A Happy Peach

Things that make my heart smile…

Curiosity Quest For Asian Beauty Products…

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Dear friends, I have been trying to write this post for a very long time now. I came up with a while back but it has been my intention to actually construct it since Saturday, I started with a paragraph then stepped away to do something and never went back (avoidance theory). I think I’ve found starting the task to be quite daunting.  The very notion that I could write anything that is relatively close to a compendium of Asian beauty products is ridiculous, absolutely laughable. Given that the level of absurdity I decided not to write such a thing, rather I would tell you some of my findings of Asian beauty products.

I am going to skip over the background reasons for the curiosity quest and just get into the nitty-gritty. Firstly Asian skin care is intense, I mean these gals do not mess around. I was reading this article on this Japanese model who is in her forties but looks like she’s in her twenties. She spends an intensive five hours on skin care and make-up. They ended the article with Helena Rubinstein’s quote of, “There are no ugly women, only lazy ones.” It may be mean and it may be offensive, but it may also be *gulp* true. I can only say that I have seen some downright magical transformations with just make-up and skin care routine, not only that the transformed person seems to have a bit more self-confidence than before. I suppose it can also be said, in a folksy sort of way, that “powder and paint make you look what you aint.” But I digress, skin care is paramount to having an easy to work with canvas. There are a ton of Japanese and Korean brands that focus on skin care. I’ve tried a few and would have to say one of my favorite things are the masks. If you’re interested here is a list of some of the brands that I’ve tried.

  • My friend sent me this mask from Japan, it’s actually a Korean brand called Pure Smile (here is a link to their Facebook page). I couldn’t find the exact one she sent, but here is something similar to the one she sent on the Yes Style site. It was really interesting to wear, even enjoyable, and the results were pretty decent. My skin did not feel any negative effects, I will say that you should be careful not to use too many products at once, that is never a good time for your skin.
  • I have tried a few Missha products (another Korean brand) and some I love and some not so much. I find some of their make-up products hit or miss, sometimes lacking pigment and other times decent. But that can be said for a lot of cosmetic lines too. I also enjoyed their yogurt mask (which I am not sure is still available or not). It was a peel off mask, and my liking it may have something to do with my weird love of peeling things off (like when you put glue on your hand when you were a kid). But they also have sheet masks, I haven’t tried any of them so I can’t vouch for them, but I do have the desire to try them out.
  • Skinfood is finally on U.S. shores and I have been stalking the line. Yup, another Korean skin care line which also happens to have a cosmetics line. Now the make-up looks like it’s geared towards 12 year olds, but they have anti-aging and wrinkle products. I kind of think the marketing is cute and playful, but I think that’s just the style of the under 40 set in Korea. What I love about this store is the amount of samples they offer. I really like the nail polishes I’ve gotten. Korean, Taiwanese and Japanese gals are crazy for nail art. These girls are not messing around. They are also available on other sites, like Yes Style.
  • Another Korean brand I’m in love with is Laneige. The skin care is fantastic and their make up products are so fantastic. I have one of their glossy sticks and I’m not sure how to describe what it does for your lips. It’s that soft glowy iridescent quality you see on those beautiful sophisticated characters on Korean dramas. I heart that thing so much. Sadly my color is discontinued so I use sparingly.
  • Shiseido and all those side brands are insane. I think of it like the Japanese Estee Lauder. You know because Estee Lauder owns MAC, Prescriptives, Aveda, Tom Ford, Clinique, Jo Malone, Bobbi Brown…(you get the picture). Well Shiseido the company was born in 1872 and since then been very busy, it has a few brands under its belt also including Nars and Cle de Peau. In fact in the U.S. we only get the bare bones stripped down version of the brand. The actual brand has lower priced lines that are marketed in drug stores and huge.
  • Then there is Kanebo. Again we have a very stripped down version of the line here. I don’t think it’s as well-known here as Shiseido is but it is super popular in Asian countries, and thusly with Asian women everywhere. I love their mascara, but it’s an arm and a leg, and for some reason I can’t accept paying such a high price for a product that will only last a few weeks. I want to venture into the other lines, but I have been trying to be very strict with myself till I get my stash under control. Day by day people, day by day. But when I do get to the point where I know everything I have and have used a considerable amount I will allow myself a purchase or too, until then it’s a lusting sort of relationship (Kate, Lunasol, Coffret D’Or wait for me, I’m coming).
  • I’ve also tried Bosciaskin care. I like that their products are natural, but don’t take that to mean that their potency is diluted at all. I tried their black mask and that thing made my eyes water, it stung and burned them. I was sitting there trying to figure out if I should/could wash it off. The problem being that my eyes were watering and I wasn’t sure if I could make it to the sink without running into something. I wasn’t and just closed my eyes, when it started to dry it didn’t burn anymore. I liked the results, so I actually used it a second time. The moisturizer did not burn but it was quite strong too.
  • There are also lines that are not specifically Japanese but are developed for an Asian market like Joe and Paul, Jill Stuart, and Anna Sui. All I can say is that these lines are magical (picture magical fairy dust falling from the sky, and you with fairy wings).

This is just a partial list, there are so many other lines and wonderful things to see and play with. There are a lot of Asian bloggers out there with fantastic reviews. Here are a few:

The second thing you have to remember is the Asian Aesthetic. Think about some of the classic Asian artwork (although all cultures prize aesthetic differently), generally in many works the use of color is serene and minimal. The usage of blank space is as a tool to support the impact of color. So too has the style of make-up developed into understated beauty. Not that there aren’t some gals out there trying really hard to look hardcore and different, just that the mainstream beauty ideal is to play up features by using softer application and neutral (or neutralized) tones.

While I was at the Shiseido counter a few weeks back the Make-up Artist pointed out that a lot of Asian powder products are finely milled and have a build-able quality to them so you can layer colors. This quality may be interpreted as not being as pigmented, but a less saturated color allows for greater variety of looks. You will be able to blend with greater ease. Brushes were always meant to sweep across the product and gently sweep up the color to then softly breeze upon your eye. This gives you more control, helping you to avoid looking immediately garish. Not that bold and vivid colors are bad, but I like the idea of working my way up to that point. Again this is just an aesthetic, a preference, it doesn’t mean that it is better or right, but how I like it.

Alright, I’ve rambled on long enough. If you are interested in trying out some of these products but don’t live by Asian stores here is a list of places to check out online:

Let me know what you think…

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8 thoughts on “Curiosity Quest For Asian Beauty Products…

  1. D, this is EVER SO HELPFUL. I wouldn’t have known where to start. Obviously, being Korean, I have some knowledge here and there but it’s pretty pathetic how little I know about my own country’s power industry. We do have some Korean neighbourhoods and places that sell a lot of Laneige and some other stuff, but I don’t like to step foot in those places because the SAs are rather scary. They’ll tell me that everything I’m doing is wrong and that I need to buy a 10-step skincare set and all sorts of abrasive things that hurt my feelings and make me angry. And that’s not what I want when I go trolling for beauty products!

    I’ll take my time over the weekend and check out all the links you posted. I agree with you, these ladies don’t mess around. Our level of devotion is nothing compared to theirs!

    Thanks again for the post. Isn’t it timely how my need to know coincided with your need to tell? 🙂

    • Liz, your people are not joking around when it comes to beauty products. It’s a little scary. I’m not down for the plastic surgery, but I love all the skin stuff. I think I’m more of a dabbler, I can’t run with the big girls right now. Maybe with training, is it me or does this sound like some sort of race. Girl those SA’s can be scary as all get out. I have met some OK normal ones, but some of them are so pushy you’d think their life depended on if they sold that BB cream. But since I’m so weird Asian looking, like you know I’m Asian but not quite sure so you’d just start guessing, they kind of back off the sales pressure and spend most of their time playing guess that nationality. But when I went with one my friends who was in LA on a stopover to Korea the lady and my friend were talking in Korean about me. My friend said that the lady liked how my eyes were big. It’s always weird when people start talking about you in another language, I was going to grab someone and start talking pig latin, but then I thought that may have been a desperate move.

      I’m just so excited for your trip. I am totally living vicariously through you. I hope you post or email me or something during your trip. I wanna know how much fun you’ll be having. Girl get massages, my friends always tell me that they’re so cheap and a total must.

      I know Liz, we’re totally on each other’s timeline.

      • What’s your email? I’m sure there’ll be plenty of internet time. I’m not one to zip around in madness; I like to lounge and chill for the most part.

        And you’re one of those big-eyed Asians we all want to be!!! That’s hilarious that they can’t tell!

        Believe it or not — and I hope this doesn’t break our friendship — I don’t like massages. I KNOW. But it must be because I don’t get achy muscles and do nothing that exerts me physically. Massages either tickle or hurt. And I’ve been to some pretty upscale spas where they do things right. It’s me. I’m weird. And it’s a shame because the one really good part of my work benefits is the awesome massage coverage. Grah. I wish they would compensate for facials, too.

      • I’ll send you my personal email. I can’t wait to live vicariously through you.

        Aw Liz the not liking of the massage cannot break our bond. It’s solidified in beautifully milled eye shadow I am not a lover of the massage either. There was one time I decided to get one in the mall, just cause, and there I was sitting and this guy was massaging my butt. It was weird and totally uncalled for. Let me tell you there was no tension in my ass, at least not before that dude got there.

        Yeah, the gene pool gave me big eyes and olive skin. Folks never know what I am but spend a lot of time guessing.

  2. We are starting to get B.B creams which claim to be an Asian wonder product?!!

    • Actually I have a love hate relationship with BB Creams. The ones that I have used haven’t really done anything for my skin, but my skin actually doesn’t really need much. But the problem lies in the fact that most of them give you a gray cast. So color match is a bear. Not only that a lot of the developed for western products are a lot thinner than the Asian version. Funny that BB creams are really a German thing, huh?

  3. Holy Moly, Danny…this was detailed and quite extensive – kudos, my friend! While I’m definitely not Asian, that doesn’t mean I can’t appreciate new, different, unique and exciting new products! I have known for a long time now, that Asian women value their skin care greatly and that they are quite religious about their regimens….something the rest of the world can well learn from (myself included!). I personally don’t have much experience with masks per se, except for some hokey ones in my youth, and then some minor dabbling with Erno Laszlo and Borghese products later on, but I admit that as I get older and my skin starts going down certain paths, without my permission I might add, perhaps it’s time for me to start looking into some new and/or alternative products – I just might have to try some of these masks of yours after all! I have no doubt that Liz and her upcoming trip, will greatly benefit from all this research of yours!

    • Can you believe that this is just the tip of the iceberg? I think we can all use these products, but as Liz can attest sometimes you get snotty Asian attitude when you go into an Asian beauty store.

      I’m not sure why our skin (hair and all sorts of other things) aren’t behaving the way we want it to just because we continue to live. I think a lot of it is stress, on a cellular level we should be able to regenerate and maintain our health as long as we treat ourselves right. I’ve been trying to do that and have noticed a lot of beneficial changes. But I think the most important thing is good diet and letting go of stress, as stress can damage and even kill cells. We need those things.

      I can’t wait for Liz to tell tale of all her journeys and acquisitions. I hope she has a fabulous time.

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