Western Vs. Asian Approach to Beauty
In a world split by labels, disputes, and differences, one thing remains constant across the globe: people. Women, in particular—and we girls pine for beauty, no matter who or where we are. But as they say, beauty in the eye of the beholder. The question is, whose eyes are we looking through?
Despite being comparatively smaller in size and population, the Western perception of beauty is one that’s all too familiar for people across the globe. Beauty is about expression more than anything, and so trends rise and fall on the regular. Think instagram glam: arched eyebrows, sharply contoured features, and bold eyes blended into perfection. Thick pouty lips (we owe that to King Kylie) and long lashes are the Americana weapons of choice. Though not all girls go for the full on glam look, the trend lies in accentuating one or two features. Highlighting, both literally and figuratively, is the name of the game in Western beauty. It’s all about emphasizing your high points and creating the illusion of depth. They play with lights and shadows to sharpen the features, all the while balancing the contrast with soft powdery mattes. The result is a sexy, sultry look—a look that appeals to the Western eye.
Skincare is a lot less taxing than applying make-up. Although a good regimen is regarded as an essential by most girls, skincare is much simpler than putting on a face for the day. The Western beauty standard generally ascribes to the basics: cleanse, tone, treat, moisturize, and SPF. Yet while they stick to the bare essentials, they are also known for their targeted treatments. Problems are typically treated as they arise. Varying skin concerns are commonly treated using an array of chemical exfoliants, astringents, and prescriptions. Beauty products are usually formulated with potent ingredients to ensure quick and effective results. Western skincare routines are focused onincorporating products to address issues such as anti-aging, acne, oil production, redness, and the like.
Asians advocate natural beauty and thus generally keep make-up looks to a minimum. They put great emphasis on looking like they’re at the prime of their youth. Beauty is innocence, freshness, and radiance. Their make-up looks are geared towards looking flushed and glowy. Asians prefer brightening and dewy bases to give the impression of baby skin. They apply color with a light hand—just enough for rosy cheeks and popsicle lips, or better yet, to make hungover look cute.* Whereas Americans and Europeans go for the sultry look, Asians appeal to traditional femininity. Pink, peaches, and pastels are recurring hues in cosmetics.
Asian beauty has become synonymous with skincare—and rightly so, because it comes first before anything else. Girls are taught how to take care of their skin at a young age, which is why skincare easily becomes second nature. The highly popularized Korean 10-step routine has made outsiders believe that multiple products are the one-size-fits-all solution to all skin problems. However, the Asian beauty philosophy truly pivots around gentleness and TLC as the best way to care for the skin. Skincare is preventative rather than treatment-based. Products are geared towards nourishing and protecting the skin to avoid problems from arising as opposed to targeted treatment. Women use multiple products to feed the skin with as much nutrients and hydration as possible. Layering of toners, serums, ampoules, and creams is commonly practiced to maximize benefits as well.
Cosmetic products are even infused with skin-nurturing properties. For instance, BB creams are used in place of heavy and often irritating bases. BB creams are formulated with hydrating and restorative ingredients such as antioxidants and plant extracts. Most base make-up products also include SPF for added UV protection. Thus, the Asian approach is truly skincare first and make-up second.
Despite the contrast in approaches and perspectives, never forget that the truest measure of beauty is confidence. Wear it like a badge and the rest will follow suit. Don't ever be afraid to step out of your circle of comfort and try something new. Be bold, be confident, and be you. Now that's beauty!