This column is from: 30 Grad Magazine, Issue 2020/1

Fountain of Youth

In Seoul, I recently visited a cosmetics temple, an abstrusly large shop where elixirs and creams are piled up to the ceiling. I was not alone. Left, right, behind and in front of me - men. In no other country in the world do men spend as much money on skin care products as in South Korea. In order to look Mul-Gwang, like you just got out of the shower.

What about me? I've been getting along just fine without double cleanse and layering hydration. On the one hand because the beauty editor of an influential fashion magazine once told me behind closed doors that she wasn't using any of the numerous products; on the other hand because I often get compliments for my "oh so clean" skin anyway - should I ruin that?


Looking around is free of charge. Especially into the future. They say Korea is ten years ahead of us when it comes to beauty, and I?m not getting any young- er. Between snail secretion, donkey milk and bee venom, I discover an "Extreme Power Camo Cream", a skin-friendly camouflage colour, and a "Power Military Mask" with green tea extract.

A friend of mine explains to me that the origin of the beauty madness of Korean men lies in military service of all things. Sun, strain, trench - not good for delicate male skin. Especially not if you want to look as youthful as possible when you start your career: youth equals ability.

In Korea, make-up and skin care are seen as tools of a new self-confidence. "You are a brand" is the fitting claim of a Korean unisex cosmetics producer. This does not go unnoticed in Europe: Chanel, for example, recently launched a make-up line for men including foundation, lip-balm and eyebrow pencil. Back in Germany, I was given the exact same eyebrow pencil by a friend of mine. She had just discovered it by chance and found it quite strange, she says: "I'm not sure who is supposed to buy this but I thought: If anyone can use it, then it must be you."

Siebeck lives in Frankfurt and Munich and writes as a freelance journalist for F.A.Z., NZZ Folio and GQ amongst others. Most recently, he was travelling the world as travel editor for Architectural Digest and was actually very pleased with his eyebrows.


Illustration: Tim Blann