Even though keeping up with 10-step Korean skincare routines has given us skin that’s more aglow than ever, these multi-step rituals aren’t the only Korean-inspired methods to turn back the clock on our appearance.
Korean makeup is famed for its use of game-changing Korean formulas to sport porcelain skin, as well as techniques that accentuate our features’ roundness for an innocent look.
Compared to Western makeup, which prides itself on a sharp cat-eye wing for a mature style, Korean makeup, with its innovative products and methods, lets anyone shine in a youthful way.
We’ve picked the best tricks that even Korean idols and celebrities use to look younger, so you can top up your 10-step skincare ritual with soft makeup techniques and stay, as the stunning members of Blackpink belted, Forever Young!
Korean makeup: Brows
Swap high arches for straight brows
Megan Fox’s high arches might be considered bold, sexy, and the hottest trending brows in America. Well, not with Korean makeup, where a straighter brow shape is much more favoured for an innocent look.
As children’s brows are naturally straight, mimicking this even shape is supposed to give you more child-like features and take years off your age. In fact, Koreans call highly-curved eyebrows “seaweed brows” – not in a good way too.
How? First, outline the upper edge of your brows lightly, and then fill your brows in using an eyebrow pencil.
The most important step is to connect the front of the eyebrow to the end in a straight line when drawing the lower edge of your brow. This will give you fuller, straighter, and less arched brows for a younger Korean makeup look.
Go light when drawing your eyebrows
Dark and cleanly defined brows can go, because lighter, natural-looking eyebrows should be here to stay if you seek a youthful Korean makeup style!
By “go light”, we mean picking a brow colour – whether you’re using a brow pencil, pomade, or gel, that’s one to two shades lighter than your natural hair colour. If you know you’re prone to sketching in your brows hard, choose a colour that’s even lighter so that it doesn’t go on too dark.
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Instead of shades of black, go with shades of brown too. Take your cue from K-pop idol Taeyon: even in her black hair era, she wears her brows in a light shade of brown.
Korean makeup: Skin
Use sheer products for natural skin
The aim is to have your skin look like a baby’s: clear, natural, and with a healthy glow. Rather than thick, full-coverage foundations, sheerer BB creams can give your skin a dewy glow and have it look as healthy as a baby’s.
BB creams are a staple in Korean makeup because they’re multi-tasking skincare and makeup products that hydrate the skin even as they provide sheer, natural coverage.
Dab BB cream in dots across your entire face and use a sponge to blend it out in a lightweight layer. Remember not to pile on your base too thick because natural-looking “baby skin” is what you’re aiming for.
Glow with cushion foundations
Korean glass skin has set the trend for a lit-from-within, porcelain glow. The secret to achieving a luminous glass skin glow? Cushion foundations – game-changing products that were invented in Korea and have become a mainstay in Korean makeup even today.
If you’ve got blemishes that sheerer BB creams can’t cover, cushion foundations will solve your problems by offering full coverage yet ensuring that you don’t end up with a thick, cakey base.
The cushion picks up only a small amount of foundation each time, and the foundation is applied in a light layer whenever you dab onto your skin.
Somehow, the end result is always an impressively luminous finish, worthy of a glass skin standard! It’s no wonder that cushion foundations are preferred by most in Korea – once you start, you can’t go back.
Korean makeup: Blush
Ramp up on a “fruit juice” flush
“Fruit juice makeup” is the Korean aesthetic that’s been here for a while now, and it involves applying fruity colours to your face so that your cheeks look ripe, juicy, and healthy like, yes, a fruit.
Think sweet peaches, strawberries, and mangos, which make up a summery pink-peach-orange palette for the cheeks.
To match lips to cheek, grab a fruit-shade lip tint for a similarly ripe and tantalising pout.
Blush at the apples of your cheeks
Since we’re talking about fruit juice Korean makeup, it’s only right that the apples of our cheeks get the warmest splash of colour for a healthy, youthful flush!
While Western-style blush is blended upwards and outwards for a snatched, lifted look, Korean makeup is swept onto the centre of the cheeks in a circular motion to emphasise their fullness and roundness.
Korean makeup: Eyes
Wear “strawberry yoghurt” eye makeup
If Korean eye makeup were a rainbow, it would start with pinkish beige, venture into a peach-pink, and then end with a deep brown.
The point is that Korean eyeshadow palettes typically stay in the pinkish or brownish range, with brown shades used to create a more deep-set, mature, smokey makeup look.
For a girlish gaze, however, “strawberry yoghurt” shades – or, in other words, a pink palette – works best for achieving that youthful style. After all, fruity cheeks should be accompanied by fruity eyelids too.
A curious reason for pink or peach eyeshadow is that it creates a “just cried” aesthetic. We’re casting our minds to TikTok’s “sad girl makeup” trend, which also prizes a soft, glowy look that some people (not us!) get after crying.
Choose puppy over cat eyes
The fierce flick of a cat-winged liner might be perfect for a bold edge, but a puppy-winged eyeliner is what you need to master for a clean, youthful Korean makeup style.
Puppy eye makeup, essentially, emphasises the curve of the outer edge of the eye and extends it into a downward-pointing wing.
The risk of the puppy winged liner is that you could end up with eyes that look droopy and sad instead of wide-eyed and innocent.
Our pro tip? Make sure that your wing doesn’t extend beyond the height of your inner eye corner. If you draw it lower than the inner corner of your eyes, it won’t be round puppy eyes you’ll achieve but a “sad girl” spin-off.
Show off your chubby under-eyes
We’re a tad sensitive when it comes to our under-eyes because one too many sleepless nights have given way to dark circles and puffy bags. Thankfully, Koreans have found a way to turn all that around and it’s by wearing aegyo sal makeup!
The popular Korean aegyo sal makeup refers to highlighting the pockets of fat under the eyes to make the eyes look rounder and, you, more innocent.
Dab a little glitter eyeshadow directly under the centre of the eyes or closer to the inner corner, depending on your eye shape. Then, create the illusion of the under-eye “fat” by tracing a light brown line underneath.
Sweep on some frosty sparkle
Wear your eyeshadow with a touch of frosty snowflakes – not a glitter snowstorm.
Opposite to Western beauty that adores a mega-watt, high-octane shine, Korean makeup prefers more subtle shimmers: just enough to reflect with the shifting of lights, but not too much to take centre stage in the makeup look.
The most popular Korean placements for frosty eyeshadow are the inner corners of the eyes, the middle of the eyelids, and under the eyes to show off chubby under-eye fat.
Korean makeup: Lashes
Cop clean curls
There’s a reason spidery lashes reigned as the trending lash style amongst K-pop idols in recent years; the clean, separated curls effortlessly widen and lift the eyes in a natural way.
If a spidery lash style is too much effort, you can always just curl your lashes and keep them in place all day with clear mascaras or a light layer of black mascara.
Korean makeup: Lips
Flaunt gradient “jelly lips”
Plump pouts are not just a Korean makeup trend (re: juicy lips are trending in 2023), but Korean “jelly lips” make the wearer look all the more youthful because they’re often paired with gradient lips.
Gradient lips flaunt a popsicle-worthy stain on the inner part of the pout, which then fades outwards to give a subtle, ombré effect. The soft gradient, coupled with a dewy finish, makes the lips look plump, kissable, and natural all at once.
Featured image credit: ponysmakeup, jennierubyjane/Instagram
Related read: 11 Korean celebrity makeup artists to follow on Instagram – including NewJeans’!