Alicia Yoon, founder of Peach & Lily (and our most frequently quoted entrepreneur), went into the history of Korean skincare in this blog post: "Thousands of years ago, Korea was largely an agricultural society. Most everyone was outside under the harsh rays of the sun. Searching for ways to heal sun damage has since been embraced by Korean beauty...Then, in the 1940s and onward as Korea’s economy began to grow exponentially, the beauty companies that started the modern K-beauty movement (many are still around today) set up shop."
The K-beauty aesthetic is focused on protection from the sun (in contrast to the Western chase for the darkest tan possible), hydration, and overall health of your skin. They're also responsible for the 10-step skincare routine (always from lightest to heaviest).
Another element that sets it apart is it's strict regulation. The South Korean Ministry of Food and Drug Safety (MFDS) regulates standards and guidelines for beauty products through the Cosmetic Act, which began in July 2000. Cosmetics are divided into two categories: general cosmetics and functional cosmetics. Functional cosmetics (aka brightening, tightening, wrinkle removing, and sun protecting) are subject to harsher evaluation than general cosmetics (aka makeup you wash off at the end of the day).
Lastly, there's a cultural element to skincare that gives K-beauty the upper hand. It's called "hallyu", a Chinese term that means "Korean wave," referring to the global popularity of South Korea's cultural economy in exporting pop culture, entertainment, music, TV and movies. In other words, whatever is popular in Korean culture is bound to spread across the world, and when it comes to their amazing beauty products, it's no wonder why.
We want to know about your favorite K-beauty products for Summer. We're talking mists, summer palettes, and light moisturizers. Make your recommendations below!