Do beauty like Korean women do


Words: Akim Jardine | Images: Supplied

No-makeup makeup is the oxymoron of the decade. It’s been on our radar for what feels like forever, along with the phrases “fresh faced” and “glass skin”. Korean beauty (aka K-beauty) may appear to be cutesy, but with 10-step skincare rituals and a new take on makeup application, it’s a true pioneer.

While the rest of the beauty world talks about shapeshifting, enhancing, airbrushing and contouring, K-beauty has taught us how to recreate the youthful glow we all had before puberty ravaged our skin. Keep reading for the best makeup lessons from K-beauty.


Imagine 6-year-old you being subjected to your granny nearly tugging your cheeks off your face while screeching, “Look at those cheeks!” This is the desired cheek effect. The trick is to find the perfect shade of pink for your skin tone and dust it on the apples of your cheeks. If it feels uncomfortably close to your nose, you’ve probably nailed it. Dark skin suits berry tones and warm tangerine. For fair skin, look to soft baby pink and peach tones. Got olive skin? Try orangey pinks and darker peach tones. 


Ever playful and poetic, K-beauty swops the solid, filled-in lip for something that resembles a flower blossom, with the highest concentration of pigment on the inside of the pout. Apply colour to the centre of your lips and blend outwards. This technique creates a supple, juicy effect that makes lips look instantly plump.


Cushions in compacts are nothing new. Drugstore beauty brands have long since embraced this technology. Though, the trick to this seemingly familiar applicator is all in the flick of a finger, literally. Using your fingertips to dab the cushion across your face, you have the power to create what is called “glass skin” – the affectionate name for flawless, glossy skin. Not only are cushions great for applying foundation, they make applying blush and brows an absolute dream. Korean women prefer using cushion foundations over traditional forms of foundation, because they cut down makeup application time and allow you to control makeup distribution more precisely. 


We know, we know, this breaks all the core rules of even having an eyebrow. Or does it? K-beauty loves an arcless eyebrow, because it’s the brow that we all had as babies. Achieving the undone brow is as simple as brushing the hairs up with a spool and filling in the brow with very light hair-like strokes. It needs to look as natural as possible, so make sure there are no precise lines or harsh edges.

red eye

Raise your hand if you’ve been wearing sunglasses to cover puffy under-eye redness that comes from seasonal allergies. Well, apparently it’s a go-to look for Korean women. Why? The effect makes you look like you’ve just cried. Think bright sparkly eyes with a hint of sadness, which is considered to be attractive in South Korea. The ideal just-cried-eye is a blend of rusty red shadows swept across the lids and along the lash line.

beauty lingo