"Have you tried Hince yet?" I've gotten some form of this question from my friends in not only America but also South Korea since the Korean beauty brand launched in January 2019. Hince's lipsticks in MLBB hues, housed in ultra-sleek packaging, shimmery pigments, and jelly-like nail polishes have quickly become sophisticated staples in the makeup bags of thousands of Koreans in less than two years.
Although skin-care trends in Seoul, the epicenter of K-beauty, rapidly change, makeup ones are relatively stagnant. They tend to revolve around one specific look: bold, straight brows; popsicle-stained lips; barely-there, glowing foundation; and twinkling eye shadow. Thanks to beloved makeup artist Jung Saem Mool, the overall aesthetic is often referred to transparent makeup.
Although the beauty market in Korea is highly competitive with new brands and products constantly popping up, Hince co-founder Kim Hyun Joo noticed "most beauty brands presented the same aesthetic, products, and colors," she tells Allure.
With its evolving lineup, Hince is expanding the standard of Korean makeup trends while making them more accessible for all skin tones. It's shifting the usual color palette, making duochromes, earthy blues, and soft purples into sought-after neutrals. It also plays off of K-beauty's innovative textures to create a more playful, adaptive makeup experience. The emphasis remains on subtly accentuating one's features, though.
All of this was exactly Kim's intention when launching the brand with her two other cofounders.
Growing up, Kim admits she didn't have a lot of self-confidence. As she explored her identity and how she wanted to present herself, she bought a myriad of beauty products hoping just one would complement her, but nothing felt right. She could never find a beauty brand that fit her vibe — one that values individuality, diversity, and a message beyond superficial beauty.
Because she enjoyed coming up with new ideas and concepts as she wrote her own narrative, Kim decided to major in film. After graduating, however, she ended up working at one of Korea's biggest cosmetic companies, LG Household & Health Care. (It's the parent company for popular K-beauty brands like Belif, VDL, and The Face Shop. While honing in her product development and brand marketing skills there, she decided she wanted to create a beauty brand that reflected her own vision.