There’s nothing new about how the Asian beauty craze has (understandably) taken over so many Western countries. The passion for trends in all things beauty is undeniably obvious in Japanese and Korean cosmetics (J and K Beauty, respectively), which have recently dominated over your usual faves at Sephora in popularity.
So what exactly is the main difference between J-beauty and K-beauty?
Victoria Tsai, founder of coveted Japanese skincare brand Tatcha gives NYGal some insight on what distinguishes one from another.
“I’ve often found that a culture’s approach to skincare and beauty mirrors its food. Japanese skin care is like sushi—very few ingredients, crafted by expert hands in a simple arrangement. The ingredients they use also rarely change. Korean food is bold and flavorful and fun, just like K-beauty.”
While both K- and J-beauty are all about the ritual of skin care–a focus on cleansing and hydrating, protecting formulas with effective and high-quality ingredients–J-beauty places emphasis on simplicity, unlike K-beauty’s famed multi-step regimens.
When it comes to beauty, both countries are world leaders. The Japanese spend more per head on cosmetics and beauty products than any other nation; and for this investment, they expect results.
Japanese beauty products tend to take a gentle approach. Rather than fighting against your skin and hair, the emphasis falls on nourishment and protection. It’s not so much about the overnight transformation but preventing future issues.
Similarly, K-beauty is centered on beauty advancements. Despite the obvious buzz of Instagram-worthy sheet masks, K-beauty is more about mastering the science behind skincare and leading the way in discovering new formulas.
The adorable packaging is backed up by serious formulations that get the work done. In fact, thanks to its remarkable virality, K-beauty was able to introduce formerly unheard-of products into our skincare rituals–i.e. essence and ampoules. K-beauty is all about the trends!
Considered Japan’s number one exfoliator, it uses natural plant extracts to remove dead skin and clogged pores without harsh chemicals. It’s ideal for sensitive skin as well, since instead of leaving the face feeling dry, it’s actually very moisturizing.
This mascara is impossible to miss in Japanese beauty stores. It’s famous for the intense curl and lift it provides. The jet black formula doesn’t flake or run, and it definitely doesn’t come off easily!
Formulated with hyaluronic acids of different sizes, this hydrating mist locks in moisture while penetrating deep into the skin for utmost hydration. It can be used over makeup. The spray bottle is easy to toss into your bag and carry along with you, too!
Tatcha’s silk-infused primer glides over skin without settling into creases and lines. Aside from creating a flawless canvas for makeup, the formula imparts a gorgeous glow, thanks to pearly pink and gold pigments.
A wrinkle-resisting toner that contains effective ingredients to prevent visible signs of aging. It gently removes dead skin cells, moisturizes, and helps retexture skin. This will assist further skincare treatment products to be more easily absorbed.
This tinted primer comes in a variety of shades, however, the pale yellow is specifically designed to diffuse and brighten discoloration, The smooth product also does wonders as a base for flawless foundation.
The market for sunscreen in Japan is incredibly competitive as most Japanese women (and many men) wear it daily. This is a known holy grail sunscreen; it goes on light, makes the skin feel smooth and soft, and dries quickly to a matte finish.
A revolutionary new way of getting your daily collagen boost in the most direct way possible. With three months worth of collagen condensed into one pack, all you have to do is wet the contents of a pack with toner and apply straight to your face.
Canmake’s buildable, gel-like cheek color melts on skin upon contact, creating a vibrant glow that lights up cheeks. Vegetable squalene and amino-acid based emollients moisturize skin, allowing the color to last longer and fend-off flaking.
A cult favorite, this powder can easily compete with Sephora’s best. Sugar polymers absorb approximately half of their weight while the cotton extracts balance complexion, and the fermented soybean and willow extracts prevent oily skin.
Innisfree’s microbrush evenly coats every lash from root to tip with its fiber-enriched formula. A special double coating system leads to remarkable wear for a mascara that will not smudge but is also easily washed off with lukewarm water.
The pads are soaked in resveratrol, which is found in red wine, helps to slough off the dead surface skin. A few swipes will provide skin with that ethereal lit-from-within glow, not to mention they smell like grape Jolly Ranchers!
An ampoule is an anti-aging serum that is meant to brighten and smooth skin. Missha’s features Bifida Ferment Lysate, a yeast that’s proven to help offset the oxidative effects (which speed up the aging process on the skin) and improve elasticity.
When mixed with water, this cream cleanser turns into a foam with tons of dense, tiny bubbles. It’s incredibly mild and suitable for even sensitive skin types. A calming herb complex and hydrating ingredients will prevent dryness all while completely removing all makeup and dirt.
This plant-based cleansing liquid exfoliates and moisturizes the skin at the same time. It removes any old dead skin cells to make the skin feel sleek and soft, while the array of moisturizing ingredients aids in retaining hydration.
The Korean beauty industry is built upon the desire for flawless, dewy skin. 3CE’s BB Cream achieved it’s cult status thanks to a product that delivers a dreamy complexion. The hard-working ingredients nourish the skin while providing natural coverage.
“Modeling” or “rubber” masks are face masks you create yourself by mixing a pre-made powder with water or essence. After applying, it congeals into a rubber-like texture that traps in all the effective ingredients. Skin is cleansed of all impurities and pores appear smaller–all while locking in moisture.
K-Beauty is all about sheet masks and this cap is exactly that–a sheet mask for your hair. It is pre-loaded with a deep conditioning treatment that will leave your ends feeling silkier than ever in just ten minutes.
As effective as they are adorable, these bunny-shaped lip tints give a sheer wash of color but can be built up for a deeper pigment. The gloss is also super helpful at keeping your pout moisturized during colder months.