25 April, 12:00
Why Do South Korean Men Take Such Good Care Of Their Skin?
Published April 2019
With major Kpop groups like BTS and EXO taking the world by storm, South Korean culture is beginning to spread throughout Western countries like wild fire. One thing that hasn’t caught on quite yet, however, is Korean men’s obsession with skin care products.
While beauty standards are vastly different from country to country, the one thing you typically don’t see is beauty products and makeup marketed towards men. So what makes South Korea so different? While Korean women have a long history of going to great lengths to uphold these beauty standards, it wasn’t until recently that men began to follow suit. 58% of Korean men born after the year 2000 have said that they take substantial time to pamper and groom themselves, showing that Gen Z is leading this charge of manly skin care.
There are few reasons behind these shifting beauty trends, with the first and foremost being the aforementioned rise of Kpop. Members of these pop groups can be massively influential when it comes to style, and not only in regards to the kind of clothes they wear. Perfectly coifed hair, flawless skin, and even cosmetic surgeries like double eyelids are quickly becoming the norm for fellas in South Korea, and those who don’t follow suit may risk getting left in the past.
Skin care and looks in South Korea don’t just affect your social status; it may affect your work life as well. With the increasingly competitive work environment in major South Korean cities, young workers are doing just about anything they can to boost their credentials. Obviously, this includes the same kinds of things we do in the U.S. to pad our resumes – take extra classes, learn new skills, perform internships – but it also includes taking care of yourself physically to catch the eye of potential employers. If an employer has to choose between someone who has flawless skin and clearly takes good care of themselves and someone who, well, doesn’t…. it’s pretty clear who they’re going to go with.
Because of this competitive nature, many Korean men no longer subscribe to the idea that men should be macho tough guys. Macho tough guys don’t go to college and get high paying offices jobs: they break up bar fights for minimum wage. There’s no fear that using skin care products or even light makeup will make them look effeminate – if anything, it will make them seem more successful.
Cultural differences such as these are a major reason why skin cares products largely are not marketed to men in the U.S. and may not be for a long time. While Korean men have developed a skin care and beauty regimen that is similar to Korean Women, there is no equivalent to that in our western culture.