The 2023 Trends That Prove K-Beauty Is Always A Step Ahead

South Korea may be small in size, but its impact on the beauty world is enormous. Korean beauty — often shortened to "K-beauty" — first developed in ancient Korea, when mung bean soaps, plant-based lotions, and safflower oil moisturizers were all the rage. K-beauty has come a long way since then. Its market experienced some ups and downs over the years before finally exploding, becoming the worldwide influence we know today.


In recent years, Korean beauty has been credited for bringing us the 10-step skincare routine, juicy sheet masks, and revolutionary ingredients like snail mucin and ginseng. But just like the waves of new K-pop groups filling up our playlists, K-beauty is constantly evolving and being updated with fresh products and makeup trends. And thankfully, you don't have to book a flight to Asia to get in on the action. Here are the top 2023 K-beauty trends to try before they go global.

Baby-smooth skin

Anti-aging and well-aging treatments are nothing new in Korean — or Western — beauty. But the latest surge of youth-inspired skin and makeup is practically as fresh-faced as a baby. Look to K-pop newcomers NewJeans: Compared to popular groups like Blackpink, NewJeans have ditched the smoky eyeshadow and dark contour for a bare, simple look, seemingly playing up their age (the youngest member was just 14 when the group debuted last year, FYI).


Even if you're way beyond your school years, you can still get the baby skin look. In 2023, expect to see less glassy glazed donut skin and more smooth matte finishes. Leave heavy makeup behind and avoid excessively layering products — less is more with this trend. However, do try turning to a literal baby skincare staple by using baby powder on your face with a technique called "jamsu." This technique involves applying your base makeup, topping it with baby powder, then submerging your face in cold water for 30 seconds to create a poreless, matte effect.

Another way to embrace the trend is by minimizing your routine, similar to how you might treat sensitive baby skin. "[It's] all about focusing on what your skin truly needs and getting rid of any excess," Sarah Lee, co-CEO of Glow Recipe, shared with Vogue.


Messy brows and lashes

In the West, perfect Instagram eyebrows have been trending for ages — think laminated brows and microblading. This year, however, a messier feathered brow is coming in hot, and we have K-beauty to thank. Fans of Korean dramas may have noticed this style for years, but now it's being imported overseas with the rise of brow gels and mascaras. Tobi Henney, a makeup artist, explained to Allure that "the best brow gels will keep the hairs separated and [looking] natural." That means no more harsh lines or blocky cartoon-ish eyebrows. Besides DIYing the feather look at home, you can also go to a pro for microfeathering, a softer version of microblading.


An undone look is also taking over eyelashes in K-beauty with the clumpy lash trend, but don't mistake this technique for the thick, spidery effect your mascara creates when it's been neglected in your makeup bag for months. Clumpy Korean lashes sort of look like the hairs have stuck together after you've had a good cry. YouTuber Jaycee demonstrated the style, using mascara and tweezers to squeeze the lashes together. Try it yourself — no tears required.

Light brown blush

Sun-damaged skin is never on trend, but a fake sun-kissed glow is heating up in 2023. You may have seen something similar on TikTok already with the "sunburn blush" trend made popular by Hailey Bieber. However, the Korean version is a departure from the red blush seen last year, relying instead on milky brown and caramel shades to mimic a subtle tan.


Start by choosing a brown blush that's just a couple of shades darker than your natural skin tone. Then, tap it lightly on the cheeks. "The blush is applied on the apple of the cheek," makeup artist Airin Lee told the Daily Vanity, noting that the effect "looks more like a sunkissed flush compared to a pink and peach [shade]." Consider it a much softer alternative to using contours to sculpt the cheeks and jawline or swiping on bronzer to warm up the entire face. And, of course, don't forget to incorporate SPF in your skincare routine to stave off an actual tan or sunburn.

Makeup spatulas

You likely have a few handy spatulas in your kitchen, and now it's time to bring spatulas to your bathroom too. Makeup spatulas may not be popular stateside, but they've become a thing in Korea, according to TikToker Jenny Pysh. In a video, she says the slender tool is a favorite among professional makeup artists working with K-pop idols and celebrities.


Though they're called spatulas, you can think of a makeup spatula as a butter knife, but instead of spreading jam, it spreads foundation. Apply a little foundation on the spatula, then glide it over your skin to create an even base. "The spatula allows you to apply sheer, even layers, without the tool absorbing any of the product or leaving streaks like a brush can," makeup artist Tami El Sombati explained to Fashion.

The go-to model among many beauty influencers is the Piccasso Makeup Spatula, which is sold both in Korea and internationally (and is, unsurprisingly, often sold out). However, with this trend already gaining momentum, you'll likely find more makeup spatula brands popping up with their own iterations.


Earth-friendly products

Clean beauty has been around for a while and usually focuses on nixing toxic chemicals from skincare products and cosmetics. But Korea, being the trendsetter it is, is doing clean beauty in its own way with the rise of vegan beauty. This likely isn't the first time you've heard of vegan and cruelty-free skin or makeup goods, but with veganism taking over K-beauty, animal-friendly products may finally become the norm.


"As South Korea's beauty industry becomes more conscientious, products that are both cruelty-free and without animal-derived ingredients are becoming the new standard," Sharon Ahn, a beauty trend forecaster, revealed to Daily Vanity. K-beauty leaders like Dear, Klairs and COSRX offer vegan or cruelty-free products so you can get glowing skin, without harming our furry friends.

Another major trend in eco-friendly K-beauty is refillable products. According to Korea JoongAng Daily, Aromatica and Innisfree were among the skincare brands to pioneer refillables in Korea in an attempt to reduce waste. Expect to see the trend extend to makeup, body products, and other personal care items.

Beautifying supplements

When it comes to beauty, how you look on the outside is often a reflection of what's going on inside your body. Following a healthy diet is one way to ensure you look your best, but some Korean companies are taking it one step further by offering beauty supplements, snacks, and drinks.


K-beauty YouTuber Soo Beauty discussed the trend in a video, saying these products claim to improve fine lines, strengthen skin and hair health, and brighten the complexion. One particularly popular ingredient in Korean beauty supplements is collagen, an ingredient known to slow signs of aging, strengthen nails, and offer other beauty and health benefits, according to Healthline. It's no wonder the beauty supplements market is expected to continue growing over the next several years.

Look for beauty-boosting supplements containing collagen, probiotics, vitamins, and other nutrients, but do maintain a balanced diet too. And when in doubt, talk to your doctor about which supplements are right for your health and beauty needs.