K-Beauty isn’t a fad. Korean beauty products comprise a $13 billion industry in the U.S. (via Statista). The glass look and clear skin of Korean beauty appeal to American buyers who are learning that no matter what makeup you wear, the skin underneath must be a healthy palette for your products.
If you’ve spent time exploring K-Beauty, you’ve probably run across the viral sensation Beauty of Joseon. The brand found newfound fame in 2015 with its Dynasty Cream after a viral review on Snow White and the Asian Pear. There are dozens of reviews on YouTube and hundreds of blogs devoted to the wonders of the brand. The brand claims to be based on the ancient Korean approach to skincare known as Hanbang (via Popsugar).
Korean beauty practices are centuries old and revered for timeless truths. The traditional methods often get consistent results with a focus on hydration and clear skin. There is no denying the success of K-Beauty products — and Beauty of Joseon is helping to lead the charge. Continue reading to learn more about Beauty of Joseon.
What is Hanbang?
Hanbang is an ancient Korean approach to medicine and wellness that is now finding popularity in K-Beauty skincare products (via Coveteur). The focus is on consistent and holistic wellness. In other words, if you take good care of your skin all of the time, it will be consistently healthy. The goal is prevention, not reaction. So, for example, if you treat your skin to prevent acne, you don’t need products to treat breakouts because they aren’t as likely.
Ingredients in Hanbang are traditional herbs often used in medicine — and the same approach that keeps a body healthy can be applied to keeping the skin healthy. So if rice bran water is a potent anti-inflammatory for the body, it can be used on the skin with similar results (via The Klog).
"Hanbang is a form of holistic medicine, which focuses on balancing the needs of the body and mind," beauty blogger Hanna Bae told the outlet. The real strength of modern Hanbang products, like Beauty of Joseon, is that they blend the traditional ingredients with the power of modern elements, with often inspired results.
How does Beauty of Joseon apply Hanbang?
Beauty of Joseon applies Hanbang with its ingredients. The company uses traditional Hangbang herbal products such as ginseng, rice bran water, plum water, green tea, and more — all things you’re likely to see in herbal medicine. These ingredients serve as the actives — or backbone ingredients — to complement the modern science of their products. By mixing ginseng with niacinamide or plum water with alpha-hydroxy acids, Beauty of Joseon blends the old with the new in pursuit of timeless beauty.
Their name, Beauty of Joseon, comes from the Joseon dynasty, when, centuries ago, Korean beauty prized a neat, clean appearance with calm, moisturized skin and healthy red lips (via Asia Society). It’s the "dewy" look of modern Western dreams long before Instagram was invented or YouTube reviews touted the benefits of Korean beauty practice. Based on ancient traditional herbal methods, Beauty of Joseon brings a new generation of Korean wisdom to skincare and the beauty world.
Rice bran water: Why is it good for your skin?
Rice bran has over 100 antioxidants to help eliminate free radicals (via Aviva Health). Free radicals contribute to the breakdown of molecules in cells. This leads to cell mutations like cancer and is part of why skin ages in appearance. It is used in treating diseases like diabetes and is believed to help reduce the risk of certain cancers when used with other preventative methods. But what can antioxidants do for your skin? They can help repair the damage caused by free radicals, making your barrier even more protective, a 2017 study from Anais Brasileiros de Dermatologia found.
Since rice bran is an anti-inflammatory, it can help combat redness and irritation in the skin. Beauty of Joseon has harnessed the power of rice bran water (the easiest form to deliver rice bran’s healing properties to the skin) and added it to products such as Relief Sun: Rice + Probiotics, Dynasty Cream, Radiance Cleansing Balm, Glow Deep Serum: Rice + Alpha-arbutin, Low PH Rice Face and Cleansing Bar, and more.
Ginseng root: Why would Beauty of Joseon use it?
A 2017 study published in the Aging and Disease Medical Journal stated that ginseng may help to combat the signs of aging. Like rice water, ginseng root is an antioxidant and anti-inflammatory, helping reduce skin wrinkling, which can occur due to the natural aging process.
According to Dongui Bogam, a historical Korean medicine book, ginseng has long been considered a powerful medicine. The ancient record also listed ginseng as "shincho," roughly translated as "of the gods." Legend has it that one of the most beautiful women known from the dynasty of Joseon used to bathe in a ginseng water bath (via Buro). According to the Beauty of Joseon website, ginseng contains saponin, which helps keep moisture close to the skin.
Plum water and green tea: How do they impact your skin?
Green tea is more than just a healthy afternoon pick-me-up beverage. A 2014 study from Toxicologal Resource found that green tea waters used on the skin can increase moisture content and collagen. Even further, it can help prevent the formation of new wrinkles. Ultraviolet rays absorbed from our environment can make skin less elastic and typically more susceptible to dangerous cell growth, but skin treated with green tea water demonstrated more moisture and prohibited the development of inflammatory cells.
Similarly, plum water — which contains Vitamin C, another powerful antioxidant —may offer moisture-retaining properties (via WebMD). A 1996 study from the Journal of the American Academy of Dermatology stated that Vitamin C may also help with hyperpigmentation. Beauty of Joseon features green tea and plum water in products such as Calming Serum: Green Tea + Panthenol, Bubble Toner: Green Plum + AHA, Green Plum Refreshing Cleanser, and Apricot Blossom Peeling Gel.
Can bee propolis help your acne?
It’s hard to imagine that a bee product might be good to slather across your face. But according to dermatologist Mona Gohara, bee propolis can "act as an antibacterial, help with wound healing, moisturize, and be a powerful antioxidant" (via Women’s Health). Bee propolis is the "glue," so to speak, which bees use in their daily tasks to hold together the hive and seal up cracks, yet this glue is also a key to helping keep your skin clear.
Acne is often the result of bacteria that irritates pores. Propolis can help clear the face of acne-causing bacteria when used as an antibacterial agent. Furthermore, bee propolis is another antioxidant in the Beauty of Joseon arsenal that can help your skin fight the signs of aging and can help promote the healing of wounds. According to Beauty of Joseon’s product website, women in the Joseon Dynasty often used a wash-off mask pack of dry propolis for their faces.
Why some people thing Hanbang isn’t all you need
Some people argue that just because the techniques mentioned in K-Beauty have been around for centuries, it doesn’t mean that’s why they work.
An opinion article in The New York Times argued that the growth of K-Beauty was more a geopolitical strategy by the Korean government to spread its markets to the less-volatile Western world rather than continue to rely so heavily on China for trade. But whether Western markets have responded because they believe the hype about these age-old techniques or because they want the clear, glassy skin they see on many Korean women, buyers should perhaps also consider that 20% of women in Korea have had some cosmetic surgery (via The Washington Post). So, sure: The American buyer’s dreams of smooth, clear skin may be based on little more than a myth.
Environmental factors that are usually not replicated by Western buyers contribute to this myth. A 2019 study from Nutrients noted that the average Korean diet and food lifestyle contribute to the moisture content in the skin. Much Korean cuisine includes light proteins like fish, poultry, and vegetables — items we all know are essential for a well-balanced diet. Does this mean that Korean skincare practices don’t work? Not necessarily. But buyers should consider all factors that go into achieving desired results.
Where should you start with your Beauty of Joseon collection?
So, you’ve seen the studies, added kimchi to your diet, and you’re ready to start with K-Beauty wunderkind Beauty of Joseon. Where should you start?
In a conversation with The List, makeup artist Gabrielle Alvarez revealed a love for the Relief Sun sunscreen. "This sunscreen feels super elevated and arrived on my desk just in time for summer. Super lightweight with slight moisturizing factors, this works extremely well under makeup and provides a perfected and smooth based that I feel will work for most skin types."
Want to explore their serums and find the right blend for you? Beauty of Joseon offers a Hanbang Serum discovery set that will give you a "flight" of serums to try before investing in a whole bottle. Beauty Editor Deborah Kim said the Serum Propolis & Niacinamide left her skin "looking glowing and radiant almost instantly" (via Beauty Within) while YouTuber and Beauty Enthusiast Mad About Skin says his favorite is the Ginseng Water Essence (via YouTube). He has claimed that the essence is "universally suitable for all skin types." Finally, you can’t go wrong with the viral sensation: Dynasty Cream. This is the OG Beauty of Joseon product, and the moisture results may be impressive with rice bran and ginseng.
Where to buy Beauty of Joeson
So you’re all caught up on your ancient Korean herbal remedies, you understand the history behind ginseng, green tea, and plum healing properties, and you’re comfortable adding a little kimchi to your diet to up your K-Beauty game. Is Beauty of Joseon right for you? Obviously, personal preference and skin types will determine your results, but Beauty of Joseon is a great place to start if you’re looking to dive into K-Beauty.
Ready to stock up? The good news is that K-Beauty products are more accessible than ever. Be prepared for a slightly longer ship time on most orders, but the prices at Beauty of Joseon won’t break the bank. Of course, you can always order directly from the brand or try Yes Style, Sokoglam, or Stylevana. In what is undoubtedly a testament to the lasting impact of K-Beauty on the Western world, you can even purchase Beauty of Joseon from Walmart.