You’ve heard it all before: "American BB is not like the Korean BB; Korean makeup is a decade ahead in science." Yet, when you ask around as to why, what, and how the Korean approach to cosmetics — especially to base makeup — is so different, the answers tend to be shapeless. The word multitasking is thrown around much in the same way world peace is used in a Miss Universe interview, and it means just as little when unexplained. While it is true Koreans have some of the snazziest products around (priming powders, anyone?), it's not only our products that are multitaskers — we are, too.
In Western cosmetics, the product is expected to perform. It has to do so in coverage, tone, and skin type for every millimeter of your face to be considered a quality primper. This then leads to the inevitable need for you to relegate yourself to a specific skin category. And, this expectation for the "perfect foundation" to fight all of our complexion’s shortcomings puts enormous pressure on finding that Holy Grail item, when, in reality, your face is a complex canvas of micro-climates of varying needs.
In Korea, it's you who must work to get the look, not the product. The Korean phrase for applying base makeup literally translates to "expressing the skin," the diction revealing the care with which this act is carried out. Because you are your own makeup artist, the products are mere players in your hands, fluid in purpose and method. If your skin type is different from forehead to cheek, for example, you may use two different foundations or a mist to change the texture of the product when it's applied to different parts.
A Korean woman doesn't wait for some miraculous, chameleon foundation but instead concocts a base/touch-up combination and application that caters to her specific needs. This sense of artistry and creativity in consumers is what led to inventions of BB creams and cushion compacts, multitasking products with components that are carefully calibrated to cancel out each other’s faults, mirroring what the consumers have been doing for years.
Even if you don’t have Korean products, you can customize your own skin expression according to these methods while using your own cosmetics. Koreans believe all women are beautiful when they spend time on themselves, so remember to slow down and make deliberate, slow movements. When it comes to their skin, Koreans strive for perfection — and perfection takes time.
Click through to see four different, common methods of skin expression, and learn how to do them yourself.
1 of 5
Mix one part mineral-water spray with one part hydrating serum and two parts oil-free foundation to form a hydrating foundation. Mist your face lightly with the mineral-water spray, then apply your foundation mixture with a dense, pointed foundation brush. Hold the brush at a 15-degree angle with the handle pointing down. This allows the foundation concoction to adhere to the skin more naturally without separating. Using gentle strokes, apply the mix in the direction the fine hairs on your face grow. Lightly spray on a dewy skin mist, then add another spritz of the mineral-water spray on top.
2 of 5
Apply raw, unfiltered honey all over the face as a basic mask. Wash off after five minutes with a cream cleanser. Then, use your basic skin-care regimen (toner, serum, moisturizer), but add an extra layer of serum after the moisturizer as the last step. Mix one part reparative balm with four parts foundation, and apply with fingers in a circular, stippling motion.
3 of 5
Apply a gel-based moisturizer all over your visage. Then, add a light primer around the outer area of the face. Take a cotton swab, and use it to dab a small amount of pore-diminishing balm onto sections with obviously enlarged pores. Let it set, then use a damp sponge to apply a matte, full-coverage foundation to create a flawless base that still looks natural. Go back to the pores with a Q-tip and pore balm, and repeat step three. If the pores are still visible, spot-conceal.
4 of 5
Apply a thin layer of primer, and let it set. Identify your dry spots, and gently rub over them with a tiny amount of facial oil in a circular motion to diminish the dryness. On top, thinly apply foundation with a dense, pointed foundation brush in the direction of the fine hairs on your face, making sure to hold the brush at a 15-degree angle. If any area needs extra coverage, finish the whole face first, and go back to that area with a bit of foundation after.
5 of 5
Like this post? There's more. Get tons of beauty tips, tutorials, and news on the Refinery29 Beauty Facebook page. Like us on Facebook — we'll see you there!