THE HISTORY OF K-BEAUTY: They Were So Good That The Beauty Industry Made a Subcategory for Them

A guest post excerpt by Yanna Zhang

(view original post here)


You ever felt that you needed to look good to feel good? Well, this whole nation of cosmetic beauty junkies have your back because that’s the most basic essence of their beauty industry mentality.

An article on The Awkward Traveller explains that not only do Korean men and women spend double the amount on cosmetic and beauty products than any other country, but, the sole fraction of Korean men spend a significantly higher number on beauty products than other races. If that wasn’t enough to convince you just how much of a big player they are in this game, then be prepared to be introduced to their Korean beauty market.

The Koreans have always been known for their huge array of vanity products. The market now holds such a wide selection that ranges from the lightest and softest skin toners to the most hardcore and down-to-every-little-pore clay masks (here’s one of my personal Innisfree favorites). Their cosmetics line practically drowning with all the positive remarks of high efficiency, advanced technology, and nothing, but superb quality beauty and make-up products.

They were that good that the beauty industry eventually had to stretch out to accommodate a whole new subcategory: k-beauty.

I take us back in history with this article, looking at how the k-beauty industry had started out, evolved, and been polished throughout the age of time. Call it marvel, call it awe as we read on what little steps the Korean market had taken to get to where they are now. Because, you, my dear reader, will be discovering the history underlying one of the greatest beauty empires today.


With a shared mindset of improving the outside to feel good from within, the Koreans had long ago started paying attention and focusing on beauty traditions and practices that held this very idea. Using ingredients that were found in the environment, Koreans in the ancient times constructed all sorts of natural facial creams and oils, eyebrow ink, rouge, beauty scrubs, and lotions that gave them the vanity they desired. describes how clever the people were in finding natural substances such as saponin (an effective cleansing agent) within the powder of the common ground mung beans, or “jodu” as they called it, to act as a cleansing soap. As well as using safflower oil for skin moisture and gloss purposes because it contained the essential fatty acids and Vitamin E that did the trick.

Caring about how they looked was a common thing among the people. Not stopping there, their line of products just seemed to expand more when the importance of appearance was incorporated into their everyday living.

 Such things like powders (“baekbun)” and rouge that was frequently applied to lips and cheeks (“yeonji”) were given Korean terminologies due to how often they were being used and bought by the people. Before long, even the high-class elites and professional female entertainers were getting into the culture of k-beauty.

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Author: Vivian

“I dream. Sometimes I think that's the only right thing to do.” ― Haruki Murakami, Sputnik Sweetheart

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