Korean for K-Beauty fans (Lesson 2)

You’re planning a trip to Seoul? And you’re planning to test and buy some K-Beauty products? Then the following 4 words will help you recognize what products you’re dealing with at first glance! And by the way, we’ll revise some important K-Beauty basics during this class.



Su-bun is essential in K-Beauty. It translates into “moisture”. Generally spoken, every decent K-Beauty product contains at least one moisturizing ingredient. Because the motto with moisture and hydration is: More is more. Koreans believe that maintaining a high level of moisture in their skin is the secret to eternal youth. The more moisturized your skin is, the plumper and younger it appears. That’s exactly why Koreans are very much into the skincare layering method where 10 and more moisturizing and nourishing products are applied one by one. You will definitely come across a ton of su-bun products – be it facial sprays, serums or moisturizers – during your stroll through the beauty shops in Korea.



Mo-gong translates to “pore”. Koreans are known for their porcelain skin. Skin that is so smooth and even that it appears poreless. Pore care is therefore a crucial aspect of a Korean woman’s skincare routine. There are many aspects that fall under pore care. For instance, the correct handling of blackheads. In Korea the so called nose strips are very popular. They are patches which are coated with ingredients to effectively extract blackheads. You stick them on your nose, wet them, let them dry and then carefully peel them off. Your blackheads will be stuck to the patch and your pores are freed from impurities. Forcefully pushing blackheads out of your skin is an absolute no-go! Besides those nose strips there are many caring products with pore tightening properties. Those are also very popular in Korea.



Mi-baek means „bleaching“ or „whitening“. But don‘t freak out! We’re not talking about skin bleaching. Mi-baek products contain skin-safe ingredients which have a whitening effect on the skin. Many of these products only seemingly lighten the skin tone. Once you wash them off, the effect is gone. Others have a whitening effect that is very weak so they just make your skin look less dull. Niacinamide, a form of Vitamin B3, is among the most popular whitening ingredients in Korea. It’s found in many skincare and make-up products. But why do Koreans dig those mi-baek products? Well, the traditional beauty ideal in Korea includes very fair skin. Such fair skin used to be a symbol of wealth in Asia. That’s because only rich people could afford to stay at home. While the poorer folks had to work on the fields. Thus, getting a tan.



Tal-lyeok means „elasticity“. In this case we talk about the skin’s elasticity. Besides all those moisturizing ingredients, you are sure to encounter products with skin elasticity enhancing ingredients. With age your skin’s elasticity declines. A main reason for this is the natural decrease in collagen production. As a consequence, wrinkles form more easily and the skin starts to sag. Koreans start to prevent a loss of elasticity at a young age. Prevention is key! Plumping and firming products are one means to do so. But the way you touch and handle your skin is also crucial for keeping it bouncy and elastic. Do you remember the “upward and outward” rule? Always apply your products in upward motions and spread them from the center to the outer parts. You should never be rough to your skin. Rubbing and tugging is an absolute taboo in K-Beauty. Why? Because it only promotes wrinkle development and causes your skin to sag earlier.


The words we learned today:

  • Su-bun 수분 Moisture
  • Mo-gong 모공  Pore
  • Mi-baek 미백 Whitening
  • Tal-lyeok 탄력  Elasticity


Tags: K-Culture

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