“Nuanced, wide-ranging, and fluidly written, this peels back the layers of a powerful cultural trend.”

— Publisher’s Weekly

coming 5.23.23

About the Book

FLAWLESS braids international reporting, cultural commentary and memoir to explore the global rise of K-beauty culture, the power of appearance standards worldwide, and the simultaneous pleasure and pain of having to upgrade ourselves and keep up with beauty norms. I used Korea’s comparatively intense appearance expectations and practices as a jumping off point to explore the way technological advancement is likely to only increase the pressure on all of us to look “better,” if we have the money to do it.

It comes out May 23, 2023 in the US, UK, and markets around the world.

Advance Praise for FLAWLESS

“The host of “TED Talks Daily” shines a bright light into the shadowy world of manufactured beauty and endless ‘self-improvement’…Hu’s study of Korea’s beauty cult is fascinating and disturbing, woven with threads of dark humor and personal experience.”

Kirkus (starred review)

“Nuanced, wide-ranging, and fluidly written, this peels back the layers of a powerful cultural trend.”

PUBLISHERS WEEKLY (Read full review)

What Authors Are Saying

“A must-read, FLAWLESS is much more than a book about culture’s obsession with youth and beauty. It provides an urgent metaphorical societal mirror and context for why we spend so much of our time in the quixotic pursuit of perfection. Flawless helps us ask hard questions and reclaim our agency in a world that wants to deny us our power. Hu’s journalism shines a light on what is broken and provides optimism for what can be instead.”

Eve Rodsky, NYT bestselling author, FAIR PLAY and FIND YOUR UNICORN SPACE

“Superbly researched and deeply insightful, FLAWLESS is a timely, provocative, and fascinating must-read. Elise Hu masterfully blends an engrossing memoir about her experience as a foreigner, woman, and mother of girls in Seoul with a journalistic exploration of the disturbing forces behind K-beauty’s global rise and the increasingly algorithm-driven perceptions and unforgiving standards of “beauty.” I loved it.”

Angie Kim, author of international bestseller MIRACLE CREEK

“Like a trip to the beauty counter with your most discerning friend, Flawless deftly redirects us from the individual choices we are bombarded with (so many serums, so little time!) and focuses us instead on the transnational systems that sell consumption as the key to wholeness. Well-researched and funny, it is Hu’s own vulnerability and keen observations on the endless project of female self-improvement that make each page sparkle.”

Alicia Menendez, MSNBC Anchor & Author, THE LIKEABILITY TRAP

“If you think that only women are trapped by a society that demands physical perfection, think again. Korean men now consume roughly 13% of the world’s skincare products–even camouflage lip-balm for men doing their mandatory military service. A fascinating look at the ugliness of Korea’s cosmetic underworld, sometimes shocking and often darkly funny as Elise riffs on the more ridiculous aspects of the pursuit of “ideal” beauty. Let me tell you dudes, the book gets under your skin–in all the right ways.”

Jake Adelstein, author of TOKYO VICE and executive producer of Tokyo Vice on HBOMax

“In FLAWLESS, Elise Hu explores not just why South Koreans are so obsessed with skincare, but also how the beauty standards of Korean culture have created a seemingly endless feedback loop of beauty “problems” to be solved by an ever-increasing number of products. A fascinating, meticulously reported deep dive into Korean beauty culture.”


“If you’re looking for a deeply engaging book about the past, present and future of Korean beauty’s global impact on culture, and the relationship between beauty culture and tech, this book is for you! I appreciate how Hu covers everything from political economic history to theories around media and beauty in a really accessible read.”

Xiaowei Wang, author of BLOCKCHAIN CHICKEN FARM