Squid Game and its impact on K-Beauty

Photo by Jonas Augustin on Unsplash

September 2021 was a very exciting time for Netflix, following the introduction of Squid Games. The premise of the South Korean drama series revolves around 456 players who are in extreme debt, get invited to risk their lives in a mysterious, deadly survival game, in order to win a $50 million prize. The survival drama inspired various beauty trend looks that took over TikTok and YouTube, just in time for Halloween 2021. Korean beauty, often referred to as Kbeauty, has followed the tradition of using natural, unique, and harsh-free ingredients passed through multiple generations. In other parts of Asia, such as Japan and China, it is more common to see thick makeup rather than natural skin.

One of the female leads in Squid Games, Jung Ho-yeon, who plays Sae-Byeok, one of the game’s contestants, has inspired a fresh and natural, with minimal make-up and dewy bare skin. Ho-yeon’s look includes an effortless technique to form natural looking freckles with a waterproof pencil such as MACQUEEN Waterproof Pen Eyeliner.”

Photo by Daniel Bernard on Unsplash

In the Vogue Beauty Secrets video, she shared how she does her typical day off look — with a focus on a two-toned gradient lip, which most Korean ladies are known for. She starts off by sharing with us her customized skincare concoctions from her go-to Korean clinic, which consists of a toner, essence, and cream. She then proceeds to sharing with us a facial massage routine she does to de-puff her eyes, as well as a pressure point on her hand to help de-puff her entire face. She then applies her favorite Paw Paw lip balm (her favorite thing), an anti-stress oil behind her ears, two shades of concealer for her under eye area, brushes her brows and eyelashes, curls them, and proceeds to her lip tips!

Before applying the two shades of lipstick, she blots her lips off extra lip balm using a sheet of tissue, then applies the brown lip pencil first, before applying a red lipstick in the middle part of her lips to create that perfect Korean pout! She ends the video by applying some hair oil to condition her tresses!

Clean Korean beauty products use natural and harsh-free ingredients to create the clear, glowy, and natural-looking skin.

Natural ingredients that are often found in Korean formulations include ground mung beans, rice, ginseng, green tea, and turmeric.”

Photo by Hadis Safari on Unsplash

Ground mung beans were popularly used to make soap for facial washes and baths due to its exfoliant properties and high vitamin E content. Rice was used to create scrubs with sea salt as a gentle cleanser for improving women skin. It also helps with toning the skin to achieve firm and supple skin. Ginseng contains full of antioxidants and anti-aging properties to create a variety of cosmetic uses to appear young and healthier. Green Tea has many medicinal properties for achieving healthier skin due to its detoxifying properties and creating a calming sensation throughout the body. Turmeric is a popular ingredient used as masks to ward off signs of aging by reducing lines and wrinkles.

Grounded in Korean culture is a 10 step routine that includes: make up remover/oil cleanser, water based cleanser, exfoliator cleanse, toner prep, essence, treatments, sheet masks, eye cream nourish, moisturizer, and sun protection.

This layered approach has its benefits. From breaking down oil-based debris such as makeup and sunscreen, removing water-based impurities such as sweat and dirt. Cleaning debris from pores and removing dead skin cells. Balancing moisture and pH levels. Hydrating and aiding in cell turnover, preventing dark circles, puffiness, and crow’s feet, to sealing in moisture and protecting the skin from damaging UV rays.

“In terms of steps alone, people need to pay attention to whether their skin is actually even absorbing all the product.” Chao says. “If they’re getting to a point in their routine where the products are just sitting on top of their skin even after waiting around for a while, it becomes clear that that’s quite enough for them.” Taiwanese American skin care blogger Jude Chao, tells Greatist.

Photo by Cheyenne Doig on Unsplash

CNA Lifestyle lists some products cutting edge products that are dominating this new K-beauty wave.


A non-drying clay mask with hyaluronic-infused clay, BHA, PHA, and watermelon enzymes to unclog pores, smooth, and hydrate for softer, clearer-looking skin. It works for normal, dry, combination, and oily skin types. It helps with pores, uneven texture, acne and blemishes.


calming and hydrating serum for sensitive skin from a popular brand founded by a Korean influencer, this serum has parsley extract, houttuynia cordata extract & centella asiatica extract to soothe skin and maintain skin balance. It helps with sebum care and is great for people with troubled and acne-prone skin


creamy, foaming cleanser with hydrating glycerin that removes impurities, creating visibly smooth, more youthful-looking skin.
It works best for normal, dry, combination, and oily skin. It helps with dullness and uneven texture. With ingredients like Centella asiatica and a blend of herbs, minerals, a moisturizing humectant, and a probiotic ferment, it really soothes skin with moisture.


This oil protects and moisturizes between skin textures and makes skin clean and glowing with German carrot ingredients. Korean clean beauty label Benton has a carrot line with three products — a toner, moisture cream and multi oil.


Secret Essence uses an all natural fermentation process to reveal the most potent form of all their fermented ingredients, which include heavy hitters such as ginseng root ferment filtrate, barley seed ferment, and soybean ferment filtrate. This deep, richly hydrating essence boasts over 80 plant extracts to provide your skin with much needed nutrition delivered in an elegant, nature-derived experience.


Proudly local clean beauty brand Sigi Skin takes cues from K-beauty innovation and formulation, with all products made in Korea. Their latest Bright Skies Gentle Gel Exfoliator rides on the gentle acids trend with food-derived AHAs, skin barrier-protecting botanicals and natural actives such as goji berries, pumpkin and spinach extract to deeply exfoliate the skin without the use of physical abrasives.

Hydrating and exfoliating your skin is always a pro, but most of these skin care brands do not make all of the products you may start introducing to your routine. It may take some trial and error, but over time, you will find out which products that work best for you.

Less is more and when you are using better quality products that are formulated to multi-task, you will be saving time and money while seeing your best skin ever.

Written by: Ebony Crawford

Concepted by: Nikita Chernin

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Skincare Anarchy

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“THE SKIN AUTHORITY” (CEW) Exclusive look into the beauty industry via interviews with entrepreneurs & industry professionals. https://linktr.ee/Skincareanarchy