Sometimes, it’s not enough to get beauty trend recommendations from people in the country you currently live in. While Korean makeup and 10-step skin care routines (often collectively referred to as “K-beauty”) have been popular in Korea since at least the 1990s, these products started to make their way into the U.S. market about five years ago and, in 2018, have also become a full-fledged, mainstream way of life for plenty of the product-obsessed population in the United States. Due at least in part to different ingredient regulation rules, K-beauty brands continue to stay at the forefront of beauty innovation — which means they’re an excellent place to look any time you’re itching to try a brand new trend.
During a recent trip to South Korea, I took a class with Cat Koh, the in-house global makeup artist for Amorepacific (a South Korea-based parent company to 29 beauty and wellness brands, including ones you may have heard of like Laneige, Sulwhasoo, and Innisfree). With over 10 years of experience as an artist and educator, she clued me in on some of the biggest makeup trends taking over Korea right now. With a focus on looks that are super easy to achieve — even for makeup beginners — including gradient lips, glitter shadow, and “puppy dog liner,” you can take a little inspiration from Koh’s recommended techniques, ahead.
Koh calls this glossy, red lip both a Vitamin C Lip and a Fruit Juice Lip. Judging by what I saw with my own two eyes, this is the biggest beauty trend in South Korea right now. Practically every woman I spotted in Seoul was wearing a version of this look.
While a good smoky eye that blends several shadows together still has its place, Koh says a current trend in South Korea is to favor a single shade of glitter swiped all over the lid. She recommends reaching for a shadow that has a suuuper fine sparkle, rather than big chunks of glitter; it’s easier to work with, and keeps the shimmer feeling subtle.
Creamy Tint Color Balm Light
Instead of clear shades, Koh says reddish and orangeish makeup is super popular right now. Many people find these softer tints easier to pull off than a true tone, so they put it all over their face (eyes! cheeks! lips!) for a monochromatic look. This particular shade of orangey-red is so popular, Amorepacific created a version of it for all of its makeup brands in fall 2018.
Instead of sweeping blush all along your cheekbones, Koh recommends just putting it on the apples, “so you look like your cheeks are about to pop.” As far as color goes, those same reddish and orangeish hues are definitely the coolest for this look.
In South Korea, Koh says straight brows are definitely in vogue. They’re easier to maintain, since you don’t have to worry about upkeep on your arches. Plus, she explains, they’re supposed to look imperfect, so stray hairs are encouraged.
Laneige BB Cushion Hydra Radiance SPF 50
If you’re not on the cushion bandwagon yet, now’s the time. These handy little compacts contain loads of foundation, but there’s no risk for spillage, making it easy to reapply on the go. Koh says she prefers cushions to sponges because the cushion sits right on your fingers, which warms the makeup for a smoother application. To get the most out of your cushion, press the middle of the applicator into the foundation, then twist to spread the formula evenly.
For a slight variation on your usual winged liner, Koh suggests a “puppy eye” liner. It’s a super thin line with the tiniest of wings — and the wing should flick down, instead of up. Koh says it gives a cute look, kinda like puppy dog eyes.
Great news for everyone who still struggles to get a perfect line around your lip: Koh says blurred-out edges are the hot new thing. Laneige even created a two-toned lipstick to make achieving the look easier; swipe it on with the darker color toward the inside of your lips, then blend by smacking your lips together. If you don’t have this particular product, you can achieve basically the same thing by applying your favorite bold lipstick to the inner part of your lips, then blending out with your finger.
Rather than trying to cover up any under eye bags with concealer, Koh says many Korean women actually contour them to make those bags more pronounced. The reason? It gives the illusion that you’re smiling all the time. If you want to try the look, apply a matte contour shade underneath your bags with a skinny brush, then blend it out.