Irene Kim at Seoul Fashion week 2014Korea has long been known as a mecca for innovative beauty and skincare products, hence the term K-Beauty. As well as creating ground breaking new products, high quality ingredients are used and prices are very reasonable, making the products all the more covetable. It wasn't until BB creams (a must-have beauty product originating from Korea) hit the European market in 2011 that many of us sat up & took notice. Then came oil cleansers, which have been popular in Korea for years.
Irene Kim at Seoul Fashion week 2014The K-Beauty phenomenon is growing a large following. American Korean model & beauty blogger Irene Kim (above) has recently been recruited by international skincare heavyweight Estée Lauder as a Global Beauty Contributor. Young women flock to her for beauty and skincare advice, and K-Beauty products are popping up all over international beauty media.
Kang Sora for Vogue Korea, May 2015With a large Korean population here in Auckland, I have always noticed Korean girls' (and boys') modern and quirky sense of style but moreover, their beautiful skin. Clear, porcelain-like and so youthful. There is even a word for it - 'chok chok', which means 'plump and moist'. But they work at it! "It's a matter of putting in a little effort to get the best out of yourself" says Euny Hong, author of The Birth of Korean Cool. "In our culture, we work hard at everything. Why shouldn't that ethic apply to beauty?" (Allure Magazine).
1. Prep and pre-cleanse
2. Second cleanse
5. Essence/Face mist
8. Eye cream
10. Sleep pack
Kang Sora for Vogue Korea, May 2015I've never been to Korea but I recently watched Rachel Hunter's Tour of Beauty's South Korean episode. It touched on the dedication to beauty, but mostly focussed on the penchant for plastic surgery and medical intervention from a young age and herbal medicine. I wanted to know - and see - much more, particularly the amazingly packaged and cutting edge skincare & beauty gems I keep hearing about. K-Beauty is big on exfoliation, especially blackhead eradication for blemish free skin. Also clear, radiant skin through cleansing, hydration and great foundations. A luminescent visage and no sight of pores is key. Of course, SPF is a must.
Here are 15 finds I'd love to try!
Banila Co. Miss Flower and Mr. Honey Hydrogel Mask Sheet
K-Beauty loves a sheet mask. This one is packed with botanical extracts and royal jelly to hydrate and firm your skin.
Innisfree Black Head Good-bye Finger Tip Silicon
K-Beauty is full of products to wage the war on blackheads. This little thimble-like tool has two different textures which exfoliate pesky blackheads. Can be used with or without cleanser. Innisfree have loads of amazing products, all in eco-friendly packaging using natural products from the volcanic island of Jeju.
Innisfree Jeju Volcanic Black Head Out Balm
Another blackhead fighter. This thick balm contains particles of volcanic clay which mops up oil & reduces pores.
Protein butter & vegetable oil are part of the ingredients to create a silky foundation that combines cream + foundation + powder. It is applied by 'tapping' it on using the 4D mushroom shaped foam applicator for flawless coverage.
Clio Tinted Tattoo Kill Brow + Eyebrow Shaping Kit
A felt-type pen tint which you can use to draw in brows which can last up to a week.
A duo treatment for dark circles which has SPF for daytime & Vit C to brighten and revitalise your under eye skin over night - what's not to love?
Innisfree Mint Green Tea Scaler
Get rid of product build up & gunk. I always have trouble finding clarifying shampoos here. This green tea & pepperminty beauty will cleanse, sooth and refresh your scalp.
Cleansing oil is huge in South Korea, and for good reason. Oil is extremely effective at removing make-up and lifting dirt & impurities out of your skin, whilst keeping skin hydrated, but not dry, or oily. I'm a recent convert.
Banila Clean It Zero Purity Oil cleanser
A solid balm that turns to a cleansing oil on your skin.
Etude Missing U Hand Cream. In super cute packaging that K-Beauty is renowned for, this moisturizing hand cream contains shea butter & 6 types of organic ingredients, a god send, and a portion of sales goes to endangered species.
A berry-flavored hydrating lip mask.
A'Pieu Lifting V-Line Patch
Sheet masks are really popular in South Korea. This one is for tightening that jowly jawline.
This two tone lipstick makes the ombré look a cinch.
Aritaum Baby Face Mist
Face mist is a fave of Irene Kim. This brand comes in 3 varieties - Smooth Radiance, Firming Honey Radiance and Hydra Radiance, made to wear on top of your make-up. I remember in the 90s, we used to spray Evian on our faces to 'set' makeup & 'add hydration'.
For more Korean beauty products, check out Soko Glam.
For beauty tips, head to these Korean Beauty Bloggers or pick up The Little Book of Skin Care: Korean Beauty Secrets for Healthy, Glowing Skin by Charlotte Cho .작별!