By now, we've all established that K-beauty is far more than some fleeting trend or gimmick. The innovation-driven category is one of the fastest-growing segments of the American beauty market, with retailers from Target to Barneys clamoring to get their piece of it. It's forcing beauty brands across the industry to step up their own innovations and experiment with new ingredients, technologies and delivery systems. And though Korean beauty is itself far more than just a trend, there are trends within it. In fact, the K-beauty category is constantly evolving and advancing, so much so that U.S.-based purveyors of Korean skin-care goods typically visit Seoul regularly to make sure they're staying up on the latest and greatest. That's precisely what Alicia Yoon, the founder and CEO of K-beauty e-comm site Peach & Lily, does in order to keep her K-beauty retail business at the forefront.
I caught up with Yoon, who is also a skin-care expert and licensed esthetician, fresh from a trip to Seoul, to find out which K-beauty trends she's expecting to see everywhere stateside for fall 2017. Ahead, her top picks.
"This classic is making a comeback," says Yoon. "April Skin's Magic Stone is a soap that went viral in Korea. I think brands are really honing in on natural skin care, and these are sulfate-free, beautiful, gentle and all natural bar soaps that really work." Yoon is also a fan of Koh Gen Do's botanical soap. "Don't confuse these bar soaps with the harsh soaps of the past; they are gentle and efficacious formulas meant for your face."
"Superfoods aren't just great for your diet, they are also great for your complexion. Frudia makes waterless formulas and uses fruit bases for super potent protection," says Yoon. "Olivarrier is a line we'll be launching this fall that harnesses the power of olive, and Peach Slices employs lush fruits for maximum nourishment (citrus, grapefruit, honey and yuzu)."
Activated Skin Care
"Mixing your skin care on as needed keeps each dosage ultra-fresh," explains Yoon, who is seeing the trend pop up in products like Eco Your Skin Vitamin C Boost Powder. "Vitamin C is more stable in powder form. You can mix it directly into your serum for a potent dose of Vitamin C," she says. In terms of DIY K-Beauty, Yoon also points to Shangpree modeling masks — which users mix up themselves in a little bowl —and Wish Formula Ampoule Pads, which are individually sealed to ensure freshness. "This idea of customizing skin care by day and using really fresh and active [ingredients] is still going strong," she says.
Hydrocolloid Technology in Blemish Patches
"Blemish-healing patches like these Acne Spot Dots are majorly trending in Seoul. Instead of using harsh spot treatments, these clear bandages heal your acne through this osmosis process via hydrocolloid technology," says Yoon.
Diamond Powder Products
"I've seen lots of brands launching formulas with diamonds or diamond powder in [the formula]," says Yoon. The idea is that diamond dust creates an illuminating effect on skin (and also makes you feel fancy). Yoon is a big fan of the Shangpree Diamond Luminous Cream.
"One of the biggest issues in Korea is pollution — it can wreak havoc on skin, so it's essential to create a healthy barrier," says Yoon. "If you irritate the barrier via physical means or disturbing the acid mantle, you’re prone to more breakouts and sensitivity." With that in mind, the idea of not disturbing your skin too much as you cleanse has become major in Korea. "Look for cleansers that are between 5 and 6 on the pH scale (like Shangpree and Atopalm) — they're less likely to harm the skin barrier. A lot of dermatologists are saying that skin can become more sensitized if the barrier is weakened," says Yoon.