(update: for the 2021 Hwahae Beauty Awards click here)
The digital era has paved the way for misinformation to reach consumers globally, and this is especially prevalent within the beauty industry. Today, consumers are wary of this, and so rely heavily on user-generated content such as reviews, and information that has come from reputable third parties.
HwaHae found its way onto the market in 2013 with a simple mission – to give Korean Beauty consumers access to accurate, detailed information about cosmetic products to help them make informed choices. The app is designed to help provide a transparent service that overcomes some of the negative side effects of the digital age.
What is HwaHae?
The name HwaHae (‘화해’), comes from an abbreviated form of the Korean phrase ‘화장품을 해석하다’ (‘To analyse cosmetics’). Following a boom in the cosmetics industry, CEO Lee Woong and two of his high school friends, developed an app that is designed to provide detailed information on a range of cosmetic products and provides a platform for users to leave reviews on the cosmetic products they have used.
At the heart of everything HwaHae stands for is fairness and credibility. HwaHae doesn’t provide information based on face value or how the cosmetics are marketed, instead, they focus on providing objective information based on what the products are made from.
What service does HwaHae provide?
HwaHae was developed to offer a comprehensive source of information on Korean Beauty products. The app uses information from the Association of Korean Dermatologists (AKD) to categorise beauty products by ingredients and their suitability for different skin types.
HwaHae not only provides information on the entire product, but also specifies ingredients that should be avoided by skin type such as those that might contain allergens or make dryness worse. Alongside this information, HwaHae displays the hazard level for each ingredient, using the standardised system from the EWG (Environmental Working Group, a US non-profit who work to promote consumer choice).
The platform is constantly updated to keep up with the ever-changing market, and this has led to them launching a user review system, a ranking system and more recently, an e-commerce service. Today, users can search on the platform to find cosmetics that are suitable for their skin type and don’t contain any potential irritants, read up on reviews from other customers, and purchase the products directly within the app.
One of the most valuable parts of the service for users is the customer reviews. Today, buying decisions are heavily influenced by reviews that have been left, and so keeping reviews clean and genuine is crucial. HwaHae uses its own algorithms to filter out any reviews that are commercially motivated or otherwise against their terms of service to keep the system transparent and credible.
Why is HwaHae relevant?
Since it found its way into app stores in 2013, HwaHae has gone from strength to strength to become the top beauty app in Korea. It isn’t just consumers that pay attention to the app though, beauty companies themselves do too.
Now that products can be purchased directly within the app, it’s no surprise that companies place a great deal of value on the HwaHae platform. Beauty companies have taken the reviews that have been left on the platform and used this to make better-informed decisions about what their customers actually want and to make changes to their formulas. The benefit of this is that companies will rate better on the platform.
The HwaHae Beauty Awards 2020
Every year HwaHae hosts the HwaHae Beauty Awards to celebrate the most outstanding Korean Beauty products of the year. The awards take place twice a year: in June (see my coverage on the 2020 mid-year awards) and November, and they’re based solely on reviews and ratings left by users of the platform.
For the 2020 edition of the awards, HwaHae analysed 10.2 million reviews left by users from November 2019 to October 31st 2020. Both users and beauty companies place great value on the outcome of the HwaHae Beauty Awards, as they offer an accurate and authentic reflection of the opinions of Korean beauty consumers.
2021 Korean Beauty Trends
After examining the winning products of 2020, HwaHae recognised 4 beauty trends that are expected to shape the Korean Beauty Industry next year.
Following the Covid-19 pandemic, the use of face masks became crucial to prevent further spread of the virus. Unfortunately, wearing a face mask on a regular basis can often can cause (or worsen) irritation, acne and sensitivity. HwaHae observed that his phenomenon lead to an increasing demand for soothing, hypoallergenic products used to tackle the effects of prolonged mask-wearing.
The 2020 HwaHae Beauty Awards results show that there has been a continued trend towards natural products that are good for the skin and the environment. Consumers are actively seeking out natural cosmetics that are produced in an eco-friendly way and made from organic and naturally-derived ingredients. Recycled packaging and sustainable manufacturing processes are also top things 2020 beauty lovers look for when choosing products.
Natural base, bold eyes
2020 saw a move towards more simplified make-up routines featuring fewer steps and a more natural look than the year before. Two key products were moisturising lip products to combat dry lips and natural low coverage base make-up to create that natural, dewy glow. On the flipside, for some beauty lovers, it was all about eye make-up this year and making the uncovered parts of your face shine. With lips hidden behind masks, many people sought out statement eye make-up looks. Eye make-up palettes took centre stage for this key trend.
This year, over 30% of the HwaHae reviews were written by men. Genderless beauty products were also being favourited over formulas specifically aimed at men or women.
2020 HwaHae Beauty Awards Winner List
Below the final winner list for 2020. Given the length of the list, I suggest using the menu below for easier navigation.
BEST ESSENCE / AMPOULE / SERUM:
BEST FACE OIL:
BEST EYE CARE:
First Place: 🇩🇪 Martina Gebhardt – Eye Care Cream (SHOP)
Second Place: 🇰🇷 AHC – The Pure Real Eye Cream For Face (SHOP)
Third Place: 🇰🇷 Be Plain – Artemisia Eye Butter (SHOP)
BEST CLEANSING GEL:
BEST CLEANSING OIL:
BEST CLEANSING LOTION/CREAM:
First Place: 🇰🇷 Sidmool – Dr. Troub Skin Returning Cleansing Milk (SHOP)
Second Place: 🇰🇷 Banila Co – Clean it Zero Cleansing Balm Original (SHOP)
Third Place: 🇰🇷 Make p:rem – Safe Me. Relief Moisture Cleansing Milk (SHOP)
BEST CLEANSING SOAP:
First Place: 🇰🇷 Skin1004- Cocoon Soap (SHOP)
Second Place: 🇺🇸 Dove – White Beauty Bar (SHOP)
Third Place: 🇰🇷 Soonnoc – Aqua Cleansing Bar (SHOP)
BEST CLEANSING PADS:
BEST EYE MAKE-UP REMOVER:
First Place: 🇰🇷 Pond’s – Clear Face Spa Lip&Eye Make-up Remover (SHOP)
Second Place: 🇰🇷 Illiyoon – Fresh Moisture Lip & Eye Remover (SHOP)
Third Place: 🇰🇷 Aritaum – White Smile Fermented Lip & Eye Remover (SHOP)
BEST SHEET MASK:
First Place: 🇰🇷 All Natural – Houttuynia Cordata Mask Sheet (SHOP)
Second Place: 🇰🇷 Torriden – Dive-In Low Molecule Hyaluronic Acid with D-Panthenol Mask (SHOP)
Third Place: 🇰🇷 Mediheal – Teatree Care Solution Essential Mask (SHOP)
BEST TARGETED MASK:
First Place: 🇰🇷 Dermatory – Hypoallergenic Cica Rescue Gauze (SHOP)
Second Place: 🇰🇷 COSRX – One Step Green Hero Calming Pad (SHOP)
Third Place: 🇰🇷 THE LAB by blanc doux – Oligo Hyaluronic Acid 7 Multi-Formula Pad (SHOP)
BEST WASH-OFF MASK:
BEST PEEL-OFF MASK:
BEST SLEEPING MASK:
BEST ACNE PATCHES:
BEST NOSE BLACKHEAD TREATMENT:
First Place: 🇰🇷 CNP Laboratory – Anti-pore Black head Clear Kit (SHOP)
Second Place: 🇰🇷 One-day’s You – P.Z. Ssoc Ssoc No More Blackhead (SHOP)
Third Place: 🇰🇷 Mefactory – 3 Step Piggy Nose Strip (SHOP)
BEST SUN CREAM / LOTION:
First Place: 🇰🇷 Round Lab – Birch Juice Moisturizing Sun Cream SPF50+/PA++++ (SHOP)
Second Place: 🇰🇷 Hyggee – Relief Sun Moisturizer SPF50+/PA++++ (SHOP)
Third Place: 🇰🇷 Dr.G – Green Mild Up Sun SPF50+/PA++++ (SHOP)
BEST SUN STICK:
First Place: 🇰🇷 Scinic – Enjoy Super Active Airy Sun Stick SPF50+/PA++++ (SHOP)
Second Place: 🇰🇷 AHC – Natural Perfection Fresh Sun Stick SPF50+/PA++++ (SHOP)
Third Place: 🇰🇷 Nature Republic – California Aloe Fresh Powdery Sun Stick SPF50+/PA++++ (SHOP)
BEST SUNSCREEN CUSHION:
First Place: 🇰🇷 Shingmulnara – Oxygen Water Tone Up Sun Cushion SPF50+/PA+++ (SHOP)
Second Place: 🇰🇷 Scinic – Enjoy All Round Airy Sun Cushion SPF50+/PA++++ (SHOP)
Third Place: 🇰🇷 LabNo – 4SP Safe Aqua Sun Cushion SPF48/PA+++ (SHOP)
BEST MAKE-UP BASE:
First Place: 🇰🇷 The Face Shop – Air Cotton Makeup Base SPF30/PA++ [#02 Lavender] (SHOP)
Second Place: 🇫🇷 Chanel – Le Blanc La Base SPF40/PA+++ [#Rosee] (SHOP)
Third Place: 🇰🇷 VDL – Color Correcting Primer [#Serenity] (SHOP)
BEST MAKE-UP PRIMER:
BEST BB/CC CREAM:
First Place: 🇺🇸 Estée Lauder – Double Wear Stay-in-Place Makeup SPF10/PA++ (SHOP)
Second Place: 🇰🇷 fmgt – Ink Lasting Foundation Slim Fit EX (SHOP)
Third Place: 🇰🇷 Banila Co – Covericious Power Fit Foundation SPF45/PA++ (SHOP)
BEST CUSHION FOUNDATION:
BEST POWDER COMPACT:
First Place: 🇰🇷 Innisfree – No Sebum Mineral Pact (SHOP)
Second Place: 🇰🇷 Too Cool For School – Artclass by Rodin Finish Setting Pact (SHOP)
Third Place: 🇺🇸 Makeup Forever – Ultra HD Loose Powder (SHOP)
First Place: 🇰🇷 Clio – Prism Air Highlighter & Blusher [#01 Gold Sheet] (SHOP)
Second Place: 🇰🇷 Black Rouge – Up and Down Triple Contouring (SHOP)
Third Place: 🇰🇷 Too Cool For School – Artclass By Rodin Artist Book (SHOP)
BEST MAKE-UP FIXER:
First Place: 🇰🇷 So Natural – So Natural All Day Tight Make Up Setting Fixer (SHOP)
Second Place: 🇺🇸 Urban Decay – All Nighter Makeup Setting Spray Long Lasting (SHOP)
Third Place: 🇰🇷 Too Cool For School – Perfect Day Makeup Fixer (SHOP)
BEST CONTOURING PRODUCT:
BEST TONE-UP CREAM:
First Place: 🇰🇷 3CE – Mood Recipe Multi Eye Color Palette [#OVERTAKE] (SHOP)
Second Place: 🇺🇸 Stila – Magnificent Metals Glitter & Glow Liquid Eye Shadow [Kitten Karma] (SHOP)
Third Place: 🇰🇷 Romand – Better Than Eyes [#02 Dry BuckWheat flower] (SHOP)
First Place: 🇰🇷 Clio – Sharp So Simple Waterproof Pencil Liner (#002 Brown) (SHOP)
Second Place: 🇰🇷 Merzy – The First Pen Eye Liner [#P2 Brown] (SHOP)
Third Place: 🇰🇷 Bbia – Last Pen Eyeliner [#02 Sharpen Brown] (SHOP)
BEST EYEBROW PRODUCT:
First Place: 🇰🇷 Innisfree – Auto Eyebrow Pencil [#5 Espresso Brown] (SHOP)
Second Place: 🇰🇷 Clio – Kill Brow Auto Hard Eyebrow Pencil [#001 Natural Brown] (SHOP)
Third Place: 🇰🇷 Skinfood – Choco Eyebrow Powder Cake (SHOP)
First Place: 🇰🇷 Clio – Kill Lash Superproof Mascara [#01 Long Curling] (SHOP)
Second Place: 🇰🇷 Peripera – Ink Black Cara AD [Long Lash Curling] (SHOP)
Third Place: 🇰🇷 Aritaum – Idol Real Lash Fixer (SHOP)
BEST LASH TREATMENT:
First Place: 🇺🇸 MAC – Retro Matte Lipstick [#Ruby Woo] (SHOP)
Second Place: 🇰🇷 Mamonde – Creamy Tint Color Balm Intense [11 Velvet Red] (SHOP)
Third Place: 🇰🇷 Romand – Zero Gram Matte Lipstick [#2 All That Jazz] (SHOP)
BEST LIP TINT:
BEST LIP GLOSS:
First Place: 🇰🇷 Romand – Glasting Water Gloss [#000 Meteor Track] (SHOP)
Second Place: 🇰🇷 Hera – Sensual Spicy Nude Lip Gloss [#422 Lingerie] (SHOP)
Third Place: 🇰🇷 Holika Holika – Devil’s Plumper [#02 Hellfire Glow Topper] (SHOP)
BEST LIP CARE:
BEST BODY WASH:
BEST BODY LOTION:
BEST BODY CREAM:
BEST BODY OIL:
BEST BODY SCRUB:
First Place: 🇺🇸 Tree Hut – Moroccan Rose Shea Sugar Scrub (SHOP)
Second Place: 🇰🇷 CELLBN – Italy Body Scrub (SHOP)
Third Place: 🇺🇸 Freeman Beauty – Feeling Beautiful Exfoliating Pomegranate Sugar Body Scrub (SHOP)
BEST BODY MIST:
BEST HAND CARE:
BEST FOOT CARE:
First Place: 🇰🇷 ON:THE BODY – Cotton Foot Shampoo [#Fresh Lemon Mint] (SHOP)
Second Place: 🇰🇷 Sidmool – Shea Butter Hand & Nail & Foot Hand Butter (SHOP)
Third Place: 🇰🇷 The Face Shop – Rich Hand V Hand and Foot Total Treatment (SHOP)
BEST FEMININE WASH:
BEST NAIL CARE:
BEST BODY (OTHER):
First Place: 🇰🇷 California Aesthetic – Jojoba & Tea Tree Shampoo (SHOP)
Second Place: 🇰🇷 Manyo Factory – Herbgreen Shampoo (SHOP)
Third Place: 🇰🇷 Aromatica – Rosemary Scalp Scaling Shampoo (SHOP)
BEST HAIR CONDITIONER / TREATMENT / MASK:
First Place: 🇰🇷 Moremo – Hair Treatment Miracle 2X (SHOP)
Second Place: 🇰🇷 LOFN – Baobab Ceramide LPP Premium Hair Treatment (SHOP)
Third Place: 🇰🇷 Dr.Orga – Californian Nature Argan & Sunflower Treatment Hair Pack (SHOP)
BEST HAIR ESSENCE:
BEST HAIR MIST:
BEST HAIR STYLING PRODUCT:
BEST HAIR COLOUR:
First Place: 🇰🇷 Mamonde – Pang Pang Hair Shadow [#1 Babyface Hairline] (SHOP)
Second Place: 🇰🇷 The Face Shop – Quick Hair Puff [#02 Dark Brown] (SHOP)
Third Place: 🇰🇷 Innisfree – Real Hair Make Up Jelly Concealer [#02 Espresso Brown] (SHOP)
BEST FRAGRANCE FOR WOMAN:
BEST FRAGRANCE FOR MAN:
First Place: 🇮🇹 Ferrari – Scuderia Ferrari Light Essence Eau de Toilette (SHOP)
Second Place: 🇬🇧 Jo Malone – Blackberry & Bay Cologne (SHOP)
Third Place: 🇰🇷 Forment – Signature Perfume [#Cotton Hug] (SHOP)
Source: HwaHae App, HwaHae blog
Translation: © 2020 Odile Monod
Disclaimer: The list above contains a combination of affiliate and non-affiliate links. For more information on my affiliate policy please refer to my About page.