Basics Baby: The Korean Makeup Look Edition

Today I’m going to share with you some tips on how to achieve the Korean makeup look. It’s a simple and fresh look, using just a few products and I must say a great respite from the 324683294 steps and 798134908 products needed to get that perfect Kardashian/Amrezy look – the one that’s been flooding our Instagram feeds (but hey, I’m not complaining).

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(Image source: https://korcan50years.com/2015/04/01/korean-makeup-vs-american-makeup-style/)

I wouldn’t generalize that all Koreans adopt this makeup look, but I could say that based on images related to the pop culture and entertainment industry the Korean makeup look is one characteristically defined as natural and fresh. When I visited Korea a few years back, I found this trend to be largely representative of the population I encountered. You don’t see thick, bold and overly perfect makeup on the streets. Rather, subtle colors and clean skin greet you.

So, I attempted to re-create the look above which I think is the typical Korean makeup look and I’ll take you through each step and products that I use.

The Skin – Base

Prepping the skin to ensure that it appears fresh and clean with an ethereal glow from within is key to making this look work. The Korean makeup look places a huge emphasis on the skin tone and texture. You need to make sure that your skin is well moisturized and preferably retaining that “wet” look prior to applying makeup. I went in with a combination of my gel moisturizer and a few drops of my brightening essence serum to lock in that moisture. You can go ahead with your own moisturizer/serum that you know keeps your face looking healthy and hydrated.

For foundation, I opted to go with my NARS Pure Radiant Tinted Moisturizer instead. The lightweight nature of a tinted moisturizer allows the skin to look extremely natural and glowy, yet providing some coverage needed to cover up slight redness or minor blemishes. If you’re one who have more problem areas to cover, go in with pigments that can increase the coverage of the tinted moisturizer without altering its finish. I’d recommend the Cover FX Custom Cover Drops. You can add one to four drops, depending on how much more coverage you need (1 being sheer coverage and 4 being complete coverage) and mixing it with your tinted moisturizer will not change its natural finish.

For concealer, there is no need for extreme conceal or highlight. Just use a lightweight concealer to cover your under eye circles, and add a touch of it to the high points of your face. I went in with my BareMinerals Complete Coverage Serum Concealer, placing a bit under my eyes, on the bridge of my nose and chin. I love how the concealer, with its serum consistency gives a luminous and hydrating finish.

If you have dry skin, you might want to skip powdering your entire face. I just went in with my NARS Pressed Translucent Powder to set wherever I have placed concealer just so it won’t crease throughout the day. If you are oily, you can continue dusting the powder lightly across the rest of your face. The Korean look is never matte nor cakey, so powder should be invisible on the skin.

The Skin – Color

The Korean makeup look uses minimal colors on the face. The skin is never too tanned nor bronzed. In fact, the Korean makeup look tends to omit contouring and bronzing, unlike the typical Instagram/YouTube contour routine. The only visible color I notice is the blush, and the preference is usually pink or peach toned blushes. I opted for my Bobbi Brown Blush in Pastel Pink. Apply this across the apples of your cheeks, and dust it over your nose as well to give a healthy, flushed look.

Though the Korean makeup look appears very glowy, it does not in any way imply that tonnes of blinding highlighters are applied. For one, the base (moisturizer and foundation) has already given that glowy look so if your skin has achieved a subtle luminous glow from your base, you can stop there. But if your skin needs an extra boost to look glowy, then opt for highlighters that are finely milled and give off a buttery look rather than a metallic and overly shimmery finish. I went in with my Jouer Powder Highlighter in Rose Quartz and applied it sparingly with my MAC 184 (duo fibre fan brush) onto the high points of my face where light would naturally hit. If you have dry skin you can definitely go for liquid or cream based highlighter, but just make sure you do this before applying powder on top.

Once done with the skin, don’t forget to spritz some setting spray to diffuse the makeup products for a more natural look. I of course went in with my holy grail MAC Fix Plus.

The Brows

The brows for this look is pretty natural – nothing harsh, overly drawn or defined. In fact, you can always still see the hairs on the brows unlike the Instagram baddie brows that are basically opaque. The shape the brows usually adopt is more straight, with no high arch. If you already have full brows, leave them be. If your brows are sparse, or need some filling in then do just that. I used my NYX Micro Brow Pencil and just filled in any gaps with gentle hair-like strokes.

The Eyes

This look is easy on the eyes (no pun intended). The eyes have a sheer and neutral wash of color, just to make it pop a little. There’s no definition of the crease or a transition color whatsoever. Go for a color that best complement your skin tone, or your blush color for the most natural look. I went in with the shade Poppyseed from MAC and used a deluxe crease brush to apply the color over my entire crease and lid and blended it out.

This look does not call for any eyeliner. All you need to finish the eye makeup is some mascara. I used the Too Faced Better than Sex Mascara and applied only one coat over my top lashes for the most natural effect.

The Lips

The lips for this look is neither categorically glossy nor matte. I notice it to be more of a natural stain, the colors tend to lean towards pink or peach. I first went in with the Colourpop Lippie Stix in Bound (glossy), but then found the pink to be too blue-toned. So I topped it up with my Tarte Tarteist Lip Paint in TBT (matte) which is a warm mauve color, so the two mixed becomes a natural stain for my lips.

And here is the final look!

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I hope you found the tips helpful! Till the next post.

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