In Exclusives, Insight, Trend

Beauty industry experts point to South Korea as the source for hot new beauty trends. The K-beauty wave has brought us BB and CC creams, cushion compacts, and sheet masks, as well as an ever-evolving arsenal of innovative beauty products featuring exotic natural ingredients, holistic treatments, inventive packaging, and extensive R&D. US demand for K-beauty products continues to grow, fueling an extraordinary 50% increase in sales in the US last year.

In November, KITA, the Korea International Trade Association, invited us to take a look at the next generation of K-beauty products. The nonprofit trade-promoting agency showcased over 20 Korean suppliers and manufacturers interested in entering the US market.

Below, we check out the latest skincare trends.

Natural ingredients

While often rooted in science, natural ingredients continue to be a mainstay in Korean ingredient trends. Catching up with the western appetite for “clean” formulas, many brands have removed parabens and other undesirable preservatives from their formulations, including 5-free formulas (no artificial fragrances, color pigments, animal ingredients, synthesized surfactants, or synthesized preservatives).

  • Snail extract continues to be a heavy hitter in skincare, added to masks and serums
  • Prehistoric-like fruit-based formulas such as cactus, dragon fruit, and aloe vera add moisture without heavy texture
  • Mushrooms, including truffle and tremella (silver ear mushroom) varieties, are touted for their anti-aging benefits
  • Venom—both snake and bee sources— have been found to have dangerously powerful, youth-promoting benefits

JeJu Island

This Korean holiday destination is renowned for its ecology, a bounty of natural phenomena on an island that has a 5,000-year history of civilization in harmony with nature. Ingredients are coveted for their potency and time-tested efficacy. Olive leaf extract is currently one of the most popular exports from this island oasis and is being incorporated into many new skincare products.



  • Foaming “waterless” shampoo redefines current popular delivery methods of dry shampoo (powder and misting aerosols). This foaming hair cleanser eradicates dirt and oil while maintaining moisture and boasts oregano oil as a key ingredient
  • Tattoo stains as a delivery method for lip and eyebrow color
  • Herbal blended hair dyes that color hair with a process similar to henna


  • Temperature therapy—hot and cool activation tools open and close pores to increase blood circulation, elasticity, and absorption
  • All-in-one device that combines of 5 types of galvanic ions, LED therapy, and micro vibration. It can cleanse, firm, smooth, lift, and lighten skin (with a vitamin C mode), as well as incorporating sound-wave therapy with music


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