The secret’s out! Korean cosmetics are fast becoming the rest of the world’s go-to brands for skin care.

IN MOST OF THE WESTERN WORLD, THE CRAZE FOR KOREAN COSMETICS HAS JUST BEGUN, THANKS TO THE POPULARITY OF PERFECTING BB CREAMS, BUT THE secrets of Korean beauty have been available in Hawai’i for more than 25 years.

Amore Hawaii, a boutique within Palama Market, opened on King Street in 1987, and is now enjoying the attention received from Amore Pacific brands including Iope, Laneige and Sulwhasoo.

CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: SULWHASOO Concentrated Ginseng Cream $220 from NEIMAN MARCUS; SULWHASOO Concentrated Ginseng Oil $200 from NEIMAN MARCUS; TOUCH IN SOL "Feel Like Honey Moon" skin base $16 from WWW.TOUCHINSOLUS. COM; TOUCH IN SOL "I'm Very Useful Makeup Boomer" highlighter $16 from WWW. TOUCHINSOLUS.COM; AMORE PACIFIC Future Response Age Defense Crème $195 from SEPHORA; AMORE PACIFIC Time Response Skin Renewal Creme $450 from NEIMAN MARCUS; IOPE Super Vital Extra Moist Softener $60 from AMORE HAWAII at Palama Market Makaloa; and CHIA SEED Moisture-holding Cream $31 from THE FACE SHOP.

CLOCKWISE FROM LEFT: SULWHASOO Concentrated Ginseng Cream $220 from NEIMAN MARCUS; SULWHASOO Concentrated Ginseng Oil $200 from NEIMAN MARCUS; TOUCH IN SOL "Feel Like Honey Moon" skin base $16 from WWW.TOUCHINSOLUS. COM; TOUCH IN SOL "I'm Very Useful Makeup Boomer" highlighter $16 from WWW. TOUCHINSOLUS.COM; AMORE PACIFIC Future Response Age Defense Crème $195 from SEPHORA; AMORE PACIFIC Time Response Skin Renewal Creme $450 from NEIMAN MARCUS; IOPE Super Vital Extra Moist Softener $60 from AMORE HAWAII at Palama Market Makaloa; and CHIA SEED Moisture-holding Cream $31 from THE FACE SHOP.

At The Face Shop, owner Thomas Kim says that he’s been watching Western brands jump on the bandwagon over the past year.

“The Face Shop came up with collagen products years ago,” Kim says. “Now Revlon has introduced collagen mascara. It’s fun to see how everything is evolving, and I can see it becoming more competitive in the next few years, but that’s good for customers because it leads to more innovation.”

Innovation has been key to the growing popularity of Korean beauty products. Korean giants such as Amore Pacific and The Face Shop have been aggressive in delivering the benefits of Asian medicinal ingredients, as well as seeking out new ingredients.

Sulwhasoo is known for incorporating ginseng extract with antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties that help to combat excess sebum and help tone skin.

Last year, The Face Shop recently introduced a chia seed line that uses the seeds’ omega-3 fatty acids and moisture content to hydrate skin. This year, the company is introducing a cream derived from Baeknyeoncho, a Jeju Island cactus that is said to live for 100 years.

Another Korea-based company, Touch in Sol, has developed products for younger users, including highlighting BB creams, illuminating “I’m Very Useful Make-up Boomer,” and hydrating “Feel Like Honey Moon” skin base. These are available in the United States through www.touchinsolus.com.

Kim says the race for beauty is not merely a point of vanity in Korea, where careers are dependent on how good one looks.

“Photos are attached to job applications,” Kim says. “That would be illegal or discriminatory here, but there, they screen people that way. The way you look is important in determining what kind of job you can land.”

He says he sees some of that mentality here, but it’s also getting people to consider the health of their skin. “Before, people would cover up the issues they have. Now, the know they need to work on their foundation, so are taking care of their skin.”