It may be the end of 2022, but we thought it’d still be fitting to do a year in review of wildly popular Korean beauty trends that can take you into 2023 with a healthy glow. This year’s beauty scene was pretty epic with K-beauty’s growing influence in mainstream culture. For starters, leaders in K-beauty pushed boundaries even further with innovative gadgets and formulas, from red onion to kombucha.
Here are some of the top K-beauty trends that took the world by storm — and are continuing to do so. We connected with two research analysts who provided us with key industry insights to help you choose which K-beauty trends to try in the coming year.
Eccentric plant ingredients
Plant lovers, rejoice! 2022 was the year of outside-the-box ingredient blends with plenty of glow-enhancing plant extracts. “K-beauty is moving towards more natural products, and there has [also] been an increase in the use of retinol,” said Paul Mallory, the co-founder of retail data site ConsumerGravity. Retinol can be useful if you’re aiming to combat visible aging signs, like wrinkles or fine lines.
Mallory further revealed that “more and more brands are introducing products with unexpected plant ingredients.” He continued, “We’ve already seen cucumbers, but who has heard of red onions in skincare?” Apparently, onion extracts can help subdue breakouts thanks to their potential anti-inflammatory and antimicrobial properties.
Korean beauty brands were literally brewing behind the scenes as they increased the use of fermented ingredients — including kombucha tea — in their products. “Products with fermented ingredients became increasingly popular this year,” Mallory said. “People saw the benefits of things like fermented tea and kombucha.”
Studies show that fermented skincare formulas may have anti-aging and brightening effects. The heightened use of fermented ingredients further validates the industry’s natural ingredient focus.
Advanced beauty tech
According to Mallory, there’s been an upward trend in consumer-friendly beauty tech. “One of the most prominent examples is the rising popularity of full-face LED masks,” he revealed.
Beauty tech continues to improve with each passing year. In 2022 (during the post-pandemic “new normal” era), at-home beauty devices received major popularity points in the global consumer market. The timing of its increased demand makes sense as the world continues to adjust to life after COVID. We can’t wait to see what new gadgets and gizmos industry leaders have up their sleeves for 2023.
Glowing skin: The new normal
Picture-perfect (aka, glass) skin used to be the ultimate skincare goal. Now, the focus is more on achieving and maintaining a healthy glow. “The [push for] glass skin went out of the question, and the quest to be happy in [one’s] original skin surfaced in 2022,” said Elisa Bender, the co-founder of e-commerce insights blog RevenueGeeks. It seems that K-beauty took notes from the body neutrality movement, shifting toward realistic skin beauty standards.
It’s pretty self-explanatory why glowing skin is at the forefront of industry leaders’ minds. And glowing skin doesn’t equal flawless skin. It represents a healthy and radiant complexion often made possible with moisturizing and brightening skincare formulas. K-beauty brands clearly sought to help consumers achieve that glow in large numbers.
“There was a huge emphasis on [glow-enhancing ingredients] such as propolis and hyaluronic acid,” Bender explained. Bee propolis, a resin-like compound produced by honeybees, reportedly has repairing and regenerative effects on acne vulgaris. Meanwhile, hyaluronic acid can create radiant skin with its hydrating and anti-aging properties.
More than ever, consumers place a high value on products and services that bring them convenience. Steps to simplify everyday skincare routines have hit home in the beauty industry. Although they’re still around, the three-step regimens we’ve grown accustomed to were overshadowed by multi-use skincare products.
“People wanted to have products that provide multiple functions,” Bender said. “They no longer wanted to use different products for everything.” Multi-use formulas are like a facial wrapped in one product. They essentially cut the time spent (and topicals used) in half when performing your regular skincare routine.
A knockout year for K-beauty — and another on the way
K-beauty had several viral moments in 2022. Innovative product formulas and high-tech gadgets had the entire K-beauty scene in a chokehold. With 2022 in our rearview mirror, we’re excited to see what industry leaders bring in 2023.