The five subtle techniques you need to get the K-drama look right

Hi, my name is Katsy, and I'm a K-drama addict. I’m partial to the ones that star my favorites like Song Hye Kyo and IU but mostly I get drawn in by the storyline. I also can’t deny that part of what appeals to me is how the lead cast look; even the men would have gorgeous skin! I’ve just finished watching Uncontrollably Fond with Bae Suzy, Doctors with Park Shin Hye, and The Legend of the Blue Sea with Jun Ji Hyun. These actresses are some of the prettiest stars of their generation, and their product endorsements are almost sure to cause the product to sell out immediately! Heck, I actually bought Park Shin Hye’s latest lipstick endorsement when I was in Korea recently just because she posted about it on her Instagram.

While I know that I’ll never actually look anything like them, I like buying these products because of the kind of look that they’re able to create. Most K-drama leads keep their makeup very natural or barely there and at first glance, they even look the same. A closer inspection will show the subtle differences in eyeliner styles, eyeshadow shades, and lipstick application but the effect is usually the same: clear, bright skin, minimal eye makeup, and just-kissed lips. It’s pretty and wearable for everyday plus it’s quite easy to follow. If you want to cop that no-makeup K-drama beauty look, here are a few beauty rules to follow!

Facial masks from Watsons and Leaders, Banila Co Prime Primer Classic Matte (P1,090), Etude House Sun-Prise Must Daily SPF50+/PA+++ (P478 via Althea Korea), M-Chloi Hypoa Moisturizer (via BeautyLab Whitening by Suaviss)

Facial masks from Watsons and Leaders, Banila Co Prime Primer Classic Matte (P1,090), Etude House Sun-Prise Must Daily SPF50+/PA+++ (P478 via Althea Korea), M-Chloi Hypoa Moisturizer (via BeautyLab Whitening by Suaviss)

Rule # 1: Start by applying your skincare and never skip the moisturizer! Go with a gel or cream moisturizer, or put on a sheet mask for that instant glow. Top your skincare layers with a good sunscreen then seal everything with a primer to prep your skin for makeup. Alternatively, you can use a multi-purpose primer that also works as sunscreen to speed up the process.

Pink Sugar Our Lil Secret Concealer (P349), Essence Camouflage Cream Concealer (P149), W.Lab W-Snow CC Cushion (P1,050 on sale via Althea Korea), Laneige BB Cushion Pore Control (P1,320 via Althea Korea)

Pink Sugar Our Lil Secret Concealer (P349), Essence Camouflage Cream Concealer (P149), W.Lab W-Snow CC Cushion (P1,050 on sale via Althea Korea), Laneige BB Cushion Pore Control (P1,320 via Althea Korea)

Rule #2: The base is everything. Spot conceal your blemishes! If using liquid concealers, dab it on the area and leave it to set before blending out and going onto the next layer. Follow up with a cushion foundation that offers coverage and glow. More and more brands have been offering this makeup format but if you have an existing HG foundation or can’t find your shade match, you can try the DIY route!

Happy Skin Glam Squad Arch Definer & Brow Mascara (P949), K-Palette Lasting 2Way Eyebrow Pencil (P795), Measurable Difference Brow Amplifying Tint & Lift (~P520)

Happy Skin Glam Squad Arch Definer & Brow Mascara (P949), K-Palette Lasting 2Way Eyebrow Pencil (P795), Measurable Difference Brow Amplifying Tint & Lift (~P520)

Rule #3: Keep your eyebrows neat and natural. You don’t need to straighten your eyebrows in the Korean style (it doesn't suit everyone!) but at least keep them well-groomed. Run through the hairs with a spoolie to remove foundation before applying your brow products. For a more youthful look, choose a shade that is slightly lighter than your hair color. If you've dyed your tresses blonde, you can opt for soft brown shade in the same tone.

The lighter the eyebrow makeup is, the closer it is to K-drama brows. Subtlety is a must!

Witch's Pouch Selfie Awesome Gel Liner in Pearl Black (P270 via Althea Korea), Avon Super Extend Extreme Eyeliner (P299), Tony Moly Backgel Eye Liner in Khaki Black (P290)

Witch's Pouch Selfie Awesome Gel Liner in Pearl Black (P270 via Althea Korea), Avon Super Extend Extreme Eyeliner (P299), Tony Moly Backgel Eye Liner in Khaki Black (P290)

Rule #4: Eyeliner must be invisible while elongating the eyes. Using a brown eyeliner is the Korean way to go for a natural daytime look. In K-dramas, only the kontrabida ever wears black eyeliner, while the heroine sports a barely-there line. It's best to do tightlining or root stamping to achieve this look, or you can follow our Korean eyeliner tutorial if you want a more defined eye.

Happy Skin Glam Squad Eyeshadow Duo by Mickey See (P899), Lunasol Feathery Smoky Eyes in Smoky Monotone 02, Urban Decay Naked 2, Etude House Bling Bling Eyestick in Starry Sky Star and Sunset Star (P228 each)

Happy Skin Glam Squad Eyeshadow Duo by Mickey See (P899), Lunasol Feathery Smoky Eyes in Smoky Monotone 02, Urban Decay Naked 2, Etude House Bling Bling Eyestick in Starry Sky Star and Sunset Star (P228 each)

Rule #4: Eyeshadows tend to be neutral in K-dramaland, so using a well-coordinated palette should make matching colors easier. Use the darker shades on the lids with a pat of pearly eyeshadow in the middle for more dimension. A lighter matte shadow is used to emphasize the aegyo-sal (fatty eye bags) underneath. You can also try cream or liquid eyeshadows for more natural and youthful effect versus the dry matte look of powders.

Bobbi Brown Nourishing Lip Color in Island Pink (P1,400), Kanebo Moisture Rouge in 05 Core Red (P2,100), Skin Genie Lip and Cheek Stain Alive in Tulip Red (P80 via BeautyMNL.com), In Her Element Nourish & Cleanse Balm (P595), 7Hara My 1st Tint in Maple Red (P350 via Althea Korea), Laneige Two-Tone Lip Bar in No.5 Daring Darling (~P1,200)

Bobbi Brown Nourishing Lip Color in Island Pink (P1,400), Kanebo Moisture Rouge in 05 Core Red (P2,100), Skin Genie Lip and Cheek Stain Alive in Tulip Red (P80 via BeautyMNL.com), In Her Element Nourish & Cleanse Balm (P595), 7Hara My 1st Tint in Maple Red (P350 via Althea Korea), Laneige Two-Tone Lip Bar in No.5 Daring Darling (~P1,200)

Rule #5: While the gradient lip is far from fading into obscurity, the prevailing K-drama beauty trend is luminous flushed lips. Shades of red and pink are favored by fair-skinned Koreans, but shades of coral might work better with darker skin tones. Make sure to start with a hydrating lip balm to plump your pout and minimize the look of lip lines. Leave the mattes behind and opt for creamy lip products. Instead of swiping it on, dab all over the lips to achieve that natural-looking flush.

The Face Shop CC Intense Cover Cushion in Natural Beige (P895), Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Color in Rosegold (P1,250), Make Up For Ever Aqua XL Eye Pencil in M-60 (P1,250), 7Hara My First Tint in Maple Red, Witch’s Pouch Selfie Perfect Concealer (P220 via Althea Korea), MAC Matte Eyeshadow in Charcoal Brown, W.Lab White Holic Quick Whitening Cream (P640)

The Face Shop CC Intense Cover Cushion in Natural Beige (P895), Laura Mercier Caviar Stick Eye Color in Rosegold (P1,250), Make Up For Ever Aqua XL Eye Pencil in M-60 (P1,250), 7Hara My First Tint in Maple Red, Witch’s Pouch Selfie Perfect Concealer (P220 via Althea Korea), MAC Matte Eyeshadow in Charcoal Brown, W.Lab White Holic Quick Whitening Cream (P640)

You don't need to use actual K-beauty products for this look, though they're most likely to be better formulated for achieving that bright and dewy beauty look. Keep your products and your hands light, always! For a full look to try on, you can follow our Korean-style makeup tutorial, which is pretty much wearable anywhere you go!

Do you watch K-dramas? Which one are your favorites, and which actresses are your K-beauty inspirations?