Korean Makeup Vs. North American Makeup Style


Although I never grew up in Korea, I loved visiting my country. The food, the subway, the hustle and bustle and the familiarity of my mother tongue made me feel right at home. It wasn’t until I lived in Korea for several months that I started to blend in with the culture and my roots. One prominent change that I adapted to was my makeup style. Instead of my comfortable North American style makeup that i used to cake my face with, I unconsciously started applying less products to my face. What used to be an intense and slightly dramatic mask was replaced with a more subtle and natural visage. This was back in 2007. Fast forward to present day and a lot has changed with the Korean perception of beauty and makeup. Kpop stars are slowly taking the lead with a bold and sexy look challenging the unconventional ways of conservative Korea but the trend for a natural youthful look seems to remain steady and unwavering.

Presenting 5 feature differences between Korean vs North American makeup style. Please note not all Koreans or North Americans necessarily follow the two different styles. The following distinctions are gathered from my personal observation between the general Korean population versus the North American population. At the end of the day, everyone wants to look beautiful and beauty comes in all shapes and forms varying from culture to culture.


Korean – Straight thick brows. Gives the face a soft and more youthful look.


North American – Arched thin or thick brows. Gives the face personality and bit of sass.



Korean– Neutral to sheer coloured eyeshadow is applied for a natural and youthful look. Eyeliner is angled downwards to create a puppy dog look for a sweet and innocent impression. What accentuates Korean eyes are the aegyosal. Aegyosal is the layer of fat located right below your eyes starting from your tear duct. Koreans like to highlight their aegyosal with a white eye pencil or shimmer to fully bring it out.


North American – Dark to vivid coloured eyeshadow is applied for a smoky, sexy and smouldering look. Eyeliner is angled upwards to create a cat eyed look for intensity. Forget aegyosal, hiding eye bags is a top priority. All types of concealers and eye creams are used to hide the dark patches that appear every morning.



Korean – Fair skin is highly sought after. Generally, you will need to have a blemish free skin to pull this off. (This is where the famous Korean skincare routine comes to play). For those not blessed with perfect skin, bb cream is the next consolation. Many prep their skin to look dewy and moist, almost like they just got out of the shower. Almost.


North American – Tanned skin is highly sought after. Not only do you tan your skin but you bronze and contour like crazy.


Who needs plastic surgery when you got contouring?



Korean – Again, natural and youthful is the key point. All you need is an eyelash curler and mascara and hope that you were blessed with long lashes.

eyelash korean

North American – Long, thick and dramatic eyelashes otherwise known as falsies are a must. All you need is fake eyelashes and maybe some mascara to give it an extra oomph in case its not dramatic enough.



Korean – Small, dainty lips are desired. Like Song HyeKyo.


North American – Big luscious lips are desired. Like Angelina Jolie.


My attempt at trying Korean makeup vs. North American makeup style below.


My attempt at Korean style makeup


My version of North American style makeup and what I am familiar with!

In summary, it seems the Korean makeup style aims for a natural and youthful look while the North American makeup style aims for a sexy and sophisticated look. One is not necessarily better than the other. I definitely cant pull off the Korean style but the North American makeup style is also too intense. My personal preference is a mix of both. What makeup style is your preference?

Thanks for reading!



12 replies »

  1. I think it’s safe to say that there’s no best style, but about having the style that flatters your face most. If you look good with angled brows, then they’re your best bet. If you look better with straight, then those are your best bet :) I like Korean style best, because here in Asia, the thick foundation & contouring is considered too heavy and unflattering. All depends on the context and personal pref.

  2. Great post! Your nothern american look suited you better, but hey you rocked the straight eyebrows too! ^^ i’ve been dying to have those innocent-looking, straight eyebrows, but my brows were just too arched for it.

  3. Hi, great post! I am aware this is now slightly outdated but I am moving to Korea in a week and stressing that I won’t be able to purchase my beloved western make up over there ? (YSL foundation/NARS etc), is it easily accessible over there? Thanks!

    • Hi! Thank you for the compliment. :) Oh dear, the last time i was in Korea was in 2012…so I’m not sure if the information that I give is updated as well. lol. The last time i checked they didn’t have a Sephora yet but i do believe if you try going to Lotte department store or Watsons, they should have something. Otherwise my best advise is to take extra products that you absolutely can’t live without? BUT who knows, you might end up converting to Korean products as you live there… their makeup is quite top rated in Asia. Anyway good luck in Korea, i know you will love it there! :)

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