How do Koreans look so young? What sets them apart from the rest of the population? Why are Korean girls so pretty? When it comes to the apparent primal concern of the era, anti-ageing creams are probably what best suits your beauty regime!
Well, the most obvious yet complex answer to these questions would be genetics. As simple as this answer may sound when we do try digging deep into the same, it seems like peeling the skin of an onion.
A question that sprung up in my head was, how did youthful and flawless skin just become a coincidental part of their genome history? This comes from generations of elaborate skincare routines that were passed down as an imperative to one’s mere existence.
Needless to say, Koreans have always had a strong suit when it came to how they took care of their skin. So much so that even going a day without using one’s cleanser would almost be laughable to these East Asian cherubs.
Tracing back to a time where the now famous and highly marketed, face packs and sheet masks weren’t prevalent, small quantities of cosmetic concoctions were brewing in every household to enable every individual to match up to the beauty standards of the yesteryears.
Now you may think that these elaborate skincare routines that we speak of are only confined to the women of this country, however, you will be proven wrong there. Beauty standards are pervasive throughout each section of the Korean society.
Ladies, men and all non-binary folks of all ages alike have skincare ingrained into their daily routines like one may consider brushing their teeth, the first thing ingrained into their morning routines. Yes, that’s right! The long-standing taboo that exists far and wide of men and makeup is almost non-existent in this country.
Even the character, ‘Joey’ from the famous sitcom ‘Friends’ was seen starring in an advertisement for a lipstick brand exclusively making products for men, ‘Ichiban’. Not a surprise here, this was shown as a brand originating from Korea in the show. When walking through the hallways of offices in Korea, one may notice desk-tops of men and women alike filled with moisturisers, sunscreens, and humidifiers.
Korean Beauty Standards:
South Korea is famously known as the fashion capital for men. The understanding of the attractiveness of the male gender in the Western hemisphere is different from that of the South Korean standards.
What forms a part of a toddler’s beauty regime you may ask? Well nothing out of the ordinary there, just toddler facials and products concocted especially for them! As young as 11 years old, we see little girls treading on the heels of their mothers to their family facialists.
A family facialist is very similar to that of a family shaman, except, these individuals strictly delve deep into the intricacies of your family’s skin.
They know every intimate detail of your skin and one may call and casually drop by whenever they feel comfortable, unlike a spa where you may find yourself making appointments days or even weeks in advance to indulge in some self-care.
Contrary to the common impulse of labelling one who plans out elaborate skincare routines with vanities filled with products as ‘High Maintenance, South Koreans just imbibe this as a way to take care of themselves.
While exploring the roots of the Korean Society and the secret behind their youthful radiance, you’ll find yourself circling the philosophy of ‘Confucianism’.
This refers to a philosophy that deals in several different virtues or ideals for men and women. These virtues are considered as strong identifiers of the culture of these people.
The key Confucian virtues for women was to be modest and unadorned. This simply means, a woman with clear, supple and healthy skin with little to no makeup while sporting their simple but elegant look.
From the Josean era which lasted from the 14th to the 19th century, up to the 21st century where we stand today, the Korean makeup standards have remained the same, minimalistic and demure for the most part, with a touch of lip colour to accentuate the otherwise pale complexion.
A place that once idolised ‘Kisaengs’, the country’s version of ‘Japanese geishas’, for their makeup trends have now replaced the same with modern beauty icons or influencers from K-dramas and K-pop music.
If you have been on the internet long enough, you’ve most probably chanced upon sheet mask selfies of your friends through Instagram stories or Snapchat streaks.
Cosmetic Surgery and Products:
In Korea, these selfies are often accompanied by a popular hashtag which means, “one pack a day” or “one sheet mask a day”. Now, of course, it may be impractical to do a nightly sheet mask all year round and most individuals won’t be seen following the hashtag in a literal sense.
But the meaning behind this hashtag is surely deeper than the words used within, it speaks of the pride these individuals take in being ‘High-maintenance’. The beauty market in South Korea is sprawling.
A considerable part of the household income is being spent on various forms of skincare. Beauty treatments including plastic surgeries and laser procedures are fairly normalised in Korea.
A global survey, conducted in 2015 by the International Society of Aesthetic Plastic Surgeons placed South Korea in the top ten of countries that had the highest rate of cosmetic surgeries.
This for one is a fact that can very well be used to justify the argument in question here, how do Koreans look so young?
The secret behind the youthful glow of most Koreans can be well attributed to face massages and using anti-ageing chemicals, such as Retinol and its derivatives.
A lot of these skincare products also contain Vitamin C for a radiant glow, a healthy diet to cleanse the body from within, keeping away from UV rays to get rid of the possibility of developing dark spots, Consuming Ginseng in its various forms and finally, the most basic of them all, getting a workout routine into the mix.
As we all know, a healthy body has so many factors attached to it. As the old saying goes, a healthy body breeds a healthy mind and vice versa.
A perilous mind can destroy one’s body from within and so generational suppression and well-established beauty standards that acted as long-lasting ornaments to mankind’s history have been replaced by a rather modern idea of simply indulging in some self-care to treat oneself.
Skincare isn’t only about products, taking care of your skin means taking care of your overall health. The food you consume, the amount of exercise you engage in daily, the way you deal with stress and various other such factors are key elements to bettering your overall health.
Beauty standards like all things in the world are always evolving. Life as we know it changes and the generational divide steps in.
People are seen being more open to the idea of shedding some of the age-old beauty standards that have been rather suppressive to all genders concerned. Hardened Confucianism disregarded one’s individuality and further went on to objectify people. People were jaded by an illusion that was set by these beauty standards.
The shift in thought brings us to a new idea of one linking their beauty to their overall wellbeing. Young people today say they are less concerned about what other people think and are choosing instead to live more carefree.
Beauty in its conventional sense has now been replaced by one that purely lies in the eyes of the beholder.
What one perceives to be beautiful is an idea or rather a beauty standard that they are solely responsible for creating. However, even after factoring in the shifting ideas, the Korean population continues to take good care of their skin and body alike and in turn lead healthier lives.
The only thing that differs from the age-old idea is the motive that lies behind it. So in simple words, Koreans as a population believe in living longer and dying young at the same time.
In conclusion, all things considered, I believe that looking young is just a by-product of the lifestyle the natives of this East Asian country lead.
Author: Dharmika Pillai
Image Source: BigStockPhoto.com (Licensed)
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