So-Ko your skin guys: Why South Korean skincare is not just for women
Words by South Korean beauty expert Vicky Lee.
Times have changed when it comes to men’s skincare. Gone are the days when the only grooming options for men were a bar of soap and a bottle of deodorant. Now men are as encouraged as women to take care of their appearance and present their best face forward to the world.
According to London stylist Lilya Chair, men in the British capital have started to pay more attention to the clothes they wear and have adopted healthy skincare habits to achieve a flawless complexion. But, as always, it is South Korea that is leading the way in men’s skincare.
South Korean men are the world’s top per-capita consumers of skincare products, more than four times runner-up Denmark, reports international research firm Euromonitor. The men’s skincare market in the Asian peninsula is worth a staggering $635 million, an amount that dwarfs the $286.4 million spent by their North American counterparts.
The men’s skincare sector is also growing at a much faster pace than women’s due to the enormous potential for expansion in this area. For the first time in history, men are showing an interest in anti-aging serums and cushion foundations, allowing brands to offer male customers products that had been traditionally reserved for the ladies.
Almost all Soko brands have launched a skincare line just for men, but the most successful must be giant conglomerate Amore Pacific. After discovering that an estimated 70% of the male members of the South Korean armed forces use cosmetics to protect their skin against ultraviolet radiation during their frequent outdoor activities, Amore Pacific even launched a special beauty line targeted at military men, which includes camouflage makeup products and cooling masks to soothe and whiten skin after training.
While there is no question that gender lines are becoming more blurred with each passing year, the popularity of men’s skincare has its roots in simple hygiene. Skincare is an essential part of South Korean culture so children, both female and male, learn about its importance at a very early age.
Just like parents teach their offspring about washing their hands before a meal or brushing their teeth before going to bed, they also impart the basic rudiments of skincare, including daily cleansing and moisturizing and sun protection.
In addition, South Korean men grow up watching their mothers and sisters performing their now famous 10-step routine and witnessing the incredible results it yields. As a result, they are more prone to follow their example and including whitening creams or anti-blemish spot treatments into their daily skincare routine, too.
Still, when it comes to formulating men’s skincare products, simplicity and practicality are keys. Leading Korean brand Banila Co., for example, offers Clean It Zero, a sherbet cleanser that doubles up an exfoliator, leaving skin clean, soft and bright.
The perfect after-cleansing step is Mizon AHA & BHA Daily Clean Toner, a multi-tasking formula that uses naturally-derived acids to even out the skin’s texture, purify the pores and enhance the penetration of your moisturizer.
Purpletale offers Long Story Short All-In-One Cream, a skin toner, lotion, essence and cream all rolled into one. Enriched with sodium hyaluronate, ginseng and peptides, it deeply hydrates the skin and prevents the premature appearance of the signs of aging.
Luxury brand Sulwhasoo, known for its use of anti-aging ginseng extract, introduced Age Defying For Men, an all-around cream that moisturizes, soothes and prevents wrinkles. Its pleasant woody pine scent is very appealing to men, too.
Finally, organic skincare brand Innisfree has recently launched Forest For Men All-In-One Essence, a powerful natural essence that targets five different concerns of aging skin, including wrinkles, dark spots, loss of elastcity, lack of moisture, and large pores. It can also be used to soothe irritated skin after shaving.
Step over, ladies! Men want their turn, too, now.
Image at the very top of the article: Kwang Min Kim, Korean Actor ( Photo Credit by JM Contents & Media )