South Korea’s obsession with flawless skin

Beauty lies in the eyes of the beholder. While this adage might be true, it has done nothing to bring down the world’s obsession with beauty and the process of beautification.

And true to the saying, beauty indeed lies in the eyes of the beholder, as the beholder varies so does the definition of beauty. In India for example, beauty may still mean “fair skin”. In the west, beauty is currently about being skinny, in the earlier times, beauty was about having “golden locks” and blue eyes. In South Korea, beauty is about having a clear, flawless, impeccable skin. Myeong-dong is Seoul’s heart in the beauty industry. One is bound to be overwhelmed by the variety of options available there.

Every month a new product is available on the shelves, that’s how many options you have to choose from. Well, there is dragon blood extract, snail cream, starfish cream – all believed to have stellar results when it comes to having dewy sparkling skin.

When I had visited Greece, I was quite amazed by the variety of beauty products available in Greece. Unlike in other parts of Europe, not just the beauty products, buy most of the other essential goods are all “made in Greece” tagged. Some of those exotic creams and lotions which is believed to result in Greek beauty were- donkey milk soaps, body lotions, volcanic clay face packs, natural bath sponges etc. Of course, there was the option of a mud bath in Santorini’s caldera.

The overwhelming truth

In Seoul, however, you had all of Greece’s exotics and further additions such as snake venom cream. I cringed, right now. But with due respect to the variety of these products, one must say that a potential buyer would feel at loss when asked to choose one. I would. Mainly because I wouldn’t know if snails are better than snakes when it comes to getting rid of unwanted patches from my skin.

Surprisingly, the women in South Korea were not at all overwhelmed, in fact, they appeared to be sure and confident about what they want and what works best for them. This can be accredited to the vast number of channels on beauty wisdom, a lot of literature available in the form of beauty blogs and the Korean women are voracious subscribers of such information.

Indeed, the women walk around in steady strides with confidence emanating from their flawless skin. Some of them have bandages on some parts of their face due to some beauty surgery they have gone through.

How did it start

But how did Korea’s obsession with beauty and beauty products start? Although the origin of cosmetology is believed to have started in Egypt, the first records of usage and application of a beauty product is in the Indus valley civilization, India. Then how did the gradual rise of beauty products happen in Korea? Do not forget about the world’s craziness when it comes to Scandinavian beauty products. Anyways, so talking about the electronic inventors’ venture into beauty, we see how the financial crisis in Asia in the late nineteen nineties impacted South Korea’s economy. Since then, the South Korean government had decided “not to put all eggs in one basket”. From LG, Samsung, Huawei the focus of the economy shifted to pop and beauty – both of which have taken the world at the rage.

BB cream

You may still (rarely though) find someone who doesn’t know that the full form of BB cream is “beauty benefits” cream, but you will not find anyone who has never heard about it in the urban Indian community. Almost every brand has a variety of BB cream, some even call it “CC” to stand apart, but at the heart, they are the same. Pun intended.

This BB cream was first introduced in the Sephora, United States in 2011 by a Korean brand called Dr Jart. The cream was quite revolutionary in its own way. It was both a cream for skin care and for makeup. Thus it erased the border separating the two genres. It created as much uproar as the “Gangnam Style”. Already international brands like Chanel, L’oreal took notice and created their versions. Lakme, Ponds were not to stay behind in India.

That was the story of the birth of BB creams.

Beauty regime

Beauty may be skin deep but the process of beautification goes deeper. In South Korea, the process of looking good is not just about the products in the market. The women are taught to take care of their skin from a very young age. Concepts such as triple cleansing have evolved from there.

Girls are groomed from birth by the maternal figures. Face steaming, cloth exfoliation, charcoal pack, and adequate hydration are considered important for achieving that perfect smoothness of a few drops. Most Koreans use sheet masks at least 3-4 times a week. The mask packs are available at a price of $1 in Korea. Almost all Korean models claim that they put on a sheet before going to bed.

Barley tea, wild mangoes, camellia oil are some of the home hacks for skin enhancement. Massaging is key. No wonder, there is a massage parlor at every block in South Korea.

The K-Beauty secret has become the most sought after skin therapy across the world. Not just the Koreans, the entire world seems obsessed with it. The skin must be such that the onlooker can see a reflection of themselves in the face. Now, that was a little exaggerated! But so is the craze. Is it worth it, justified or harmful in the long run? Well, skincare can never harm anyone especially when you have living proofs all over South Korea. Some women over 70s seem to have no wrinkles on their faces? Is it the massage, exfoliation, detoxification or plain genes? We can’t tell. But the K-Beauty is rocking all over.

The other day, I myself went to Sephora to pick up a mask by Dr. Jart. I have been using it for the last couple of weeks. Let’s see what transformation it does to me!

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