Remember how we all felt about the French pharmacies a decade ago? And American drugstores before that? Well, now South Korea - or "So-Ko" - is where beauty is at. Here's what you probably already knew: that the average Korean woman's skincare regime contains 12 steps and can take up to 40 minutes. That South Korean women are beauty obsessed (a brief look at some of the online make-up tutorials will tell you that). And, finally, that "wacky" - in ingredients, textures or packaging - is no barrier to trial. This, after all, is the country that gave us snail-secretion and bat-dropping facials, jelly face creams and serious skincare in a jar shaped like a panda.
It all started with the BB Cream. When that particular phenomenon landed over here five years ago, the So-Ko beauty industry became a major force. "Japan and China have quite strained trade relations, and South Korea has been able to capitalise on that by selling to both," explains Beautymart's Anna-Marie Solowij. Consequently, beauty is now Korea's second biggest industry after technology (Samsung and LG are both Korean) and, thanks to government investment in R&D, So-Ko beauty is said to be seven years ahead of the rest of the world in product development.
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