Array of K-beauty sheet masks

A Brief Guide to K-Beauty

K-beauty is serious business. While you might think washing, moisturizing, and slapping on some SPF is enough, Korean beauty experts would tell you to think again. The skincare routine is often a seven- to 10-step process that involves thorough cleaning, regular exfoliating, and lots of lubricating, as well as unusual ingredients like snail mucin (we even have a mask with the gooey stuff). Today we break down some of the terminology you might hear while wading the (dewy) waters of K-beauty.

chok chok

A dewy chok chok complexion is the centerpiece of K-beauty. Translating from Korean as “damp” or “moist,” chok chok skin is happy skin.


A “sheen” is a soft, glowing luster, and that’s what gwang is. This general K-beauty term refers to a luminescent, naturally radiant face and has several subcategories that range from dewy to dewiest.

  • Sok-gwang. Literally “glowing from within,” sok-gwang is on the subtlest end of the gwang spectrum. The implication is that this natural effulgence is from healthy eating and drinking plenty of water.
  • Chok-gwang. Next is chok-gwang, which means just slightly moist.
  • Mul-gwang. Epidermis that’s described as mul-gwang or “water sheen” is very hydrated  and the type that is most commonly preferred by K-beauty enthusiasts.
  • Kkul-gwang. The moistest of the moist. While you might think you need a blot and powder, an almost greasy shine comparable to kkul or honey is favored by some.
  • Yun-gwang. Although it’s also known as 3D-gwang, you won’t need special glasses for it. You can achieve it with strategic highlighting on the bridge of your nose, cheekbones, and the cupid’s bow of your lips.


This term has a couple of different meanings. While it originally referred to a face of natural beauty with no need of makeup, it also means being devoid of makeup and therefore unpresentable.

taeng taeng

What sound does taut, bouncy, and youthful skin make? Taeng taeng apparently, or maybe zzon zzon.

tok tok

Tap, don’t rub! is the golden rule of K-beauty skincare. Having trouble? Be gentle and imagine your finger making a little tok tok sound.

Want even more K-beauty? Check out our interview with Peach & Lily founder Alicia Yoon and our whole K-beauty collection.
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