"Do Korean men really use makeup and beauty products in real life or only celebrities?"
The answer is: both.
Firstly, in South Korea, taking care of your skin and appearance is something cultural and not exclusive for women, but also for men. Having healthy skin shows that you care about your hygiene and visual aspects.
After the 1997's IMF economic crisis, due to the high percentage of unemployed women compared to the low male data, South Korean women started to search for a softer male image to trust, the ones who could help them to feel more powerful among the society, inspired by movies and series that encouraged the feminist activism that were launched during that time. By doing that, they started to reduce the gender inequalities in the beauty field and spread even more the skincare culture to men.
According to Euromonitor, South Korean men become the world's biggest male costumers of beauty products. The market grew almost by 45% in the country in the past 10 years and specialists say that it only tends to grow even more through the next few years, what means that the Korean male cosmetics can be exported to other countries more often.
In addiction, some Korean men have said that they also started to pay more attention to their skincare routine after attending the military service. Because of the hours they spend under the sun, day after day, using sunscreen or bb cream to take care of their skin became a necessity.
After a report by researchers, it was known that Gen-Z men are more likely to use beauty products than the older generations, especially when it comes to make-up. Some South Korean cosmetic brands, such as Etude, Laneige and Mamonde, have said that the number of cosmetic products is higher among men aged 10-19, for example.
Image from CLIO X Stray Kids
The Kpop industry is pointed as the main cause of this generation's bigger interest in make-up and skincare. Seeing men in television using make-up, being it colorful or in natural shades, may have created a model for South Korean men to take as an example.
Nowadays, it is common to see young men, even students, using make-up daily. The main style noticed among them is the "barely-nothing" one. With shades of brown, pink and orange, it's possible to outline their own natural features, emphasizing the natural beauty they already have, bringing confidence to the user. This way of doing make-up got so adopted that it brought the attention from western beauty brands, such as CHANEL, with the line "Boy de CHANEL". The brand first make-up line for men was even launched first in South Korea, before being available in the United States, so they could evaluate the line efficiency among male users.
However, there's still South Korean men who are more interested in colorful make-up. Kpop idols also have an influence here, using more expressive styles while they're on stage, this time with shades of red, black, blue and other vibrant colors.
Also, the drag queen movement is gaining visibility in the country, inspiring some South Korean men who like more artistic make-up styles and performers as well. In 2020, the K-pop idols Jo Kwon (2PM), Ren (NU'EST), MJ (Astro) and Shin Joo-hyup alternated in the main role of the Korean adaptation of the American musical "JAMIE", which talks about a boy who dreams to be a drag queen, fighting the society prejudice and discovering himself. Even with some homophobic comments, the musical was successful and showed a beautiful approach of the theme.
Images from Musical in Life
All this K-beauty male interest has increased the number of men who are studying beauty art in universities, which went from less than 5% to around 20% in just one decade. That shows that males are getting genuinely more interested in not only daily skincare and make-up routine, but also getting deeper about their techniques.
However, using beauty products is a personal choice. Even if there is a majority of people who see them as something natural, you can still find some citizens that are not into it or think that it is only for women.
That's why the answer in the beginning of this text was both, because, yes, celebrities use more vibrant colors sometimes, but the daily model is the natural look, to enhance the beauty South Korean already have.
Thank you for reading until here! See you next week!
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