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…