Exclusive Interview

What do K-beauty brands look like in 2018?

By Natasha Spencer

- Last updated on GMT

 What do K-beauty brands look like in 2018?
K-beauty has achieved world-renowned industry status and is synonymous with innovative, creative and exciting beauty. We talk to Ju Rhyu of Inside the Raum to get the lowdown on the latest Korean beauty updates.

What qualities do the most popular K-beauty brands share?

They have a strong story and usually a hero product or two. They leverage fun and whimsical packaging that stands out on social media. A lot of the popular ones in the US have been picked up by curators like Soko Glam, Glow Recipe, or Peach & Lily.

What epitomises a K-beauty brand?

The K-Beauty boom in the US has unfortunately led to a dilution of what defines a K-Beauty brand. You see American brands like Julep that has a Korean American founder play into the K-Beauty trend. You see retailers like Sephora group Japanese brands like SKII under the K-Beauty section and Western brands like Glam Glow create “Korean-inspired” products. Do they qualify as K-Beauty? I say no. Part of the problem is that there is no definition or standard for what makes a K-Beauty brand. Below, I list 4 criteria in order to qualify to be K-Beauty:

  • To be a legitimate K-Beauty brand, your brand must originate from Korea and be manufactured by a Korean company and Korean manufacturer
  • A legitimate K-Beauty brand will leverage and incorporate packaging, ingredient and product category innovations from Korea and popularised in Korea. Your K-Beauty brand may involve packaging design that can be kitschy, whimsical and fun
  • Your K-Beauty brand appeals to the senses through emotive descriptors, sensorial textures and eye-catching visual cues
  • It must leverage ingredients that originate in Korea

Has this changed at all since its entry into the market? 

Yes, I think the lines have become very blurry and now there are many Western brands are seeking to play into the K-Beauty trend in some way. Now Japanese brands are looking to steal the spotlight away from K-Beauty.

Would you call K-beauty a phenomenon?

Yes, K-Beauty has absolutely become a phenomenon in the US in the past few years. Every publication has talked about it and every retailer has a K-Beauty curation. It has inspired copycat strategies and products from the likes of L’Oreal and Estee Lauder brands. I personally think it has also helped grow the skincare category faster than make-up for the first time in years, as cited by The NPD Group.

in-cosmetics Korea 2018 will take place between 13th-15th June. For more information, visit http://korea.in-cosmetics.com/​. 

Related news

Show more

Follow us


View more



Beauty 4.0 Podcast