Bizarre beauty trends that are only acceptable in Korea

Never mind that beauty is only skin deep. Outer beauty is serious business for Koreans and they go to extreme measures to achieve it. 

Bizarre beauty trends that are only acceptable in Korea
Bizarre beauty trends that are only acceptable in Korea
13 Oct 2015

Bizarre beauty trends that are only acceptable in Korea

When it comes to beauty products and trends, Korea is no doubt ahead of the curve. Not just when it comes to cosmetics, image conscious Koreans seemingly embrace beauty fads and plastic surgery procedures that are unheard of elsewhere. Well, it isn’t infamous as the world capital of cosmetic surgery for nothing. Here are some bizarre beauty trends that will leave you scratching your head. 

Perma smile
Perma smile
13 Oct 2015

Perma smile

It seems some people in Korea have taken the Marilyn Monroe quote, “A smile is the best makeup a girl can wear”, a little too literally, going under the knife to get a permanent smile. The “mouth corner surgery”, which involves cutting the corners of the mouth and re-stitching them to provide an upturned smile, creates a bright and smiling appearance when done right. When not, it looks kind of creepy like the Joker’s lips, as witnessed on this woman. 

Introduced more than half century ago to treat sagging mouth corners due to ageing, these days, patients as young as 16 years are reportedly getting the procedure to improve their social life as well as career.

Speaking of plastic surgery…

Plastic surgery for pets
Plastic surgery for pets
13 Oct 2015

Plastic surgery for pets

If you think humans are the only ones getting nips and tucks, think again. Some pet owners also turn to cosmetic surgery to improve the looks of their four-legged friends. Though it is “medically unsafe”, people subject their pets, mostly dogs, to procedures such as tail shortening, Botox injections and even double eyelid surgery. In the past, pets went under the knife for medical reasons but this resulted in better looking pooches and now owners are getting the procedures for cosmetic reasons. Not sure about you but I love my pug just the way it is, wrinkles, frown and all.

Men wearing make-up
Men wearing make-up
13 Oct 2015

Men wearing make-up

If you take public transport, you’ve probably seen Korean actor Kim Soo-hyun (left) plugging make-up on ads on buses and MRT trains. While it is still relatively unheard of for guys to paint their faces in Singapore, since the mid-noughties, Korea has seen a growing number of men embracing cosmetics and skincare products, turning it into the male make-up capital in the world. And we are not just talking about celebs and models, but everyday men who are adopting the make-up trend, from BB creams to lipgloss, for health and beauty reasons.

According to Amore Pacific, South Korea's largest cosmetics company, 20 per cent of Korean guys wear some kind of foundation and skincare products targeted at men fly off the shelves. Well, I would be really disturbed if my partner’s BB cream rubbed off on my clothes mid embrace.

Photo: The Face Shop

Pubic hair transplant
Pubic hair transplant
13 Oct 2015

Pubic hair transplant

While most women spend a fortune trying to rid themselves of hair down-there, some in Korea prefer it, for the lack of a better word, lush. And we’re not just talking about letting it grow out but those who suffer from less-than-bushy nether regions have taken it one step further by getting transplants from their heads to their lady parts. The procedure starts at around US$2,000 (around S$2,800) and lasts around two to four hours.

Apparently pubic hair is seen as a sign of sexual health and fertility, and those who don’t quite measure up feel a sense of “inferiority”. If you ask me, this boils down to one’s self-esteem, after all this is a very private region and unless you go to the jjimjjilbang, a communal bath house or spa, who’s going to know or judge you?

Photo: ING Image 

Round head surgery
Round head surgery
13 Oct 2015

Round head surgery

It seems like having a V-shaped or small face isn’t enough, some Koreans are turning to plastic surgery to get a rounder head. Called round head surgery, the procedure to correct flat backs of heads takes under an hour and involves a small incision. A type of bone cement is attached to the skull to give it a more pronounced shape. Erm, isn’t this a bit drastic? Surely hair cushions or curlers and hairspray will do the trick.

Heart bangs
Heart bangs
13 Oct 2015

Heart bangs

Nothing says “I have a big heart” or saranghae more than heart bangs. Trendsetters in Korea have been rocking heart bangs for about a year before other parts of the world caught whiff of it. Unlike the other trends on this list, this is considered mild and easy to do - all you need is a curling iron and hair spray.

While the trend was all the rage in the fashionable Gangbuk District, it’s not like every other girl, or guy, is sporting them – people were just having fun with it and posting photos on social media. Even Girls’ Generation’s Taeyeon (left) gave it a go, or so she claimed. Isn’t the heart supposed to be upside down?

Photos: Instagram

Aegyo sal
Aegyo sal
13 Oct 2015

Aegyo sal

While most of us dab eye cream and concealer to rid or conceal our eye bags, women, and some men, in Korea are going all out to make them pop out, whether through make-up, cosmetic surgery or fillers. The trend, called aegyo sal, or “eyes smile”, involves accentuating the fatty deposits beneath the eyes to brighten the peepers and give off a more youthful look, and are not to be confused with dark eye bags that you and I sport. Well, tomato, tomahto! End of the day, they are still puff beneath the eyes which, in my opinion, is baggage that I would prefer to live without.

Caption: Clockwise from left: Girls' Generation's Yoona and Song Hye-Kyo
Photos: CJ and TODAY

Red light therapy
Red light therapy
13 Oct 2015

Red light therapy

It’s no secret that Korean women are obsessed with milky-white skin, and go to extreme measures to obtain a flawless and whiter-than-show complexion by using whitening creams, avoid the sun like plague or tanning. Well, “white tanning” or reverse tanning to be precise. Also known as red light therapy, white tanning is accomplished through the use of infrared light, instead of the usual UV light, and promises to improve skin tone. The procedure, which involves standing naked in a container for around 20 minutes while being bombarded by red rays, sounds a tad odd and is not for the claustrophobic.

Before you dismiss this treatment as garbage, there have been claims that NASA developed the technology to stimulate the body into treating wounds quicker while in space. Korean celebs who have reportedly white-tanned their way to better skin include K-pop stars BIGBANG and actresses Ha Ji-won and Shin Min Ah.

Caption: G-Dragon from BIGBANG and Ha Ji-won
Photos: CJ and Toggle

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