Binu Binu—Karen Kim’s new skincare company—provides a fresh take on the K-beauty phenomenon, incorporating the mores of traditional Korean bathhouse culture.
If like me, you grew up in the US—a place where women’s nudity is highly sexualized and exposed breasts in public are considered taboo—you’re probably not used to walking around naked in front of dozens of other women. In South Korea, however, it’s just another Tuesday afternoon at the bathhouse. Here, women walk around nude, free of any insecurities.
“It was a place of intergenerational bonding, where one comes to simply enjoy the act of bathing,” Kim tells AnotherMag, “My first visit to one was a revelation; it was incredibly eye-opening to walk around freely, nude, with other women of all ages, with a complete lack of self-consciousness. There’s just this communal spirit, and feeling of incredible relaxation being in a place like this.”
Upon returning from her visit, Kim set out to create a brand that encompassed the free-spiritedness she found in the bathhouse culture. And with that, Binu Binu was born.
Named a “brand to know” by the New York Times, Binu Binu’s soaps are made using a base of boricha, a Korean tea used countrywide. And the soap looks as good as it feels, too. Drawing inspiration from minimalist artist Donald Judd, Binu Binu’s aesthetic includes an all-pastel palette and minimalistic, modern blocks, hand cut by Kim herself.
Each soap scent is inspired by strong female figures found in Korean society. The Shaman Black Charcoal bar, for example, pays tribute to the modern-day female shamans known for their healing wisdom. The Haenyo Sea Woman Soap, consisting of peppermint oil and sea salt, is inspired by the incredible women in Korea who free-dive to catch fish and sell it at the marketplace.
In a society that commodifies women as hyper-sexualized and yet disapproves of the natural expression of women’s bodies, it’s refreshing to see a brand that promotes a sense of freeness, simplicity, and womanhood, all wrapped up in a natural, minimalistic package.
To learn more about Binu Binu, go to Another Mag.
Photo: binubinu_soapsoap via Instagram