The most eye-catching representation of skincare practices is of South Korea, which is the eighth largest cosmetics market in the world. Representing vaguely 3.0% of the global market, South Korea was amongst the top 3 countries which exported the highest dollar value of beauty cosmetics and skincare products during 2017. As per my observation, it isn’t a surprise to see them dominating the global market for cosmetics. However, what are the key factors behind their success story?
The research says, ’’The reason is the use of unique ingredients for cosmetics production which also traces back to the rich history of Korean Skincare Routine.”
The usage of cosmetics in Korea originated during the time of three Kingdoms of Korea, and the use of makeup flourished in the Goryeo kingdom. They followed a specific Korean Skincare Routine in which cosmetics were made up of lotions extracted from plants, as well as gourd stems. Ground mung bean containing glucoside was the excellent source for cleansing. People used Castor oil as hair oil. It had a pleasant smell but wasn’t sticky. Safflower oil was used to dampen and add gloss to the skin. Apricot and peach oils were used to take away freckles and liver spots. Scents were made up from extracts of grains and other plants such as dried clove buds. Perfumes were used to relieve stress and tiredness.
Moreover, the Gyuhap Chongseo, an ancient women’s encyclopedia, includes various methods for making perfume. According to Gyuhap Chongseo, eyebrows were the central feature of a woman’s face. The work describes ten favourite eyebrow shapes. Crescent or willow leaf shapes were most popular. Plant ash was the primary raw material used for eyebrow ink, with which women drew their eyebrows in various forms. The primary colours were black, blue, and dark brown. It also provides information about Yeonji, the Korean name of rouge which was made up of safflower and used to colour the lips and cheeks.
In the Joseon dynasty, people prohibited expensive cosmetics because of Confucianism. The makeup culture was understandable and straightforward. To promote a luxurious appearance, Joseon emphasised more on inner beauty than outer beauty. Bundae makeup, popularised among gisaengs was considered inappropriate. Thus, the makeup looks in Joseon were only confined to its natural appearance. The brows, skin, cheeks and lips all had to look “natural”. If before and after makeup application a person looked vastly different, it was considered despicable. Whereas, upper-class women tended to copy the makeup and style of gisaeng. Overall, the makeup culture in the Joseon period was confined and simple.
However, considering all the dynasties mentioned above, I must say the history of Korean Skincare Routine tells stories about the success of the Korean cosmetics industry. That’s why keeping their ancestor’s theory alive, Korean Skincare Industry is leading the world.