Besides K-pop idols, dramas, and perhaps kimchi, what else do you think of when you hear the word “Korea”? If you are a makeup junkie, you will most probably be thinking right now: “Korean makeup, of course!”
From their super cute packaging to their multi-tasking benefits, many people are in love with Korean beauty. Korean makeup looks have been trending for some time, and it looks like beauty junkies’ love for K-beauty is still going strong, even in 2021.
While there are Korean makeup trends in 2021 that you can look forward to and follow, this Korean makeup tutorial for beginners we’re putting together for you is suitable for newbies to makeup. You’ll be able to learn the basic trends of Korean makeup and how to do it without needing professional techniques.
What is the Korean makeup look?
To understand what the “Korean makeup look” is, just observe pictures of popular female Korean celebrities such as Song Hye Kyo and Krystal from f(x). Notice anything in common?
It is their flawless complexion, dewy skin, and youthful vibe that really makes the “Korean look” so desirable to just about everyone across Asia! They keep their makeup look natural too, so they always look effortlessly gorgeous.
To help you achieve the look, we’ve put together a quick and easy Korean makeup tutorial that even beginners can follow along with.
1. Prep your skin by moisturising it
The Koreans are most famous for their dewy, radiant skin – but it is not created entirely with highlighters and high coverage foundation!
The key to achieving Korean ‘glass skin’ is actually making sure that your skin is moisturised and hydrated – or ‘chok chok’ as they call it in Korea. Hence, it is important to always moisturise your skin in the day and night. If your skin is on the dry side, you can consider using a leave-on night mask cream that will give you the extra moisture boost that you need.
If you still struggle to find a moisturiser that works for you, check out the following guides we created for you:
23 best moisturisers for oily skin that will do wonders for your face
19 best Korean moisturisers that will suit Asian skin and give you the “chok chok” look
7 ways to make your moisturiser work harder for you
Regular misting is another way to make sure that your skin remain hydrated and radiant. Consider investing in a good facial mist that you can carry around with you in your bag or leave at your work desk.
Koreans prefer to do more natural makeup, hence they focus a lot more on skincare that can give them radiant, glowing skin even without BB cream.
That is why it is important to build a skincare routine that works for you first, before learning how to do Korean makeup looks.
If you are completely new to skincare, why not take a few tips from your favourite Korean celebs to achieve their flawless look – for example, did you know that ASTRO’s Cha Eun Woo has an elaborate skincare routine?
This is one of the most important steps for any makeup tutorial, especially when the sun is an unavoidable element in Singapore’s tropical climate.
Many Koreans, place huge importance on protecting their skin from UV rays. That is why you will see that many K-beauty brands carry facial sunscreens. Even famous Korean makeup artists such as Pony and Risabae have often talked about the importance of using sunscreens, and their makeup tutorials will always include one step for sun care.
There are many reasons why you might be tempted to skip this step in your routine: some think it’s unnecessary since many foundations and BB creams nowadays come with SPF, while others simply don’t like that tacky feeling that some sunscreen formulations leave behind.
Either way, we strongly recommend applying sunscreen before you do any makeup, just to really make sure you’re fending off all those harmful UV rays which will make your skin age faster.
Sunscreens also come in different textures and finishes, so don’t give up on finding one that works for you and your makeup routine. If you need help finding a sunscreen that doesn’t feel sticky in Singapore’s weather, you can check out this helpful list.
Another thing to take note: you have to reapply sunscreen! Sunscreen cannot actually protect you for the whole day, so it’s important that you reapply it once every two hours if you are out in the hot sun.
Also, don’t miss out areas like your eyelids, undereye, neck, and ears. These areas are often neglected but it’s important to protect them in order to prevent skin cancer and uneven skin tone!
3. BB cream or cushion compacts
Since the main aim of this Korean makeup tutorial is to be quick and easy, we recommend that you check out BB cream or cushion compacts if you haven’t already done so.
Both combine makeup and skincare into one convenient formula, so you’d be able to moisturise your skin while applying foundation and concealer at the same time.
The small, all-in-one packaging of BB cushions are especially handy if you’re the sort that travels frequently, or just want to touch up your makeup on the go!
BB cream has been one of the most sought-after makeup products when it first emerged in the Korean beauty scene, and it’s since made waves all around the world. If you are looking for something lightweight but which can also cover blemishes, you can use BB cream in place of foundation and concealer.
Another thing to take note is that some K-beauty BB creams and cushion compacts work better for Korea’s seasonal weather. If you need help finding one that can work for your skin type in Singapore’s humid weather, we have a guide for you.
Cushion compacts are slightly more popular than BB creams in 2020, and while many people love using it, there are a significant number of people who also get the application method wrong.
Use the patting motion to apply cushion. This will prevent streaking and give you a dewy look.
If you still prefer liquid foundation, choose a hydrating formula. Start by applying a light layer of foundation – just enough to cover your entire face with a thin layer. Then, build it up slowly by focusing on areas that require more coverage.
This method ensures that your final look will be airy and lightweight – exactly what you see on your favourite Korean stars.
DV Tip: When applying BB cream or BB cushions, work under natural light, such as near a window. You’ll be better able to see exactly how much of the product you are applying on your face and this can prevent you from accidentally piling on too much coverage. Always remember to extend your base makeup past your neckline for a more natural look.
Many of us aren’t blessed with perfect skin, but that’s okay because there is always concealer to save your day.
To achieve that flawless complexion, you’ll probably need something a little more intense for those stubborn blemishes that are still slightly visible even after using base makeup. It can also hide those dark eye circles, acne scars, or even redness on your skin.
If you want to make your cheekbones and nose more prominent, you can also use concealer as a highlighter. Opt for a concealer that is one shade lighter, and apply it as you would with highlighter.
But take note that concealer is not always necessary in a Korean makeup look. If you don’t have significant blemishes, instead of using a concealer, simply pat on a little more foundation on the targeted area. This way, your makeup will be less likely to cake.
5. Eye makeup
In Korea, eye makeup is also known as point makeup as they want their eyes to be the main “point” on their face.
Some of the distinctive Korean eye makeup looks include the “puppy eyes” eyeliner and aegyo sal (cute eye bags below your eyes) – check out our beginner’s guide on how to do Korean eye makeup!
For eyeshadow, Koreans prefer to keep colours on the eyelids to a minimum as they prefer a more natural look rather than having makeup too obviously piled on. As such, it is recommended that you use neutral or light colours, such as brown, pink, or coral.
A tip for choosing the right eye shadow is to explore and find colours that suit your skin tone. Head over to drugstores or Sephora and swatch different shades of eye shadows to find shade that complements or accentuates your eyes.
Many Koreans prefer to use brown eyeliner as it will give you a softer and more natural look, since black eyeliner can look harsh and fierce. To achieve the puppy eyes look, line your eyes in such a way that the outer end extends outwards and downwards, instead of upwards (which is done in cat-eye looks).
Eyelid tape is another tool you can count on to make your peepers stand out. You can also look younger with anti-ageing eyelid tape, which is why it is so popular among beauty enthusiasts.
Many Asian women lament about having short and straight eyelashes, but that’s what eyelash curlers and mascaras are for. Choose a mascara that is waterproof and smudge-proof to prevent yourself from looking like a panda nearer the end of the day.
DV Tip: Use a lash primer or mascara fixer so that your curled lashes will be held in place for the entire day.
Did you know that brows play a huge role in shaping your face? Another element to the youthful, innocent Korean look is to have straight brows with a slight arc at the end. If you look at pictures of Korean female celebrities, you will notice how they tend to draw their brows in a straight manner!
However, these days you will find that fewer Korean female celebrities spot straight brows, but opt instead for a more natural arch that frames their face. Bae Suzy, for example, has replaced her straight brows with naturally curved ones:
Whichever you prefer, you have to remember that brow shapes look different on everyone. You can check out our article on the different types of eyebrows and how to draw your eyebrows easily here.
If you are confident that the Korean straight brow is for you, you can attempt to pluck away those stray hairs and slowly shape it. However, if you doubt your own skills, you can always entrust your brows to beauticians in eyebrow salons and let them know the shape you wish to have.
The next step is to fill in your brows. Begin with light strokes at the start of your brows and slowly work your way to the end, tapering it down to a point. You can choose to work with a eyebrow pencil or eyebrow powder, whichever you’re more comfortable with.
Even if you are going for a straight eyebrow look, there should still be a very slight arc near the end of the brow, and the arc should begin around the outer corner of your eye.Remember to blend out any harsh edges with a spoolie.
Some Koreans also like to use eyebrow tints to lighten their brow colour so that it will match their skin and hair colour better, especially if they have dyed their hair a much lighter colour. Give it a try and you may be surprised with the result!
Now that we are done with your base makeup, we need to add some healthy glow back onto the face. To do so, you can use powder, cream, or liquid blushers, depending on your preference! For beginners, we recommend using powder blushers as they are generally easier to blend.
Apply them from high points of your cheeks (commonly termed as the apples of your cheeks) towards your temples and blend it to look as if the glow is coming naturally from within. In Korea, women prefer to use blushers in the shade of coral and rosy pink as it complements their skin tone.
Don’t be afraid to apply more colour as well – although the Koreans advocate for natural makeup, they do like more colour payoff with their blushes so that they get a healthy, radiant glow!
But if you’re new to blusher, consider starting with a smaller amount of product first, and slowly build it up. It’s always easier to add on than to remove. Feel free to use your fingers – instead of a brush – to blend out the pigment too. Most newbies find it easier to control the product when they get hands-on.
The gradient lip makeup trend has taken over the world but it actually originated from Korea. It makes your lips look fuller, and also makes them look tantalisingly just-bitten. The basic principle behind a gradient lip is to use a darker shade on the inner lips, and then use a lip brush, a cotton bud, or your finger to blend it outwards to create a gradient effect.
Gradient lips have become so popular that many Korean makeup brands (and even non-Korean brands) have come up with two-tone lipsticks which claim to help you achieve the gradient look with one swipe and without blending.
For a step-by-step tutorial on how to get gradient lips, you can read our article here.
DV Tip: Lightly pat a tiny bit of concealer over your lips before you begin doing your gradient lips. This will make the colour and the gradient look more obvious from the contrast! You can also choose to top off your gradient lips with a clear lip gloss to give your lips a juicy, succulent look.