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6 Steps to Achieving a Korean-Inspired Makeup Look

A breakdown of the now-classic beat.

by Belle Rodolfo | Dec 7, 2018

Your favorite Korean stars' makeup looks are easier to cop than you think. Just master their signature techniques and you'll be well on your way to nailing K-beauty!

It may have started as a trend, but the K-beauty look is now a must in every makeup expert's arsenal as much as the usual insta-glam and "no makeup" makeup. If you haven’t hopped on the Korean makeup train yet, well, why? Seriously, though, we love a good glowing base and that fresh diffused color, so we're here to give you a play-by-play on how to master the beat so you can perfect it while having fun, too. We know glass skin might be intimidating especially for Filipinas in this weather (greasy instead of glassy!), but all excess dew can always be solved by something you already have in your makeup kit: powder, strategically applied. We've got that settled, so now, jot down notes, Preview girls!

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How many steps does Korean makeup have?

For a simple and clean look done the K-beauty way, we’ll say the minimum count is six steps. Of course, this already includes skincare, because you can’t possibly skip that! Here’s a full rundown of the rest to get your started:

1. Skincare

The cardinal rule of our gal pals in SoKor? An unparalleled attention to skincare. A lot of us may think they go through five million skincare steps, but if you're doing daytime makeup and you want it to stay put, choose two—one to cleanse and balance, and one to moisturize. After all, nothing beats a well-hydrated face as a base. After your cleanser, use a cotton pad soaked with toner to spread and pick up excess dirt that may be left over, then let it absorb. Take your moisturizer and spread it on your palms by rubbing together and then pat away onto your whole face. Topping it off with a layer of sunscreen will hydrate and give you that extra glow, too!

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HUXLEY Secret of Sahara Toner: Extract It, P1450, Freyja.com; COSRX Aloe Soothing Sun Cream SPF 50+ PA+++, P690, Watsons

2. Base Makeup

Since you work hard for your skin, you better let it shine through—K-beauty bases are usually high coverage but very, very lightweight. They call this "slim fit," like, you know, your favorite pair of good jeans that goes perfectly over your thighs and makes you look extra lean. That's how they want foundation to perform on their skin. To make the most out of a fit cushion foundation, let your skincare soak in first for a few minutes before you try applying it with your cushion puff or beauty blender so it's blended out as much as possible. Lastly, sweep on some powder if you need it, but leave the high points of your face bare to maintain a soft glow!

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MOONSHOT Micro Fit Setting Cushion, P1600, Freyja; THE FACE SHOP Ink Lasting Foundation Slim Fit, P1195, SM Megamall

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3. Brows

One of the defining aspects of a good K-look is the shape of the brows—it's soft and straight, so it lends your look a more youthful and cute vibe. Luckily, their products are efficient and get the job done. An angled eyebrow pencil, for one, is shaped as such so all you need are a couple of quick, light strokes to fill in and shape your arch (or lack thereof!).


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CLIO Kill Brow Auto Hard Brow Pencil, P950, SM Makati

4. Eyes

For the eyes, our South Korean friends do an interesting detail for their eye look: glitter for undereyes. It gives an unexpected twinkle to the eye—makes the peepers look huge and also, a little bit watery. Eyeshadow palettes with muted colors are perfect for an every day look, like a wash of pink all over the eyelids. 


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PERIPERA Pink Moment Color Palette, P1220, UP Town Center; INNISFREE Twinkle Glitter in Star Twinkling Rosy, P550, SM Mall of Asia

In contrast, how they use their eyeliners is more about placement, like extending beyond the outer edge, but in a straight line. Take your liquid liner pen, start by lining the very outer corners of the eyes and make the lines meet in a small wing. Then, apply liner outwards and in for the rest of the lids. Pro tip: Using a brown shade softens the whole look for daytime.


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CLIO Waterproof Brush Liner in Kill Brown, P950, TriNoma

5. Cheeks

Cheek makeup in K-beauty is all about blending and strategic placement. The K-world isn't immune to the lure and advantages of a good contour, but unlike the other K-world, they go easier on sculpting with makeup and softer as well. They call it something else, too—"shading." Start with your fluffiest powder or kabuki brush, swirl it into a muted brown pigment like Gesgep's Touch Shade (P1600, freyja.com) and sweep it around the outside peripheries of your face (hairline, jawline, cheekbones) in a number "3" figure. 

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Another K-beauty rule is to keep color diffused, rosy, feminine. For most, at least—a lot of strong and graphic makeup are coming up, but for things like blush, muted hues are best. When using a cheek tint, make sure you dispense your tint onto your ring finger first and not directly on the face, lest you end up with permanent peach dots. So it's easier to blend, mix with a lightweight moisturizer (if used as cheek tint) or balm (if on lips). That said, if you're more about powder blushes, buff a small amount onto the apples of your cheeks with a fluffy brush!


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THE SAEM Saemmul Smile Bebe Blusher, P320, Althea

6. Lips

Now that we’ve got face and eye makeup down pat, let's talk about the lips. While they may not be into graphic looks or avant garde insta-glam, K-beauty has a wide allowance for how bright you can wear your color. Case in point, most of their tints, while supposedly “natural,” dries into low key neon hues. The fun part here is they have a lot of shades per color. Think you know peach tones? Walk into a Stylenanda and surprise yourself with 500 of them. If you're a bit apprehensive about wearing bright hues, you can always layer a trusty, muted nude lippie over it to tone things down.

When you've mastered the neon pout, graduate up to a gradient lip—use the bright tints as a base and apply right in the middle, and let dry. Then, outline your lip with a nude lip liner, lip crayon, or lipstick, and then smack. Applying the tint first lets it adhere better as it'll stick directly onto lips!

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TONYMOLY Liptone Get It Tint, P428 each, Trinoma

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