Korean cosmetics have been gaining popularity in recent years, and many of the products that used to be sold exclusively in Korea have started to become more accessible here in the US. From 20-step skincare routines to Chateau Labiotte lip tints, there’s definitely a lot going on with Korean beauty that everyone can experiment with. Here I’ve compiled a list of the five most commonly used products that I own (bought at Incheon Airport over summer.)
1. Etude House Play Color Eyes Juice Bar: Eyeshadow Palette ($17)
I had my eye on this one for a while before I had the opportunity to buy it, but now it’s on Amazon (I think for cheaper than when I got it directly in Korea!). First of all, most of you probably can’t read the names of the colors, but they are pretty darn strange (ex: Kissing Me Kissing Grammy). I’ve been using this palette for about 2 months now, and out of the 10 total colors, I use half of them on a regular basis, which is pretty decent. My personal faves are the shimmery brown color (fourth from left) and the champagne color (far right). Some of the colors, though, especially the lighter non-shimmery shades, are fairly translucent and don’t show up well on skin, as you can see from the example swatches. The Juice Bar palette is mostly orange/grapefruity shades, which is pretty versatile, but Etude House also has Cherry Blossom (pink), In the Cafe (brown/neutral), Wine Party (burgundy), and Ice Van (colorful) palettes.
2. Innisfree No Sebum Mineral Powder ($11/2 packs)
The Innisfree mineral powder is probably one of the most widely known Korean beauty products. Sebum refers to the oils that are produced by skin, and the mineral powder absorbs sebum, leaving skin looking and feeling matte. While I do think the powder does its job, its lasting power is a little shorter than I expected. I have combo skin, and halfway through the day the mineral powder starts to lose its effect, forcing me to reapply. Otherwise, I think the mineral powder does a great job and is visibly effective immediately upon application. Also, if you have dry skin and think you don’t need a sebum remover, you could use it like dry shampoo and put it on the roots of your hair (very useful for people with bangs or during prelim season when you don’t have time to wash your hair!)
3. Etude House Drawing Eye Brow, No. 1 Dark Brown Pencil ($5)
Moving on to the brows! Etude House has seven different colors in this line of eyebrow pencils, ranging from black to light brown, which is really a blonde color. The tip of the pencil is a chiseled rectangle, which makes it very convenient to do Korean-style brows (more straight, no arch), but you could also definitely do an arch if you position the pencil right. I would really recommend this pencil to rookie makeup users, because the application is smooth and consistent, but pigmentation requires a couple of layers. So if you mess up a little, your eyebrows will still be salvageable–you won’t have to completely start over or attempt to clean using makeup remover. Even better, the Etude House pencil has a spoolie on the other end, which literally saves me from having splotchy-looking caterpillar eyebrows everyday. Many other brands have the spoolie too, but this one does a great job smoothing out harsh pencil strokes.
4. Innisfree Skinny Long Long Cara ($20/2 tubes)
Continuing right along with the strange names, the Innisfree longcara was my favorite mascara for a short while (which is why it was the only mascara I brought to Cornell), but nowadays I find that I don’t enjoy using it as much. If you’re used to using American mascaras, seeing the longcara for the first time may surprise you, because the wand is basically nonexistent–it is the same diameter as the stick. But because of the stick-skinny wand of the longcara, you can get very natural looking lashes using it, and you actually do get a good amount of additional lash length. There are also very minimal to no clumps. The negative though, is that the longcara does nothing to increase lash volume, and leaves your lashes looking pretty sparse (even more so since the lashes get longer). Overall, I would probably recommend the skinny longcara as a light and natural mascara, but not as a party or special event one. I do have to say, though, that the longcara is very convenient and comfortable to use for bottom lashes, as there’s a lower chance of stabbing yourself with the wand.
5. Innisfree Real Fit Velvet Lipstick ($13)
Last but not least, the Innisfree real fit velvet lipstick is basically a very bright colored matte lipstick. There are 10 colors total, which are displayed in the above photo, but the shades in real life are less dull than the colors are in the pictures. I personally own numbers one (apricot beige) and three (daisy coral), and the apricot is my favorite lipstick to use. For my skin tone, which is a fairly pale Asian tone, the apricot beige brightens my natural lip color (maybe my lip color would actually be that color if I wasn’t so unhealthy and sleep deprived?) The daisy coral, however, is way too bright for everyday use and is more of an orange/red color. In Korea, bright coral lip colors are really popular at the moment, which is probably why this set of lip colors are so bright, but I’m personally not used to wearing red lipstick on a day-to-day basis. Colors aside, the lipsticks have a very matte texture, which I find starts to feel pretty dry soon after application.
I would definitely recommend trying out some of these Korean makeup products for yourself! The ones that I’ve reviewed all have reasonably cheap prices and are easily purchased on Amazon. And who knows? You might even find yourself converting from an avid American cosmetics user to a Korean cosmetics fanatic. Lastly, as evidenced by the title of this post, this article is the first of many Korean beauty products reviews to come!! (Not to foreshadow anything, but I own 50 million different face masks.)