11 Korean Beauty Trends That Are Going To Be Huge In 2017
We polled major K-beauty retailers to give us their predictions
Illustration by Jihyang Lim
Unless you somehow managed to go off the grid for the past couple of years, you probably know that Korean beauty has taken the industry by storm. Sheet masks, essences, BB creams, cushion compacts, they’re all probably part of your skin-care vocabulary, and we have K-beauty to thank for that. The country somehow manages to be miles ahead of the curve so much so that it’s become harder and harder to predict what new innovations we’re going to be presented with next.
Thankfully, there are now a ton of Korean beauty-focused retailers that have helped to bring the trends stateside. To help you get a jumpstart on what products, ingredients, and trends are going to be big in 2017, we had the ladies behind these sites weigh in with their expertise. See the products predicted to be on your vanity in the coming months.
Both Christine Chang of Glow Recipe and Alicia Yoon of Peach & Lily agree: We’re going to be seeing a lot more intriguing masks this year. Water rubber masks, peeling sleeping masks, layering double masks, foil masks, cotton fiber masks—the more out-there, the better.
Yoon says that, in addition to masks, we’ll be seeing creams that “break the rules” as well.
Snail cream, starfish cream, Korea is all about interesting infusions in beauty products. And Erin First from Memebox says there’s only more advancements in trendy ingredients to come. “Centella is becoming the new star ingredient in Korean skin care; it's known for soothing and evening skin tone, working as an anti-bacterial, and helping fade scars," she says. "Propolis, produced by bees to help patch hives, is used as a natural anti-bacterial. Fermented ingredients increase the efficacy of the ingredient itself, making it easier for skin to absorb as the molecules break down, and feature more natural acids and enzymes to soften skin and increase cell turnover.”
"Pretty much exactly how it sounds, these innovative formulas start as a powder but smooth into a liquid once rubbed in,” First tells us. “Because they start off as powders, these serums are more stable and potent than traditional serums.”
Acne patches are already a thing Korea’s given us, but the next iteration of pimple-fighting products are gel bands, First says. “These acne-fighting gel bands are painted onto your trouble spots and dry into a liquid Band-Aid, putting the acne-fighting power directly into your pores."
Hair products aren’t typically inserted into the narrative when discussing Korean beauty products, but that’s about to change, according to Cho. “Both Korean men and women are extremely invested in the health of their hair, and treat the scalp on their head like the skin on their face,” she says. “There is a focus on hair care, from essences to scalp treatments.”
The same sentiment applies to makeup for the nation. We do love brands like Tony Moly and Etude House’s fun packaging but, outside of them, cosmetics aren’t exactly the country’s strong point. “Korean women, especially millennials, are being influenced more and more by Korean beauty vloggers! YouTube had a late start in Korea, which is why they're so late in the beauty influencer game,” Cho says. “There is a focus on vivid lip and eyeshadow colors and contouring techniques. While there will always be a focus on clear and radiant skin, there are more color cosmetics being used now, so I'm already seeing Korean cosmetic companies ‘upping’ their game.”
This next emergence takes the guesswork out of how much product you should be using. Chang tells us that pre-portioned items are on the come up. Another perk: It makes traveling or after-gym care easy, she says.
In-shower body products have been big on the western front for some time now, but that on-the-go mentality is also going to expand to skin care. “Korea’s latest bent on in-shower treatments is the product of a busy lifestyle—when better to maximize our time and skin care than in the comfort of the shower?” Chang asks. She lists Merbliss’ two-in-one cleanser and mask bars and Radiance’s Cleansing Pack as some of her favorites.
Who doesn’t love a bit of R and R within the comfort of their own home? This year, the spa is coming to you, Yoon tells us. “In Korea, consumers flock to skin clinics regularly to keep their skin in check—the beauty game is serious there,” she explains. “There's been a big push by these clients for spas to make their spa-grade products and their spa treatments available at home. I'm seeing much more of this across the board and, as an esthetician, I’m super excited to see so many professional products being developed for retail and easy at-home use.”
Coconut oil is so 2016. This year, make way for egg and sheep oil, Yoon says. “Egg oil is going to be a big hit; it is different than egg extract,” she tells us. “In fact, the egg oil that's patented as extracting the potent oils from the egg yolk is a breakthrough innovation.”
As for sheep oil, it’s not as scary as it sounds. She points out this sheep oil cream from Kicho, as a product and brand, is slated to blow up. “We love Kicho as they source the best wool from New Zealand and go to Germany to ensure the sheep oil is extracted in the purest way from the wool. Then all the formulations are done in Korea,” she explains. “This moisturizer is one of the best I've ever tried from Korea, and I don't say that lightly.”
Ethical or organic products aren’t necessarily a priority in Korea, but Yoon says that’s slated to soon change. “’Natural’ and ‘organic’ don't hold much weight as these aren't regulated terms,” she says. “Consumers in Korea, much like how consumers are doing stateside too, have taken it upon themselves to dig into each ingredient and research if things are toxin-free.”