Although good skin is always our #skingoal, the Koreans are known to be one of the most innovative in the world when it comes to skincare
After all, they popularised 10-step skincare routines, LED masks, sleeping masks, the usage of ingredients like snail mucin, and (arguably) made glass skin the gold standard for good skin. However, that also means Korean skincare trends tend to change quite frequently as better ingredients are discovered and more effective products are launched.
Korean skincare trends 2020: what are they going to be?
In order to find out what you should stock up on your vanity table in 2020 (and probably ditch), we spoke to the experts in Singapore who are at the forefront of skincare product launches: Ksisters, a K-beauty curator, and My Beauty Moments, Singapore’s official distributor for the best K-skincare brands (think COSRX, Klairs, and Wishtrend), for their insights in the upcoming Korean skincare trends in 2020.
Korean skincare trend #1: It’s all about maximising absorption
K-beauty is big on ingredients – be it classics such as hyaluronic acid, cica, and ceramides, or new ones like snail mucin and white truffle that raise eyebrows, K-beauty consumers have always been more concerned about what each product’s star ingredients can do for their skin.
According to Jungmin, founder of Ksisters, if K-beauty has been obsessed with what ingredients we use, you’ll start seeing a shift in 2020 where there is more focus on how to effectively deliver great ingredients deeper into the tissue.
Many new K-beauty products in the market now boast micro-needling technology, melting needle chips, or are capsulated with liposomes to maximise the absorption of ingredients by the skin – even the humble acne patches now come with microneedles that dissolve into the skin:
Korean skincare trend #2: Less is more with skip-care
Korean skincare is famous (or notorious) for laborious trends like the 10-step routine, but here’s the good news: the latest K-beauty trend that is gaining popularity in Korea is moving towards to a more minimalist approach that better suits busy lifestyles, otherwise known as ‘skip-care’.
My Beauty Moments explains that skip-care is not about skipping care for your skin, but paring back from lengthy routines and using minimal products that multitask without sacrificing on the essentials of maintaining healthy skin.
For example, Dear, Klairs launched a multi-purpose Youthful Glow Sugar Mask that serves as a scrub, cleanser, and mask – using this can exfoliate dead skin cells, cleanse your makeup, and nourish your skin with active ingredients all at the same time. What used to be three steps and possibly 30 minutes’ worth of work is now reduced to one 10-minute step!
That being said, Jungmin reminds us that layering skincare products is still a strong trend in Korea, just that not all ladies will really do all 10 steps. Instead, they use the 10-step skincare routine as a framework to understand the right skincare order, so they know when to use which products and how to use them.
Many Korean ladies have a deep understanding of skincare, so they customise their skincare routine according to their skin types or concerns. However, the core stages they never skip are cleansing, prepping (toner), treatment (e.g. acne), and protection (sunscreen)!
Korean skincare trend #3: You’re likely to invest in a device
Skincare is going down the high-tech route in Korea in 2020 – what used to be only found in professional beauty salons and spas may soon be a staple in Korean households.
Jungmin notes that many K-beauty devices such as LED masks and ionic machines are gaining popularity in Korea, and she believes the trend will get only stronger.
Korean skincare trend #4: Marie Kondo your skin with exfoliation
Exfoliation is crucial in any skincare routine, and more so for Korean skincare where an all-over glow is highly sought after.
My Beauty Moments lists AHA and BHA as popular exfoliation ingredients in Korean skincare; however, the problem with using such ingredients is that they tend to be harsh, especially on sensitive skin.
If you are looking for a gentle exfoliator that clears dead skin cells and blemishes without damaging sensitive skin, try By Wishtrend’s newest product, the Acid-duo Hibiscus 63 Cream. This contains new ingredients LHA (Capryloyl Salicylic Acid) and PHA (Gluconolactone), which are gentler versions of AHA and BHA that do gentle chemical exfoliation to minimise skin irritation and stress.
Korean skincare trend #5: Moisturisers? Nah – it’s all about ampoules & eye creams
Most of us know about toners, serums, and moisturisers, but 2020 is going to be the year for specialised skincare products like ampoules and eye creams.
Jungmin shares that K-beauty lovers love ampoules the most as they contain the highest levels of key active ingredient designed to treat your biggest skin concerns. She predicts that there will be more customised or innovative ampoules in the market – so keep your eyes peeled!
On the other hand, My Beauty Moments believes that more Korean women will invest in eye creams in 2020. This is because the skin around our eyes is the most sensitive area on our faces, and it also tends to be one of the first places where signs of premature ageing show up first.
Due to a strong foundation in skincare, Korean women understand that prevention is much better than cure, so even young women without any wrinkles or sagging around their eyes will use eye creams that they don’t show as many signs of ageing later.
To catch on this trend, Dear, Klairs has launched two new additions to the eye skincare category: Fundamental Eye Awakening Gel and Fundamental Nourishing Eye Butter. The eye gel depuffs and hydrates the eye area, while the eye butter delivers rich nutrition for bouncy and elastic under eyes.
Korean skincare trend #6: Glass skin is about to get more complicated
Will glass skin/dewy skin/cloudy skin ever fall out of fashion with the Koreans? The answer is no – natural glowy dewy skin has always, and will always be a skin goal in Korea.
To make things more complicated, Jungmin tells us that the Koreans have even started differentiating glass skin by their finishes!
- Ggulgwang: Ggul is honey in Korean, so this means a more glossy kind of gwang (radiance).
- Yoongwang: Yoon means pottery, so it means a more matte finish.
- Moolgwang: Mool is water in Korean, so it implies a dewy finish. It is not as glossy as Ggulgwang, but the Koreans are obsessed with this natural radiance which comes from truly good skin!
Korean skincare trend #7: Clean beauty and healthy skin are always key
The pursuit of glass skin can be daunting, but My Beauty Moments reminds us that it really just boils down to one thing: healthy skin.
Although beautiful skin is the end goal that the Koreans are working towards, K-beauty is increasingly geared towards seeking nature and healthy skin in beauty – and this Korean skincare trend will be amplified in 2020.
Consumers are not only interested in cosmetics ingredients, but also care about healthy habits such as eating habits and lifestyle. Consisting of some of the most fastidious beauty consumers in the world, Korean women are looking deeper into ingredients lists and shifting away from parabens, fragrances and artificial preservatives.
The move towards safe, minimal ingredients has seen a surge in the popularity of new generation, indie K-beauty brands that are cruelty-free, toxin-free, and safe for use over long periods of time.
Take Klairs as an example: the brand for sensitive skin was considered a pioneer in the K-beauty industry as it not only addressed sustainability and animal cruelty issues, but was also one of the first few to be completely free of PEG, silicone, artificial fragrance, and other toxic ingredients. Today, it has gone from being a small indie brand to a global favourite with holy grails that the Koreans absolutely love – a clear sign that clean skincare is the way to go for K-beauty in 2020.