That magical 5-in-1 tinted moisturizer on speed known on the street as BB Cream was the start of Korean beauty (a.k.a. K-beauty) making its way to the U.S. BB went legit gangbusters and captivated a nation. I say that with just the slightest hint of dramatic sarcasm because I do, yes, really love me a good BB. However, we’ve barely scratched the surface with K-beauty. Just as there are so many indie eco rock stars here making skin care with natural and unique ingredients in the most effective and interesting of formulations – Osmia, La Bella Figura and Kypris to name just a few – there are just as many niche brands in Korea that are flying way under the radar. How do you discover them and if so, where the heck do you even buy? And then proceed to decipher the label?
Enter Glow Recipe, founded by two former L’Oreal globetrotters Christine Chang and Sarah Lee. These two beauties have been scouring Korea vetting oodles of products to find the best to make readily accessible on Glow Recipe. This online Korean apothecary meets educational destination (to help with that label-deciphering part!) is filled with hidden treasures you’ve likely never heard of: think ampoules, elastic essences, serum foundations and ocean-laced facials. Christine and Sarah recently made their way through Chicago while launching belif, a hugely popular skincare brand in South Korea, at Sephora. Fun fact: belif’s Moisturizing Bomb is the #1 prestige beauty product sold in Korea across ALL categories. And, yes, it is the bomb…I’m a recent convert.
These ladies did Chicago right…Lou Malnati’s deep dish for dinner. I met up with them at La Colombe in West Loop where I soaked up all the K-beauty knowledge I could. It’s evident that there is a different approach to beauty in Korea that I really admire.
- Koreans worship double cleansing. It’s something you have to do – not a novelty. And there are tons of innovations in the cleansing space. Cleansing water, oil, powder to foam, etc.
- The state of your skin is front and center in the beauty context. The first question is “how is her skin?” – it’s why skincare is in hyperdrive in Korea.
- Matte skin is undesirable. While it seems to trend every other season or so in the U.S., the approach to hydration in Korea is always more. Dewy and luminous skin is preferred and toners and mists are sprayed throughout the day to maintain that look.
- Oil has a positive connotation. We’re getting there as well, but still playing catch-up.
Don’t you just want to go wash your face like right this second?!