Getty Images / Song Hye Kyo
We asked the founders of our two favorite Korean beauty stores to give us the scoop on the hot new ingredients, the brands on the verge of cult status and the makeup trends to know for 2016.
1) Wetness is the essence of life. Skincare brands are starting to put a lot more thought into what is almost always the first ingredient in their formulations: water. Instead of distilled, "there's a big push for using mineral-rich waters so that the base is also an active ingredient," says Yoon, whose shop stocks Cremorlab, a line that uses an exclusive thermal water with rare minerals like zanadium. This water, according to Yoon, "has been found to be so beneficial for the skin that it's used in hydrotherapy treatments for cancer patients." Newly launched skincare brand Appriya is also harnessing the power of minerals, using exclusive water with a neutral pH balance from the Thai mountains. The silica and hydrogen peroxide in it strengthen nails, brighten hair and clear up acne and inflammation.
Mizon Vita Lemon Sparkling Powder, $6, peachandlily.com.
2) Sparkling or still? Carbonation isn't great when it comes to drinks, but it's all the rage in mask and cleanser form. "Carbonated face baths, like this one from Innisfree, are a popular cleansing trend," says Kim. "The process involves dunking your face into a bowl of water for 30 seconds to a minute using a 1:1 ratio of carbonated water to normal tap water. This invigorating cleansing technique, which originated in Japan, was discovered and popularized by Korean celebrities for its ability to deep clean your pores. The bubbly fizz is known to have toning and firming benefits for your skin, as well."
3) Feed your skin with seaweed. The benefits of kelp extend beyond the diet realm—turns out, according to Kim, "fermented sea kelp is packed with vitamins and nutrients known to combat acne and hyperpigmentation." Beauty brands like Tonymoly are taking sheet masks up a notch by ditching traditional cotton and creating sheets out of real kelp for even more potent hydration delivery.
4) The topical Botox arms race. Lots of products promise Botox and filler-like effects, but none actually come close to competing with injections—until now, perhaps. While we've been making progress on a topical gel called RT001 in the U.S., a Korean company called Midaskin claims to have it on the market. The product is called BoLC A+ and Yoon believes it's a breakthrough: "It's essentially the very first product on the market that uses botulinum, the same as the Botox that you're getting in the doctor's office. 95% of the amino acids are the same as the Botox that is being injected (the 5% difference is from the difference between an injectable versus a topical product). It's patented and exclusive to this brand and the ingredient has officially been accepted by INCI as a cosmetic ingredient." Unlike the effects of Botox injections, which can be seen in five to seven days on average, clinical trials of BoLC show results after three to four weeks. "Fine lines and wrinkles are visibly improved and there is an overall—very natural but noticeable—lifting effect," says Yoon.
5) Turn the lights on. "At-home LED devices are going to be big for 2016," says Kim. "These sophisticated machines in the shape of a mask send wavelengths past the epidermis and deep into skin to not only increase collagen levels, but reduce wrinkles, scars and hyperpigmentation in the process." Yoon adds that these micro-current devices will be packaged smaller, cheaper and come with more diverse settings than ever before. "Devices that help measure skin health, like FitBit's for skin, will also become big in the U.S.," she says.
6) Shadow play. Yoon and Kim agree: Ombré lips and hair shading, both ways to fake fullness, are huge in Korea right now. The former involves applying a darker color to the inner areas of the lips and gradually fading to a lighter shade as you move toward the outer edges; the latter involves lightly outlining the hairline with an eyebrow pencil or eyeshadow to give the illusion of thicker hair and a slimmer, smaller face shape.
From: Harpers BAZAAR