K-Beauty is an umbrella term for skincare products that are derived from South Korea. The fad gained popularity worldwide, especially in East Asia, Southeast Asia, South Asia and the US and focuses on health, hydration and an emphasis for brightening effects.

Although the focus for these beauty products are on skin aesthetics such as health, hydration, and luminous textured skin, glowing "glass skin" is favored by South Koreans. Rather than having layers of foundation, it is preferred to have a lengthy skincare regimen with a focus on toning and clarifying. Various natural ingredients are utilized in the creation of these products in addition to the numerous steps involved in a skincare routine. The skincare and cosmetics industry continues to lead the way in terms of economic gain, as displayed by the growth and expansion of Korean skincare domestically and internationally. The history of Korean skincare has influenced the standards for the ideal beauty and skincare routine which have become engrained into Korean norms over time. The result of which has led to several controversies and movements against harmful and rigid beauty standards set upon the Korean people.

Ingredients and routine

Korean beauty standards in the 21st century prize a youthful look and the appearance of moisture on the skin, which results in a preference for cremes over powders. As a result, K-beauty products are also more often designed for export, as a result of South Korea's history of import substitution industrialization. K-Beauty products are presented using sophisticated ingredients and appealing packaging. Products use ingredients ranging from more natural sources such as green tea leaves, orchid, soybean to snail slime, morphing masks, bee venom (an anti-inflammatory “faux-tox” alleged to relax facial muscles), moisturizing starfish extract, and pig collagen. The regimen involves a series of steps including cleansing rituals (with oil and water based products), sheet masks, essences, serums, moisturizers, cushion compacts, fermented products, and SPF 35 sunscreen. At night, the sunscreen is replaced by a “night cream”. Each regimen is addressed differently depending on complexion factors including hormonal fluctuations and lifestyle choices.

The ultra-elaborated K-Beauty skincare regimen consisted of an average of 10 steps. It normally starts with a dual cleaning ritual, series of sheet masks, essences lotions, serums, and rich moisturizers, and then ends with an SPF sunscreen, except at night when the sunscreen is swapped for a thick sleep cream. The facial skincare products are successful, due to the abundant development of new skin products and that two-thirds (68%) of all launches of skincare products were products from South Korea. Although men are increasingly participating in the market, the focus is still on women. Youtubers offer tutorials on how to apply cosmetics and skincare products. In Korea, beauty ads are posted across buses, subways, and tv all to bombard women into what beauty should be.