Korean vs. American makeup.
We’re not gonna say that this has been a long-standing debate. And you may not even notice the differences.
With the internet recently becoming our WHOLE LIVES and makeup trends starting literally from all over the world, these “beauty rules” are definitely not hard and fast.
But because we can, let’s compare these reigning Instagram makeup styles, shall we?
Korean and American Makeup Looks
Plain and simple, Korean makeup is the most common makeup style worn in South Korea while American makeup is the popular makeup worn in the US or other Western-influenced countries.
Let’s do a bit of a breakdown of the practices here.
Korean Makeup Look
Korean makeup is ALL ABOUT youthful, dewy skin. The makeup is natural with a bit of glow on the cheeks and a pop of color on the lips.
Besides the makeup, skin care is also a big deal in the Korean beauty routine. Which is why it’s one of the most popular industries in South Korea.
American Makeup Look
American style makeup has changed pretty drastically over the last few years.
All it takes is a couple of minutes on TikTok or Instagram to see that Western makeup has taken on a little more of a softer side.
Today’s Makeup Styles and Practices
We want to note that in general, it seems like American makeup trends change MORE QUICKLY than Korean makeup trends.
Again, it’s not hard and fast but Korean beauty trends have been pretty steady in the country over the years.
So, let’s get into them:
We’ve seen a little bit of an overlap in this aspect.
Where there used to be a MASSIVE difference in the base makeup of Korean and American makeup, we’re finding a lot more similarities now.
Korean: BB Cream Reigns Supreme
Koreans pride themselves on having some of the best skincare in the world. They originated the glass skin trend, need we say more?
So, yes, Koreans are known to have AMAZING skin and this shows in their makeup looks:
- Their bases are often lightweight, dewy, and emphasize clear skin with no blemishes.
- Koreans often use blurring or brightening primers under BB cream that’s lighter than their actual skin tone.
- They also use concealers sparingly; only on dark circles, spots, or pimples.
- They blend light layers using foundation brushes or cushion sponges because the last thing you want is for people to SEE that there’s makeup on your face.
American: Love Your Skin
Before, the main difference in these makeup looks was the base, but that isn’t quite the case anymore.
- American makeup dropped spackle-like foundation for a less is more feel. Now, it’s no foundation looks or serum foundation for skin-like glowy, minimal coverage.
- Americans use the beauty blender religiously. You won’t catch foundation brushes here. (Though lately, you can see a beauty blender used in Korean makeup routines as well.)
- They also use more hydrating primers to add to the glow of the overall look.
- The main difference is in the application of the concealer that’s STRATEGICALLY placed so that the face looks lifted – think Bella Hadid – giving a more defined, sexy vibe as opposed to the Korean style.
- American makeup is less about perfecting, and more about embracing the skin you’re in, freckles, zits, and all!
Korean and American eye makeup is hugely different. One wants a soft eye look while the other demands sharp features.
Korea: Big and Round
Korean eye makeup makes the eyes bigger and rounder through the eyeshadow.
Eye lines are straight across and they aren’t big on false lashes to keep the innocent vibe.
Part of Korean eye makeup is eyeshadow for eye bags or “fat under the eye“, which is a sign of YOUTH with some plastic surgery operations offering that look.
Circle lenses were a trend in Korean eye makeup but now people wear regular colored lenses for a different eye color and aesthetic.
America: Foxy Lady
American eye makeup exudes the sultry vibe. Over the past year, fox eyes aka perpetual bedroom eyes, have been trending.
The most important things about this look are the applications of lashes and liner.
The inner and outer corners of the eye are lined in such a way it elongates the eye.
DON’T FORGET the false lashes on the outer corner of the eyes to finish the look.
Everyone knows eyebrows make or break the whole face. It’s. A. Fact.
The pillars of face rest on the style of the brow. So, where do Koreans and Americans stand on this issue?
Korea: Straight Across
Straight across Asian brows are the most popular brow shape in Korea for both men and women.
Koreans draw their brows in a thick, straight style instead of an angular or sharp look for a more youthful and fresh vibe to the face.
America: Upward Angle
American brows are also straight but are angled UPWARD so that the face looks lifted for the sexy appearance that Western makeup style really aims at.
A lot of people tend to shave off the ends of their brows just to get that upward angle and if that’s the look you’re going for, more power to you!
Coloring the cheeks can change your face shape so much.
If you didn’t know that, well now you do, but how do Koreans and Americans use that in their respective makeup culture.
Korea: Soft, Asian Flush
In keeping with the cute and youthful look, soft blushes on the apples of the cheeks and along the nose are a HUGE trend in Korea.
The “Asian Flush” look is also called tipsy blush because it gives the mood of having had a drink that tends to happen to a lot of Asians.
Most Koreans love using cream blusher or lip tint to achieve a natural looking flush.
America: Bronzed Glow
The American makeup routine calls for that bronzed goddess, summer glow look almost as if you’ve been on vacation your entire life.
Basically, just put bronzer where you naturally tan and if you really wanna sell the vacation vibe, finish off with some blush high on the cheeks on you’re golden! (literally)
Lips, lips, lips! One of our absolute favorites when it comes to trends in the makeup world is lips.
Lip trends are ever-changing and the differences are always fun to spot, let’s see them now!
Korea: Gradient Blend
Korean beauty culture isn’t too big on having “plumped to the gods” lips. Instead, the Korean lip look uses a gradient lip.
The gradient lip look uses Korean lip tints or lipsticks that are darker in the center THEN gradually lighten toward the edge of the lip.
The gradient effect makes the lips look smaller.
A recent trend popping up is a blurred lip that enhances the lip but doesn’t make them overly big.
America: Plump Gloss
Big, we mean BIG lips, are in. The new trending lip is ultra glossy lips that look hydrated and plump. Layer on the lip gloss for this look.
We want everyone to think we’ve been drinking our 2.7 liters of water a day.
So Which Makeup Style is for You?
Want our beauty advice? It depends on whether you want youthful glowing skin or a classic, gorgeous look.
Glowing skin? Korean. Classic and Gorgeous/bold? American.
Among other things…
- Korean makeup style leans more towards concealer, foundation, and blush to highlight the skin.
- And on the other side, American makeup accentuates eyes, cheeks, and lips through liquid lipsticks, mascara, and false lashes.
August 13, 2021 – Updated article links
August 4, 2021 – Updated article formatting and content
July 13, 2021 – Reviewed and updated article links