When most people think of the Korean beauty industry, they think of simple, natural makeup looks that use neutral colors and subtle touches to create a basic, fresh-faced look. While many idol makeup looks follow suit, only adding a little extra emphasis to the eyes and lips with some eyeliner or lipstick, others stray away from the norm and instead feature unusual colors, eye-catching accents, and innovative application techniques to create looks that truly stand out. Here are some of the best idol makeup looks from the past few years, chosen for their uniqueness and how they contribute to each song’s image.
Hyuna, “Roll Deep”
While Hyuna rocks multiple makeup looks throughout the video for “Roll Deep,” each one creates an edgy image for the singer through the use of bold, dark colors and smoky eye looks. Specifically, Hyuna can be seen in a vampy reddish-purple lip, a purple and gray smoky eye, and even red eyeshadow and mascara, adding a gothic and punk vibe that complements the bad-girl nature of the song. Additionally, her eye looks sometimes feature a touch of rich gold eyeshadow on top of a purple base, adding a dimension of elegance and indulgence to the look.
Although EXO’s makeup in the video for “Monster” is hardly wearable for the average person, it does an excellent job of supplementing the drama and intensity of the song. The use of deep red tones, black and gray hues, and fake blood, dirt, bruises, and scars channels the turmoil and danger of the scenes in the music video. Additional touches like Baekhyun’s artificial lip piercing or the dirt seen on Suho’s hands make the video seem even grittier and allow it to feel even more immersive for fans watching it—gone is the perfectly groomed idol group, and in its place are the characters we see in the video. Though these makeup looks are difficult to re-create and are far from the typical everyday look, they speak to the power of makeup’s ability to completely transform someone’s image and to tell a story.
Red Velvet, “Dumb Dumb”
In this music video, the members of Red Velvet shake things up by using shades of red and orange to create a vibrant, playful look that evokes memories of childhood. Specifically, the girls are transformed into living dolls, elegant and classic while remaining bubbly and bright.
The girls are seen in several makeup looks throughout the video but primarily appear with blushed cheeks, bold winged eyeliner, drawn-on freckles, and bright lips. This look lends the girls a classic yet quirky and fun appearance that complements the song’s feelings of mischief, curiosity, and frenzy.
I.O.I, “Very Very Very”
In the video for “Very Very Very,” the members of I.O.I were seen in colorful looks that added a twist to various components of the average idol makeup look. For example, while Somi’s makeup may not appear striking at first, a closer look reveals that her “freckles” are actually large pieces of glitter mimicking a dusting of freckles across the cheeks and nose. Similarly, Yoojung’s makeup incorporates the same glitter flecks, this time around her eyes and towards her temples. Additionally, she and Pinky (now known as Jieqiong) are seen with pinkish-purple tinted eyebrows, adding a pop of color in an unusual place. Jieqiong is even seen with glitter dots and stars at the tips of her eyelashes, adding an unconventional touch of sparkle. Sejeong is seen with the glitter flecks around her eyes, as well as a touch of periwinkle blue eyeliner, adding another twist to a typical look. Altogether, the girls of I.O.I appear bright and fresh faced, yet with a touch of interest, beckoning viewers to take a second look.
f(x), “Red Light”
In the music video for “Red Light,” the members of f(x) are seen in coordinated makeup looks that stray far away from makeup norms and instead illustrate the group’s individuality. Most notably, each member of the group is seen with only one eye heavily made up with thick eyeliner, smoky black and brown eyeshadow, and false lashes. Each member’s other eye is left almost bare in comparison, with just a touch of eyeliner and mascara. The rest of the look is simple, featuring just a touch of blush and a berry lip. This creates a striking look that not only heavily accentuates just one eye, making it appear larger and more noticeable, but also emphasizes the contrast between the made-up eye and the other eye. This stylistic choice seems to complement the song’s lyrics, in which the singers urge the listeners to open up their eyes to that which they can’t see—in other words, to broaden their perspectives in order to discover what they’re unaware of. Though the makeup look is unique on its own, the symbolism behind it makes the concept all the more interesting.
Each of the looks featured above perfectly accentuated the themes and moods of each music video, creating an immersive, engaging experience for the viewer. While many K-Pop songs are already catchy enough, a well-crafted makeup look can make a great music video even better. What are your favorite makeup looks idols have sported over the years? Be sure to let us know in the comments below!