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Korean Cosmetic Companies Continue to Court Americans

It began with BB creams. Now, a full-fledged Korean beauty invasion is underway in America.

It all started with BB creams, the tinted moisturizer/foundation product that took the American cosmetics market by storm almost immediately after it was introduced at Sephora stores nationwide three years ago. Since then, the New York Times reports, the American appetite for Korean cosmetics has grown considerably.

The brainchild of the Korean skincare company Dr. Jart, BB creams had been popular among Korean women for years before they were sold by Western companies, most of whom now offer their own versions. In the years since, there’s been what the Times calls “a Korean beauty invasion of the United States.” Products like Korean beauty masks, serums, and cleansers have all been making their way into the hands of American shoppers.

The interest in these beauty products has grown so much in recent months that many fashion news sites and companies have hired bloggers and specialists to specifically concentrate on the emerging market.

But several cosmetics executives have noted in recent interviews that it’s unlikely that most American women will adopt a full Korean beauty route, which can average 30 minutes a day or more as women use different masks, serums and other products each night. That's a sharp contrast to the American approach to beauty has focused on simplicity and time efficiency for decades. One executive noted the cultural differences.

“The culture of South Korea is very much tied with technological advancement and the rapid pace of life,” Richard You, the deputy general manager for Dr. Jart in the United States, told the Times. “Everyone has a smartphone, is concerned about their looks, and companies are working around the clock to provide new products.”