Say goodbye to 10-step routines and make room for science-based formulas and an all-round minimalist approach to skincare. This year, K-Beauty is all about clean, plant-based ingredients - from carrots and mushrooms to Asian pennywort - with a focus on anti-inflammatory factors.
Korean Beauty: 12 Trends You Must Try in 2021
Snail slime. Bee venom. "Glass Skin". These are just a few of the beauty trends that have come from South Korea over the past five years. Whether you play it safe with donkey milk (good for skin rejuvenation and full of protein and fatty acids) or a weekly face mask - K-Beauty is everywhere right now. In fact, Allied Market Research says the K-Beauty market will be valued at an estimated £ 15 billion by 2026. According to Jenni Middleton, Director of Beauty at WGSN, "During the coronavirus pandemic, consumers were increasingly looking for K-Beauty and were looking for innovative products to incorporate into their established beauty routine".
Like most cultural phenomena, K-Beauty is constantly changing - what was the latest craze last year may be out this year. As Middleton observes, the traditional 10-step routine is giving way to a more minimalist approach, while conscious consumers respond to fast fashion and over-packaging. Elsewhere, playful gimmicks such as color change effects or jelly-like substances are replaced by scientifically based formulas.
To find out more about the biggest K-Beauty trends of 2021, we spoke to some of the leading skincare experts in the industry.
Charlotte Cho, founder of Soko Glam
"Hanbang ingredients are traditional herbal ingredients used in Korean medicine, and they have long been a staple in Korean life. For example, ginseng root, colored leaf, holy lotus, and Rehmannia have anti-aging, anti-inflammatory, and regenerative properties."
"K-Beauty has included more acids in their products, but with a gentle approach, with a focus on balance: Too much can irritate and aggravate your skin, too little does not produce results - so products with the optimal amount are key. Use the right balance of AHAs and BHAs (acids of plant and animal origin) to gently exfoliate dead skin cells and smooth the texture of the skin. "
"Carrot seed oil is (still) an unsung hero, although it has been used in K beauty care for more than ten years. It contains vitamin A and is a great antioxidant. who want to make their skin shine. "
"The 'skin first' approach of K-Beauty will continue until 2021, especially since self-care and skincare are so important right now. The strong anti-aging effect of retinol is undisputed, but the secret of K-Beauty is to use a lower percentage so that the skin stays healthy and is less irritated. Retinol is highly effective without causing unnecessary damage. "
Coco Park, founder of "The Beauty Wolf" and co-author of "Korean Beauty Secrets" (Simon & Schuster, 2015)
"2021 is less about what is considered 'in' and more about what has proven itself, with a special focus on soothing the skin. Centella Asiatica [a herb grown in Asia, known for its anti-inflammatory effects] - or Cica - is on the rise right now. In view of the stress caused by pandemics and the dreaded 'maskne', calming irritated skin seems to have become a priority. Cica is the ingredient that belongs in every beauty routine. "
Elisa Lee, founder of Dot Dot Skin
"More and more brands are developing products free of chemical additives, artificial ingredients, and fragrances. The products will then be even gentler with effective plant-based ingredients, and many brands are also going vegan. Consumers are more aware of what they are putting on their skin."
Sarah Oh, founder of "Oh My Gloss!"
"This year, brands and products for internal and external wellness will become more popular. For example, brands that focus on pre-, pro-and postbiotics; microbiome-friendly skincare; and nutritional supplements that benefit both the skin and the gut.
K-Beauty will move more towards a holistic approach that combines skincare and inner health. I take probiotic supplements for my eczema outbreaks and I love K-Beauty products with fermented ingredients. I regularly use 107 - it uses aged [seven and ten years old] vinegar [which promotes good bowel health]. Your vinegar tastes delicious with honey! "
Jude Chao, founder of "Fifty Shades of Snail" and author of "Skin Care for Your Soul" (Mango, 2021)
"A few years ago we became saturated with the '10 Step Korean Skincare Routine '. The' Skincare Diet 'that followed [with fewer products and steps] countered this but was too restrictive for those more concerned about Wanting results than you could get with the basics.
Flexible minimalism focuses on clean and simple product lines that make it easier to adjust your own routine. There will also be a trend towards shorter ingredient lists. Individual and minimal ingredients are appealing because of their simplicity and the high concentration of the hero component. "
Alicia Yoon, founder of "Peach & Lily"
"Skincare has a functional element - it has to work and produce results - but I expect products that provide meditative, calming, and spa-like moments to be very successful. They can transform you mentally and emotionally. "
Sarah Lee and Christine Chang, co-founders of "Glow Recipe"
"We have started to see 'Skipcare' as a K-beauty trend that focuses on a pared-down, simple and minimalist routine. We will see more efficient and effective multitasking and versatile products - what we like to call 'hyphenate' [in German 'Hyphen', meaning with several properties] or 'hybrid' skincare. "
"The belief that 'your skin is a reflection of your mental state' originated in Korea, and as I grew up my mom kept emphasizing this. We will see more skin barrier-enhancing ingredients that help boost immunity, such as mushrooms, as well as detoxifying herbs like mugwort and ginger. Ceramides [which form a protective layer to prevent moisture loss and prevent visible skin damage] are also making a comeback. "
"In Korea, many personal care rituals spring from bathhouse culture, where milk treatments are applied to the face and body and baths are infused with skincare ingredients such as green tea and probiotics. In a difficult year, personal self-care has taken on new meaning for many so we expect its definition to encompass all of the skin from head to toe. "