How K-pop group GFriend reinvented themselves through beauty

Allow Gfriend to reintroduce themselves — better yet, allow me to introduce you to the K-pop group for the first time.

Last year, their label, Source Music, was acquired by Big Hit Entertainment, home of BTS, and the sextet seized it as an opportunity to rewrite their playbook. With the July 13 release of their latest EP, 回:Song of the Sirens, the changes are on full display. Not only are the members a part of the album creation process — writing and composing songs, like “Tarot Cards” and “Eye of the Storm” — more than ever before, they’re also bringing a bolder aesthetic and glitzier beauty moments to the stage. You can catch a glimpse at this in the exclusive selfies the girls shared with Allure.

Since debuting in 2015, Yuju, the group’s main vocalist, tells Allure that GFriend’s fans used keywords like “powerful innocence” and “passionate sensibility” to describe their style. For context, the group’s first music video “Glass Bead” featured the girls fresh-faced, all with long, raven hair in matching white T-shirts and tennis skirts. They were the epitome of pure youthfulness.

As they’ve gotten older, the group has gradually moved away from pastels and school uniforms and started changing up their minimalist beauty look: sprinkling in a burgundy hair here, subtle smoky eyes there. Then, lead vocalist Eunha signaled Gfriend’s evolution toward edginess by colouring her signature lob watermelon pink in February 2020.

Now, Gfriend hits a crescendo with what they call a “vibrant witch” aesthetic featured in the music video for their new title track, “Apple.” (I like to think of it as goth Snow White.) With temptation as its theme, the ladies explore their darker sides with moody lipsticks, razor-sharp liner, and gilded glitter tears.

Sowon, the group’s leader, tells Allure she didn’t wear much makeup for the previous albums, but it’s currently the emphasis of her mystical look. Around the three minute and fifty-second mark of “Apple,” you can catch the 24-year-old with shimmering midnight blue shadow blended all over her eyes with a halo of champagne in the middle. Gems were also glued onto the centre of Sowon’s lids, and an oxblood stain was painted onto her lips before she secured a fake piercing onto her bottom lip. Right now, she’s also trying out dried flower nail art, too. “I usually like to have my nails [painted] nude and decorated with glittering stones,” though, Sowon says.

Eunha, 23, experimented with bright blue and purples on her lids and lips for the first time. She’s keeping her long nails a neutral hue, though, as she says they match well with everything.

Wanting to try something new, too, lead dancer Yerin, also 23, played around with mascara for a smudged finish. “It pretty without looking too extreme,” she adds. “I really like it.”

Some of the members dyed their hair vibrant hues while others tried out different hairstyles for the first time, Umji, the group’s youngest, points out. Yerin and Eunha went platinum blonde.

“I mixed a little bit of blue in my hair to fit the album’s mysterious concept,” Yuju adds. She also mirrored the new shade onto her lids with a powder blue shadow and onto her fingers with turquoise jelly nails.

The more exploratory beauty concept of 回:Song of the Sirens has also inspired Yuju to break away from her usual nude nails. “I’ve been obsessed with bright colours these days, and I’ve been putting on black and red often,” the 23-year-old says. “In the music video, I specifically paid a lot of attention to my nails and even had custom nail parts.”

The most striking hair transformation was main dancer SinB’s crimson dye job. “I’ve always wanted to dye my hair red since our previous album 回:LABYRINTH,” she says. “I think [the color] matches ‘Apple’ so well. I totally love it.”

SinB, 22, also popped in blue coloured contact lenses to contrast the colour of her hair and coordinated her eye shadow with her outfit, she adds. “I don’t have a specific makeup preference,” she says. “[But] I’m open to exploring many different styles with our makeup artist. I like trying out various colours of eye shadow based on my outfit.” As for her nails, she wants to match them to her hair or add some glitter and gems to them.

Getting Glowing

While watching their showcase on July 13, I couldn’t help but notice the complexions of the ladies of GFriend looking particularly radiant. Turns out, several of the members recently switched up their skin-care routines. Because she’s been wearing more makeup than usual, Sowon noticed her skin was getting more sensitive so she swapped in gentler products. Eunha and Yuju are also reaching for more mild face washes, like cleansing milk, instead of cleansing foams. “Cleansing is very important. I can’t emphasise this enough,” Yerin adds.

While preparing for the comeback, Yerin also says she paid a lot of attention to moisturising her skin. She even doubled up on her nighttime routine, slathering on extra layers of hydrating skin-care products right before she went to sleep. (This is a tip I’ve also heard from a Korean dermatologist.) Eunha, on the other hand, loads up her lips with a balm before bed to ensure peak smoothness.

Face masks are the key to SinB’s routine — no matter what. “I didn’t forget to put on face masks every night,” she says. Because of this, Sowon, Yerin, and Eunha say she has the most extensive nighttime regime of the group. She agreed, noting, “I use a different type of face mask each day.”

Yuju, however, credits Umji as GFriend’s most avid skin-care enthusiast, evoking a full sensorial experience in her explanation. “When I pass by her room, I sometimes hear the slapping sound of putting products on her face,” Yuju says.

At the moment, Umji is all about an ampoule serum she just discovered that fits her skin type. “I’ve used [it] every day after applying toner and before putting on the lotion,” the 21-year-old says. “Other than that, I used face masks, drank a lot of water, and [focused on] moisturising my skin.” She also mentions her recent interest in beauty devices for at-home care.

Learning lessons

Throughout their process of maturing from playful schoolgirls to sultry sirens, the women of GFriend have grown as a group and as individuals. I ask them what they’ve learned about themselves and the way they want to present themselves to the world. Their answers are humbling for people who saw their new music video rack up about seven million views in just one day. All of the members believe they still have more to discover about themselves.

Sowon mentions she has realised she’s not as strong as she thought and wants to become “sturdier.”

After five years, Yerin says she still doesn’t know herself well but hopes “to become a confident person at any time, and anywhere.”

SinB has similar thoughts. “I wonder when I would be able to realise my true self,” she says. “I want to look into and love myself because I believe that I can make people happier when I can love myself.”

Eunha would like to become a more responsible, thoughtful, and caring person in the future, while Yuju wants to be more of a minimalist. “Efforts don’t always pay back, but I realised that the process definitely enabled me to learn tips and know-how,” she explains. “That’s why I want to be a person who can effectively get rid of unnecessary things.”

Since debuting, Umji has learned to place value on different aspects of her career. “To be honest, I thought it was important for me to shine and stand out throughout the relentless competition in the early years,” she says. “Nowadays, I find happiness in small things and take good care of myself. I think I learned that I could naturally shine in my own way by doing so.”


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