One of the things I was most excited about before coming to Korea, was getting to finally try out the Korean make up and skin care products I had heard so much about. People who aren’t into make up problably won’t know or care, but Korea is usually a step or two ahead of the rest of the world when it comes to innovative beauty products. Things like BB creams, Cushion foundations or lip tints, which seem to get their moment now in Europe, have been on the market in Korea for years. And usually they are much better quality than their Western counterparts, plus they are often a lot cheaper.
Having been in Korea for more than a month now, I will use this post to give a quick overview of what I have purchased so far and what I think of some of the drugstore brands I have come across. I will mainly show products that I have been using daily, or have found to be very useful. I won’t be able to show every single thing I got in this post, so I will try to write a sequel post as soon as possible.
One of the brands I was most excited to try out, was Pony’s make up brand. Pony is a Korean Make up artist, model and has developped her own make up line ‘Pony Effect’ in collaboration with the brand ‘Memebox’. I have watched her make up tutorials for years, they come with English subtitles and they are some of the best tutorials out there.
My first purchases from Pony’s line are an eyeshadow palette and a face palette, including two highlighting colors, a blush and a shading color. The eyeshadow quad is very pink and sparkly, with a gorgeous dark lilac color to create depth on the outer corners of the eyelid.
Both of the palettes don’t have the strongest color pay off, which might disappoint somebody who is used to using products by brands like ‘Urban Decay’ or ‘Nars’. However, it seems to be part of the understated look most Korean girls are going for. In fact, the heavy contouring that has been a trend in the US and Europe for the past year, isn’t as popular here. The ‘shading color’ in the palette is very subtle and natural looking, as is the blush color.
The eyeshadow quad is mostly sparkly and doesn’t have the best staying power, it creases quite heavily after a few hours. However, I do like the colors and have to commend the packaging of the products. It feels nice and sturdy and I would not be worried about taking them on vacation with me. The face palette cost me about 35 Euros, whereas I got the eyeshadow quad on sale for about 12 Euros.
I wasn’t entirely satisfied with the Pony Eyeshadows, so I went to ‘Etude House’ and got a few individual shadows in colors that are just perfect for the upcoming fall months.
The shadows are part of the ‘Look at my eyes’ collection and about 3 Euro each. For the price, the quality and pigmentation is great, especially with the darker colors. Etude House is one of the brands that seem to have represented Korean cosmetics abroad for the past years, especially with the popularity of Kpop. Their packaging is usually very cute and girly, and (this might just be my biased assumption) their target customers are very young girls. Stepping into one of their stores is like stepping into pink cupcake land.
I didn’t bring any of my favorite skin care products to Korea, in anticipation of buying most of the things I’d need here. The only thing I brought from home, was my Tea Tree Daily Solution by The Body Shop, because it’s great if you suffer from acne-prone skin.
During my first two weeks, I went to ‘Innisfree’ to get a few essential skin care items. I chose Innisfree initally, because their products as well as their shops are very appealing to me. The shops’ interiors are mostly white and clean and they seem to be working with a lot of natural ingredients that are unique to Korea.
I got a serum, some face mists and a small set of their popular green tea range skin care products, but I haven’t been able to really form an opinion about those yet. I am probably going to include them in the next beauty related blog post.
Like every other Korean brand, the offer a wide range of face masks, both in the sheet version and the cream version. They are very affordable, so I got a few of them to have something on hand after a long day at work.
They have a great selection for any skin type, and they cost roughly 1 Euro! What strikes me, is that Innisfree use very innovative ingredients in their ‘cheap’ sheet masks, like Manuka honey, Rice or Acai berries. They feel nice on the skin, especially if you keep them in the fridge and I will certainly stock up on them once I go home.
So far I have tried two cleansers, one from Innisfree and one from ‘The Face Shop’. The Face Shop is another one of those affordable stores that you find around every corner and in almost every subway station. I do sometimes wonder how the sheer number of Korean cosmetic shops in Seoul doesn’t simply exceed the demand for beauty products, but since I am one of the shopping victims, I shouldn’t talk.
I have used the Innisfree Jeju volcanic mousse cleanser for a few weeks now. It seems very gentle and contains “volcanic cluster and green complex from pure Jeju island and helps to control sebum”. It is a purifying cleanser for impure skin, with a nice scent and a very soft texture. I haven’t noticed any difference in my skin while using it, but it definitely is one of the better cleansers I have used. I don’t remember the price, but it couldn’t have been more than 10 Euro.
I got The Face Shop cleanser a few days ago, and I have to admit, it was an impulse buy, because it contains bee venom. Who wouldn’t want to smear that on their face? I’m not entirely sure about the benefits of bee venom on skin, but it’s supposed to clear up acne, according to the packaging. It certainly smells nice and it was very affordable, about 7 Euros. After using it for the last couple of days, I feel like my skin has cleared up a tiny bit and it feels cleaner and less oily.
Very similarly to me, Koreans seem to be obsessed with smelling nice. Just look at the epic Febreeze collection at my local supermarket:
I am very much obsessed with tiny, purse sized versions of Febreeze that eliminate bacteria and bad smell, especially since a lot of the time, food is cooked right on the table in front of you at restaurants. Granted, most of the restaurants, where you get to grill your own meat have some fabric sprays at the exit, so you don’t have to smell like grilled beef on the way home. I usually have a small fabric spray in my bag just in case anyway. You can get them in every corner store for about 3 Euros.
The perfume on the right reminds me very much of the Maison Martin Margiela Replica line. I’m not sure if anybody knows what I’m talking about, but those are usually named after a place as well and have a very smiliar look to them. If I was mean, I’d say the fragrance above was very much a rip off of them. But I am not mean, so let’s say the Korean brand was ‘inspired’ by the Replica line. I really like the packaging a lot and it makes for a great souvenier, because any products referencing Korea are hard to get in Europe. You get a lot of ‘Japan’ and ‘Tokyo’, but not very often do you find something named after an actual place in Korea. The scent isn’t great though, so it’s going to be more of a decoration piece.
How many hand creams does one person need? Tell me in the comments what you think ;D
The hand cream bays are usually located next to the door or even slightly outside the shop, which makes them very tempting for a person who can’t resist anything beauty related. I mostly buy them for their scent or their packaging, not because I have dry hands or anything like that.
Obviously, I had to get the Pokemon hand creams. ‘Tony Moly’, a brand still hanging onto the Pokemon trend, has released a bunch of Pokemon themed products. They are all super cute, but I have decided to pace myself and go with the handcreams first. Eevee (Evoli) smells like baby powder, Snorlax (Relaxo) like Lavender. They did have other Pokemon types and scents, but Eevee is my favorite Pokemon and I relate to Snorlax on a spiritual level, so I had to get those.
I really like the Hydrangea hand cream by Innisfree and the Magnolia one from ‘The Saem’ smells heavenly. I am trying to pick up scents that you can’t really find in Austria, and apart from your typical Rose scented handcreme, I haven’t come across any exciting flower scents back home. Korea definitely wins the hand cream game. The last interesting product is the Peony Hand Cleanser by ‘The Saem’, which looks very much like the hand cream, but is supposed to eliminate bacteria. They are all about 3 Euros each.
That’s it for now, but by far not all I got and have to talk about. I will try to purchase from as many different brands as I can and try as many innovative products as possible within the next months.
You know, for Science.