Beyond beauty: Korean makeup provides ‘cosmeceuticals’
Often packaged in bright colors and decked out with cartoon characters, Korean beauty products are too cute to ignore, but they also provide some health benefits.
“For a long time, France and Japan were considered a symbol of cosmetics business around the globe,” said Ryan Park, who founded the Korean beauty brand Whamisa in 1999. “Korea was able to catch up with them within a very short time thanks to the balance of its accumulated fundamental industry, chemistry, bioscience and Korean Wave culture.”
The Korean wave, called “hallyu,” is about the spread of South Korean pop culture and how all things Korean — food, dramas, makeup, movies and music — have propagated throughout the world through social media and online platforms. A lot of this wave radiates off of the music, K-pop, with artists like PSY, Wonder Girls and BTS whose edgy look, style and sound attract global fans.
Simply put, consumers want the skin of Korean celebrities, who supposedly use it too, said Dr. Soyun Cho, a dermatology professor at Seoul National University.
“Young Korean women are very keen to try the new trend, and they don’t want to be left out of the loop when all their friends are using a new product.”
Chang cites the use of aloe instead of water for intense nourishment, applying “rubber masks” — instead of paper sheet face masks — for better nutrient absorption and fermented botanicals for more efficient absorption into the skin.
Fermented botanicals contain micro-organisms that release enzymes that ferment and break down molecules into the raw material, resulting in the creation of new substances that benefit the skin, explains dermatology professor Cho. Fermentation helps the skin absorb the product better due to the smaller molecular sizes, and it also reduces skin irritation, because the fermentation process neutralizes potentially toxic substances like pesticides.
Another example of innovation is the combination of beauty balm cream, BB cream, with an air cushion compact, Cho said. Although these creams were created in Germany, Korean companies popularized the merging of foundation, moisturizer, anti-aging cream, whitening agent and sunscreen in one product.
The air cushion compact “wicks the formula off a sponge and effortlessly applies evenly onto the face for that dewy, no-makeup makeup look,” Chang said.
“Our Birch Juice Hydro line formulas completely replace water, commonly used as the main ingredient for other skin care products, with birch sap, which is the liquid that is tapped straight from Japanese birch trees,” E Nature’s Anna Kim said. “Birch sap has been deemed the next ‘coconut water’ because it is full of electrolytes and antioxidants, thus providing the skin with intense hydration and soothing abilities when it is applied.”
Seoul National University’s Cho says many of these Korean makeup products are beneficial because they contain sunscreen filters with high SPF, which help protect the skin from the sun’s harmful rays. But as for the effectiveness of their botanical ingredients, they are “basically all antioxidants, which have anti-inflammatory and anti-aging functions, albeit weak.”
Some ingredients may be beneficial, she said. Black sugar can leave the skin surface more hydrated, and birch sap can reduce inflammation and retain moisture.
However, while rubber masks help with absorption, she doesn’t believe a facial mask is any more beneficial than a good moisturizing cream but can be “a fun way to pamper yourself for 15 minutes.”
As for the future of Korean beauty products, they’re only going to get better, Cho said.
“As all Asians age with wrinkles and age spots, multifunctional cosmeceutical products with whitening and anti-aging properties all in one will continue to be in high demand,” she said. “With continued advancement of cosmetics science and technology, new products with more innovative and functional properties will keep coming out.”
News credit : Cnn