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The Student News Site of Daegu International School

Jets Flyover

Daegu International School's student news site
ANNOUNCEMENTS
  • Have a fantastic summer break!
  • First Day of School on August 12th.
  • Don't forget your spirit shirts on Friday.
The Student News Site of Daegu International School

Jets Flyover

The Student News Site of Daegu International School

Jets Flyover

The exclusivity of tone inclusivity

The shady reality of K- beauty
Many+Koreans+do+not+fit+in+the+two+21%7E23+foundation+shades.+These+four+celebrities+themselves+act+as+living+proof+that+dark-skinned+Koreans+exist.+
Christine Park
Many Koreans do not fit in the two 21~23 foundation shades. These four celebrities themselves act as living proof that dark-skinned Koreans exist.

From K-pop to K-dramas to mukbang, the Korean wave, also known as Hallyu (한류), swallows the global market. But out of them all, K-beauty dominates the cosmetic scene through constant new makeup products.

In particular, the “cushion foundation,” a Korean cosmetic, grabbed the world’s attention. Unlike old-fashioned bases that require an extra beauty blender, the cushion foundation provides both convenience and quality as it contains a sponge. But despite the innovations that shock the beauty scene, flaws seep through in this luster of K-culture. 

The search for a perfect match with the user’s skin stands as the most important aspect of base makeup products. If the tone fails to blend in with the skin, unlike color cosmetics that give you a pop of color regardless of its tone alignment, the product becomes unusable. 

Point makeup products can be used in various tones without difficulties. Unlike Korea, which only has Korean model cuts, Sephora provides model cuts from different races. (Christine Park)

Here, the weakness of the Korean brands comes into play. Surprisingly, most foundations only come in shades 21 and 23. Even a thin layer of the product makes a big difference in the skin color itself. But do these shades match everyone? That’s obviously not the case. Brands rarely produce over two shades in Korea, and more so, they hardly ever include hues that cater to African Americans, South Asians, or even Caucasians. So most people, specifically foreigners in Korea, struggle to find their skin tones. 

Korean foundations usually come in shades 21 and 23, both extremely light. (Christine Park)

African-American first-grade teacher Ms. Downie showed strong displeasure with the situation: “I feel quite put out. I can’t just walk into Olive Young. I have to go find a luxury department store, and since Sephora is now leaving, it’s going to be even harder to find Fenti, which means I’m going to have to pay lots of money for international shipping.” 

Olive Young, a health and beauty product store in Korea, dominates the country’s beauty scene. Even Sephora could not beat Olive Young’s monopoly market. (Christine Park)
Global companies such as SEPHORA launch foundations in over 30 shades. They consider this as the normal requirement. Beauty models come from many races as well. (Christine Park)

Darcei, a well-known black beauty YouTuber, frequently voices her frustration about this reality of exclusivity as well. While opening makeup packages sent by brands, she said, “Look at the coverage of this foundation, and [look, it has] such a nice glowy finish. I wish this came in my shade,” to which viewers empathized with her in the comment section.

YouTuber Darcei applies one of the Korean cushion foundations that she bought. She expressed immense disappointment along with complaints. (Christine Park)

However, many netizens asserted that the homogeneity of Korea makes it impossible to profit from other hues. Their claims include some truth. Most Koreans have similar skin tones, and from the brand’s perspective, launching unpopular colors generates little profit. Besides, in the early ages of cushion foundations, consumers constantly complained about dark tones and requested lighter shades. In response, companies eagerly prepared to launch extremely light products.

Many Koreans prefer brighter skin tones. This preference for lighter skin leads to the use of a mismatched foundation that obviously differs from one’s neck skin. (Christine Park)

Still, this should not be an excuse for the exclusivity since those two shades can’t even match all Koreans. This insensitivity of the company excludes darker-skinned Koreans and foreigners who don’t fit into these categories. Though companies are not racial activists, as long as the company provides enough influence in the country, it should have moral responsibility and acknowledgment of what influence it makes.

It hurts many people as seen in Ms. Downie’s case. She continues, “Everybody wants a foundation cushion that’s in their tone. […] Feelings of not fitting in, feelings of being left out, being an afterthought, being not unwanted per se but [getting] uncared about [is] as far as the makeup market goes. If they knew how much money we were forking out, I think they would know.” 

In the past, a minority of companies like Innisfree hoped to give a solution to this problem. They would make multiple different colors, but most of them went out of business. Even Sephora, which gives a big help to racial inclusivity with its variety of skin cosmetics, couldn’t compete with the monopoly market of Olive Young, which serves only two options. 

Korean makeup brands like Innisfree launched foundations with over 10 shades for the global market, but most of them went out of business. For Innisfree, they didn’t even sell all the shades in Korea. They were exclusively for export purposes. (Christine Park)
Sephora Korea uploaded on their Instagram that they will close down and completely back out of Korea. This impacts the minority population of Korea greatly as it gets far more difficult to find a foundation that actually matches. (Christine Park)

Constant issues of tone inclusivity continue as more and more people feel excluded. Greater attention and acknowledgment will provide help for the forgotten. As more brands desire worldwide fame, the necessity of a balance in brand income and inclusivity comes at a more urgent pace.

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About the Contributors
Serena Travers
Serena Travers, Writer
A rising senior, Serena Travers returns to continue her avid passion for journalism. This year, she aspires to share her thoughts, meet new people, and take the best of the best photos. She also plans to dabble in design to bring the yearbook to the next level as she leaves high school. She combines her love for psychology with her writing. Her excitement and dedication to the Flyover staff is evident by the fact that she takes two media classes at DIS.
Christine Park
Christine Park, Illustrator
After years of persuasion from her peers that sparked intrinsic motivation, Christine Park finally enters Journalism as a senior. Chris’s greatest passion revolves around the field of art and anime. Her role as the president of the National Art Honors Society and Visual Arts Club proves the enthusiasm she bears for artistry. As the new illustrator for the Jets Flyover, Chris is eager to dive into journalism and share her artwork and comics with a wider audience.
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