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May 10, 2019

Oppas in the East, Will They Influence The West?

Hollywood actors in Korean makeup - who wouldn't want to see that?

Really, South Korean brands that specialize in skin care and cosmetics have branched out all over the world and many people have indeed been trying it and are very supportive. Not only that, K-pop idol groups BTS and BLACKPINK have signed and collaborated in international deals and famous artists, so K-pop music has probably already reached the United States.

Seeing the seven men of BTS in their international tours and their appearances on shows like The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon, one can also notice the unique differences between the appearances of each BTS member and the Hollywood actors - the difference on their approach to makeup.

South Korean brands in cosmetics and face care are definitely among the definite top ones, even earning around USD 10 billion annually, but did you know that a whopping 10% of the buyers are in fact males? While females are obviously the undeniable majority, men making up 10% is a huge increase from the previous decades. But, then how did the whole 'men using cosmetics' came about?

The Start of the Trend - Theoretically

Ever since people, especially those outside the culture, pointed it out, a lot of theories have started and been researched from the start of the trend itself and how it gradually became the trend, where one of the most discussed ones would be the 2010 study by Maliangkay, about the "The effeminacy of male beauty in Korea."

Maliangkay speculated on how the rise of the trend happened coincidentally around the same time as the Asian Financial Crisis in 1997, where most of the damage was centered in South Korea and Thailand. Employment rates went downhill pretty quickly since businesses responded to it by cutting down the number of employees, especially almost all women in the workplace. Feminism never had a stronger reaction than in that of South Korea's. Because a lot of women idealized gentle and kind men like that of the Oppas in every K-drama, women who wished to date softer men seem to be increasing.

As years passed, the trend started getting more and more prominent and women liking 'soft' men became a regular occurrence, which attracts men to try and discover a new style. It seemed that the next generations also adopted this idea, seeing as the majority of the men now in South Korea and even other countries are focused on maintaining baby-smooth skin and boyish looks.

But, just because the trend, which is now considered style, spread to neighboring countries like Japan and China, it might take a lot of time for Americans to get on board with the idea of men using makeup.

Will America follow this trend?

Thanks to BTS and their gut-wrenching, revolutionary music, the western part of the world, especially the United States, has been more exposed to what they term as the effeminate - or in simpler terms, female-ish - beauty that the seven boys showed. Chinese and Japanese entertainment roles are also following suit, but American idea of beauty is hovering between two sides for now.

Of course, American men use makeup, especially actors and models who would need a retouch, a bit of color here and there, make sure no pores are seen — this type of makeup. The previous century also brought meaning to heavy metal music with men wearing eyeliners and sometimes even black lipstick.

Right now, famous western makeup brands are quickly following after Korean brands, like Chanel launching its very first men's beauty collection "Boy de Chanel". It has eyebrow pencils, lip balms and other cosmetics that are essential to the skin, but is still slightly different compared to Korean men's lip tints, tinted moisturizers, and blushers.

While Korean men truly gave a new definition of men's beauty, the U.S. would need more time to follow them. All's well and change should not be forced, but we should also learn to respect the differences in both and many other cultures. Whether you'd use face products or not, it's really all up to you and how comfortable you are with it.

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