I don’t know who started the current “J-beauty vs. K-beauty” debate, but I definitely want to glare at them with pointed anger for unleashing a whole host of articles on the world that all tend to paint Korean beauty as a somehow inferior, less mature type of skin care when compared to the “sophisticated” and “pure” skin care that Japan has to offer. So, for today’s episode of The K-Beauty Podcast, I want to discuss why this whole “J-beauty vs. K-beauty” rhetoric is beyond problematic.
Just a few weeks ago, German Vogue declared 2018 to be the year of J-beauty, a comeback for Japanese beauty products and an end to the “buzz” that is K-beauty. Weirdly enough, more and more articles keep popping up on the net that compare Japanese and Korean skin care products, and all of them seem to come to the same conclusion: J-beauty is the superior, more sophisticated “beauty leader” (this is an actual quote from an article) of Asian skin care.
Guys, this won’t do. I know some of you are already over this debate – even though it basically just started – but… We need to talk some more about why this is problematic, why “Japan vs. Korea and Japan is clearly superior” is an age-old rhetoric that touches on a very, very delicate history between the two countries. Apart from that, on a purely factual level, the view that Korean beauty products are all just flashy without substance, whereas all J-beauty products are beautiful, pure and highly sophisticated masterpieces is just plain wrong. And unfair, since we are comparing apples with oranges here. Or bird poop with snail mucin, as it were… But – more on that in today’s episode of The K-Beauty Podcast!
Here is episode EIGHT of The K-Beauty Podcast: The Problematic Rhetoric of “J-Beauty vs. K-beauty”
Episode Notes: The Problematic Rhetoric of “J-Beauty vs. K-beauty”
- The Beautywolf has written a wonderful article on Beautytap* about why the “J-Beauty vs. K-Beauty” debate is nonsense
- Article in the South China Morning Post on J-beauty reasserting itself “amid K-beauty buzz”
- German Vogue includes J-Beauty as a skin care trend for 2018, claiming that most skin care innovations that made K-beauty so popular are actually all derived from Japanese beauty inventions
- Vogue UK also has a longer article praising the “simplicity” of J-beauty compared to the “razzmatazz” of K-beauty
- Article on Quartzy declaring Japan “Asia’s true beauty leader” despite the recent success of K-beauty
- I don’t even know where to start with how problematic this Fashionista article is!
- No surprise that the CEO of Shiseido, Japan’s oldest beauty brand, would praise J-Beauty as “something far more sustainable, authentic and eternal” than K-beauty in this hyper biased Financial Times article!
- This short article on the history of cosmetics in Korea shows a long and rich tradition of using ingredients such as camellia oil
- A concise overview of the history of Japanese-Korean relations in the 20th century
- BBC News article from 2015 pointing out that there is still “bad blood” between the two nations due to the comfort women tragedy (and please just stare in awe and grief at the beautiful statue photographed in this article!)
- This fascinating overview of Amore Pacific and its brand story by Forbes is a good example of Korean ingenuity and innovation
- Mochi Skin is how many Western publications described the Japanese ideal for beautiful skin
- I really enjoyed reading this lovely and informative article about the history of Shiseido, the world’s oldest cosmetics brand
- Intro and outro music: “Puzzle Pieces” by Lee Rosevere
J-Beauty vs. K-Beauty: Products Mentioned
“Sophisticated, understated” J-Beauty:
- Yep, Japanese beauty products are all about sophistication and maturity, just like these Sailor Moon makeup items*!
- Or how about these simple, minimalistic Rose of Versailles inspired* Creer makeup and skin care items?
- Or the Kiss Me Heroine Make products,* with their shojo manga heroine decorating the packaging
- Canmake also tends to go full “understated sophistication” with their makeup packaging,* clearly! /s
- Japanese false lashes are said to be some of the best ones in the world – many swear by the Dolly Wink False Lashes*, but how about some Japanese custom made butterfly eye lashes or bedazzled eye lashes?
- So…is snail slime cream less sophisticated than a powdered bird poop facial (which I actually very much want to try out!)
“Glitzy, cutesy, razzmatazz” K-Beauty:
- Just look at the packaging from the understated Beauty of Joseon Dynasty* products
- It cannot get any more minimalist-chique than Leegeehaam*, read my English blog review of the newly repackaged Leegeehaam skin care line, as well as German reviews of the LJH Tea Tree products and darling of the Asian beauty community, the LJH Vita Propolis skin care duo!
- Or, wait, it CAN get even more minimalist – look at the lovely aesthetic from Huxley*!
- Ärztin also consciously goes for a minimalist, clinically white packaging aesthetic – no surprises there, since their brand name literally means “female doctor” in German – read my English review of the Ärztin products!
- And new kid on the block, Abib skincare,* ain’t messing around either – minimalism all the way
- Kicho’s packaging is so gorgeous and sophisticated, I had a hard time throwing out my Kicho Mineral Foaming Cleanser* packaging once I finished the product (German reviews of Kicho products on my blog with more packaging porn pictures: cleansing foam, moisturizing sun cream, camellia sleeping cream
- Blithe, man – just…Blithe… That is all (articles are in German, but the pics speak for themselves…)
- If you are more into gorgeous sophistication, then hanbang is your ticket to that: The History of Woo,* Sulwhasoo,* or Hanyul* are some prime examples of “packaging porn” made in Korea
Amazing J-Beauty products Asian beauty fans swear by:
- Hada Labo Gokujyun Hyaluronic Lotion Moist – buy at Yesstyle*, buy at Amazon US*
- Hada Labo Gokujyun Premium Hyaluronic Acid Lotion – buy at Yesstyle*, buy at Amazon US*
- Kiku-Masamune Sake Skin Care Lotion (extra moisture version) – buy at Yesstyle*, buy at Amazon US*
- Naturie Hatomugi Skin Conditioner – buy at Yesstyle*, buy at Amazon US*
- Cezanne Skin Conditioner High Moist – buy at Amazon US*, buy at Amazon DE*
- LuLuLun Balance Moisture Sheet Masks – buy at Yesstyle*, buy at Amazon US*
- Rosette Aqua Ceramide Gel – buy at Yesstyle*, buy at Amazon US*
- Kao Megurism Steam Warm Eye Masks – buy at Yesstyle*
- Japanese oil blotting papers: Oisesan*, Makanai* (with a bunny print!), Hakuza* (with silk)
- Kiss Me Heroine Make Volume & Curl Mascara waterproof black – buy at Yesstyle*
- Shiseido Majolica Majorca Lash King Mascara black – buy at Yesstyle*
The weekly craves, faves and misbehaves
- Crave of the week: Skinfood Royal Honey Propolis Essence Glow Pact SPF50+ – buy at Yesstyle* (lighter colour temporarily out of stock),
- Fave of the week: Klairs Supple Preparation Unscented Toner – buy at Wishtrend* (don’t forget to use coupon code “MERRYMARCH” for a further 5% off!)
- Misbehave of the week: The Ordinary Caffeine Solution 5% + EGCG – buy at the Deciem online Shop (if you so wish…)
- The Cut offers a good summary of the drama surrounding DECIEM and its founder!
- My beloved Laneige Eye Sleeping Mask, the best overnight eye treatment for puffy eyes I’ve ever tried! – buy at Yesstyle*
- My personal favourite when it comes to reducing under eye circles, the Clinique All About Eyes cream – buy at Amazon US*, buy at Amazon DE*
- Current day time eye cream I’m greatly enjoying: Benton Fermentation Eye Cream – buy at Yesstyle* for the best price I could find online
So that’s it for this week’s episod of The K-Beauty Podcast: “The Problematic Rhetoric of J-Beauty vs. K-Beauty.” Do remember to subscribe on ITunes to always catch the latest podcast episode! As always, I look forward to hearing your thoughts on this episode in the comments section!
Take care, guys!
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