K-Beauty: Three key trends spotted at Cosmobeauty Seoul 2024

At Cosmobeauty Seoul 2024, innovation in the face/skin care sector was dominated by functional beauty – serums, ampoules, masks – and face cleansing launches, especially oils and balms. Indie perfume houses and home fragrance products were another major product trend at this year’s trade fair, as were beauty tech and devices, especially in the skin care and wellness space.

Functionality and cleansing dominate face care launches

Cleansers are a massive product category in K-beauty face care – Korean drugstores display face cleansers in a separate shelf section rather than shelving the products with the respective brands. Unsurprisingly, balm and oil textures – cleansing formats that were pioneered by Korean beauty brands – were particularly visible amongst the new launches at the show.

Newcomer mass market brand Frankly offers fun and functional face care beauty and recently introduced a Deep Cleansing Oil formulated with exfoliating BHA and LHA and moisturizing jojoba and meadowfoam seed oils. Fellow mass market label Jumiso has just brought out a cleansing oil in its Anti-Oxidant Glow face care range. Thanks to moisturizing plant oils, vitamin E and niacinamide, the cleansing oil is particularly suitable for dull and tired skin. Tenzero’s new Young Collagen Cleansing Balm is packed with plant extracts including neem tree, aloe vera, turmeric root and holy basil leaf extract. And skin care brand Bohicare, which was launched in 2022, recently introduced its Clear & Glow Cleansing Balm for combination and oily skin.

Together with sheet masks, serums/ampoules and essences are a key part in Korean face care routines and beauty exhibitors at the show presented a very wide range of new launches across the different product categories.

Eleven Huesday’s new Deeply Control Balancing Emulsion is a liquid milk moisturizer formulated with a mildly acidic pH value, sodium hyaluronate and moisturizing jojoba seed oil to gently balance dry, sensitive and barrier-impaired skin types. Amongst Rootree’s latest launches is the Liquorice Blemish Calming Serum which contains liquorice root extract, centella asiatica extract and fermented ingredients, while mass market brand Orjena recently introduced Refine Synergy, four functional serums formulated with particularly high percentages of active ingredients.

Jeju-based newcomer brand Kiwiglow’s newest launch is the Kiwi & Niacinamide serum, which is based on 60% locally produced kiwi fruit extract, while rice beauty brand Midha has just introduced a 5-sku range of serums. Like all Midha products, the new serums contain the brand’s signature rice water and rice extract combined with classic face care actives such as niacinamide and hyaluronic acid.

Lalarecipe’s Bakuchinol face care range was extended with a new multipurpose stick moisturizer – the Multibalm Stick is formulated with jojoba seed oil and the range’s signature plant-based bakuchinol extract and can be used on dry face and body areas.

Microbiome beauty brand UIQ’s latest launches include the Pore Pad Cooling Pads, an hybrid format of toner pad and sheet mask – the small, circular cottonwool pads are saturated in a hydrating and cooling essence to soothe irritated or dry skin. And mass market giant Banobagi’s big Cosmobeauty Seoul launch was the DX Mask range: The dual mask packs each include a sheet mask and a sleep cream to be applied afterwards. There are five different sheet mask variants while the sleep cream contains melatonin to underscore the night-time suitability of the product.

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Indie fragrances

Over the past five years, the Korean fragrance market has seen a shift towards domestic indie labels which appeal to MZ consumers (Millennials and GenZers) in particular. The line-up of these niche brands typically includes both personal and home fragrances, with a particular emphasis on fabric/textiles sprays. Quite a few of these indies also offer wellness-positioned scented hair and body care as part of their product ranges.

At Cosmobeauty Seoul 2024, exhibitors included at least half a dozen domestic indie fragrance brands that were all launched within the last five years.

Lime You, for example, was introduced in 2019 and offers seven fragrances as well as scented candles and reed diffusers. The brand’s most recent launches include solid perfumes that complement its most popular perfumes.

In 2021, Monthly 121 entered the Korean perfume market with a range of perfumes, scented candles and reed diffusers. The brand’s most recent launches are six fabric sprays to patch their most popular fragrances. Amongst Monthly 121’s newest perfume launches is Tokyo, a sweet floral that has already become one of the company’s bestsellers in Korea.

Arraune launched in December 2023 with a 7-sku range of perfumes. In January 2024, the fragrance ranges was extended with four body lotions to match the best-selling fragrances. And Login Forest was also launched last year. This wellness/home fragrance brand includes five scented sub-ranges which offer a variety of products including perfumes and scented bath and body care.

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Beauty tech

Korea is one of the leading manufacturing countries for beauty tech. Exhibitors at Cosmobeauty Seoul 2024 presented a very wide range of electronic beauty devices across the hair removal, body shaping and skin care categories. LED products catering to various wellness and beauty needs particularly visible amongst the new launches.

Domestic manufacturer CGBIO’s Easy L Hair is an LED scalp care device which will be launched in September 2024. This device features 84 LED components that deliver 630nm wave-length to stimulate blood circulation and encourage hair growth. Easy L Hair is particularly light-weight (76 gr), making it ideal for use throughout the day, and can be fitted into any cap or hat.

There is also a matching, ultra-light LED mask which weighs just 115 gr. The mask is fitted on the upper part of the face and offers three different types of LED light/wave frequencies – yellow LED to promotes blood circulation, prevents hyperpigmentation, red LED to stimulate skin elasticity and improve wrinkles and NIR LED to help skin recover from fatigue.

And Korean company Snow2+ leveraged LED tech in its new pimple patch kit. This kit includes magnesium-based micro-needle pimple patches, an anti-bacterial serum and a coin-sized LED device that is applied on top of the patch and serum to help the patch work faster.

The next Cosmobeauty Seoul trade show will take place from 28th to 30th May 2025.

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