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Interview: How Ateez Uses Beauty to Define Themselves in K-Pop

The best way to describe Yunho is he’s like a Golden Retriever โ€” playful, loyal, alert, and universally likable. The only time his smile fell was when he was visibly miffed when Mingi tells Yunho that the hair color he has right now (black) looks best on him. “I want to go blonde,” Yunho counters.

When I ask the group what hair color they think would look best on the person to their left, Yunho is the first to take a creative approach. “The base would be white. The ends would be black. Do you know soccer ball?” he decides while looking at Wooyoung. When I acknowledge that I know what a soccer ball is, his grin grows with pride.

A similar look covers Yunho’s face when he shows me the way he arranged the purple heart-shaped gems I gave him on his cheek. Backstage, he requested heart eye makeup after seeing my star, so I made sure to bring some rhinestones for him. He quickly peeled them off the sheet and stuck them on as soon as I took them out of my bag. About a week later, he posted selfies of the look on Twitter.

Glowing Skin and Daily Sheet Masking

Because Ateez wears more makeup now than ever before, skin care has become a priority for them, Yunho says. However, Yeosang has always been diligent about his routine to avoid breakouts. Most of the time I’m around Yeosang, he keeps to himself and quietly observes, but he speaks up about skin care. He proudly runs through the steps of his nightly regimen: cleansing oil, cleaning foam, toner, lotion, eye cream, moisturizer, and a sheet mask. (“Too many,” someone interjects, but I’m too focused on Yeosang to notice exactly who.) Thanks to Yeosang, the rest of Ateez knows what masks to use, Hongjoong notes. Without him, their skin-care routines would be lacking. San even adds that he asks Yeosang for help.

Don’t ask Wooyoung for skin-care tips, though. He admits he’s genetically blessed with glowing skin. “I don’t get any pimples or anything like that,” he says. “Iโ€™m lucky. Thank you, Mom.”

Painted Nails and the Polished Man

Beauty not only helps the guys of Ateez shine a little brighter, but it also helps them send an important message. Backstage, Hoongjoong and I noticed we had a similar shade of cobalt blue color nail polish on. “I paint it myself,” he disclosed, referring to his lacquered left pinky nail. Atinys often praise him for breaking down gender norms, but that’s not his ultimate intention. Instead, advocacy drives the manicures Hongjoong gives himself (and occasionally Yunho).

Devon Abelman/Allure

Before Ateez debuted, Hongjoong noticed male idols, like Bang Yong-guk and iKon’s B.I and Bobby, painted only one of their nails to represent the fact that one child dies every five minutes as a result of violence in support of the Polished Man campaign. Taking this message to heart, Hongjoong vowed to start painting his nails as soon as he had the right platform. Once he became the leader of a K-pop group, Hongjoong didn’t think twice about officially participating in the campaign. Now, he changes the color of his nail every couple of weeks to renew interest.

“If I’m on stage or appearing on a broadcast, I can easily do this,” Hongjoong explains. “One of Ateez’s goals is to have a good effect on people, whether it’s behind the scenes or when we’re on stage, and I knew could easily try this and do this for children.” And it’s working: Atinys have created fundraising goals on Polished Man’s website, raising hundreds of dollars to support trauma recovery and prevention services.


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