4 Korean Beauty YouTube Stars You Need To Watch

Being a reporter on the ground in South Korea has its perks. I get to stalk the K-beauty jungle and get direct, fingers-on-the-pulse access to the latest trends. But I’m still just one person. So oftentimes, I use YouTube as a type of crib sheet where I can gauge real-time responses to products and trends, as well as ogle the powered-by-makeup transformations.

Stateside beauty vloggers drive some of the highest figures in YouTube traffic, and Korea is just starting to experience this YouTube celebrity phenomenon. While there’s no Korea equivalent of Michelle Phan (yet), Korean YT is full of fascinating K-pop-inspired tutorials and product hauls that cover the full spectrum of miracles-in-a-bottle and K-beauty weirdness.

Some of the most popular videos are ones that bring to light all the makeup tips and techniques that go into completely transforming a face — sometimes making it unrecognizable. Most recently, this video of a Korean YouTuber removing her makeup went viral. It’s pure sorcery/click addiction gold.

Ahead, I chatted with some of the top Korean vloggers — ones with thousands of devoted followers who have managed to turn a hobby they love into a real payday. Read on to learn about the products they swear by, their most popular videos, and how American YouTubers differ from Korean vloggers. Get ready to fall down a very fun beauty rabbit hole!
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Lamuqe's Magic Up

How did you become a beauty vlogger?
"I studied art from a young age, so that gave me a good understanding of composition and color. Before I started my own YouTube channel, I appeared on TV on a Korean beauty show called Get It Beauty, where I showed different techniques for achieving different looks."

What videos do well for you?
"Date makeup (also known as 'fake makeup'), which is essentially makeup to look like you’ve had work done — bigger eyes, smaller face, etc. Women want to look like this all came naturally. What is most surprising to me is that these tutorials to look naturally fake have some of the biggest before and after transformations."

What are the responses to videos like this?
"I think it’s interesting: the responses I get from Koreans versus English-speakers. Korean men seemed to be completely clueless as to the work that went into looking a certain way, making comments like, 'With the money she spent on all that makeup, she could’ve just fixed her face.' The response from English speakers were more like 'Oh, you can do that with makeup. Cool.'"

What are some Korean brands or products that you’re currently excited about?
"I think the cushion is a pretty innovative product. Foreigners always seem fascinated with it and the skin immediately looks amazing after patting it on."

Can you share what you think is trending in Korean makeup right now?
"Coral is a wildly popular color, and right now, the trend is to take that color and spread it all around the eye. If done correctly, you’ll look feminine and innocent, like you’re about to cry at any moment. Done wrong, you’ll look deathly ill."

Your skin is immaculate. Can you describe your skin-care routine?
"I use just four skin-care products — toner, essence/serum, eye cream, and face cream. To be honest, it’s all about the massages and continuous commitment to your skin. My mom taught me from a young age to massage my skin, and I’ve been using eye cream since I was a child. I also use a mask once every three days. This is more effective than using expensive skincare products on a daily basis, since most of that stuff doesn’t even absorb effectively into the skin."

What do you think of American beauty YouTubers?
"From what I can tell, the makeup seems to be quite heavy and thick. This isn’t great for the skin and I don’t think people actually look like that in real life. But I think things are headed in a more natural, woke-up-like-this direction."
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Dayeong's Beauty Drawing

What’s been your most popular video?
"My most popular video is a fake lash tutorial. Fake eyelashes shouldn’t look fake. In Korea, we almost never just slap on a strip of falsies. Using lash clusters of 3-4 individual lashes and applying them to the waterline under your natural lashes instead of over your lashes translates to lashes that look like they organically sprouted."

What are some of the K-Beauty brands that you see doing well?
"I think overall, road shops do better than high-end department store brands because of friendlier pricing and relative quality. I consider VDL to be between a road shop and department store in pricing, with good packaging and branding. I like Etude House for blushes and eyeshadows. Aritaum is great for moisturizing lipsticks and masks."

What is worth the splurge for you when it comes to Korean brands?
"I feel like Iope is worth the cost for its foundation."

What are some of the key differences between Koreans and Americans in how they wear makeup?
"I think eye shapes may account for this, but Koreans focus less on eyeshadows. In general, when we use eyeshadow, it’s usually in more subtle and neutral colors. Also, Americans prefer a more matte look and Koreans prefer a more dewy, glowy look. Also, contouring is different. Koreans tend to focus more on the center of their face and drawing attention there, whereas Americans have a stronger, sexier contouring look that involves shading and playing up the sides of the face and the cheekbone."

Do you adhere to the 12-step (or however many steps it is now) Korean skin-care routine?
"I definitely don’t do all the steps, and I don’t think most Korean women my age do. I just use toner, ampoule, serum, and cream. The ampoule I use just at night, and on really busy days, I only use a cream."

What are some beauty trends you’re seeing now?
"At this point, there have been so many trends so I’m not seeing any dominant, sweeping trends like the BB era. Instead, I’m seeing more standout products emerge from trends that started a few years ago. For example, semi-dewy foundations or really hydrating hybrids of lipstick and lip balm."

What 's your best beauty advice?
"People seem to wear makeup to look prettier, but I wish that makeup could be used less as a tool to achieve beauty standards. I think this results in everyone looking the same, especially here in Korea, which can really only set you up for disappointment because that beauty standard probably isn’t attainable. People would be a lot happier if they just used makeup to reach their own ideal of beauty and feel happy about how they look."

American celebrity crush?
"Michelle Rodriguez, because she’s a badass."
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What’s are you known for as a vlogger?
"I like to make videos of whatever I think is fun, but I’m known for tutorials for students. My tutorial in which I show students how to do their makeup racked up 1.6 million views."

Would you say your following is mostly teenagers?
"Yes, mostly girls under 20 — though surprisingly, 15% of my followers are male."

What is the trend among students and how they do makeup?
"I think ulzzang makeup is a look that’s very popular but not very realistic to achieve, especially for students. The look, in person, is pretty dramatic, so toning it down a bit has really struck a chord with the younger set."

Why do you think students are drawn to your videos?
"I look young, so I appeal to students. I’m actually 25, but I appear a lot younger, which make my videos more approachable. I look like them, so young viewers can watch my videos like I’m a friend teaching them."

What’s your current skin-care routine?
"I just do two steps, toner and cream, because I feel like my skin gets weaker with too many products on it."

What are some of your favorite products right now?
"I love this brush liquid liner from A’Pieu. Koreans like to draw really skinny lines for eyeliner, so the point is pretty thin, which lets me draw a line that appears natural, but still defines the eye. I’m also a big fan of this Akma cushion from Lalavesi, which is a Korean brand that’s only available online. I’m also loving this creamy, pigmented shimmer paint from Moonshot in Moon Revenge, a deep wine color."

You developed a set of contouring sticks for Memebox, and they sold out. What do you think made them so popular?
"I think it has to do with convenience and coloring. Sticks are convenient and creams are a forgiving way to contour. Even though the U.S. has many more skin tones [represented] than Korea, I find that a lot of the undertones of products are pink, red, or brown, which is surprising, since Asians aren’t the only ones who have a yellow undertone. I developed my contouring sticks with a yellow to brown undertone."

There are so many products out there. How do you go about discovering really amazing ones?
"I surf the internet. I don’t like looking at magazines or TV shows in Korea because I used to work at a cosmetics advertising agency and I know how all that works. I basically just go to magazines if I’m curious what new products are out there, but I don’t really trust the reviews."
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So Young's Beauty Room

Where do you get inspiration for your videos?
"I follow a lot of the K-pop looks because they’re fun, colorful, and creative. I tend to find Korean actresses boring when it comes to makeup, since they seem to always want to look as natural as possible. I also like to troll Coupang (the Korean version of Amazon) for new makeup and wacky or innovative products."

Where is most of your following based?
"Mostly in Korea, followed by the U.S., then Canada."

What video helped you most to get to the popularity you're at now?
"I did a video on American vs. Korean styles in doing makeup, and even to this day, it remains one of my most popular videos."

Do you think the insights you revealed on the differences in the styles of makeup between the two cultures holds true today?
"Actually, I don’t; I would even go as far as to say they’ve switched roles. The U.S. seems to be gravitating to a more natural, fresh-faced look with minimal makeup. Korea is getting stronger in their makeup looks, with bolder colors."

Korean indie brands are becoming pretty popular these days. Have you tried any? What are you favorites?
"I like Bbia, which is only available online. It’s very reasonably priced and the eyeshadows are known for being well-pigmented."

What are some of your favorite Korean road shop brands?
"I like Innisfree and Skinfood, which are pretty similar in concept. They drew me in with their marketing of a clean, eco-friendly brand image, but I kept using their products because they produce good results, especially when it comes to skin care. When it comes to actual makeup, I would say Korean drugstore brands are still pretty weak across the board, so I usually stay away."

What's your best makeup trick?
"For extra thick lashes, I like to sandwich coats of mascara with setting powder."

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