SEOUL, May 11 (UPI) -- South Korea's cosmetics industry is booming and expanding its appeal to an unlikely demographic: young men in their twenties.
While male beauty product sales represent a sliver of total revenue for most South Korean cosmetics companies, The Washington Post reported young men are taking to complex skin regimens to improve their image.
Lee Woo-jung, a 27-year-old gym owner, said he uses a toner, essence, moisturizer and "BB Cream" to cover wrinkles and blemishes.
Lee's routine is relatively basic in a country where young men are buying an array of expanding product lines that are cheap and quickly gaining in popularity.
The building demand for male cosmetics is the result of South Korea's competitive, image-obsessed environment.
Eric Min, a deputy editor-in-chief at a South Korean men's magazine, said the dedication to skin care reflects contemporary South Korean values.
"In South Korea, being young and active are considered very attractive qualities. Youth equals ability," he said.
Cosmetics companies also have tackled their target groups with savvy marketing, luring new customers at events like baseball games, where men are in attendance – typically in large numbers.
In a country where military service is mandatory for all men, one company, Innisfree, has created a line of brown, green and black face paint for serving soldiers that include tealeaf extract. The product was advertised as gentler on the skin than the standard offerings.
South Korea's cosmetics industry earns about $10 billion in sales annually and its products are widely sought after in China and Southeast Asia.
On the first weekend of May, Chinese tourists flocked to a shopping district in Seoul to purchase cosmetics.
South Korean newspaper Hankyoreh reported the Chinese typically spend hundreds of dollars at cosmetics stores, and have turned the shopping district of Myeongdong into a cosmetics-focused tourism culture.