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NOW READING These Are the Hottest Skincare Trends in Korea RN That You’ll Be Seeing All Year
February 27, 2020

These Are the Hottest Skincare Trends in Korea RN That You’ll Be Seeing All Year

Korea’s always leading the charge when it comes to beauty innovation and product development. So when you want to know what’s coming up, just look to the skincare trends in Korea. Here’s what’s abuzz right now.


We’ve pulled out of January, and it feels like the year has officially begun. I don’t know about y’all, but I always feel like January is more about getting a chance to recuperate from the holidays. I’m very fortunate to have people to spend time with during all the end of year celebrations, but at the end of it all, my social battery is completely drained, my eating and exercise are habits all out of whack, and I’m usually nursing a stuffy nose or scratchy throat.


This year is definitely a bit more of a struggle to get back into the swing of things, but I finally feel like I’m getting there, and the machine that is the beauty industry in Korea is definitely starting to pick up some steam. New brands are coming out, new products are launching, and we’re definitely starting to get a bit of an idea of where skincare in 2020 is headed in Korea. I’ve already talked a bit about what my personal “blueprint” for the upcoming year is (at this point anyway), so let’s chat about what skincare trends in Korea are happening right now.



Mugwort, the redux


We saw the debut of mugwort last year, and I was surprised to see how much it cemented itself in the K-beauty landscape over the year. Every brand started launching their own mugwort essence and now have expanded (for better or worse) into entire lines featuring the ingredient in every product type possible, from creams to emulsions to serums and everything in between. I’m comfortable counting it among the ranks of Centella asiatica and snail mucin as a truly iconic ingredient that has given a lot of people great, lasting results. You don’t find that very often.



skincare trends in Korea
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What I’m here to tell you is that the mugwort train is not slowing down any time soon. We know that having bright skin that is as even toned as possible is a hallmark of the Korean beauty standard. And while the focus up until more recently has been about reducing pigmentation caused by sun damage or leftover from breakouts, redness reduction has been more talked about lately, and I’m on board with this discussion.


I don’t think that people realize how much low levels of redness contributes to an uneven appearance of complexion. Of course any active breakouts or sunspots also contribute to an uneven skin tone, but knocking out redness elsewhere on the face can have much more of an impact that you may realize. This focus on eliminating low level redness in the face is what’s throwing more fuel into the engine of the mugwort train, so expect to see even more focus on “calming” and “soothing” products coming out from your favorite brands. Someone should honestly just make a mugwort + cica hybrid line, but I’m sure that’s being cooked up in a lab somewhere already. Just know you heard it here first, lol.



Microbiome care?


As gross as it might initially sound, we have a whole landscape of bacteria and other tiny things (very technical term, I know) that live on our skin and create a little community that some refer to as a “microbiome,” or a mini ecosystem that is thought to be very integral to the health of our skin. When this balance is thrown off and certain types of microorganisms are overly abundant or deficient, it can make our skin not as healthy. I will probably talk about this in-depth in a separate article because that is a vast oversimplification of what this is, but the general idea is that our skin’s microbiome is something that we can take care of with a little extra TLC.




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There’s been some talk about the microbiome of our skin for quite some time now, but it’s starting to push its way into the mainstream of the beauty industry, so I would expect a lot more chatter and product lines that are made specifically to address the health of our skin’s microbiome. What I enjoy the most about this is that it’s pushing the industry into territory that is definitely less explored. When this happens, you usually start seeing some genuine innovation rather than repeat products, and I love to see what new things come out of the woodwork when the best and biggest forces in the industry have to come up with something new.


On the other hand, I hate that the microbiome is being heavily associated with “clean” beauty because that marketing tactic is so very tired already. And as it’s a relatively new concept to the mass market, the efficacy of the products hitting said market is going to be up for debate. The only mainstream product I can think of right now in this category is the Dr.Jart+ Biome Essence (it’s been getting a lot of love in Korea), but I’m excited to see where and how microbiome care, for lack of a better term, evolves throughout the year.



Reduce, reuse, recycle


Sustainability is also a bigger focus for a lot of brands in the new year, and I’m seeing more talk than ever before from both Korean consumers and companies about the potential environmental impact of the production and consumption of beauty products. This more sustainable approach has been on the rise with Western brands as well, but I think the Korean industry is going to be much more focused and responsive to a more mindful approach to their product sourcing as well as their packaging.


Now let’s be honest, there’s not going to be an entire overhaul of the industry in any sense, and people are still going to use a copious amount of sheet masks and modeling masks throughout Korea. But I think the charge for more sustainability is going to be spearheaded by more independent and/or smaller brands that also seem to have a closer connection to the desires of their customers.




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For example, Krave Beauty went into extensive online engagement with the customer base to decide on the most sustainable packaging for their moisturizer launch and were very transparent on why they made the decisions they did and why they didn’t go with certain options. I’m sorry, but I cannot imagine a major cosmetic company doing anything remotely close to that. I always have a soft spot for indie brands as someone who was raised in a family that were always small business owners, and this definitely makes it easy for me to always support these types of companies when I have the chance to do so.

So, to help you get your skincare on track this year, we’ve got a giveaway!


We’re giving away A FREE BOX OF 5 DR. GLODERM TABRX MASKS*. These 2-part masks come with a super high quality sheet mask and an oil essence capsule that imparts this amazing glow. All you have to do is comment below and tell us either:


1.  what skincare trend you’re on board with and why, or


2. what you do to keep your skincare routine and products sustainable.


The first 100 commenters will receive a coupon code for a box of free Dr. Gloderm masks* with their next order. So share with us your thoughts and tips below!


* U.S. customers only. Non-U.S. customers will receive a comparable mask set.



Born in Korea and raised in Washington, Leo is another 20-something member of the K-Beauty Squad that is as committed to his love of skincare as he is to wine and cheese covered snack foods. After working as an educator and trainer in the beauty industry, he joined the team at Beautytap to continue sharing his knowledge and passion for skincare and all things chok-chok. During his free time, he’s been spotted in the wild bingeing Netflix shows, blasting K-pop while playing video games, or (much more rarely) leaving his hovel to venture forth in search of cocktails and Korean BBQ.




Verified Expert

"Hello, Cosrx. This is *every person who's ever dealt with sensitivity, redness, inflammation, or irritation.* We'd like a mugwort + cica combo, please." Leo, you nailed it! Hanyul's Artemisia Watery Calming Fluid has been a staple in my routine since it released. I can always count on it to calm the aftermath of tret. I'm sure we'll be seeing this ingredient in more western beauty products as well in the coming year.


Verified Expert

Microbiome care!? That’s fantastic and so very interesting. I will absolutely be following this for the long term!

I’m really into double cleansing. Then when I’m done with the containers I recycle them and use some of them to create travel size lotions/creams from bigger containers that are not travel size.


Verified Expert

I am determined to give "Chok Chok" skin all year from head to toe! ☀️


Verified Expert

I'm always on board for some microbiome care. :) Why? Our skin is our largest organ on our body, and needs some care. I think it's a great avenue to explore more in the industry.

Great article! For skincare trends, im loving Mugwort right now. It’s such a soothing ingredient and really reduces redness for me. Im also a big fan of microbiome care, I love ferments and all their goodness!

Cleansing is the most important thing! That's because that's when your skin gets damaged the most!

I'm excited for more sustainable beauty. Sustainability is something I didn't used to think about at all, but recently I've become more aware of just how necessary it is.

I am glad that the industry is trying to become more sustainable. I don't think we will ever get totally away from single use sheet masks, but it would be cool if you could have something like contact lenses where you can clean it in a solution and then reuse if possible. even better if you could get a personalized to your face, mask.

I’ve gotten good results with Centella Asiatica with redness reduction and am currently enjoying the Purito eye cream and Dr. Jart Cicapair cream (despite the fact that it seems forever to sink into my skin). I do indulge in sheet masks which are not the most sustainable but I'm trying to save the packages after use and extract every last drop from them in lieu of serum most days.