First there were TV dramas and K-pop, and now Korean makeup style is becoming a global fad. Already the makeup styles of Korean actresses and young pop groups influence fashions in China, Japan and Southeast Asia, where the Korean Wave first started, but recently American and European women, too, have been learning the techniques on YouTube, which features hundreds of videos promising to reveal Korean "beauty secrets."
◆ What Is the Appeal?
Beauty expert Lee Kyung-sun says the videos started being uploaded from all over the world about three years ago. In the early stages it was mostly Malaysian, Filipino, Thai and Taiwanese women who posted videos on how to make up like Kim Yu-na, Song Hye-kyo and Kara, but now the trend is expanding to the U.S. and Europe.
Another beauty consultant said, "What foreigners are especially interested is Korean women's natural-looking skin and one-point technique that highlights just one part of the face. They want to emulate the Korean style of light makeup that leaves the skin looking natural, rather than slathering thick makeup all over the face."
◆ From Test Market to Trend Leader
U.S. channel WNBC's program "Extra" reported in September last year that Korean makeup techniques were embraced by many Hollywood stars. Now, large cosmetics companies in the U.S. and Europe are recognizing Korea as a leader in beauty trends, a shift from the country's traditional image as a test market. A spokesman of cosmetics brand MAC said, "Until two or three years ago, Korea was simply regarded as a country where we test new products before the official launch as it has a huge demand for cosmetics goods, but now things have changed and we think that we should read trends in Korea first."
MAC's Studio Fix Fluid Foundation N18 and Behave Yourself Lipstick were launched after studying the reaction from Korean women. Beauty consultant Pi Hyun-jeong said, "Wherever in the world I go, I get questions about the secrets of Korean women's natural-looking beauty. I think Korea can look to the position of a global beauty trend leader like Paris and New York."
Domestic cosmetics brands have been riding the wave of this popularity, holding promotional events and makeup demonstrations in China, Japan and several Southeast Asian regions, while planning to launch or expand new branches in U.S. and Europe.