I am 100% Korean, but my makeup routine is not. I prefer a matte finish over a dewy one. I fill in and shape my eyebrows into a sculpted arch. I wear lots of eyeliner and mascara. I contour.
When I first arrived in Seoul, I had a short phase in which I tried almost every cult-favorite makeup and skincare product. I tried BB Creams, cushion compacts, lip tints, you name it. I quickly learned that some Korean make-up trends and brands just don’t suit me. After my month of experimenting (with makeup…), I finally started finding products that actually fit into, and compliment, my current makeup arsenal.
These are the items I consistently used throughout my year in Seoul. I also did my best to stock up on some for my return to California. Luckily, most of the products are available for order to the US for you guys to try!
The offensive name aside, this liquid highlighter is one of my favorites. When I want a more “glow-from-within” feel, I’ll give this product a half-pump (a little goes a long way) and lightly tap the product onto my cheeks, nose, cupid’s bow, forehead, and chin before my powder foundation. It gives a light glow and shimmer to my skin that doesn’t look too overdone. I have this in the shade Baby Pink Clam, which is a rose gold champagne tone. It’s better for everyday use and gives a healthy looking boost to your skin. It also comes in the shade Mother of Pearl, which is more of a milky white tone. It is definitely brighter and more suitable for lighter skin tones or for a more blinding effect.
Upside: this pencil is less than $4 and lasts me a while. Downside: the spoolie is ineffectual and gets easily caked with product. However, useless spoolie aside, (just get a good one from any drugstore) this product applies really well, is pigmented, and easy to control. I use the color 1 Dark Brown as it matches my dark Asian hair. I have sparse eyebrows, but I don’t necessarily want to use gels and pomades on a daily basis. It’s not that deep. This pencil does the job and honestly doesn’t budge, even after spending a day in the ocean.
This is such an easy and simple primer that comes with a ton of product. I have woken up on my friend’s couch from crazy, long nights with my eye makeup completely in tact. Maybe I wiped off the edge of an eyebrow in my sleep, but my shadow and liner still looked snatched. If that doesn’t grab you, the $7 price point should. Thanks Etude for allowing me to confidently grab Starbucks before heading on the train home. You’re the real MVP.
This one is for my friends who are more low maintenance in the makeup realm. These sticks are pleasantly pigmented, unquestionably easy to use, and versatile. This lighter shade can be applied in your inner corners or lower waterline to brighten up your eyes. It can also be messily run along your lids and smudged out for a low maintenance shine. It’s great for those days where you just want something quick and easy and don’t have the time for extended palette work. These are also perfect for traveling! No more broken pans and messy makeup bags.
For the past 10 years, I have only used extremely dark pencil eyeliner. Liquid just seems unnecessarily stressful. Then I stumbled upon this Clio Eyeliner! It has a huge cult following in Korea and I can say with confidence that it does live up to the hype. The color is incredibly dark and black, just like my heart, and the tip is fine and precise. The only downside is its claim that it’s waterproof. I tried it when I was on Kauai, and it most definitely is NOT waterproof. The eyeliner easily crumbles in the water. However, for everyday use, it is perfect.
Oh lip tints, the matte liquid lipsticks of South Korea. The trend is to make your lips look like you just sucked on a popsicle. Not joking. The look is actually really cute… if it’s done properly. If it’s not, you end up looking like a chapped-lipped weirdo who doesn’t know how to eat properly. Like I mentioned, some trends just don’t look good on me, and the high intensity popsicle look is one of them. These lip tint balms are great because, while pigmented, they don’t stain your lips too harshly. They’re also a balm so they’re moisturizing and give a nice gleam. You get to fully control the amount of color you want applied and can always blend it out. I’ve tried the post-popsicle look and have only seen an admirable result with this product.
Again, lip tints can be extremely drying. It then shows any unflattering texture. Not cute. This Pony Effect Lip Tint is great because it isn’t drying at all. It actually feels more creamy and smooth. The formula leaves a nice sheen and the product is definitely buildable. I also use this as a gloss and lipstick hybrid. I don’t use it for any sort of popsicle effect and think it looks better as a full lip color. To be honest, I bought it because of the super cute gold packaging and also because I was hungover shopping in Gangnam and my decision making was a bit impaired. Yet again, shopping hungover worked and I ended up with a great product.
I don’t know why American brands didn’t have these in the past. They are so incredibly useful and convenient. You know those blotting sheets you use? The ones where you try to grab one and about 28 come out with it? Yeah, you can toss those (actually use them up because they’re kind of expensive.) These compacts are offered by numerous Korean cosmetics brands and can be in a skin tone, like this Innisfree one, or in a translucent formula. If you see your face getting more and more oily, take out this cute little compact and lightly pat your built up areas for a matte finish. These saved me when I was sweating my body weight in the humid Seoul summer.
I’ve always hated the tugging and rubbing of makeup wipes and feel that cleansing oils don’t adequately remove all of the product on my face; even on my casual days. This Clean-It Zero formula is almost like a soft, airy paste that you apply dry onto your face. The moment it touches your skin, it begins to literally melt off your makeup. You will look like such a hot mess. It’s great. I usually apply it onto my cheeks, forehead, and nose and let it go to work. Then I’ll grab a little more product and massage it onto my eyes for it to grab onto my layers of mascara and eyeliner. Lastly, I’ll rinse with warm water as my makeup continues to disintegrate with a few rubs. It leaves your skin feeling baby smooth. It really is the greatest makeup remover.
My old college roommate always had the most amazing eyelashes. How? Genetics? Probably. However, she also used an overnight lash growth serum. I didn’t have high expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised when this prouduct worked. I have very thin, fine, scattered Asian eyelashes. I have found that after a few uses, my lashes are definitely longer, and after a few weeks, there are more of them. I don’t think this ampoule and serum are going to make a mind-blowing change, but if you want an extra, natural boost, this product is great.