Beautiful in and out – the 10th International Beauty Expo Korea

Written by on November 7, 2012 in Arts, Brands & Products, Lifestyle

Who said that “Beauty is only skin deep”? I know that it is emphasizing the importance of inner beauty, but I can’t help but think: since efforts in creating a beautiful inner self is something we strive to do during our lifetime no matter what and is as natural as breathing in air, why not pay attention to our outer beauty as well? Beautiful in and out, wouldn’t that be the ultimate goal?

Korea’s first cosmetic magazine “Hygiene and Makeup” (1926)

Korea is fixated on beauty. Although the image of the ideal Korean beauty may have changed over history, interest in beauty – in and out – has never waned. It is why the Korean cosmetics industry has surged at such a fast pace. With such interest, beauty expos and fairs are held throughout the year to showcase the Korean cosmetics industry and also to introduce international products to Korea.

The 10th International Beauty Expo Korea 2012 took place from October 26th, 2012 to October 28th, 2012 at the COEX in Seoul. The expo covers the fields of cosmetics, skincare and makeup; hand and nail care; hair, lashes, and wigs; spa and beauty treatments; beauty tools, health and body care; and cosmetic services. A makeup art fair, nail art and makeup contests, and various seminars also took place.

Visitors flock to the many booths

It was my first time at this expo so I didn’t know what to expect. I was hoping to get a glimpse into future beauty trends and also pick up some goodies as most products are sold at discount prices at these sorts of expos. The expo being held at COEX – which is quite the happening place on its own – meant that there was quite a crowd when I dropped by in the afternoon.

Rows and rows of nail polish

The first thought that struck me: I’ve never seen so much nail polish in my whole life. Wow. The choice of colors was staggering. Think of the biggest nail salon you know and their collection of polish and multiply that by a hundred. There were so many different products available, Korean and international brands alike.

Choosing from even more rows of nail polish

Convenient nail stickers are quite popular these days

Endless rainbow of glitter

There were also many other hand and nail care related products such as nail stickers, artificial nails, conditioners and strengtheners, moisturizers, and other various tools for detailed nail art. Many booths were set up as pop-up nail salons, and for a very low price you could get full manicures and pedicures, and even temporary tattoos on the spot; while at other booths nail art instructors were giving helpful mini-lectures.

Students of a beauty college tend to customers

“Rainbow tattoos” are only temporary but very pretty

Hand scrub for smooth, soft hands

An instructor explains nail art technique

To my surprise, there weren’t as many makeup and cosmetics booths as I would’ve liked. I had thought I would be spending quite a bit but most cosmetics booths were about skincare. Makeup booths were scarce. Organic and natural seemed to be the keywords in most of the skincare products on display’ – a worldwide trend.

One of the rare makeup booths was a new brand launch

Organic skincare products

Organic shampoo from natural ingredients

Organic baby skincare products with Korean style packaging

Conditioning sheet masks with Hallyu star packaging

Organic soap from Aleppo in Syria

What are beauty products if you don’t have the tools to use them? There was an abundance of tools and devices for cosmetics, skin and body care, and also for hair. (I didn’t take photos of the many wig booths, by the way.)

Professional makeup brushes

Choose your fake eyelash style

All the tools you need for beauty procedures

On a larger scale than tools, there was the equipment. The beauty industry has become extremely high-tech. Booths specializing in hair loss was offering free consultations, as well as other booths for skincare and body care. Orthopedic treatments becoming popular with not only the older crowd but for people of all ages, new items are constantly being developed. Specialized spa equipment that could also be used at home was on display, too.

Detailed analysis for your skin

Customers receive scalp treatments

Neck adjusters correct the bad bone alignments

Want a small head? Try the head minimizers!

Heated stones to better your qi and circulation

Light, sound, image therapy from a luxury sofa pod

The “health” section of the expo wasn’t that blatant, but there were quite a few booths with diet and health products. Aroma therapy is becoming more and more familiar to the Korean public and there were quite many booths with fragrance dispensers and candles. Unlike some bath products which have very strong fragrances, most of the products were made from natural ingredients, keeping in sync with the organic trend.

Pine needle tea with collagen

A British candle and fragrance brand’s “English Rose” display

Korean natural wax candle in its mini pottery jar

The expo, of course, had its “art” part. There were photos of various makeup art on display, not only natural but theatrical, and also many nail art items. The makeup art show featured the work of upcoming theatrical artists.

Dramatic makeup art

Pop art on finger tips

Models wait for the show to start

Makeup for the theater

Still theatrical, but with a Korean approach

All in all, I had fun at the expo. However, had this expo been named the “Hand and Nail Care Expo”, I wouldn’t have been the least surprised. Booths for hand and nail care greatly outnumbered everything else. It was aisle after aisle of nail products, like nail polish heaven.

As I mentioned above, there were very few makeup brands. I thought this made the expo rather lopsided. I assume that major Korean or international makeup brands do not have the need to take part in this expo and that perhaps this expo was geared towards the smaller volume companies. I got the impression that the expo is worth taking part in as a vendor more than a spectator. Especially if you’re a small company trying to find potential buyers in Korea, and even more if you’re in the hand and nail care business.

If you’re into nail polish, this expo is the best chance to stock up on as many products as possible; the prices are great with huge discounts and there are literally thousands of colors to choose from. If you’re an aspiring makeup artist, getting some tools would be a good idea, as you can quickly pick up everything you need at one place.

Or you can go just to have fun, like I did. I’m not sure if I would go again next year, but as there are no entry fees with pre-registration and entry isn’t that expensive, why not. You can always hang out at COEX while you’re there, too.

Official Site

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* Get beautiful, Korean style :
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About the Author

Suzy Chung

Multilingual editor, writer, and translator. Coffee addict, bookworm, art junkie, foodie, oenophile, and a billion other things. I tend to talk a lot. @suzyinseoul