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The History of Korean Beauty

What we know now about Koren cosmetics is only the tip of the iceberg. 

Their successful history goes back many centuries and reads like a fairy tale.

Once upon a time, so long ago that the exact date is long forgotten, cosmetics were part of the daily routine of various tribes and cultures around the world. Some used them to increase their beauty, while others applied them as symbolic protection from various threats.

For traditional Korean society, cosmetics have always had a deeper meaning.

 Koreans traditionally believed that physical appearance reflected the interior person. For this reason, Korean men and women have always sought to present themselves at their best and have thus created a unique culture. Remember this anecdote when someone tells you that your interest in cosmetics is skin deep!

The history of makeup and cosmetics in Korea began during the three Kings Era, which lasted more than seven hundred years.

Cosmetics products certainly existed at this time and were stored in magnificent containers made principally from clay. The high point for cosmetics was reached during the Goryeo dynasty (918-1392) when people began to take even greater interest in personal care and physical appearance. Moreover, Korea was opening up to foreign trade, which allowed new ingredients and techniques to be introduced to the country.

After the fall of Goryeo, the Joseon dynasty was established. During this period (1392-1897), and in accordance with the values of Confucianism, where balance and harmony were key, the use of strident makeup was restricted. abundance and extremes were disdained in favor of more natural makeup.

However, no such restrictions applied to the containers for cosmetics and accessories:
beautifully crafted little blue and white porcelain boxes were made for storing makeup, mirrors, combs and other personal grooming items.

Can you guess the first mass-produced cosmetic to be used in Korea?

No, it wasn't a cream or face mask, but rather Bakgabun(park's powder), a sort of translucent face powder created in 1915 that was a bestseller for years. There's no point in looking for it now because it's been withdrawn from the market due to its high lead content. However, alternatives with better ingredients soon came onto the market. You wouldn't expect any less from the Koreans, would you?

From the 1920s right through to the 1950s there wasn't much innovation in Korean cosmetics because Japanese products dominated the market. Actually, it's complicated to speak about this period as Japanese occupation and the Second World War dominated Korea. One positive development during that time was the founding of  AmorePacific, a beauty conglomerate that has since become one of the best-known cosmetics firms in the world.

So how did Korean cosmetics become an international phenomenon?

The hype about K-beauty has arrived in the West only very recently, in the last decade or so, and it all began with BB cream. Can you remember life without this miraculous product?

In fact, BB cream is a German invention, but it became extremely popular in Korea, and various cosmetic brands perfected the formula for the national market. The Koren formulation began to be sold in the United States in 2011 and arrived in Spain a few months later. This product was the first wave of the tsunami of Korean cosmetics in the Western world. Suddenly women had access to the " ordable luxury" of single-use face masks, containers with fun Asian aesthetics and innovative ingredients such as snail slime extract and bee venom. How could anyone resist?

Obviously, Korean cosmetics are here to stay. Anyone who tries the ten-step Korean skincare routine will immediately fall in love with it.

Learning to respect, love and care for your skin is the essence of K-beauty!


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