Korean Beauty History

Ancient times:

Records of the use of cosmetics in Korea date back to the time of the Three Kingdoms of Korea, and the use of makeup flourished during the Goryeo kingdom. Cosmetics were made from lotions extracted from plants, including gourd stems; Ground mung bean contains saponin and was helpful for cleansing. Castor oils and camellia oils were used as hair oil. They had a pleasant smell and were not sticky. To moisturise and add gloss to the skin, safflower oil was used. Apricot and peach oils were used to remove freckles and liver spots. A powder called ‘mibun’ or ‘baekbun’ was made from ground rice and millet blended with water or oil.

Scents were added to extracts from grains and other plants, for example from dried clove buds. Perfume was also used to relieve stresses and tiredness. The Gyuhap Chongseo, an ancient women’s encyclopedia, includes various methods for making perfume.

According to Gyuhap Chongseo, eyebrows were the central feature of a woman’s face.The work describes ten popular eyebrow shapes. Crescent or willow leaf shapes were most popular. Plant ash was the basic raw material used for eyebrow ink, with which women drew their eyebrows in various shapes. The primary colors were black, blue, and dark brown.

Yeonji is the Korean name of rouge, which was used to colour the lips and cheeks. It could be made from safflower.

In the Joseon period, luxurious makeup was forbidden because of Confucianism. Upper-class women tended to copy the makeup and style of gisaeng during this period.

Modern times:

Following the Treaty of Kanghwa in 1876, Korean ports opened to foreign trade and Western styles began to influence the country. New makeup styles and products became popular, stimulating Korea’s cosmetics culture and enabling mass production and consumption.

Bakgabun, which means Park’s powder, was the first mass-produced cosmetics item in Korea. It was the first Korean face powder and was a bestseller from 1916 to 1930. However, because of its lead content, sales then fell rapidly and similar products were quickly launched.

As a result of the dominance of Japanese cosmetic brands, Korean cosmetics failed to develop in the 1920s. After the country was no longer under Japanese control, the Korean War that began in 1950 further disrupted the economy. Finally, around 1961, the Korean cosmetics industry began to prosper after the passage of a law banning sales of other countries’ products.

Like many, I was also suffering from so many skin issues from the past few years.

It all started in 2015, I had major breakouts (mostly whiteheads) all over my cheeks, chin, forehead area. I was literally a newborn baby as far as skin care is concerned. I started using so many different products which were available in the Indians market at that point of time.

Someone suggested me to use Betnovate which is a cream which contains a medicine called betamethasone valerate. It belongs to a group of medicines called steroids that reduce swelling and irritation.

Because it is a steroid, it should not be used on your face. There were some side effects of Betnovate also. This then again worsens my face skin condition.  

I struggled with plethora of acne products in the market. Indian market is stuffed with salicylic acid products the only ingredient which Indian and even western brands have for acne prone skin. But actually, we need more than this.   

Then I came into this new world of care for your skin that is Korean Beauty World. They have so much to offer you. I bought so many products for my skin concern in 2017 end. They helped me alot. But i was not able to get rid of this issue.

Now i decided to go to my skin specialist, he gave me medication and all which again helped a bit. Later on he removed all my whiteheads.

I got rid off all the whiteheads after that. It was very nice to feel your clear skin.

Again after few months they all came back with a revenge. There were whiteheads all over my face and i was shattered and suffering a low confidence.

I felt a dullness on my face. Gained some weight also. So finally I decided to visit my dermatologist again and I asked him that there is some issue. He suggested me to get some tests done Ultrasound and some hormone tests.

There was some hormonal issues, for which I consulted my gynae and she prescribed me its medication

While researching on the net, I found that South Korean women, on average, spend twice as much on beauty products and cosmetics than American women and South Korean men spend more on beauty products than men in any other country. I read an article by the Korean Times that went a little into the history of beauty in Korea, and its long standing importance in Korean culture. The article stated that, in the past, Koreans believed makeup and self care not only benefited your external appearance, but also your internal self. Kind of like a “Look Good Feel Good” mentality. Also, Koreans believe in “preventive skincare” more than “reactive skincare” and this approach shows miraculous results!


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