No matter our age or where we come from, many of us want the power to turn heads. We want to have a face that launches a thousand ships, and for millennia, women have been plucking and painting, shading and shaping, to try to get that face. But standards of beauty are subjective.
The Victorian woman’s ethereal pallor gave way in the 20th century to the sun-kissed beauty of the California girl. The voluptuous curves of the Renaissance woman have been replaced by the sculpted contours of today’s fitness maven.
It’s not just the times we live in that determine what we perceive as beautiful, however. Culture also plays a powerful role in setting the standard of beauty, and, in the new millennium, it is Korea and Japan that are leading the way.
K-Beauty And J-Beauty: What Does It All Mean?
To understand the beauty industries of Korea and Japan, you first need to know what they share, as well as what they don’t. In terms of the global beauty industry, Japan might have a leg up in that it’s a bit older and more established on the world beauty stage. The Korean beauty business is a bit younger, but in recent years, it’s taken the global beauty industry by storm. Where Japan is the classic standard, the unquestioned diva of the Asian beauty industry, Korea is the young upstart, setting new trends and redefining the beautiful for Asia and beyond.
What the industries have in common, though, is an emphasis on prevention and preservation, on stopping the hands of time instead of trying to reverse them. That explains the emphasis in both cultures on skincare, from the emphasis on cleansing, toning, and moisturizing to the incorporation of at-home facials and gentle chemical peels to hydrate, polish, and protect the skin.
Tradition And Innovation
Japanese culture is an ancient one that cherishes its strong connection with its storied past. It’s little wonder that beauty standards and practices have not changed all that much across the centuries. Japanese women continue to emphasize gentle, natural ingredients and a healthy diet to maintain that fresh, youthful glow.
In Korea, women often prefer to shake things up a bit, testing out the latest tips, tricks, and technologies to get that perfect result. And it’s paid off, majorly, not just for the Korean beauty industry, but for the entire world. In recent years, the Korean Face Mask has revolutionized the global beauty industry, as everyone from the most glamorous Hollywood starlet to the Baby Boomer next door turns to their mask of choice to get that luxurious, rejuvenating, spa feeling straight from the comfort of their own bathroom.
It’s not just the Korean face mask that’s turning heads – and beautifying faces. The Korean beauty industry has also given the world a powerful 10 step (that’s right, we said 10!) skincare regimen that’s producing incredible results the world over.
Under The Knife
When it comes to plastic surgery, you probably think of Beverly Hills. In fact, it’s not Hollywood, but South Korea that is the plastic surgery capital of the world! However, in the United States, plastic surgery is most often focused on the body, with breast augmentation, tummy tucks, and liposuction among the most popular procedures performed.
In Korea, however, the focus is much different. Korean women tend to prefer facially-focused procedures, such as rhinoplasty and eyelid procedures. For these patients, plastic surgery is increasingly considered the norm, enfolded easily into the beauty regimen of women of virtually every age and socioeconomic class, an “enhancement” that builds self-confidence and promotes social success.
Standards of beauty vary widely from one generation to the next and from one culture to another. What remains true across all time periods and in every society is that the pursuit of beauty is not some vain, frivolous, and selfish undertaking. Beauty regimens are an essential component of self-care and, amid the chaos of the modern world, self-care is something that is all too easily forgotten. The demands of home and family often lead women to put themselves last on their list of priorities. And if you happen to work in one of the many caring professions staffed predominantly with women, from nursing to teaching to social work, it can easily seem that there isn’t one waking hour of the day that isn’t spent in taking care of someone else, rather than yourself, because there isn’t.
The modern beauty industries of Korea and Japan, however, have equipped women the world over with the knowledge and the tools they need to practice the self-care they deserve. They have provided the strategies women can use to nurture their bodies and, in so doing, nurture their spirits – so that the outside can more truly reflect the beautiful, confident, youthful woman they know themselves to be on the inside. Best of all, they’ve given women permission to do this, without shame, guilt, or embarrassment. And that is how it should be.