Six years ago, BB cream made its first splash stateside. It was, as the New York Times reported, the first South Korean export to hit it big with the average American beauty consumer. But BB cream represented a whole lot more than just a tinted moisturizer that sold well — it symbolized the beginning of the K-beauty movement worldwide and the innovation it would soon bring to the entire industry.
Since then, dozens of domestic retailers have doubled down on Korean imports, from K-beauty-specific sites like SokoGlam and Peach & Lily, to heavyweights like CVS, Ulta Beauty, and Sephora. While some may think of K-beauty as a cutesy fad that will eventually go the way of feather hair extensions and crimping, there's a reason you see K-beauty everywhere: The products are innovative and effective, plain and simple.
Recently, South Korean makeup brands have brought this innovation to products that are well-suited for current trends, from peel-off eyebrow gels to long-wearing lip stains. Since many offerings are geared towards dewy skin, exports from the country are ideal for achieving no-makeup makeup, which has grown from a trend to the benchmark of everyday makeup.
"South Korean women gravitate toward minimal makeup that accentuates their skin and simply enhances key features of their faces," says Charlotte Cho, founder of SokoGlam. "There's such an emphasis on skin care [that] products like foundation in particular are focused as much on anti-aging as they are focused on the coverage itself."