What’s new in K-Beauty?

Two years on from our original exploration of the Korean beauty marketing, we take a look at the latest trends.

By Celine Bacconi
Posted 30. 07. 2019
Aritaum K Beauty

We wrote about Korean Beauty two years ago and since then, it’s firmly established itself on the global beauty scene. There’s no beauty insider who doesn’t know about sheet masks, essences, or the gradient lip trend. Whilst it was making a name for itself, the $13 billion USD industry has continued to produce creative and innovative products and trends. Here’s what’s new:

Climate Combatants

As issues of air pollution and extreme climate conditions continue to affect cities around the world, consumers are increasingly concerned over the impact this will have on their health and skin. The issue of microdust, a form of air pollution, in South Korea in particular has also led people to look for products that don’t contain harmful ingredients. Some beauty brands have even been releasing products to help manage any detrimental effects. K-Beauty brand Missha has a ‘Dustless’ line of skincare products that work to clarify the skin while Laneige’s Anti Pollution range aims to protect wearers’ skin against dust and other pollutants.

Laneige anti pollution
© Laneige

Startups are also coming up with innovative offerings for climate-proof skincare. New subscription brand Toun28 offers customers personalised skincare products based on their environment. When users sign up, a team member visits them in person for a consultation to determine their skin’s condition. This information is put into an algorithm that also takes into account factors like age, gender, and lifestyle as well as data on climate conditions to formulate customised skincare products. These are delivered to subscribers every 28 days to align with the skin’s renewal cycle. Committed to being environmentally-friendly, the brand also uses natural ingredients and recycled packaging.

Many Korean women never had a 10-step routine in the first place

Skip care

For years, beauty experts, publications, and enthusiasts have been talking about the infamous 10-step Korean Skin-Care routine. Some sing its praises while others feel the whole thing is overwhelming. The latter includes countless Korean women, many of whom never had a 10-step routine in the first place. Now, ‘skip care’ or the ‘skin care diet’ is on trend. This is all about adopting a minimalist skincare routine to reduce irritation and sensitivity. Not only that, a shorter skincare routine is much more convenient and easier to stick to, and consistency is often what leads to the best results. Brands are getting on board with the trend too. Online K-Beauty retailer Wishtrend has a ‘Routines’ category of their store, selling small bundles of skincare products that target specific concerns.


Being able to take home personalised products seems to be a big part of the experience at Korean beauty stores. Select Laneige concept stores both in and out of the country have a DIY zone where shoppers can customise certain products. Customers can select colours for their Two Tone Lip Bars, with help from an interactive Beauty Mirror that can match skin tones to the perfect shades.

Shoppers can also take home a pot of the brand’s famous Lip Sleeping Mask in their preferred scent and design. Innisfree offers a ‘My Palette’ range - a selection of blank palettes in different sizes with a magnetic bottom that shoppers can fill with the makeup they wish. They can select eyeshadows to concealers in a range of colours and textures and simply snap them into place inside their palette. Etude House’s Color Factory concept lets shoppers blend their own bespoke lipsticks and select the packaging.

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Shoppers at Etude House can customise their own lipstick

Colour pops

Although South Korea still isn’t that interested in using unconventional colours for makeup, bold pinks and reds are currently on trend alongside more natural colours. Pantone’s Colour of the Year Living Coral has also inspired a lot of new makeup products. New brand Stonebrick, created to appeal to young consumers with its Lego-like packaging, is also making bold colour statements. Over 200 products in a variety of shades line the walls of its flagship store in Hongdae, Seoul, making for an eye-catching display.

© Stonebrick

While there’s now a buzz surrounding the beauty industries of various other countries, K-beauty continues to be a trendsetter when it comes to skincare and makeup. Innovation is the way to stay ahead in beauty, particularly in South Korea, so we expect to see more interesting products and experiences coming out of the country.


We’ve worked with several K-Beauty brands to create exciting experiences in Seoul and beyond. For Etude House, we transformed their flagship into a sweet yet sophisticated space complete with personalisation experiences and digital interactions. For Aritaum, we created the ultimate beauty destination where shoppers are encouraged to become their own makeup artists and play and experiment.

For more of our thoughts and insights into what’s happening in the beauty industry, check out our latest D&P Loves Beauty series.

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