The best part about Korea is of course shopping! There are so many cosmetic stores and cute boutiques, it’s truly every girl’s heaven. I learned that Koreans take their appearance very seriously and if you do not care how you look in public, others will not take you seriously either. Everyone who has developed some sort of interest in modern Korean culture have a general understanding of what is ideally considered “beautiful” in Korea. Pale, flawless skin, big eyes, V shape face, and tall height. This post will be pretty general and include what is trending in Korea and Korean consumer behavior to achieve a certain appearance.
- Beauty products
In order to achieve pale and flawless looking skin, girls in Korea are constantly trying different skincare products. Cosmeroad in Myeongdong is famous for the side-by-side cosmetic shops.
Cosmetics in Korea are sold in various tiers, or levels.
Since Koreans are huge HUGE consumers, there are a lot of products advertised to various demographics. Due to this huge consumption of cosmetics amongst females and males alike, cosmetic companies will have different tiers of brands and lines of make-up (the better the quality, the more expensive).
Lowest tier products attract youth (13 – 18 year old girls) and include brands such as Etude House because of their cute packaging. Since they are young, they do not need the best quality and functions, so the cute packaging (K-pop idols), fun colors, and products with simple moisturizing properties will sell. There are a lot of BB creams in this tier because Korean youth general have very nice skin and they do not need heavy make-up.
Middle tier products are for 19-25 year old women and include Innisfree and Nature Republic. These brands emphasize natural products that will not harm the skin and the environment. The advertisements are clean and focus less on packaging. Like the lower tier brands, the stores will often feature male and female pop stars popular for their flawless skin and clean, innocent image.
High end products are aimed at 26 and above, which include brands like Laneige, Sulwhasoo, IOPE, O HUI, etc. These brands will feature older women in their advertisements with hair back and up up in a bun to reveal their flawless, glowing skin. These products will market their whitening and firming properties rather than their packaging or how natural and healthy it is.
Seoul is the center of fashion. Depending on where you are in Seoul, you will also find variations in style and image. For example, walking along Garosu-gil you will notice people dressed in the latest runway trends while in Hongdae, you will see hipsters and musicians smoking a cigarette dressed in skinny black jeans, boots, and a snapback.
Can you tell which is Hongdae style and which is Gangnam style?
In general, fashion trends spread like wildfire across Korea. Since the country is small and there are so many people, media has a huge effect on fashion trends. The hottest celebrities spotted wearing something new will blow up and whatever they wear will be spotted on the streets immediately. Boutiques will start selling the same thing and the trend will last a few months to a year. The bigger the trend, the more people you see wearing the same thing. This is one sign of how homogeneous Korean society is.
- Pictures and selcas
If you have never heard of “ulzzangs” or “uhljjangs” before, they are an interesting group of dslr toting teenagers in Korea that have popularized a specific style, selcas (self-camera), and heavy photoshopping/filtering.
I believe the point is to look as artificial and doll-like as possible in a natural setting.
These teenagers are also trendsetters in a way. Uhljjangs have become internet celebrities mainly based on the popularity of the pictures they take of themselves and whatever they where, others try to follow. With both guys and girls putting on make-up and taking up-close pictures of their face, this subculture of uhljjangs even have their own TV show called “Uhljjang Shidae” (얼짱시대).
Whew, this has been a long post. I hope this post was informative and please comment if you have any questions! I think this topic is very interesting and it’s definitely not negative in anyway. I hope you enjoyed reading and thanks for visiting!