Beauty & Skincare

12 Korean Beauty Trends You Must Try in 2021

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As we step into the year, it’s time to say bye-bye to the long and detailed 10 step skin care routines. Now, make way for the latest Korean beauty trends of 2021 that welcome science-based formulations and an all-over minimalist approach to skin care and beauty!

In 2021, K-beauty and Korean skin care is all about using clean, plant-based ingredients. You will find all kinds of plants in your skin care products from mushrooms to carrots to Asiatic pennywort.

K-Beauty Trends in 2021

Just like any other cultural phenomenon, K-beauty also keeps on changing. Last year has been about snail mucin, glass skin, bee venom, and so on. But this year, its time to switch things up a bit.

And if you are wondering why are you reading about K-beauty trends, then the simple answer is that more and more, people are looking at K-beauty for providing skin care solutions. According to WGSN beauty director, Jenni Middleton, “consumers searched more for K-beauty, looking for innovative products to add to their lockdown beauty regimes.”

So, here are the K-beauty skin care trends according to industry’s leading skin care experts.

Sarah Lee and Christine Chang, co-founders of Glow Recipe

1. ‘Hybrid’ Skin Care

Sarah Lee and Christine Chang expect that the complex skin care routines are a thing of past. You can look forward to the K-beauty trend of ‘skipcare’ or to say simply, a pared-down, minimalist routine. There’ll be more of beauty products that can multitask and are more versatile or what they refer to as ‘hyphenates’ or ‘hybrid’ skin care.

2. Boost in Personal Self-Care

Personal self-care has become important for all of us especially because of the difficulties of the last year. In South Korea, body care rituals come from the traditional Korean bathhouses where the baths are all about nurturing and nourishing the face and body. Milk treatments, probiotics, and other skin-beneficial ingredients are integral. As we move forward in 2021, self-care will become inclusive of everything, from head to toe.

3. Focus on Skin Detoxification and Barrier Strengthening

In Korea, people believe that ‘skin is a reflection of your mental state.’ According to Lee and Chang, there will be more ingredients that can work on strengthening the natural skin barrier. Ingredients like mushrooms that boost immunity, ginger, and mugwort that are detoxifying, and ceramides that create a barrier will be on point with the K-beauty trends of 2021.

Alicia Yoon, founder of Peach & Lily

4. Indulge in Spa-Like Experiences At-Home

In the coming year, you can expect beauty and skin care products that offer more ‘meditative, soothing, and spa-like moments’ according to Alicia Yoon. She believes that it is going to be an important aspect of skin care moving forward. In 2021, K-beauty and skin care have to be functional, effective, and be able to mentally transport you to another headspace.

Sarah Oh, founder of Oh My Gloss!

5. Biotics

According to Sandra Oh, founder of Oh My Gloss!, inner and outer well brands and products will become more popular amongst consumers. Beauty and skin care brands that focus on pre-biotics, pro-biotics, and post-biotics will be ‘in’ this year. Any brand that offers microbiome-friendly skin care that is not only beneficial for the skin but the gut too!

Elisa Lee, founder of Dot Dot Skin

6. Clean Beauty

Korean beauty products have been about clean and organic ingredients for quite some time. Now, more and more brands are making products free of any fragrance, additives, and other artificial ingredients. There will be more gentle and effective beauty products with plant-based ingredients. Many brands are becoming vegan as consumers become more aware and concerned about what they put on their faces.

Coco Park, founder of The Beauty Wolf 

7. Centella Asiatica

Tried and tested ingredients will be back again in 2021! Coco Park says, “With everyone dealing with the prolonged stress of the pandemic and dreaded ‘maskne’, soothing irritated, angry skin seems to be at the forefront of people’s minds. Cica is the ingredient that everyone wants to add to their routine.” Even right now, the focus on Centella Asiatica (the Asian herb known for its calming and soothing effects) is huge!

Jude Chao, founder of Fifty Shades of Snail 

8. Minimalist Skin Care Routines

A few years back, skin care was all about the ‘10-step Korean skin care routine’. Then came the ‘skin care diet’ – using fewer products and a lesser number of steps. This was too restrictive as it involves only basics.

‘Flexible minimalism’, on the other hand, focuses on simple product lines so that you can customize your skin care routine as per your needs. You can look forward to the Korean beauty trends of 2021 with simple and minimalistic ingredients products. According to Jude Chao, these products will become popular because of their simplicity and high concentration of the star ingredient.

Charlotte Cho, founder of Soko Glam

9. Carrot

“Carrot seed oil is an unsung hero at the moment, although it has been used in K-beauty for more than 10 years,” says Charlotte Cho. It has anti-aging, anti-fungal, anti-bacterial, and even anti-inflammatory properties. Any beauty product with carrot seed oil is perfect for anyone looking for skin brightening solutions!

10. Retinol

Korean beauty’s mantra of ‘skin first’ is going to continue in 2021 as self-care and skin care has become more important. Retinol is a powerful ingredient with anti-aging properties. And K-beauty industry uses a lower percentage of retinol so that it remains gentle on the skin while still being effective. You will be seeing more of such products with retinol that does not cause any unnecessary damage to the skin.

11. Acid Layering

Another K-beauty trend for 2021 that you must try is the gentle approach with which the industry incorporates acids in its products. Too much acid can aggravate the skin while too little will be ineffective. K-beauty product formulations meet that striking balance so the acids like AHAs and BHAs are effective yet gentle on the skin.

12. Hanbang Ingredients

In 2021, you can look forward to the Korean beauty trend of incorporating hanging ingredients in product formulations. They are traditional herbal ingredients used in herbal Korean medicine and are a staple part of every day life in Korea. According to Cho, there will be more of K-beauty products with ingredients like ginseng, sacred lotus, houttuynia cordata, and others with anti-inflammatory, anti-aging, and regenerative properties.

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