Disclaimer: this review contains affiliate links!* It’s skincare trend prediction time, guys! Just as I did last year, I will cast a look into the future and dare to predict 5 of the hottest K-Beauty trends for 2019!
I don’t know why it gives me such immens pleasure trying to predict what will be the next big thing in the Korean and wider Asian beauty world. To be absolutely and somewhat embarrassingly honest, I think part of the appeal for me is that I always feel deeply satisfied when my predictions come true. When more and more cica/centella asiatica products flooded my Instagram feed last year, I couldn’t help but smile to myself with a certain smugness because I had correctly predicted the trend. Pure arrogance and vanity, I know, but – it just feels good to know your excessive brand-stalking and skincare news reading paid off!
And so, just like last year, I cannot wait to tell you all about the 5 hottest K-beauty trends for 2019. Some of these trends I may have mentioned before, e.g. when I discussed them in one of my skincare trend reports on my podcast. My predictions are based on what I’ve been seeing these past months both on social media and while doing research for my K-beauty podcast and my blog.
It is usually an indication of a trend emerging when all of a sudden, different Korean brands bring out similar-looking products with the same main ingredient, similar packaging style, or the same “buzz words” used to advertise said products. So, I picked 5 Korean skincare trends that I consider to be particular “buzzy” right now. I’m guessing they will pick up relevance throughout 2019, probably becoming more and more mainstream as the year progresses.
1. K-Beauty Trends 2019: Products with Mugwort for Oily Skin
Mugwort, or artemisia vulgaris, is a skincare ingredient that is added to more and more K-beauty products lately. Especially products aimed at oily, acne-prone skin types now often contain mugwort extract, with Wishtrend brand I’m from one of the first to jump on the trend. The I’m from Mugwort Essence* and I’m from Mugwort Mask* both contain highly concentrated mugwort extract and not much else – the essence, in fact, is basically just mugwort extract and water.
The use of mugwort for all sorts of ailments can be traced back as far as Roman times, where it was often added to dishes both as a fragrant spice as well as a way to combat stomach issues from lack of freshness of ingredients. I had actually known mugwort mostly as a healing herb from a number of German organic brands, often used in oily skincare lines due to its antibacterial properties. In Korea, mugwort also has a long tradition as a healing herb, and according to Wishtrend it’s often seen as a sort of “Korean tea tree.” Apart from its strong antibacterial and antifungal properties, mugwort also seems to help keep excess sebum in check, which is why many lightweight acne gels now contain the extract.
Hanyul has had its Pure Artemisia skincare line out for a while, but lately it seems to have gotten new attention due to the trendiness of its main ingredient. I myself am a massive fan of the Hanyul Pure Artemisia Fresh Calming Gel*, which is this gorgeously light, watery gel which does not contain any alcohol but still feels super refreshing on the skin. It may seem pricey at first glance, but it’s actually a massive 250ml tub that will last a long time indeed. I look forward to using this in summer to combat the humidity-induced oiliness my skin has to endure in the heat.
Apart from the Fresh Calming Gel, I’ve also heard good things about the Hanyul Watery Calming Toner* and the Hanyul Pure Artemisia Deep Cleansing Oil.* There are other mugwort-themed products coming out at the moment, for instance the Isntree Spot Saver Mugwort Powder Wash*, which sounds highly intriguing, and the Isntree Spot Saver Mugwort Gauze Mask.*
2. K-Beauty Trends 2019: “Blue” Products
Again, it seems that a Wishtrend brand was way ahead of the curve when it comes to creating a K-beauty skincare trend for 2019! Their Klairs Midnight Blue Calming Cream* has been out for a few years now and was followed by a number of other blue-themed products, all infused with the blue-tinted star ingredient, azulene won from German Blue Chamomile oil.
And lately, I’ve been seeing blue-themed, azulene-rich products all over the place! It really feels like 2019 will be the year of the blue products, with brands such as Urang, Bonair, Petitfee and Tia’m all bringing out bright blue masks, face oils and even peeling pads! Well, to be fair, Tia’m actually chose more of a lilac colour scheme for their Snail & Azulene Toner* and the appealingly gooey Snail & Azulene Sleeping Mask.*
I’ve talked about the virtues of azulene at length in my podcast episode on K-beauty trends from a few weeks ago, and then again in the latest episode on my K-beauty wish list for 2019. It’s probably because I am such a massive fan of the Klairs Midnight Blue Calming Cream, as well as the Klairs Midnight Blue Sheet Masks* that I cannot stop singing the praises of this star ingredient.
Azulene can be won from a number of blue-coloured plants, predominantly chamomile and blue tansy. Azulene or guaiazulene (a compound of azulene) have been used for centuries in skin-calming ointments and salves due to the anti-inflammatory properties. This blue-tinted ingredient also seems to have anti-fungal, antibacterial and even potentially anti-allergic characteristics, so it is a godsend for red, inflamed and sensitised skin. I use the Klairs Midnight Blue Calming Cream as an overnight mask whenever I have my monthly hormonal freakouts, and during summer it’s the best thing to put on my skin after a day of too much sunlight.
If you want to try out azulene-containing products, you can go either for the Tia’m snail and azulene combo linked above – perfect for dehydrated, acne-prone skin – or give one of the many blue face oils a try. There are currently two blue face oils that are particular favourites of the Asian beauty commnunity: the deep blue Bonair Blue Smoother Face Oil and the Urang Brightening Blue Oil Serum, available in the US at Ohlolly and in Europe at Love My Cosmetic. I am also still keenly eyeing up the Petitfee Azulene Ultra Soothing Pads,* a more budget-friendly way to try out this trendy ingredient. Urang also just released their Clarifying Blue Mask, an azulene-enriched clay mask which sounds amazing. And if you are specifically looking for anti-ageing benefits, maybe give the Klairs Midnight Blue Youth Activating Drop* a try (German review here)!!
3. K-Beauty Trends 2019: Organic K-Beauty
This may be my favourite K-beauty trend for 2019 out of the whole list! My heart has always been drawn to the organic skincare philosophy – I used to be madly in love with everything Dr. Hauschka in my 20s, and I still enjoy discovering organic brands from all over the world.
Finding Korean brands with certified organic ingredients tended to be a bit of a “needle in a haystack” situation in previous years. Lately, however, more and more organic K-beauty brands are surfacing on Instagram and co., many of them consciously appealing not only to a domestic, but also to a wider global Asian beauty community.
In Germany, organic brand Whamisa is probably the one Korean beauty brand that is best-known even among those Germans who don’t really care much about K-beauty. Organic skincare is a massive market in Europe, especially here in my very environmentally-friendly home country, and German-made, certified organic brands such as Weleda or, again, Dr. Hauschka, are highly regarded. While “Asian skincare” may be distrusted here in the West (“Is it safe to use?” is always one of the first questions I get asked by my fellow Germans – eye roll worthy, I know!), the idea of organic skincare made in Korea, with internationally acclaimed organic labels such as the BDIH label attached to them, is highly intriguing to many Germans.
And organic K-beauty certainly has a lot to offer: sustainable packaging, biodegradable sheet mask materials, high tech ingredients combined with ancient herbalist wisdom, and cruelty-free, often vegan products. Animal testing in particular is a big no-go for many, and to be honest, it’s very hard to guarantee that the larger K-beauty brands are strictly free from animal testing, since they are usually sold in mainland China.
Smaller organic brands from Korea are definitely on the rise, and they are often savvy enough to reach out to us non-Korean countries, since organic skincare is still very niche within Korea. Whamisa seems to be virtually unknown in Korea, for instance, unlike here in Europe, thanks to its multi-language online and social media presence.
Apart from Whamisa, there are a number of other, highly interesting organic brands from Korea making their way towards the Western markets. I introduced 5 of them in a recent German blog post, and of course many of you probably remember my review slash love letter to CHOBS Organic, a fully vegan and certified organic brand with a range of amazing, plant-based products.
Another classic K-beauty brand with certified organic ingredients is Aromatica, which is newly available here in Germany via Love My Cosmetic. Internationally, you can purchase brand favourites such as the Aromatica Orange Cleansing Sherbet* or the Aromatica Rose Absolute Vital Fluid* – a beautifully simple, yet elegant anti-ageing serum – on Yesstyle.
Urang is also mostly organic, as is Rootree, a K-beauty brand which is coming to Beautytap* soon (apparently it’s already sold at their brick and mortar store in LA) – both gorgeous brands with a number of delicious-sounding products in luxe packaging. I’m also keenly watching Georganic and Melixir becoming more popular, with the Georganic Galactomyces Intensive Oil Serum* and the Melixir Vegan Squalane Face Oil* currently appearing more and more often in my Instagram feed.
4. K-Beauty Trends 2019: Roses, Roses Everywhere
Roses and their delectably fragrant petals have been used in beauty recipes all over the world for millennia. Thus, it is always somewhat surprising to see them suddenly regain popularity as an “it ingredient.” But that is precisely what seems to be happening in the world of Korean beauty right now, and so I definitely needed to include rose-themed products as one of the K-beauty trends for 2019.
I think it was Heimish that started the trend, with their Bulgarian Rose Mist Serum* and the highly popular Heimish Bulgarian Rose Water Hydrogel Eye Patches* (Gothamista approved!). Heimish even used a rose-inspired colour scheme for their special edition autumn 2018 Heimish Dailism Rose Memory* eyeshadow palette, and just recently they launched the Heimish Bulgarian Rose Satin Cream.*
And then there is Commleaf – that trendy, beautifully packaged K-beauty newcomer with its three rose-themed skincare products. The Commleaf Rose Moisture Pad* is my absolute favourite from that line, packed full with hydrating rose water and propolis extract. And then there is the Commleaf Rose Sleeping Pack*, with its rose jam texture and tiny specks of crushed rose petals scattered throughout. Make sure to read my review of the Commleaf rose products to swoon over the product texture shots.
You can also try some of the classics when it comes to K-beauty and rose-themed products: The Mamonde Rose Water Toner*, for instance, or my all-time favourite first treatment essence, the Secret Key Starting Essence Rose Edition.* And, I personally loved both the iUnik Rose Galactomyces Essential Toner* and the Rose Galactomyces Synergy Serum* – very hydrating and noticeably brightening!
5. K-Beauty Trends 2019: Multi-Purpose Products
I’ve been reading an awful lot about “skipcare” lately, a supposedly super popular Korean skincare trend that is replacing the good ‘ole multistep routine. Basically, the idea is that all of a sudden, Korean women have decided to throw out their many essences, toners and even forsake the double cleanse, instead embracing a super stripped-down routine. The result, apparently, is much better, healthier, happier skin. Youtube influencer and founder of Krave Beauty, Liah Yoo, was one of the first to preach the virtues of a “skincare product detox”, after being a faithful follower of a multistep routine for a long time (and, in my eyes, her skin looked flawless under both regimes).
To be honest, I’m just as sceptical of this “trend” as I have always been of the 10 step routine as the magical solution to all our skincare woes. As I explained in my podcast episode on the Korean 10 step routine, I feel that there is no “one size fits all” solution when it comes to skincare. I love my multistep routine and adore layering products, but for others, stripping down to just cleansing, moisturising and using sunscreen could be the holy grail routine they’ve always wanted and needed.
What I suspect when it comes to all those “skipcare” articles suddenly being published, is that it’s just as much of a marketing tool to sell products as the 10 step routine myth was. Not that there is anything wrong with that – just be aware that it is likely what’s happening here before you ditch your product stash to finally achieve that “flawless skin.” A lot of Korean, but especially K-beauty adjacent brands such as Glow Recipe, have been launching new multi-purpose products lately: sugar scrubs that can also be used as a makeup remover, lotions that are also serums, a toner and creamy moisturiser hybrid,* and there is even a peeling pad that supposedly manages to replace your entire cleansing routine.
Personally, I don’t always do too well with multi-purpose products, especially in my cleansing routine, but I can totally see the appeal. It’s just super convenient to be able to replace two or three steps with just one! That’s why so many people love the Son & Park Beauty Water,* which can be used as a cleansing water, toner and even hydrating lotion. It’s also the secret behind the sucsess of K-beauty brands such as Hyggee, with their One Step Facial Essence* and All in One Mist.*
Whether or not “skipcare” will be one of the K-beauty trends for 2019 remains to be seen, but – mark my words: we will be seeing a lot more multi-purpose, all-in-one products in the coming months!
What Else Can We Expect from K-Beauty in 2019?
So, what are some of the other K-beauty trends currently emerging? Well, for one thing, glass skin is definitely losing its appeal for most people – true, that dewy, glowy complexion is still highly coveted, but I see less and less people actually use the term “glass skin” to describe their ideal skin condition. In fact, when it comes to makeup trends, Koreans seem to currently favour a more matte look, similar to the Japanese “mochi skin” ideal: plump and bouncy skin with a very soft, subtle sheen and a matte T-zone.
I’m also happy to report that with the rise of the Me Too movement in South Korea, more and more women are starting to question and actively fight unrealistic expectations on their looks. It’s highly doubtful that the majority of Korean women will ditch all of their makeup, as some Western publications have enthusiastically reported, but there has been a definite shakeup these past months regarding the ways women view themselves and are often forced to present this image of gentle, flawless hyperfemininity (just watch an episode of Get It Beauty and you will see what I mean).
I also see an increase of “K-beauty inspired” brands produced by and mostly for North Americans, but often with strong ties to Korea. These brands are usually connected to a North American online shop selling Korean products, e.g. the Peach & Lily Collection, the Glow Recipe in house brand, Soko Glam’s Then I Met You, and an as of yet unannounced in house brand from Beautytap. To be honest, I still don’t fully know how to feel about these brands, but voicing my thoughts on this trend will probably need its own podcast episode.
Let me know in the comments: Which K-beauty trends do YOU think will be big in 2019?
Take care guys!
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