Korean vs American Makeup

Korean vs American Makeup featured photo

If you’re passionate about makeup, you probably notice by now the differences between Korean and American makeup. Whether or not you follow pop culture and celebrities closely, you can tell at one glance that there’s something different about the two countries’ makeup styles.

Korean makeup focuses on natural softness, youthfulness, and radiance. It also often has a dew, glowing finish. American makeup, on the other hand, tends to prioritize glamor and intensity, definition, and maturity with bold and usually matte makeup colors and products.

Of course, there isn’t a definitive set of rules and guides on how one country does their makeup. Makeup styles and techniques depend on personal preference, culture, and even every-changing trends.

In this article, I will be diving in on the key differences between Korean and American makeup and show examples for better visualization.

Korean vs American Makeup: What’s the Difference?

Makeup is one thing every country in the world has in common and seems to love. Makeup is a form of art and it’s also an expression of oneself.

Makeup is a common factor among almost all countries. But, they sure do differ in a lot of aspects, depending where you are and the culture and customs you grew up with.

One of the most common makeup styles often compared are Korean and American makeup.

Generally, Korean makeup puts a heavy focus on the skin. Koreans love to look radiant, youthful, and glowing, not just with skincare but also with makeup.

On the other hand, American makeup loves glamor and glitz. American makeup styles tend to lean toward sultry, sass, intensity, and maturity.

While there aren’t any set rules and guides on how to do your makeup the Korean or American way, there are obvious makeup techniques one style prefers over another.

Below, I will be detailing how both makeup styles compare to each other in different categories.


Both Korean and American makeup styles and techniques use primers as a makeup base. The difference between the two base styles is the finish.

Korean makeup has a preference for luminous, glowing, and dewy skin. The finish gives the skin radiance.

In addition to that, Koreans are known for the multi-step Korean skin care routine. They prioritize skincare and healthy skin above all else and that also extends to their makeup styles, aiming for a natural glow. Many Korean primers also double as moisturizers.

On the other hand, American makeup prefers matte finishes, even in their base and primer. Matte primers leave a flawless yet radiant and smooth finish many prefer.

Korean Make Up Base StyleAmerican Make-Up Base Style


Like with primers, Korean makeup has a preference for dewy, glowing foundation finish over matte finish. Korean foundation may come in liquid form or the popular cushion. They also prefer a lighter coverage, sometimes even sticking to go-to K-beauty products like BB or CC creams.

And because they value skincare above all else, many of their foundation formulas are formulated with SPF. Korean foundations often come in limited shades catering to lighter skin tones.

American makeup prefers a matte finish foundation. It often comes in liquid or stick form and  rarely in cushion form. These offer a fuller coverage than their Korean counterparts.

Though many prefer a matte finish, American foundations are still available in a wide array of finishes from matte to dewy to natural.

Lastly, American foundations cater to a lot of different skin tones so they’re available in a wide range of shades.

Eye makeup

Korean Eye Make Up StyleAmerican Eye Make Up Style

There is an obvious difference between Korean and American eye makeup styles. Let’s break it down into different components:


Korean women prefer a softer, youthful look. For the eyebrows, they tend to sport straighter and fuller brows. These look softer, younger, and more natural. 

American eyebrows tend to be more arched to give the face definition. They are more defined and aim to be “on-fleek.”


Even with their eyeshadow, Koreans like to keep it natural and simple. They stick to soft and natural colors like pinks and peaches. They rarely use bold and loud colors. Korean eye makeup also tends to use eyeshadow only on the lids, never going above them.

American makeup styles put special care and attention to eyeshadow. Smokey eyes are a huge trend. Bold and dark colors are a great way to give the eyes a personality and more of a sultry look.


Koreans prefer a more natural set of lashes instead of heavy, bold lashes. In Korean makeup, not many use false eyelashes and simply use an eyelash curler to give their lashes a lift. Then they set with a lightweight mascara.

Koreans sometimes do use false eyelashes, but still, they stick to more natural-looking falsies.

For Americans, thick and long lashes are all the rage. For a more dramatic look, many incorporate thick and long false eyelashes and finish off with a thick and often waterproof mascara.


Korean eyeliner is all about the puppy dog eyes. To achieve this, they take their eyeliner and line it just along their upper lids and extend it down ever so slightly. This creates an effect that makes the eyes look bigger and more puppy-like.

What sets Korean eye makeup apart is the aegyo sal or eye smiles, which is the roll of skin right under the eyes. They like to accentuate this area of the face with a shimmery shadow or liner. This is a coveted feature among Koreans as it gives a younger, fresher, and more innocent look.

Korean with Natural Looking Falsies

In American makeup, it’s all about the cat eyes. As we’ve already established. Americans love dramatic and bold makeup looks. A winged eyeliner takes this up a notch and completes the eye makeup look that’s read carpet-ready.

And if Koreans like to bring out that fat or skin under their eyes, American makeup hides those features at all costs with the best concealers.


Contouring is a must in American makeup. From the forehead to the cheeks and nose and down to the jawline, American makeup loves contouring. This gives a more defined, sculptured look.

Korean makeup doesn’t involve a lot of contouring as they like to keep things looking natural. At most, they contour the nose and bridge.


Korean blush tends to look softer and more natural. Soft colors like pink and peach are the go-to for that glow.

Americans’ common placement of blush is on the apple of the cheeks and it’s often used to add even more definition on the face.


Korean Lip Make Up StyleAmerican Lip Make Up Style

The trend in lip makeup in South Korea is the gradient effect. First, they start with a darker color on the insides of the lips, and going outwards, it gradually becomes lighter in color. This effect plus a glossy or natural finish result in a fresher and younger look.Otherwise, Koreans stick to lighter and softer lip colors and lip tints even without the gradient effect.

Big and pouty is what’s popular in American lip makeup. Lip liners and matte lipsticks are a must in any makeup bag. They prefer fuller lips and they can easily achieve that with makeup.

Why is There a Huge Difference Between Korean and American Makeup Style – American and Korean Beauty Standards and Makeup Trends?

There’s not much to think about why there is a difference between Korean and American makeup. It’s all dependent on each country’s and culture’s beauty standards.

In Korean culture, women want to look younger and strive for an innocent look, no matter the age. In American culture, women much prefer to look more mature and with sass.

The differences in preferences and what is deemed attractive in a certain culture would greatly affect certain makeup styles.

Makeup trends also have an effect on makeup styles. Makeup is an ever-changing world and will still experience several changes over the course of the years as it already has in the past.

Korean Makeup vs American Makeup: Which is Better?

Makeup isn’t a competition. There isn’t a makeup style that’s superior over another. Sure, one makeup style can have influence over other styles but that doesn’t equate superiority.

Whichever makeup style you choose would depend on your preference and what you want to achieve with makeup.

Bottom line is, Korean makeup prefers soft, natural, and fresh looks with emphasis on glowing skin while American makeup leans towards bold, mature, and alluring. Both the American beauty industry and Korean beauty industry pay close attention to these.

Always take into consideration your taste in makeup and how each product can help accentuate your best features.


Makeup is an art and it’s one thing that transcends borders and cultures. Though makeup is makeup, no matter how you look at it, it can differ depending on culture and country.

Korean makeup is soft, natural, fresh, youthful, and often with a dewy finish. On the side of the world, American makeup prioritizes definition, maturity, boldness, and often with a matte finish.

And that has been my guide on Korean vs American makeup. We hope this answered your questions but if there’s still anything left unanswered, hit me up from below!

Michelle Jackson
Michelle Jackson