By Julia Szabo
There are low-maintenance types whose daily skincare regimen consists of a few rushed minutes before the mirror—unthinkable to connoisseurs of K-beauty, who invest hours each week in the ritualistic application of age-defying Korean cosmetics: sheet masks, essences, serums, fermented products, high-SPF sunscreen (by day) and “sleeping mask” (at night). This community is hard-core, yet it had no unified online portal—until May 2017, when the e-commerce site Beautytap made its debut.
Enabling the K-beauty-obsessed is the goal of CEO James Sun, the first Asian male entrepreneur to land a spot on TV’s The Apprentice and a ringer for the K-drama heartthrobs populating DramaBeans (his other online venture), Sun isn’t just the founder; he’s also a customer. “Currently, I’m using COSRX toner, SanDaWha daytime moisturizer, Eclado sunscreen, and Sulwhasoo night cream,” says Sun. Such dermal due diligence pays off: Sun cites his mom, a lifelong K-beauty devotee, who “is 70 but looks 50.” Since its launch, the U.S.-based Beautytap has attracted some 150,000 dedicated users globally, with the top five markets being the U.S., Australia, France, the U.K., and Canada. “I was a bit surprised about France,” Sun admits, “because the French have historically come up with the very best beauty products.”
For K-beauty fans, this site is a 24/7 amusement park. A timer counts down the hours, minutes and seconds remaining on each day’s Dailytap: a limited-edition steal of a deal. These sell out like hotteok (Korean pancakes). But the real draw is the site’s insider intelligence: “We have a team of 15 experts at our office in Seoul. They research, discover, curate and verify all the new products at the ground floor. Many people don’t realize how many counterfeits there are on sites like Amazon, Alibaba and eBay,” Sun cautions. “With Beautytap, consumers can trust that we have real people sourcing real products from our partners.”
Although males are in the minority—95 percent of Beautytap’s users are female—the five percent is equally devoted. Take, for instance, the CEO himself, whose enviable complexion proves it’s never too early to adopt a K-beauty routine. “During junior high and high school,” Sun recalls, “I used to wipe the inner side of orange peels on my face, thinking the vitamin C would balance my skin to prevent acne from the oil.” Turns out he wasn’t far off. “While filming The Apprentice for nine weeks, I ran out of my K-beauty regimen and only slept three hours per day,” he admits. “I ended up getting temporary wrinkles and age spots.” The damage control? “Vitamin C serums and thick eye cream did the trick!” beautytap.com