Korea is famous for its cutting edge skin care, so what are the newest beauty crazes in Seoul?
Blithe’s three-sku range of patting masks
From BB creams and cleansing oils to sleeping packs, most major beauty trends of the last few years have originated in Korea. The Korean C&T industry is deservedly famous for its cutting-edge skin care research and there are plenty of new beauty trends emerging in 2016.
Face masks are a key product category in the Korean skin care sector. And although the classic sheet mask – a cellulose/paper/Tencel fibre mask saturated in a thick essence or serum – is still a mainstay of the market, several new mask formats have appeared over the past couple of years.
One of these is the so-called ‘splash mask’, a texture inaugurated by Korean brand Blithe, which brought out its famous ‘patting water packs’ in 2015. These are concentrated liquid skin treatments, which are diluted in water and then patted onto the face. Splash masks are marketed as a time-saving step in the traditionally elaborate Korean face care routine, which can include up to 20 different skin care steps. Blithe’s three-sku range of patting masks includes variants with green tea, purple berry extract and a mask with citrus and honey.
The exact opposite of time-saving is another key mask trend at the moment: DIY rubber masks, or ‘modelling masks’. These are powder masks based on diatomaceous earth and alginate, which are stirred up with water to create a thick, goopy mass. Once the mask is applied to the face, it hardens into a rubbery sheet, which is then pulled off the skin. Because the texture of modelling masks are flexible, they adhere to the individual skin contours better than a classic cloth or paper-based sheet mask.
Korean salon brand Lindsay was the first company to launch a modelling mask, effectively creating a new product category. The Lindsay powder masks, which are packaged in plastic cups and include a little spatula, are stocked by all major drugstore retailers in Korea.
Earlier in 2016, Lindsay launched two new rubber mask packs: the All-In One powder mask, which is packaged in a space-saving flat foil pack which opens up into a ‘basin’ shape that can be filled up with water, as indicated on the pack, then stirred with an enclosed spatula; and the elaborate Luxury Magic Mask, which consists of two plastic cups that are slotted together not unlike a cocktail shaker. Inside the pack are two sachets, one filled with the powder mask mixture, the other with a special skin care liquid. The contents of both sachets are stirred together and the mask is then applied to the face.
Other beauty brands have launched similar packs in Korea. Domestic beauty brand 23 Years Old’s Aqua Bab Modeling Mask is a two-step DIY powder mask with a pack containing a powder sachet and a liquid sachet, while Spanish skin care brand Casmara’s modeling mask is a tri-phase mask set; besides powder and liquid, the plastic cup pack contains a tube with serum, which is added into the mask mix.
Korean cosmetics are famous for their innovative skin care ingredients. The best-known actives include the ubiquitous snail mucin, hydrolysed starfish extract and bee venom. Snail mucus is still a classic on the Korean beauty market. Almost every domestic beauty brand, from mass market over masstige all the way to premium, offers at least one snail care range. Bee venom is popular in facial moisturisers, while Korean brand Mizon’s Returning Starfish cream is one of the best-known starfish beauty products. Another trending ingredient is pig collagen, which has appeared in several product ranges launched by the younger, trendier Korean brands, such as Holika Holika or Tony Moly.
Korean cosmetics are famous for their innovative skin care ingredients. The best-known actives include the ubiquitous snail mucin, hydrolysed starfish extract and bee venom
And one of the latest ingredients to hit the scene is spider toxin. At this April’s Cosmobeauty Seoul trade show Korean company Nexgen showcased its proprietary spider toxin complex, which is claimed to be a highly effective anti-ageing ingredient.
Another skin care ingredient that keeps appearing in new face care launches is mushroom extract. Korean beauty companies have a long tradition of using herbal and medicinal plant ingredients in their cosmetics – the term for beauty products formulated with traditional herbal ingredients is hanbang – and fungi are a classic TCM (Traditional Chinese Medicine) ingredient. Two of the most popular fungi extracts used in cosmetics are chaga mushroom (Inonotus obliquus) and silver ear mushroom (Tremella fuciformis).
Chaga mushroom was a key ingredient in splash mask company Blithe’s much-hyped Tundra Chaga Pressed Serum, which hit the shelves in late 2015. The product, a gel moisturiser, contains 60% chaga mushroom extract and is said to be an intensive anti-ageing face care product. Blithe’s Pressed Serum range also offers two other variants: Crystal Iceplant and Velvet Yam.
The Pressed Serums are described as combining the effectiveness of a serum with the hydration of a moisturiser and are marketed as a time-saving product. They have also been generating an international buzz since US-based online Korean beauty store Glowrecipe and sephora.com started stocking the jelly moisturisers. At the same time, the Pressed Serums illustrate another Korean beauty trend: multifunctional, time-saving beauty products that cut down on elaborate skin care routines.