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Taeyong of NCT Reveals the Importance of Hair and Makeup in the K-Pop World

He also told Allure all about his skin-care routine.

4/17/2021 6:44:00 AM

He also told us all about his skin-care routine. NCT smtown_127 NCT smtown

He also told Allure all about his skin-care routine.

When a singer changes up their look after a while and releases new music, the moment is often called a comeback. Mononymous divas Madonna, Rihanna, and Cher are iconic testaments to this periodic phenomenon. For Taeyong, a member of the Korean pop group NCT, dyeing his hair a new color or mixing up the way he does his makeup is basically a monthly occurrence. He’s a chameleon, taking on a new look every time NCT or one of its subunits drops a new music video. This year alone, he’s transformed into

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at leastfive different people.The word “comeback” has a special meaning in the K-pop world. Whenever a group releases an album or single, the first performance is referred to as a comeback. With it, the group takes on a different “concept,” or themed look, like the ‘90s, schoolgirl or boy, or even a

tropical vacation.For boy groups like NCT, a couple of the members will dye their hair a bright color or adjust their smoky-eye look to reflect their latest concept. These hair and makeup tweaks tend to be subtle. However, they’realwaysdrastic for Taeyong. In the last six months alone, his hair has gone from blue to blonde to green to chocolate brown to red to several other shades of brown. His makeup changes with his dye jobs, too, becoming darker, subtler, or sparklier with each one. He's like the Method actor version of a K-pop star, fully embodying each song with his look and attitude.

When I’m on stage and the makeup and the whole look suits me, it boosts my confidence. It reflects what I do onstage and how I perform.“For each comeback, [our stylists] change up my looks a lot,” Taeyong tellsAllure“Black on Black,”in Seoul, we chat over the phone at 1:30 a.m. ET. Noting that K-pop has so many visual elements like choreography and music videos to represent the music, Taeyong says NCT’s concepts, including hair and makeup, are another important element to reflect the music in a visual way. In fact, his hair and makeup become so ingrained in each song that when he performs them a couple months later with a whole new look, the song has a completely different vibe to it.

The NCT factorDepending on the group, comebacks typically happen every three to six months. NCT, which stands for Neo-Culture Technology, is an anomaly, though. At the moment, it’s comprised of 18 members from Korea, Japan, Canada, Thailand, China, and the U.S., making it today’s largest K-pop group.

Although nine to 18 members of the group are typically onstage, Taeyong consistently stands out. You can thank NCT style director Ellena Yim for that. She has his look, as well as every member of the group's, down to a science. To put his style simply, she calls it "kaleidoscopic," and I couldn't agree more.

He can pull off bold hair colors and hairstyles, strong makeup, and flashy piercings or chokers all at once without making it feel like it’s ‘too much.’“It’s usually important to find the right balance when putting hair, makeup, and fashion all together. If the hair is flashy, then makeup or accessories are usually kept minimal so that the overall look isn’t over-the-top,” she tells

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Allure.“But with Taeyong, we are able to try various styles that might be too bold or daring for others. For instance, he can pull off bold hair colors and hairstyles, strong makeup, and flashy piercings or chokers all at once without making it feel like it’s ‘too much,’” And damn, does he wear a diamond-studded choker well, might I add.

NCT’s extensive lineup isn’t the only aspect that sets it apart from other groups. Bear with me because things get a bit complex from here. To make it as simple as possible, I’ll use NCT’s newest album,Empathy, for context. It’s comprised of songs by not only NCT but also its subunits: NCT U, NCT 127, and NCT Dream. (Subunits are mini groups within a group that release songs and work on separate projects together.)

Taeyong is obviously featured on NCT’s songs with the 17 other members. But you can also hear him rapping on songs by NCT U, a subunit that changes its members based on the vibe of the song. He's also the leader of NCT 127, a nine-man subunit based in Seoul. To promote

Empathy, a new music video came out for almost every song on the album, and each had its own comeback. As expected, Taeyong tried out a new look with every single one. Other members who participated in more than one song, on the other hand, only made slight changes to their hair and makeup.

Overall, NCT focuses on constantly evolving and experimenting with different musical styles with each comeback, and Taeyong’s ever-changing hair and makeup prove just that. He wouldn’t have it any other way, either. “When I’m on stage and the makeup and the whole look suits me, it boosts my confidence,” he says. “It reflects what I do onstage and how I perform.”

So which exact looks has Taeyong experimented with? Let’s break down his standout ones.The Intergalactic Ice BoySM EntertainmentAfter training with the entertainment company SM Entertainment for four years for his spot in NCT, Taeyong, born Lee Tae Yong 22 years ago in Seoul, officially debuted as part of NCT U in April 2016. From the second his face appears in

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“The 7th Sense,”a song he helped write, he set the tone for the next two years of his career: He’s a powerful force to be reckoned with. His stunningly cold, otherworldly look reflected his gruff style of rapping and the sharp movements he added to the group’s choreography. His icy white hair could give you frostbite just by looking at it, and his bold black brows provided a stark contrast. His skin glistened with a nearly holographic glow that made viewers wonder if he was even real.

Read more: Allure »

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