beauty products on the market, this article will look at a few of the basics to get you started.
K-Beauty Hydrating Serums
Ideal for dry, rough, and dull-looking skin, COSRX’s serum is made with black bee propolis extract known for its anti-inflammatory properties. This serum deeply hydrates, reduces redness and heals stressed skin. Users report that while this serum feels quite vicious, it doesn’t feel oily or greasy.
Powered by 5% Vitamin C, this serum brightens skin, minimizes the appearance of dark spots, and improves overall skin tone and texture. Dear Klair’s serum is gentle enough for sensitive skin and daily use.
Sugar has long been considered one of the best natural exfoliators, and this Black Sugar Mask by Skinfood is no exception. Made with rich Brazilian black sugar, this wash-off mask exfoliates and hydrates to reveal fresh, vibrant looking skin.
Derma-E’s microdermabrasion face scrub combines dead sea salt and a nourishing citrus oil blend that buffs away dull flaky skin. Over time, this exfoliator fades dark spots and diminishes the appearance of fine lines and wrinkles. Further enriched with lime, grapeseed oil, and vitamin E, this scrub also retexturizes skin for a youthful and radiant glow.
Formulated with a high concentration of snail mucin extract, Seoul Ceuticals Snail Cream is also blended with shea butter, aloe, jojoba oil, and vitamin E. This cream brightens skin and reduces the appearance of wrinkles and dark spots. What’s more, snail mucin naturally contains hyaluronic acid, so this cream deeply hydrates as well.
Etude House’s Moistfull Collagen Cream contains hydrolyzed collagen that improves your skin’s elasticity and boosts hydration levels. This moisturizer also targets visible signs of aging like fine lines and wrinkles. With a gel-like consistency, this formula goes on smooth and absorbs quickly.
With ample UV protection in the form of SPF 50, Missha’s All-Around Safe Sunblock protects your skin from sun damage, and it holds up quite well against high humidity and sweat. This sunblock has a lightweight feel and a soft powdery finish that looks great under makeup.
COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream not only protects your skin from harmful UV rays, but it also moisturizes as it protects. Unlike other sunscreens, this one is lightweight and absorbs quickly. This sunscreen doesn’t feel greasy, and it’s particularly good for dark skin tones because it doesn’t leave a white cast on the skin.
With such a wealth of products, the world of K-beauty can feel a bit overwhelming at first glance. However, upon closer examination, these products are just like any other skincare on the market. There are plenty of products that address a myriad skincare concerns; you just have to do your due diligence and find the ones that are right for you.