The ideal K-beauty look of pale skin, straight brows, and doe-like eyes may change. With edgy images of hip-hop girl power flooding TV screens, Korean women are venturing into alternate styles. Thanks to the success of Korean dramas like Itaewon Class and K-pop groups like BTS and BLACKPINK, K-hip hop is now a leading trendsetter in changing beauty trends in South Korea.
K-Hip Hop Fashion
From China to America, the international beauty community has been swept up by the K-Beauty industry that combines wish-granting formulas with adorable packaging. One glance at these products shows a mainstream beauty trend that every brand caters to.
While every person has unique features and skin tone, most Korean beauty products facilitate the acquisition of moist, glowy, youthful pale skin, tinted lips, and enlarged, rounded eyes. However, like most trends, they eventually die and are replaced with a newer, better, and even more modern look.
Women In K-Hip Hop
As hip-hop music increasingly tops the Korean charts, so does their non-conforming style. Mainstream Korean female actresses and idols must look pure, sexy, or cute (or a combination of them all). However, hip-hop rappers must be strong and confident, whether they are mainstream beautiful or not.
Korean female rappers wear heavier eye makeup and punchier tones. CL (previously leader of 2ne1) was one of the first to become immensely popular for her rap skills, and as her music and popularity swelled, so did her aesthetic appeal. Despite lacking the ideal physical appearance of mainstream beauty standards, her industry credibility made her a beauty icon. Moreover, she is now a spokesperson for the international brand Maybelline.
BLACKPINK’s Lisa Becoming a Fashion ICON
Lisa from BLACKPINK is taking K-HipHop fashion to a whole new level. Not only is Lisa the most followed Kpop artist on Instagram. She brings her own unique Korean HipHop style.
But it’s not just celebrities. The birth and rise of hip-hop competition show in the past, such as Mnet’s ‘Show Me The Money,’ ‘Unpretty Rapstar’ and JTBC’s ‘Hip Hop Tribe,’ introduced into the spotlight previously unknown talents from the underground scene which the Kpop music machine has not polished.
The female rapper Jessi launched into fame from ‘Unpretty Rapstar’ and received huge popularity for her aggressive, realistic personality and even sparkier rap lyrics. Her tan skin, bold makeup, and sharp features were eye-catching and became a physical embodiment of her inner power.
History of Korean Hip-Hop Beauty and Style
The popularity of K-hip hop female rappers spawned two popular beauty terms; ssen unni (쌘 언니), meaning ‘tough older sister’ or ‘bad girl’, and girl crush (걸 크러쉬), meaning a tough-looking woman who other women admire. This makeup look involves bronzed skin tone, smokier eyes, and contouring.
Korean beauty gurus and bloggers are embracing these bold looks. There are hundreds of tutorials online, especially on YouTube. Many are boasting a sharper and stronger look than what Korean mainstream beauty used to be. In addition, trending images on social media platforms such as Instagram show that more and more young women are wearing this makeup style.
Even brands are adapting to these new changes. Some hot leading K-beauty brands produce contouring sticks and darker foundations and use advertising models with more angular features. The show ‘Unpretty Rapstar’ even launched its makeup line that sells the cool charisma of female Hip-hop starlets.
Music, Media, and Future Trends
The culture of mass media consumption in Korea gives a lot of power to entertainers. Everything in a celebrity’s life, from what they do, to what they eat, wear, and look like, heavily influences the public, especially young people. As female hip-hop icons grow and challenge popular ideals, young viewers are being charmed away from conforming to tradition.
K-Hip hop is more than just a music genre. It is a lifestyle based on being strong and an individual. Korean women try to achieve physical perfection. However, imperfections are seen as strengths in the hip-hop world. As more female artists succeed in the K-Hip Hop industry, they become social influencers that diversify Korean beauty ideals and makeup styles.
Interesting read. Sounds like it is a positive move for the Korean beauty market as well as Korean women. Much more inclusive of all women instead of just those that fit a certain standard/ideal.
Best of luck to all my korean rappers. Keep it real; Stay in touch.
As a hip hop enthusiast, I dig the beats in K-hiphop. They’re fun to dance choreo to! I wonder if the edgier look will really pick up among Koreans. Or if the pale skin, red lip look will remain forever.
Really fantastic breakdown of how the k hip-hop scene is disrupting the conformity! As a Filipino-American, living in comparison to Korean beauty standards was truly a struggle. Filipinos tend to idolize Korean beauty ideals, which go against biological physicalities like skin color and face shape, but being American, we celebrate diversity above all things. So in Korea, I had a hard time contending with the prescribed notions of beauty thinking I should strive harder to look like them while failing my American mentality that differences are beautiful. I’m excited to see if this really changes society on a grand scale!
Too bad you didn’t mention about the male fans. Did you know that there are eyeliners, bb creams, etc for men as well? I know a singer who wants to look more Korean so he uses those products, haha. Great read 🙂
Great read! Wish there were some specific photos to really show who and what you’re talking about. Korean music and styles are ever evolving. Its an exciting time to be in Asia, that’s for certain!
With all of the negative attention fashion, kpop, and superficial beauty receive these days, it’s refreshing to see such a positive take on its effects here in South Korea and abroad. Hopefully this trend toward empowerment continues!
I love how the K-hip hop scene is bringing more overall diverseness to Korean fashion and beauty. Plus, it’s making it easier for me to find things like bronzer here! I was addicted to Unpretty rap star and found it so refreshing to see a complete change in fashion to the usual bubblegum pop look that has been the norm here. Great right up, I found this really interesting!
Cool post! Because of those people who always conform to the beauty standards, sometimes I feel that they all look the same. In SM Town at COEX, they have a studio there where you can get makeup and hairstyle like the Korean idols.