Wake Up & Makeup
Makeup is hugely popular in South Korea for both men and women. Although natural styles are preferred, it's a must have, even from a young age.
Shops like Nature Republic for people who prefer more natural ingredients and Etude House for the younger crowd, cater to different audiences. With a dozens of shops on every street, there is never a shortage of colors and competitive pricing.
An Aura of Innocence
In keeping with the cuteness, Korean makeup trends lean toward neutral tones, light shimmer, pinks, and reds.
Rosy cheeks, eyes, and lips maintain a youthful image. Porcelain skin with blush applied high on the cheeks and around the eyes, highlighted with a shimmer, offers a sun-kissed look. Adding lip tint concentrated in the center, fading outward - as though just finishing a cherry popsicle - adds an extra touch of sweetness.
In makeup shops I visited, many clerks described the application as a post-crying look or a tipsy look to show vulnerability.
Just Dew It
Korean summers can be brutal, reaching up into the 90s Fahrenheit with 70 to 80 percent humidity during the peak. And don't forget about the practically daily monsoon storms. It's safe to say everything gets a bit dewy.
Rather than caking on more powder to fight the shine, Korean makeup trends are embracing the look. Glossy highlighter, eyeshadows, and lip colors make any natural shine only enhance the look.
Mask On, Mask Off
A craze around the world, Korean facial masks, especially sheet masks are also a huge deal in Korea.
Keeping hydrated, clear, and youthful skin is important in K-culture. No matter what skin issue you want resolved, or didn't know you had, there is a mask for that!
From snail extract to gold flakes to honey, masks are a mainstay in cosmetic shops and often given away as an incentive to come inside.
Style & Fashion
They aren’t called idols for nothing - South Korean pop stars lead set the trends for fashion across the country and around the world. From the red soles on their shoes to the hot pink coiffures on their heads K-pop stars have a strong reputation for style. With fashion as one of South Korea’s most popular exports, K-pop idols have become the perfect ambassadors.
Since the inception of the genre, one key ingredient for any successful K-pop star is innocence. Pastel colors, natural-looking makeup, glitter, and decorative glasses made up the Korean pop culture’s signature bubblegum-prep style.
Though style continuously evolves, the streets of Seoul still reflect this classic look. Mini-skirts paired with modestly cut blouses for women and high-water slacks accompanying fully buttoned collared shirts for men fill classrooms, subway cars, and even night clubs.
From purity to punk, Korean fashion has hit its rebellious phase. As idols usher in fishnets and flannels, so too does the fashion world.
A ‘90s-inspired era of streetwear in South Korea brings out all the trappings of grunge with a little less angst. Idols show off their new edge with ripped jeans and oversized hoop earrings, mirroring the increasingly experimental music they produce. In the city, oversized graphic T-shirts, Adidas Originals footwear, and eyeliner are necessities.
As the rest of the world continues to catch on to this style, the world of Korean fashion continues to push the limits of avant garde. Unique accessories such as extra-long, dangling metal earrings for men, netted crew-cut socks for women, and designer nasal masks across the board. With a new decade approaches, Korean style fans will continue looking to the fappies, or "fashion people," for the latest trends.