Ever wonder what it takes to stay on top of K-beauty from halfway around the world?
Our tried and true method isn’t just stalking what beauty products the hottest K-Pop stars are using (although, we do that often). To get an exclusive preview of the latest beauty trends, you have to gain insider knowledge…
Which is why we’ve got a major woman crush on Migu Kim, Beauty Director at ELLE KOREA. Needless to say, Migu is our go-to lady because she is in the heart of the K-beauty revolution, but since we’re in a long distance relationship, we can’t exactly raid her beauty closet 24/7.
We caught her before she boarded the Chanel Cruise Seoul Resort ’16 show (cue jealousy) and got a quick update on K-beauty trends and must-haves.
What are some beauty trends popping up in Korea?
In makeup, it is decidedly about strong lips. As you probably know, in Korea, celebrities have a huge influence - Gianna Jun’s lipstick, Park Soo Jin’s lip tint, Gong Hyu Jin’s lipstick - that makes these lipsticks so popular that they sell out multiple times over.
Also, since Korean women want a natural and sophisticated look, makeup that helps them achieve the look of healthy, flawless skin (think foundation, cushion compact, etc.) are consistently popular. For eyes, they stick to “eye shading makeup,” using colors in tones of brown, gold and beige to make their eyes look natural but bigger, which helps keep their lips the focal point.
As the Beauty Director of ELLE Korea, you must get the first peek at all these new products. Any favorites?
The irony is that while I do get tons and tons of products constantly, I don’t wear a lot of makeup and instead emphasize clean, natural skin. Getting ready in the mornings is always a bit crazy (amen!), and since I don’t have time to fix my makeup during the work day, I use a cushion compact for quick application and occasional touchups. It’s one of the products I can’t live without!
What’s your personal skincare routine?
I have dry, sensitive (and complicated) skin, so the most important things for me are hydrating and moisturizing. Instead of rich, anti-aging products, I use light hydrating essences and creams. After I shower and before my skin dries, I use a cotton pad to apply my first essence and pat it in to ensure my skin absorbs it. Then I use a hydrating essence followed by a moisturizing cream. Depending on my skin condition - like occasional blemishes or dry skin - I add essences with brightening and anti-aging functions to supplement my regular products.
How do you think Korean beauty/skincare is different from the rest of the world?
In Europe and the US, women seem to place more emphasis on products with simple and pure ingredients, while Korean women have many different skin concerns, so there are a variety of product to cater to these different segments, i.e., products for AM/PM, seasons, skin conditions, etc. The abundance of products make people wonder, “Do Korean women really use 10-12 skincare products in their routine?” I always get this question! In reality, I don’t think so.
Most Korean women are so knowledgeable and savvy about skincare, and they invest a lot of effort in skincare, which is their strength and what drives the impetus for K-beauty innovation. There are products only for under the eyes, sheet masks for fine lines, sleeping packs, carbonated cleansers, etc., etc., and they’re all developed to cater to the sharp and keen senses of Korean women.
Sometimes our skin just needs a quick boost - what’s a good type of product for that?
An exfoliator and a sheet mask!
If you were too tired to wash off your makeup and woke up the next morning totally blaming yourself, use products that contain AHA/BHA types of acid. AHAs/BHAs are more effective than traditional scrubs because they gently remove dead skin cells.
If your skin is feeling dry and brittle, apply a hydrating toner and put on a sheet mask. Exfoliated skin makes the sheet mask more effective and lets the formula deeply penetrate the skin. 20 minutes is all you need for glowing skin.
Do you have one beauty product you absolutely can’t live without?
For skincare, I love Kiehl’s Powerful Strength Line Reducing Concentrate. In Korea, it’s nickname is “Vitamin C Essence” because it has 10% pure vitamin C, which is fantastic for cell turnover and exfoliation. It’s super effective at reducing fine lines, and those annoying little bumps? Gone.
For makeup, as mentioned before, I love a good cushion compact - my favorite is the Hera Mist Cushion!
Thank the beauty gods that K-beauty is becoming more and more accessible in the US because Migu has seriously inspired us to up our beauty game.
Pass the cushion compact please!