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NOW READING What Korean & Western Beauty Partnerships Mean for the Future of K-Beauty
February 21, 2020

What Korean & Western Beauty Partnerships Mean for the Future of K-Beauty

As we see more and more cross-pollination between Korean and Western beauty brands — whether through partnerships, acquisitions, or minority shares — what does this mean for our beloved K-beauty brands?


So remember the time that K-beauty was seen as the “weird” beauty fad?


“Oh, those silly people putting snail goop on their faces!”


“Sheet masks? Never heard of them.”


“There’s no way people will use 10 products in their skincare routines. It’s not realistic.”


Well, joke’s on them. In my opinion, Korean beauty has completely changed the way the beauty industry operates, and I’m not the only one who’s noticed. Western brands are finally realizing the power of K-beauty and have set their sights on getting a piece of the multi-billion dollar pie. Let’s look at some of the news headlines from the past few years.



korean western beauty partnerships



“Milk Makeup Announces Strategic Partnership With Amorepacific Group” — Business Wire


“Estée Lauder to Buy Dr. Jart Owner in First Asian Brand Takeover” — Business of Fashion


“L’Oréal acquires Korean Stylenanda” — L’Oréal Finance


“Amorepacific acquires minority stake in U.S. indie brand Milk Makeup” — Global Cosmetic News


“LVMH arm buys slice of Seoul cosmetics firm CLIO” — Reuters


“Unilever to buy Carver Korea [A.H.C.] for $2.7 billion” — CNBC



And this isn’t including the expansion of K-beauty brands into the Western market — Korean beauty brands are popping up in Western stores like popcorn. Sephora now carries Primera, Innisfree, Laneige, Belif, Dr. Jart+, and Saturday Skin. Ulta carries Skinfood, COSRX, Mamonde, Tony Moly, Too Cool for School, and Klairs. Target stocks Missha and Mizon. You can now go into CVS and get Banila Co. Cleansing Balm and Peripera lip tints. Walgreens sells Mediheal sheet masks. In news that shocked me, Walmart sells Son and Park Beauty Water, May Coop, and Polatam sheet masks. And then you have all of the homegrown Korean beauty-inspired brands like Glow Recipe, Peach and Lily, Then I Met You, and Krave Beauty.



korean western beauty partnerships
The Korean beauty selection at CVS.



So … all of this news has me thinking. What is the future of K-beauty? With more Western companies and brands buying out or forming strategic partnerships with Korean brands (and vice versa), what does that mean for K-beauty? Will K-beauty end up being this watered-down version of itself to cater to the Western market? Or will Western beauty companies step their game up and embrace the R&D and innovation Korean beauty is known for?


Personally, I think the future of K-beauty will be the best of both worlds. I think (and my hope is) Western brands will take the research and development teams, the innovative technology, and the advanced ingredients that Korean beauty is known for, and combine that with U.S.-friendly marketing, shade ranges, and products that appeal to a wider range of consumers. So I’m thinking BB cream technology but with Fenty Beauty’s shade range. Hanbang ingredients like ginseng made mainstream. More focus on skincare ingredient education on U.S.-based websites. Hydrating toners and balm makeup cleansers widely available in drugstores and department stores alike. And the power of the snail finally, fully realized everywhere. Swoon. The dream!



sephora in korea
Imagine this, but in cushion and BB shades. Fenty Beauty



So, let’s open the floor for discussion. What do you think about these Korean and Western beauty partnerships? Where do you think K-beauty is headed? Let me know in the comments!




Sheryll Donerson got her start as a beauty writer by writing K-beauty reviews for her blog, The Wanderlust Project. These days, she's lifting heavy weights, eating tacos, drinking (too much) coffee and is 1/4 of the beauty podcast, Beauty Beyond Basics (or Triple Bees for short). You can find her on Instagram and Twitter at @sheryllrenata.




Verified experts are beauty professionals who receive free products for independent reviews without receiving payment.

Such an interesting read! Western companies have definitely been adapting Korean beauty trends. Cosmetic giants like loreal acquiring k-beauty brands is a huge step for global expansion.

Great read! I think western companies with step up their game having more k-beauty properties in their products. It'll hopefully be one big giant beauty soup as beauty worlds combine. :)

I loved reading this article. This is a question that I have been asking myself as well recently. How will Western and Korean Beauty merge together int he most impactful way? I love what your "dream" is: Using Korean Beauty R&D merged with Western shade ranges, smart marketing and customer animation. I'm excited to see how these two approaches towards beauty come together. :)


Verified experts are beauty professionals who receive free products for independent reviews without receiving payment.

Korean beauty is definitely here to stay. I think Western companies value the strong R & D of Korean brands and formulations. I think Amore Pacific's collab with Milk is interesting capturing Gen Z and Millennials.


I think you will see more and more collaborations especially as we move into globalization of K culture. I am interested to watch what happens between LG's acquisition of Avon USA.