A Skincare Founder Explains the Difference Between K-Beauty and J-Beauty

Korean beauty has made its impact in America over the last several years in a major way.

From Hanskin and Banila Co., to Tony Moly, Skinfood and so many more, K-beauty is defined by their innovative ingredients, pristine packaging and remarkably affordable prices.

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Less commercialized, however, yet often confused? J-beauty. Japanese skincare has made a less-hyped (yet equally or more effective) name for itself in the form of upscale brands SK-II, Tatcha and Shiseido, for example.

We wanted to once and for all break down the real differences between the two, when it comes to ingredients, marketing and more. We reached out to Tracy O'Connor, creator of newly launched Seiso Jbeauty. Keep reading for what she had to tell us.

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Sweety High: What are the main differences between K-beauty and J-beauty?

Tracy O'Connor: K-beauty products are often driven by quick and emerging trends. They are known to focus on entertaining people with fun packaging and colorful ingredients. While many K-beauty brands feature incredible technologies and very thoughtful formulations, others are more like fast fashion—they introduce a lot of new products and change things frequently. They also have many steps in their skincare which can be overwhelming for some and is different to J-beauty. Most J-beauty focuses on sustainable usage and long term benefits. Just a few simple steps in the morning and evening will deliver improved skin.

Chemists often spend years and years developing just one product or one ingredient and perfecting it, which is what we've done. Throughout the world, J-beauty is widely respected and trusted for quality, safety and results.


SH: What are the biggest misconceptions about J-beauty?

TO: Maybe that we're boring or too serious! But the truth is that J-beauty focuses on just the positive essentials of skincare. Generally, Japanese beauty believes in a less is more approach. Fewer products, fewer bells and whistles, but still choosing exceptional ingredients, beautiful packaging, and state-of-the-art formulations.

Maybe we are a little serious, but we perceive skincare like eating. It is a daily ritual important to our health. You take care of your body by eating healthy, quality foods—not more foods. The same goes for skin! More is not "more" when it comes to beauty. More steps, more products, etc. does not necessarily deliver "more" results. When it comes to skincare, more can sometimes lead to more problems because there are more opportunities for skin to react to an ingredient or not like a product. Therefore, J-beauty concentrates on what is necessary, what is beautiful, and what transforms skin.

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SH: Why has K-beauty gained more popularity in the states than J-beauty?

TO: K-beauty is perceived as fun. Korean pop culture, celebrities, and music—like K-pop—have taken the world by storm. K-beauty has been a part of that entertainment wave. And its's been fun! But our focus and general J-beauty approach is simplified, more low-key and is definitely more focused on the science, ingredients and long-term benefits of skincare rather than making skincare "exciting." Also, Japanese people tend to like a very straightforward, honest approach when it comes to skincare and marketing. Japanese beauty companies won't make magical marketing promises or claims. But we do hope people are excited by the results they see in their skin!


SH: In general, how does Seiso Jbeauty stand out from other skincare lines on the market?

TO: Seiso Jbeauty is designed to nurture skin back to health, whereas a lot of other products take a more aggressive approach with ingredients. We've looked at the ingredient profiles of some American products, and we're surprised they're being sold to consumers for everyday use. Sometimes people think that "because it's burning" or "because this oil is blue," it's going to work. But we believe in spending a long time formulating products, choosing the absolute best ingredients and making products safe and very, very effective. Seiso Jbeauty also stands out because we have a patented, 100% natural ceramide ingredient derived from Japanese koji (a fermented food culture used to make soy sauce!), that's proven to be extremely smoothing, hydrating and repairing.

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SH: Define the consumer who would benefit most from Seiso Jbeauty's products.

TO: We truly believe that most people can benefit from our collection. Our goal is to "make bare skin beautiful"—so anyone looking for beautiful, healthy skin. Beauty lovers on social media have gone crazy for the "glow" our products offer, and they've told us it's been incredible for dry and sensitive skin types. Our cleanser is so, so effective for irritated, acne-prone skin. One of our founders has struggled with acne her whole life, and she designed the cleanser specifically to be effective, but still okay for sensitive types. It smooths skin and can refine pores without stripping or drying. Lots of acne cleansers contain acids or scrubs or really aggressive ingredients. They are so harsh and end up creating more problems. Ours, called Fuwafuwa Foaming Cleanser (meaning soft and cloud-like in Japanese), is extremely gentle but works.


SH: What was your experience launching a skincare line right as the peak of coronavirus hit?

TO: We have received so much support from our friends, family and new fans. A few celebrities, moms and beauty lovers have sent us really lovely messages about how our products have "changed their skin overnight" and "delivered results" when they've tried everything else. We couldn't be happier! It's a challenging time, but the truth is, people are at home, and while they may not have time or care to put on makeup, everyone still has to wash their face and moisturize!

We also think that people appreciate our message about simplifying skincare. People love our formulations and the simple elegance of our packaging. With our launch giveaways, we've been able to give back to nurses, medical staff and essential workers that are out on the frontlines. We're thinking about them, so that has felt really good.


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SH: Is there anything else you want people to know about Seiso, Jbeauty or skincare in general?

TO: Taking care of your skin when you're young is important if you want healthy skin. Wash your face at night. Moisturize. Use sunscreen. Finding products that work for you and having a daily skincare ritual will help preserve the health of your skin. You don't have to use a lot of ingredients and products to have beautiful skin. Daily, simple steps and quality products will preserve the quality of your skin at every age.

For those with troubled skin or who suffer from acne, we understand how challenging that can be. Be kind to yourself and kind to your skin. You'll find solutions. Seek advice and know that you are loved! While skin is important and it's nice to have beautiful skin, your skin is still on the outside, and it's really what's on the inside that truly matters.


If you're short on funds, HERE's how to maintain a solid skincare routine if you're broke!