The Korean beauty scene is rife with confusing, yet now commonplace terms — words that once felt odd but now are part of the beauty lexicon. But any K-beauty junkie worth her weight in BB cream can throw these terms around like a second language. She knows her essence from her ampoule, her sheet mask from her sleeping mask, her ginseng from her snail mucus.
But as our knowledge and awareness of the Korean beauty landscape continues to evolve and products become more widely available in the U.S. market, more unfamiliar words are worming their way into our cosmetics consciousness. We talked a bit about one new term — V-Line — that has already made its way Stateside, but there's another one close on its heels: Jeju.
While it might sound like a cutesy product name dreamt up by someone at Tony Moly, the word actually refers to a place — Jeju Island. Located just off the southern tip of South Korea, Jeju is known as the Hawaii of Asia, according to Glow Recipe cofounder Sarah Lee. "It's a dream vacation spot for [people] around the world," she says.
It is also similar to Hawaii in that it's a volcanic island, explains Glow Recipe's other cofounder Christine Chang. "The soil [on Jeju] is mixed with volcanic ash, and [the terrain] is rocky, so anything grown there has an extra vitality," she says.
Its appeal to the beauty industry is the purity of the ingredients — Jeju is one of the most botanically diverse, least polluted areas in the world, according to Lee. It's been certified as a World Heritage Site by the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). Realizing a beauty gold mine when they saw one, the government of South Korea has even started sponsoring brands to set up R&D facilities and labs on the island to study the most promising natural ingredients.
According to Lee, while the term Jeju started to creep into beauty product labels and marketing back in 2003, it wasn't until the last two or three years that they really saw an explosion of popularity and awareness around the term. And now those products are finally headed Stateside.
We asked Lee and Chang to share some of the most popular native ingredients to Jeju, as well as the products that make the best use of them. Ahead, find out the most potent, game-changing products from Jeju. And make sure to memorize that word — you're going to be seeing a lot more of it in the coming months.