Korean Skincare 10 step routine

The Korean 10-Step Skincare Routine

When people think about Korean Skincare, they may think of the infamous 10 step routine that became popular a few years back. People tried it out, raved about it and swore it could cure all of your skin mishaps if you were just patient enough to give it a go. Beauty magazines, bloggers and skincare specialists praised Korean products and the lengthy routine, establishing Korea as the innovation beauty hub of the world. Like many others though, I just sat and scoffed at the idea and questioned internally who on earth had time and money for that shizz?

My skincare regime back in the UK usually just consisted of face wipes; lots and lots of face wipes. They were quick and easy so they were my skin saviour. I would come home after a hard days work and the thought of washing my face just seemed TOO.DARN.MUCH. They were also a life saver when I would stumble home at 2am after too many proseccos. I slept soundly in the smug knowledge that I wasn’t one of those dirty girls that didn’t wash their face before bed. I was good, I cleansed, I used a face wipe for goodness sake.

But looking back my skin felt dry; my skin tone uneven. I used to love the feeling of using a stringent alcohol based toner thinking that if I could feel the burn then it must be tightening up my pores. The thought of oil cleansers repulsed me. And if I had a spot, well, that was what concealer was for. It was make up over skincare for me; that’s what makes you look half decent, right?

Wrong. It wasn’t until I moved to Korea that my whole perception of skincare changed. It is safe to say that Korean women are skincare obsessed; they spend more per year on beauty products than any other nation. In Korea, the motto is ‘skincare first, make up second’. Time well spent is time treating your skin, not hiding it with copious amounts of make up. Because if you have glowing healthy skin, then you actually don’t really need much make up to enhance your features.

Slowly my three step routine become a 5 step routine, and my 5 step routine graduated to a 10 step routine. I don’t use ten products every morning and evening, but I have a cabinet full of products in my arsenal to choose from depending on what my skin condition is that particular day. That is what the ‘Korean 10 step routine’ is for me – knowing your skin and treating it accordingly to its daily needs. After double cleansing (oil based cleanser + gel or foam cleanser), the products should be added in order of lightest consistency to thickest. This is to help maximise absorption of all the products, for example, toner before serum, before moisturiser.

1. Oil Based Cleanser

The first step is an oil based cleanser. I won’t go in to too much detail about this because I wrote a full blog on the importance of using an oil based cleanser to remove all your make up and why it is important. Some people double cleanse both morning and evening as well because even overnight you can build up excess sebum, dust and bacteria on your face so it can’t hurt to double cleanse twice a day!

My favourite oil based cleansers are Banila Co Clean it Zero (balm), Troiareauke Oil Cut Cleanser (this one actually contains no oil so a good one for those with oily skin who are a bit hesitant using oil cleansers), Heimish All Clean Balm and Klairs Gentle Black Deep Cleansing Oil.

2. Water-based/Foaming Cleanser

As part of the double cleanse method, you must always go in for another wash with a foaming or water-based cleanser. Whilst the oil based cleanser will get rid of any make up, suncream and excess sebum, the water-based cleanser removes any water-based substances like bacteria and dust. It will also help remove any leftover residue from the oil based cleanser and leave your face feeling nice and clean. As mentioned before, you don’t need to do all 10 steps everyday but this one is crucial and one I personally do morning and evening without fail.

My favourite water-based foaming cleansers are the Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Cleansing Foam, Heimish White Clay Foam and Benton Honest Cleansing Foam. In the mornings, I will use the Cosrx Low pH Good Morning Gel Cleanser. I am also a recent convert of cleansing sticks like the Belif True Tincture Chamomile Cleansing Stick and su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick. Please see this blog on my review of Korean cleansing sticks. 

3. Exfoliators

Korean skincare 10 step routine exfoliate klairs skinfood Neogen

The third ‘step’ is using an exfoliator to get rid of dead skin cells that may have accumulated on your skin. Exfoliating helps regulate your skin cell cycle leaving your skin feeling healthy and glowing. It also helps minimise the appearance of pores and really helps get out all the gunk that gets trapped in them. Exfoliators usually come in ‘scrub’ types with black sugar being a popular ingredient in Korean exfoliators. More recently, chemical exfoliators are becoming increasingly popular, many of which come in pre-soaked pads that you simply swipe over your face. Depending on your skin type, you should aim to exfoliate once or twice a week. As I have problems with milia and excess sebum, I exfoliate 2-3 times per week.

My favourite exfoliators are the Skinfood Black Sugar Wash off Mask, Cosrx Salicylic Acid Exfoliator , Klairs Gentle Black Sugar Face Polish and Neogen Bio-Peel Gauze Peeling Wine (offers both a chemical and technical exfoliation).

4. Sheet Mask

‘A sheet mask a day’ was a craze in Korea that I had heard about but wondered if anyone actually did it. At a skincare event I was invited to the dermatologist asked us if anyone did actually do this and I was amazed that 5 people put their hand up! Sheet masks have long been all the rage in Korea and have in the last few years hit the Western market as well. Its like a spa facial in a pack – it will leave your skin feeling super nourished. Plus its great to use before an event as it will give you that infamous Korean glow immediately after use. They are also a must when on a long haul flight (even if you do look scary).  I usually use a sheet mask once or twice a week and pick one according to my skins needs – if my skin is dry a hydrating mask, or a brightening mask if it just feels a bit dull.

My favourite sheet masks are the Cosrx Snail Mask, Too Cool for School Egg Sheet Masks, Mizon sheet masks, Troiareuke GPS Mask and Innisfree It’s Real Squeeze Sheet Masks.

5. Toners

Korean skincare 10 step routine toners klairs belif troiareuke cosrx son&park

At the skincare event I just spoke about, the dermatologist presenting asked us to guess her age. We estimated about late 30’s. We were off by about 12 years. Her secret? TONER! She said that she uses toner 5 times a day. And whilst I do think that is overboard, toner is an important step in your skincare routine. Not only does toner help close your pore after cleansing, it also preps your skin for everything else that you are about to put on it; it’s like a base. Without it, your products like serums and essences will not seep in to your skin as effectively. Always pat in your toner – put a few drops in your hands and pat in or gently swipe over your skin with a cotton pad but be gentle so the product seeps in more effectively. Sometimes I will use two toners if I have the time – a gentle toner to close my pores and restore my natural skin pH level, followed by a specific toner like an AHA/BHA toner if I am experiencing a breakout, or moisturising toner if my skin is feeling a bit dry.

My favourite toners are the Son & Park Beauty Water (gentle, exfoliating), Troiareuke Skin Complex Toner with Ampoule (moisturising, brightening), Klairs Supple Preparation Facial Toner (sensitive, pH Balancing), Belif Witch Hazel Herbal Extract toner (good for dry skin) and Cosrx AHA/BHA Toner (good for breakouts).

6. Essence

People always think that adding too many products on your skin can’t be good for it as it will just create one thick oily layer but Koreans are masters at producing light formulations making layering super easy. Many Korean women consider essence to be the most important step in their skincare routine. Essences treat a particular issue and are concentrated formulations that help treat your skin at a cellular level. They usually have a watery, lightweight consistency. I have several essences that I will rotate according to my skins needs although on the whole, essences help brighten your skin and promote healthy cell turnover. Again, it’s best to use your hands to pat this product in – pat pat pat. That’s the Korean way.

My favourite essences are the Cosrx Advanced Snail 96 Mucin Power Essence, Missha Time Revolution First Treatment Essence and the Belif Hungarian Water Essence.

Korean skincare 10 step routine essence missha cosrx belif

7. Serum/Ampoule

Korean Skincare 10 step routine essence Klairs Missha

Serums are like super-charged essences. They usually come in smaller containers (are usually a bit more expensive) and like essences target a certain skincare problem. They will sometimes have a slightly thicker consistency, or gel-like in consistency. They seep deeper in to your skin than any other skincare product and are a great anti-ageing addition to your skincare routine. Usually I’ll just use an essence but if something is particularly wrong with my skin then I’ll use a serum or ampoule as well.

My favourite serums/ampoules are the Missha Time Revolution Night Repair Activator Ampoule, Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum and Klairs Freshly Juiced Vitamin Drop.

8. Eye cream

Korean skincare 10 step routine eye cream missha thank you farmer

Being honest, this is one step that I almost always miss. This is purely because I suffer from milia around my eyes do I don’t really like loading up cream around that area. I also have very sensitive eyes so whenever I seem to use an eye cream they get all itchy *sob*. The skin around your eyes is different from the rest of your face and therefore needs its own skin care. It is also the first area to show signs of ageing so treating it is a must. I am still on my quest to finding the perfect eye cream although I do enjoy the Missha Time Revolution Eye Cream and Thank You Farmer Miracle Age Repair Eye Cream.

9. Moisturiser / Sleeping pack

It’s pretty obvious what this step does. Moisturising is important, even if your skin is oily. Korean brands have come up with very lightweight gel moisturisers that are great for those with oily and combination skin types as they seep in quickly but provide enough hydration to keep your skin healthy. Moisturisers help seal in all that good stuff that you’ve just put on your face.

My favourite moisturisers are the Innisfree Green Tea Balancing Cream, Too Cool for School Egg Mellow Cream, Troiareuke AGT Hydro Essence (can also be used as a sleeping pack), Thank You Farmer True Water Light Gel Cream and Belif The True Cream Aqua Bomb.

‘Sleeping Beauty’ is a big category here in Korea. Instead of using a night cream or regular moisturiser, why not use those 7 hours of z’s by treating your skin to a deeply hydrating treatment? Enter – sleeping masks (also referred to as ‘packs’). These were a game changer for me and a lot of other people – you will wake up the next morning with glowing and hydrated skin.

My favourite sleeping masks are the Cosrx Ultimate Moisturising Honey Overnight Sleeping Mask, Too Cool for School Pumpkin Sleeping Pack and Laneige Water Sleeping Mask.

10. Suncream

Korean Skincare Suncream Sunscreen missha thank you farmer too cool for schoolI never really gave sun protection much thought, which to be fair, was pretty easy to do when you live in a country like England. However, including a SPF in to your daily skincare routine is a must; even if it’s not sunny! Korea has produced some wonderfully fresh scented, light weight formulas for suncream which I adore. Many have multi-use functions like combining to act as a primer, essence or mist. Using a SPF everyday has helped even out my skin tone and no doubt will help reduce the number of wrinkles I will get later in life! I used to be all about that tanned life but moving to Korea, I am definitely more conscious about using SPF on my face now on a daily basis.

My favourite suncreams are the Too Cool for School Sun Primer, Thank You Farmer Sun Project Shimmer Essence and Missha Sun Milk range.

A final note on the Korean 10 step skincare routine …

I now look forward to coming home, unwinding and commencing my evening skincare ritual. Yes I may now spend 15 minutes a day cleaning my skin instead of 3 minutes, but what’s 15 minutes of your day? The results are worth it. Your routine doesn’t need to be this lengthy process whereby you must use all products twice a day; it’s mostly about knowing your skin and treating it accordingly with the necessary products at your disposal. Trust me, your skin will thank you for it!

Missha Tension Pact Review

Move over BB Cushions, there’s a new kid in K-Beauty town! This summer in Korea saw the entrance of the Tension Pact; a similar design to the BB cushion compact but instead of a soaked sponge, the tension pact has a thinly-woven mesh net that distributes the product more evenly on to the puff. Several brands have come out with their versions including Missha and Etude House – I decided to try Missha.

 

Missha came out with 4 types of tension pacts – cover, natural cover, tone-up and moisture. I opted for the cover as this is their bestseller and I got it in the shade No.23.

Packaging 

As previously mentioned, the packaging is exactly like a BB cushion and comes with a puff.  I particularly like this one because the clasp is in rose gold – YEAH.

When you open up the case, you will see the mesh net which underneath contains the product. When pressed down with the puff, the product seeps through between the net which is extremely satisfying.

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Application 

Application is VERY different to the typical BB cushion. Whilst with a BB cushion I will need to go in several times to get sufficient product on my puff, with the tension pact, only one firm dab is all I need to cover my whole face! The first time trying the tension pact I pressed down hard as I would my BB cushion and loads of product came out of the net and all over my hand – epic fail. Word of caution – dab lightly! A little goes a long way. As you can see in the photo, the product is more evenly distributed on the puff in comparison to a BB cushion.

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True to its name, this particular tension pact is very high coverage, I don’t even need to wear concealer with it. Despite the high coverage though it feels incredibly lightweight on the skin which is exactly what I want in a BB cream/foundation. It’s also incredibly long lasting; I wore this for about 10 hours and had little fading. Some have said that the cushion has a high matte finish but I find that using the product sparingly (only one dab blended across my face) that the product still retains that Korean dewy glow.

Scent 

I am horrible at describing scents. The only way I can describe this is that it has that quintessential ‘Korean make up’ scent; similar to the Etude House Precious Mineral Cushion (which I love). It is only faint but very fresh, light and slightly floral. See, I told you I’m horrible at describing scents.

Would I repurchase? 

This has become my go-to product at the moment and I’m already considering stocking up on it before I leave Korea! The cover version cost 17,800 WON which is roughly £12.00 which I personally think is a bargain for such a good quality product. I am definitely keen on trying out the natural cover version (which is even cheaper at 15,800 WON!) but all in all, this cover version is the perfect product to use for a long day at work or a night out – the staying power combined with the finish and low price point just makes this product insanely good value.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

KBeauty: The Battle of the Cleansing Sticks

Battle of the Cleansing Sticks

As you may have seen in my previous post about the Korean Double Cleanse method, cleansing sticks are increasingly becoming very popular here. After the success of the Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick which people go gaga over, many other brands have taken to their innovation labs and come up with similar products. Cleansing sticks are essentially a face wash in a stick. You simply wet your face, give the stick a few swipes over your skin and lather it up. The rise of Korean cleansing products has meant that in order to differentiate themselves, brands have sought to find new formulations and I personally think this one is a winner. The sticks, for me, are an absolute must when travelling. In this blog I’ll talk about my first impressions with the Neogen Green Tea Cleansing Stick, the Belif True Tincture Cleansing Stick – Chamomile and the infamous Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick.

The Neogen Real Fresh Green Tea Cleansing Stick 

The first cleansing stick that I purchased and tried out was the Neogen Green Tea Cleansing Stick. I love Neogen products, in particular their wine gauze peeling pads and their foam cleansers so I had super high hopes for this one. Their products are usually affordable, clinical and do the job. I purchased mine at Olive Young where it was on sale for 11,000 won ($11) – even better. The Neogen cleansing stick claims to be hypoallergenic and suitable for sensitive skin. It contains a lot of essential oils like olive oil, camellia oil and coconut oil (although the latter can trigger breakouts in some people so be careful). It also contains green tea seed oil and green tea leaves which you can see dispersed throughout the stick, is loaded with 99% of natural ingredients and claims to leave skin feeling clean, clear and hydrated. Sounds wonderful, right?

Wrong. Whilst I did not dislike this cleansing stick completely, it did the job and foamed up nicely, I hated the smell of it. It smells literally like a bar of Dove soap; perhaps stronger. Now, there’s nothing wrong with that smell but I just don’t want it on my face. That is just a personal preference though; I just like my skincare products smelling fresh. After usage, it also left my skin feeling a bit tight making me question how hydrating it really is. Also, after a few uses the green tea specks were hardly in there. That being said, it’s the most affordable one I have tried and works fine as your average face wash; it just wasn’t anything to write home about.

The Belif True Tincture Cleansing Stick – Chamomile 

After the disappointment of the Neogen cleansing stick my quest continued and a few days later I found myself at the Belif counter in Lotte Department Store, Myeongdong. I love Belif products; the packaging and brand identity is right up my street. Similar to Kiehls, it has that ‘apothecary’ feel which makes me believe that everything they sell must be great for my skin. The Belif True Tincture Cleansing Stick was 28,000 won ($28) and is suitable for all skin types. It contains chamomile extracts and natural chamomile flower petals that gentle lather up and cleanse your skin. It claims to provide a solution to dullness, uneven texture, redness and dryness. Like the Neogen Green Tea Cleansing Stick, it also has a neutral/slightly lower pH.

The moment I opened the Belif cleansing stick, the first thing I did was smell it and it.was.wonderful. It was fresh, slightly herbal and citrus/lemon-like. The stick was easy to lather up and the foam felt more creamier and softer than the Neogen Cleansing Stick. After patting my face dry, my skin felt fresh, clean and not tight at all. What more can I say? First impression of this stick was very positive and it now has a place in my daily skincare regime.

The Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick 

It felt wrong to do a cleansing stick review without trying the Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick. Almost without knowing, I had subconsciously tried the others first, believing I was saving the best until last. The Su:m37 Miracle Rose Cleansing Stick, or the MRCS as the cool kids call it, has cult like status around the K-Beauty lovin’ world. It’s weird but in Korea it’s actually not one of the so-called ‘holy grail’ products; it seems to be way more popular overseas in countries like China and the USA. For a while the MRCS was difficult to find; it was constantly out of stock, forcing people to buy back ups upon back ups of the stuff. It was so elusive that it was not actually displayed in Su:m37 shops here; you had to ask the shop assistant who would whip one out from under the counter. I cannot deny that I fell in to the trap of the buying frenzy that this cleansing stick induces. I purchased one online but as I was too impatient to wait until it was delivered, I purchased another one in the Su:m37 shop in Garusogil when I saw that it was actually out on display for once!  It too, retails for 28,000 won ($28).

True to it’s name, the stick is made from fermented rose and has little bits of it spread throughout the stick. It smells gloriously of roses as well making it feel luxurious to use. It has a completely different feel and packaging to the Belif Cleansing Stick which appears more ‘functional’ and ‘good for your skin’. The MRCS is all about the pampering. Coupled with the knowledge that it is so elusive and coveted, you get an extra hit of giddiness when using it *smug face*.

The MRCS lathers up nicely as well, has a lovely scented, creamy foam and does not leave my skin feeling sucked of moisture. The only tiny gripe I have with it is that the stick is ever-so-slightly convex which makes it a little difficult to manoeuvre around my cheekbone and eye area; a problem I don’t have with the Belif one. But other than that, both are very, very similar.

…and so the winner is….

In the way of formulation, ease of use and quality the Belif Cleansing Stick and the MRCS are hard to separate. Both smell great, both are easy to use, both foam up well and both leave the skin feeling fresh and clean. They both retail for the same price here in Korea and they both contain the same amount of product; this comes as no surprise as both brands are in fact owned by the same company – LG. My favourite is purely based on my own personal preferences – the smell. And so, the winner is…. The Belif True Tincture Cleansing Stick! I was really impressed with this stick after the first time I used it. I think the MRCS has been so bigged up that when I finally got around to trying it, I just felt a teeny bit underwhelmed – I’m such a rebel. I much prefer a fresh scent over a floral one but as I said before, that is purely my own preference. I know there are a lot of rose lovers out there and coupled with the luxurious feel of the MRCS, this will be, (and clearly is) the firm favourite of many a skincare addict. I have no qualms in highly recommending both cleansing sticks, it purely comes down to whatever scent and packaging you prefer. But for me, the Belif True Tincture just about wins it!

The Korean Double Cleanse; innisfree olive real cleansing foam, innisfree olive real cleansing oil

The Korean Double Cleanse

What is the one thing that has helped improve the condition of my skin? Easy. The Korean Double Cleanse. Growing up and learning how to look after my skin, I was always taught to use some sort of cleanser, usually a face wash, twice a day, morning and evening. I think most people do this to some extent. However, it wasn’t until I moved to Korea that I realised – we’ve been doing it wrong!

Now I know the thought of extending your daily skincare regime sounds like a faff and I definitely do have my lazy days where I skip it but double cleansing is the only sure fire way to remove all your make up, suncream, and excess sebum efficiently. I think back to my teens when I would use a face wash and then rub the stubborn leftover eye make up around my eyes furiously with a toner-drenched cotton pad and I cringe inside. Not only would that not clean my skin properly, but left my face feeling irritated and stripped of moisture.

So what is the Korean double cleanse method?

The first step is using an oil based cleanser. These come in either liquid oils, creams or balms and should be placed directly on to dry skin. Here in Korea, cleansing oils have been popular for yonks. The majority of women will double cleanse in the evening, sometimes even in the morning as well. Oil cleansers hit the Western beauty market a while ago with Bobbi Brown and Mac varieties proving to be popular among skincare enthusiasts. But some people were sceptical – mainly those with combination / oily skin. More oil on my already oily skin?! Are you mad?! But the reality is that these cleansers, containing good oils, are highly effective at removing all the bad oils that accumulate on your face throughout the day. Cleansing oils don’t sink in to your pores – they work hard to draw out all the impurities and then, when mixed with water, wash it all away without leaving your skin dry and stripped of essential moisture. Hooray!


My favourite cleansing oils are the DHC Cleansing Oil, Troiareuke Acsen Oil Cut Cleanser and The Face Shop Rice Water Bright Cleansing Oil. The Troiareuke Acsen Oil Cut Cleanser is actually more like a gel, it doesn’t contain any oil but works just as effectively; it’s very gentle and great for sensitive or acne prone skin.

Banila Co Clean it Zero and Heimish All Clean Balm
More recently cleansing balms have become very popular after the huge success of Banila Co Clean it Zero. Although this launched a few years back, it is still considered the holy grail balm among the K beauty community. Cleansing balms melt in your palms to become oils and when mixed with water create a milky emulsion that removes all impurities away from your skin. Like cleansing oils, they should go on to your face dry – a sensation that most people find strange but trust me, it is so satisfying seeing all your eye make up wash off so easily! My favourite oil cleansing balms are the original Banila Co Clean It Zero and the Heimish All Clean Balm. The Heimish All Clean balm has a more neutral scent compared to the Banila Co one and has a more natural ingredient list. Both are highly effective.

The second cleanse

So if cleansing oils are so amazing at getting rid of make up and the like, then why do we need to go in again for a second cleanse? Whilst the cleansing oils effectively remove excess sebum, make up and suncream, a foaming cleanser will help remove any water-based substances like bacteria, perspiration or dead skin cells leaving your face feeling super clean! For this second step you will want to choose a good foaming cleanser that lathers up well and does not leaving your skin feeling tight or stripped of moisture. My personal favourites are the Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Cleansing Foam, Heimish White Clay Foam and Benton Honest Cleansing Foam.

My personal favourites are the Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Pore Cleansing Foam, Heimish White Clay Foam and Benton Honest Cleansing Foam.

Foaming cleansers now come in a wide variety here in Korea. Tools such as a foaming net, sponge or ‘whip maker’ can turn any old face wash in to a luxurious lather. Cleansing sticks are also becoming increasingly popular. I am currently  loving the Belif Chamomile Cleansing Stick. I simply swipe it a few times on my wet face and lather up making it the ideal face wash to take travelling.

The double cleanse method may seem high maintenance but honestly it has helped my skin improve so much, reducing redness, evening out my skin tone and causing fewer breakouts. In typical Korean fashion, the double cleanse method keeps evolving. Brands are now coming out with formulas that go from oil to foam making the double step cleanse quicker and only requiring one product. Conversely, I am now a covert of the triple cleanse. Yeah, you heard me. I will use an eye make up remover or a face wipe to gently remove stubborn make up before going in for my double cleanse. Or, following my double cleanse will use a cleansing water like Son & Park Beauty Water to remove any excess residue. Two months in this country and I am sooo Korean.

Joan Kim and Edward Avila

An afternoon with Troiareuke

Last week I was invited to attend an event hosted by Korean skincare brand Troiareuke. I had heard about Troiareuke before, in particular their popular ‘Acsen Oil Cut Cleanser’, however I had never tried any of their products. The event was in collaboration with popular K beauty bloggers Joan and Edward Avila so as you can imagine, I was pretty excited!

The Event

The event was held at the Skypark Hotel Kingstown in Dongdaemun, which is situated above the Hyundai Outlets. On the 14th floor, there is a Troiareuke shop where you can purchase their products; this is where the event was held. I believe they also have a store in Myeongdong as well. On arrival, we registered, picked up our information packs, sat down and ate yummy food and drank yummy drinks. I was just staring at the product displays desperate to get my hands on them and try them out!

Andy, who works for Troiareuke was our MC for the day and was so accommodating and funny. We started the event with a talk from a skincare professional who shared her skincare tips for Autumn. Her skin was so luminous and glowing that I figured I ought to listen carefully and take some mental notes!

Troiareuke GPS Mask

She talked about the four changes your skin experiences during the fall: dry skin, dead skin cells, pigmentation and elasticity. To combat this she suggested using sheet masks, in particular the GPS mask from Troiareuke wich we all received a sample of. The GPS mask is a cellulose mask that restores skin and hones in on the areas of the face that require moisture and nutrition. What I like about the mask is that it comes with an Oxygen cleanser sample and their popular Cell Energy cream as well as the sheet mask. Essentially it’s a professional facial all in one pack and I cannot wait to try it. She also said that the masks are good to use on long haul flights when your skin can dry up so that’s what I’m saving mine for!

Trying Troiareuke

Following the talk, she gave a demonstration of the V-line treatment on one of the attendees. The first step was to select a colour best suited to the girls skin – blue, green, yellow or red. This would dictate the line of products that would be used for the facial. As the girl had acne skin, the colour blue was chosen which contains Catechin extract and is anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial (I’ll talk more about the other colours later). Using a mixture of Troiareuke products, including their Acsen Oil Cut Cleanser, Skin Complex Formula and Acne Blue Ampoule the girls skin appeared less red, her face more lifted and glowing. She also used a porcelain tool (in blue as well) to massage the girls face and neck. Facial massages are huge in Korea and is believed to help drain the lymph nodes therefore getting rid of toxins in the body.

Troiareuke Demo

We had a Q&A session with Eddie and Joan and there was also a lot of giveaways. Joan and Eddie were so hilarious and really great at answering questions honestly and giving advice. I asked Eddie if he could choose only one Pony Effect product what would he choose – he said the cushion so I will have to purchase this! I was also amazed that the staff at Troiareuke gave out about 20 of their full size bestselling products, as well as 10,000 won gift vouchers! Unfortunately I think I was about the only person in the room that didn’t receive any products! 😫 A lot of the girls received the H+ Healing Cushion which is one of their bestsellers, as well as ampoules and essences. But I did receive a 5,000 won gift voucher which I was determined to use.

Joan Kim and Edward Avila

Following the Q&A we had a chance to get our photos taken with Joan and Eddie and also try out the products. Seeing as I didn’t receive any free products (*sob sob*), I had a brief consultation with one of the Troiareuke staff about my skin and what would be the best products to try. She kindly explained the different colours and chose green for me. Yellow is used for brightening and purifying the skin and is good for any discolouration and hyper pigmentation. The red is anti-ageing and helps give skin a boost of elasticity and reduces wrinkles. The green is anti-trouble and is used to help calm the skin, reduce any redness and help soothe.

Troiareuke Colour Therapy

To help choose your colour, we had to close our eyes and upon opening pick the colour that first stood out for us. The colours are also used to help identity your current emotional state. Blue, the acne line, can be a sign of stress. Red, the anti-ageing line, a sign of tiredness. She recommended green as my skin was in a fairly decent condition, no acne, few lines but apparently I needed some ‘calm’. Almost like a psychic she somehow knew that I hadn’t had much sleep recently and that I have something emotional on my mind (my birth family search). Sold! I purchased the Skin Complex Formula Toner, the Green Ampoule and the big size of the Ascen Oil Cut Cleanser. Products I still want to try from their range include the Cell Energy Cream, Acsen TOC Toner and Hydro Essence.

Troiareuke Thoughts

My first impressions were that this brand means business – they take skincare seriously. Their products use natural ingredients and are based on scientific research. Their motto is skincare first – even their popular BB cushion is technically a skincare cushion as opposed to makeup. There was no gimmicky ingredients, just a slick, clinical, gentle, high performing range of products. They consider themselves a ‘customised prescription skincare brand’ providing individuals with tailored products based on their skincare needs. None of their products are stripping which a lot of Western products are. Whenever I try a toner that wreaks of alcohol I cringe – all that does is strip the skins natural moisture, irritating your skin even more! Another concept that resonated with me is their motto of ‘today’s skin’. The skincare professional who gave the talk said that our skin changes on a daily basis, some days we are outside and exposed to the sun, others our skin may be dry due to air con, heaters etc. Basically, a lot of external factors affect our skin on a daily basis. It is all about knowing your skin, identifying any daily nuances and treating it accordingly using a range of products. Some days I may need to use a UV protectant, some days I may need to use an ampoule, some days a pore mask. If you’re in tune with your skin and tailor your regime accordingly then the condition of your skin will improve. Amen!

I’ve only been using the Troiareuke products I bought for a few days now but have already noticed a big difference in my skin. It feels more moisturised, smoother and clearer. I won’t lie, the products are expensive, however, when comparing them to Western brands like Kiehls and Elemis, I think they are far superior. I will write a full review of the Acsen Oil Cut Cleaner, Green Ampoule and Skin Complex Toner soon. I definitely can’t wait to try more products from this brand!

Joan Kim and Edward Avila

This is not sponsored. All opinions are my own.

The innisfree store in Gangnam

innisfree Haul

Ah Innisfree. The first Korean beauty store I ever walked in to and forever my favourite. Whenever I walk in to an Innisfree shop I go to my happy place. Innisfree prides itself on using natural ingredients from the island of Jeju just off the coast of mainland Korea. The product packaging is always slick and everything always smells great. The stores always have this eco-natural feel which is so calming.

The innisfree store in Gangnam

My favourite scent at Innisfree is Gardenia. I am obsessed with it. I first bought the hand cream a few years ago and some of my colleagues at work tried it, loved it and became converts as well. Since then Innisfree have expanded their scent range greatly. I came in for the hand cream but then I discovered that Innisfree now has home scents like candles and diffusers. So I bought the Gardenia diffuser and it.smells.wonderful.

Our flat is on the 8th floor and doesn’t have many windows so can at times get a bit stuffy so I wanted something to make the place smell fresher. Or at least that’s the story I’m telling myself. And Steve.

I then bought the innisfree Body Lotion in Gardenia as well which again smells divine and is highly moisturising – I love it. Perfect for a pamper session!

innisfree Body Lotion in Gardenia

I did in fact get the innisfree Hand Cream and also got the Peony one as well. Jo Malone’s Peony Blush Suede is what I wore on my wedding day so I love the smell of it. And just as I expected, this too smells delightful. These little tubes are so great for popping in the handbag, they last a surprisingly long time and I’m fairly sure all of them smell delicious.

Innisfree also have a collection of antibacterial gels – one of which was Gardenia so obviously I bought that as well. In fact I think the only Gardenia things I didn’t buy was the body wash (because it was sold out), and the rollerball (which I only later discovered from another beauty instagrammer!)

Innisfree has a great range of masks, hair masks, face masks, foot masks, sleeping packs, hand masks you name it. I was planning on doing a pamper session on the weekend so decided to buy some to try out.

I bought the innisfree Camelia Essential Hair Mask pack, the innisfree Rose Sheet Mask and innisfree Foot Softening Mask (yes that’s a thing here). I have yet to try out the hair mask and foot mask but I love the sheet masks at Innisfree and as they didn’t have a Gardenia mask, I settled for Rose.

Innisfree also has a wall of capsules which at first, I didn’t know what it was for. Then I read online that they have a mixture of sleeping masks and wash off face masks in these great little capsules. These are useful for travelling or for just trying out.

innisfree capsule recipe pack

I bought the Seaweed (revitalising), Green tea (moisturising), and the Volcanic Clay (pore minimising). Each capsule has about 2-3 uses and comes in a handy re-sealable pack for easy storage. I have only tried the Seaweed pack but noticed a huge difference in my skin the next day.

I also got a pack of my favourite face wipes from the Olive Oil collection – innisfree Olive Real Cleansing Tissue. These are great because they are essentially like using a cleansing oil but easier and less faff. A lot of face wipes can be quite drying to your skin whereas these ones gently remove all traces of make up. Perfect when I can’t be bothered or come home late after a few too many sojus!

innisfree Olive Real Cleansing Tissue

On to make up. I bought a couple of my favourite products from their innisfree No Sebum range – the Blur Primer and the Blur Powder. Most people rave about the blur powder white version (similar to the Makeup Forever HD Powder) but I find that sometimes it makes my face look a bit washed out so I wanted to try this version which is skin-toned. I haven’t tried it yet as I am still waiting to finish the Peach Sake Silky Finish Powder which I reviewed in my Skinfood Haul but I am sure it will be good. The blur primer is good and again is a much raved about product here in Korea but it still, for me, does’t compare to the Etude House Beauty Shot Face Blur which is my all time favourite base primer.

I’ve been meaning to try Innisfree cushions for a while and I am always so amazed when I see their wall of personalised cases. At Innisfree, you select which BB cushion you want and then buy a case – they come in all different patterns and colours. I opted for the innisfree Ampoule Intense Cushion which I am saving for the winter time when my skin will appreciate the moisture this cushion offers. And I opted for this polka dot case 🙂

The last product I got was this innisfree Creamy Tint Lipstick in Cocktail Orange, a lovely vibrant coral colour. The tint lasts quite a while but can be a bit drying on the lips, it needs topping up after about two hours. The lipstick smells great though and I just really love the colour. It goes on very easily (and creamy like the name suggests), however I would say the finish is more matte.

Innisfree can be a bit hit and miss with samples. One time I didn’t get any which is the first time I have ever had that happen. I was not happy. Granted I only bought a couple face masks which cost hardly anything but usually, no matter what you spend, they will always give you a bunch of samples to try. However, this time the saleswoman gave me quite a few to try out:

I received:

  • 3 x samples of the Cherry Blossom Body Wash (I think she thought I should try another scent other than Gardenia. I get the hint)
  • 3 x Aloe Vera Sheet Masks
  • 4 x Green Tea Seed Serum (holy grail product)
  • 2 x Green Tea Cleansing Foam
  • 2 x Volcanic Pore Cleansing Foam (another holy grail product)
  • 1 x Volcanic Pore Clay Mask (this is their bestseller but I’ve never actually tried it)
  • Green Tea Balancing Special Kit including Toner, Lotion and Cream.

I keep meaning to try more of the make up from Innisfree but I always think of it more as a skincare shop. Would Innisfree products would you recommend?

 

Too Cool for School Dinoplatz

Too Cool for School Haul

Too Cool for School is another Korean brand, renowned for it’s funky, artistic packaging. The brand partners up with a lot of upcoming and leading illustrators and designers to create a fun, stand-out brand identity. You can spot a Too Cool for School store a mile away. It just looks, well, cool.

Too Cool for School now has stores in the US and I believe recently has started selling certain product lines in Selfridges. It’s a little bit more expensive than the other Korean beauty stores like Etude House, Innisfree and Skinfood but in my opinion, is still reasonable for the quality it offers.

One of the collections that has come out in the last year is their Dinoplatz collection which features an all-in-one make up box . After trekking around what felt like all the Too Cool for School stores in Seoul, I finally got my hands on the Dinoplatz UFO Multibox. Even though it came out summer 2015, it’s been so raved about that it’s difficult to come by – it was sold out in the Myeongstore and Hongdae stores that I went in to.

Too Cool for School Dinoplatz UFO Multibox

As to be expected from Too Cool for School the box is super cute. The square compact makes it stand out among the sea of round BB cushion compacts. The multi box comes in two shades – 21 and 23. I opted for the darker shade 23, although it is still a bit too pale for me. The coverage is quite light but it definitely gives that Korean ‘glow’ and I’m all for the lightweight consistency. It’s not my favourite BB cushion but it definitely does the trick and is a great addition to my ever-expanding collection.

Coming out from underneath the cushion is a nifty little trio of pore balm, concealer and lip / cheek tint. The pore balm is ok, it minimises fine lines and smooths out the area ahead of BB cream application but it’s so tiny you can only really use it on the areas that require the most attention (for me, under my eyes and nose). However, I really love the concealer. It blends in easily, brightens up the under eye area and covers blemishes well. The lip / cheek tint is ok but not the colour I would normally go for, it’s a bit pale on my lips and quite drying but fine to use as a blush. Pink eyeshadow is in right now in Korea so you could use it as an eyeshadow as well.

The next product that I got was a pack of products from the egg range (Egg-Essential Skincare Set); arguably their most famous range. Egg is used in a lot of Korean beauty products, it’s great at tightening pores, brightening skin and amazing for your hair.

This skincare set came with the Egg Mousse Soap, Egg mellow Cream, the Pore Cleansing Brush and an Egg Cream Mask.

The egg mousse soap is a gentle cleanser infused with egg yolk that helps hydrate your skin. It doesn’t leave your skin feeling stripped of essential oils which is good and lathers up nicely. It’s not great at removing make up but certainly a great addition to my double cleanse routine. (Double cleansing, for those that don’t know is the Korean beauty method of removing your make up and impurities with a cleansing oil/balm first, before going in again with a foaming or gel cleanser).

The egg mellow cream is a game changer for me. I love it. Suitable for dry, oily and combination skin it claims to help speed up your skincare regime but acting as a serum, primer, eye cream and moisturiser all in one. It can also be used as a sleeping mask (providing intense hydration to your skin over night). Anything that reduces the time required for my skincare regime I am all for. The cream smells great, seeps in to the skin easily, brightens my complexion and leaves my skin feeling nourished. I will definitely by buying more of this!

I have yet to try the egg cream mask but I have heard great things about the Too Cool for School mask range. Which is why I bought this set:

I mean how cute is this – it’s a recipe book! There are three tabs – one for hydration, one for pore tightening and one for firming. Each tab includes an overview of the ingredients for each mask and 2 x sheet masks. The hydration mask contains ingredients like egg yolk and coconut extract. The pore tightening one contains witch hazel and vinegar and the firming one contains things such as shea butter and collagen. Well I don’t know about you but that all sounds wonderful to me!

This next product is a new release from Too Cool for School and I felt I was somewhat pressured in to purchasing it from the saleswoman (although I’m glad I did because it’s awesome).

Too Cool for School Air Sun Primer

Koreans are obsessed with SPF and suncream. Most BB creams contain at least SPF 30 and suncream is usually one of their essential steps in their skincare regime. I never realised the importance of using suncream on my face (even in cloudy, rainy weather) but boy does it make a difference. I always thought that it was just to maintain that coveted ‘paleness’ that is so popular in Asia but it actually has made a difference to my skin. Now, when I first heard about using SPF on your face everyday I thought YUCK. Sticky, white gloop on my face that smells like, well suncream, isn’t what I thought would be good for my skin! But surprise surprise, as with any Korean beauty invention, the have found a way to avoid that! There are two products in the range, one for dry skin (Air Sun Essence) which is highly moisturising and one for combination/oily skin (Air Sun Primer). As you can see, I opted for the latter. This great product is a suncream (SPF 50+ PA+++) and primer in one. It’s the perfect base for your foundation or BB cream, seeps in to the skin like a dream, is incredibly lightweight and smells really fresh.

The consistency is quite watery, none of that thick gloop that I was expecting, and reduces the appearance of fine lines making it the perfect base for your make up. Oh yeah, did I mention the smell? The scent is wonderfully fresh but not too overpowering and not at all like the suncream I’m used to putting on my face back home!

Another summer essential is this face mist that was new in stores as well.

Too Cool for School Coconut Mist

Now I am a sucker for anything coconut related. So when I saw this, it was already in my basket before the saleswoman even had a chance to explain what it was. Face mists are an essential in this Seoul heat and many use it to either cool themselves down, refresh and moisturise their skin or to help give that plump, dewy glow. But the ones I’ve tried so far make my face look like I’ve just been saved from a drowned wreckage. The Laneige one, I’ve resorted to using as a toner because the spray was just too strong to be considered as a mist! This one goes on very fine, smells divine and gives my skin a boost on the go. I’ve used it as a toner, to set my make up, to give my skin a dewy glow, and before bed as a little aromatherapy.

So in my head I wanted to stop there. I only came in to see if they had the Dinoplaz UFO Multibox and my basket was getting quite full. Walking to the cashier though there was a travel size of the Pumpkin Sleeping Pack. So in the basket that went.

Too Cool for School Pumpkin Sleeping Mask

This is a great night cream and the fact that there was a diddy travel version, well, I had to get it. For the record, their pumpkin sheet masks are also fantastic as well.

And then I passed the new Dinoplatz Twisty Tail Mascara display.

Too Cool For School Dinoplatz Twisty Tail Mascara

I mean, LOOK AT IT!

Now I don’t wear mascara usually, partly because I can’t be arsed to clean it off my face in the evening but as my eye lashes are non existent I thought to myself (eh hem…gave myself the excuse) that I really ought to buy a mascara. I grabbed the little tester wands and tried it on and it really did lengthen my lashes. And then I realised why it was called ‘twisty tail’. You can change the shape of the wand to get in to these little eyelashes in the corners of your eyes! You can set it straight, curved and very curved.

Too Cool For School Dinoplatz Twisty Tail Mascara

Another great example of Korean innovation which no doubt I’m sure other brands will be following soon. Later I realised that the mascara doesn’t budge an inch, even when I wore it to the gym!

So after popping the mascara in to my basket I was really, truly done this time.

I mentioned the amount of samples that Korean beauty shops usually give out and Too Cool for School is one of the most generous (along with Etude House). The saleswoman, despite being a tad pushy with the Air Sun Primer was very helpful, gave thoughtful recommendations and spoke great English (which is rare here). Because I spent over a certain amount (and I told her just how fantastic her English was), I received this cute little make up bag and a WHOLE lot of samples.

Too Cool For School Samples

I received:

  • 2 x Replenish Hydra Essential Toner and Serum
  • 2 x Replenish Aqua Soft Peeling
  • 2 x Pore Minimising Serum
  • 2 x Ultra Rich Intensive Cream
  • 4 x Get Ready Dual Primer
  • 2 x Watery Skin BB Foundation SPF 37 PA ++
  • 2 x Egg Mellow Body Butter
  • 3 x Egg Remedy Hair Pack (I used this yesterday and it is amazing)
  • 2 x Fresh Gore Sleeping Pack
  • 2 x McGirly Come Clean Face Wash
  • 2 x McGirly Rice Scrub
  • 1 x Deluxe Sample Glossy Blaster Tint in Chic Red (very moisturising, long-lasting and smells like fruit). My new favourite lip product.

So that was it for this haul. Too Cool for School was a brand that I never really looked in to before but now I am hooked. All the products I have tried have been really great quality. I now really want to check out more of their make up range as I was so impressed with the concealer and glossy blaster tint! What are your favourite Too Cool for School products?

Skinfood

SKINFOOD Haul

Last week I went in to the Skinfood in Garosugil to get a tub of my favourite scrub and ended up coming away with a whole bag of goodies. Story of my life. SKINFOOD prides itself on using natural ingredients in their skincare and make up ranges and is very popular in Korea. They have numerous lines focusing on the beneficial properties of a particular ingredient, i.e. broccoli, peach, salmon, tomato and many more. This brand couldn’t be any more up my street. Food for your skin? Sold.

I’ve been using the Skinfood Black Sugar Mask Wash off for a few years now as my exfoliator of choice and absolutely love it. In this Seoul heat, it’s been great at keeping my skin fresh and smooth. It is probably their bestselling product and reminds me a lot of the Fresh Brown Sugar Scrub (but at a fraction of the price!) You are supposed to use it as a mask (leave it on your face for 10-15 minutes) then wash off but I just use it as my exfoliator twice a week. The scrub smells heavenly, a little bit citrus-like and because the sugar dissolves when mixed with water, it does the job whilst not being too abrasive for your skin. WIN. There are other scrubs within this range like the strawberry and rice but I always come back to the Black Sugar one.

Another product I bought was the Peach Sake Silky Finish Powder. A lot of Korean beauty bloggers have been raving about this on social media and many of the SKINFOOD shops I went in to, it was sold out! But I finally found it and had to buy it. I have been a loyal user of the Innisfree No Sebum Mineral Powder for years so was intrigued by this one. First of all, the packing is so sweet and the puff it comes with is really good quality.

The Peach Sake Silky Finish Powder is essentially a make up setting/sebum reducing powder that keeps your BB Cream/Foundation in place and creates that flawless finish to your make up. It is comparable to the Make Up Forever HD Microfinish Powder. You only need to use a little bit and I tend to only use it on my t-zone. If you use a lot you will look like a ghost in photos! It is incredibly lightweight and easy to use and helps keep your make up in place throughout the day and evening – essential in this Seoul heat! I forgot to set my make up with it the other day and definitely noticed the difference.

The best thing about this product is the smell. God bless Korean beauty products – I always find they have this unique, fresh scent to them that I absolutely love. There have been mornings where whilst doing my make up, I’ve just shoved my nose in this powder because of the smell (although white powder around your nose is not a good look so I wouldn’t recommend that!) But seriously, the smell is so lovely.

The next product I got was a similar cult product here in South Korea and that is the Salmon Dark Circle ConcealerNow I know what you’re thinking. SALMON concealer?! But like I mentioned in my post ‘What’s the deal with K-beauty?’ Koreans are the best at skincare innovation and sourcing all the latest ingredients to utilise in their products. This little concealer contains Norwegian salmon oil that is said to have anti-aging properties (salmon oil contains over 18% of Omega-3 fatty acid DHA and EPA) therefore it helps boost your skin with lots of nutrients. It also contains the salmon roe which is, again, full of nutrients as well like retinol and Vitamin E. I don’t tend to get dark circles under my eyes but I like the idea of using this concealer to brighten up that area nonetheless. I have used many concealers before and I always find that they either look a bit cakey or show up fine lines and creases. Not this bad boy. This concealer blends so easily and really brightens up the under eye area. It doesn’t feel drying at all and is very lightweight. I will just dab my ring finger in the little tub and gently dab under my eye area for an instant pick-me-up. The only downside is that it doesn’t smell of anything (though this is a benefit for some people, I just like my products to smell pretty!) But it doesn’t smell like fish though in case you’re wondering!

On to the next product. Another product from the Black Sugar range is the Black Sugar Perfect First Serum. This serum comes in two varieties – normal (for dry skin) and light (for combination to oily skin). As you can see I opted for the light version. Again this product is very popular here in South Korea and they actually had a promotion on at the Skinfood store I went to in Hongdae – for 16,000 won (around £10) I got a big bottle of the serum, 2 deluxe sample sizes of the serum and a box of their high quality cotton pads. This bottle is going to last me a really long time as you only need a few drops of this serum.

For the past two years I’ve been using the Innisfree Green Tea Seed Serum but was interested to give this one a try due to its popularity. I have been using this now for about a week and whilst I like it, it’s not blown me away. I pour a few drops of the product in the palms of my hands, rub together and pat gently on my skin before applying my moisturiser. It has a more watery consistency compared to the green tea seed serum by Innisfree; the first time I used it, it completely seeped in to my hands! I personally prefer a thicker, gel like consistency for my serum. It does feel very nourishing and I have noticed my complexion improving over the past week although I’m not sure I can attribute that directly to this product. Perhaps I need to keep using this in order to see the benefit longer term. Another point to make about this product is that I found it quite scentless which I didn’t like. The one thing I love about the green tea seed serum is the fresh smell – it makes me want to put it on my skin. This serum, for me, just felt a bit ‘meh’ but I know that there are thousands out there who beg to differ.

Too Cool for School Black Sugar Perfect First Serum

Finally at the checkout, I purchased two items – the Miracle Food 10 Solution Eye Patch and Mask Sheet and the Egg White Perfect Nose Kit. I’ve tried the Miracle Food 10 cream before so thought I would give the mask sheet a go – you can never have too many sheet masks, right? The three-step nose pore pack I wanted to try because so far none of them have blown me away – I’ve tried the Innisfree and Etude House blackhead packs but wasn’t too impressed by either. I have heard that the Holika Holika Pig Nose Blackhead Kit is the best so will have to try that soon!

The great thing about beauty shopping in Korea is the free samples. Pretty much every store will give you free samples with every purchase. And I am a sample JUNKIE! I have boxes upon boxes of samples, I love them. The lady at SKINFOOD was super nice and gave me a bunch of stuff to try. I got:

  • A full size tub of the Aloe Vera Soothing Gel. This is supposed to be a great lightweight everyday moisturiser (although it would be great on sunburn). Nature Republic have their cult aloe gel which all the other Korean beauty brands followed so interested to try the SKINFOOD one.
  • Lettuce and Cucumber emulsion and essence sample.
  • Another box of the cotton pads
  • 2 x Watermelon face mask pack
  • 3 x Waterbury Ampoule and Cream samples
  • 2 x Fresh Apple essence samples
  • 3 x Royal Honey Essential Queen’s cream
  • 2 x Black Sugar Perfect First Serum (included in my full size purchase)

Too Cool for School Samples

That’s it for this haul. I’ve got an Etude House, Innisfree, Banila Co and Too Cool for School haul coming up as well. If you’re in to K-Beauty let me know what your favourite SKINFOOD products are so I can try them out 🙂

What’s the deal with K-beauty?

Many people have said it before but hands down Korea nails it in the beauty department. Most people know Korean skincare to be about the 10-step regimen (more on that later) but let’s be honest – who has time for that shizz. Korean Beauty (or K-beauty as it’s affectionately called by it’s fans) is about attaining and accentuating flawless, glowing skin, therefore minimising the need for heavy make up. Korean women, and also men (who spend more on skincare than any other nation), are obsessed with skincare and work hard to attain this ultimate beauty ideal (see I can’t help it guys, it’s in my genes).

The beauty industry in South Korea was valued at $11.6 billion last year and is expected to grow to $13.1 billion by 2020 according to Euromonitor. Furthermore, given the nationwide aspiration and dedication to skincare and beauty, the industry in South Korea is highly competitive; meaning companies strive to discover the next ‘it’ ingredient (snail extract anyone?), invest huge amounts in research and development whilst keeping prices competitive for the consumer (by competitive I mean super cheap by western standards). Such is the popularity and faith in K-beauty, experts estimate Korean skin care innovation is 12 years ahead of American and French counterparts. The first thing I noticed when I tried these products was that they actually did what it said on the tin – hurrah!

Anyone that knows me can confirm how crazy I am about beauty products. Be it hair, skin, face, make up I completely hold my hand up high and say I am obsessed. I have multiple boxes in the closet filled with bottles, sprays, tubs, creams, samples etc

* guilty as charged *

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When I went to Seoul two years ago I was completely overwhelmed by the sheer amount of choice, quality, and products that were on offer. And for so cheap! I bought lots of goodies back to share with and show my friends – so excited was I over this revelation.

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For me it was also a link to my birth country; a link that I loved and a link that I knew something about. It may sound stupid, but in an alien land where I couldn’t forge a link to my culture through the usual means of language, people or customs – so be it, Korean beauty products it was. When I first visited Seoul, I was frustrated that I couldn’t speak the language, I didn’t take to kimchi, and I was tanned = I felt like the worst Korean ever. Shallow it may sound, but discovering K-beauty products was like dipping my first toe in the motherland pond. Years later I am still hooked.

Espoir Make up stylist