Beauty Brands Venturing into Inclusivity: The K-Beauty Products for Darker Skin Tones
I remember the excitement I felt when I first discovered the magical playground that is the world of Korean beauty. That excitement lasted all day, until I discovered that the shade range of 90% of K-Beauty brands completely ignored darker skin tones. Korean beauty, while extensive, isn't always inclusive. Although many brands have a long list of bright colors and products, finding a foundation shade, blush, eyeshadow, or even a lip tint that works for darker tones is a hard task. However, enjoying what K-Beauty has to offer is definitely not impossible. We’ve compiled a short list of Korean makeup brands and products that offer a diverse range of colors to explore and get your foot in the door.
To start it all off, one of the most difficult products to find in the K-Beauty world by and large has to be BB cushions. While Korean skin tones vary vastly, Korean beauty brands still majorly cater to those who are lighter skinned. However, there are a few pioneers in the shade diversity department and they go by the name Innisfree, Missha, and Laneige. While they still don’t cater to all skin tones, shades like Missha’s Golden Beige and Laneige’s Dark shade do take a step in that direction. The most impressive definitely has to be Innisfree. Unlike other cushion products that have very little shades to select from, this Jeju Island brand offers a whopping 14 shades, from Cool Ivory all the way up to Chocolate.
Lipsticks and Tints
While there are always other Western options for BB creams and concealers, lip tints as a concept are one thing that seem to be sparse if not nonexistent outside of Korea. The formula, the packaging, and the exciting colors make for a very satisfying experience, one that I haven’t been able to come across in other lipsticks. In fact, ever since I’ve introduced my lips to lip tints, lipsticks became a thing of the past for me. However, much like the rest of the Korean beauty industry, the shade palette tends to be marketed towards fair skin. When it comes to darker skin tones, it's much harder to go for the light cherry blossom pinks or peachy oranges since they tend to look a bit awkward, misplaced, or dull. Compared to BB cushions, lip products have a much wider spectrum of colors. Brands like Peripera and Tony Moly offer a wide color range with highly pigmented shades that work perfectly on darker skin tones.
Eyeshadows usually tend to be the trickiest of buys. While there are quite a few eyeshadow palettes in the market, most of them tend to be subtle beiges and pinks; none of which present the way they should on darker skin tones. Apart from that, the eyeshadows also tend to be sheer and gentle, making it quite hard to show up on the skin. As far as eyeshadows go, Etude House is by far the best when it comes to varied options of pigmented shades. Palettes like their Play Color Eyes and Everyday Basic Deep Coffee Brown Eyeshadow Palette feature pigmented shades with just the right amount of shimmer. Another brand to look out for is 3CE. Their palettes manage to perfectly blend understated and out-of-the-box shades. Palettes like Plot Twist and Overtake have beautifully rich, pigmented shades that are both perfect for daily wear and dynamic enough for special events. While these palettes work for all skin tones, they especially come through on darker skin tones.
Korean skincare products tend to cater to almost every skin problem under the sun. On the other hand, their beauty products tend to follow the concept that most of the population fall into a lighter category and hence “one size fits all.” Up until very recently, Korean cosmetic companies mainly focused on the East Asian market where a majority of the population are varying shades of beige skintone. However, with the domination of Korean culture around the world, K-Beauty has also become an aspect of interest for foreign consumers. With this expansion, Korean cosmetic brands are slowly coming to the realization that most of their non-Korean consumers are not Asian and hence don’t fit the bracket of three to four foundation shades. However, as exhibited by brands like Missha and Innisfree,there definitely is a step forward in the right direction.