After BB creams proliferated through the US in 2008 and cushion compacts came onto the market via L'Oreal in 2015, US consumers and beauty companies look to Korea to see what has the potential to be the next big product category.
Unfortunately, the reality is that currently there isn't anything as transformative as those products at the moment. Rather, there are many micro-trends taking root that I believe have the potential to also become micro-trends in the US.
Here are some guesses as to which of these micro-trends in Korea might make it to be more mainstream in the West.
The finger pad is nothing new in the US. The ones that exist in the US are pre-soaked round cotton pads that are single use and usually soaked in an acid (salicylic acid, AHAs/BHAs) and promote healing acne, skin resurfacing, or wrinkle care.
The next gen ones from Korea take it to the next level in a few ways. First, in Korea, the finger pads are now also soaked in moisturizing serum and marketed as a new moisturizer category. Cosrx has launched their One Step Moisture Up Pad product in Korea and reviews have been very positive. Wish Formula has launched I'm Pro Ampoule Pad - M, which similarly is for moisturizing.
In addition to extending into moisturizers, Korean brands are also creating next gen versions which consist of little pockets, which is why I'm calling them "finger mitts". Some of them also have a little strap that you can use to hold the product with your fingers.
This is a product category that LG has patented with the sum:37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick. The concept is quite simple - it's a soap bar in a stick format - but its simplicity is ingenious.
belif, another LG Health and Household brand, also leverages this format with their True Tincture Chamomile Cleansing Stick carried at Sephora.
Powder cleansers have crept their way onto the scene but I think this product category is poised to potentially be a lot more mainstream in the US.
Korean brands IOPE and Tosowoong have powder cleansers which have been touted by K-Beauty enthusiasts for their low pH and cleansing and exfoliating abilities. Also, they are travel friendly with a bit of a DIY element.
Tatcha was one of the early brands in the US to introduce their powder cleanser. And now Estee Lauder brand Clinique is pushing it in a big way with their Fresh Pressed Renewing Powder Cleanser, a new single-serve powder cleanser format with vitamin C. I expect to see other brands follow suit with similar powder cleansers for their portability and efficacy.
Sometimes Korean beauty has influence in smaller ways with their product innovation and popularization. Oftentimes, it's the two hand-in-hand that work together to create beauty trends and Korea is one of the best places to look to for what might be coming.
Find more articles like this at Rhyu’s website for consultancy firm Inside the Raum.